10 Essential Law & Order Episodes

Since its premiere in 1990, Law & Order has explored New York’s criminal justice system through every type of case…

10 Essential Law & Order Episodes

Since its premiere in 1990, Law & Order has explored New York’s criminal justice system through every type of case you could imagine. As the show nears its monumental 500th episode, we’re taking a look back on some of the most notable stories the show has told in these essential episodes of Law & Order.

S6E23 “Aftershock”

In a departure from the show’s typical format, “Aftershock” follows Briscoe, Curtis, Kincaid, and McCoy in their off-duty time, as they struggle to cope in varying ways after witnessing the execution of a man they put away. Many fans agree that this is a series-defining episode.

S14E1 “Bodies”

When a serial killer refuses to tell McCoy the names and locations of all of his victims, it is revealed that the killer’s defense attorney has the information too, but also refuses to disclose it because of attorney-client privilege. Stream this episode on Peacock.

S11E12 “Teenage Wasteland”

The stakes are high in this episode, where Carmichael pushes for an 18-year-old accused murderer (Alex Feldman) to be tried as an adult in the wake of an especially brutal killing, which would lead to a death penalty if convicted. 

S8E22 “Damaged” 

Law & Order doesn’t shy away from tough issues, and this episode is no exception. In it, the team prosecutes the sexual assault of a disabled student by her fellow students, whose attorney claims they weren’t aware of her condition.

S4E17 “Mayhem”

This episode delivers exactly what that episode title promises — no less than five murders are covered in this episode, and chaos compounds as each additional murder is introduced.

S1E9 “Indifference”

This episode from the early days of the series is highly-ranked among fans. In it, a child’s collapse in school from mortal injuries leads to an investigation that uncovers a family steeped in horrific abuse. Stream this episode on Prime Video.

S6E21 “Pro Se” 

In one of Denis O’Hare’s best guest performances, the actor stars as a lawyer with schizophrenia who stands trial for murder — things get complicated when he elects to defend himself and refuses to take his medication as directed.

S10E15 “Fools for Love”

Fans will be excited to see some unexpected but familiar faces from other shows in this episode: SVU’s Benson and Stabler make a crossover appearance and Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo guest stars as a woman whose boyfriend is accused of multiple assaults and murders. Prosecutors make a deal with her for testimony, but they also suspect that she was a willing participant in the murders.

S13E23 “Couples” 

Law & Order’s 300th episode has plenty of twists and turns as it follows several different cases involving domestic disputes and a mysterious homicide with a connection to another murder from 10 years ago. Stream this episode on Peacock.

S20E23 “Rubber Room”

This made our list of the 5 best Sam Waterston moments, but we have to include it here too as fans rank it as one of the overall best. Originally meant to serve as the series finale before it was revived in 2021, this brings us along as the squad races to find a student threatening on an Internet blog to blow up a school, only to discover that they are looking for a disgruntled teacher instead. Stream this episode on Peacock.

Stream Law & Order on Peacock.

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