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In the history of the hit NBC series Law & Order: SVU, there have been a number of edge-of-your-seat episodes, but one in particular seemingly tops the rest. We have all the information you need to know about the episode as well as its ranking on IMDb according to fans.

The highest-rated episode of ‘Law & Order: SVU’ of all-time according to fans

Mariska Hargitay in 'Law & Order: SVU'
Mariska Hargitay in ‘Law & Order: SVU’ | Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Fans have been known to rank their favorite shows and episodes on IMDb, and SVU fans have said their peace. Based on user ratings on the platform, SVU’s top rated episode is a 2005 episode called “911.” It can be found in season 7, episode 3, and it has a 9.3 score out of 10 on IMDb. Mariska Hargitay, who plays Detective Olivia Benson, has an Emmy for her portrayal of her character in this episode in particular. 

What’s the episode about?

“911” is full of gruesome subject matter involving a little girl named Maria Recinos (Jeanine Monterroza), who is 9. She calls 911 for help saying she’s locked in a room alone. Benson gets involved, and Maria admits she hasn’t eaten in days. The detective soon realizes that Maria is being held captive and sexually assaulted by a child pornographer.

When Maria finds a paper that says Felipe’s Burgers on it, she tells Benson it’s where a man named Richard brings her food. The cops learn the place burned down months ago, and Captain Cragen (Dann Florek) pushes Benson to get Maria to talk more. Maria hangs up when Benson says she can’t help her if she’s lying, and Maria tells her the man told her the cops wouldn’t believe her.

But Maria eventually calls back and gets back in touch with Benson, but her location has changed, although she says she hasn’t moved. Benson learns Maria is from Honduras, and she was brought over the U.S. border by her cousin where a man, who assaulted her, was waiting to take her. It turns out she was supposed to be going to Las Vegas to live with her father, but her cousin gave her to the man instead. But she was then given to Richard and assaulted by him and others as well.

Some of the detectives doubt Maria’s story at first

The cops are dumbfounded because the signal for the call is moving every time Maria calls. It makes some believe it isn’t really Maria behind the phone. Plus, the background noise is on a loop with a device called Sound Cover. 

But the reason they can’t trace the call is because the man assaulting Maria hacked into a cell phone company’s switchboard and put a virus in it. That way, when that phone makes calls, the virus can move the signal, bouncing it all over the place, ensuring he won’t get caught on a trace. The FBI works on dismantling the virus so they can pinpoint Maria’s location.

When Benson sees the image sent over by the Honduran authorities, she recognizes Maria from photos sent from Montreal SVU that shows Maria along with a picture on the wall showing a garden that the girl mentioned once before.

The FBI removes the virus, and when Benson tells Maria to hang up and call back so they can get her location, Richard gets on the phone. Benson says she knows where he is. “No you don’t,” he tells her before hanging up. 

They follow the evidence that leads them back to a familiar location

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The detectives find a cup in an image of Maria that’s from Felipe’s Burgers. Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola (Ice-T) recalls an electronics store across from the lot that was once the restaurant. Recognizing that Richard is good with computers, they put two and two together.

When they go to the store, Benson notices a man getting in his car taking his silver glasses out of a blue case as Maria described Richard has. The man also has brown hair as she described. His name is Richard Dwyer (Christopher Evan Welch), and when they enter the electronics store, which belongs to his father, they find the place Maria was being kept cleaned up with ammonia.

When they notice mud on his shoes, Richard tries to get up, but Benson elbows him in the face. They think to check the lot across from the electronics store where Felipe’s Burgers once stood. That’s where they find Maria, who’s been buried, and Benson resuscitates her by giving her mouth to mouth.

The episode is a hard one to get through, but Maria is alive and Richard is in custody. This is the highest-rated episode of SVU according to IMDb fans.