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  • Acceptable Professional Targets:
    • Paparazzi/tabloid reporters are almost always depicted as scumbag assholes, with even one episode depicting one as being shot dead at a restaurant where famous people dine and all the patrons applauding his death.
    • Private investigators are also treated with much contempt by the detectives still with the police. Bounty hunters have it even worse.
    • Celebrities are also fair game, in particular the ones who try to use their money/power/connections/etc. to get away with something, those connected with reality television and if their fame overall begins to impede the case in question.
  • Acceptable Targets:
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    • Child psychologists are depicted either wholly corrupt or totally incompetent.
    • A surprising number of spoiled rich kids either go on killing sprees for the thrill of it or try to destroy their families when they stop taking care of them. The equally-privileged parents who try to get their guilty kids off the hook are treated as culpably blind at best and actively colluding against justice more often.
    • The number of Christians in the show who aren't insane and/or hypocritical zealots can be counted on one hand.
    • Non-New Yorkers tend to gain a lot of ire, be it justified or not, such as referring to Upstate New York as "Volvo land", tourists from Ohio who unwittingly sold video that showed the commission of a crime to a local news station as "Ma and Pa Kettle" and referring to Niagara Falls, Ontario as a "hick town".
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    • In "True North", Canada is portrayed as so ridiculously soft on crime due to the country's anti-death penalty stance that they actively try to sabotage the prosecution of Stephanie Harker, who murdered 4 people, including a child. Even the staunchest death penalty opponent would probably still advocate for a criminal to spend the rest of his/her life in prison, but the episode makes it seem like Canadians would rather that someone go free instead of to death row, no matter how heinous their crime.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: The character from "Pro Se" who is spotlighted under Unintentionally Unsympathetic? He also shows up under The Woobie.
    • Stephanie Harker of "True North"'s backstory includes being impregnated and dumped by a rich classmate while in high school and having to get an abortion. He's made out to be a jerk who was just using her, but given how much of a Gold Digger she was it's equally likely—if not even moreso—that she was trying to pull The Baby Trap and that the boy refused to marry her because he realized both of these things—not to mention how young they were—and that she had the abortion after realizing that her scheme wouldn't work.
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  • Anvilicious: Particularly the later seasons. Rare is the episode in season 20 that doesn't smack you in the head with a political message.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Jaime Ross. Some fans loved her for her savvy understanding of the law and her outspoken nature, especially against McCoy. Others found her cold and disagreeable just for the sake of being so. Another reason is that she replaced one of the most popular ADAs of all time and (as unfair as a reason this is) while Kincaid was considered a Ms. Fanservice, Ross generally wasn't.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The infamous "Is this because I'm a lesbian?" line is possibly the distilled essence of BLAM: It comes completely from nowhere, It's quite strange when it happens (nothing in the episode had much to do with homosexuality), and it is never mentioned again by anyone.
  • Broken Base: "Aftershock." Some think it's one of the best episodes the show ever did, some think it's the worst.
  • Complete Monster: See here.
  • Fanon Discontinuity:
    • To many fans, there is no Law and Order without Jerry Orbach.
    • There is a small group that insists the last episode actually ended with Anita van Buren's phone ringing. This brings it more in line with the rest of the series.
  • Franchise Original Sin: One of the main elements of Law & Order is the focus on the criminal process and a lack of personal lives of the detectives/lawyers or rather without a large amount of time spent on it, which worked well. However, upon later incarnations, it didn't work so well. Initially on SVU, it allowed glimpses into the squad's home lives (namely Stabler's), but some seasons later and with a new showrunner, his family was more or less kicked off, much to the annoyance of fans (save the Elliott x Olivia crowd) and established character development is muddled (such as Benson's deceased mother, who was initially loving, being retconned into a neglectful alcoholic). For Criminal Intent, it followed the mothership's formula to focus on the criminals/cases instead of personal lives. This also was done away with years later by giving gratuitous screentime to Goren's mentally ill mother and addict brother amongst other things, which didn't appeal to fans who mostly hated the Genre Shift. Furthermore with all three versions, new characters weren't well-received in part of them, due to formula, apparently having past skills or abilities that aren't seen or even fully explained and old characters were suddenly given idiosyncrasies and new personality traits that made no sense and were never seen before (most notoriously, Green's apparent gambling problem and Serena's Suddenly Sexuality.) Even reverting back to their old respective formulas caused the fandom of SVU to be split in two and Criminal Intent's popularity with fans to gradually decline until it was canceled.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • In the episode "Shangri-La", a teacher is murdered. During a interview with the collective faculty, one of the teachers says that it was likely done by a student. When the detectives ask him about it, he replies "You don't see many headlines about faculty out on shooting sprees." The show's final episode is about a teacher who does just that.
