Ass Pull: Although it ended up being well-received, Goren and Eames' more-than-friends relationship was initially viewed as being this.
Also, Goren apparently being a rat for doubting a fellow cop's work to get a confession out of a suspect, who ended up being the wrong guy was considered very out of character for him, but thankfully it wasn't seen before that season or since.
Award Snub: Kathryn Erbe and Vincent D'Onofrio received nary an Emmy nomination in their eight years on the show's run, a criminal snub.
Dork Age: Even though one could argue any time after season four could be this, season six is when it hit full stride. Rene Balcer left as the series' showrunner, Warren Leight stepped into the position and with him, new writers who weren't too familiar with the Law & Order franchise came along and ruined the dynamic of the show. The show took a more emotional standpoint to it and stop focusing some much on the criminals (which was one of the main hooks of the show), the writing was more in line with rival show CSI(even having episodes start off with a pop song in a hope of the storyline becoming more appealing) and they got rid of the time and location cards, which are a staple of the franchise. Even with these changes eventually being done away with and Leight leaving the position, the damage was done.
First Installment Wins: Although the series has had at least fifteen regular or recurring characters in its ten-year run, the original line up of Goren, Eames, Deakins and Carver (and Nicole Wallace) remains the most well-known among viewers.
Foe Yay: Goren and Nicole Wallace, so very much. The reason for her obsession with him is described, at one point, as being because she couldn't seduce him. Even as she was about to be murdered by Declan Gage, her last words were "You tell Bobby that he's the only man I ever loved."
Genius Bonus: Many of the episode titles, especially of the older episodes. Case in point, the episode, "Graansha" was a word meaning "stranger" in Shelta, an ancient language by Irish travellers and the suspect in the episode was a tradition-obsessed person who killed his sister to keep people she brought into the fray of their sect out. Also, "Death Roe" has the latter word spelled like that because roe is the eggs of shellfish and the secondary victim of the episode was served poisoned abalone in an attempt to kill her.
Glurge: The dark side of glurge is explored in "Faith" — the murder victim figured out that a girl suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, who has faced hardship after hardship in her life but pulled through to write an inspiring book about her trials, does not actually exist. Worse yet: that episode was Ripped from the Headlines.
In the April 2009 episode "Rock Star", a musician falls to his death in an elevator shaft in a building in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In November of that same year, Jerry Fuchs, the drummer for various indie rock bands such as !!! and The Juan Maclean, died pretty much the same way in a similar building in the same neighborhood. However, unlike in the episode, where the musician was pushed down the shaft, Fuchs actually fell while trying to jump from a stalled elevator to the next floor. Still pretty damn eerie.
In the episode "Pas de Deux," the villain is a bank robber (played by Charles Rocket) who is suffering from a terminal illness and plans to kill himself along with his unwitting accomplice. The episode was Rocket's last film appearance; he committed suicide later that year.
At the end of "Brother's Keeper", Goren goes through a brief scare when he thinks his brother was found dead, but it turned out to be another man. The ending gets hard to watch since Goren would really find his brother dead in the future. And he didn't just die, he was murdered. By his mentor.
"Wee Small Hours" is based on the story of Natalee Holloway. The suspect turns out to have murdered both the girl who's gone missing and another girl who disappeared several weeks before. In Real Life, five years to the day that Holloway disappeared and was presumably murdered, the prime suspect in her disappearance was charged with the murder of another girl.
The episode "Folie a Deux" has the missing baby girl's great-Aunt tells the detectives how she herself is in failing health and knows that the little girl is dead, even explaining how the baby is the only thing keeping her alive. The woman is played by Lynn Redgrave, who would die of breast cancer less than a year after the episode's airing.
He Really Can Act: The season 3 episode "The Saint" guest-starred a nearly unrecognizable (and incredibly gifted) Stephen Colbert as the main villain. Given what he's accomplished in the world of comedy and political satire, nobody's too sad he didn't pursue his original intention of a dramatic acting career, but that episode proved he has the chops for it and then some.
Also, while no one could dare question that Whoopi Goldberg is a phenomenal actress, be it to make one laugh or cry, no one expected her to pull off such a performance in "To The Bone", where she wasn't just a believable character, but evil as sin.
He's Just Hiding: A common theory concerning Nicole Wallace's death at the end of season 7. Given that the information came from a less than reliable source and since Nicole has faked her own death before, this isn't entirely unfounded.
Another series produced by Rene Balcer, 2013's "Jo", has the actress who played her show up in one episode as a character who most likely is her, but it's never said one way or another.
Idiot Plot: "Betrayed" is this in spades. A former girlfriend of Capt. Ross, who is also a former cop-turned-crime writer, has a younger husband who went missing along with his mistress. Naturally, she would be a suspect; however, due to both her interference/manipulation of the situation (and knowledge of police procedure) and Ross' himself telling Goren and Eames to back off due to his friendship and blind devotion for her, they have no choice but to investigate other leads and ultimate dead ends, just because of the torch he's carried for her all these years. Not only does it stall the investigation and delay the time to discover their whereabouts, but it makes Capt. Ross (and the detectives, by extension) look incompetent.
