Season N: N letters on the name of any episode (N > twelve). All episodes of season thirteen have thirteen letters in the title; season fourteen, there are fourteen letters in each episode title; season fifteen: fifteen letters.
Richard Belzer originally asked Dick Wolf if Munch could join Law & Order (1990) as Lennie Briscoe's new partner. But Jesse L. Martin had already been cast. Belzer later heard about this new series, and asked to join, on the condition that Dean Winters be cast as his partner. Winters was still under contract with Oz (1997), and had to leave the show after the first thirteen episodes. Winters returned as a recurring cast member in the fourteenth season.
Christopher Meloni was starring on 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.
The series was originally proposed under the title Sex Crimes, and unrelated to the Law & Order (1990) brand. NBC thought the title was too harsh, and after discussions between network executives and Dick Wolf (creator of Law & Order (1990)) it became part of the Law & Order brand, debuting as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999).
Until season twelve, episode four, the precinct scenes were filmed in North Bergen, New Jersey. After this episode, the show moved its studio space to the Chelsea Piers section of Manhattan that was previously occupied by the original Law & Order (1990).
Peter Scanavino made his debut as a janitor, named Johnny Dubcek in season fourteen, episode thirteen, "Monster's Legacy", before he joined the team by the name of Dominick "Sonny" Carisi, Jr., at the start of season sixteen.
The following statement appears at the beginning of each and every episode: "In the criminal justice system, sexually-based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories."
In season fifteen, it appears that Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) now has a larger, fourteen carat, rectangular necklace charm of the same earlier design. She received it from her psychiatrist after her kidnapping and torture, where the original had been held as evidence at the time.
Although viewers had long wondered if the character George Huang was gay (as is the actor who plays him, B. D. Wong), his homosexuality was not verified until the season eleven, episode five, "Hardwired". Even for a show and a franchise that is notoriously parsimonious with personal information about its characters, that is an extraordinarily long time for basic personal information to be withheld about a regular character on a television series (by contrast, both Detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson were established as heterosexual during the show's first season through dialogue and subplots about Stabler's marriage and Benson's dating habits).
Many members of the main cast members 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 the Law & Order cast to have had a guest starring role on four of the six Law & Order series before landing his role.
The photo in the opening credits for Dann Florek (from the beginning of the show) and Ice-T (starting with the second episode of season two) did not change until season nine, when the entire cast received updated photos (coinciding with the debut of Adam Beach). The photo for Mariska Hargitay has changed seven times (season one has one photo, seasons two through four, and the first four episodes of season five have a second, the rest of season five has a third, seasons six through eight have a fourth, seasons nine and ten have a fifth, seasons eleven through fourteen have a sixth, and season fifteen to the present have a seventh). Christopher Meloni, Richard Belzer, and BD Wong got new photos starting with the fifth episode of season fivr (coinciding with the debut of Diane Neal as Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak) before they all received new photos in season nine. Diane Neal had one photo for season five, a second for seasons six and seven, a third for season eight, and a fourth for season nine. Tamara Tunie, who first appeared in the opening credits in season seven, received a second photo for season eight, and a third photo for seasons nine through twelve, before she was removed from the credits in season thirteen.
Several of the main characters have served in the United States Military in some capacity. Dr. Warner was in the Air Force, Detective Stabler was in the Marines, Captain Cragen was in the Green Berets (as revealed on the original Law & Order (1990)) and Detective Tutuola was an Army Ranger.
The longest-running and most successful spin-off of Law & Order. The franchise includes: Law & Order (1990), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999), Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001), Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005), Law & Order: UK (2009), Law & Order: LA (2010), and Law & Order: True Crime (2017)
Season eighteen originally included an episode titled "Unstoppable", loosely based on the allegations of sexual abuse made against Donald J. Trump. It was postponed before the 2016 presidential election, and shelved indefinitely in 2017.
Season thirteen marked the first time that this show was broadcast without any other Law & Order branded shows on the air. The original Law & Order (1990) ended in 2010, while Law & Order: LA (2010), and Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001), ended in early 2011, several months before season thirteen premiered.