In the criminal justice system, no matter how heinous the crime, there are always two kinds of hilarity — those related to the situation, and those that stem from the lives of those involved. This is a list of them.
Although scattered here and there throughout the series, arguably the biggest chunk of laughable moments (in this otherwise very dark and sinister drama) occur during the very first season.
Detective John Munch owns these, but nothing beats the moment in "Slaves" when he's talking to someone at Air Bucharest and the phone rings:
Detective Munch: Don't answer that phone. Anyone who calls an airline waits on hold twenty minutes minimum while being subjected to a clockwork orangeian repetitive loop on the benefits of your awards program.
Man: I believe that's your phone, sir.
A man gets caught during a bust about to have sex with an unconscious woman.
Man: She fell, and, uh, I was helping her up!
Olivia: With your penis?
Similarly, Benson and Stabler got called in on a prostitution sting after one of the girls claims an attempted rape. One man who's being led away stops to appeal to Olivia that it's all a mistake, only for her to flatly tell him that his fly is open.
When Elliot was trying to work a confession out of Jason Mayberry, he briefly and unexpectedly turns into a dudebro so quickly that it winds up turning a previously serious scene into a pretty funny one.
Mayberry: I want to go home.
Elliot in a whiney child's voice: "I want to go home." *begins sniffling*
Munch undercover as a pedophile tourist is surprisingly funny. Especially since his disguise consists only of changing his shirt, taking off his shades and smiling.
Fin: That's the same crap he's always saying, it's just louder.
From Mike Sandoval's first episode:
Fin: Who's the best at undercover in your squad?
Sandoval: I'm your guy.
Fin: No offense, but my grandmother wouldn't sell an aspirin to you.
Munch instigates more dark-funny on the first episode of the new season:
Munch: Fin and I are thinking about starting up a bar. We need investors. You want in?
Cragen: I don't know. Let me run it past the guys at my next AA meeting.
The early episode where Munch is called in to testify against a shrink who treated hysteria the old-fashioned way.
Prosecution: What was that treatment?
Munch: Miss Weber was told to disrobe, put her feet up in stirrups, and picture David Hasslehoff from Baywatch.
Defense Attorney: Objection! Your honor, this witness is not qualified to testify on the treatment for hysteria.
Munch: Actually, sir, I am. Up until 1952, hysteria was one of the most commonly diagnosed illnesses among women. The medical treatment was hysterical paroxysm.
Court Reporter: Could the witness spell that?
Prosecutor: (looks confused)
Court Reporter: (shocked expression)
Defense: Objection! Would it surprise you to learn that, historically, the onus fell upon physicians to bring about the relief of these ladies' symptoms?
Prosecution: Your honor, please instruct counsel to withold his questions until cross.
Munch: I don't mind, your honor. In fact, I believe the manual version of this treatment dates back to Hippocrates and was attested to right up until the Middle Ages, up until the 1890s, when the vibrator was invented to speed things along.
Prosecution and Defense: Objection!
Prosecution: Detective, is this practice currently against the law?
Munch: Yes. And so is videotaping it.
Defendant: (looks very uncomfortable)
From the same episode we get Elliot's hilariously awkward attempt to give his daughter a sex talk using soccer terminology.
Which culminates in her very bluntly telling him she's still a virgin even as she kicks the ball to him. He stands stock-still while the ball goes right past him and says simply "Okay."
In Closure, part 2, when Elliot and Olivia interview a newspaper stand salesman, they ask what the witness to a rape looked like. He can't describe her face cause he was too busy checking out her butt. Their expressions after hearing this can best be described as a Flat "What."
Elliot and Olivia are trying to interview a suspect who is listening to music on his headphones. So Elliot determines the best way to get his attention is to turn the volume up suddenly. The best part is Olivia. She looks like a little kid worried her parents are going to catch her with her hand in the cookie jar, so to speak.
After the initial announcement, some poor stock boy hangs his head and slowly stride forward, prompting Olivia to clarify over the P.A., "No, not a masturbator, the Master Baiter." You just know he never heard the end of it. And that's when Chris starts corpsing. In both actors' cases, it works because it's completely in character.
