Law and Order

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

This list should contain real-life headlines (or criminal/legal cases and other stories) that fulfill at least one of the following criteria:

  • At least FIVE significant aspects (e.g. motive, modus operandi, biographies of central figures, etc.) that should be extremely similar, if not identical, to significant aspects of the case-of-the-week. These similarities should NOT be arbitrary.
  • An explicit reference by at least ONE member of the cast and/or crew confirming the headline was used as a basis for the episode.
  • An explicit reference in at least ONE reliable, well-known news publication confirming the headline was used as a basis for the episode, OR observing similarities between the headline and the episode.
  • At least ONE reference in the episode itself, in which a character compares and DOES NOT contrast the headline to the case-of-the-week.

NOTE: NO works of fiction unless the plots clearly match with the episode storylines and/or are confirmed by a member of the production crew to have been used as a source of inspiration.

Season 1

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Prescription for Death
  • The death of Libby Zion.
  • The term "impaired physician".
  • Based on real-life malpractice lawsuits and other scandals against doctors with alcohol and drug addictions.
2 Subterranean Homeboy Blues The Bernhard Goetz (a.k.a. "The Subway Vigilante") case.
3 The Reaper's Helper
4 Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die The Robert Chambers (a.k.a. "The Preppie Killer") case.
5 Happily Ever After The Charles "Chuck" Stuart case.
6 Everybody's Favorite Bagman The 1986 New York Parking Violations Bureau corruption scandal.
7 By Hooker, By Crook The Sydney Biddle Barrows (a.k.a. "The Mayflower Madam") case.
8 Poison Ivy The Edmund Perry case.
9 Indifference The Joel Steinberg case.
10 Prisoner of Love
  • Andrew Crispo and the "Death Mask Murder" case.
  • Based on the life of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe.
11 Out of the Half-Light The Tawana Brawley rape allegations.
12 Life Choice
13 A Death in the Family The Larry Davis case.
14 The Violence of Summer The Trisha Meili (a.k.a. "The Central Park jogger") case.
15 The Torrents of Greed (Part I)
16 The Torrents of Greed (Part II)
17 Mushrooms Inspired by real-life cases of young children hit by stray bullets in large U.S. cities.
18 The Secret Sharers A supporting character is based on famed Texas defense attorneys Percy Foreman, Dick DeGuerin, and Richard "Racehorse" Haynes.
19 The Serpent's Tooth The Lyle and Erik Menendez (a.k.a. "The Menendez Brothers") case.
20 The Troubles The Joe Doherty case.
21 Sonata for Solo Organ Based on the "Kidney Thief" urban myth.
22 The Blue Wall

Season 2

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Confession The Oreste Fulminante case.
2 The Wages of Love The Betty Broderick case.
3 Aria Based on the death of Marilyn Monroe.
4 Asylum The David Mooney case.
5 God Bless the Child The Alex Dale Morris case.
6 Misconception
7 In Memory Of...
8 Out of Control The St. John's lacrosse case.
9 Renunciation The Pamela Smart case.
10 Heaven The Happy Land fire set by Julio González.
11 His Hour Upon the Stage The Roy Radin case.
12 Star Struck
13 Severance The Donald Nash case.
16 Vengeance
17 Sisters of Mercy The Bruce Ritter sexual abuse and financial impropriety scandal.
18 Cradle to Grave
19 The Fertile Fields The Brooklyn Crown Heights riot.
20 Intolerance The Wanda Holloway case.
22 The Working Stiff

Season 3

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Skin Deep The John Valverde case.
2 Conspiracy
3 Forgiveness The Bonnie Garland case.
5 Wedded Bliss Based on the crackdown of illegal sweatshops in the U.S.
6 Helpless
  • The Young Soo Koo case.
  • The Ivan C. Namihas case.
  • The Kimble McNair case.
7 Self Defense The Bernhard Goetz (a.k.a. "The Subway Vigilante") case.
11 Extended Family The Faye Yager case.
13 Night and Fog The John Demjanjuk (a.k.a. "Ivan the Terrible") case.
16 Jurisdiction
17 Conduct Unbecoming The Tailhook Association scandal.
20 Securitate Based on the crime rate in Romania.
21 Manhood

