“Law & Order: SVU” is one of the longest running crime dramas on primetime TV. It’s incredible cast, led by the one and only Mariska Hargitay, are just part of the reason the show is so great. The touchy subject matter was brought into the public eye in a very important way. For the SVU fans out there, here are 30 little known facts you probably didn’t know about Law & Order.
The show was originally called Sex Crimes but the creator, Dick Wolf, thought the title was too harsh and wanted the show to include the Law and Order universe.
Ripped from headlines
SVU episodes are advertised as ‘ripped from headlines.” People assume this means the episodes are based on real events. In reality the episode comes up with episodes based on recent headlines.
Olivia Benson, real life hero
Mariska Hargitay, the actor who plays Olivia Benson, is also a trained rape crisis counsellor in real life.
“In the criminal justice system…”
Steven Zirnkilton, the actor who does the, “in the criminal justice system…” voiceover at the start of every episode has actually served four terms in the Maine House of Representatives.
ADA Rafael Barba
Raúl Esparza was initially very reluctant to take the role of ADA Rafael Barba, but he took the role as an acting “rebound” from a lack-luster Broadway production.
Real life victims
According to an article in TV Guide magazine, cast members are often approached by sexual abuse survivors who thank them for portraying these types of stories on the air correctly.
Season 13, 14, and 15
All episodes of season 13 have 13 letters in the title; On season 14, there are 14 letters in each episode title; Season 15: 15 letters.
Different celebrities who have appeared on the show: Robin Williams, Hilary Duff, Hayden Pannetierre, Amanda Seyfried, Rooney Mara, Bradley Cooper, Martin Short, Bob Saget, Elizabeth Banks, plus many more.
Ice-T was only contracted to play the part of Fin for four episodes, but asked to stick around after enjoying the role so much.
Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola’s
Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola’s last name means “The gentle one” in the African Yoruba language.
The show was actually shot in New Jersey
Despite taking place in New York, for the program’s first eleven years the indoor scenes were actually shot in New Jersey. SVU only moved their indoor studio to New Jersey after Governor Chris Christie ended favourable tax treatment for television production. They now use the studio formerly used by the main “Law and Order” franchise.
Mariska Hargitay’s mother
Mariska Hargitay keeps a photograph of her real life mother on her set desk.
The World Trade Center
After the World Trade Center attack in September 2001, NBC ordered the opening credits for the 2001-2002 season re-edited to remove images of the ill-fated building.
Richard Belzer carried his role of Det. John Munch over from the series “Homicide: Life on the Street.” He also played John Munch in Law & Order, an episode of “The X-Files,” an episode of “The Beat,” an episode of “Law & Order: Trial by Jury,” the finale of “Arrested Development” and an episode of “The Wire.” This is a record for most appearances by an actor playing the same character in different programs. Det. John Munch’s character was also played in Sesame Street voiced by Joey Mazzarino.
Ken Briscoe & Lennie Briscoe
Former regular Chris Orbach, who plays Ken Briscoe, is the son of Jerry Orbach, who played Lennie Briscoe on “Law & Order.” Ken Briscoe is Lennie’s nephew on the show.
Kathy Griffin guest starred on an episode but previously was Mariska Hargitay’s improv teacher at the Groundlings theatre company in Los Angeles.
Olivia and Elliot
Law and Order SVU’s Olivia and Elliot are named for producer Dick Wolf’s children. The name Olivia shows up in Benjamin Bratt’s TV family (as one of Rey’s daughters) then there’s Dr. Olivet.
Christopher Meloni worked two shows at once
Christopher Meloni was starring in “Oz” (1997) simultaneously with this series. He eventually left “Oz” because he felt that he could no longer do both shows at the same time. But Meloni missed “Oz” and decided to return the next season. He decided that being able to work on two great shows simultaneously was worth the physical and emotional toll.
Peter Scanavino the janitor
Peter Scanavino made his SVU debut as a janitor named Johnny Dubcek in Season 14 “Monster’s Legacy” before he joined the SVU team by the name of Dominick ‘Sonny’ Carisi, Jr., at the start of Season 16.
Mariska Hargitay’s father
Mariska Hargitay’s father Mickey actually plays the grandfather on the escalator at the beginning of episode 9 of season 5. She got him the role more as a joke than anything else.
Two years before joining the cast as a series regular, Diane Neal appeared in an episode playing a woman accused of raping a male stripper.
Peter Hermann (who plays Attorney Trevor Langan in 30 episodes) is Mariska Hargitay’s real-life husband.
Law enforcement and social workers
The show often resonates with real law enforcement officials and assault support resources and on numerous occasions, social workers have openly (and privately) praised the show and the subject matter it tackles.
Olivia Benson’s Necklace
In season 15, it appears Mariska Hargitay (Det. Benson) now has a larger, 14k, rectangular necklace charm of the same earlier design. She received it from her psychiatrist after her kidnapping and torture, where it had been taken and or lost.
SVU is the only prime time drama to be spun off from two separate shows: “Law & Order” (1990) and, through the character of John Munch, “Homicide: Life on the Street.” (1993)
It is a tough job
Mariska Hargitay revealed that occasionally the show can be too heavy for her to work on: “When I read the script sometimes, it’s like ‘Christ! Enough!’ I can’t sleep at night sometimes. There’s the occasional script that just hammers you, that you can’t shower off.”
‘The Green Mile’ homage
One of the episodes makes a bit of an homage to “The Green Mile.” As the detectives are trying to find out from Doug Hutchinson’s character where the victim is being held, the detectives find out he is somewhat claustrophobic. They decide to scare him by putting him in a cupboard without any light. This is very similar to Doug Hutchinson’s character in “The Green Mile.”
Usually the regulars have guest spots before they become regular cast members
Many members of the main cast in the “Law & Order” universe usually have a guest spot on one of the shows before they a regular cast member. Peter Scanavino (Sonny Carisi) is the only member of a Law & Order cast to have had a guest starring role on four of the five “Law & Order” series before landing his role.
First Male ADA on the show
Rafael Barba, played by Raúl Esparza, is SVU’s first regular male ADA.