To celebrate the return of Law & Order, which returns to NBC on February 24, here are five of its best episodes that will remind viewers of the show’s enduring legacy. Law & Order originally aired from 1990 to 2010 and produced 456 episodes, inspiring 6 spin-offs.
“Helpless” (Season 3, Episode 6)
Usually during a Law & Order episode when the victim of the week is introduced, the crime has already been committed and the victim has no connection to the main characters. In this episode everything is flipped. The crime committed is shown and the victim, Elizabeth Olivet, is well known to the audience. Watching as the detectives and prosecutors investigate a crime where a colleague is involved is difficult to watch. The characters are forced to try to remain impartial as they desperately try to bring to justice to a valued colleague.
“Aftershock” (Season 6, Episode 23)
This episode also flips the usual storyline of Law & Order on its head. The crime has already been solved and the killer has been brought to justice. The episode centers around the characters’ reactions after watching the execution of man who they all helped put on death row. Instead of returning to work the characters all take the day off to process their emotions. This episode is one the few where we get to see our characters outside of their jobs and see their personal lives. Watching how each character throughout the day make choices big and small that have long and devastating impacts on all their lives and seasons to come is both amazing and heartbreaking.
“Terminal” (Season 7, Episode 23)
If you have ever seen Law & Order you remember that D.A Adam Schiff usually makes comments and recommendations on cases, but usually stays out of the action. In this episode we get to see Schiff lead a case that puts him a odds with the Governor of New York. While battling the Governor, Schiff is also trying to make decisions regarding his wife’s care as she suffered a stroke earlier in the episode. Watching Schiff try to handle both situations is difficult, but he handles both with restraint and compassion. This episode demonstrates why no one underestimates Schiff or questions his ability to make the hard choices.
“Couples” (Season 13, Episode 23)
The 300th episode of Law and Order doesn’t just contain one crime that needs to be solved. It has Detectives Briscoe and Green trying to solve three different murders and a kidnapping throughout one long crazy day. While Law & Order is not known for it comedic tones, this episode definitely contains some humor. Throughout the episode we watch the detectives jump from one case to the next, while each case get progressively crazier. By the end the detectives are frazzled, tired, and hope the phone will stop ringing so they can get a reprieve before they have to jump into their next assignment.
“Rubber Room” (Season 20, Episode 23)
The final episode of Law & Order is one of its best episodes. This episode has detectives Lupo and Bernard investigating a threat to blow up a school. While investigating they soon learn this threat is a diversion, and another plot is currently underway. This forces both the detectives and the prosecutors to race against the clock to prevent a deadly outcome. The last 20 minutes of this episode gives all the characters a moment to shine. From D.A McCoy threatening to rain down hell on anyone who stands in his way of finding the alleged perpetrator, to Bernard and Lupo risking their own lives to make sure all the possible victims involved make it out safe. Also Lieutenant Van Buren gets to experience the immense impact she has made as she sees all the people she has worked with over the years show up to support a fundraiser for her cancer treatments.
Law & Order returns on February 24 on NBC. So make sure to tune in to see new faces, returning favorites, and unique stories ripped from the headlines.