23 Times Law & Order: SVU Made Us Cry

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Law & Order: SVU knows how to hit viewers where it hurts.

Our hearts go out week after week to the victims of some of humanity's worst crimes.

And sometimes, this show makes us cry. 

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Check out our picks for the most cry-worthy episodes of SVU. Don't see your favorite? No problem! Share it in the comments.

If you need a refresher, don't forget you can watch Law & Order: SVU online here on TV Fanatic.

1. Munch's heartbreak.

Munch's heartbreak.
Sarah Logan's story on Law & Order: SVU Season 1 Episode 20 "Remorse" was a sad one altogether -- she was a reporter who was killed by a bomb after she shared her own rape during her news show. But what made us cry was that she was one of the few people that the ordinarily aloof and cynical Munch felt comfortable around and he was going to go to dinner with her right before she was killed.

2. An accidental shooting leads to tragedy.

An accidental shooting leads to tragedy.
On Law & Order: SVU Season 2 Episode 5 "Baby Killer", Stabler remarked that gang-owned streets were as violent as the Gaza Strip at the end of this tragic story and he was right. The child in question shot a little girl by accident after feeling threatened by a gang member who had killed his family while he hid in a closet, only to be killed himself because of racial tension related to the shooting.

3. Adoptive parents' worst nightmares.

Adoptive parents' worst nightmares.
The idea of thinking your baby is dead when he isn't is sad enough, but for that child to grow up with another family and then have to be removed from the only home he'd ever known because of a kidnapping he didn't remember is heartbreaking. That's exactly what happened on Law & Order: SVU Season 3 Episode 3 "Stolen".

4. A mother's addiction has horrific consequences.

A mother's addiction has horrific consequences.
Law & Order: SVU Season 4 Episode 7 "Dolls" was a scary, horrific story involving a pedophile who killed children after raping them, but when a victim's mother realized she was partially to blame for her daughter having been taken by this monster, it went from terrifying to heartbreaking.

5. Cabot's guilt over a transgender defendant's fate.

Cabot's guilt over a transgender defendant's fate.
SVU was one of the first shows to tackle transgender issues on Law & Order: SVU Season 4 Episode 21 "Fallacy". It was bad enough that a woman was facing prison time for killing the man who raped her, but Cabot's guilt over sending her to prison, where she'd be housed with men and possibly become a victim of violence again over it, compounded the tragic circumstances of this story.

6. Munch's emotional reaction to an assisted-suicide case.

Munch's emotional reaction to an assisted-suicide case.
Munch was a fascinating, complicated character whose cynicism hid his sensitivity, and that made his guilt over his father's suicide on Law & Order: SVU Season 5 Episode 22 "Painless" even more powerful.

7. A woman blamed Fin for her daughter's drug addiction

A woman blamed Fin for her daughter's drug addiction
Law & Order: SVU Season 6 Episode 10 "Haunted" is one of the reasons it's so sad that Fin gets so little airtime in later seasons of SVU. This story not only provided his backstory, but was fraught with emotion -- and his desire to make amends to a former suspect was heartwrenching.

8. Benson rescued the little girl that no one believed existed.

Benson rescued the little girl that no one believed existed.
Law & Order: Season 7 Episode 3 "911" won Mariska Hargitay an Emmy award, and with good reason. Benson's refusal to give up on a child in need, even when everyone else thought it was a prank caller wasting her time, paid off when she finally was able to locate and rescue the girl, who had been buried alive and wouldn't have survived otherwise. Talk about a tearjerker ending!

9. A pregnant girl resorted to desperate measures.

A pregnant girl resorted to desperate measures.
Viewers may disagree about whether abortion should be legal, but it would be hard not to shed a tear over the desperate measures this girl went to in order to terminate her pregnancy on Law & Order: Season 7 Episode 9 "Rockabye" and what happened to her as a result.

10. A dying gangster's daughter pays a visit.

A dying gangster's daughter pays a visit.
Deathbed reconciliations are always emotional, but the one on Law & Order: SVU Season 8 Episode 10 "Scheherazade" was doubly so because the dying person was far from pure and his daughter had good reason to stay away, yet she eventually decided to go see him one last time.

11. A reconciliation leads to new life.

A reconciliation leads to new life.
The Stabler/Kathy relationship played with viewers' emotions throughout the first 12 years of SVU, leaving some viewers wishing Stabler would leave Kathy for Benson. But Stabler was clearly lost without his family when his wife left him and took the kids with her, and for him to discover he was having another child right after they reconciled on Law & Order: Season 8 Episode 22 "Screwed" was super emotional.

12. Kathleen Stabler's bipolar disorder.

Kathleen Stabler's bipolar disorder.
Law & Order: SVU Season 10 Episode 3 "Swing" was an unusual episode in that the only criminal act was Stabler's daughter Kathleen breaking into a couple's home to take a shower (and a pendant that didn't belong to her). This whole story was a tearjerker, from Stabler's visit to his estranged mother and his making the difficult decision to allow his daughter to be arrested to Kathleen's conversation with her grandmother and eventual decision to get on medication.