    • In Second Opinion (ep. 5-1), which featured a fake breast cancer cure Van Buren tells the detectives if she got incurable (breast) cancer she'd rather spend her last days with a whole body and surrounded by family rather then working. Years later she gets diagnosed with cervical cancer and works through it the whole time; fortunately it's in remission.
  • Genius Bonus: A 2002 episode involves a murdered high school teacher and a student who as we discovered was actually a woman in her mid-20s only pretending to be a high school student and claiming never to be able to age. What was the episode's title? "Shangri-La", which is the name of a fictional utopia where the inhabitants never grow old.
  • Growing the Beard: For many viewers, there are roughly three periods of the show; the ones before Lennie Briscoe shows up, the ones with Lennie Briscoe, and the ones after Lennie Briscoe left. The second category tends to be immeasurably more popular.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Both “Animal Instincts” and the later episode “Patsy” involved a woman with erotomania who kills the lover of the man she's obsessed with. While both episodes involved the man being initially suspected Patsy focused years down the line where the man had become Properly Paranoid after years of being stalked and accused of a crime he didn’t commit.
    • In "Second Opinion", Van Buren being asked, "What would you do if you had cancer?" becomes harsher to hear since later seasons has her struggling with Stage 2 cervical cancer.
    • The season 6 episode "Homesick" is eerily similar to the Louise Woodward case that happened a mere nine months after the episode aired, although we learned by the end of the episode that the nanny was innocent all along and while Woodward was convicted, her verdict was thrown out a short time later.
    • At the end of "Kids" Lennie's old friend (who had the gun dealer threatening his son killed) asks Lennie "what if it was one of your kids?" Lennie replies that he doesn't know what he'd do. He'd find out for himself four seasons later...
    • The season 6 episode "Savior" had Ellen Pompeo portray a young woman who was a Sociopath who goaded her boyfriend into killing her mother and brother and then trying to pin the murders on first her own, innocent father and then the boyfriend. In the tradition of Law & Order, unless they're a recurring character, actors are brought back at least once to portray a different character with a radically different persona/storyline. Come the season 10 episode, "Fools For Love", however she played a different character with a nearly identical personality: another sociopath who killed her sister and her sister's friend with the help of her boyfriend and then tried to have him take all the blame.
    • This series would not be the last time that George Dzundza portrayed a detective that ended up brutally murdered.
    • ANY episode about child pornography and child abuse, especially ANY episode directed by Jace Alexander, is this after he was busted for child porn in 2015.
    • The aforementioned "True North" episode features a social-climbing Gold Digger murdering her wealthy husband (amongst others) named Stephanie Harker, with her maiden name being Stephens. Two and a half years later in real life, another woman who was a social-climbing Gold Digger would kill her wealthy husband as well, and eerily enough, her married name was Stephanie Stephens.
    • In the season four episode "Apocrypha" when he and Briscoe initially believed that an Egyptian man had blown up a parking garage, Logan suggested that there be a tall and electrified fence built around the country. No points given on why that comment looks worse over 20 years later.
    • A lot of moments in "Cruel and Unusual" become this given what's now known about nonverbal autistic people. Watch the episode again, and this time consider the possibility that every character with autism potentially understands exactly what's going on around them, up to and including understanding everything that's said within their earshot, but has no way to make anyone else aware of this. The last scene in particular is downright horrifying in this context (see Unintentionally Unsympathetic).