Season 4

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Sweeps
2 Volunteers The Larry Hogue (a.k.a. "The Wild Man of 96th Street") case.
3 Discord The rape trial of Mike Tyson.
4 Profile
5 Black Tie The Sunny von Bülow case.
7 Apocrypha
8 American Dream The Ron Levin case.
9 Born Bad
11 Golden Years The Mary Bowe case.
12 Snatched The Samuel Bronfman II kidnapping hoax.
14 Censure The Sol Wachtler case.
16 Big Bang The Ted Kaczynski (a.k.a. "The Unabomber") case, which at the time was still unsolved.
17 Mayhem
18 Wager The James R. Jordan, Sr. murder case.
19 Sanctuary
20 Nurture The Katie Beers case.
21 Doubles

Season 5

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Second Opinion
3 Blue Bamboo Inspired by the Japanese use of comfort women during World War II.
4 Family Values
5 White Rabbit
6 Competence The Eleanor Bumpurs case.
7 Precious
8 Virtue The Clarence Thomas sexual harassment allegation.
9 Scoundrels
10 House Counsel
12 Progeny The Paul Jennings Hill case.
13 Rage The "black rage" defense used in the Colin Ferguson case.
14 Performance The "Spur Posse" case.
15 Seed The Dr. Cecil Jacobson case.
17 Act of God Based on insurance cases involving claims of an act of God.
18 Privileged The Paul Cox case.
19 Cruel and Unusual The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center controversy.
20 Bad Faith The James Porter case.
21 Purple Heart The Anthony Riggs case.
22 Switch
23 Pride The assassinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk committed by Dan White.

Season 6

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Bitter Fruit
3 Savages Based on New York's controversial capital punishment law.
4 Jeopardy The Harry Aleman (a.k.a. "The Hook") case and the related suicide of Judge Frank J. Wilson.
5 Hot Pursuit
6 Paranoia
7 Humiliation The Hugh Grant/Divine Brown incident.
8 Angel The Susan Smith case.
10 Remand
11 Corpus Delicti The Helen Brach case.
12 Trophy The Atlanta child murders case involving Wayne Williams.
13 Charm City
15 Encore
16 Savior
18 Atonement The Linda Sobek case.
21 Pro Se
22 Homesick The Olivia Riner case.
23 Aftershock The Kitty Genovese case.

Season 7

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Causa Mortis The Kathleen Weinstein case.
5 Corruption
6 Double Blind An aspect of the crime is inspired by The Anarchist Cookbook.
7 Deadbeat
9 Entrapment The Qubilah Shabazz case.
11 Menace The Deletha Word case.
12 Barter The Leonard Owen Mundy/Premium Commercial Services Corp. case.
13 Matrimony The Anna Nicole Smith inheritance case.
15 D-Girl
16 Turnaround
17 Showtime
18 Mad Dog
19 Double Down The John Leo Brady/Donald Boblit case.
20 We Like Mike The Ennis Cosby case.
23 Terminal The Angel Diaz case.

Season 8

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Thrill The Thomas Koskovich/Jayson Vreeland case.
2 Denial
3 Navy Blues
4 Harvest
  • The 1976 People v. Stewart case.
  • Inspired by a piece on 60 Minutes about people being shot in Los Angeles during drive-bys.
5 Nullification
6 Baby, It's You The JonBenét Ramsey case.
7 Blood
8 Shadow The "shadow counsel" invocation.
9 Burned The physical decline of Howard Hughes.
10 Ritual Based on the heightened concern over female genital mutilation.
11 Under the Influence
  • The Thomas R. Jones hit-and-run case at Wake Forest University.
  • The legal debate over filing first-degree murder charges for homicides caused by impaired driving.
13 Castoff
14 Grief Inspired by the case of "Kathy", a comatose woman who was raped and impregnated.
15 Faccia a Faccia
16 Divorce The divorce of Joseph P. Kennedy II and Sheila Brewster Rauch.
17 Carrier The Nushawn Williams case.
19 Disappeared The Ted Kaczynski (a.k.a. "The Unabomber") case.
20 Burden
21 Bad Girl The Karla Faye Tucker case.
22 Damaged
23 Tabloid The deaths of Diana Spencer and Dodi Fayed caused by Henri Paul.

