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Dethroning Moment / Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

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In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. However, just because this is a follow up to Law & Order doesn’t mean it can cause some problems they cannot solve. These are those moments.


Keep in mind:

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  • One moment per show to a troper, if multiple entries are signed to the same troper the more recent one will be cut.
  • Moments only, no "just everything he said", "The entire show", or "This entire season", entries.
  • No contesting entries. This is subjective, the entry is their opinion.
  • No natter. As above, anything contesting an entry will be cut, and anything that's just contributing more can be made its own entry.
  • Explain why it's a Dethroning Moment Of Suck.
  • No Real Life examples, including Reality Television and Executive Meddling. That is just asking for trouble.
  • No ALLCAPS, no bold, and no italics unless it's the title of a work. We are not yelling the DMoSs out loud.

  • DeMac: There's always some stupid Contrived Coincidence halfway through the episode that ruins the whole thing, but one that sticks out in my mind is "Hysteria", only four episodes into the show. Benson and Stabler are trying to solve the murder of a prostitute, who is the latest victim of a Serial Killer. They investigate and eventually catch the killer, who turns out to be a police officer. But during the interrogation, the Killer Cop confesses that he didn't actually kill the latest victim. In fact, the latest victim isn't a prostitute at all. She's a college student who the detectives mistook for one because she was out partying in a skimpy outfit in an area known to be frequented by prostitutes. The actual murderer, as it turns out, is the victim's boyfriend. So the victim just happened to be wearing a skimpy outfit in a red-light district, and her boyfriend just happened to kill her in the exact same specific way as the Serial Killer did to his victims (whacking them with a flashlight, and then suffocating them with a plastic bag). Contrived Coincidence doesn't even begin to cover it.
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  • Peridonyx: "Baggage" has Elliot and Fin keep threatening a Red Herring suspect (he's guilty of theft and involuntary manslaughter, but not the rape-murders) with Prison Rape until he finally snaps and invokes Bungled Suicide, and then he's made to falsely confess offscreen in the hospital — likely while drugged into a compromised state of mind. And no, it's not a Kick the Son of a Bitch moment; he's clearly sorry and a nervous wreck, making him a Jerkass Woobie (with little, if any, "Jerkass"). So how are Elliot, Fin, and the offscreen cops punished? They're briefly lectured for screwing up. Real Life would likely see them suspended and/or fired, and the suspect would be entitled to file a hefty lawsuit. One of the worst What the Hell, Hero? moments I've ever seen.
  • LL Smooth J: In the episode "Blinded", Olivia leaked information of the Perp-Of-The-Week's location to the feds, knowing full well that they would come and take him back to Louisiana to be executed. And why did she do this? Because of the two little girls he abused and murdered (which was implied to be a result of his own illusions)? No, because he pushed Elliot's head into a car window to evade capture, thus blinding him. This leads to her confronting Casey (for tanking the case, which she did do for her own reasons). After she is called on this, Olivia went to Jack McCoy and informed him of Casey's actions. Keep in mind that all of this was done solely because the perp temporarily blinded her partner. Worse, while Casey got chewed out by McCoy for tanking the case, Olivia came off as a Karma Houdini for committing a borderline-criminal act (Not even a word from Cragen). If it were anyone else who done this (Even for the actions usually done by the detectives on this show), they would've been taken to ethics committee. This just leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
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  • Tommy X: In the episode "Babes", they arrest a lady for insulting a girl over the internet because it looks like she killed herself. After they find out the girls "boyfriend" strangled her and hung her up to make it look like suicide, they drop the charges. But then Kim Greylek, the current ADA on the show, goes off insulting her and calling her a bad mother and stuff, riling the mom up enough to attack Greylek. After the witnesses pull the mom off Greylek, she says "I'mma get that bitch for assault" or something along those lines. Anyone sensible would ignore this and report Greylek to the ethics committee or whatever. Instead the daughter is crying at the end that her mom is going to jail. In some of her earlier appearances, Greylek was eager to prosecute somebody, so it looks like she planned it so she can send somebody to jail. This, combined with some of her other appearances, makes me believe that if they wanted to make Greylek a likable character, they certainly weren't doing a good job.