      • The poor kid with the computer especially. He's given a "communication" device, but what really happens is that other people start proverbially putting words in his mouth, even convincing themselves that these are his words, while whatever he might actually like to say goes as unheard as ever.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Most Wonderful Sound: It just wouldn't be Law & Order without the inimitable CHUNG-CHUNG (also known as doink-doink and "Cell door clang").
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize:
    • If the Special Guest Star isn't the victim or defense attorney, (s)he's the perp (or a major accomplice).
    • Subverted by Kevin Smith, who asked to play a guy who was just one more person the detectives had to talk to before they found the killer.
    • Also now played with by the fact that many smaller parts are played by actors who, much later, became famous - an unavoidable event in a series that runs this long, and has so many bit parts.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • A running gag of the last decade of the show has been other prosecutors bringing up McCoy's many indiscretions/lapses in professional and personal judgment. Some such incidents including a time when he once purposely hid a witness in a murder case and evidence from the defense team, instigated "fake trials" (twice!), attempted to have a woman sterilized (albeit she did have Munchausen's Syndrome and was murdering her babies), tried (unsuccessfully) to bring up murder by proxy charges where he goes after gun manufacturers for depraved indifference homicide and, of course, sleeping with his assistants.
    • This was invoked when Cutter's feelings for Connie were outright stated in a Season 20 episode; Cutter says, "Who would put their assistant in a difficult place by sleeping with her?" to which McCoy replies, "you mean, besides me?"
    • "Is this because I'm a lesbian?" Dick Wolf has since regretted throwing it in there, conceding that Serena's confession made no sense.
    • Also, "Sundays In The Park With Jorge". It's the only episode in twenty years to be pulled from rotationnote  and made Dick Wolf and company look Hispanophobic.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • Several in-universe examples. It has become tradition throughout the entire franchise that when one detective/member of the D.A.'s office is replaced, for his former partner or others to regard the replacement with suspicion or outright hostility for the first few episodes. If the fandom eventually eases up on them as well is only a matter of time.
    • In Real Life, the defining examples are: Nora Lewin, who replaced the most popular DA, Adam Schiff, and was seen as wishy-washy even In-Universe; Serena Southerlyn, without question the least popular ADA, who followed the polarizing but far more memorable Abbie Carmichael; Michael Cutter, who had the unenviable task of succeeding Jack McCoy in the EADA's chair (although McCoy was still on the show, so the impact was lessened); and, definitively, Joe Fontana, who replaced arguably the show's most beloved character, Lennie Briscoe.
    • Although McCoy never fell into this with most fans and the critics, there is a section of the fandom that are adamant about Ben Stone being the superior EADA.
    • Quite a few fans didn't consider Kevin Bernard to be a worthy replacement for the beloved Ed Green. His generally flat characterization also didn't help matters.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Viewers eventually warmed up to Joe Fontana. Ditto Mike Cutter, once the writers toned down his cockiness.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The show is famously an absolute smorgasbord of New York-based actors, thanks to many of them taking guest roles early in their careers. This was made especially clear at the 2016 Tony Awards, where host James Corden did a routine pointing out how many guest spots on the show the nominated actors had between them. One of them had actually appeared five times, all in different roles.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Those who didn't realize that Jack and Claire were sleeping together at the time will watch the repeats and kick themselves for not noticing all the hints to that effect. There was even a webpage devoted to documenting every little thing said or done between the two as proof of their relationship.
  • Seasonal Rot: All the seasons after Jerry Orbach left. It was never the same afterwards, and the new cast lineups didn't have the same chemistry as the old ones did.
  • The Scrappy:
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Law & Order is downright cuddly compared to crime shows like The Wire or The Shield, but at the time it began airing it was the unglamorous, no-nonsense counterpoint to shows like L.A. Law.
