Stabler. Whether he's a hero who defends children from perverts or a borderline psychopath who uses that as an excuse to indulge his violent tendencies on Acceptable Targets is debatable.
Olivia. Does her backstory of being a Child by Rape grant her a deeper insight into the psyche of the victims, allowing her to empathize with them to the point that she's willing to risk her job to get them justice? Or has it made her an emotional basket case who can't maintain the emotional detachment and impartiality needed to do her job properly?
"Devastating Story" further complicates this as the rape advocacy professor specifically went to Olivia in order to try and railroad three innocent men. She even did things like tell the victim even though they were both drunk it was still rape because she wasn’t capable of consenting.
There are numerous episodes where innocent people have had their lives ruined by the frequently overzealous efforts of the SVU detectives once they're convinced of a suspect's guilt. So are the detectives Knight Templars whose zeal to get justice for the victims gives them tunnel vision. Or are they just Lazy Bums just trying to get the case over as quickly as possible. Keep in mind they have done things such as hounding victims into accusing someone (as well as hounding the accuser to confess, as well as repeatedly ignore police procedure (no allowing the accused to contact a lawyer, not talking to alibi witnesses, ect).
Anvilicious: The show has about as much subtlety as getting banged over the head with a 2x4 that has "X is bad!" on it.
In addition, on many issues the show will at least attempt to present both sides, and many episodes end with neither side fully vindicated. In many cases, this takes the form of a deconstruction of the detectives' behavior. In other cases, Huang and Munch give serious objections to the other characters suggestions.
Stabler's separation from his wife and ensuing family drama lasted from the second episode of the sixth season to the very last episode of the eighth, and in the opinions of many fans, outstayed its welcome. Recurring attempts in the tenth season to bring back Stabler family drama with the Stabler kids were not well-received at all by the fans.
William Lewis continually returning to terrorize Olivia and the SVU squad, especially because Lewis tended to continually succeed for Villain Sue reasons rather than being any kind of worthy opponent. His charm was supposedly irresistible and at least one woman in radius could always be guaranteed to pick up the Idiot Ball and help him even when he was boxed in. Further frustrating fans, Lewis represented himself at trial and Barba was actually stymied by him, which was a really blatant case of Idiot Ball as one of Barba's best known (and best loved) traits is that he is usually a shark in court.
Armed with Canon: Warren Leight pulled this on previous showrunners in the Season 16 finale, with Olivia telling Amaro "I grew more in the 4 years with you as my partner than with the 12 I was with him" (meaning Stabler). Ohhhh yes, fans were pissed.
Base-Breaking Character: Dale Stuckey. Some fans loved the fact that an off-the-wall and quirky character was brought into an otherwise serious show and looked at him as comic relief. Other fans were simply annoyed by his nonchalant, insensitive attitude and his continuous screw-ups and either flipped the channel or muted the volume whenever he was on.
Broken Base: Obviously being a Long Runner, this was bound to happen, especially regarding the more recent, Stabler-less seasons. Some fans like the refreshing change of pace that Warren Leight has brought to the show in which it is now as it was in the earliest seasons, an ensemble show and the angle of focusing more on the detectives' personal lives a la Homicide: Life on the Street. Other fans feel this is a huge mistake as it takes focus away from the true nature of the show and adds even more gratuitous drama and boring and schmaltzy storylines (and these fans also remember the "improvements" that Leight added to Law & Order: Criminal Intent... which they believe eventually ran the show into the ground).
Clueless Aesop: The episode "Gray" started with a college girl accusing a male classmate of raping her while she was drunk, the man said she consented and didn't remember the next day because she was drunk. This gave Olivia the opportunity to lecture the squad that if a woman has been drinking, it's rape (seriously how does this woman have a badge?) and that if a man is equally drunk it's still the man's responsibility not to take advantage of her. The episode was set up to be an episode-long Author Tract about drunken he-said-she-said rape cases, but then the investigation went on a tangent, it turned out that the man got his girlfriend pregnant and then caused her to have a miscarriage by using an abortive agent as a sexual lubricant. When the case went to trial, the defense attorney asked the judge to recuse herself because of her bias involving cases with "this type of victim". The judge then went to the reluctant witness victim to tell her own story about how she was raped and no one took her seriously. This speech might have been perfectly in place in many other episodes of the series, it might have even made sense to have the judge give this speech to the first victim who accused the man of rape, but by this point in the story everyone had forgotten about her. The victim the judge gave the speech to wasn't raped, in fact she was the one girl everyone knew for certain had consensual sex with the perpetrator. So the judge had no reason to recuse herself, her speech to the victim was weirdly out of place, and the perpetrator was never punished for anything he did to the first victim, in fact they never really proved his version of events wasn't the truth. A lesson in the importance of believing women who say they were raped was not learned.
Jo Marlowe. The fans almost universally hate her guts, and yet the four episodes she's in, it seemed like the writers are forcing her down our throats. Doesn't help Sharon Stone's performance was not well-received. The execs took the hint and by season 12 she was gone.
Critical Research Failure: In "Imposter", Barba tries a guy who seduces women by pretending to be a college admissions director who can help the women's kids get into college. Barba acknowledges that rape by fraud is not a crime in New York, but then talks about getting the case to a jury. The problem: if what someone has not broken a specific law, the case will never see a jury — because the judge will kick it out, and may put sanctions on the prosecutor. (Not to mention that the defendant may turn around and sue for malicious prosecution and wrongful arrest.) Later, the judge in the case hand waves his failure to dismiss the case by saying that no judge would kick out a rape case without hearing all the evidence. Except that's the judge's job when the prosecution has failed to articulate a crime in his indictment. The judge's failure to do this could subject him to "getting his pants pulled down and his reputation sullied in public" as he so put it. After all, his decision is subject to review by the appeals court and even the federal courts, given that the defendant's Fourteenth Amendment rights have been violated. Contrary to what the judge says, using the word "rape" doesn't get around that.
