‘Law & Order: SVU’ Has Only 1 Episode That Never Aired In Its 20-Year History

Law & Order: SVU is one of America’s most popular crime drama shows. It stars talented performers like Mariska Hargitay and Ice-T, and in many ways, follows the same style as the original Law & Order series.

As one of the longest-running primetime shows in the United States, Law & Order: SVU remains as popular as ever, and continues to draw in new fans with each passing season. The show has attracted some controversy over the years and has aired many episodes that have drawn fire (and stirred up a lot of conversation) from viewers and critics.

Still, one particular episode was deemed too controversial by showrunners and never made it to primetime television. 

What is ‘Law & Order: SVU’ about?

Mariska Hargitay as Lieutenant Olivia Benson in NBC's 'Law & Order: SVU.'
Mariska Hargitay as Lieutenant Olivia Benson in NBC’s ‘Law & Order: SVU.’ | Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Law & Order: SVU first debuted on television in 1999, the second installment in creator Dick Wolf’s famed Law & Order franchise. The series is based out of the New York City Police Department’s 16th precinct in Manhattan, following the officers and detectives who work there, as well as their friends and associates. The detectives primarily investigate sexually-based offenses, which often leads them into grim territory.

Hargitay has been on the show since the very beginning, playing Captain Olivia Benson. Over the years, other fan-favorite characters have included Elliot Stabler, played by Christopher Meloni, and “Fin” Tutuola, played by the rapper Ice-T. While many actors have come and gone, the show remains an icon of the television landscape and an example of how audiences can connect with a TV series. 

There have been a few controversial ‘Law & Order: SVU’ episodes


After more than 20 years on the air, Law & Order: SVU has aired a number of very controversial episodes. A few of them have parallels to real-life events, such as in the case of the 2007 Law & Order: SVU episode “Avatar.”

The episode tells the story of a woman who is kidnapped by a pedophile after establishing a prominent internet presence. The episode takes on elements of social media and virtual reality culture while revealing that it can often have a very dark undercurrent.

Paul Grellong, who wrote the episode, revealed: “I just remember thinking that it felt like the right thing to explore: a crime that could straddle both the real and the virtual world.” In spite of the brilliance that SVU writers have evidenced in combining the real world and their fictional narrative, there is at least one instance where showrunners decided that fiction was just too similar to the truth. 

Which ‘Law & Order: SVU’ episode never aired on television?


‘Law & Order: SVU’: Mariska Hargitay Has One Huge Similarity With Olivia Benson

In 2016, Law & Order: SVU was going strong, and preparing to air an episode called “Unstoppable.” The episode, according to a report by E!, featured Gary Cole playing a character who supposedly resembled Donald Trump, who at the time was a contender in the 2016 presidential race. In the episode, Cole’s politician gets accused of sexual assault by several women during the course of his political campaign.

This, of course, mirrors some events in Trump’s own race to the White House, as he was involved in several sexual assault controversies. Ultimately, the accusations didn’t affect Trump’s presidential campaign too much, since he won the race in 2016. 

While the episode undoubtedly would have created some serious buzz, showrunners reportedly decided to shelve the episode after Trump won the hotly-contested election. Although it has never aired, the episode “Unstoppable” has the unique distinction of being the only episode in the show’s run that has never seen the light of day on broadcast television.