Law & Order is a procedural drama dealing with dark criminal cases. The series follows the detectives who investigate the crimes during the first half of the episode, and the district attorneys who have to prosecute the criminals. Some Law & Order cases can be more straight to the point and easy to follow, with an obvious criminal and justice served at the end of the episode.
But other times, Law & Order takes audiences through a rollercoaster of emotions. Some cases the detectives and ADAs work on are complicated and full of twists and turns. A few of these cases might even see the criminals evading justice. And in other episodes, audiences may feel conflicted and shocked after a dark plot twist turns the whole case upside down.
10 The Baby Was Replaced With Another Child
Season 17, Episode 12
In “Charity Case,” the adoption of an African baby becomes the center of a murder investigation. Actress Sofia Archer is having ice cream with her family when her husband is shot. He was carrying a baby they had recently adopted, and the child was luckily unharmed. Detectives Green and Cassady investigate the family and realize the adoption was highly controversial.
But in a dark twist, ADAs McCoy and Rubirosa learn that the baby Sofia is caring for isn’t the baby she adopted in Africa. The baby accidentally swallowed Sofia’s pills and sadly passed away. And to cover it up, the actress found another baby to raise.
9 The Coffin Only Had Tires Inside
Season 13, Episode 16
“Suicide Box” is a compelling Law & Order episode. A teenage boy shoots an off-duty police officer outside a diner. During questioning, Detectives Green and Briscoe learn that the teenage boy, Stevie Thomas, shot the officer because of a cover-up regarding the investigation of the death of his brother.
As the investigation continues, detectives want to re-examine Stevie Thomas’ brother’s case, but files are missing. The darkest twist comes after Lieutenant Van Buren wants the Medical Examiner to do the autopsy again on Stevie Thomas’ brother. However, as they open the coffin, they find only tires inside, and the body’s missing.
8 The Witnesses Are All Murdered In The End
Season 3, Episode 8
An episode full of dark twists and turns, “Prince of Darkness” starts with the murder of a wife and husband at a restaurant. Their little girl is unharmed, but her grandmother refuses to let her testify because of fear. As Detectives Logan and Cerreta investigate, they find the victims had connections to a Colombian drug cartel and an assassin who has just arrived in New York.
This Law & Order episode delivers several dark and shocking twists. A gun dealer shoots Detective Cerreta while undercover. Then, the assassin, Javier Gaitan, is shot after his trial. But the darkest plot twist comes right at the end, as ADAs Stone, Robinette, and DA Schiff learn all the witnesses in the case were found dead under mysterious circumstances.
7 The Victim Wants To Terminate Life Support
Season 10, Episode 3
“DNR” is a compelling Law & Order episode. Judge Denise Grobman is shot in an attempted murder but survives. Detectives Lennie Briscoe and Ed Green suspect the husband hired someone to shoot his wife, and eventually link him to the shooter. But Judge Grobman refuses to believe her husband tried to kill her and lies to give him an alibi.
In a dark turn of events, ADA McCoy receives notice that Judge Grobman asked to be taken off dialysis, effectively ending her life. She still refuses to testify against her husband, eventually blaming herself for his crime. This sad and dark twist is heartbreaking, and the ending leaves a sour taste in the audience.
6 The Wife Framed Her Husband
Season 12, Episode 14
A missing woman’s case turns into a murder investigation in “Missing.” Detectives Briscoe and Green investigate the disappearance of political aide Lisa Edwards, who is later found murdered. They believe Lisa was having an affair with a married man, and Ted Weldon, chair of the State Gaming Board, is the prime suspect.
The case goes to trial, and a forged check Weldon’s wife gives the ADAs secures the conviction. But in a dark twist minutes before the end of the episode, McCoy and Southerlyn realize Weldon’s wife forged the check. However, they have little evidence to prove it.
5 The Baby Was Already Dead
Season 9, Episode 1
Abbie Carmichael’s first episode is a complicated one. In “Cherished,” the Detectives investigate the suspicious death of a baby girl. They go as far as to suspect the baby girl’s brother, Nicholas. Nicholas has violent tendencies and admits to attacking the baby girl as she wouldn’t look at him. But in a dark turn, the Medical Examiner determines the baby was already dead before the attack.
ADAs McCoy and Carmichael continue to investigate. The baby girl’s parents had adopted her but didn’t know she had serious illnesses. The investigation finally leads McCoy and Carmichael to a Russian doctor who was faking health certificates for adoptions, and they charge the doctor with murder.
4 The Baby Was Alive
Season 8, Episode 2
“Denial” starts with blood found in a hotel room, but no victim. As Detectives Briscoe and Curtis investigate, they link the room to two college students, Christina and Tommy. Christina tells the detectives she was pregnant but miscarried and was only about three months along. But the Medical Examiner finds evidence that contradicts Christina’s statement.
This Law & Order episode gives several dark turns as the investigation continues. The darkest plot twist comes after evidence reveals the baby was born alive, and someone strangled him to death. Sadly, ADAs McCoy and Ross have difficulty proving it during the trial, and both Christina and Tommy walk free.
3 He Wasn’t The Father
Season 7, Episode 7
“Deadbeat” starts with the murder of a man called Mike Webber. During the police investigation, Detectives Briscoe and Curtis find out Webber had an ex-wife, Caroline, and a son. After Caroline filed for divorce, Webber abandoned them and never provided child support, even after discovering their son had leukemia. This left Caroline and her father struggling financially.
ADA McCoy and Ross believe Caroline’s father killed Webber, upset that Webber wasn’t paying child support and had abandoned his sick son. But in a dark plot twist, Ross finds Webber was not the kid’s father, and Caroline knew. Caroline still conspired with her father to murder Webber because she knew Webber had money, and they could use it to care for her son.
2 The Daughter Died Due To A Bitter Custody Battle
Season 6, Episode 1
The murder of a young girl brings many twists in “Bitter Fruit.” Detective Curtis and Briscoe investigate the murder and find a connection with a man named Capetti. There’s enough evidence to prove he kidnapped and killed the little girl, so ADAs McCoy and Kincaid try him for murder.
The first plot twist comes during the trial, as the girl’s mother, Karen, shoots Capetti. But an odd detail connects Karen to Capetti, and McCoy and Kincaid start suspecting they were in it together. Then, in a dark twist, Karen confesses in the end. She hired Capetti to kidnap her daughter since her ex-husband wouldn’t let Karen see her, but she didn’t intend for Capetti to kill her.
1 Detective Briscoe’s Daughter Dies
Season 8, Episode 22
In “Damaged,” Detective Briscoe’s life takes a dark turn. This Law & Order episode centers on two trials at the same time. The main case involves a group of teenagers that sexually assaulted a girl with mental disabilities. The jury finds the teens guilty, but in a dark turn, a controversial judge overrules the verdict.
The second trial involves Briscoe’s daughter testifying against a drug dealer, but the case is dismissed. Briscoe’s daughter, Cathy, is scared and leaves the courtroom distressed. The darkest twist comes right at the end of the episode when Cathy is found murdered. Detective Briscoe is a beloved character in the Law & Order franchise, and his daughter’s murder is a dark twist that upset many viewers.
NEXT: 10 Aspects Of Law & Order That Haven’t Aged Well
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