As part of the show's Protagonist-Centered Morality, I.A. officer Ed Tucker is frequently vilified in plot for his constant efforts to bring the SVU detectives up on charges, never mind that the entire point of Internal Affairs is to maintain the integrity of the police and protect the public from abuse. Considering how more than one episode has involved innocent people having their lives ruined by the frequently overzealous efforts of the SVU detectives once they're convinced of a suspect's guilt (Stabler certainly but even Olivia and Capt. Cragen at times), and Stabler has flat out tortured a suspect when he didn't have any sort of anti-torture laws to hold him back, and it's a wonder why any of them still have their badges.
Of course that isn't to say Ed Tucker comes out looking squeaky clean either as he is a Jerkass with an ax to grind against SVU, and will jump on any accusation no matter how clearly fake to try and screw them over.
Pretty much anyone who stands in opposition to the SVU detectives for whatever reason is this such as IA, the Brass, defense attorneys, or social workers.
Dani Beck, Olivia's Suspiciously Similar Substitute who actually got to kiss Elliot before departing. In their defense, Dani was a widow who had gone through quite a hard time, and Elliot was still separated from Kathy. Both Kathy and Dani are reviled and bashed by Elliot x Olivia shippers, despite Word of God on how Stabler and Olivia will NOT hook up
Casey was often subjected to death for the Alex/Olivia ship, primarily for not being Alex.
Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Although the show usually takes pains to point out that these crimes are horrific and carry devastating consequences, many critics have nevertheless pointed out that there is also a tendency for the show to get a lot of lurid and sensationalist entertainment mileage out of them as well.
Draco in Leather Pants: The fact that the actor portraying William Lewis happens to be a tall, attractive man has caused female fans of the show to start a fan base surrounding the fictional character.
George Huang, due to being perceived as the Only Sane Man and a consistently active aversion to the main Hetero Normative Crusader tone of the show, as well as never bringing personal drama to the job.
Rafael Barba, primarily to people who miss Huang. He is also perceived as the Only Sane Man and comes off as annoyed by the lack of professionalism at SVU. Needless to say, even people who hate the show love him and Raúl Esparza's performance. He may not be outdoing Cabot and Novak on the "Most Beloved ADA" charts yet, but he is damn close.
Declan Murphy is beloved by the fanbase due to his attitude and good nature, helped by Donal Logue's phenomenal acting (the man can flawlessly pull off multiple identities in a season due to Murphy's role as an undercover cop).
"Birthright" centered around a mother kidnapping the daughter of another couple convinced she was her own missing daughter, and the detectives found out the two mothers went to the same fertility doctor and he implanted the first woman's eggs in the second, so the girl actually was her biological daughter. A custody battle ensued, and a conflicted Casey consulted Elliot, who told her the Judgment of Solomon tale. Casey called the girl to testify and grilled her about the confusion over her parents until the biological mother called the trial off, unwilling to put the girl through such an ordeal. She pleads guilty to custodial interference and moves out of state, unable to be near her daughter. We're supposed to be happy, except that the point of the Judgment of Solomon story is that Solomon ruled in favor of the mother who backed off, as her refusal to put the child through pain proved to Solomon that she loved the child more. Not only does this imply the biological mother loved the child more than the parents, but it also features Casey cross-examining a child to the point of tears just to see which mother will crack first.
The ending to "Wrong is Right" tells us that fantasizing about killing suspects is bad. Unless they're a Complete Monster, then it's okay.
As far as Stabler fans are concerned, season 13 onwards does not exist.
They are eagerly joined by fans of Marcia Gay Harden's recurring character Dana Lewis, who definitely didn't get sent to jail for murdering someone out of jealousy and then framing someone else for it. Her last appearance was in season 12, which was the show's last.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The second season premiere had at one point a place holder that gave the date as September 11th. A couple of scenes later, the Twin Towers can clearly be seen in the background while Munch talks to his government contact.
Fan-Preferred Couple: There are different ones depending on what side of the fandom one is on. But Elliot/Olivia (called E/O) is the most popular het ship and Alex/Olivia (called A/O) is popular with femslashers. On a different note, Barba/Carisi, or Barisi, is the most popular slash ship, while Barson (Barba/Benson) is the most popular post-Stabler het ship.
Growing the Beard: More like abruptly changing for the better. As of Season 13, no illegal interrogations, no laws being broken, less Idiot Balls being tossed around, and of the two It's Personal episodes, one was low key and the other was actually handled completely according to protocol.
Ham and Cheese: As the series goes on, B.D. Wong seems to have adopted this attitude toward some of Huang's scenes and dialogue.
The episode "Personal Fouls" aired on September 28, 2011. The episode was about a well respected basketball coach who was accused of sexual molestation. The coach used the charity that he had set up for at-risk youth to prey upon the young boys of his liking. About six weeks after this episode aired, the Penn State sex scandal broke. And the stories were even more horrifying than what was in this episode. The next week had a couple use a fake kidnapping to cover up the accidental death of their baby, which seemed to have inspired an actual case of fake kidnapping cover-up.
In "Spiraling Down", we see an ex-football star named Jake Stanton who gets in trouble for patronizing a prostitute and then indecent exposure. It's revealed that he has CTE, which is a disease that degenerates the brain as a result of many concussions. After it's found apparent that he was not of the right mind, the episode ends with Stanton taking a gun from a cop and then committing suicide by shooting himself in the chest. While this is based loosely on what Dave Duerson did in early 2011, the episode rings even more harsh when you consider that Chargers star Junior Seau recently passed as result to a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the chest.
Way back in the beginning of the series, the detectives were searching for someone who was killing men who were getting "serviced" in their cars while the women were left unharmed. While discussing possible motives, Stabler suggested the killer was a loser who wasn't getting any himself. In 2014, Elliot Rodger went on a killing spree in Isla Vista, after recording a manifesto that, among other things, included a rant about his outrage that no woman would have sex with him. The shooting eventually became the topic of the "Holden's Manifesto" episode.
In a season 14 episode, Barba is talking about a domestic violence case with Benson, and he happily says that a girl he loved in high school "could have massacred my entire family and I would have looked the other way." Two years later, we have learned that his relationship with both parents was strained, Barba never having gained his mother's approval and his deceased father being implied to have been abusive. No wonder he wouldn't have minded.
The episode where Robin Williams played the Villain of the Week, which ended with the strong implication that his character committed suicide to avoid capture. Williams died in 2014, and his death was indeed a suicide.
