Even though Law & Order: Criminal Intent is considered Lighter and Softer (in comparison, anyway) to its older sisters, it still has some very haunting moments.
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- The fate of the victim, a Mafia Princess-turned-successful author, in "Maledictus". As if her murder wasn't enough, the way her body was disposed of was pretty gruesome: not only was she decapitated and her head was sent to her publisher's office to be discovered by the unsuspecting and horrified employees (and with the necklace she bought with the money for her "new book" shoved in her mouth), but the rest of her body was dissolved in acid and then hurled into a river, unlikely to be found.
- What happened to the missing young woman in "Yesterday"; she had been missing since going on a date back in 1983 and upon finally being discovered buried underneath the basement of a house, what was once a beautiful blonde (as seen in the picture in her "missing persons" file) was now a rotten, dust-covered skeleton with ratty blonde hair attached.
- "Phantom" has a murderer living a double life, trying to axe out his former life step by step as his mind gradually unhinges more and more. By the end of the episode, Goren and Eames as well as the murderer's wife are horrified as they realize he's basically run off with their children and is about to murder them. In a rare case for Law & Order, the ambience keeps going for a while, before going silent shortly before Goren arrives - as he sees the man aiming a shotgun at his own kids. We even get a wonderous camera shot of Goren between the murderer and the kids, a crazed look in the man's eyes and the barrel of the shotgun in Goren's own face.
- Want a good example of how Creepy Good Goren can be? To prove that a convicted perp isn't the Motel Ripper or a copycat in "Seizure", he straight up cuts his own palm with a pocket knife and then shoves the injury in front of the guy's face to make him faint from the sight of blood. He doesn't bat an eye at the pain and causally covers up his hand in the aftermath, having proven his point that such a person couldn't have committed the Ripper's overly-brutal sprees.
- The episode, "Dead", registers as this. In addition to the Victim of the Week's graphic death, but we learn that his workplace, a funeral parlor, had a dark secret; they would steal the bodies that were brought to them for embalming/cremation and then sell the relatives fake ashes while keeping the bodies themselves hidden away. Later in the episode, detectives unearth the bodies in various stages of decomposition. It gets worse: The crematorium part of the episode, where the owner had resorted to burying the bodies on the premises, because the oven had broken down and he couldn't afford to have it fixed? It was Ripped From The Headlines!
- The episode, "See Me". The killer, a optometrist who is "treating" homeless men with schizophrenia by blinding them or greatly damaging their eyes through dangerous experiments to get rid of their illness-induced illusions has close-ups of these experiments. However, what keeps the killer from being completely unsympathetic is that at the end of the episode, we learn that he's schizophrenic as well, and while he ended up doing serious harm to his patients, he was genuinely (if extremely misguidedly) trying to help them. He winds up hospitalized instead of imprisoned.
- The Villainous Breakdown in "A Murderer Among Us", where it turns out the killer's motivation was killing Jewish men because his mother had an affair with her Jewish boss when he was a child, which broke his family apart after she got pregnant by him and his father started abusing her over it, but he was told by his father that she was raped by said boss. What seems like initial distrust and proclamations of the police tricking people starts to become more like accusations against Jews in general, and when he slowly starts to get the truth that his wife and daughter were Jewish put into his mind, he starts flipping out spectacularly. You also get to see Goren playing a particularly nasty intimidation game, preventing the killer from picking up an iron pipe as he starts to wildly swing it himself to apply the mental pressure.
- The episode "Want". It was based on the Jeffrey Dahmer case, so that should tell you something. One of the victims survived, but suffered "permanent" damage to her speech and cognitive functioning. The doctor tells them the victim has a hole in her head, likely created by a common household drill. Not only that, but her spinal fluid was hypertonic (diluted), and she had slight scalding on her brain tissue. In the word of Eames, "He drilled a hole in her skull, and poured hot water on her brain." Oh, yeah, the killer also ate part of one of his victim's calf muscles like an everyday meal.
