Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

The BEST seasons of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Every season ever - ranked by fan votes!

Based out of the New York City Police Department's 16th precinct in Manhattan, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU) delves into the dark side of the NYC underworld as the detectives investigate and prosecute various sexually oriented crimes including rape, pedophilia, and domestic violence. They also investigate the abuses of children, the disabled and elderly victims of non-sexual crimes who require specialist handling, all while trying to balance the effects of the investigation on their own lives as they try not to let the dark side of these crimes affect them. Its stories also touch on the political and societal issues associated with gender identity, sexual preferences, and equality rights. The unit also works with the Manhattan District Attorney's office as they prosecute cases and seek justice for victims. The series often uses stories that are "ripped from the headlines" or based on real crimes. Such episodes take a real crime and fictionalize it by changing some details.

Last Updated: 6/24/2022Network: NBC
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Season 17
star
8.75
53 votes

#1 - Season 17

First Aired 9/24/2015

Season 13
star
8.75
44 votes

#2 - Season 13

First Aired 9/22/2011

Season 13 dealt with the departure of Detective Elliot Stabler from the Special Victims Unit after a shooting in the squad room.

Season 14
star
8.61
44 votes

#3 - Season 14

First Aired 9/27/2012

The 14th season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit debuted with a two-part premiere episode on September 26, 2012, at 9:00 pm on NBC, which was the show's weekly time slot. The fourteenth season picked up storyline-wise where the last season left off, with Captain Cragen awaking to a dead prostitute in his bed with her throat slit. The two-part season premiere was watched by 7.19 million total viewers and received generally positive reviews. The series' landmark 300th episode fell this season and aired on October 24, 2012, watched by 6.77 million total viewers. This is the first season of SVU to have any kind of crossover with now ended Law & Order spinoff, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Kathryn Erbe guest starring in two episodes "Acceptable Loss" and Poisoned Motive as her LOCI character, Alexandra Eames, and Denis O'Hare guest starring in the episode "Presumed Guilty" as his LOCI character, Father Shea.

Season 15
star
8.61
44 votes

#4 - Season 15

First Aired 9/26/2013

The 15th season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit made its debut with a 2–hour premiere episode on September 25, 2013, at 9:00 pm on NBC.

Season 16
star
8.55
55 votes

#5 - Season 16

First Aired 9/25/2014

Season 18
star
8.52
46 votes

#6 - Season 18

First Aired 9/22/2016

Season 9
star
8.50
42 votes

#7 - Season 9

First Aired 9/26/2007

The 9th season of the police procedural / legal drama, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered September 25, 2007 and ended May 13, 2008 on NBC. It aired on Tuesday nights at 10:00 p.m. Eastern / 9:00 p.m. Central. Mariska Hargitay, having won a Golden Globe Award in 2005, received her second Golden Globe nomination for her work in the ninth season.

Season 10
star
8.50
44 votes

#8 - Season 10

First Aired 9/24/2008

The 10th season of the police procedural / legal drama, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered September 23, 2008 and ended June 2, 2009 on NBC. It was the last season of the show to occupy the Tuesday 10:00 p.m. timeslot.

Season 12
star
8.50
44 votes

#9 - Season 12

First Aired 9/23/2010

The 12th season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered in the United States on the National Broadcasting Company on September 22, 2010, and concluded on May 18, 2011. This was the first season that the show did not air alongside the original Law & Order. Episodes initially aired on Wednesdays between 9 and 10 p.m. Eastern except for the season premiere which aired from 9 to 11. After the winter hiatus, SVU returned with another two-hour showing on January 5, 2011, before the broadcast time switched to the 10 p.m. time slot the following week. At the end of the season, Neal Baer resigned his position as showrunner. After the season finale, Christopher Meloni and B.D. Wong both left the cast.

