TV Episodes The Best Law & Order: SVU Episodes Based On True Stories  

Whitney Van Laningham
14.3k votes 3k voters 1.1M views 30 items

In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In the world of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the plot lines of several episodes that investigate these vicious felonies are ripped straight from newspaper headlines. The writers of SVU often adapt current events into scripts for the dark, gritty police procedural show that everyone loves to binge watch on Netflix.   

What's the best Law & Order: SVU episode based on a true story? "Funny Valentine" may be one of your favorites. This episode was based on the physical altercation that took place between pop singer Rihanna and rapper Chris Brown in 2009. Brown beat his then-girlfriend, Rihanna, but she continued to date him, despite his violent behavior.  Another episode, "Devastating Story," was based on the UVA rape allegations published in Rolling Stone magazine that were later proven to be false. 

Other top based-on-a-true-story episodes of SVU include "Intimidation Game" (based on the Gamergate controversy of 2014), "Pornstar's Requiem" (based on the story of Belle Knox, the Duke porn star), and "Scavenger," (based on the BTK serial killer case).   

Before the credits fade to black, and Executive Producer Dick Wolf's name pops up on the screen, vote up the best episodes of Law & Order: SVU that were ripped straight from newspaper headlines.  
1 850 VOTES

"Monogamy," Based on Lisa Montgomery & Bobbie Jo Stinnett


"Monogamy," Based on L... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Law & Order: SVU Episodes Based On True Stories
Photo: NBC

The Episode: A seven-months pregnant woman is found dead, with her child ripped out of her body in a crude Cesarean section. Detectives race to find the missing baby before it is too late.   

Real Life: In 2004, Lisa Montgomery posed online as a pregnant woman in order to befriend Bobbie Jo Stinnett, who was actually pregnant. Montgomery went to Stinnett's house under false pretenses and strangled her, cut the baby out of her womb, and kidnapped the child. She was found guilty, and sentenced to death in 2008. 
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2 649 VOTES

"Head," Based on the Mary Kay Letourneau Case


"Head," Based on the M... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Law & Order: SVU Episodes Based On True Stories
Photo: NBC

The Episode: A school teacher begins raping her male students because she cannot control her pedophiliac desires. Despite many restraining orders and arrests, she cannot stay away from her younger male student, and she ends up having a child with him. Later, she has surgery to remove a brain tumor, and the desires stop.

Real Life: Mary Kay Letourneau was a school teacher that fell in love with her 12-year-old student. They had a daughter together, despite the fact that Letourneau was convicted of second-degree sexual assault, and had several restraining orders placed against her. When her student turned 18, he filed to overturn the restraining orders, and the two married in 2005. 
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3 541 VOTES

"Imprisoned Lives," Based on the Ariel Castro Case


"Imprisoned Lives," ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Law & Order: SVU Episodes Based On True Stories
Photo: NBC

The Episode: After a young boy is found malnourished and abandoned in Times Square, the detectives try to return him to his family. Instead, they find a locked basement where more victims are in need of a rescue.   

Real Life: Between 2002 and 2004, Ariel Castro kidnapped three women: Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus. He raped all three women, and forced Berry to have his baby. The three women lived in captivity in Castro's home until 2013, when Berry escaped and alerted a neighbor of their whereabouts.  
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4 859 VOTES

"Scavenger," Based on the BTK Killer Case


"Scavenger," Based on ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Law & Order: SVU Episodes Based On True Stories
Photo: NBC

The Episode: SVU detectives are in a race against time as they try to solve clues left by the RDK serial killer before he strikes again.   

Real Life: Dennis Rader, aka "the BTK Killer," sent letters to the police in the 1990s and early 2000s, detailing how he had murdered each of his victims. BTK stood for bind, torture, kill, and many of his methods followed this pattern. He killed ten people before police caught him in 2005. The BTK case had been cold for awhile when suddenly, in 2004, Rader began sending mail to the police again. He asked them if he could be traced by sending them a floppy disc with letters instead of the usual snail mail. They answered him in the local papers, telling him that it would be fine. The disc contained a corrupted Microsoft Word document that revealed his first name, and the church where he worked as president of the church council. 
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