Netflix Binge: Here's A List of the Must See Episodes of Law And Order: SVU

Updated on May 26, 2019
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Beagles, Traveling, Writing, Hummus, Documentaries, Craft Beer, Live Music, Guitar, Poetry, and Aventures.Yup, that pretty much sums me up.

"WILDLIFE" (Season 10 Episode 7)

The story: A young woman turns up dead (shocker) and it is up to Benson and Stabler to find out who is responsible. Throughout the episode it is revealed that her death was actually caused by a tiger mauling her and a result of her involvement in an exotic animal smuggling ring along with a rapper named "Gotz Money" (I lol'd at that one)

Anyways, of course the only option is that Elliot must go undercover as a corrupt customs agent in cahoots with the animal smugglers to earn their trust and bring down the men responsible for her death. Things get a little sketchy along the way and the smugglers eventually catch on To Elliot's charade leading to a very dangerous situation.

Why it makes the list: There are two Reasons:

1. This episode is the closest my fantasy of a Benson-Stabler hookup comes to actually happening (she gets caught in his room while he is supposed to be undercover and must play it off as his hooker.. Things get touchy feely and it's great.)

2. Elliot gets shot. Twice. Don't worry it's not a spoiler..the episode opens with this and then backtracks.

TAGS: Shooting, undercover, violence, suspense, trafficking, benson, stabler

"AUTHORITY" (Season 9 Episode 13)

The Story: Remember the fast food call in fake police officer scandal? The one where a man posing as a police officer called over a dozen fast food chain restaurants from an unknown number and somehow convinced managers to strip search, molest, and force young female employees into several humiliating tasks. **Sidenote: "compliance" is a very uncomfortable but well done Sundance watch on the exact same Events.. It's on Amazon prime if interested.**

Well, this is the SVU version Of the fast food call in scandal... Of course they take it a step further throwing in some historical ethically wrong psych experiment references, Robin Williams (RIP) as a very creepy and well played mastermind, and a bomb or two.

Why it made the list: the episode is overall very intense. It has an underlying theme of "authority" and I think Robin Williams using the milgrim studies as his basis for hooking Olivia up to a make shift electric chair and forcing Elliot to press a button that shocks her is the climax. The "screams" as he "shocks" her are horrifying. Definitely a must see.

TAGS: explosion, torture, guest star, true story, violence, intense

Your Opinion:

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"UNDERCOVER" (Season 9 Episode 15)

The story: A young girl is raped by a man in prison who is trying to send her mother (also in prison) a message: "don't eff with me or my prison drug trafficking escapade."

Naturally, the only way to get to the bottom of this is that Olivia go undercover as an actual prison inmate. She eventually find out what is unfortunately the case in many female prisons: guards taking advantage of inmates sexually at whim, for favors, for drugs, etc. Things get real crazy and "inmate" Olivia ends up in a horrifying situation.. The kind that she has flashbacks of episodes, even seasons later.

Why it makes the list: We all know things are bound to go horribly wrong whenever the SVU detectives attempt to go undercover.. And this one is literally titled "undercover." Sidenote-WHY do they keep doing this?

But really..this is one of the most stressful episodes ever. Benson comes way to close to being raped by a sadistic CO. It's a lot. Watch this one with the doors locked.

TAGS: undercover, benson, prison, rape, violence

"HOTHOUSE" (Season 10 Episode 12)

The Story: SVU has tons of cheesy opening scenes to reveal a body and get things started, but this one must be noted. The episode starts with what looks like an outdoor yoga class for the elderly? Anyway, the instructor asks "does anyone remember the next part of the sequence" and an old woman says "body in water" "No..that's not it." "BODY IN WATER." extreme corniness..even for SVU.

This begins one of the most effed up episodes of LOSVU ever. The body is that of a teen genius at an elite prep school. Benson and stabler discover the use of "performance enhancing" drugs is commonplace among students to be competitive and alter the mind very drastically.. To the point where one could kill out of hallucination.

The search leads them to an abusive father, sex trafficking ring of underage girls, and the craziest freak of a roommate ever.

Why it made the list: Two Words: Sarah Hyland. She guest stars as one of the students.. I don't want to give anything away but her performance is Exceptionally chilling.

TAGS: guest star, abuse, drugs, trafficking, slaves, teens, murder

"SURRENDER BENSON" (Season 15 Episode 1)

The Story: a First let me say, you are Lucky to have the convenience of not having to wait an excruciating summer of uncertainty between Season 14's Cliffhanger and this insane episode and resolution.

In the last few minutes of the season 14 finale, detective Benson gets back home to her apartment and finds herself held at gunpoint by William Lewis, the sexual predator and complete nut job she had investigated throughout the episode.