Stabler and Fin in "Wildlife" telling rapper "Gots Money" about how, when he goes to prison, his cellie will roll a pair of dice to decide how many times to rape him:
Stabler: Hey, I gots an eleven!
Made even funnier (and slightly horrifying) when you think about the other show (Oz) Christopher Meloni did and the kind of people he associated with in prison. You don't think Schillinger did that a few times?
One episode the 1-6 was being cleaned of asbestos, causing Finn to start worrying. Munch helpfully tells Finn that as a black man, he is much more likely to die from heart disease or diabetes before he gets cancer. Then the next time we see Finn, he's wearing a face mask.
When Olivia was concerned about the little girl of a famous singer:
Munch: Hey, Olivia, [little girl's name] had just called, asking for you.
Olivia: What?! Is she alright?
Munch: No, she saw the new *NSYNC music video and was thoroughly disappointed. As was I.
Fin and Lake are Mistaken for Gay when canvasing for suspects. Lake rolls with it by putting his hand on Fin's thigh.
In Popular, while cross referencing names from a check-in sheet for a hospital and names from an absentee list from a school, Olivia casually mentions that the one from the absentee list must be a forgery, and that she used to do it all the time, everyone does. Elliot gives her a look, and she backpedals by saying that Elliot's kids are the exception, and that she's sure he's very intimidating (all said with a smile on her face). Elliot claims to be real scary afterwards.
In an episode involving stolen embryos, Munch gets a moment of dark humor when he says he has a description of one of the victims and asks if he should put an APB on it, holding up a picture of an embryo.
Benson and Stabler explaining to Cragen why they're having trouble interrogating Ray-Ray, a schizophrenic who speaks in complete Word Salad — and then Ray-Ray interrupts with "Hello? I can't find my head!"
Also, from the same episode,
Ray-Ray: Don't be werewolf. Don't be a werewolf! DON'T BE A WEREWOLF!
Fin's description of the sociology behind being "On The Down-Low", and the others' reaction:
Fin: It's different for black men. They go out, have sex with other men, then come home, have sex with their woman, and pretend they're straight.
(Benson, Cragen, and Stabler stare at him, eyebrows raised)
Fin: Hey, don't look at me, I just know stuff!
In the episode Authority when the accused advocates a protest which ends in a public pillow fight
Novak: If a couple hundred idiots wanna spend their afternoon having a pillow fight, let them.
(cue Munch happily hitting people with a pillow behind her)
When Fin curtly described Munch as "[his] Jew" when they're undercover with a pimp, Munch waits until they're outside to object:
Munch: Your Jew? Your Jew?! What if I called you my boy?
Fin (grinning, arms spread wide): Then I'd be your boy, John!
Related to the above Munch's parting words before they get outside.
The pilot's actually brilliantly laugh-out-loud funny altogether ("Shut up, John!"). The absolute crowner of the pilot has to be Elliot in court. He's trying to justify having arrested a flasher on hearsay (a pretty shaky reason) and the defense lawyer's having a field day...until Elliot uses a euphemism which implies that the flasher is compensating for something, which the perp then promptly disproves in open court. Elliot's expression suggests that Chris Meloni was struggling not to burst out laughing, which is exactly what we all did. Then, right afterward:
Benson: Hey, how'd it go?
Stabler: He's in Bellevue.
Benson: The jury came back that fast?
Stabler: He waved his flag at 'em before they had a chance... Nobody saluted.
From the same episode: Cragen is talking to Benson and Stabler in his office. He's eating a piece of licorice when they tell him that someone "chopped off the victim's unit." Cragen immediately spits the licorice into his hand and dumps it in the garbage.
When they investigate a doctor owning a clinic dedicated to reviving lost vitality via hormone injections, this exchange follows
Munch: What he's doing is perfectly legal
Fin: Don't tell me you're thinking about taking this stuff
Munch: Considered it. Why shouldn't I add some lean muscle to what you so lovingly call "my bony ass"?
Cragen: You can hit a gym when we close this case. Otherwise everybody focus.
Olivia's Intoxication Ensues in "Wet" caused by accidentally breathing in the fumes released by a Large Ham fungi scientist's boiling samples.
Benson: I'm not the one who stabbed the captain with a pickle!
Stabler: IT'S SO HOT IN HERE! I DIDN'T ORDER THAT PIZZA!
