Wall Bangers: Law & Order

The Mothership
  • Serena Southerlyn's reaction to being fired from the team:
    • The look on Arthur's face spoke for us all. Wait, what?
    • Right before she uttered this line, he specifically and directly stated why she was being fired.
      • He could've been a lying bigot, and Serena was trying to provoke a You Just Told Me reaction.
      • Which would've been so futile and desperate a ploy it would've pretty much justified Arthur's decision then and there.
  • The episode "Profiteer" (s17 e6) had the Army strong-arm McCoy into cutting a deal with a CEO who knowingly shipped worthless body armor to Iraq so that the whole thing would go away. The problems:
    1. By the time the Army stepped in, the defense had almost finished its case. Most of the damage the case would have done already had been done.
    2. The Army threatened to assist the defense if McCoy didn't cut the deal. But what exactly could they do that McCoy couldn't rip apart as self-serving and irrelevant? What could they offer that the defendant hadn't already testified to?
    3. It was probably the most egregious example of the Arthur Branch-era episodes' over-reliance on using the Iraq War and the "War or Terrorism" for Your Princess Is in Another Castle scenarios.
    4. What is the Army's motive for backing the CEO? Even if he did so in full collusion with corrupt Army officers (and I don't remember if he did or not), the Army as a whole is ultimately the victim here. Simply standing up and going 'We support throwing the book at this horrible person who betrayed our trust and our brave soldiers!' gets the Army off the PR hook and actually earns them a sympathy vote in addition.
      • The implication there was that the Army knew about the bad armor and did nothing: Something the CEO was likely testify to in exchange for a lesser sentence.
      • Unless the decision was literally sanctioned at the Joint Chiefs of Staff level, and the CEO has binding proof of this that can triumph over a "it's his word vs. ours" type confrontation (because the CEO starts off with a bit of a credibility debit here), the Army still has less to lose by cutting this guy loose and sacrificing a few crooked colonels to go over the side with him than by officially tying the entire US Army as an accomplice after the fact to this shit. They have lots of colonels. In addition, there's also the question of troop morale; the rank-and-file soldiers will be understandably pissed off about this, and its much less trouble down the road if the enlisted men believe that the senior brass actually is willing to punish corrupt officers over things like this. (And if they actually believe the troops won't eventually find out about this, they're too stupid to be believable second lieutenants, let alone generals — the senior enlisted grapevine sees all, knows all.)
  • "Life Line" (16-5) had gang members ("L-7s", the series's stand-ins for the real-life MS-13 gang) crawling out of the woodwork to yell death threats at a witness in open court. They are obvious gang members with tattoos up to their necks, gang colors, etc.; they shouldn't have been allowed anywhere near that court house and should have been hauled away in cuffs for the death threats. Instead, they're just kicked out of the courtroom as if they merely called the witness an asshole. One of the thugs even threatens Alexandria Borgia ("Tell your boss... I got this close") after the case is closed. Borgia is brutally murdered at the end of the season, making that death threat even more glaring.
  • "Payback": The U.S. Attorney's office asks Jack to drop the charges against a mob boss they have in custody. No, they're not trying to make a deal with said boss or anything, they just want the charges dropped and won't give a good reason why. Naturally, Jack is not inclined to do so but Arthur cuts in and orders him to drop the charges, then spews Blatant Lies about how he and the attorney didn't make any backroom deals that Jack isn't being let in on. Jack frees the boss, who is promptly killed by other mobsters who suspected he cut a deal, giving the U.S. Attorney a solid case to roll up the entire crew and leaving Jack justifiably upset that Arthur blatantly undermined his authority by helping to throw his own case away so the U.S. Attorney could have theirs.
