Law and Order: SVU is one of the longest running shows on TV at the moment, as it’s in its 20th season and still going strong. The show has brought us tons on intense episodes filled with exciting twists and turns, unexpected endings, and characters we love (or at least love to hate).
But at the same time, 20 seasons and almost 500 episodes means there’s also a lot of room for error. The show has gone through plenty of writers throughout the decades, many of whom probably don’t know all of the minuscule details that have happened on the show. Even writers who’ve been with the show forever can’t be expected to remember everything that happened, can they?
From not properly explaining a character’s exit to confusing aspects about the law and detective work, there are a lot of times SVU has been guilty of creating plot holes — and fans haven’t been ones to hold back their frustration online. Keep on reading to discover 10 of the biggest plot holes in SVU that are still driving us crazy!
10 Stabler Wouldn’t Quit Without Saying Goodbye To Olivia
Fans are still livid over the way Chris Meloni was fired from SVU and how his character was subsequently written out of the show — and for good reason.
The season before the actor left, Stabler accidentally shot a teenager, which left him understandably shaken. But then the next season begins with Cragen telling Olivia it was too much for Stabler and that he’s resigned from the unit. Olivia couldn’t understand how Stabler hadn’t said goodbye to her, and neither could the fans.
Stabler and Benson had seasons worth of chemistry between the two of them, and some fans were convinced they’d eventually end up together. So, it was definitely out of character that Stabler wouldn’t even tell Olivia goodbye. It’s also ridiculous how easy it appeared for Liv to get over him, despite him being her partner for over a decade.
9 Did Chester Ever Get Charged?
One of the most infuriating plot holes on SVU is the fact they never wrapped up the Chester Lake storyline. He was introduced to the cast as a detective in the eighth season and was a regular by the ninth.
In the final episode of season nine, Chester offs a police officer who’s suspected of assault and then he himself goes missing. The squad finds Chester after he harms another police officer, though this time they can prove it was in self-defense. When the second officer is let go after the jury deadlocks, Chester seemingly offs him as well. The squad finds him with the body and he doesn’t even deny what he’s done. The last scene shows Chester in handcuffs sitting in a police car.
Fans were excited to see how the writers handled the story in the following season, as it was a major cliff-hanger (and Chester was a fan favorite). But it was soon confirmed Adam Beach would not be reprising his role the next season, so we never learned what became of his character.
8 This Sounds Like Self-Defense
In the episode “Alien,” SVU fans were left scratching their head after Olivia and the gang chose to prosecute an 8-year-old girl for what seemed like an example of self-defense. The 8-year-old had attacked a 12-year-old boy from her school with a pair of scissors after he made fun of her for having two moms.
It later came to light that the boy had originally tried to kiss her, after bullying her for weeks over her gay parents. When she refused, he then tried to cut her hair with the scissors. When he tried to grab her hair, that’s when she wrestled the scissors from him and ended up hurting him instead (because it's totally realistic that an 8-year-old girl could to that to a much larger boy).
Many fans said that, in real life, no one would’ve charged the girl because not only was the boy trying to kiss her (which is sexual assault), but he was also being discriminatory. It sounds like she was the real victim in his situation.
7 The Twins, Their Crime, And DNA
One of the craziest SVU episodes was “Identity,” which told the story of two twins. Though the twins were both born males, one of them appeared to be intersex, so the doctor made a call to do a gender reassignment. Thus, the twin ended up being raised as a girl without her knowledge, though she always felt like something was off.
Anyways, the twins get in trouble when they end up offing their doctor, who as it turns out, had been harming them. Unfortunately, the squad wasn’t able to prove which twin did it since their DNA was the same, as they were identical twins.
But fans have since pointed out that the DNA wouldn’t have been completely identical since the female twin had been doing hormone therapy (without her knowledge!), and there would’ve been traces of the hormones in the DNA. So, it seems like they really could’ve solved the case if they just thought a little harder.
6 She Couldn’t Have Known He Wasn’t The Father
In the episode “Monogamy,” fans were upset with the ending after one of the episode’s characters, Nicole, tells her husband he isn’t the father of the baby she was carrying. Rather, she believes it belongs to her lover.