  • Rowdy C: The episode "Screwed" has a plot no soap opera would accept. It's built around a case that made the Veronica Mars Aaron Echolls trial look realistic. Finn's stepson (who's revealed to be the product of his mother getting raped by her father at 16) is on trial for murder. Benson and Stabler are called as defense witnesses to try and discredit the case because of incidents from earlier in the season (obviously written in just for this climax) - Benson aiding her wrongly accused fugitive brother and Stabler's daughter not getting charged with DUI (which the judge knew about). As if THAT's not enough, the defendant uses and twists around an incident that happened 10 years ago when Finn was in narcotics to try and discredit him. At the end, the defendant goes free, Stabler's daughter is arrested, Olivia risks her badge to confess the circumstances of her brother, Finn looks like a doped dirty cop and both Cragen and Novak face transfer/dismissal. And this was all being manipulated by a IA officer getting revenge on Cragen for passing him up for promotion 15 years ago. I know L&O has never been realistic, but when the fuck did it have to become a Greek tragedy???
  • Kookiish: The episode "Zebras" is pretty much the episode that the show stopped being good. The show's always been dark, but the storyline in this episode was both ridiculous and predictable. Besides killing off a perfectly good character (only to have no one even register that it happened in the next episode despite the character being on the show for years), they made it into a terribly written soap opera horror that crossed the line from dark but well-written to overdramatic, cheesy, terribly acted and written show.
  • Raiku: "True Believers" was the first episode I ever watched and will be the last. Basically, a college girl gets raped at gunpoint by a black guy. The black guy gets arrested but his lawyer apparently thinks the whole thing is about race because he's black and she's white, even bringing it up in the trial by basically saying "He's black and she's white therefore she can't tell the difference therefore she hates black people." And it works! The rapist fucking walks! I'd at least believe his side if the rape was faded out because her memory was fuzzy... or if they didn't show him mentally torturing her at the bar! But no, he's automatically innocent because he's black and he gets called a black bastard by the victim's dad. And then this pathetic excuse of a defense lawyer and Olivia pal it up at the end and act like nothing ever happened.
  • Erin582: One defining DMoS for me is in the SVU episode "Sacrifice", when trying to solve a case with Fin, Munch casually brings up that he had a partner who took himself too seriously and ended up killing himself. No one would bat an eye to the comment if not for a few glaring implications from it; A) The out-of-nowhere sense of bringing it up (and the fact that it is never mentioned again), B) Munch DID have a partner who did end up taking himself seriously... who was known as The Woobie and an Unpopular Popular Character partner to be exact by the name of Tim Bayliss from Homicide: Life on the Street, C) the vagueness of his statement (SO many questions left from the Homicide movie, which also quite a DMoS moment itself, and D) the matter-of-fact way that Munch said it. It was a completely OOC moment for him, especially seeing how it is revealed a few seasons later that Munch's own father committed suicide when he was a kid and how much it still affects him in the present day. And while we're on the subject, let's talk about Munch himself. Say what you want about his tenure on Homicide. At least while in Baltimore, he was a man of respect, affectionately nicknamed "Munchkin" by his fellow detectives and was essentially the show's star. Once he came to New York, all of that changed. His role was Demoted to Extra and he became the show's resident Butt-Monkey, where nothing was off-limits to the detectives, from his many ex-wives to his conspiracy theories to his looks. You have to wonder if ANYTHING will go right for him on SVU.
  • TheWriterMan: Something about "Nocturne" has always bugged the Hell out of me. The story is about a young man who was molested by his piano teacher for almost his entire childhood. When he's first brought in to try and stop the teacher from hurting another other boys, Elliot treats him with the utmost sensitivity (it takes a lot of debate for him to even show him the footage of him being abused). But then, it's discovered that he himself had molested a child while under the teacher's care and everyone's attitude takes a 180, especially Stabler. The guy goes from being a victim to a stone-cold abuser. And they all seem to forget that he molested the kid under the eye of his own abuser, so it would seem pretty clear that he was still a victim of him, only complying to his sick demands in an attempt to avoid further pain. But nope, in the eyes of the ever so sensitive Detective Elliot Stabler, he's nothing but another pedophile, and he even goes as far as to basically tell him he would kill him if he ever came near his kids. It just felt wrong and just goes to show how unlikable a character Elliot was, despite his mass amount of fans.