The episode "Amaro's One-Eighty", has an unarmed black teenager being shot, leading to a media frenzy surrounding the shooting and drawing attention to the police brutality. The detectives intentionally try to block the investigation or make sure it's only handled by friends who are willing to look the other way, explaining that the cop will be a victim of the media and made a pariah for police brutality, therefore the case should just be dropped. Despite this the case leads to protests against police and a recording of the shooting leaks to the internet. Ultimately the case only gets as far as a grand jury who decide not to indict, and the cop is largely let off scot-free. The episode aired in January 2014, and in August of that same year, Michael Brown's shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, saw all of these events happen for real. The episode feels incredibly bizarre, especially with the Internal Affairs agents inspecting the case being treated as bullies and SVU being framed as heroes for trying to bury details given the uncooperative response of the Ferguson and St. Louis police departments in the shooting's aftermath. And for the topic of a shooting that gets recorded and put onto the internet...just see the entry below.
The episode "Comic Perversion" is about a comedian making rape jokes. Given the Bill Cosby scandal that unfolded nearly a year later, it's very uncomfortable to watch. Though it may cross over into Hilarious in Hindsight if people relate it to Hannibal Buress' routine rather than the scandal that unfolded afterwards.
"Criminal Stories" is about the rape of a Muslim woman being declared a hoax, eerily similar to the University of Virginia Rolling Stone rape hoax.
Elliot's frequent application of the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique was always pretty hard to watch, but in The New '10s, after the character was written off the show, many American police departments became marred by corruption and brutality scandals in quick succession, so nowadays it's hard to see him as any better than the crooks.
One episode involved a woman being raped during a hotel's opening and accusing an employee, which turned out to be a scam to sue the hotel. Brian Banks was sent to jail after a teenage girl said he raped her...and then sued the school for a fortune. Both stories have Bittersweet Endings; the woman in the show went to jail when the guy she accused was killed in prison, making her responsible under felony murder laws, while Banks got his accuser on tape admitting that she lied after he was released, and has been cleared of all charges and given a shot at getting his interrupted football career back. note Oh, and his accuser was successfully sued by the school for the money back. Which she already spent and has no feasible way of earning, so millions in taxpayer money have been flushed down the drain.
Earlier episodes that used words like "tranny" or "transvestite" to refer to transgender people can be seen as this. One such episode "Lowdown" featured the words used prominently...and was aired in 2004, before it became clear that these words hurt.
The episode "Gone", based on the Natalee Holloway case, had three suspects, much like the Real Life case did at the time the episode aired. In the episode, all three are guilty, but it's the two cousins who are worse and end up also killing their accomplice, who has regrets and wants to confess. In Real Life, the exact opposite happened. The two brothers were eventually determined to have nothing to do with Holloway's disappearance—even her killer stated as such when confessing.
During a Season 7 episode, actor Anthony Anderson, makes a guest appearance as a detective, sent to help SVU solve a case involving an overweight black young man with Type-2 Diabetes who commits a revenge killing. In the end, the guy is convicted of second degree murder, but isn't there to hear the verdict, because he's in the hospital after suffering a dangerous diabetic attack which gives him liver failure and results in his left foot getting amputated. The harsher part? Years later, actor Anthony Anderson, who was overweight most of his life, would get diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes in real life.
A season 4 episode "Futility" features Fred Savage as a serial rapist who intimidates his victims, which aired in 2003, fast forward fifteen years later Fred is being accused of sexual harassment by his former co-star Alley Mills while on the show The Wonder Years.
A popular Beta Couple in fanfiction to Elliot/Olivia had been George/Alex... and then "Hardwired" gave canon confirmation that George was gay, jossing every single one of those fics.
Which is, of course, particularly amusing if you ship Alex with Olivia.
Or George and Elliot.
A recurring defense attorney is a British woman named Miranda Pond; others might recognize her as River Song, AKA Melody Pond, daughter of Amy Pond. It's probably a coincidence, considering Miranda first appeared in 2009 and River's real name wasn't revealed until 2011.
BD Wong voiced the love interest of Mulan in the feature film. Some people fall under the interpretation that Shang (the character he voiced) was having problems with his sexuality during the movie since he possible falls in love with Mulan when she is disguised as a male. Huang is eventually revealed to be gay later in the show. Also an Actor Allusion, since BD Wong is himself gay.
In "Lessons Learned," the defense attorney argues: "What next? Is Mr. Barba going to bring in a cannibal to tell us how eating people is wholesome and healthy?" Which is really funny when you consider Raúl Esparza's other TV gig.
"If Kathie gets pregnant again, I'll shoot myself", said Stabler in the episode "Choice". Three seasons later...
Idiot Plot: "Decaying Morality" starts with a disoriented young girl stumbling into a pizzeria bathroom. A line begins to form outside, so an employee barges in to see what she's doing. Confused, the girl accuses him of raping her, and he's promptly arrested. Despite being clearly groggy and dazed, they take the girl's statement for granted, without even bothering to find out how she got drugged, and where she was before the incident occurred. They send her semen stained sweater to be DNA tested, whilst a Contrived Coincidence means there is a glitch in the pizzeria security footage. The detectives make no attempt to trace the girl's steps back to the start of the day, nor do they interview any potential witnesses. The accused also happens to be a black man, making the episode delve into Unfortunate Implications. Furthermore, when the girl's dad lashes out and causes the suspect to die, it is later revealed that the real culprit is her uncle, which anyone with a brain and eyes can clearly see. He's a dentist, he has access to a plethora of drugs, and the teen visited his surgery earlier that morning. If the cops had done their job properly, the innocent man wouldn't be dead, and this case could have been solved a lot sooner. The entire episode requires the protagonists to hold the Idiot Ball, not to mention that none of them, excluding Barba, ever shows any remorse or sympathy to the family of the now-dead and wrongly accused black man. Not even the girl's father, and he was responsible for it.
Inferred Holocaust: Due to the ineptitude of the parties involved it is highly unlikely that a lot of the cases, for example "Contagious", will end in a conviction due to the substantial amount of reasonable doubt the cops give the defense.
As completely unlikable as Elliot can be, you can really feel for him, especially when he realizes he's been a neglectful dad and tries to make amends with his kids but is pushed away.
