* AcceptableTargets: Child Psychologists are depicted either wholly corrupt or totally incompetent.
** This leads to many cases of TookALevelInDumbass in [[LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit SVU]] where they still treat them with respect. Sadly in the original and Criminal Intent the victim is usually already dead this is not the case in SVU where they still rely on the psychologist council. No matter how many times this is shown to be a stupid thing to do.
** A surprising number of spoiled rich kids go on killing sprees for the thrill of it.
*** Either that or try to destroy their families when they stop taking care of them.
* {{Anvilicious}}: Particularly the later seasons. Rare is the episode in season 20 that doesn't smack you in the head with a political message.
* BigLippedAlligatorMoment: The infamous "Is this because I'm a lesbian?" line is possibly the distilled essence of BLAM:
## It comes completely from nowhere,
## It's quite strange when it happens (nothing in the episode had much to do with homosexuality).
## [[LetUsNeverSpeakOfThisAgain It is never mentioned again by anyone]].
* CompleteMonster: [[Monster/LawAndOrder See here]].
* FanonDiscontinuity: To many fans, there is no ''Law and Order'' without Jerry Orbach.
** There is a small group that insists the last episode actually ended with Anita van Buren's phone ringing. This brings it more in line with the rest of the series.
* FunnyAneurysmMoment: In the episode "Shangri-La", a teacher is murdered. During a interview with the collective faculty, one of the teachers says that it was likely done by a student. When the detectives ask him about it, he replies "You don't see many headlines about faculty out on shooting sprees." [[spoiler: The show's final episode is about a teacher who does just that.]]
** In ''Second Opinion'' (ep. 5-1), which featured a fake breast cancer cure [[spoiler: Van Buren tells the detectives if she got incurable (breast) cancer she'd rather spend her last days with a whole body and surrounded by family rather then working. Years later she gets diagnosed with cervical cancer and works through it the whole time; fortunately it's in remission.]]
* HarsherInHindsight: Following a court's ruling that evidence obtained by the Tokyo police is admissible, the defense lawyer says, "What's next, drag a suspect across the nearest border and beat a confession out of him?" In 1995, unthinkable. In 2005, official US policy.
** Both “Animal Instincts” and the later episode “Patsy” involved a woman with erotomania who kills the lover of the man she's obsessed with. While both episodes involved the man being initially suspected Patsy focused years down the line where the man had become ProperlyParanoid after years of being stalked and accused of a crime he didn’t commit.
* HilariousInHindsight: On the season 8 episode "Baby, It's You" (crossing over with HomicideLifeOnTheStreet) that was RippedFromTheHeadlines from the Jon Benet Ramsey case, they arrested the stalker of a 14 year old model that was raped to death. The stalker misread the name tag of [[JustForFun/JohnMunch a certain visiting Baltimore Homicide detective]] as "Defective Monk." This was in 1997, 5 years before the debut of {{Monk}} the DefectiveDetective. In case you were wondering, it turned out [[spoiler: that the kid was innocent and the [[ParentalIncest girl's own mother]] was the one who raped and killed her daughter.]]
** In the season 6 episode "Aftershock" (which aired in 1996), Briscoe utters the line, [[{{TheSixthSense}} "I see dead people, all the time"]] when discussing his job with his daughter.
* MagnificentBastard: Many. Philip Swann from Season 4's "American Dream" and recurring character Governor Don Shalvoy immediately come to mind.
** [[MagnificentBastard Magnificent]][=/=]ManipulativeBitch: Expy- The plot of expy-Mary Sue Hubbard[[note]]of Scientology (in)famy)[[/note]] to sink her abusive con-man husband and get all his money. It did wind up killing six innocent people, including a child, but it worked: he's stuck in prison for six life sentences and no one can prove she actually meant to kill anyone.
* MostWonderfulSound: It just wouldn't be ''Franchise/LawAndOrder'' without the inimitable ''CHUNG-CHUNG'' (also known as ''doink-doink'' and [[Series/LawAndOrderUK "Cell door clang"]]).
* NarrowedItDownToTheGuyIRecognize: If the Special Guest Star isn't the victim or defense attorney, (s)he's the perp (or a major accomplice).
** [[SubvertedTrope Subverted]] by KevinSmith, who asked to play a guy who was just one more person the detectives had to talk to before they found the killer.
** Also now played with by the fact that many smaller parts are played by actors who, much later, became famous.
* NeverLiveItDown: A running gag of the last decade of the show has been other prosecutors bringing up how [=McCoy=] once purposely hid a witness in a murder case from the defense team. This, plus the subsequent ethics compliant and trip before the Bar (from which [=McCoy=] was ultimately cleared of all wrong doing) has been used against Jack whenever he complains about his subordinate's bending to the point of breaking the rules of law for the pursuit of justice.
** And more often than not [=McCoy=] would counter with "And I'm the one telling you this is a bad idea. That should tell you something!"