  • AlexAxle: The Save Benson saga finally brought the show into soap opera territory for good. Not only was William Lewis only able to torture Benson because of an incredible string of Contrived Coincidences and at times Hollywood Law, but the entire plotline relied on teasing viewers about the possibility of Benson getting raped, making it into a game effectively. Every character had to be rendered OOC for the plot to move forward, from Benson not reaching for her gun to Cragen sending her home early, specifying that she was not to return for exactly two days. Her negotiation was contrived, Surrender Benson/Imprisoned Lives was disgusting and, honestly, just a rehash of Undercover taken up a notch. Psycho/Therapist was another series of contrivances and serious Character Derailment for fan favorite Rafael Barba. This is a Rules Lawyer, and yet they expect us to believe he will keep quiet while Lewis screams at Benson from a foot away, frothing at the mouth? And not to mention everyone allowing Benson to lie about beating Lewis. I for one think the beating was entirely justified after what she had been through; the lying was not. They could have worked around it or even used it to their advantage. Had the arc ended there, it would have been frustrating but bearable. But then came Beast's Obsession and Post-Mortem Blues, with more contrivances and absolute absurdity. The cupcakes was the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen on this show, surpassing even Wildlife's infamous "monkey in the basketball" moment. And then the fact that being told my her psychiatrist to "let Lewis go" apparently cures her. It's all so absurd and insulting, and, to reiterate, the arc that finally made this show into a soap opera.
  • Shasarazade: The episode Intoxicated centers around an alcoholic named Denise who wants to file statutory rape charges against her daughter Carrie's boyfriend Justin. Carrie is fifteen and Justin is twenty-one, so Denise actually has a case with this. What makes the episode so infuriating is Olivia. The case reminds Olivia too much about what her own home-life had been like, and so she decides to be Carrie's personal champion. This includes trying to sabotage Denise's case and even hiring a lawyer pro bono for Carrie so the teenager can be emancipated from her mother. This is all on the belief that Carrie's home-life was just as abusive as Olivia's had been, never mind the fact that nothing in the episode indicates that Denise was an abusive mother to Carrie outside of the fact that she was an alcoholic and because Carrie said she was. Then when Denise ends up being murdered, Justin confesses to the crime. But then Carrie ends up confessing to the crime during questioning (after Olivia lies to her by saying Justin sold her out), and Carrie claims that she killed Denise in self-defense when her mother drunkenly attacked her. Except that Denise's autopsy had shown that she was sober when she died. So are we supposed to believe Carrie or the autopsy report? Olivia obviously believes Carrie. Then when Carrie realized that Olivia lied to her to get a confession out of her, Carrie physically assaulted Olivia and threatened to kill her. This assault however is never brought up again, and Olivia ends up guilt-tripping Casey Novak into offering Carrie a plea deal because she decided that Carrie was an abused child and Denise had it coming to her. So both Carrie and Justin get a Karma Houdini in the end (statutory rape for Justin and murder for Carrie), and the only reason this happened was because Olivia allowed her personal prejudices to decide who was guilty in this case.
  • Super Llama 42: "Intimidation Game". Oh good lord, Intimidation Game. Let's just ignore the colossal Bias Steamroller. Let's just ignore that the premise is about as Ripped from the Headlines as Wolfenstein 3D is a historically accurate portrayal of World War II. SVU can now add itself to the ever-growing list of crime dramas that tried to cover video game culture and internet culture and only showed that the writers know jack shit about either, and have such contempt for the people who would notice that they just don't care. Fin trying to use his video game expertise to stop a gamer-related kidnapping amounts to nothing more than spouting cringe-worthy lines like "We're at the final level." The villains are Saturday morning cartoon supervillain rapists, with the Big Bad hurling lame threats and unironically claiming that shooting a gun is exactly like it is in video games, and the only way the plot could even get going is for every single character's IQ to drop down to single digits. And who could forget the attempted Downer Ending that's completely ruined by the fade to the Executive Producer credits for Dick Wolf?