Haley from "Informed". She was a rape victim... and also a radical eco-terrorist who nearly blew up a building with a homemade bomb.
Though he could be annoying and ultimately became a spree killer, Dale Stuckey did have moments when the abuse heaped on him seemed greatly disproportionate such as when he explained how a teen used spoofing to threaten another girl only for O'Halloran to dismiss it as Stuckey wasting their time or in his final appearance when Stabler physically assaulted him, Stuckey demanded that Cragen write Stabler up for it, and Cragen outright told him that Stuckey's completely valid complaint which would have gotten a real life detective fired or even brought up on charges wasn't worth the trouble.
Valerie Sennet in the episode “Burned”. She denies her ex-husband Miles who is struggling to recover from alcohol and drug addiction, any time with their daughter, who it is implied is a Morality Pet and is inspiring him to clean himself up. She then does it with some private investigator, but then uses the evidence of recent penetrative activity to file a rape charge against Miles, then tries to move out of the city, cutting him off from his kid for good. We then learn that Miles was a Domestic Abuser when in the throes of addiction. What cements her into woo is status is what Miles does to her in retaliation - he ‘’burns her alive’’ and we get to hear her scream in agony before she eventually succumbs to her immolation.
The killer in "Wrath" was wrongly convicted of rape and abused by other inmates for years, so it's unsurprising that he finally snapped and sought Revenge by Proxy on his arresting officer: Benson. However, she rightfully points out that he's not so innocent anymore due to killing others just to hurt her (though it's still possible to feel somewhat sympathetic toward him when he corrects her: he only made the Asshole Victim suffer, whereas the others were quickly and painlessly Mercy Killed).
Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Alex/Olivia and Elliot/Olivia are the juggernauts, but fans have also happily picked up shipping her with new cast additions Rollins, Amaro and Barba. Her canon relationship with Brian Cassidy also has its fans.
Darius Parker, Fin's stepson. Not only does he commit one of the most heinous crimes described on SVU by murdering a woman, raping her with his KNIFE, and then burying her 14-month-old son alive, but he walks, even after confessing to the crime. How? First he mentions that he has an upcoming burglary case before he confesses to the crime while waving his right to counsel. However, because he mentions his upcoming case, it is implied that he should have counsel present, making his confession and the bodies discovered by that confession inadmissible in court. He then goes to trial and picks apart the prosecution's case while airing Fin and Stabler's dirty laundry, getting the Judge recused from the case by mention the DUI of Stabler's daughter, and getting his mother to reveal that she hates him because he was the child of her rape (by his grandfather/father).
Stabler has his moments. The opening of one episode showed Stabler unscrewing the bottom of the leg of a chair so it wobbled, loosened a light so it flickered, and turned up the thermostat, all to unnerve a suspect he was about to interview and knew would be hard to crack.
Alex Cabot always pulls it off with grace and style, so you tend not to notice and/or care.
Too many instances to count, but special mention goes to "Bullseye": The perp of the day has a strong but noticeably vague English-esque accent, but when his sister shows up for The Reveal, she's introduced as being from Delaware, and her accent is thickly Southern. "Butcha kept awn raypin'!"
The Every Car Is a Pinto mentioned in the main section is this, too. The creative team most likely thought viewers would be horrified by an innocent man's suicide (and they didn't consider that the viewers might be pissed that Our "Heroes" don't so much as get written up for their actions.) But when the car goes up in a fireball sixty feet high... well, the only reaction one could have would be to fall on the floor laughing at how stupid this show had become.
"The monkey is in the basketball." Up there with "Is this because I'm a lesbian?" as one of the most memetically ridiculous moments in the entire L&O franchise.
"Intimidation Game". Like so many crime shows before it, it tries to tackle video games and internet culture complete with video game-related one-liners ("They leveled up," the K.O.B.S. taunts in general ranging from "Prepare to be slaughtered" to "LEVEL UP!" and "GAME ON NYPD!" which are simply impossible to take seriously. And then there's the non-ironic use of "There is no reset button in real life"). The random first person camera perspective near the end meant to emulate a first person shooter just came across as jarring. Even better is that the episode's Downer Ending is followed by "Executive Producer: Dick Wolf", which is unintentionally hilarious in a video gamecontext.
Usually played straight, but one episode, in quick succession, had the detectives talking up a promiscuous female vic's sexual partners: Bobby Flay, Mark McGrath, and a baseball player, all playing Expies of themselves. It's not any of them; just sweeps.
Subverted in the 2009 season finale: The killer is very quickly found to be a very paranoid That Yellow Bastard and one of his allies is Munch's paranoid ex-wife Simka Gravas, however most of the actual killings were done by a recurring character who was introduced at the beginning of the season.
Completely averted when Bill Pullman appears as a reporter who is secretly dating Benson; he only appears in one scene. The two break up at the end of the episode, and he is never seen again.
A semi-subversion in "Bedtime" had 4 famous (from 25+ years ago) guest stars: Ann-Margaret, Jaclyn Smith, Morgan Fairchild and Susan Anton. Only one of them did it. And in the show, she's no angel.
Averted in an episode with John Stamos as a smarmy, proud ladies man who everyone wanted to punch in the face and had over 40 illegitimate children. Everything looks like SVU is roading up to railroad him into prison when he's suddenly murdered.
It looks like subverting and averting this trope is a major goal of Warren Leight in Season 13. Most notably, in back to back episodes: Eric Close (married to Sonya Walger) was the focus of the ads for "Father Dearest," which made it appear he was the perp. In the episode, it seems like it's him until 2/3rds of the way through, when we find out it's not. We first see the real rapist's face when he's arrested: It's James Van Der Beek, who wasn't in the promos. Then, in "Learning Curve," Tony Hale and Jane Adams are both falsely accused by Dylan Minette to hide his actual statutory rape by a minor character we had seen throughout the episode. Oh, and Martha Stewart is in there too as Adams' former boss for some reason.
Nausea Fuel: Part of one episode took place at a really unsanitary meatpacking plant, with gratuitous shots of cockroaches and mouse droppings.
Pretty much every episode if you are a woman who lives alone or who has children or who leaves the house.