  • "Hubris" was designed to show off how a charming, charismatic, scumbag can give justice the middle finger using his power over anything with a vagina. The case begins with the defendant's attorney getting a videotape of his murders tossed out as evidence under the usual flimsy reasoning that Fox News Liberal judges always fall for. The judge then allows the defendant to present a surprise alibi witness: a female co-worker with an unrequited crush on the defendant, who has been returning her affection just in time for her to provide a false alibi. It never occurs to McCoy to present the murder tape to discredit both the witness and the defendant (which would be perfectly admissible to challenge their sworn statements; something he has done before) or charge them both with perjury. After the trial ends with a hung jury, the jury forewoman (and sole holdout for a guilty verdict) comes forward to admit she and the defendant started dating in the middle of the trial and he dumped her after the trial was over. The DA decides jury tampering charges would be a waste of time, even though the defendant was openly flirting with her during the whole trial and Jack brought it to the judge's attention. Good thing he wastes all that Kevlar karma and gets stabbed in self-defense as he tries to kill her for no discernible reason.
    • The implication at the end was NOT that the murderer was killed in self-defense; the implication is that the Jury Forewoman lured him into her kitchen where she could kill him and make it look like self-defense, and neither the police nor the prosecution had any interest in poking holes in this story.
  • "Savages" (6-3): In order to sustain a capital murder charge of an accountant who killed an undercover cop, McCoy cuts a ridicuous deal with the accountant's client - a Smug Snake drug dealer whom the murdered cop was investigating in the first place: The drug charges vanish AND full immunity for his testimony. Just to slap the Death Penalty on someone McCoy already had dead to rights on 2nd Degree Murder. As if the writing staff knew there was no way this would go un-protested, neither the drug dealer's testimony nor the reactions of the police (who, in real life, would justifiably be screaming bloody murder) are shown. All of this is after we see Adam Schiff spend a good amount of time trying to find a way to justify not applying the Death Penalty. The closest we see to a What the Hell, Hero? reaction is Claire's passive-aggressive accusatory glances.
  • "Just a Girl In The World" (20-2): One of the case's biggest clues (not involving Lupo's indiscretion with the eventual defendant) was the discovery of the Corpse Of The Week's fiancee withdrawing $1800 from an ATM. That's $1800 in a single withdrawal. This is practically impossible. You might be able to find an ATM that goes over $400 per transaction (at say, a strip club or a casino), but this ATM was at a bodega and would likely have a $200 limit. And there's a daily withdrawal limit most banks put on total ATM withdrawals (between $500 and $800 at most banks) to prevent both customers and ATMs from being cleaned out. This would be minor, but it was used as major evidence — the motive, since the defendant conned the fiancee into giving her the money. An ATM machine was made to do what ATMs are never allowed to do for the reason they are never allowed to do it.
  • The existence of Arthur Branch. Now, let me be very clear: I do not deny the possibility that some county somewhere in the United States would elect as its District Attorney a Southern Republican corporate attorney who flatly does not believe in the existence of a right to privacy and orders his deputies who work to invalidate same-sex marriages. Nay, nor do I even deny that there are counties within the state of New York that would elect such a man. But the idea that New York County, which is probably the second or third most Democratic county in the entire United States of America, would elect him to anything is patently absurd. Just for perspective: the last time Manhattan had a Republican D.A. in real life, Franklin Roosevelt was still President. And he was Dennis Kucinich compared to Arthur Branch. And don't say "Oh, well, Nora Lewin was just that bad of a politician," either. If she was really that bad, she'd have lost the Democratic primary. New York Democrats are like that: if they sense weakness in one of their incumbents, it's primary time.
  • "Steel-Eyed Death" (20-13): AKA "The Juggalo episode", L&O's "shining moment" of poor research was a slapdash, lazy condemnation of Horrorcore in general and Juggalos in particular (For one thing, ICP is more a parody of horrorcore than a legit example). Not to mention the defense attorney's ludicrous attempt to impeach Lupo's credibility by invoking a case in Lupo's past where she was the defense attorney, to try and build sympathy for her current client. For one thing: the defense putting off cross-examining Lupo just gave Lupo time to mentally prepare - as if Lupo couldn't have guessed what she was going to bring up. And that Lupo wouldn't give a heads-up to Cutter, who preceded to destroy defense council on re-direct.