After months of #SaveBenson trending on Twitter, the Season 15 premiere details the events that follow: Olivia's kidnapping, the sexual assault, physical abuse, and murder of many others that cross Lewis's path as he holds her captive, and the final answer to "how's Olivia going to get herself out of this one?"

Why It Made The List: Like the afore-mentioned "undercover" episode, this is one of the rare times where badass Olivia Benson is not in charge anymore. She is a prisoner to a sadist, rapist, monster throughout the entire episode and there are far too many close calls.

The whole thing is a tough watch (I hate to see my girl not in control) and very suspenseful. Not to mention there are a few lines (mainly his description of torturing others) that stay with you for awhile.

TAGS: benson, rape, murder, torture, abduction, psychopath, captive, sadist

"BEASTS OBSESSION" (Season 15 Episode 10)


***WARNING: SPOLIERS*** (It is impossible for me to write anything on the return of William Lewis without giving away the ending of his initial appearance in "Surrender Benson" (Above.)

So go watch that first..then read on :)


The Story: You know how I said "resolution" when referring to the William Lewis and his abduction of Benson at gunpoint and subsequent 4 day long torture and imprisonment fiasco? Well, I lied. (Sorry.)

In the episode "Beast's Obsession" William Lewis is back with permanent scarring, deafness, and a limp (way to go, Liv ;) and he is on trial for, well, several things obviously. BUT the most important is the horrifying ordeal detective Benson suffered at his will. She comes face to face with him on the stand and is forced to relive the nightmare, but thankfully it is not without results.

With Liv's testimony, all goes well and Lewis is finally convicted and sent to prison for like..ever I'm pretty sure. Unfortunately, this doesn't really work out. After a short 4 months behind bars, Lewis somehow manages to be hospitalized where he (as he tends to do) kills and rapes a few people then manages to escape.

Still a little "upset" about the way things went down at trial, his first call is to detective Benson. He informs her that he has abducted two girls, killed the older one and still has her younger sister. Knowing Olivia's weak spot, he uses the girl to lure Benson alone (WHHYYYY Olivia?) and then once again takes her prisoner.

Things go downhill from here, and I wont spoil it for you but I'll leave you with this: the episode concludes in a gut-wrenching and suspenseful game of "Russian Roulette" between William Lewis and his unwilling participant, Benson.

Why it made the list: I'm sure you can tell from the plot description that this one is stressful to say the least. This may be the only SVU episode that I've ever had to pause and take a breather from. If there was a "winner" on this list for THE most intense episode of LOSVU of all time - this would be it.

TAGS: Benson, Lewis, Sequel, Imprisonment, Torture, Gun, Russian Roulette, Suspenseful, Rape, Murder

Law and Order SVU’s two-part season 20 premiere included episodes titled: “Man Up,” (S20E1) and “Man Down.” (S20E1.) In the opening scene of “Man Up,” Sam Conway is a teenage boy on a hunting trip with his brother, Brian, and father, John. During the trip a rabbit is shot and injured. Sam is told to “Finish the job” but cannot bring himself to shoot the suffering rabbit which infuriates John who shoots the rabbit for him.

Flash forward to the next day at school: The SVU team is called in when Sam begins acting strangely and school staff suspect abuse.During the investigation, John, Brian and Sam's mother are all very evasive and at times untruthful. John frequently keeps Sam form communicating with the SVU team.


Eventually, Sam's mother breaks the silence and does the right thing for her son (too late, sadly.) Mrs. Conway admits to hearing strange noises coming from Sam’s room, and opening the door to witness her son lying on the bed, whimpering and her husband, standing over him and zipping up his pants. John Conway is arrested shortly after. Yay Justice for Sam! Right..?

Wrong. I said “two-part episode,” remember? Instead of putting his father away in prison for his horrific acts, at trial Sam completely denies being assaulted by his father. As we all know, in Law and Order SVU time the justice system moves at 100,000 times the speed of real life, so Sam’s father quickly declared “not guilty” and released to go home with his family just days after raping Sam.

Any fan of Law and Order SVU knows that although, "The following story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event," the show's writers cannot resist the opportunity for a “ripped from the headlines” episode. Storylines frequently mirror current events in the news and media, and are often accompanied by bold/controversial political statements. The devastating rise in school shootings across America means it was only a matter of time before LAOSVU brought us the heart-wrenching, potent, and raw: "Man Down."

"MAN DOWN" (Season 20 Episode 2)

Dylan Walsh as John Conway
Dylan Walsh as John Conway

Season 20, episode 2 details the devastating aftermath of Sam Conway’s abuse, betrayal, insecurity, and injustice in "Man Up." The first few minutes show Sam calmly walking into his school carrying a large bag and blank stare. Not a word, then shots and screams ring out, and panicked students are seen running out of the school. The scene is realistic and raw, portraying the true horror of living through a school shooting in real time without the bells and whistles of tv production.