Every episode if you're a man involved with a woman who does any of those things.
Every episode if you're a man who does any of those things. There have certainly been enough male rape victims on this show.
The tactics the SVU detectives use to convict criminals or trick them into confessing, including their railroading of suspects who have only circumstantial evidence behind them, can start to give watchers rather pressing paranoia about cops.
As mentioned above, Casey Novak was initially vilified for the crime of not being Alex, but as the show went on, fans really warmed up to her, and she is now one of only three truly beloved ADAs in the show's history, along with Cabot and Barba.
Rewatch Bonus: In "Parasites", one of the boyfriends of the victim mentioned that she threw a fit if he bought her anything but expensive jewelry. When we later learn that another sister was being forced into prostitution to pay off a debt, it seems likely that she wanted the jewelry to pawn it for the money to buy her sister's freedom.
Kathleen Stabler. In addition to being seen as an obnoxious troublemaker by the fans, the episode where it's learned that not only is she bi-polar, but Stabler's never-before seen (or since) mother is as well was narmish on its head and failed to actually make her more likable and her actions better understood.
Carisi. Following fan-favorites like Munch and Cragen, he was bound to have a hard time endearing himself to fans. After some serious Character Development and the chance for the show to actually give his character some depth, he got much more popular and is now very well-liked. (Also, Peter Scanavino is really, really pretty, which doesn't hurt things one bit.)
The most famous Scrappy has to be Dani Beck, who becomes Stabler's partner when Olivia is given an assignment for the FBI. She's more prone to action which leads to almost being knifed by a perp, acts unprofessional to the point where Stabler actually lectures her, her temper is even shorter than Stabler's, her negative words against a perp drove John Munch's unstable uncle to push him into an oncoming train, and she never had a really powerful way to be written out unlike Chester Lake. She also got to kiss Stabler which really set off the Elliot/Olivia fans' Berserk Button since their relationship never got passed past the platonic stage.
The recurring character, Dana Lewis, for being overwhelming abrasive, her Never My Fault attitude when she blames Olivia and Elliott for messing up an undercover operation when she came to them for help but refused to cooperate, and the fact Elliott seems to get hurt everytime she shows up.
ADA Strauss is a smug bastard who attempts to showboat his way to the top at the expense of various SVU detectives, up to and including trying to get Benson fired and/or indicted for her killing William Lewis. To say that he's not exactly beloved is an understatement.
Sonya Paxton, for being an abrasive unlikable borderline misandristic bitch to pretty much everyone, many fans found compared to her some of the perps looked downright sympathetic.
Seasonal Rot: The show suffered heavily from this, although it's very much a YMMV on when this set in. There was some rumbling of it when Alex Cabot left the show, quite a bit more when Casey Novak went out on an Idiot Ball / Honor Before Reason note, and the rot was unquestionably in swing by the infamous "monkey basketball" episode, which was possibly the nadir of the entire L&O franchise. The show recovered quite a bit in Season 13 (see Growing the Beard, above) with a new showrunner taking over and the introduction of new detectives Amaro and Rollins, both of whom seem specifically written to avoid or subvert the It's Personal cliches that the show had been heavily criticized for.... but come Season 15, many were complaining that the quality had deteriorated, with soap-operaish plots for Rollins, Amaro, and Benson taking the place of courtroom scenes, which meant fans saw little of the one almost universally loved character. The Lewis arc was heavily criticized too, with many seeing it as using rape for a cheap ratings boost. Seasons 16 and 17 received well or with mixed reviews from the fandom, but, after a shift in showrunners, season 18 was received... poorly. So they changed showrunners again for season 19.
Ship-to-Ship Combat: Mostly averted, as Barisi and Barson fans tend to mostly leave each other alone and are generally quite civil, but the occasional spat is bound to happen.
"Unstable" involved rapes being committed in the same fashion as some Elliot had already put away a man for. They find the real rapist, he confesses, Elliot goes to apologize to the guy he put away, then the perp falls out of the bathroom window, possibly pushed by that week's guest detective. Without the perp to alocute, they can't get the other guy out of jail. Episode ends.
Squick: It's a show about sex crimes, after all. However, specifically, William Lewis is not shy about spouting out sentences dripping with sexual violence (sometimes while smiling) and it's enough to make just about anyone squirm. The last few minutes of "Beast's Obsession" include a scene of Lewis attempting to rape a bound and helpless Olivia Benson. Lewis gropes Olivia's breasts and forcefully kisses her while she's handcuffed and bent over a table. Add the incredibly disturbing sound of him loudly panting in her ear as he's assaulting her and it's no wonder many fans admitted to being triggered by this image.
Many of the characters with a weird kink or unusual sexual orientation turn out never to have hurt anybody, but the detectives (especially Stabler) think of them as "perverts" or "sickos" who ought to be in jail and it seems like the show expects us to agree with them. A lot of those characters (pedophiles trying desperately to suppress their urges, for instance) come across as more sympathetic than they're probably intended to be.
"Confession" has a notable case in Jake Berlin, a "pedophile advocate" who runs a website for pedophiles where they can look at pictures of fully clothed children. While the SVU are naturally against the guy from the start he actually makes some compelling arguments about his lifestyle. The website he runs is monitored, which is more than most sites of that nature would even bother with, and none of the pictures are child porn (these reasons mean the cops can't take it down and one doesn't want to because it is monitored). He also argues that attraction to children isn't inherently wrong while acting on said attraction is (the man invokes a "look but don't touch" rule for users of the website). The only wrong thing he does is put a picture of Stabler's daughter on the website, something he had no way of knowing about and got him assaulted by Stabler for doing. He wound up killing a suspect that he had been led into thinking has molested a child, as an alternative to doing so to his little brother at that, but it says something that a pedophile who tries to deal with his urges in a healthy way claimed moral judgement over one that didn't.
"Goliath" has an egregious case, wherein the military has been giving anti-malaria meds to soldiers that cause serious psychological problems in perhaps one in every one hundred-fifty people. The Military points out, however, that a few people experiencing some admittedly horrible side effects is still better than thousands of people being unable to fight because of malaria, and the pill is otherwise more efficient than alternatives.