Just Here for Godzilla: As seen in the later seasons. Although Detectives Logan and Nichols as well as most of their partners were just as competent and efficient as any other member of the law, many fans preferred the team of Goren and Eames. Even when Oxygen Network had syndication rights to the series, they initially would air nothing but the Goren and Eames episodes.
Love to Hate: Nicole Wallace. Aside from being a Breakout Villain and one of the only people to outwit Goren, her episodes were always popular and many viewers were upset to learn she was apparently murdered, even to the point of refusing to accept this as canon.
One-Scene Wonder: Johnny Santos from "The Unblinking Eye", who is portrayed by Arthur Acuna. In addition to pretending he's James Dean, he's virtually unmoved by being interrogated by the detectives and even acts like he was on an audition... until Goren accurately implies that he is gay, at which point his bravado finally wears down and he becomes defensive.
Paranoia Fuel: Here's a Cold Open. Woman at a restaurant with others. Woman goes to bathroom. Woman is stabbed by a complete stranger in the inner thigh which causes her to bleed out in minutes, too fast to even cry for help. Assailant walks out. Cut to the detectives arriving...
The Scrappy: Fans didn't warm up to Frank Goren, as he had many unsympathetic moments and being an overall manipulator of Bobby (which is quite a shame, as it wasted the talent of a fine actor of Tony Goldwyn's caliber).
Detective Nola Falacci didn't exactly win over fans, either, as they believed that she had no charisma or any chemistry with Logan. Plus, viewers found it hard to believe that a young, Plucky Girl as herself was married with a family.
Shipping: Goren/Eames has a rather large fanbase. There are also fans of Logan/Wheeler (or, really, Logan/his latest partner) as well; however, Logan/Wheeler actually had some resolution in-universe. Also, although it's not nearly as popular as Goren/Eames, there's also Goren and Paula Gyson, the psychiatrist he's ordered to see in season 10.
Frances Goren as well, which also crosses into "They Wasted a Perfectly Good Actress" in veteran actress Rita Moreno. Even as a schizophrenic dying of cancer, instead of being given more of a thorough backstory, she's portrayed as unlikable and unsympathetic as possible and is emotionally abusive to her younger son. She even casually told him that a Serial Killer is his real father, being the product of a long-term affair between the two, further screwing with the detective's diminishing sanity.
Goren. He grew up with a Schizophrenic mother, his father abandoned his family, and his mother would always prefer his older brother who's also a dug addict. Then it's revealed his biological father was serial rapist/murderer. Then, his nephew goes missing and his brother is murdered by his own mentor.
Eames. The murder of her cop husband gives her a Broken Bird status. Her woobie status grows even more when her husband's murder is reopened.
Nicholas Durning in "Cold Comfort." He's afflicted with early-onset Alzheimer's, which his ruthless but outwardly loving father has been telling him is an aneurysm. Seeing him in the interrogation room, realizing what his medication is actually for and the lengths his father has gone to to conceal it from him (including murder), is just heartbreaking.
Ben Watkins in "Mad Hops" is another completely innocent person whose life gets destroyed by another's wrongdoing. He's on his high school basketball team, and is not the best player, but is good enough to get a scholarship to a small school in Iowa. As his mother says, it's all he can talk about. Then it turns out his coach, who has fallen for Ben's mother and has been scheming to get closer to her, has been inflating his stats to help him get into college and even killed two people to keep them from discovering it. Ben loses his scholarship, and probably has no hope of getting another.
Kyle Jones from "Neighborhood Watch". While he may have had sex with an underage minor, it was consensual. However, the D.A. pressured the girl into saying he raped her, he spent years in jail, was harassed by the police and the neighborhood watch, and was brutally murdered. And the girl who he said he was in love with? She just thinks his death was a tragedy for her.
The three young adults from "Senseless" who were violently gunned down for a flippant reason by a sociopathic nutcase. All of them were well-known as good kids with loving family/friends and a bright futures ahead of them.
Julie Turner from "Suite Sorrow". Her mother was a standard My Beloved Smother who meddled into her life and was quite proud of it. Later, it turns out that her fiance and father were having an affair with plans to frame Julie to get the money her mother left.
Rachel Coburn/Burnett from "The Good Child". She and her parents go into witness protection due to the father testifying against some mobsters, the parents end up murdered, beforehand she successfully sought out her biological parents and begins to bond with them after the killings only to find out that they killed her adoptive parents to get their insurance money and then tried to arrange for her to be killed by the associates of the mobsters they testified against so that they wouldn't have to share the money with her. In the end, she was left completely alone in the world and even unjustly blamed herself for what happened.