** He also twice instigated 'fake trials'. In one, the defendant was in on it (the goal was to suss out a corrupt member of the prosecutor's office), but in the other the defendant wasn't and the whole thing was a ploy to allow [=McCoy=] to suborn perjury which would induce the defendant to confess. [=McCoy=] was later removed from the case for that event. Oh, and [[spoiler: the judge's superior threw out the case. The defendant was released and subsequently murdered by his co-conspirators. Oops.]]
** Another time, [=McCoy=] hid evidence from the defense that could have seemed exculpatory but he didn't think was technically relevant (he was arguing that a certain person was mentally unable to consent to commit a crime, and the evidence was the defendant's motive). The judge disagreed and ordered the evidence admitted (see: [[spoiler: episode 5, season 6, 'Competence']]). The next season, one of [=McCoy's=] former assistants was found to have hidden evidence and accidentally sent the wrong man to prison. Her defense was that [=McCoy=] did it too. [=McCoy's=] look when Kincaid told him that she'd have to tell the Bar Association that he suppressed evidence in the first case is a TearJerker. (See [[spoiler: episode 6, season 12, 'Trophy']]).
** [=McCoy=] also once attempted to have a woman sterilized; she had Munchausen's Syndrome and was murdering her babies. The judge threw this out.[[note]]Though it was clear that was [=McCoy's=] goal: Adam Schiff ordered him to make a deal, so he threw in the sterilization as an intentional deal breaker.[[/note]] Much later, Cutter cited this case when Jack objected to him trying to enjoin a family from having their severely-disabled daughter go through a medical procedure that would remove her legs and reproductive organs (to make it easier to care for her).
** "[[AssPull Is this because I'm a lesbian?]]"
** Also, "Sundays In The Park With Jorge". It's the only episode in twenty years to be ''pulled from rotation'' and made Dick Wolf and company look Hispanophobic.
* ReplacementScrappy: Several in-universe examples. It becomes something of a tradition, when one detective is replaced, for his former partner to regard his replacement with suspicion or outright hostility for the first few episodes.
** In RealLife, the defining examples are: Nora Lewin, who replaced the most popular DA, Adam Schiff, and was seen as wishy-washy even InUniverse; Serena Southerlyn, without question the least popular ADA, who followed the polarizing but far more memorable Abbie Carmichael; Michael Cutter, who had the unenviable task of succeeding Jack [=McCoy=] in the EADA's chair (although [=McCoy=] was still on the show, so the impact was lessened); and, definitively, Joe Fontana, who replaced arguably the show's most beloved character, Lennie Briscoe.
** Although [=McCoy=] never fell into this with most fans and the critics, there is a section of the fandom that are adamant about Ben Stone being the superior EADA.
* RescuedFromTheScrappyHeap: Viewers eventually warmed up to Joe Fontana. Ditto Mike Cutter, once the writers toned down his cockiness.
* TheScrappy: Serena, who fans pretty much hated due to the blandness of the character.
** Nina Cassady as well due to her [[InformedAbility informed abilities]], [[SarahSilverman her striking resemblance to a certain polarizing stand-up comic]] and due to her being a watered-down version of [[LawAndOrderCriminalIntent Eames.]]
* {{Shipping}}: Jack/Claire and Michael/Connie both have pretty decent sized fanbases. Jack and Nora also had a smaller, but passionate following.
* SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped
** One example is an episode about a mass shooting, which turns into a case about after-market gun add-ons which make them far more lethal. It's a rare look at a different element of gun rights.
* {{Squick}}: [[spoiler: 20-y-o guy to his 60-y-o girlfriend, after learning she'd had a "vagina lift": (basically) "But I love you ''because'' of how you are!" The reason he's into MayDecemberRomances is also fairly squicky.]]
* SpecialEffectsFailure: The otherwise deadly serious "A Death In The Family" (ep 1-13) begins with an unlucky perpetrator falling to his doom, and -just out of camera range, landing on a police car. At his scream and impact sound, the camera sweeps back to catch a none-too-convincing dummy on the none-too-convincingly-damaged cop car.
* [[StrawCharacter Strawman Political]]: There's ''A LOT''.
* UnfortunateImplications: The repeated use of AllAbusersAreMale. Besides the obvious [[LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit Ridicule]], both the [[LawAndOrder original series]] and LawAndOrderCriminalIntent had episodes where the Male victim was suspected simply because they could no longer remain calm and collected after years of abuse by their female abuser. In [[LawAndOrder Patsy]] a man is suspected of assaulting his former girlfriend’s sister after years of stalking her. Even after discovering that she was stalking him the prosecution decided that she must have felt very strongly about his guilt to go through so much trouble and continued with the case. It is only after a mistrial (caused by Mccoy because he was losing) that they find evidence that she was the one who murdered her sister. While in [[LawAndOrderCriminalIntent The Good Doctor]] the enabling family of a cheating drug-abusing wife suspected that her husband had her killed her after a private investigator got evidence of his infidelity. Despite the fact that the wife has repeatedly disappeared on drug binges before plus the fact they had absolutely no evidence the man was convicted. In both cases the men were condemned because they could no longer remain calm and collected after years of abuse.
