The following is an unofficial list of episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit that have been ripped from the headlines.

Season 1

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Payback Inspired by crimes committed during the Bosnian genocide, which included rape and sexual assault.
3 ...Or Just Look Like One The Albert DeSalvo (a.k.a. "The Boston Strangler") case.
4 Hysteria The Victor Gant case.
5 Wanderlust Ripped from the pages of the book Lolita.
7 Uncivilized
9 Stocks & Bondage The Martin Frankel case.
14 Limitations
15 Entitled
16 The Third Guy Ripped from the 1949 noir film The Third Man.
18 Chat Room Based on true stories of pedophiles using chat-rooms to lure out their victims.
21 Nocturne Based on a reported Brooklyn case involving a piano teacher who gave free lessons to underprivileged children in order to videotape himself molesting them.
22 Slaves

Season 2

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
2 Honor Based on the belief of "honor killing".
4 Legacy The Elisa Izquierdo case.
5 Baby Killer The Kayla Rolland case.
6 Noncompliance Inspired by the debate over whether mentally-ill people have the right to refuse medication.
8 Taken The Disney World fake rape case.
12 Secrets The Roseann Quinn case and the Looking for Mr. Goodbar novel.
15 Countdown
18 Manhunt The Leonard Lake/Charles Ng case and the related Reference Re Ng Extradition case.
20 Pique
21 Scourge The Peter Sutcliffe (a.k.a. "The Yorkshire Ripper") case.

Season 3

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Repression
2 Wrath Based on wrongful convictions in the U.S.
4 Rooftop
5 Tangled
6 Redemption
8 Inheritance Based on the controversial debate on the impact of genetic predisposition versus environmental upbringing on the nature of violence.
10 Ridicule
11 Monogamy
14 Counterfeit The Craig Peyer case.
15 Execution
17 Surveillance The Susan Wilson case.
19 Judge Dread A supporting character is partially inspired by John H. Wood, Jr.
22 Competence Inspired by the case of Annette R., a mentally handicapped rape victim.
23 Silence The Roman Catholic Church sexual abuse scandals.

Season 4

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Chameleon The Aileen Wuornos case.
3 Vulnerable The Kristen Gilbert case.
6 Angels
7 Dolls
8 Waste
9 Juvenile Based on the ongoing debate about trying juveniles as adults in high-profile cases.
10 Resilience The Fred West/Rosemary West case.
11 Damaged The Tammy Homolka case.
13 Rotten The Abner Louima case.
15 Pandora
  • The commercial sexual exploitation of children in the Czech Republic.
  • Major worldwide police operations in 1999 cracking down on child pornography websites, including Operation Avalanche.
16 Tortured The Jerry Brudos (a.k.a. "The Shoe Fetish Slayer") case.
19 Appearances The JonBenét Ramsey case.
20 Dominance The Wichita Massacre.
21 Fallacy Based on the lives and social difficulties of transgender people.
23 Grief Partially ripped from the 1996 crime drama film A Time to Kill.
24 Perfect
25 Soulless The Jesse Pomeroy case.

Season 5

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
2 Manic
3 Mother The Margaret Bean-Bayog case.
4 Loss
5 Serendipity The John Schneeberger case.
7 Choice The legality of drinking alcohol while pregnant.
8 Abomination
9 Control The John Jamelske case.
10 Shaken Based on the criminality of inducing shaken baby syndrome.
12 Brotherhood Based on the ongoing issue of hazing rituals committed by fraternities.
13 Hate
  • The Larme Price case.
  • The ongoing nationwide trend of hatred and paranoia towards Muslims that followed the September 11 attacks.
14 Ritual The "Adam" murder case.
15 Families Ripped from the play Fool for Love and its film adaptation.
17 Mean The Shanda Sharer case.
18 Careless The Terrance Cottrell case.
19 Sick
20 Lowdown Based on the "down-low" phenomenon in the African-American community.
22 Painless The Usenet newsgroup.
23 Bound
25 Head
  • The case of an unidentified British male teacher who developed pedophilic urges due to a tumor in his brain.
  • The Mary Kay Letourneau case.
  • A scene was inspired by the Carlie Brucia case, in which NASA used video enhancement technology to solve the crime.

Season 6

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
3 Obscene The main characters are based on shock jocks Howard Stern,
Don Imus, and Bubba the Love Sponge.
4 Scavenger
5 Coerced The Magnus Gäfgen case.
6 Conscience
7 Charisma
12 Identity The David Reimer case.
14 Game
15 Hooked The main antagonist is based on Max Hardcore.
16 Ghost
18 Pure
19 Intoxicated
  • The Valessa Robinson case.
  • The legal debate of charging adults with statutory rape for having consensual sex with their underage romantic partners.
22 Parts Based on illegal organ trafficking.
23 Goliath Based on the controversial administration of Mefloquine to soldiers deployed to Iraq.