Season 9

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
0.5 Exiled: A Law & Order Movie
3 Bait The Chad MacDonald case.
4 Flight The Brian Stewart case.
5 Agony
6 Scrambled The 1998 Kass v. Kass case.
7 Venom The Sante and Kenneth Kimes case.
8 Punk The Joan Little case.
9 True North
10 Hate
11 Ramparts
12 Haven The 1996 George Kobayashi cheating scandal.
13 Hunters The murders of Chris Foote and Spring Wright.
14 Sideshow
15 Disciple The Charity Miranda case.
16 Harm The Lisa Smart medical malpractice case.
18 Juvenile The Stephen Glass fabrication scandal.
19 Tabula Rasa The Rachael and Lisa Martin kidnapping case.
20 Empire Based on the arguments between real-estate developer Donald Trump, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and the New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner over a new sports stadium.
21 Ambitious The John Gotti, Jr. case.
22 Admissions The Jeremy Strohmeyer case.
23 Refuge (1) Based on the Russian mafia drug money laundering scams during the 1980s and 1990s between JFK Airport and Moscow.
24 Refuge (2)

Season 10

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Gunshow
2 Killerz
5 Justice The Sam Sheppard case.
6 Marathon The Jacqueline Frezza case.
8 Blood Money Based on Assicurazioni Generali subsidiaries controversially not paying out life insurance for poor Jews in World War II Europe.
9 Sundown Inspired by the unethical treatment of patients at prison hospital wards.
10 Loco Parentis A featured fictional video game is inspired by the controversial Doom video game.
11 Collision Inspired by the debate over whether mentally-ill people have the right to refuse medication.
13 Panic The Eugene Bennett case.
14 Entitled
15 Fools For Love The Paul Bernardo/Karla Homolka (a.k.a. "The Ken and Barbie Killers") case.
16 Trade This The Mark O. Barton case.
18 Mega
19 Surrender Dorothy The "surrendered wife" movement inspired by the book of the same name.
20 Untitled Inspired by the controversial Immersion (Piss Christ) photograph by Andres Serrano.
21 Narcosis The public concern of Internet addiction.
22 High & Low The James McDermott trading scandal.
23 Stiff The Sunny von Bülow case.
24 Vaya Con Dios The Charles Horman case.

Season 11

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Endurance The Janine Albury-Thomson case.
2 Turnstile Justice The Kendra Webdale case.
5 Return The Samuel Sheinbein case.
6 Burn, Baby, Burn The H. Rap Brown case.
7 Amends The Martha Moxley/Michael Skakel case.
8 Thin Ice The Thomas Junta case.
9 Hubris
10 Whose Monkey is it Anyway? The 1988 Reston African filovirus outbreak.
11 Sunday in the Park with Jorge
12 Teenage Wasteland The Jin-Sheng Liu case.
14 A Losing Season
15 Swept Away - A Very Special Episode Based on popular reality TV shows such as Big Brother and The Real World.
16 Bronx Cheer Based on several wrongful convictions that occurred during the tenure of controversial former Bronx County District Attorney Robert T. Johnson.
17 Ego The Thomas Capano case.
18 White Lie The "Plan Colombia" initiative.
19 Whiplash Based on the 1996 "sudden stop" car accidents conspiracy in Chicago.
20 All My Children The Ennis Cosby case.
21 Brother's Keeper
22 School Daze
23 Judge Dread The assassination of John H. Wood, Jr.
24 Deep Vote The 2000 United States presidential election in Florida and the subsequent, controversial recount.