    • Samanato: There's a good reason that this episode was compared to Reefer Madness. Perhaps the worst part about this episode is how it insults everyone, including but not limited to gamers, police, journalists, women, and the audience. And the fact that the whole episode is filled up to the neck with Unfortunate Implications — special mention goes to gamers being portrayed as literally ISIS, and the Downer Ending, which carries the truly uplifting moral that essentially tells women in gaming to give up. Perhaps the only good to come out of the episode are enough fresh memes to rival the "Hackers on Steroids" news segment.
    • InTheGallbladder: Really, the whole episode was a mess, but the ending just drove it all home—these guys honestly expected us to accept their argument that gaming culture, net culture and rape culture intersect, yet they know (or worse, care) neither what a dickwolf is nor why it matters to the discussion.
    • darkrage6: I didn't totally hate the episode like others did and I don't believe it makes gamers look bad or anything like that, however I will say that I hated the Downer Ending as it sends the Unfortunate Implications that women should never try to make games or they will be assaulted/raped, it's by far the worst ending to an episode on this show by far.
  • Truffle: "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.
  • embala: SVU has never been great on things like due process and the rights of the accused - it's a police procedural, whaddaya want - but the unholy duo of "Thought Criminal" and "Spring Awakening" took that particular ridiculousness Up to Eleven. If Munch had still been around, I like to think that he'd have read the rest of them the riot act on this one. You have the entire squad and Barba going after a guy who hasn't actually committed a crime, Amaro beating the shit out of him on the street, and then getting off because Rollins blackmails the victims wife. The entire SVU squad, with the possible exception of Fin, are now card-carrying Dirty Cops, and I'm finding it hard to root for them anymore.
  • Phi Sat: The episode "Alien" features a teenager who ended up paralyzed after getting attacked with a pair of scissors. Later we find out the culprit is an eight-year old girl whom this boy bullied every day for having gay parents. He threatened to rape her numerous times, cut her hair against her will, and forced himself on her when the poor thing finally snapped. This boy should be arrested not only for hate crimes, but for multiple counts of sexual assault on a minor (cut hair, rape threats, full-out assault). Instead, the brilliant SVU detectives arrest the poor traumatized girl when she was clearly acting in self-defence. It only gets worse from there. Everyone, including our detectives, treat the sweet girl as a violent psychopath in the making, and the girl's grandparents blame her adoptive mother for some imagined cycle of violence that does not at all exist. The bullies at the girl's school are ignored for the rest of the episode in a very misguided attempt at a Very Special Episode on gay and parental rights.
  • Superkeijikun: I grant that Stabler's way of thinking is fairly old-fashioned and he's not exactly the poster child of political correctness, but his referring to a transgendered murder suspect in the episode "Fallacy" as a "he-she" goes beyond simple ignorance of transgender issues and crosses over into being intentionally hurtful.