"Bombshell" has this El-and-Liv moment during a boring stakeout:
Benson: I got nothing but a five-pound rat.
Stabler: You think you got it bad? I just saw a transvestite who looks like Munch.
In another episode, Benson and Stabler are questioning an OBGYN who saw one of the (pregnant) victims. Stabler asks how he could have not noticed the woman's bruises, but the doctor quickly explains that she told him she fell in the shower (which was supposedly why she needed to see him in the first place). Stabler points out that the two areas she was injured in aren't really consistent with falling in the tub:
Stabler: So she fell on her face... and her vagina.
Towards the end of one episode, Fin and Munch are searching the perp's apartment for his pet cat:
Fin: Here pussy, pussy, pussy. Munch: You're kidding...
One episode has this hilarious exchange after Munch explains another one of his conspiracy theories.
Melinda: Is there anything you can just accept?
Munch: Yeah. Compliments.
Melinda: No wonder you're such a skeptic.
In one episode during a heated interrogation:
Suspect: Oh it's bad cop now, right?
Munch: (screaming) You bet your ass!
Jeffries: John, easy.
Munch: (still in a loud voice) You did it, you piece of crap. I know it, you know it.
Jeffries:Seriously, come on.
Munch:No, I'm going to kill this guy myself.
Suspect:(speaking to Jeffries about Munch) Call him off, call him off.
Munch: I'm gonna Mike Tyson you, you bastard!
Suspect: Come on. Is this legal?
Jeffries: Probably not.
Munch:(whispering in Arthur Pruitt's ear) I'm gonna kill you. I'm gonna kill you. I'm gonna kill you.
Then later, there was Munch hitting on the ME. He gets shot down. HARD.
Elliot trying to kick down a door in "Perverted." He manages to dent the door, but he starts groaning in pain. Cue him getting a phone call:
Elliot: "Starla's not home... I... tried that."
In the episode "Starved", Olivia tries to find a serial rapist who targets successful women through speed dating. At said event, we get to listen in on the various conversations of other speed daters, and one couple is having this exchange:
Man: ...I felt like I was...outside my body, looking down. Ya know?
Woman: Yeah...I felt the same way when I was abducted.
Cragen: That they didn't do anything and you killed Emily all by yourself. Oh, and that you're nuts.
In the episode, "Savant", a developmentally-disabled girl with a penchant for hugs practically asks for one from almost every character... even the judge during trial.
Girl: Can I have a hug?
Petrovsky: *flabbergasted* ... No!
Girl: *pouty face*
Petrovsky: ... Well, maybe later.
Earlier, there's the part where the little girl first meets Novak and immediately latches onto her. Novak is completely caught off guard, while Elliot's expression say, "Yeah, she does that a lot..."
One cold open began with two guys getting into a fight. One picked up a butcher's cleaver. The other guy's chest exploded.
"You shot me?"
*holds up knife* "...How?"
Benson: "What do PMCs do?"
Munch: "Profit from the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Tutuola: "Please don't get him started on Dick Cheney again."note Mariska looked to be on the verge of Corpsing there.
Munch about to start a grand of drugs the dealer keeps in a public washing machine:
Munch: What should I use, "Lemony Fresh" or "Mountain's Dream"?
I can't remember which episode it's from but a defense attorney tells Alex to brush up on her Latin and then quotes a Latin phrase. After a moment of silence Amaro tells Alex what it means. Her response?
Alex: I knew that one thanks.
After a girl draws a picture of the devil as her attacker, Cragen tells Munch to go online and find out what he can about Satanic cults in the area.
Munch: I hear and obey, oh Lord of Darkness.
Munch, once again, delivers. When described as a "dirty old man" by a suspect:
In an effort to catch a corrupt judge in "Crush", several SVU members get into the courtroom under false identities: a suspect in the previous case as a juvenile offender, Cragen as said offender's father, Stabler as the plaintiff, and Dr. Huang as the defense attorney.
In "P.C.", Elliot and Alex are talking when lesbian-rights activist Babs Duffy (played by guest star Kathy Griffin) enters the squadroom railing against Elliot. She sees Alex and immediately stops, ogles her, shyly introduces herself, and then:
Alex: I'll leave you two alone.