Season 12

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Who Let the Dogs Out? The Diane Whipple case.
2 Armed Forces
3 For Love or Money The Debra Hartmann case.
4 Soldier of Fortune The South African De Beers corporation diamond conflicts.
6 Formerly Famous The Bonnie Lee Bakley case.
7 Myth of Fingerprints The Joyce Gilchrist scandal.
8 The Fire This Time
9 3 Dawg Night The shooting at Club New York involving Sean Combs (a.k.a. "Puff Daddy)".
10 Prejudice
11 The Collar Based on issues arising from confessional privilege in the U.S.
14 Missing The Chandra Levy case.
16 Born Again
18 Equal Rights The Enron scandal.
19 Slaughter
21 Foul Play The Danny Almonte age scandal.
22 Attorney Client The Craig Rabinowitz case.
24 Patriot

Season 13

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 American Jihad
2 Shangri-La
3 True Crime
4 Tragedy on Rye The May 2001 shooting at Carnegie Deli.
5 The Ring
6 Hitman
7 Open Season
8 Asterisk
9 The Wheel
13 Absentia The Ira Einhorn (a.k.a. "The Unicorn Killer") case.
15 Bitch The ImClone stock trading case involving Martha Stewart.
16 Suicide Box
17 Genius
18 Maritime The disappearance of Bison Dele.
20 Kid Pro Quo The Sanford I. Weill controversy.
21 House Calls The 2001 shoplifting trial of Winona Ryder.
22 Sheltered
23 Couples
24 Smoke The Michael Jackson child molestation scandal.

Season 14

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Bodies
2 Bounty
3 Patient Zero
4 Shrunk The murder of Lana Clarkson committed by Phil Spector.
5 Blaze The Station nightclub fire.
7 Floater The Justice Victor I. Barron case.
8 Embedded Based on the 2003 Geraldo Rivera controversy during the Iraq War.
11 Darwinian The Gregory Glenn Biggs case.
12 Payback The trial of Mafia don Vincent Gigante.
14 City Hall
17 Hands Free The Robert Durst case.
18 Evil Breeds The John Demjanjuk (a.k.a. "Ivan the Terrible") case.
19 Nowhere Man The murder of Jonathan Luna.
20 Everybody Loves Raimondo's The Louis Barone/Albert Circelli, Jr. murder case.
21 Vendetta
22 Gaijin
24 C.O.D. Ripped from the pages of Strangers on a Train and its film adaptation.

Season 15

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Paradigm The Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal.
2 The Dead Wives Club
3 The Brotherhood
4 Coming Down Hard Based on the slew of suicides that took place at New York University during the 2003-2004 school year.
5 Gunplay The Ronell Wilson case.
6 Cut The Olivia Goldsmith case.
7 Gov Love
8 Cry Wolf The murder attempt on Curtis Sliwa by John A. Gotti.
11 Fixed Joel Steinberg's release from prison.
12 Mammon The Ted Ammon case.
13 Ain't No Love The Jason William Mizell (a.k.a. "Jam Master Jay") case.
14 Fluency
15 Obsession
16 The Sixth Man
17 License to Kill
18 Dining Out A supporting character is inspired by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
19 Sects The Children of God cult and the related Ricky Rodriguez case.
21 Publish and Perish The Bernard Kerik ethics violation scandal.
24 Locomotion

Season 16

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
2 Flaw
3 Ghosts The JonBenét Ramsey case.
4 Age of Innocence The Terri Schiavo case.
5 Life Line Based on the MS-13 international gang.
7 House of Cards The Bobbie Jo Stinnett case.
8 New York Minute
9 Criminal Law Partially ripped from the 1989 crime thriller film Hit List.
10 Acid The Kelly Anne Bates case.
11 Bible Story Based on the scenario of sacrilege upon religious texts.
12 Family Friend The New York State Police Troop C evidence planting scandal.
14 Magnet The Tom Cruise anti-psychiatry comments controversy.
15 Choice of Evils
17 America, Inc. The 2004 Fallujah ambush and the related Helvenston v. Blackwater Security lawsuit.
18 Thinking Makes It So The Michelle Ramskill-Estey/Breea Ramskill hostage situation.
19 Positive
20 Kingmaker The Valerie Plame (a.k.a. "Plamegate") scandal.