Season 8
star
8.48
44 votes

#10 - Season 8

First Aired 9/20/2006

The 8th season of the television series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered September 19, 2006 and ended May 22, 2007 on NBC. The series remained in its 10:00 p.m. Tuesday timeslot. With the introduction of a new partner for Detective Stabler, early episodes of Season 8 took on a significantly different focus when compared to those of previous seasons.

Season 3
star
8.44
52 votes

#11 - Season 3

First Aired 9/29/2001

The 3rd season of the television series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered Friday, September 28, 2001 and ended Friday, May 17, 2002 on NBC. It occupied the Friday 10:00 p.m. timeselot once again.

Season 6
star
8.43
46 votes

#12 - Season 6

First Aired 9/22/2004

The 6th season of the television series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered September 21, 2004 and ended May 24, 2005 on NBC. It aired on Tuesday nights at 10:00 p.m. In January 2005, when the season was halfway through airing, Mariska Hargitay won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Television Series Drama becoming the first regular cast member of any Law & Order series to win a Golden Globe.

Season 19
star
8.43
40 votes

#13 - Season 19

First Aired 9/28/2017

Season 11
star
8.33
43 votes

#14 - Season 11

First Aired 9/24/2009

The 11th season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered on September 23, 2009 and concluded on May 19, 2010. It was moved from Tuesdays to Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET for the NBC broadcast. On March 3, 2010 SVU returned to its previous time slot of 10 p.m. ET. On January 22, 2010, in the wake of the conflict between Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, NBC announced that they would order two additional episodes to fill in the gaps of the departing The Jay Leno Show.

Season 5
star
8.30
46 votes

#15 - Season 5

First Aired 9/24/2003

The 5th season of the television series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered September 23, 2003 and ended May 18, 2004 on NBC. Law & Order: SVU moved away from its Friday night slot to Tuesday nights at 10:00 p.m. Eastern / 9:00 p.m. Central. Casey Novak, the unit's longest serving ADA, was introduced in the fifth episode when Diane Neal joined the cast to fill the absence left by Stephanie March.

Season 21
star
8.30
33 votes

#16 - Season 21

First Aired 9/27/2019

Season 7
star
8.30
43 votes

#17 - Season 7

First Aired 9/21/2005

The 7th season of the television series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered September 20, 2005 and ended May 16, 2006 on NBC. It aired on Tuesday nights at 10:00 p.m. Critically the show's most successful season, both lead actors received nominations at the 2006 Emmy Awards with a win by Mariska Hargitay.

Season 1
star
8.29
72 votes

#18 - Season 1

First Aired 9/21/1999

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, an American police procedural television series, premiered on September 20, 1999 on NBC. Created by Dick Wolf, it is the first spin-off of Law & Order and follows the detectives of a fictionalized version of the New York City Police Department's Special Victims Unit, which investigates sexually based offenses. SVU originally aired on Monday nights at 9:00 p.m. EST, but it was moved to Friday nights at 10:00 p.m. after the ninth episode. Showrunner Robert Palm felt too disturbed by the subject matter and left after the season's conclusion.

Season 4
star
8.27
48 votes

#19 - Season 4

First Aired 9/28/2002

The 4th season of the television series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered September 27, 2002 and ended May 16, 2003 on NBC. This was the last season of the series to air on Friday nights at 10:00 p.m. Eastern / 9:00 p.m. Central.

Season 2
star
8.25
56 votes

#20 - Season 2

First Aired 10/21/2000

The 2nd season of the television series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered October 20, 2000 and ended May 11, 2001 on NBC. The show remained in its time slot, Friday nights at 10:00 p.m. Eastern / 9:00 p.m. Central. As Neal Baer's first year producing the show, the second season was accompanied by drastic changes in tone. Additionally, the series began to increase its focus on trial scenes with the addition of an Assistant District Attorney for sex crimes to the cast.

Season 23
star
8.14
14 votes

#21 - Season 23

First Aired 9/24/2021

Season 20
star
8.08
37 votes

#22 - Season 20

First Aired 9/28/2018

Season 22
star
7.88
25 votes

#23 - Season 22

First Aired 11/13/2020