The Best Guest Stars of All Time on 'Law and Order SVU'

Warning! There are spoilers in this article.

John Stamos
John Stamos


Season 12: Episode 22

Bingers, prepare to never see dear old Uncle Jesse the same way again.

This episode of Law and Order: SVU opens as a missing infant case. However, in true LAOSVU fashion, by the end of the show we end up solving a completely different crime – the case of a “reproductive abuser.” From my understanding, “reproductive abuser” is basically detective lingo for: “A man with a compulsion to father as many babies as possible, using manipulation, drugs, and even force if necessary.”

​The missing baby is found early on, which leads the SVU detectives to a nanny and her boyfriend, Ken Turner (John Stamos) who quickly becomes the main focus of the episode. We eventually find out that Turner is a “Reproductive Abuser” who has raped, drugged, and abused countless women in order to father over 20 children. ​

Why it makes the list? There are two reasons:

1. John Stamos earned his spot as one of the top guest LAOSVU guest stars mostly by the way he skillfully carries over his natural “Full House” charm we all know and love into his polar opposite role as Ken Parker, the serial rapist and abuser. Stamos’s family friendly charm is what makes it believable that his character was able to lure in and manipulate so many women in order to later abuse them. I mean come on, who wouldn’t trust that million dollar “Uncle Jesse” smile? Have MERCY!

2. The way Stamos/Ken Turner meets his demise is one of the most satisfyingly gruesome fates I’ve ever seen an SVU “bad guy” meet. Two Words: Explosives + Penis. One of the best SVU guest appearances of all time? You got it, dude!

Ethan Cutkosky
Ethan Cutkosky

"Born Psychopath"

Season 14: Episode 18

The sweet baby of the family, Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) from Showtime’s “Shameless” made his Law and Order: SVU debut as a slightly less innocent and drastically more demented type of brother, Henry. Here are the spark notes: A little girl gets called into the school nurses office and several large bruises and cuts are found on her body. When questioned about these injuries, she claims she was pushed down the stairs by “a monster.”

She was right.

Turns out that her older brother, Henry, is the “monster” she was referring to - a complete and utter psychopath who says he pushed her down the stairs simply to “see if she would roll all the way down.” Things only get worse from here. We soon meet his absent father and overly permissive mother. Are they to blame? Or is he truly a “Born Psychopath?”

I won’t attempt to go into the nature versus nurture debate in a blog post, however the episode does teach an important parenting lesson: teach your kids that actions have consequences. Mothers and fathers who believe their child can do no wrong and defend their actions or sweep them under the rug are either creating monsters or feeding them.

Cutkosky does an excellent job of portraying the most manipulative and disturbed teenaged-boy imaginable, fueled by his enabling and unaware parents. After being arrested, he accuses Stabler of molesting him during his interview, and talks his way into house arrest under no supervision but his mother’s. We don’t find out what this monster is truly capable until the episode’s shocking conclusion... the shooting of an SVU detective.

Why it makes the list:

The final interview with Cutkosky is one of the most notably creepy scenes in LAOSVU history and all credit goes to the flawless acting. In this scene the true depth of Henry’s disturbing mindset is explored as he describes several heinous actions from his past with an unforgettable blank stare. One line that will haunt you for a while: “I tied her leash to the faucet and held her down until she stopped breathing. It took longer than I thought” – Henry’s account of the way her murdered “Snowball,” the family pet.

Sarah Hyland
Sarah Hyland


Season 10: Episode 12

Those big beautiful eyes of Modern Family's "Haley Dunphee" are about to give you nightmares.

In this LAOSVU gem, Sarah Hyland plays an overachieving teenager at an elite prep school where students are over-pressured, over-competitive, and - as a result- overmedicated. We meet up with Hyland after her roommate’s body is found floating in the river by an outdoor yoga class.

The episode looks further into the dead girl’s background to find out she was a math prodigy, the top student of the class. Unfortunately at a prestigious school like this, the top of the class is a very dangerous place to be. The SVU detectives dig further and learn of a disturbing childhood spent being trained by an overbearing and abusive father, and kept locked away from society to nurture her “gift” in private. Her sister describes the gruesome way their father would make them spend hours in pain as he drilled them with math problems:

DetectI've Elliot Stabler: There's rice all over the floor. Did he make you eat down here too?

Katrina Lychkoff: No, he had us kneel on it. It's not so bad at first, but then it starts to cut into your skin.

When questioned by detectives, Hyland talks about how her roommate would rebel against her years in captivity by sneaking out at night, wearing provocative clothing, going to clubs, and meeting up with men. So, naturally we assume she was abducted by traffickers or rapists and disposed of in the river. But things just don’t quite seem to add up.

Back to Hyland. Turns out that the roommates were not the best of friends as she made it appear. In fact, Hyland was extremely jealous of her roommate and would do anything to beat her out on just one test. So she does. She spent 5 days on stimulants to study for a test without sleeping, altering her mind to a state of such of oblivion that she was capable of anything.

Why it makes the list:

Sarah Hyland is such a great actress that she will send shivers down your spine one minute, and then have you feeling sorry for her a scene later. She somehow makes viewers see her as both a monster and a victim, and her talented portrayal of the over-pressured student who will do anything to be the best is what makes this a great episode from start to finish.

Robin Williams
Robin Williams


Season 9: Episode 17

This episode references two real life events: The Milgram psychology experiments and the “Strip search phone call scam”.

In this episode, Williams plays a man who refers to himself as “Detective Milgram.” He is out to prove the power of authority, that humans are all “sheep” – easily manipulated and incapable of thinking for themselves. The “mad scientist” spends his time calling over a dozen fast food restaurants, claiming to be a police officer and then convincing managers to strip search and molest young female employees. Yes, this is a true story. Scary huh?

Robin Williams is funny in the court room, creepy in his dungeon created for human experimentation, and downright psychotic throughout the episode. This is another suspenseful one with a huge twist and very dramatic ending – you’ll be hooked.

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