  • The Season Two episode "Closure" is almost a duplicate of "Hubris," involving a charming, charismatic, scumbag getting away as a serial rapist. Cabot's case against him revolves around pieces of jewelry that the defendant took from his victims and gave to his wife. Cabot is then restricted to what the wife can testify to by motion to suppress due to "spousal privilege." But spousal privilege in criminal law only involves the spouse's right to refuse to testify - it does not make testimony ineligible if the spouse willingly waives that right and chooses to testify. The witness spouse does not need consent from the defendant spouse to waive the privilege in a criminal trial. Naturally, the wife breaks on the stand and violates the motion, getting the case thrown out and forcing the wife to conspire with one of his rape victims: The victim murders him in cold blood and cleans up the evidence, and the wife confesses to killing him in self-defense.
  • An episode in which the CEO of a company is convicted of facilitation of murder after a man bases a murder off one of his company's stories. As in, a man goes to prison over someone reading too far into fiction, in direct opposition to a number of Supreme Court decisions that are brought up in the episode.
    • That's because the CEO allowed his company to give pseudo-Child-kidnapping porn to a pedophile who was in need of help even though he begged them to stop sending him the porn. The man was on the sex offender list; the company was using that list as A MAILING LIST FOR THEIR PORN.
    • The attorney points out at the end the likelihood of the decision getting reversed on appeal and how the D.A. got her headlines taking down the big bad porn company.
  • See the No Bisexuals page for Stabler & Co.'s... experiences with human sexuality.
  • "Avatar" (S0902). A kidnapper put a girl in a cabin near a lake, which is replicated perfectly in his MMORPG. The logical way to find the cabin? Turn on the sun and find out where the shadow is cast!
    • More accurately, they had cops at the lake, and figured the cabin had evidence of his previous kidnapping years earlier (specifically, a body, like it did in the game), but couldn't figure out which side of the large lake the cabin was on, since they weren't sure which direction was which in the simulated area in the Second Life knockoff and they were conducting the search at night, which rules out helicopters. They can't compare the game's lake from overhead to a map of the real lake, because it's coded to disappear from such a view. That left either manually searching the entire lake, dicking around in the code, or just having the admin make the sun rise which tells them roughly where the cabin is and drastically reduces the search area. Even Olivia looks irritated at the admin for having to tell him, repeatedly, to do something to help catch a killer while he's dickering about briefly confusing his millions of players. Time was critical, since the Genre Savvy bad guy was about to take a plane at the airport out of their jurisdiction before they found enough evidence to indict him. And it turns out the girl he "kidnapped" had gone with him voluntarily, he had simply left her there for 25 years, and she went and got a job to support herself, expecting him to come back. In context, it's an unlikely set of circumstances, but not a wallbanger. It's the same as the hero's clever trick at the last minute in action movies when the bad guy thinks he's got everything under control. The writers jumped through hoops to explicitly justify that moment.
    • The girl waiting 25 years at the cabin without contacting anybody she used to know ever counts as a wallbanger. Was she really that cut off from the Internet, phone, mail, and everything? Including at work?
  • The monkey is in the basketball!
  • In one episode, Stabler's bratty son goes missing in a jurisdiction other than the detectives'. Does the team let the appropriate unit take care of it? Of course not. All of them except Munch and the Captain drop everything, including their pressing rape case which is about to be dropped at trial, to look for the little snot. This is portrayed sympathetically.
  • There's the episode dealing with a closeted professional football player. Olivia is openly baffled about why a professional athlete in a team sport being gay would be a big deal. This is a woman who deals with assault victims of every gender, gender identity, race, and age. Then again, in all Law & Order franchises so far, female cast members are uniformly clueless about anything involving sports.
  • In the episode "Impulsive," an underaged male high school student is diagnosed with a sexually-transmitted disease. He tells his doctor that he got it from his teacher, who's a woman about twice his age. The SVU detectives go to arrest the teacher for statutory rape. She acknowledges that penetrative sex happened between them, but she also claims that he physically forced himself on her. Since it's a "he said, she said" situation, the police try to decide what action they should take and put the teacher under surveillance. They end up watching her go into an abortion clinic. What do they do? They get a warrant to obtain the discarded fetus so they can do genetic testing on it and determine who the father was. But why would this matter? Both sides acknowledged that sex took place.