- "The Posthumous Collection" already was filled with rather disturbing deaths with the victims being killed and then photographed as a part of "art", but the one suspect's past is rather disturbing as well: after his father died when he was a young boy, he was left to the mercy of his mother, grandmother and three older sisters, who were all abusive towards him. His one older sister (who by the way was interviewed by the detectives while imprisoned for manslaughter) even recalled how she and her sisters used to do all sorts of vicious things to him, including scalding him with hot water, feeding him spoiled food and tying him to a bed and mercilessly beating him. This is made all the more horrible by the woman not only recalling the torture of him fondly but that his own mother and grandmother did nothing to stop it, with them saying that since he's a boy, he could handle it. Even Goren pointed out to him that he needed his father to protect him from these monsters.
- "Slither" has a unsuspecting couple at a party one moment, then in the ensuing madness of the next few days, they end up exposed to a human head in the party host's refrigerator, held hostage and heavily drugged, which caused the wife to end up a full-blown addict and the husband dead of a hot dose.
- The homicides in "The Healer" are among some of the most horrifying in Criminal Intent history. When an apartment's super comes with a neighbor to the residence of two college-aged sisters to see why they haven't been answering calls, they find both girls lying dead on their respective beds and mummified in plastic wrap. The creepy music heard during this scene (and throughout the episode) doesn't help matters. Even worse, although the women were poisoned before going into the cocoons, it's later discovered that they both were still alive after being placed inside of them. After being led to a young woman who allegedly practiced voodoo/witchcraft (and Logan expressing doubt about her "powers") he soon finds himself with a mysterious rash that he had no idea how he contracted it. Turns out, he was poisoned by a candle she dipped in ivy and tricked him into picking up.
- "To The Bone" begins with a bloodbath inside of a mansion where a family (including two children) are robbed and savagely murdered by multiple strikes from machetes. As the detectives are trying to determine any suspects, another wealthy family is slaughtered in an identical way. The sheer amount of blood and mayhem at both scenes is horrifying to the point that one of the first officials on the scene of the first massacre likened it to Charles Manson.
- The beginning of "Blasters" has a young man being tortured then hanged by a group of mafiosos while he pleads for his life. That was already bad enough, but what really makes it worse is how his body is left on top of a overlooking cliff in a public park, to the point that it's not found until a rock climber stumbles upon his now-bloated, decomposed corpse. Then, he is taken to the morgue as a John Doe and was only seconds away from being put into an unmarked grave in potter's field. Later on, Logan and Wheeler arrive in the nick of time to save the victim's friend from receiving the same fate. Essentially what saved the guy, other than the two of them getting there fast enough, was his height.
- "Blind Spot" has its fair share. First, Eames returns to find her bird dead, only to turn around and be knocked out and kidnapped. Then, while being held captive, not only is she threatened by the killer while tied up and blindfolded, but has to sit idly by while the killer tortures the other victim for hours before they're killed. It's any wonder that she was able to escape the ordeal, but we still see the remnants of the torture chamber, including a table that's splattered with the victim's blood.
- "Major Case" has a long-time famous forensics expert helping in the case of a murdered teenage prostitute, apparently bleached completely to make sure no one could find traces of anything on her. As the case proceeds, however, Nichols starts Spotting the Thread when DNA evidence pointing towards the first suspect comes up implausibly despite the airtight alibi on the guy. The episode makes it clear from the beginning that the expert is the culprit, going through extensive means to cover up all traces of his involvement and what he did while exploiting the system to cover his tracks. And even worse, he's a would-be child predator that didn't even realize that all of his famous cases were teenaged girls, and as Nichols phrases it, the only reason this entire incident happened was because this was a "live one" that he killed when she rejected his impulsive attempts to rape her.
- The victim's death in "Icarus", who died via a broken neck by falling on the stage in a freak accident. In front of an entire audience.