Season 7

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
3 911 Inspired by the story of a hoax 911 call made by "Jessica", an eighteen-year-old girl claiming to be aged four and a witness to a crime.
5 Strain The Matthew Shepard case.
6 Raw
7 Name
8 Starved The Terri Schiavo case.
9 Rockabye
  • The epidemic of fake abortion clinics across the U.S.
  • Based on a case in Michigan in which a teenage couple terminated the girl's unwanted pregnancy by having the boy beat her in the abdomen with a baseball bat.
10 Storm Based on Judith Miller's controversial refusal to disclose her source.
12 Infected Based on controversial research that suggests witnessing gun violence causes people to be more likely to commit acts of gun violence themselves.
14 Taboo
16 Gone
17 Class The Elizabeth Paige Laurie cheating scandal.
18 Venom The Raymond Levi Cobb case.
19 Fault The Joseph Edward Duncan III case.
20 Fat Based on the lawsuits against McDonald's filed by Jazlyn Bradley and others.
21 Web The Justin Berry case.
22 Influence

Season 8

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Informed The Earth Liberation Front.
3 Recall The Melvin Carter (a.k.a. "The College Terrace Rapist") case.
4 Uncle The Kendra Webdale case.
6 Infiltrated The Natascha Kampusch case.
8 Cage
9 Choreographed Inspired by the rise of microchip implants.
11 Burned The Roger B. Hargrave case.
13 Loophole
15 Haystack
16 Philadelphia The Keith Hill (a.k.a. "The Baytown Stalker") case.
17 Sin The Ted Haggard scandal.
18 Responsible Based on the epidemic of underage drinking and the people who supply them with alcohol.
20 Annihilated
21 Pretend The Treva Throneberry case.

Season 9

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Alternate
2 Avatar
3 Impulsive
5 Harm The Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal.
6 Svengali
7 Blinded
10 Snitch Based on the website.
11 Streetwise The Charles Manson/Manson Family case.
12 Signature The Todd Alan Reed case.
13 Unorthodox
14 Inconceivable
15 Undercover Based on the epidemic of prison rape in the U.S.
16 Closet Based on the story of Justin Fashanu.
17 Authority

Season 10

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
2 Confession The Jack McClellan case.
4 Lunacy The John Worboys (a.k.a. "The Black Cab Rapist") case.
5 Retro The controversial HIV/AIDS denialism community.
6 Babes
8 Persona Ripped from a New York Magazine interview with Leslie Crocker Snyder.
9 PTSD The Maria Lauterbach case.
10 Smut
11 Stranger
12 Hothouse Controversies over drug treatment methods for people suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
14 Transitions Based on the lives and social difficulties of transgender people.
15 Lead Based on the concerns of high lead levels in toys during the 2007 Chinese export recalls.
16 Ballerina
17 Hell
19 Selfish
20 Crush

Season 11

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Unstable The Eric Edgar Cooke and Darryl Beamish cases.
2 Sugar The Jasmine Fiore case.
3 Solitary Inspired by the psychiatric effects of solitary confinement in prison.
4 Hammered
5 Hardwired The North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA).
6 Spooked The Los Zetas drug cartel.
7 Users Based on the legality of administering ibogaine in the U.S.
9 Perverted Based on the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics by Israeli-based lead author Dan Frumkin.
10 Anchor
11 Quickie
12 Shadow The Lizzie Borden case.
13 P.C.
14 Savior The Peter Sutcliffe (a.k.a. "The Yorkshire Ripper") case.
16 Witness Based on the high rate of sexual violence in the Congo.
18 Bedtime
19 Conned
21 Torch The Cameron Todd Willingham case.
22 Ace The "shadow counsel" invocation.

Season 12

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Locum
2 Bullseye The Kim Sa-rang case.
3 Behave
  • Based on the nationwide rape-kit backlog.
  • The Helena Lazaro case.
4 Merchandise
6 Branded Ripped from the pages of the Millennium book series.
8 Penetration The controversial development of Park51.
10 Rescue The 2010 Duke University faux sex thesis controversy.
11 Pop Inspired by the "fight club" phenomenon caused by the book and film of the same name.
12 Possessed
13 Mask
  • The controversial "sex addiction" diagnosis in the psychiatric world.
  • Ripped from the pages of the book Lolita.
  • The attacks of Teresa Butz, the sister of Norbert Leo Butz, and her partner Jennifer Hopper.
15 Flight The Jeffrey Epstein/Ghislaine Maxwell case.
16 Spectacle Based on the bystander effect phenomenon.
17 Pursuit
18 Bully
20 Totem The Melissa Huckaby case.
22 Bang The recent uproar about reproductive abuse.
23 Delinquent The Cody Legebokoff case.
24 Smoked The ATF gunwalking scandal.

