When Tutuola joined the show, his previous background was in Narcotics, which was the job of Ice-T's character in New Jack City.
And when Lee Tergesen guest-starred as a suspect in the episode "Savior," he and Elliot got very touchy-feely in the interrogation room as they prayed together, undoubtedly a reference to their intimate times in prison together.
Harold Perrineau recently played a wheelchair-using ex-con who is now going back to prison for several rapes committed before he became a paraplegic, much as he did on Oz (though sadly this was after Chris Meloni's departure)
The Cold Opening for "Loophole" had Bill Goldberg as a perp hopped up on PCP. Elliot clocks him in the back of the head with a fire extinguisher and gets trashed for his efforts. What finally stops the rage? Fin with a chair to the head.
Amaro at one point visits a Cold Case unit. Also, "Secrets Exhumed" begins the same way most Cold Case episodes did, with one character (in this case, Munch) saying that they'd gotten a break in an old case. Munch hands the case file to Amaro.
In another episode, Cassidy mockingly refers to Amaro as Ricky Ricardo. Danny Pino portrayed Desi Arnaz in the 2003 TV movie Lucy.
Anyone old enough to remember Donal Logue's Jimmy the Cab Driver sketches on MTV should smile at Lt. Murphy's perp disguise in "Spring Awakening."
Richard Belzer has openly stated that John Munch is basically "me as a cop."
Fin was in the Army, just as Ice-T was.
Both Amaro and Barba are Cuban-Americans who speak fluent Spanish, reflecting that Danny Pino and Raśl Esparza are as well.
Kelli Giddish is from Georgia, as is Rollins.
The Danza: In the episode "Friending Emily," Taylor Spreitler guest stars as the victim's sister, Taylor Culphers.
Fake American: Adam Beach, who played Chester Lake, is from Manitoba.
Fandom Nod: in 11x13, "P.C.", Kathy Griffin's lesbian character coming onto Liv. The reasons she gives for her mistake are pretty much the same ones fans have been using for their Slash Fic since, oh, the start of the show.
The best part being when Olivia asks, "Why does everyone think I'm a lesbian?"
Not to mention that some years earlier, Agent Cooper murdered a sociopathic boy who had killed his son.
Related to the above, it was a bit jarring for those that watched Novak as the ADA for a few seasons to finally catch a rerun of "Ridicule"... in which Novak (with a different name and hair color) was convicted of raping a male stripper.
Abandoning the love of her life, Valerie left the old town of Daggerhorn for the bustling city of New York. She donned the name "Tandi" and ends up being raped. I guess you can't escape The Big Bad Wolf.
Aunt May is quite the evil bitchy grandmother, isn't she? And to think, it all started over mushrooms.
In a rather odd allusion to the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, Tiana accuses Italian diplomat Lancelot of raping her. The case is brought to court, and the diplomat's attorney? Why, it's none other than Arvin Sloane!
Wonder Woman and her daughter Daena are a pair of con-artists. Try not to let your babies around them...
Kairi (a.k.a. Claire Bennet) is the daughter of two famous pop stars who wants to be adopted by Olivia, on account of how she regularly hurts herself for parental neglect reasons (that's Kairi, not Olivia).
Four years later, Kairi returns as a schoolgirl who's prone to lying and, well, doing things like giving blowjobs for clothes. Oh, and when a sleazebag doctor records the two of them and her soon-to-be-deceasednote not by his hand friend having sex and won't give her the tape, she kills him to get it back.
Brian Kinney is a physician who specializes in reproduction therapy and is impregnating runaway teenage girls with his sperm under the guise of having the girls give birth to "cloned babies" of couples who had last their children. Marnie Piper is one of those girls, and he was assisted by Susan's Nana.
Shawn Farrell sleeps with his sister without realizing it in "Families."
Haley Dunphy, like Kairi, makes two appearances years apart; first as one of three sisters whose father (Sheriff Lobo's more competent deputy Birdie) is accused of molesting the oldest one. She wasn't molested by him or anyone, but that doesn't stop the middle child from accidentally killing him.
Eight years later, Haley returns as a girl who'll do anything to impress her mother... including, again like Kairi, going from innocent to killer by offing a rival student.
Amy's boyfriend's father Andy Brown, however, did in fact solicit the services of an underage prostitute, eventually committing suicide when he realized how much his football injury-induced brain damage had ruined his life.
And Will's co-workers Miles Fiedler and Grant Test played a gay man who raped physically-compromised women and a stalker who murdered a journalist, Jackie Curatola, with a bomb/pedophile who buried his victim alive, respectively.
Jack Gallo really can't handle the fact that his son Tommy Donnolly is gay, to the point where he murders his lover and lets his son go down for the crime. Bonus: Famine shows up as a horrible old homophobic preacher!
During the first half of the 2011 season, the episode "Missing Pieces" in which a mother claims that her car was stolen with her young son still buckled into his car seat bore more than a passing resemblance to the still-unfolding Sky Metalwala case.
"Personal Fouls" which revolves around a well-respected coach who uses a children's charity to molest young boys originally aired a few weeks before the Penn State molestation story broke. However, according to The Other Wiki, this one was actually based on a different sports abuse case.
In the episode Imprisoned lives, based on Ariel Castro but written before he was convicted, a scene with not-Castro allocuting about why he took the girls had to be cut when it ended up matching Castro's almost word for word.
Tragically, this real life case is disturbingly similar to both the season 4 episode "Resilience," in which a father artificially inseminates his teenage daughter, and, to lesser extent, the season 5 episode "Home," where a mother is an extreme control freak over her home-schooled children.
Old Shame: Elizabeth Donnelly. As seen in "Persona," her run-in with the Idiot Ball that resulted in a murderer escaping from jail coined the phrase "doing a Donnelly" for several years after.