An earlier episode centers around a young woman with Down's Syndrome who became pregnant after being raped. Her 67 year-old mother campaigns throughout most of the episode to have the fetus aborted, and the writers make it clear we're supposed to vilify her at this point. YMMV on her methods, but the points made in court by the mother's attorney are valid nevertheless. The girl clearly had no idea how to properly care for a child and would likely not only fail to be a competent mother, but may endanger the welfare of the potential child.
"Manic" is about a pharmaceutical company marketing anti-depressant medication to previous users of its products. We're supposed to believe that the big evil drug company is big and evil because the boy who took their medication was involved in a shooting where he shot two of his classmates at school. Thing is, they provided the (already FDA approved) anti-depressants free of charge to people who already had been prescribed the meds by their doctors, complete with dosing and usage instructions. The mother of the shooter (who had been taking the drug herself) gave them to her underage son in defiance of the instructions enclosed, without consulting a physician, doing any research, or even telling anyone. She's the only character who is never considered responsible, and the episode ends with the leader protesting that he hasn't done anything wrong, while Alex Cabot has a smug grin on her face as she charges him with murder.
"Snitch", where the leader of a gang apparently killed the underage wife of a witness going to testify against him in an upcoming murder trial. When he starts using intimidation tactics to keep the man silent, he's accused of witness tampering. Confronted, he argues just how many times the police have compelled testimonies from criminals in exchange for commuted sentences or have threatened jail time if a witness didn't cooperate. SVU has threatened to and (though very reluctant) thrown rape/abuse victims into lock up. They also have a very nasty track record of making Deal with the Devil all in order to get the bigger fish.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: As of the S16 finale, many feel that Detective Nick Amaro's potential as a character was wasted in favor of simply making him a Stabler clone. Oddly enough, Danny Pino's previous well-known character, Scotty Valens, was very reminiscent to Stabler, so if anything his new characterization could have been viewed as a rehash of Stabler or Valens.
In "Heartfelt Passages", Sergeant Mike Dodds is leaving SVU for an assignment in the Joint Terrorism Taskforce just as the audience was getting to learn more about him. Instead of having him take the already built up being Put on a Bus, leaving the door open for future appearances, he gets shot in a hostage situation gone bad and ends up dying in the hospital.
Stuckey who, despite his tendency to annoy everyone, at times seemed to be a bullying target for the entire SVU department. Quite a few fans were cheering for him when he attempted to torture and kill Stabler, especially since Stabler had physically assaulted him earlier in the episode. However he also attempted to frame a man for a murder that, while he might have done, didn't commit, killed a lawyer and judge who were doing their job, and then killing a fellow forensic scientist it makes it hard for him to be sympathetic.
Billy Tripley, the Michael Jackson expy from "Sick". Despite not enough credible evidence to warrant either an arrest or conviction, especially since both accusations were dismissed as being false, in the SVU's mind he's guilty because of his childlike mentality and eccentric lifestyle, seemingly going out of their way to make his medical examination as painful as possible and vowing to "get him next time".
Everett Drake from the episode "Taboo" as he did nothing illegal. While, yes he did sleep with his own daughter, no matter how squicky it is it wasn't illegal as they were both adults, but despite this the detectives still try to go after him and by the end the only time he admits to anything illegal is when he's lying to protect his daughter.
Drake torpedoes his entire career as a politician, claiming to have coerced his daughter into a relationship, in order to ensure Ella would get her psych defense. Because Benson can't just accept that maybe Ella wasn't being manipulated by her father, she learns the truth about Ella's first child, and once she's out of the psych ward, can be charged with their murder. Even then, Benson and Novak serve Drake an injuction trying to keep him from ever seeing his child again due to their disapproval of the incest. Despite Drake's prior claims that he would've legally taken care of Ella and their son if he had known of her pregnancy, his son's taken away to social services instead of being able to adopt him.
Sandra from "Pops". Lying to cover up for her abusive husband is one thing, actively trying to frame Stabler when he was trying to help her is another.
Monica from "Selfish". Yes, she had every right to not vaccinate her child. No, she didn't kill Ashlee's daughter on purpose. But refusing to accept responsibility for her sick son giving Ashlee's daughter an ultimately fatal disease, to the point of blaming Ashlee for her daughter's death, and going against all common sense by letting her son play with other kids when she knew he was sick, just makes her look like an idiot. The next time the series did an episode about the anti-vaccine movement, it made no attempt whatsoever to treat the anti-vaxxer mother sympathetically.
Michele Osborne from "Birthright". Sure, what her doctor did to her was wrong, but her behavior throughout most of the episode alienates any possibility she had to being sympathetic. She acts very cold when discussing being reunited with her daughter and seems to view her as a trophy rather than a child she loves. Plus, there's the fact that she's either unaware that taking Patty from the only family she's ever known will destroy her or she just doesn't give a damn. Luckily, in the end, she decides to let Patty stay with them.
Darius from "Transgender Bridge" True, he didn't mean to kill the victim, and he was genuinely remorseful afterward, but the fact that, for whatever reason, he deliberately set out to assault a transgender kid for being transgender doesn't win him a lot of sympathy. In the end, the judge's ruling, finding him guilty of a hate crime and sentencing him to seven years in prison, is correct given that even the defense expert's testimony ultimately supports the finding that Darius assaulted the victim out of transphobic bias.
"Collateral Damage" centers on the SVU catching a city official in a child pornography sting, but the entire episode is about how sad it is that his family is ruined by his porn addiction and that he's really not such a bad guy; even Olivia says she feels bad for him, his wife is implied to stay with him, and Barba gets him the lightest possible sentence. Why? Because hey, he didn't rape his own children, he just traded in a mountain of kiddie porn for twenty hours a week and stashed it in the bottom of his underwear drawer, it's not like he really hurt anybody!
Hailey in "Transitions" is meant to be seen as a struggling child fighting for the right to be herself, but Hailey is confrontational, out of control, irrational, and violent against just about everyone in her life whether they mean her any harm or not, and she's openly proud of it. Her problems might be exacerbated by her situation, but they don't have anything to do with her gender, and although her mom and dad are a bit clueless and struggling with denial respectively, they don't stop her from living and dressing as a girl. Jackie Blaine is in a similar boat, since she basically tried to kill Hailey's father in revenge for an assault she suffered years ago that had absolutely nothing to do with him, with the excuse that she was protecting Hailey from his "abuse". The abuse in question? Carrying a picture of his own kid in his wallet. After the godawful nightmare that Cheryl Avery went through, hearing a twelve-year-old brat congratulate herself for giving her mother a black eye for catching her sneaking into the house at two in the morning just doesn't work.
