‘Law & Order: SVU’ Fans Voice Disappointment in This Common Storyline

by Suzanne Halliburton

Let’s just say Law & Order: SVU fans have long memories. They still vent about some messy details dropped by earlier episodes.

The show is entering its 24th season. It’s the longest-running network drama on the air. And it anchors Law & Order Thursday nights on NBC. (Fall premiere is Sept. 22). But in the show’s early days, fans noticed that Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Christopher Meloni) often played fast and loose with suspects.

Although the episodes are the old ones in the vault, it’s a current discussion on the Law & Order: SVU subReddit. The fans brought the receipts.

“I love the older SVU episodes, but when I was going on a rewatch binge I realized a common theme,” wrote Sufficient-Shape-704, who started the thread.

“A lot of the older episodes have these Pyrrhic victories. Like Liv and Stabler mess up by getting a suspect killed, ruining someone’s life, or arresting the wrong guy but at the end when they finally catch the right guy they’re like “hey we saved the day” (Quick note. A Pyrrhic victory is one that comes at great cost, with the victor pondering if it was worth it.)

Law & Order: SVU Fans Got Very Specific In Their Observations

The Reddit user offered some concrete details. “Some examples are an old episode where a con artist family frames a guy for raping a girl who orchestrated the whole scheme. The gang finds out too late and the falsely accused man is killed in prison. But they’re like hey we can charge the cons for murder now what a win! Forgetting they ruined a life… Or another old episode they are looking for a pedophile/murderer and they harass this guy who is a sex offender but was turning his life around. So they reveal his past to people in his new life and the guy kills himself only for Liv and Elliot to realize he wasn’t the guy.

“Or even the Hudson rape episode where that girl Heather lied about being gang raped. Before they got all the info they were so eager to parade the faces of the accused men to the press. They admit they were wrong in the end but still even Liv says they ruined their reputations.” The user brought it back to present day. “And its kind of scary because it represents how cops in reality have this tunnel vision and don’t care about the collateral damage they cause, as long as they get the perp.”

Here’s the Law & Order: SVU cast, circa 2004. (Fernando Leon/Getty Images)

One Episode Involved Innocent Man in Prison

The Law & Order: SVU fans offered even more specifics. One was the season 11 premiere, “Unstable,” which guest starred Wentworth Miller. The detectives are dealing with a serial rapist and an innocent man (arrested by Stabler) is in prison. There’s a confession from the real rapist, which should lead to the innocent man’s release. But a cop kills the rapist before he could provide official testimony. So the innocent guy remains in prison.

“Stabler is shocked, and you can see on his face that he knows he screwed up,” Ozzdo wrote. “He says that he’ll continue to do anything he can to help the guy, including hiring a lawyer himself. ” After leaving SVU in 2011, Meloni now stars in Law & Order: Organized Crime. And going undercover, Stabler still stretches the rules.

Another episode — “Disappearing Acts” — was in season four. A victim and a suspect are both placed in witness protection. A witness and a U.S. Marshal die as Stabler and Benson pressed the case.

“In the older seasons Liv and Elliot are just like “oops” well if we get the guy its all fine,” one Law & Order: SVU fan wrote. “They would do a lot of damage. … Of course they are also helpful but again at times too much collateral damage.”