It's TV Anniversary Week at The Wire, and we're taking a special look at the inordinately prestigious crop of shows celebrating milestone anniversaries this fall. Today, we're looking at NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which premiered Sept. 20, 1999.
In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous, especially when Dick Wolf and the writers of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit get together. Over the years the detectives have changed and the rape/rape-murder/child abuse/child-abuse-rape-murders have only gotten more bizarre.
But at the heart of this ridiculous show is an effort to bring awareness to awful crimes, to teach victims that it's never their fault, to give them an idea of what their options are. SVU literally does the Lord's work, which is probably why we give it so much leeway and why its guest stars have been nominated for so many Emmys.
Since only a lunatic would try to rank all of the amazing SVU guest stars over the last 15 years, we settled on just the Emmy nominated ones. All of the women (and one man, Robin Williams) on this list are excellent actors, so the ranking is based on the quality of the character, how memorable the actor made the role and how integral the character was to the plot of the episode. Points were taken off for episodes that were really bad, and for Emmy nominations that were given purely because a famous film actor deigned to appear on television.