Eva Banks in "Hardwired" is supposed to be sympathetic because she was abused by her first husband and then her second husband who rescued her from the unsafe shelter she was stuck in, put her on prescription drugs so he could molest her child, and it was emotionally difficult for her to help the police trap a bigger pedophile. But she intentionally crashed her car into another woman's car, while the other woman's child was in the car and punched the woman in the face and smashed her head into the steering wheel repeatedly. She did this because the other woman accused her son of sexual assault, the accusation was true. Then she stabbed her husband, who did not get away with molesting her son, in fact he was being led away in handcuffs when she stabbed him. Then she got mad at the cops for arresting her for stabbing her husband, after they let her go. She received no punishment for any of her crimes and Olivia taught her how to walk away with all of her husbands money.
The killer in "Perverted". We're supposed to sympathize with him because he was abused in prison. However, unlike the aforementioned killer in "Wrath" (see Jerkass Woobie), this guy actually was a serial rapist, so he was rightfully arrested by Benson — and he flat-out admits to having had no remorse on top of it. The only real point in his favor is that his Asshole Victim — his main tormentor behind bars — was even far worse.
Megan Ramsay from "Repression". It's not her fault that her therapist essentially convinced her she had been abused by her father through a combination of drugs and badgering, but she started seeing that therapist because of her drug abuse, for which her rich parents cut her off and kicked her out of the house. The abuse never happened and her father ends up dead over it, but Megan gets exactly what she wanted from the beginning, and whatever problems she had before meeting the therapist are never addressed. With Megan deliberately fabricating evidence against her father, it's easy to read the situation as Megan throwing her dad under the bus to get back in her wealthy mother's good graces.
Jennifer Banks from "Hothouse". Benson wants to go easy on her because she's only 14 and wasn't in her right mind when she committed her crime of murdering her roommate, Elsa, due to the drugs she was taking to improve her performance at her elite prep school. But the fact remains that she killed Elsa over a petty dispute, tried to cover up the murder by suggesting that Elsa's abusive father was responsible, and never once showed remorse for her actions, even flat-out stating that "I'm glad she's dead."
While in the interrogation room, Jennifer brings up that no matter how hard she studied, Elsa's grades were always better than hers. She even tried begging Elsa to deliberately fail one exam for her, so that Jennifer's grades would be the highest in the school for once. Presumably, this was intended to show that she was under incredible amounts of pressure to succeed. But Jennifer also knew that Elsa's father physically abused her for not living up to his expectations, as evidenced when she tried to pin Elsa's death on him. This makes Jennifer look even less sympathetic, as she was essentially saying that she didn't care if Elsa was being abused as long as she, Jennifer, got to be the school's star student.
Similar to the above, Jamie Hoskins from "Influence". Because of her young age and her bipolar disorder, Novak tries to get her a relatively light sentence. She is presented as a vulnerable young woman led astray by her idol, a rock star with anti-psychiatry views, who convinced her that her medication was damaging her brain. But her actions throughout the episode make it difficult to sympathize with her. When she stops taking her pills, she goes through a manic phase, having sex with two of her male friends, then falsely accusing them of rape, ruining their lives and getting them (and herself) expelled from school. She then tries to commit suicide by deliberately causing a car accident, injuring six people and killing another girl. Throughout the trial, she shows no remorse for her crimes and still refuses to take her medication. She even has the gall to blame her parents for everything that she did while off her pills. After all that, house arrest, a court-ordered drug regimen, and a short sentence in a psychiatric facility seems very lenient, considering the devastation she caused. Cragen acts as the Audience Surrogate for many of the viewers, telling Novak, "You let her walk, your ass is on the line right next to mine."
Kristen Vucelik AKA Fake Heather from "Stranger" comes off as this for pretending to be another family's missing daughter and getting their hopes up at their missing "daughter" returning. Despite the actual daughter being dead, the parents are implied to not know, and one sister does not know. Kristen knew that Heather was "missing" and pretended to be her, all to have a family. No matter what her reasons were, she still pretended to be someone she wasn't and got a family's hopes up.
Heather Manning from "Devastating Story". Yes she was raped and her rapist escaped punishment, but it was entirely her fault for falsely accusing three innocent men and being a media whore about it. It is true that she was manipulated into the false accusation by her advocate, but like many of the other people on this entry, she never expresses any remorse for her actions. The only reason the three innocent people she accused were exonerated is because the defense was able to secure evidence proving it, and once caught in a lie she never apologizes for her actions or even admits privately that what she did was wrong.
Laura Collett from "Imposter" tried to get her son into an Ivy League university by having sex with the Director of Admissions. Her willingness to do this meant that she didn't care that she was stealing a slot from a student who earned it by merit. She said she did this because she wanted her son to have opportunities, which meant that the opportunities her son would have as a rich male WASP with a degree from a slightly less prestigious college wouldn't have been enough for her. When she finds out the man she had sex with was only pretending to be the Director of Admissions, she tried to help Benson and Barba prosecute him for breaking a law that they all knew didn't really exist.
Benson and Stabler are supposed to be sympathetic because of their Abusive Parents and the fact that their drive to get justice for the victims comes at a constant cost to their personal lives. But they act like petulant children whenever they don't get exactly what they want, they never take responsibility for their own wrongdoing, and their choice to put work ahead of everything would come off as much more noble if they hadn't destroyed so many innocent lives in the course of doing their jobs.
Janis, the woman from "Alternate" who supposedly has multiple personalities and one of them is responsible for murdering her abusive parents. In addition to Huang explaining that most cases of people claiming to have that are b.s. and she is no different, some of the actions of her "other" personalities include going through police files to look up Stabler's address and holding a knife on his pregnant wife, belting the man himself in the face and choking Caseyduring her trial, the latter which got her acquitted. Upon the unit realizing that they've been had, they end up with enough evidence to arrest her sister for the crime instead. As they lead her away, Janis repeatedly cries out "We were abused!", but is highly unlikely to change the outcome this time.