    • There's another wallbanger later in the episode, after the boy has admitted that he raped the teacher. His lawyer claims that he shouldn't be considered responsible because he's a sex addict. The teacher decides to ask for leniency for the boy (that is, no jail time) if he apologizes because she realizes that he was sick and didn't have proper self-control. We're supposed to applaud her "noble" decision. But he didn't just rape her — he also chose to accuse her of statutory rape, which nearly sent her to jail and destroyed her career.
  • One of the shrinks once bullied a scared little girl who had been molested into telling them who the pedo was. She cracks under pressure and points at an innocent man just so they will leave her alone. Everyone dogpiles him; they don't even bother to examine her testimony. They ruin the guy's life. Elliot only suspects there's something wrong near the end of the episode, when the damage is already done. The Jerk Jock who molested the girl is caught and jailed... But not only was an innocent adult's life destroyed (he tells that to Elliot in an epic Tear Jerker scene), but the little victim also had to go through the trauma of being interrogated several times. All because Elliot and the female shrink are so obsessed with catching the sex offender that they forget about anything else.
    • Elliot wasn't involved with the interrogation, but he did press the issue with the perp. Hendrix (the shrink in question) only assumed that the picture the girl drew was the perp (it was of someone else); the little girl went with it for the stated reason. The true Wall Banger is that no one called her out on that.
  • The episode in which Elliot is accused of beating a young suspect to death. It turns out that the guy keeled over from a combination of misusing his prescription for a heart arrhythmia and the stress from being chased down a couple of city blocks. Elliot tried to give him CPR when he stopped breathing, which accidentally ruptured his spleen after he was already dead. Rather than bring it up at the start of the investigation, Elliot waits until his career is nearly ruined before he offhandedly mentions that detail to the medical examiner, who then figures out the real cause of death. And no one considered that the drugs they knew the guy had abused could have had something to do with his death until then. We could have avoided all of this, you moron!
  • Probably the reigning king of SVU wallbangers is an episode that dealt with "sexting" — that is, the sending of text and picture messages of a sexual nature over mobile phones. In that episode, a high school girl was assaulted but refused to identify her attacker. The DA decided that the best way to get her to identify her attacker was to arrest her for possession of child porn —specifically, the racy pictures of herself on her cell phone. When Olivia refuses to do that, the DA orders her to do so and informs her that if she does not comply, then she'll not only be fired (which the DA cannot do) but will also be charged and incarcerated for obstruction of justice. Any DA who tried that in Real Life would be laughed out of the courtroom and then arrested for malicious prosecution.... Anyhow, Olivia caves and arrests the girl. The tactic works, and the girl relents... And then the judge at the hearing refuses to allow the DA to drop the charges, and sentences the girl — without any testimony, evidence, or legal process — to a long prison term at a distant juvenile detention facility. (For those who aren't sure, a DA can drop charges without the judge's consent at any time until the suspect is convicted. Even juveniles can't be jailed purely on judicial fiat.) It turned out that the judge had been taking kickbacks from the facility owner (who happened to be her nephew), who was paid by the state for every inmate.
    • For what it's worth, the last part of that is Truth in Television - a Pennsylvania judge was recently convicted on charges of taking bribes from the owners of a private detention facility in exchange for sentencing juvies who came before him to that facility, a scandal that came to be known as "kids for cash". Juveniles in his court had their due process rights routinely violated.
  • The treatment of male victims in general:
    • The episode with the male stripper who had been raped was good about depicting the victim sympathetically, but Stabler's skepticism was troublesome. His reaction implied that female-on-male rape is not only exceedingly rare—hard to believe for a sex-crimes detective, even in the case of this very-underreported type of crime—but also ISN'T RAPE AT ALL if the man maintains an erection. The other detectives do call him on it, and the man's case is pursued, but Elliot's clear misunderstanding of the very nature of rape is never addressed by Captain Cragen, who should immediately have considered that perhaps Elliot didn't belong in the unit.