  • Shipping: Jack/Claire and Michael/Connie both have pretty decent sized fanbases. Jack and Nora also had a smaller, but passionate following.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: One example is an episode about a mass shooting, which turns into a case about after-market gun add-ons which make them full-auto. It's a rare look at a different element of gun rights, albeit done hamfistedly by virtually absolving a mass shooter of fifteen murders, despite quite literally being caught with the smoking gun and confessing on arrest, and scarcely addressing the violations of the 1934 National Firearms Act by converting a firearm to full-auto.
  • Squick: 20 year old guy to his 60 year old girlfriend, after learning she'd had a "vagina lift": (basically) "But I love you because of how you are!" The reason he's into May-December romances is also fairly squicky.
  • Special Effects Failure: The otherwise deadly serious "A Death In The Family" (ep 1-13) begins with an unlucky perpetrator falling to his doom, and -just out of camera range, landing on a police car. At his scream and impact sound, the camera sweeps back to catch a none-too-convincing dummy on the none-too-convincingly-damaged cop car.
  • Straw Character: There's A LOT.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • Benjamin "Bud" Greer (who was played by future Law & Order: Criminal Intent star Courtney B. Vance) from the episode "Rage", which the basis of the story is taken from the Long Island Subway killer, Colin Ferguson. Even if he was on the snobbish side, his character was this because he was unfairly rejected by both Black and White society for as long as he remembered and his boss/victim was a unlikable, money-hungry racist jerkass who it was difficult to care about, unlike Ferguson who slaughtered random people.
    • Tommy Vega from "Formerly Famous", who was portrayed by Gary Busey. Yes, his character was based off of the Robert Blake case. Yes, he and his manager both killed his wife. However, unlike Blake, he was a pitiable guy who almost everyone considered to be a joke and a has-been as well Henpecked Husband who tried to make up for everything by being a good father to his baby daughter... only to find out that he wasn't the child's biological father. Even in open court, he acknowledged what a failure he was and the heartbreak he experienced in learning the truth, especially when he told the court, "She was my second chance, and guys like me don't get second chances."
    • Marisol from "Rebels". Even though she repeatedly stonewalled detectives and the prosecution in the murder investigation of her boyfriend, had quite an attitude and had unintentionally gotten him killed, it soon comes to light how mistreated she was by the victim and her ex; the former was a violent biker who let his buddies take advantage of her sexually and the former was an Upper-Class Twit who only dated her to piss off his disapproving father and was more than happy to dump her once his father offered him a bribe to do so. Also, after she ultimately gave the evidence to the investigators, she was "rewarded" by giving up her old life by going into the witness protection program.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • The defense attorney Danielle Melnick has a history of sacrificing her others (even her clients) for her own political agenda. In “Open Season”, she outright ignored her client's threats to innocent people despite repeated warnings, which lead to more killings. Her being shot by one of her former client's followers who mistakenly believed that she had ratted him out came across more as Laser-Guided Karma then anything else. It also doesn’t help that she never once admitted she did anything wrong to the point of giving McCoy a what the hell hero for prosecuting her.
    • Both of the killers from "Pro Se" and "Under The Influence". Both were incredibly self-righteous mass-murdering jerkasses who did everything they could to obstruct justice in their cases due to their respective diseases (schizophrenia and alcoholism). The latter only comes off as somewhat sympathetic because towards the end of the episode, only after he is shown the autopsy photos of his victims including one of a four-year-old boy, he breaks down and is suddenly remorseful. The former only feels sympathy for himself, blames Claire for what ultimately happened (since she ended up getting him released after committing another, non-violent crime) and didn't feel one ounce of remorse for any of his victims, including the lone survivor who now has permanent brain damage.
    • Alice Simonelli from "Punk". She wouldn't stop screaming that Abbie Carmichael framed her for drug possession, even though her story for what happened that night was ridiculous. She killed a prison guard who was raping her and kept her under his thumb by threatening to send her to another prison, which actually would have solved her problem and gotten her away from her abuser, but she said she couldn't let it happen because the other prison was too far away from her daughter. Except, she was previously up for a work-release program which would have allowed her to be with her daughter again, but was removed from the program when she was caught smoking marijuana. So to recap, spending time with her daughter was so important that she was willing to kill for her, she just wasn't willing to stop doing drugs for her.