Season 17

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Fame
2 Avatar The Rachelle Waterman case.
3 Home Sweet Based on the July 2006 explosion of an Upper East Side brownstone owned by Dr. Nicholas Bartha.
4 Fear America
5 Public Service Homicide
6 Profiteer Based on the 2005 Interceptor body armor package scandal.
7 In Vino Veritas The Mel Gibson scandal.
8 Release Based on the numerous controversies surrounding the Girls Gone Wild series and the executive producer Joe Francis.
9 Deadlock
11 Remains of the Day
12 Charity Case Based on the 2006 foreign adoption scandal involving pop singer Madonna.
13 Talking Points The Ann Coulter controversies.
14 Church The Ted Haggard scandal.
15 Melting Pot
16 Murder Book The O.J. Simpson case and his controversial book If I Did It.
17 Good Faith
19 Fallout
20 Captive
21 Over Here The Walter Reed Army Medical Center neglect scandal.

Season 18

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Called Home The Dr. Jack Kevorkian (a.k.a. "Dr. Death") case.
2 Darkness The Enron scandal and the related electricity crisis in California.
3 Misbegotten Inspired by the controversial "gay gene" studies.
4 Bottomless
5 Driven
6 Political Animal
7 Quit Claim
8 Illegal The 2007 MacArthur Park rallies.
9 Executioner
10 Tango The Jennifer Moore case.
11 Betrayal
12 Submission
13 Angelgrove Inspired by the controversial Jesus Camp documentary film.
14 Burn Card
15 Bogeyman Based on the scandals involving Scientology.
16 Strike
18 Excalibur The Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal.

Season 19

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Rumble
3 Lost Boys
4 Falling
  • Based on two construction crane collapses, both in Manhattan during 2008.
  • The Ashley X case.
5 Knock Off Based on a New York Times report on untrained judges and abuses of justice in upstate New York.
6 Sweetie The JT LeRoy literary hoax.
7 Zero
8 Chattel
  • The Mark Schwartz and Christina-Maria Petrowski-Schwartz murder case.
  • The Marie and Willie Pompee case.
  • Other cases of child domestic slavery.
  • The Haitian term "restavek".
9 By Perjury
10 Pledge
12 Illegitimate Based on the story of Jack Rodney Worthington II.
13 Crimebusters
14 Rapture Based on services like
15 Bailout
16 Take-Out The Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case.
17 Anchors Away
18 Promote This! The Luis Ramirez murder case.
19 All New The Charleston Sofa Super Store fire.
21 Skate or Die
22 The Drowned and the Saved

Season 20

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 Memo From The Dark Side Based on the controversial "Torture Memos".
2 Just a Girl in the World The Kari Ferrell (a.k.a. "The Hipster Grifter") case.
3 Great Satan The 2009 Bronx terrorism plot involving the Riverdale Jewish Center.
4 Reality Bites
5 Dignity The assassination of George Tiller.
6 Human Flesh Search Engine
7 Boy Gone Astray
8 Doped
9 For the Defense The Paul Bergrin case.
11 Fed
12 Blackmail
13 Steel-Eyed Death
14 Boy on Fire
15 Brilliant Disguise The Philip Markoff (a.k.a. the "Craigslist Killer") case.
16 Innocence Based on the case against the Medill Innocence Project.
17 Four Cops Shot The Maurice Clemmons case.
18 Brazil
19 Crashers
21 Immortal Based on the life and legacy of Henrietta Lacks.
23 Rubber Room

Season 21

Ep# Episode Title Real Life Incident(s)/Case(s)
1 The Right Thing
2 Impossible Dream The Theranos fraud scandal involving Elizabeth Holmes.
3 Filtered Life
4 Fault Lines
5 Free Speech
6 Wicked Game
7 Legacy
8 Severance
9 The Great Pretender
10 Black and Blue

See Also