Season 13

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Scorched Earth The Dominique Strauss-Kahn case.
2 Personal Fouls
3 Blood Brothers
4 Double Strands
5 Missing Pieces The Susan Smith case.
7 Russian Brides The "Boris and Natasha" bride scams.
9 Lost Traveler
10 Spiraling Down
12 Official Story The Jamie Leigh Jones case.
13 Father's Shadow The Woody Allen sexual assault allegation.
15 Hunting Ground
16 Child's Welfare The Jaycee Dugard case.
17 Justice Denied
18 Valentine's Day The Laurie Ann Martinez fake assault case.
19 Street Revenge
20 Father Dearest Inspired by the genetic sexual attraction phenomenon.
21 Learning Curve
22 Strange Beauty The John Ronald Brown case.
23 Rhodium Nights

Season 14

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Lost Reputation The Anna Gristina and Jason Itzler escort rivalry.
2 Above Suspicion
3 Twenty-Five Acts Ripped from the pages of the book Fifty Shades of Grey.
4 Acceptable Loss Based on the arrests of several barcode pimps in Spain.
5 Manhattan Vigil The Etan Patz case.
7 Vanity's Bonfire The John Edwards extramarital affair scandal.
8 Lessons Learned
9 Dreams Deferred
10 Presumed Guilty The Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandals.
12 Criminal Hatred The Herb Baumeister case.
13 Monster's Legacy
14 Secrets Exhumed The Sherri Rasmussen case.
16 Funny Valentine
18 Legitimate Rape Based on Todd Akin's controversial statement about "legitimate rape".
19 Born Psychopath
  • Inspired by cases of psychopathic behavior observed in juveniles.
  • Partially ripped from the made-for-TV movie Child of Rage.
20 Girl Dishonored
22 Poisoned Motive
23 Brief Interlude The Sarai Sierra case.
24 Her Negotiation The Nelson Clifford case.

Season 15

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Surrender Benson The Nelson Clifford case.
2 Imprisoned Lives The Ariel Castro case.
3 American Tragedy
4 Internal Affairs
5 Wonderland Story The Andrew Luster case.
6 October Surprise
7 Dissonant Voices The Jimmy Savile sexual abuse scandal.
8 Military Justice The Air Force sexual assault pamphlets/Louise Slaughter scandal.
9 Rapist Anonymous The Jodi Arias case.
10 Psycho/Therapist
11 Amaro's One-Eighty The Ramarley Graham case.
12 Jersey Breakdown The "kids for cash" scandal.
13 Betrayal's Climax The rape of a Chesterfield teen by MS-13 gang members.
14 Wednesday's Child The recent epidemic of the disrupted adoption practice, in which adopted children are given up via Internet chat-rooms, and the abuse that occurs in the process.
15 Comic Perversion
16 Gridiron Soldier
18 Criminal Stories The Tawana Brawley rape allegations.
19 Downloaded Child Based on the story of "Amy Unknown".
20 Beast's Obsession
22 Reasonable Doubt
23 Thought Criminal The Gilberto Valle case.
24 Spring Awakening

Season 16

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
2 American Disgrace
3 Producer's Backend
4 Holden's Manifesto
5 Pornstar's Requiem Inspired by the story of Belle Knox.
6 Glasgowman's Wrath
8 Spousal Privilege The Ray Rice domestic violence case.
9 Pattern Seventeen
  • Based on the nationwide rape-kit backlog.
  • The Naga Raja Thota case.
10 Forgiving Rollins The Russell Williams case.
11 Agent Provocateur
13 Decaying Morality
14 Intimidation Game
15 Undercover Mother
16 December Solstice The death of Casey Kasem.
17 Parole Violations The legal scenario of female-on-male rape.
18 Devastating Story
19 Granting Immunity
20 Daydream Believer
21 Perverted Justice The Chaneya Kelly case.
22 Parents' Nightmare Based on a Lincoln County, Missouri family's staged kidnapping of their son to educate him about "stranger danger".
23 Surrendering Noah