Babs: No, you do not need to leave us alone!
When a suspect was bitten by his would be victim's dog and is ranting about how he probably needs to be checked for rabies, Olivia's response is priceless.
Olivia: I seriously doubt you gave the dog rabies.
As the detectives are screening anonymous tips, Fin can be overheard saying:
Fin: No, ma'am, I'm not evading your question. What is your question?
An exchange from Cragen and Munch during the season 2 episode "Taken" when the latter is a bit peeved about a suspect.
Munch: There should be a special level of hell for this pus-sucking, gangrenous, malignancy of an mental amoeba.
When the Judge asks why he should disturb "the sanctity of the dead", Novak says she has a very long and compelling argument that would "disturb the sanctity of your poker game". He signs the order and shoos her out the door.
Gets a Call Back in a later episode when Novak tells the detectives she got their warrants, but it better be damn important as she was "risking my life interrupting Judge Terhune's poker game, again."
In the Christmas Episode "Presumed Guilty," one of the suspects also happens to be a Salvation Army Santa working on a busy public street. Cue Rollins and Fin chasing down and tackling Santa Claus while bystanders look on.
In "Criminal Hatred," when Rollins and Fin are looking for information about a male suspect at an equal opportunity strip club, one of the female strippers greets Fin with "Hey there, Detective Tutuola, long time no see!" As he and Rollins are walking away:
Fin: Met her a long time ago, when I was working undercover.
Rollins: Wow, and your undercover name was "Detective Tutuola"?
Later on in the episode, Fin catches Rollins open-mouthed staring at a pair of male strippers as they finish asking questions at the same establishment.
In "Father Dearest," the detectives' priceless Squick faces while Dr. Huang explains the concept of genetic sexual attraction.
In "Rapist Anonymous," after defense attorney Minonna Efron gets Rollins to admit, on the witness stand, that she disagreed with Barba:
Efron, in Large Ham mode: It isn't easy to break ranks with the DA. I applaud your willingness to speak truth to power.
Then cut to Barba vaguely looking like he wants to strangle someone.
A grimly funny moment occurs in "Wednesday's Child," when the detectives are trying to track down a missing boy who was given away via back-alley adoption to a pair of criminals. Fin and Rollins ask the adoption broker what home address the adoptive couple gave, and she provides it. Fin takes one look and has this reaction:
Fin: Wow, really?... I didn't know anyone lived at YANKEE STADIUM!!
A man was caught getting ready to have sex with an unconscious woman. His completely sincere excuse?
Suspect: I told you; you have to believe me. I though she was dead! Tutuola: Excuse me? Suspect: She was lying there. Not moving. I thought she was dead. (Beat) Tutola: Let's go, creep boy.
The internal Flat "What." was written on Fin and Rollins's faces.
Later, Cabot walks in and bluntly says that she spoke to her bosses and thinking the victim was dead is not a valid excuse.
When Munch and Fin are arresting a fourteen year old sociopath and serial rapist, the kid brings up a calculus teacher at his school that looks like Munch.
Munch: Did he just threaten my hypothetical sister?
In "Head", the detectives are investigating a toilet-cam set up in a coffee shop. Most of the shop's patrons are on laptops.
Munch: I miss the days when revenge just meant shooting someone. Warner: And I miss the days where I never had to say "I ran more DNA tests on that semen."
A very dark example at the beginning of "Hothouse":
Tai chi instructor: Let your chi flow. Can anyone remember the next movement?
Elderly woman: Body in water.
Tai chi instructor: No, snake creeps down.
Elderly woman: No, I mean there's a body in the water!
Huang when giving the profile on the victim's stepfather in "Bullseye". Taking into account his normally civil attitude even when dealing with rapists and serial killers on a regular basis, his response is just amusing:
Olivia: So, any pathologies with Jeff?
Huang: Other than extreme internet addiction, no, he's just a jerk.
Pre-interview with the main suspect, Munch bursts in accusing Elliot and Dani of beating his uncle. When they tell him that the ER doctor said he had Alzheimer's, Munch states all doctors are idiots right in front of Doctor Huang. After answering a few of Huang's questions about his uncle's condition, he asks for a second opinion from him.