However, fans couldn’t get over the fact that there was no way she could’ve known at that point. She hadn’t taken a paternity test and it was made clear she’d been active with both her hubby and lover during the time of conception. Rather, she claimed to just know via intuition who the baby’s father was.
Some fans have suggested that perhaps the husband had a vasectomy or fertility problems. But since nothing was mentioned on-camera, this is just another plot hole the writers forgot about.
5 The Death Penalty Isn’t All That Common
Whenever someone is being accused of a serious crime on the show, the A.D.A. always brings up the fact that the death penalty is on the table. But in reality, New York hasn’t used this extreme form of punishment in decades. It was actually found unconstitutional in 2004.
Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped SVU writers from making it seem commonplace. For instance, in “Perp Sweating,” Stabler tells a suspect that he could face the death penalty in order to get him to talk. Also, in the season six finale, a criminal is shown receiving this punishment on-camera. Yeah, not-so realistic.
4 Don’t Trust Unexplainable Pizza Boxes
By season nine, the detectives had been through everything; from undercover operations to being abducted and tortured. So we expected them to be a little bit more cautious than the average person, especially when mysterious boxes started ending up at their door.
But in the episode “Svengali,” Olivia isn’t fazed when a pizza is mysteriously sent to her office at work. Rather than questioning it, she asks Fin to throw it out, who then gives it to Chester because he’s hungry. But, of course, as soon as it’s thrown onto the desk it explodes, making it clear this was actually a bomb, not a pizza.
The plot hole comes from the fact that we don’t know why the detectives wouldn’t have been more suspicious of the package, particularly since Olivia had been receiving threats the entire episode, which means she was already aware that someone had it out for her.
3 Where Did Jo Marlowe Go?
Granted, SVU has gone through a lot of A.D.As in its 20 seasons. But most of the time, they offer somewhat of an explanation as to what happened when they switch A.D.As (we still miss you Barba!).
But the one A.D.A. they failed to give an exit to was Jo Marlowe, played by Sharon Stone. She was a consistent character in season 11 and even played a large part in the season’s finale when she’s taken hostage by a grieving mother alongside Dr. Warner and Benson. Her last scene is her talking down the irate mother and saving herself and the others, making her a hero in our books.
However, at the start of season 12, there’s no sign or mention of Marlowe. Rather, we’re introduced to A.D.A. Gillian Hardwicke, who is said to be the new permanent A.D.A. We’re still waiting to hear what unit Marlow was transferred to.
2 Everyone Was Okay With Stabler’s Reaction To His Son
During his time on the show, it was made clear that Stabler had an anger problem. It was commonplace for him to get handsy with suspects, and his colleagues would have to remind him to stay calm. But it’s still unclear why everyone was totally okay with him putting his hands on his son, Richard.
In one of Stabler’s last episodes, the detective got angry at his son in the squad room and proceeded to put his hands on him. Olivia was in the room and the rest of the squad were merely beyond the door, yet no one stepped in to stop the dad from harming his teenage son. Fans couldn’t understand why they’d step in when Stabler gets handsy with suspects, but not his own kid, especially considering this happened in the police station where violence should not be tolerated.
In the end, Stabler’s wife broke up the altercation and she seemed like the only one who had an issue with Stabler getting physical.
1 Carisi Wouldn’t Have Saved Those Pics IRL
Sometimes, it appears the writers of SVU don’t really know how the law works. That’s what fans accused them of, at least, when there was an episode in which Carisi downloaded explicit photos of a child onto his personal tablet.
Granted, the team was trying to bust a ring of people distributing those sorts of illegal images, and Carisi did save the child in the end. But possessing photographs like that is still a crime, even if you’re a police officer working on a case. Carisi wouldn’t have been allowed to download the images onto his personal tablet let alone on any device in which he only has access.
Then again, fans feel there are a lot of plot holes concerning Carisi. Some say he doesn’t really have a purpose on the show, while others say it’s unrealistic that he could’ve gone to law school at night while working as a detective full-time and then pass his Bar Exam on the first try. Are we just supposed to believe he’s a genius?