    • Dr. Gail Berardi, the coroner in "Suicide Box". Years earlier, she was given the body of a young man, who since she couldn't determine a cause of death (and really didn't bother to try for one), just checked it off as a suicide, which set off a chain reaction of his killer going free (and still cannot be charged even years later and after confessing to the murder due to lack of evidence), his little brother to grow up angry and vengeful and made him try and kill an officer (as he blamed cops for not solving his brother's murder) and which caused the young man's body to be shipped overseas as a cadaver whose parts have already been harvested. And yet, since she was plagued with a heavy workload and long hours, we are supposed to feel sorry for her. Not helping anything is her overall lack of remorse or even responsibility for what happened.
    • Det. Johnson from "Vendetta". As a cop, he framed the episode's criminal by planting evidence to get him arrested to convict him of a young girl's murder. And it's because of his actions, the criminal got and murdered again, and the detective's credibility comes under serious question. We're supposed to feel sorry for him because he was a cop going after a killer, but his Never My Fault attitude leaves little to no sympathy.
    • Mrs. Vilardi, the mother from "Cruel and Unusual". Even with an autistic son and being understandably stressed/concerned about him and his care, her lack of consideration over the fact that the clinic he was at was dangerous (with her actually believing the blatant lies told by his doctor about the non-verbal boy wanting to go to art school and liking girls) and that the staff had already been culpable in killing another patient puts her into this territory. Also, her quip to Jack after all is said and done about him taking care of him now since she refused was rather snotty.
      • That particular comment is even Harsher in Hindsight because she made it while her son was standing right next to her. At the time, the prevailing wisdom would have been that it didn't matter because he couldn't understand her anyway, but it's now generally known that many non-verbal people, especially when it's autism-related, can still understand spoken language; in the years since the episode aired, quite a few nonverbal autistic people (the most famous likely being Carly Fleischmann) have developed the ability to communicate through other means, and have said that despite their inability to speak, they developed the ability to understand spoken language at a comparable rate to their peers, and that they in fact were aware of, and hurt by, the negative and derogatory comments that were often made right in front of them. Based on what's now known about autism, there's a very good chance that Mrs. Vilardi's son fully understood that his mother was denigrating him, but was unable to do anything about it.
    • Stephanie Harker of "True North" is given a supposedly tragic backstory that includes being impregnated and dumped by a rich boy while in high school. But as stated in the "Alternate" post, it's highly likely that he just saw through her attempt at pulling The Baby Trap to get her hands on his money. And even if not, it doesn't excuse the despicable things she proceeded to do—murdering a man's wife so that she could marry him, being a lousy wife/stepmother to him/his daughter, killing him and his daughter to stop him from divorcing her and killing her friend who she hired to commit the murders in order to dump all the blame on her. Her pleas for mercy regarding being given the death penalty ring hollow.
    Jack: "Stephanie Harker doesn't push my pity buttons."
    • Karen Gaines of "Bitter Fruit", who turned out to have arranged the kidnapping that resulted in her daughter's murder. She weeps and wails that this never would have happened if her ex-husband had let her see the girl and swears that she didn't mean for her to get hurt, she just wanted her ex to know what it felt like to be separated from his child. Except, at least she knew her daughter was safe and sound with her father, even if she couldn't see her. She was willing to put her ex through the absolute hell of not knowing where his daughter was or what was happening to her. Even worse, she was willing to put the daughter who she supposedly loved through that nightmare too.
    • Leslie Harlan from "Hot Pursuit". Although she didn't deserve to be abducted, repeatedly raped by and at the mercy of a scumbag like Leon Trapp, the fact that before and after her abduction she was a spoiled rich brat who eventually came to enjoy being an outlaw (such as the one time she was given a loaded gun to fire a shot in the air to threaten the people she and Leon had held up instead of shooting him and the reveal that she was the one who told him about the nightclub she frequented with other wealthy patrons that led to the majority of the episode's murders.) Also the fact that she immediately went from terrified victim of a kidnapping/multiple assaults to indignant at being returned to her overbearing parents made it plausible that her role as the scared hostage was all an act to diminish her responsibility in the crimes.
