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.
Video game developer Raina Punjabi solidifies the launch of her first game amid a stream of online insults, intimidation and death threats from the male-dominated gaming community. When a female employee is assaulted at a gamer convention, Detective Tutuola investigates the crime but Raina refuses to delay the launch, and the cops must “level up” to protect her.
After a female student is murdered at a local college, Benson and Stabler turn their attention to the school's basketball team. However, the college blocks their investigation at every turn because they are not willing to risk the negative publicity that the investigation could bring to the school and the upcoming championship.
A gunman storms a family's home, killing the parents and leaving their teenage daughter in critical condition. When a hate crime investigation turns into a dead end, Benson and the SVU detectives struggle to find a motive for such violence. The clues lead to a surprising revelation about Detective Rollins, which threatens her future in the Special Victims Unit.
After a rape victim is abducted from the hospital and later found murdered, the detectives discover that one of the multiple suspects is a sociopath with a juvenile conviction for rape, torture and murder.
When a journalist is found raped and murdered in her own bed, Cragen is able to connect this particular case to another five murders that happened thirty years ago, committed by the “Bedtime Butcher”. To uncover the truth behind the crimes, Benson goes undercover in order to find the real killer.
A cancer patient who was growing marijuana in her apartment is found raped and murdered, sending the detectives on a hunt for two junior-high students, each blaming the other. The prosecution team is faced with the dilemma of trying the older boy as an adult, despite evidence that he was not mentally capable of being able to carry out the crimes.
A grandmother reports that her 2 year old granddaughter has disappeared, but the Amber Alert fails to yield progress. The detectives then move their attention over to her young irresponsible mother as their prime suspect.
After a travel writer is found tied up with a woman's undergarments choking off his air supply, Benson and Stabler initially suspect his landlord's boyfriend, but suspicion soon turns to the landlord and her daughter. Both seem far too interested in what their tenant is doing with his time. After learning the daughter had a sexual relationship with the tenant, things take an even stranger turn.
When a fourteen year old girl is saved from jumping in front of a train, SVU is called in to help her. She falsely accuses an ex-boyfriend of raping her, but when the search turns to her dysfunctional family, surprise discoveries are made. From an overly helpful father, mysterious children, an overaffectionate little girl, a bracelet, and finally sperm from two men who never raped, SVU discovers that the family is even worse off than they thought.
When multi-millionaire Andrew Harlin is found murdered in his home, Benson and Stabler turn their suspicion to Harlin's long list of lovers, which includes both men and women. Evidence at the crime scene leads detectives to a pair of Russian escorts, but before they can get the truth from them, one turns up dead, and the boyfriend of the other confesses to murder.
After young Sean Hamill is stabbed in the back at the schoolyard, detectives are led to Charlie Monaghan, the older boy who had previously gotten into trouble over Hamill, but it isn't long before their attention turns to Monaghan's half-sister Emma Boyd. Hamill had been torturing the little girl for months because she had two mothers. After getting a nice deal for Emma's side, Benson and Stabler are thrown for a loop when Emma's biological grandparents accuse Zoe, who had never legally adopted Emma, of sexually molesting the little girl, and evidence seems to support their claims.
After a young woman is sexually assaulted and murdered, Detectives Olivia Benson and Eliot Stabler track down the woman’s boyfriend – their first suspect – but learn that he is a devout vegan who wouldn’t hurt a fly. They soon find that the victim had been deeply involved in the fight to expose questionable practices in the meat-packing industry, even going undercover at a large company to find out the truth. Benson goes undercover herself to retrace the woman’s footsteps and to identify who the victim might have angered along the way.Watch Now:iTunes
Fin's investigation into three little girl's deaths takes him into the world of immigration, anchor babies, a grassroots opposition movement, a radio talk show host who fans the hatred, and an immigration rights attorney who is somehow tied up in everything.
Police dive into an underground world of self-mutilation and ritual amputation while searching for a missing woman. When a cleanly severed leg is found, the detectives look for links between their current investigation and a possibly similar cold case.Watch Now:iTunes
When a controversial misogynistic comic is accused of rape, Benson is happy to arrest him, but Barba feels the case is weak. (Conventions (2) aired on Chicago P.D., season 1, episode 6.)Watch Now:iTunes
The detectives investigate three murders that seemingly have with no connection to each other, but each one has ties to Benson's previous cases and the detectives worry that Benson is the intended target.