America’s longest-running crime drama, Law & Order has been ripping storylines straight from the headlines since 1990.Viewers have watched Jack McCoy and company arrest everyone from a Dominique Strauss-Kahn wannabe to a would-be Casey Anthony.
The second episode of the original Law & Order's first season, which featured a woman who claims she shot two men on a subway car, mirrored the life and crimes of Bernhard Goetz.
Goetz shot four men in December 1984 while riding a New York City subway car. He claimed the men threatened him and tried to rob him.
His actions received both acclaim and criticism as New Yorkers lauded him as a hero for fighting the violence prevalent in the subway. However, others claimed the shooting was racially motivated as the men were African-American.
Goetz was eventually acquitted of attempted murder and assault but was convicted of criminal possession of an unlicensed firearm.
The eleventh episode of Law & Order's first season, which featured a young black girl claiming to have been raped by white police officers, was inspired by the 1987 Tawana Brawley case.
When she was 15, Brawley was found near her family's home in Wappingers Falls, N.Y., claiming she had been abducted and raped by at least four white men. She also claimed one of the men carried a badge.
But, the Grand Jury found no evidence supporting Brawley's claims, stating there was 'was no medical or forensic evidence that a sexual assault was committed on Tawana Brawley.'
The case became known as the Tawana Brawley hoax, as many became convinced Brawley lied about the assault.
More than 20 years after the case closed, Brawley's mother and stepfather gave an interview to the New York Daily News, defending their daughter and reiterating their belief that the assault actually happened.
The eighteenth episode of Law & Order's eighteenth season featured a governor taking heat for his involvement in an upscale prostitution ring, which touched close to home for many New Yorkers.
Spitzer, a former New York State governor, stepped down from office after he was implicated in 2008 as a client in a high-end prostitution ring.
However, federal prosecutors decided not to bring criminal charges against the former governor, saying they couldn't find any evidence of misuse of public or campaign funds.
The sixth episode of the tenth season of Law & Order: SVU, in which the murder of a homeless man led police to a pregnancy pact made between high school girls, mirrored a similar pact made in 2008 between 17 Gloucester High School students.
School administrators became suspicious after noticing a higher-than-average number of girls visiting the school health clinic to take pregnancy tests.
The oddest detail was that 'some girls seemed more upset when they weren't pregnant than when they were,' school principal Joseph Sullivan told Time Magazine. School administrators eventually uncovered the girls' pact to get pregnant at the same time and raise their babies together.
Officials also discovered that one of the fathers was a 24-year-old homeless man.
During the tenth season of Law & Order: SVU, the show's nineteenth episode featured a young mother accused of killing her child so that she can party more.
In the real-life version of the crime, Anthony was accused in 2008 of murdering her daughter Caylee. Police initially became suspicious of Anthony after she waited a month to report Caylee's disappearance.
The television episode mirrored the real-life saga in more ways than one. In both cases, a grandma reported the young girl's disappearance and complained the mother's car smelled like a dead body.
And both the TV mother and Anthony left their daughters with secondary caregivers and then blamed the babysitter for the disappearance.
During the seventh episode of Law & Order's twelfth season, detectives questioned a fingerprint expert's testimony, which ultimately helped convict two men.
In real life, the work of Oklahoma City forensic scientist Joyce Gilchrist was called into question after a man whom her evidence had helped convict was exonerated based on additional DNA testing.
After that case, the FBI began investigating Gilchrist's lab and found that in at least five cases, there were 'errors in identification,' and lab notes were 'incomplete or inadequate,' CBS News reported at the time.
During her 20 years as a forensic scientist, Gilchrist's evidence helped send 23 people to death row, according to CBS News.
In the sixth episode of Law and Order's twelfth season, a therapist is charged with murder when an 11-year-old girl dies during a 'rebirthing' experiment.
After being removed from her home, seven-year-old Candace, born Candace Tiara Elmore, was adopted by Jeane Elizabeth Newmaker. However, Candace didn't react well to her new environment and Jeane eventually brought her to a therapy session led by Connell Watkins.