13. A parental kidnapping goes tragically wrong.

A parental kidnapping goes tragically wrong.
There's nothing worse than a parent accidentally killing her child! On Law & Order: SVU Season 11 Episode 24 "Shattered", the parent in question was trying to take her child away from what she considered to be a less responsible and worthy parent, only for the child to die in a car accident as the result of his mother's actions.

14. Sister Peg was killed during a shootout

Sister Peg was killed during a shootout
Sister Peg was a minor character, but she was around often enough to feel like part of the SVU family. Her death on Law & Order: SVU Season 12 Episode 24 was both shocking and heartbreaking and it wasn't surprising that Stabler left soon afterwards.

15. Benson 's guilt over a false confession.

Benson 's guilt over a false confession.
Benson's whole thing is getting justice for victims. So for her to realize on Law & Order: Season 13 Episode 17 "Justice Denied" that she'd condemned an innocent man to life behind bars was doubly heartbreaking, for her and for the audience.

16. A singer's tragic refusal to leave her abusive boyfriend.

A singer's tragic refusal to leave her abusive boyfriend.
It's not like we didn't see this one coming. But despite all odds viewers were rooting for singer Micha to find the strength to leave her abusive boyfriend on Law & Order: SVU Season 14 Episode 16 "Funny Valentine". Her death shortly after she disregarded Benson's advice and left with her partner was as tragic as it was chilling.

17. Munch Retires from SVU

Munch Retires from SVU
Munch was not only a familiar face at SVU for 15 years but had also been a mainstay on Homicide: Life on the Street for 7 years before SVU began. So his retirement on Law & Order: SVU Season 15 Episode 5 "Wonderland Story" -- complete with cameo appearances from some of his Homicide castmates -- was one of the saddest things on television. At least he wasn't killed off!

18. A porn star's real-world injustice.

A porn star's real-world injustice.
It was sad enough that a young woman felt the only way she could afford to go to college on Law & Order: Season 16 Episode 5 "Porn Star's Requiem" was to film porn videos on the side. The way her classmates treated her when they found out was atrocious, and the fact that she felt she got more respect for her bodily autonomy from her porn co-stars was a strong indictment of society's attitudes as well as a sad outcome to her case.

19. Rollins faces her past.

Rollins faces her past.
Rollins had always been a troubled character, but nobody knew she'd been carrying around the secret that she too was a rape survivor. Her decision to finally testify about what had been done to her on Law & Order: SVU Season 16 Episode 10 "Forgiving Rollins" was powerful, to say the least.

20. Mike Dodds' Death

Mike Dodds' Death
Mike Dodds' death on Law & Order: SVU Season 17 Episode 23 "Heartfelt Passages" was one of the saddest things to ever happen on SVU, and that's saying a lot. Mike had struggled with risking his father's disapproval by remaining with SVU and he died trying to help protect a domestic violence victim from the corrupt cop who was abusing her. His father's heartbreak added another layer to an already tragic story.

21. Benson versus her former partner.

Benson versus her former partner.
Trips down memory lane and visits with old partners never end well on SVU. For Benson, it was a double disappointment on Law & Order: SVU Season 18 Episode 5 "Rape Interrupted" because her former partner's son raped a woman and her partner was more interested in covering it up than in justice, showing her that he was no longer the man she had looked up to and maybe never had been.

22. Unforeseen consequences of a mercy killing.

Unforeseen consequences of a mercy killing.
Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 13 "The Undiscovered Country" was a tearfest from start to finish, with a kidnapping of a special-needs baby turning out to be an attempt to extend the life of an infant who couldn't see, hear, or even breathe on his own. Losing ADA Barba too after an act of euthanasia left him questioning his commitment to the law was just too heartbreaking for words.

23. The little girl separated from her mother.

The little girl separated from her mother.
In what was arguably the most powerful episode of the first half of Season 20, a little girl who had been separated from her mother during an illegal border crossing into the United States stole viewers' hearts on Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 3 "Zero Tolerance" -- and broke them when SVU was unsuccessful in stopping the federal government from putting her in a detention center.

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Episodes:
Law & Order: SVU Season 14 Episode 16: "Funny Valentine", Law & Order: SVU Season 16 Episode 5: "Pornstar's Requiem", Law & Order: SVU Season 16 Episode 10: "Forgiving Rollins", Law & Order: SVU Season 17 Episode 23: "Heartfelt Passages", Law & Order: SVU Season 18 Episode 5: "Rape Interrupted", Law & Order: SVU Season 19 Episode 12: "The Undiscovered Country", Law & Order: SVU Season 20 Episode 3: "Zero Tolerance"
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