Values Dissonance: Nowadays, it can be jarring to hear how freely the detectives threw around the word "tranny" in earlier seasons.
In a season 10 episode "Lead", Alex questions trying a sexual abuse victim for a pediatrician's murder due to his intellectual delay by using the word "retarded". Ironically the episode aired in 2009, the same year as the signing of Rosa's Law, which ended the use of the term "mental retardation" as a medical and educational term.
In "Dependent," Elliot is being investigated for causing the death of a suspect. The ME rules the suspect's death as a homicide based on the fact that his spleen ruptured... and Olivia, who is right there when this discovery is made, neglects to tell Warner that Elliot gave the suspect CPR. If Elliot hadn't casually brought it up later, Warner would have presented the ruptured spleen as cause of death and Elliot would have gone to jail.
In "Haystack," an absentee father kidnaps his son, causing the indirect death of the mother (via suicide) and attempts a civil suit against Elliot and Casey. At the time, there was no tangible evidence to link him to the kidnapping, that is until he pulled out a second sonogram picture of the baby in open court, after having stolen the other to cover open the kidnapping in the first place. In essence, he handed the prosecution a smoking gun and they buffed him into confessing.
"Child Welfare": Simon, Olivia's brother, gets caught with weed at a traffic stop, which leads to him and his fiance losing his kids. Despite Olivia helping him out and getting a great lawyer, he gets frustrated, and they kidnap the kids from their foster parents. After getting caught, the only way to keep him from facing 25 years in jail is to plead out...which means he can't see his kids outside of supervised visits for three years, and he sure can't get married.
The episode combining inspiration from the Steubenville case thrown into a college frat and sorority setting. "We gang-banged her gangnam style" should win an award for both this and narm AND Critical Research Failure (no, no one gets gang-banged in Psy's song...)
There was an episode in which the team was searching for a female hacker and vigilante who branded rapists. It first premiered around the time that the Millennium Trilogy became popular in the US...
A later episode has a line where a girl being taken away from her man yells at him "I'm not your thot". "Thot" stands for "that hoe over there" and it is becoming a common saying on Twitter and other social media sites this year. The saying make no sense because it is used in the wrong tense
The entirety of "Intimidation Game", to the point of being painfully obvious.
What The Hell, Casting Agency?: Gilbert Gottfried, of all people, as a one-off lab tech in "Lost Traveler". He basically analyzes and traces cell phone evidence, and doesn't speak in his usual voice.
Olivia Benson was conceived through a rape, grew up abused by her alcoholic mother, wrestled with fears of being like him, has been the victim of Attempted Rape three times, two of which were by the same man in the span of a year and included brutal torture, and was abandoned by her partner, who was the only family she had at the time and has trust issues as a result.
Elliot Stabler grew up with an abusive father and bipolar mother who nearly killed him, has struggled with anger issues, has issues with his family and seems unloved at times by his wife and kids, and finally had to leave the force after he was forced to shoot a teenage girl.
Casey was woobified almost immediately upon her introduction to the series, by both her backstory and the traumatic cases she worked. One episode even had her beaten into unconsciousness. By season 9, her crying episodes were a frequent occurrence.
John Munch's last words to his father before the latter killed himself were that he hated him. He has regretted this ever since. His uncle appeared in one episode only to go insane from depression and kill a man.
Odafin Tututola's son and wife are estranged, his nephew who is the product of incestuous rape on said wife commits murder and gets off scot-free, his former partner got shot protecting him which led to his daughter shooting his current partner, and his current partner betrayed his trust.
Nick Amaro grew up in an abusive household and has struggled with anger issues, which cost him his marriage. His wife and daughter have been the target of The Villain Knows Where You Live more than once (perhaps most creepily when he discovers his daughter Zara innocently talking on the phone to a representative of that week's Big Bad), and his daughter and mother were nearly killed by vigilantes shooting at Amaro's house. Padre Sandunguero takes this Up to 11, showing Nick having to testify against his father for assaulting his fiancee, having to admit in open court that his father abused him and that he still has nightmares about it, the rest of the Amaro family taking his father's side and gaslighting the hell out of Nick like he's the one who's crazy and emotional, his father being found not guilty, and his father successfully making one last power grab against Nick.
Amanda Rollins is from a Big, Screwed-Up Family. Her dad gambled until their mom kicked him out, her mom went through a series of abusive boyfriends, her sister tried to frame her for murder to get insurance money and later cleared out with everything Amanda owned. Amanda also gets beaten up by some loan sharks she owed money to and two years after that, relapses after her current boyfriend is revealed to have been cheating on her on the stand. She was also shot by someone with a grudge against Fin.
Don Cragen lost his wife in a plane crash and is an alcoholic.
Rafael Barba grew up in extreme poverty in a barrio, was bullied, and was never believed in by his mom as much as his best friend was. Said best friend, Alex, also married the woman Barba loved and still loves, Yelina. He comes back while campaigning for mayor and asks for help with their other best friend, Eddie, who has been accused of rape. Barba risks his career to help Eddie and then Alex when suspicion turns to him. In the end, though, he must report Alex. End result: Barba loses Alex and Yelina's friendship, gets called a sellout on national television, turned against by the people of New York City, probably ruining his political future, and is left questioning whether he really did go against Alex because of jealousy. The penultimate scene shows him Drowning My Sorrows. Then there's Padre Sandunguero, where he reveals that his father is deceased, and hints that he may have been abusive as well. Then, in December Solstice, he has to put his sick, injured grandma in a nursing home, but before they can move her in, she dies. And he tells his mom it was his fault.
Chelsea Maddox from "Reasonable Doubt". It's left ambiguous if whether her father did sexually abuse her or if her mother coached her to say that he did. Either way her life is still tragic with whatever scenario really happened — She will have to live with the intense guilt over indirectly causing her father to flee the U.S. because her selfish mother couldn't stand him or face the trauma of her father's sexual abuse and come to the haunting realization that her mother probably saw her daughter's abuse as a way to get rid of him. Olivia's last line in the episode is even "God help that child".