    • Dr. Miguel Clemente from "Admissions". He is accused of the murder of a graduate student and while it's ultimately proven that he was innocent all along and allowed to return to his job, the man is such an insufferable and confrontational prick that you start to wish that he were guilty. The fact that the great majority of the students and even several of his coworkers hate him for his difficult class and unpredictable temper, his own (second) wife left him years earlier, he still verbally bashed the victim after her death for daring to question his logic and he tried (and failed) to pull the race card to an unamused Curtis to claim that was the only reason people are against him showcases why people were quick and eager to blame him for the crime.
    • Danielle Mason of "Good Girl". While her fear of her abusive father is understandable, it doesn't excuse her murdering her boyfriend because she was upset about him breaking up with her (he was fed up with her hiding their interracial relationship), then proceeding to repeatedly lie through her teeth that she acted in self-defense after he raped her. She claimed to love this guy—"He was the most important thing in my life!"—yet had no qualms about using racist stereotypes to smear his name with horrible accusations.
    • Andre Blair from "Bling". Whilst it's true that he's innocent of the crime he's accused of, the man is also an asshole. He makes no real effort to prove his innocence, instead showering his investigators and the jury alike with naked contempt and accusations of racism, and expects to be treated with kid gloves just because he's an African-American who came from a poor background. It's also revealed that his own people, the African-American rappers he acts as an agent for, privately loathe him, as he's a swaggering bully who is not only physically abusive, but also exploits his financial and social connections to keep them from retaliating by threatening to ruin their careers if they go to the police or even snub him for his treatment of them. Such as the rapper he threw out of a window, and yet who was forced to not only abstain from pressing charges, but also appear at Andre's Christmas party and act like they were best friends, downplaying the event, despite the fact his arm was so badly damaged he needed to have a rod implanted in it.
    • Amy and Jimmy Beltran from "Mother's Milk". The episode tries to portray the young, inexperienced husband and wife as a grief and guilt-stricken couple who unintentionally starved their newborn son, Kyle, to death due to her inability to breastfeed and a pretentious doctor's insistence on doing so or that she was a bad mother otherwise. However, in addition to her never wanting the child and he more or less forcing her to have it, he was ostensibly too busy with work to help care for the child while she let her indifference and ignorance as well as not being bothered to seek help from other avenues (a different doctor/clinic, either of their parents, trusting her mother's intuition, etc.) that ultimately lead to his death.
    • Tracey Meegan from "Take-Out" comes across like a Dirty Coward. While her hatred of her father comes from the fact that she blames her father for her mother’s death. Even when she found out the truth that he was Taking the Heat she didn’t change her tune and just tried to throw him under the bus so her brother wouldn’t be blamed for her crime. It wasn’t until after the police present their evidence of her guilt that she shows remorse for what she did. Contrast her brother and father who even when they believed the other was guilty did everything they could to keep/get the other out of jail, yet still averted Murder Is the Best Solution.
    • The victim from "All My Children", a son of privilege who despised his philanthropist snob of a father. While his father was indeed a major Jerkass, the son never tried to live for himself in spite of being in his twenties and seemed to only want to make the father pay for not blindly spoiling him. Also, if the son had just searched for a job and gotten off of drugs instead of riding his father's coattails like both of his parents wished, then he would have never been kicked out of the house and shunned by them. Even worse, he brought an innocent girl just looking for her biological father into his sick game of revenge and got mad at her for realizing what his true motives were and wanting no part of it.
  • Win Back the Crowd: After a revolving door of post-Orbach Replacement Scrappy detectives, Season 18 finally coalesced a cast line-up that went over well with fans and critics. In particular, moving Jack McCoy up to the District Attorney role made sense in-universe and also introduced some Character Development, as rather than being the "junkyard dog" held in check by his superiors, he now was the superior who had to react more carefully and politically.