Season 17

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Devil's Dissections
2 Criminal Pathology
3 Transgender Bridge
4 Institutional Fail The Nixzmary Brown case.
5 Community Policing
6 Maternal Instincts The Stefan Arzberger case.
7 Patrimonial Burden The Duggar family scandal.
9 Depravity Standard The Etan Patz case.
10 Catfishing Teacher
12 A Misunderstanding The "Senior Salute" rape case.
13 Forty-One Witnesses The Kitty Genovese case.
14 Nationwide Manhunt
15 Collateral Damages Based on Operation Delago.
16 Star-Struck Victims The Bill Cosby sexual assault cases.
17 Manhattan Transfer
18 Unholiest Alliance
19 Sheltered Outcasts Inspired by homeless shelters that cater to sex offenders.
20 Fashionable Crimes The Terry Richardson sexual misconduct allegations.
21 Assaulting Reality Inspired by the dating reality TV series The Bachelor.
22 Intersecting Lives The Daniel Holtzclaw case.
23 Heartfelt Passages

Season 18

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Terrorized
2 Making a Rapist
3 Imposter
4 Heightened Emotions Based on the story of Suzy Favor Hamilton.
5 Rape Interrupted The People v. Turner case.
6 Broken Rhymes
  • The outing of the former relationship between rapper Tyga and retired transgender porn actress Mia Isabella.
  • Inspired by the controversy over gender-neutral bathrooms for transgender people.
8 Chasing Theo The Melissa Brannen case.
9 Decline and Fall
11 Great Expectations The Wanda Holloway case and the related Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom documentary.
12 No Surrender
13 Genes
  • Based on the controversial debate on the impact of genetic predisposition on the nature of violence.
  • The Paul Cox case.
15 Know It All The Paul Durousseau case.
16 The Newsroom
17 Real Fake News
18 Spellbound
  • The Michael Fine case.
  • The Geoffrey Shaw case.
19 Conversion The "corrective rape" hate crime.
20 American Dream
21 Sanctuary

Season 19

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Gone Fishin' The capture of Andrew Luster.
2 Mood Ripped from the ProPublica article "An Unbelievable Story of Rape".
3 Contrapasso Ripped from the pages of the Millennium book series.
4 No Good Reason Ripped from the TV series 13 Reasons Why.
5 Complicated Inspired by the story of serial impostor Frédéric Bourdin.
8 Intent
10 Pathological The Dee Dee Blancharde case and the Mommy Dead and Dearest documentary.
11 Flight Risk
12 Info Wars
13 The Undiscovered Country The Charlie Gard case.
14 Chasing Demons The Earl Bradley case.
16 Dare
17 Send In The Clowns
18 Service
19 Sunk Cost Fallacy The Scott Peterson case.
20 The Book of Esther
22 Mama
  • The Eagle Crest nursing home controversy involving the alleged rape of an Alzheimer's patient.
  • The Henry Rayhons case.

Season 20

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Man Up
2 Man Down
3 Zero Tolerance
4 Revenge
5 Accredo The NXIVM cult scandal involving Allison Mack.
7 Caretaker
8 Hell's Kitchen
10 Alta Kockers
11 Plastic The Grant Robicheaux/Cerissa Riley case.
12 Dear Ben
13 A Story of More Woe The murder of Terry King.
15 Brothel
16 Facing Demons The epidemic of child molestation committed by Little League Baseball coaches.
19 Dearly Beloved
20 The Good Girl
21 Exchange Inspired by cases of exchange students being sexually assaulted by their host parents.
22 Diss
23 Assumptions

Season 21

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 I'm Going To Make You a Star The Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse cases.
2 The Darkest Journey Home Inspired by recent cases of women being assaulted by their Uber drivers.
3 Down Low In Hell's Kitchen
4 The Burden Of Our Choices Inspired by modern anti-abortion state legislation that was controversially passed in a number of states in 2019.
7 Counselor, It's Chinatown The Orchids of Asia Day Spa sex trafficking ring.
9 Can't Be Held Accountable The Jeffrey Epstein/Ghislaine Maxwell case.
10 Must Be Held Accountable
11 She Paints For Vengeance
12 The Longest Night Of Rain Inspired by the slew of suicides of New York City Police Department officers in 2019.
14 I Deserve Some Loving Too
  • The John Jacobs Olivas case.
  • The Wilfredo Rodriguez case.
15 Swimming With The Sharks Inspired by the controversial Goop wellness company founded by Gwyneth Paltrow.
17 Dance, Lies and Video Tape The New York City Ballet nude photos allegation.
19 Solving For The Unknowns The Andrew Luster case.
20 The Things We Have To Lose The Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse cases.

Season 22

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Guardians and Gladiators
2 Ballad Of Dwight and Irena Inspired by the concern of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
3 Remember Me In Quarantine

See Also

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