    • Then there's the infamous "cattle prod" episode, in which the men whose DNA was stolen when they were roofied and had a cattle prod stuck up their butt to provoke spontaneous ejaculation were treated as victims of a con instead of victims of rape.
    • There was a case where the perpetrator claimed to have been raped by the man he killed. Sure, it was bogus, but the detectives dismissed his claims a lot faster than they would have dismissed similar claims from a female perp.
    • The granddaddy of all Double Standard episodes was the one where the victims were male escorts, who were hookers even though the company they worked for was supposedly a classy escort service. Olivia was horrible about the men, particularly one who was only doing it to take care of his mother, talking about how awful their work was. Stabler finally called her out on it. That's like being told your conspiracy theory is too crazy by Munch. This isn't a Wallbanger in itself, but having it in continuity creates one a couple of seasons later in an episode where a woman was doing hardcore porn to support her sick daughter. She took the kid with her to the porn shoot. Granted, the kid wasn't "on set," but still! Olivia was ready to go to bat for her... Let's review. A man in a desperate situation is hooking, and that is horrible because it's degrading. A woman in a desperate situation is making hardcore porn, which is legalized hooking for the camera, and brings her child with her, but that is OK. Right. This could be interpreted as sexist against men, against women, or both. In Olivia's mind, either "Selling your body is degrading and horrible but if you're a woman it's okay because how else are these stupid women gonna support themselves?" or "Selling your body is degrading and horrible but it's worse if you're a man because the love that you feel for your mother could never possibly compare to the love that a woman feels for her child, you selfish man."
      • Speaking of this episode, at one point they send in one of the escorts wearing a wire to meet with his (female) boss, with whom he had a sexual relationship. Despite having every reason to believe that the boss would try to have sex with him (or at least feel him up), they still give him a wire under his shirt. Naturally, this gets caught within seconds. So what does the team do? Immediately mobilize from the Surveillance Van after it's obvious that their CI had been compromised... and then wait in the hall until they hear him scream after the boss fatally wounds him. Seriously.
    • Olivia has been shown to be more sympathetic towards women than men in general, often giving them more leeway than she would if the roles were reversed. In one episode, when it turned out that a female rape victim not only lied about being raped by two boys at school but also started it herself, Olivia was reluctant to arrest her. She's only a few misandrist comments away from becoming a Straw Feminist (assuming she isn't there already).
      • Wait, so, this show has done an episode where a guy lies about being raped by women and is non-reluctantly arrested rather than simply being laughed off? Not the impression I've gotten...
  • A more recent one comes in the episode "Bullseye," in which the cops invade personal privacy by accepting a man's flagrantly illegal records of people's computer information. They completely trust this man's information as genuine and don't examine its validity. Then they pressure a man who had moved on from his pedophilic past allow him to be beaten up in the precinct and at arraignment, when he clearly is beaten, demand he be remanded.
  • When the D.A. brought obscenity charges against a suspect accused of disseminating rape fiction, she cites the "I can't define it but I know it when I see it" statement to the judge regarding the definition of obscenity. The statement in question was made by a judge who threw out the obscenity charges and the statement became popular as an example of the type of vacuous, subjective reasoning a good jurist should never base their decisions on.
  • The Shocking Swerve ending of "Mean" where a teenager who was bullied by the Alpha Bitch (dead) and her posse (in jail for murdering the Alpha Bitch) gets her locker spray-painted and decides to shoot the vandal in revenge. Not only was the spray paint clearly stenciled-in with straight letters so the viewers could read the long sentence but the vandal wrote so large she had to spray the other lockers too (one wonders what the people next to her thought of their lockers getting trashed). And they never mention where she managed to pull a gun out of thin air.