  • The Woobie:
    • Typically, the show wants you to sympathize with the victims, the Law, or the Order, but they sometimes make even the defendant a woobie. One particularly tragic story is that of a psychotic who refuses his medication, even though he gets violent. It's revealed that the side effects make it incredibly difficult for him to function, and because of his illness he wasn't able to pursue any work, let alone his dream career. He'd contemplated and pursued suicide when he realized that. He stopped taking his medication after his sister testified to that. He agrees to take a plea (strict monitoring for the rest of his life to make sure he takes his meds or stays in a hospital), and breaks down into renewed psychosis is a Tear Jerker. Everyone in the courtroom acts their little hearts out, showing dawning realization and varying degrees of regret and horror.
    • Jack and Claire's relationship was dealt with with a very light touch, but it became the focus of an episode after Claire's death. Jack is trying a drunk driver and conspires with the judge to charge him with murder, with everyone around him stepping lightly. Finally, Jack pushes the defendant to a breakdown on the stand. Jack, in a My God, What Have I Done? moment, relents and reveals the evidence that the man was blind drunk (and earning an enemy in the judge, who had political aspirations).
    • As of the final season, Lt. Van Buren and her struggle with cancer (not that she'll have any of it, mind you) What makes her worthy of woobie-dom is the fact that she's the longest-running member of the Law and Order cast.
    • Denis Winters from "Mushrooms" note . While Ms. Winters was out working, her home was shot at — injuring her elder child (to the point he became a paraplegic) and killing her infant son. At one point she mentions her supervisor saying that seeing her paraplegic son and planning the funeral for her baby was considered "personal time". But the real sad and horrifying part comes from the why her house was shot up — The 14-year-old who did it was at the wrong house. He was sent to kill a crooked real estate man by another drug dealer because the former cheated the latter. But the 14-year-old couldn't read and thus mixed up the address which led to shooting at her house. This woman needs a hug.
    • Judith Sandler, a witness and the doer from "Survivor". Already being the daughter of Holocaust survivors and being traumatized by what her parents went through, which affected her upbringing and being afraid of the world around her, she helped to carry on the pursuit of her father's lost possessions before going he was captured years earlier... only to discover that a foreign billionaire had already sold the father's things and that she had killed the victim, who she thought was withholding knowledge about them, for nothing.
    • Denise Grobman, the victim from "DNR", who was left mortally wounded by an assassin hired by her husband. The whole episode entailed her wanting to die instead of living with being a paraplegic or admitting that he was the one who ordered the hit.
    • Sammy Mireles from "Smoke". His parents sold his innocence away to a pedophile because the said pedophile offered them money, which they used to save their other son (who needed a new heart) and live comfortably off of the rest.
    • Robert Dolan from "Ghosts". His child-aged daughter was raped and murdered, the police (which included Fontana) went after him as a suspect, and his life became miserable. During the present timeline of the episode, his wife died at some point and he faces one of the two men who was involved in his daughter's rape and murder.
    • Kevin Drucker from "Life Line". He killed an innocent reporter. Why? Because a violent gang didn't like her snooping in on them and the very same gang were threatening to kill his son from the same jail they were in. Throughout his trial, he doesn't even let his attorney defend him and even states that he died the moment he killed the young reporter.
    • Tory Quinlann, from "Captive". First, he was held captive for five years by a sexual offender who would repeatedly molest him. Then,it's later revealed that before the abduction, his step-father was physically abusive to him and his mother has openly denied it; and it's implied that Tory stayed with his abuser because he felt around him than he did his own family. And when his captor brought home a new boy to molest, Tory (who was diagnosed with Stockholm Syndrome) killed the boy because he saw him as "competition". And he is then convicted of second degree murder.
    • Jamie Yost from "Executioner". His only son and grandchild were brutally murdered by a crazy killer who was supposed to die on his death sentence. Instead, there was a problem with the injection site and the killer became a victim. He tried to ask the doctor what went wrong and ended up killing him. Except, it was the wrong doctor.
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