* AcceptableTargets:
** Child Psychologists are depicted either wholly corrupt or totally incompetent.
** A surprising number of spoiled rich kids either go on killing sprees for the thrill of it or try to destroy their families when they stop taking care of them.
** The Christians on the show trend towards the homophobic zealous types.
* AlternateCharacterInterpretation: The character from "Pro Se" who is spotlighted under UnintentionallyUnsympathetic? He also shows up under TheWoobie.
* {{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 and tt 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.]]
* GeniusBonus: A 2002 episode involves a murdered high school teacher and a student who as we discovered [[spoiler: was actually a woman in her mid-20s only pretending to be a high school student and claiming never to be able to age.]] What was the episode's title? "Shangri-La", which is the name of a fictional utopia where the inhabitants never grow old.
* 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.
** The season 6 episode "Homesick" is eerily similar to [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louise_Woodward_case the Louise Woodward case]] that happened a mere nine months after the episode aired, [[spoiler: although we learned by the end of the episode that the nanny was innocent all along and while Woodward was convicted, her verdict was thrown out a short time later.]]
* 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 ''Series/{{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:
** Philip Swann from Season 4's "American Dream" and recurring character Governor Don Shalvoy immediately come to mind.
** 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 Creator/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).
** [=McCoy=]'s prosecution is Season 10's "Gunshow" takes the cake: it's a MurderByProxy case where he goes after gun manufacturers for depraved indifference homicide after they neglected to make their semiautomatic pistols less prone to tampering in order to capitalize on profits. (This had resulted in one boy tampering with a pistol to make it fire ''four times'' as many bullets in under a minute, and allowed him to gun down 15 women in Central Park). [=McCoy=] actually [[spoiler: wins; however, the judge (William Wright, who has a grudge on him) throws it out because he believed that the jury had not considered the law properly, and he chastises [=McCoy=] for trying to rewrite social policy in the courtroom]]. This is referenced numerous times, notably in Season 18 when one lawyer criticizes him for being too liberal and persecuting conservatives.
** And, of course, [=McCoy=] sleeping with his assistants. He stops after [[spoiler: Claire dies, and decides that he doesn't want to hurt his assistants by getting intimate with them]]. Of course, this doesn't stop many characters from drawing conclusions. In "Exiled: A Law and Order Movie", Det. Logan asks him if he's got another hot assistant, to which he replies, "You just have a knack for pissing people off, don't you?"
** This was invoked when Cutter's feelings for Connie were outright stated in a Season 20 episode; Cutter says, "Who would put their assistant in a difficult place by sleeping with her?" to which [=McCoy=] replies, "you mean, besides me?"
** "[[AssPull Is this because I'm a lesbian?]]" Dick Wolf has since regretted throwing it in there, conceding that [[spoiler: Serena's]] confession made no sense.
** 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.
* SeasonalRot: All the seasons after Jerry Orbach left. It was never the same afterwards, and the new cast lineups didn't have the same chemistry as the old ones did.
* 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 [[Series/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 full-auto. It's a rare look at a different element of gun rights, albeit done hamfistedly by virtually absolving a mass shooter of fifteen murders, despite quite literally being caught with the smoking gun and confessing on arrest, and scarcely addressing the violations of the 1934 National Firearms Act by converting a firearm to full-auto.
* {{Squick}}: [[spoiler: 20 year old guy to his 60 year old 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''.
* 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 outright ignored her client's threats to innocent people despite repeated warnings, which lead to more killings. 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 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 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.''
* TheWoobie:
** As of the final 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 the longest-running member of the Law and Order cast.
** 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.
** Denise Groban, the victim from "DNR", who was left mortally wounded by an assassin hired by her husband. The whole episode entailed her wanting to die instead of living with being a paraplegic or admitting that he was the one who ordered the hit.