** At the end of "Prejudice", an episode where a racist killed a Black man, after the man's conviction, [=McCoy=] and Lewin remark about the {{Irony}} of the man's pride over being part of the "majority" is that how he now gets to spend the rest of his life as a "minority" (I.e., saying it's mostly people of color behind bars.)
* UnintentionallySympathetic: Bud Greer (who was played by future ''Series/LawAndOrderCriminalIntent'' star Courtney B. Vance) from the episode "Rage". Although [[RippedFromTheHeadlines the basis of the story is taken from]] the very ''un''sympathetic Long Island Subway killer, Colin Ferguson (no, not the [[MrFanservice Maytag man]]), his character was this because he was [[AllOfTheOtherReindeer unfairly rejected]] in both Black ''and'' White society for as long as he remembered and his victim, his [[BadBoss boss,]] was just a [[AssholeVictim unlikable, money-hungry racist jerkass]] who it was difficult to care about.
* UnintentionallyUnsympathetic: The defense attorney Danielle Melnick has a history of sacrificing her others even her clients for her own political agenda. In “Open Season” she out right ignored her clients treat to innocent people despite repeated warnings getting a lot of innocent people killed. Her being shot by one of her former client's followers who mistakenly believed that she had ratted him out came across more as LaserGuidedKarma then anything else. It also doesn’t help that she never once admitted she did anything wrong to the point of giving McCoy a [[WhatTheHellHero what the hell hero]] for prosecuting her.
** Both of the killers from "Pro Se" and "Under The Influence". Both were incredibly self-righteous mass-murdering [[JerkAss jerkasses]] who did everything they could to obstruct justice in their cases [[DisabilityAsAnExcuseForJerkassery due to their respective diseases (schizophrenia and alcoholism)]]. The latter only comes off as ''somewhat'' sympathetic because towards the end of the episode, only after he is shown the autopsy photos of his victims [[TearJerker including one of a four-year-old boy]], he breaks down and [[AssPull is suddenly remorseful]]. The former only feels [[ItsAllAboutMe sympathy for himself,]] blames Claire for what ultimately happened [[NiceJobBreakingItHero (since she ended up getting him released after committing another, non-violent crime)]] and didn't feel one ounce of remorse for any of his victims, [[FateWorseThanDeath including the lone survivor who now has permanent brain damage.]]
** The coroner featured in "Suicide Box" (not Rodgers). Years earlier, she was given the body of a deceased young man, who since she couldn't determine a cause of death [[TheyJustDidntCare (and really didn't bother to try for one)]], just checked it off as a suicide, which caused his killer to go free [[KarmaHoudini (and never get convicted)]], caused his little brother to grow up angry and vengeful and made him try and kill an officer (as he blamed cops for not solving his brother's murder) and which caused the deceased young man's body [[spoiler: to be [[NightmareFuel shipped overseas as a cadaver whose parts have already been harvested.]]]] And yet, since she was [[SarcasmMode plagued]] with a heavy workload and long hours, we are supposed to feel sorry for ''her.''
* WeCouldHaveAvoidedAllThis: This was done in universe in "Double Blind" if Dr. Christian Varick had done even one of the numerous required tests for the double blind study the murder would never have happened.
** [[WhatAnIdiot He also could have passed off his study onto cancer research a made a fortune.]]
* TheWoobie: As of the current season, Lt. Van Buren and her struggle with cancer (not that she'll have any of it, mind you) What makes her worthy of woobie-dom is the fact that she's currently the longest-running member of the Law and Order cast.
** [[spoiler: On top of that, word is the actress leaving the show, not that it matters since the show got canceled. And [[ExpositoryHairstyleChange she just got her hair back/revealed her real hair]] for the first time!]])
** [[spoiler: Don't fret, the series' finale reveals that (after a scare caused by a scanner malfunction) that her cancer is in remission ("Thank you, ''thank you.''").]]
** Jack and Claire's relationship was dealt with with a very light touch, but it became the focus of an episode [[spoiler:after Claire's death]]. Jack is trying a drunk driver and conspires with the judge to charge him with murder, with everyone around him stepping lightly. Finally, Jack pushes the defendant to a breakdown on the stand. Jack, in a MyGodWhatHaveIDone moment, relents and reveals the evidence that the man was blind drunk (and earning an enemy in the judge, who had political aspirations).
** Typically, the show wants you to sympathize with the victims, the Law, or the Order, but they sometimes make even the defendant a woobie. One particularly tragic story is that of a psychotic who refuses his medication, even though he gets violent. It's revealed that the side effects make it incredibly difficult for him to function, and because of his illness he wasn't able to pursue any work, let alone his dream career. He'd contemplated and pursued suicide when he realized that. He stopped taking his medication after his sister testified to that. He agrees to take a plea (strict monitoring for the rest of his life to make sure he takes his meds or stays in a hospital), and breaks down into renewed psychosis is a TearJerker. Everyone in the courtroom acts their little hearts out, showing dawning realization and varying degrees of regret and horror.