  • Cheapsunglasses: The ending of "Shattered" enraged me. Sophie Gerard is an utterly abysmal parent who enjoys being a mother, yet ignores the responsibilities of being a parent in favor of traveling to places where she can stroke her extreme misandrism, and her latest plan involves a one-way trip to China for both her and her son, with the clear intent of trying to brainwash him into being a slavish momma's boy. In contrast, Nicholas's father Paul is a responsible parent who keeps his son in school and takes care of him while Sophie is off doing God knows what. The episode doesn't even deign to make Paul a jerk—he's clearly a good father and his anger towards Sophie is perfectly justified. Despite the fact that she is clearly unfit to be a mother, Sophie deludes herself into thinking that she is Nicholas's "one true parent" and reacts viciously to any attempt to point out her flaws, reasonable or otherwise—she tried to cut off Paul's foot with an axe after he called her out on her bad parenting! After Paul wins custody of Nicholas, Sophie hires a retired soldier to kidnap him, claiming that she has custody of her son, but that plan falls through when the guy discovers that she's lying. Later, someone else kidnaps Nicholas, and the poor boy eventually dies. I was just waiting for Sophie to get her well-deserved punishment for all the trouble she caused through her selfishness and sexism, yet the episode gives us one of the most outrageous Ass Pulls in the history of the series by revealing at the very last second that Paul hired the second guy in retaliation for Sophie's previous attempt at kidnapping in the hopes of finally putting her in jail where she belongs so that Nicholas could finally have a somewhat stable life. WHAT. THE. FUCK! Paul does not deserve to be the villain here! It is Sophie! The bitch needs to be put in a straitjacket!! Her son is dead and it is her fault!!
  • TheWriterMan: "Imposter". Holy crap, Imposter. Much like the Thought Criminal fiasco, the SVU squad spends the entire episode going after a man who hadn't even committed a crime. What he did was definitely sleazy, but not illegal. But Olivia spent the entire episode vilifying the guy as a totally evil rapist and continued her recent habit of making Barba her lacky, making him prosecute any case she wanted him to no matter what. Plus, she completely ignores how obviously troubled the "victim's" son is about the situation, which ends tragically. Plus, our "victim" is a married woman who cheats on her husband for the purpose of worming her son's way into college. In a nutshell, this feels like what would happen if SVU was written by Tumblr feminists.
    • dbdude01: It gets worse when you think about who the real villains of the episode are. The women that the perpetrator has sex with think they're getting their kids into the ivy league. Are they working class minorities or poor immigrants who just want to see someone in their family catch a break for once? Nope, they're all rich upper east side white protestants who can't stand the thought of their kids going through life as rich, able-bodied white protestants with degrees from slightly less prestigious colleges. They feel so entitled to have the best of everything that they're willing to steal an admission slot from some poor kid who earned it by merit. They're all guilty of conspiracy to commit larceny and prostitution, they're the ones who should have been arrested. Also, the perpetrator used some rich guy's apartment as a shag-pad without permission, Barba could have sent him to jail for multiple counts of trespass, maybe even burglary (since he intended to solicit prostitutes once inside), he didn't need to invent a fake definition of rape.
  • dbdude01: After watching "Bang" I rewatched old episodes and realized for the first time how horrible the detectives had been all along. The story centers on a man who pokes holes in condoms to get women pregnant, which is sleazy but not illegal. Olivia says that he leaves them stuck with kids that only he wants, except none of the women were so opposed to having children that they used additional birth control (which the condom wrapper recommends), nor did they use the morning after pill after the condom broke, or got an abortion, or gave their kids up for adoption, so Olivia's belief that the women didn't want their children seemed like an unwarranted conclusion from a woman who just wanted an excuse to be outraged. The detectives investigate his life believing he must be a rapist, though there's no evidence of it whatsoever (apparently there were no real sex crimes in Manhattan during this time period, so the detectives had plenty of time to waste). Throughout the episode everyone talks about the perpetrator's magical ability to charm women into doing and believing whatever he wanted, which makes for a great villain in a sci-fi/fantasy show, in a police procedural it's just lazy writing which simultaneously demonizes men and infantilizes women. But the kicker is when the detectives realize they can't charge him with anything, so they bring all the women he's impregnated to the precinct at the same time. That's right, a group of police detectives thought that forming a lynch mob was the correct way to deal with a law abiding citizen that they didn't like. They should have gone to prison for depraved-indifference murder.
  • Business21: "Info Wars" was the episode that made me give up on the series for good. The premise of the episode involves a flagrant, far-right Ann Coulter espy getting raped by someone who read her blog. Because Olivia despises this woman and her political views, she and the squad barely do any investigating and seemed to not even care that the woman was raped. The show that spent almost twenty years hammering home that Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil totally abandons the principle because the victim happened to be a Trump supporter.

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