About SVU

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (also known as Law & Order: SVU or simply SVU) is a part of the Law & Order franchise. It is not technically a spin-off, as the format of the show differs in many ways from the original Law & Order. Law & Order focuses half the show on the police investigating the crimes and the other half on the ADAs prosecuting the offenders. Special Victims Unit largely focuses on the police and has courtroom scenes for only a small part. In some episodes, the courtroom doesn't feature at all. The characters' lives also play a part in SVU, whereas in the original Law & Order, they are hardly ever mentioned. The show was originally going to be called Sex Crimes, but it was believed that this sounded much too harsh and so it was decided to put it under the Law & Order franchise.

The theme tune is the same as that for Law & Order, but it is remixed. At the start of each episode, the following is said:

In the criminal justice system, sexually based offences are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories.

The show focuses on crimes such as rape, sexual assault and paedophilia and also those involving children and the elderly. For many years, Detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson were at the forefront of show, but Stabler left the show in season 12. Benson remains at the forefront of the show and is the only character who has remained from the very beginning. Benson is a child of rape and this is what made her want to join the squad. Her mother raised her alone and was a chronic alcoholic (presumably because of what happened to her). She died falling down some steps when drunk (season 2). Benson is extremely experienced and extremely dedicated to her work. She officially became the commanding officer for the squad (lieutenant) during season 17, following a stint as sergeant and acting commanding officer after the retirements of Captain Don Cragen and Sergeant John Munch in season 15. The other current main characters are Detectives Odafin "Fin" Tutuola, Amanda Rollins and Dominick Carisi, ADA Rafael Barba and ME Melinda Warner.

If you'd like to know about the basis of the show or the impact that it has had, read this.