After almost committing suicide, Sam is arrested, tried, found guilty, and sentenced in SVU super speed. After his testimony in court (below), Sam’s father, John is charged with murder on the basis that his abuse and constant emotional terrorizing of his sons created an environment for Sam to become a killer. He is eventually found guilty of manslaughter and also imprisoned.

Peter Stone: [to Sam] In that moment, before you shot your schoolmates, what were you thinking? [Sam gives an inaudible answer]

Peter Stone: Would you speak up, Sam?

Sam Conway: Be a man! A voice in my head kept saying, "Be a man!" Be a man! Over and over again. [jumps up from the stand]

Sam Conway: Be a man! How's that, Dad? I didn't flinch! Am I a man now? Huh

Why it makes the list: In one word: Unsettling.

Though most of SVU’s episodes are heavy, this one was a true emotional rollercoaster that will stay with you long after viewing. The highly current and sensitive story line, depth of Sam’s character, and raw, non-dramatized portrayal of a school shooting itself will dig into your soul a just a little deeper than the average SVU episode. As a viewer, I found myself caught in conflicting emotions that remain unresolved. The horrific abuse, betrayal by both of his parents, and lack of any justice or support build a strong sense of “underdog” empathy for Sam’s character. At the end of episode one, it's hard not to be on team Sam. Things flip completely in episode 2 after learning that he has murdered two innocent high-school students and shot 7 others to prove he’s “a man." By the end of the episode, I was lost in the middle of empathy and disgust as the details of Sam's relationship with his father and years of emotional abuse unravel in court...did he ever have a chance?

So, what message do the show’s writers want to get across exactly? That poor parenting is to blame for school shootings? Boycott “tough love?” That students who open fire on their own classmates and teachers are not to blame if they’ve been emotionally, physically, or sexually abused? Or, do we side with Fin and assign responsibility to the person pulling the trigger:

“A lot of kids are assaulted, abused and humiliated. They don't shoot up schools and murder other kids.” - Fin Tutuola

The writers certainly have something to say, but this roller coaster of an episode will loop you through so many mixed messages that you'll be left wondering..who is to blame? What is their solution?

I guess you will just have to clear out two hours and a little piece of your soul to make room for one of SVU’s most unsettling, heartbreaking episodes of all time and decide for yourself!

Did I Miss One?

I am always open to constructive criticism (as well as Netflix binging) so please let me know if there is an episode you feel I left out that should have made the list!

Name the episode in the comments and I will definitely give it a second watch and might just add it on with a shoutout :)


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    • profile image


      21 months ago

      Ok, if you are a diehard Casey Novak fan, this list is a little neglectful. How is “Gone”, or “Poison” not on this list?

      No other ADA did it like Casey Novak. On any L&O series. Ever. Because she always risked it all. Her career meant nothing to her if justice wasn’t served. SVU got to her, changed her, which proved she had a heart. I cannot suggest enough that you go and watch Seasons 5-9.


    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Control S5E9. Identity S6E12. Scheherezade S8E10. S9E18.

    • profile image

      Simon Garfunkel 

      2 years ago

      you made a mistake: "Authority" is season 9 episode 17, not episode 13

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Currently rewatching "Dreams Deferred" S14E09 guest starring Patricia Arquette. Forgot how good it is!

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      season 17 episode 11, Townhouse Incident, it's pretty good has a few good intense scenes.

    • profile image

      Danielle Siegman 

      2 years ago

      Season 7 episode 19, "Fault" is excellent.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      Some of these episodes aren't even on netflix. There's only like the 13th year though the 17th.

    • profile image

      alyvia paige metcalfe 

      3 years ago

      why does wlliams lewis love olivlia benson

    • profile image

      Tom Bugosh 

      3 years ago

      My opinion... best episode ever is called Screwed. At the end of season 9 with Ludacris, but that doesn't stop me from watching all the other ones at least 5 times now hahaha

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      season 7 episode 3 called 911 is the best episode out of all of the 400 episodes hands down!!

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Both episodes with Ludacris are intense.

    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 

      3 years ago from Illinois

      This is a good idea, I might just have to do this for some of my favorite shows, like House.

    • DizzyGypsy profile imageAUTHOR

      The Dizzy Gypsy 

      3 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I forgot about Totem - that little girl is good! I am working on an update for this post in the coming months and will add that episode to the list...Thanks Lola!

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Season 12 episode 20 (Totem) plot twist after plot twist makes it exceptional!

    • profile image

      3 years ago

      all seasons are on hulu

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Your forgot law and order svu anahalaited

    • vidgotv profile image


      3 years ago from Menomonee Falls, WI

      ^ lol, maybe hulu...

    • profile image

      3 years ago

      Would be great if these episodes were actually on netflix...

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Season 7, Episode 10 ("STORM") was really good as Benson risks her career and life in prison.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      season 6 episode 4 scavenger is really good


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