  • Episode 6.01, "Birthright": a character's kidnapping of a six-year-old girl — twice — is regarded as defensible because the child is revealed to be her biological daughter. It is never mentioned that at the time of the first kidnapping, no one knew this — as far as anyone knew, she was kidnapping a perfect stranger who happened to resemble her own dead child.
  • Another episode has a rape victim whose Karma Houdini rapist has gotten away from the law (3rd or 4th time with multiple children over 30 years or so). She then goes to his house with a gun. SWAT is called and on-scene with her barricaded in the bedroom with him. Shots go off, police burst in the room, and the guy's dead. This is excused when they find another little girl in the bathroom (alive, for once in this series). They choose not to press charges as it's "defense of others". A few problems with this: Law and Order is HORRIFICALLY against self-defense slayings. They went so far as to charge a store owner who shot and killed 3 mafia thugs who were beating up one of his employees WITH DRAWN GUNS IN HIS STORE, and make it a "dark ending" when he was acquitted. In comparison, this woman actively murdered a 60-year old man despite him being unarmed, having police on-site, and having an airtight case for kidnapping and a good case for child rape. Double-standard indeed.
    • That ep from the original Law and Order is a bit more complicated than that. The storeowner knew it was just a shakedown, and didn't shoot the robber who was strangling his assistant first. It's hardly a good murder case, but the DA went forward anyway, but failed.
    • There were two episodes in the original that did this; the other was the season 3 episode Self Defense. It was also ambiguous in this one; the store owner was acquitted of killing the robber that he shot in the store, but convicted of shooting the guy that he had to chase out into the street to take down.
  • Okay, the first part of Episode "Beef" has always bugged the heck out of me. This woman was murdered and two different semen types were found inside her. Instead of making the rational decision that she had sex with her boyfriend and was than raped and killed by someone else, Benson and Stabler decide that the victim was seeing two men. Worse, instead of trying to find the other man to confirm he had nothing to do with it, they immediately decide that the animal activist, vegan, doesn't kill cockroaches boyfriend they do know about found out about her other boyfriend and raped and killed her. Both Detectives proceed to browbeat the suspect until he demands a lawyer and Cpt. Cragen tells them that the boyfriend has an alibi. Because clearly Benson and Stabler didn't check before leaping to conclusions.

Criminal Intent
  • Detective Goren was known for using tactics to elicit confessions that would earn the detective on the mothership a strict censure. The most flagrant instance was when he convinced a suspect to confess by claiming he'd committed no crime, then arrested him when he admitted to negligent homicide. Lying to a suspect about their criminal liability is a flagrant police violation that would get a confession axed fairly quickly.
    • Unlike the other Law and Orders, they never really show what happens at the trials. And it is well known that the upper brass don't like Goren for a number of reasons. Perhaps this is one?
  • In "Poison" and "F.P.S.", Goren enacts Batman Gambits that center on arresting the wrong person for the crime (even convincing the D.A. to get a grand jury indictment in the former) to trap the guilty party. Not only has he never been charged or investigated for making false arrests, the victims of his tactics never express any anger or outrage at having been manipulated or put through the horrors of being arrested for crimes they were innocent of.
  • In one episode, Goren and Eames attempt to figure out whether a supposed kidnapping victim was actually kidnapped against her will. Although in the end it turns out she was a willing participant (although no less a Woobie) it's the way they figure out she's lying that's the real wallbanger. They decide she's guilty because she isn't scared enough when they make her relive the kidnapping. Goren and Eames both automatically assume that all victims of crime must develop PTSD and have horrible reactions to being reminded of the event. Remember, Goren is supposed to be a genius psychoanalyst and Eames herself has been kidnapped. In the scene itself, Eames manipulates the girl by telling her that she's very brave and that other victims often hyperventilate in the same situation—naturally, the girl starts hyperventilating. This is actually a fairly common phenomenon among victims of real crimes; they are so eager to help and please the police that they will exaggerate details or simply tell the police what they want to hear, which has in fact appeared on the show several times. It is slightly suspicious, but to base an entire investigation around a girl not having a heart attack at the crime scene? No.