During therapy, as part of a rebirthing technique, Candace was wrapped in a blanket, which Jeane and therapist Julie Ponder sat on while Candace tried to escape. Candace eventually suffocated inside the blanket.
Watkins, who denied the death was her fault, was ultimately convicted of reckless child abuse
During the third episode of Law and Order's fourteenth season, a carjacking murder investigation leads to the discovery of a SARS outbreak in the city. The stolen car housed a medical container with the virus.
The premise of the episode played out in the real world when, in 1994, Dr. Richard Schmidt infected his former lover Janice Trahan with AIDS.
After Trahan ended their relationship, Schmidt reportedly took a blood sample from one of his AIDS-infected patients and injected it into Trahan, telling her it was a Vitamin B injection.
Schmidt was convicted in 1998 after the evidence concluded the infected blood had come from one of his patients.
The season premier of Law and Order: SVU's thirteenth season very closely followed the Dominique Strauss Kahn saga that gripped the world last year. In the episode, a maid claimed a Prime Minister candidate raped her in a hotel room.
In real life, hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo alleged that IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn raped and abused her.
Diallo's credibility was shot, however, after reports that she lied to officials. Charges against Strauss-Kahn were eventually dropped in August 2011.
The second episode of Law & Order: SVU's thirteenth season featured the investigation into claims that a high school basketball coach sexually abused his players.
The actual basketball coaches, Bob Oliva and Ernest Lorch, were accused of sexually abusing young men while coaching them.
While the statute of limitations applied to some of Lorch's alleged crimes, a Massachusetts grand jury eventually indicted him on a sex abuse charge in October 2010. Lorch founded the Riverside Church basketball program.
Oliva, a former Christ the King High School basketball coach, pleaded guilty in April 2011 to sex abuse charges, according to the Daily News.
In the tenth episode of Law & Order's sixth season, neighbours watch as a woman was raped. Years later, she has to relive her ordeal as new questions about the crime came to light.
The episode was inspired by what is now known as the bystander effect, when multiple people witness a crime but assume someone else will take care of it. The psychological principle gained notoriety during the 1964 stabbing of Kitty Genovese.
neighbours watched as a man stabbed Genovese, left her in the street, returned and stabbed her, left her, and came back a third time at 3:35 a.m. to stab her. Police didn't receive a call about the incident until 3:50 a.m.
The twentieth episode of Law & Order's fourteenth season featured the murder of a film producer at popular mob eatery Raimondo's.
Real-life wise guy Louie Lump Lump shot a man at Harlem mob hot spot Rao's for insulting a woman while she sang at the restaurant.
He later detailed the incident for New York Magazine, telling the publication he hadn't meant to shoot the man in the back.
During the first episode of Law & Order's eighth season, two guys kill a random man just to see what it feels like.
Thomas Koskovich and Jason Vreeland, 18 and 17 respectively, killed two pizza deliverymen in 1997, luring them to an abandoned house.
They killed just to do it.
Prior to the crime, friends told The New York Times the boys would boast about their desires to commit crimes and volunteer as hit men.
Both men were eventually convicted.
The first episode of Law & Order's twelfth season featured a jogger who was mauled to death by a pit bull.
San Francisco-based lacrosse player Diane Whipple was attacked in 2001 by her neighbours' dogs.
Bane, a 123-pound English mastiff and Canary Island cattle dog mix, dragged Whipple down the hallway and lunged for her throat as she tried to enter her apartment, according to San Francisco Chronicle reports at the time.
Whipple sustained 77 wounds during the attack.
Bane was destroyed at an animal shelter following the attack. Officials weren't able to determine whether Hera, the other dog, had been involved in the attack.
The first episode of Law & Orders tenth season featured a man who went on a shooting rampage in Central Park, mainly targeting women.
Montreal resident Marc Lepine killed 14 women in 1989 when he went on a shooting spree at Montreal's École Polytechnique.
He separated the men from the women before shooting the classroom of female engineering students, according to news reports. Fourteen students died after the shooting.
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