Before they were on TV, the events depicted in these episodes unfolded in real life…
1. “Tackled”: An exaggerated take on the story of gang-affiliated NFL player and accused murderer Aaron Hernandez, this episode details the exploits of a brutal gang of football players who convene every Sunday to square off against opposing gangs, slamming their enemies into the ground with murderous force.
2. “Burned”: Loosely based on the 2010 Russian forest fires that destroyed over 74 million acres, this episode follows a large, unstoppable ex-con who murdered people while wearing a bright red jumpsuit.
3. “No Quarter”: Someone is streaming TV shows for free, and Universal Studios wants to know who. In this episode based on an actual crime from 2012, Law & Order: SVU’s Detective Benson follows an intricate web of intrigue and finally tracks down the 12-year-old boy responsible; he ultimately receives a life sentence for his crimes.
4. “Los Angeles Lakers, Champions Again”: Known for not wasting any time, show producers quickly wrote, shot, and edited this Criminal Intent episode where Detective Goren must battle the Boston Celtics in order to rescue a basketball trophy and return it back to its rightful home in Los Angeles the week following the 2010 NBA Finals.
5. “Grape Guy Falls!”: Writers were inspired by the 2007 viral video of a TV news reporter falling down while stomping grapes for the episode “Grape Guy Falls!” However, they switched the gender of the grape lady in their retelling, having Sam Waterston’s character, Jack McCoy, take a tumble out of a grape bucket on live television and wail uncontrollably. The rest of the episode follows McCoy’s struggle to come to terms with being made into a viral video sensation.
6. “Theft”: This 2008 SVU episode told the story of the kindhearted twins Sam and Philip Thornton, two genius computer programmers who create the fledgling social network FriendCollection. Unfortunately, the idea for FriendCollection is stolen by Mark Wickerberg, the Thornton twins’ conniving and less talented Harvard classmate. Wickerberg tries to pass the social network off as his own, and he almost gets away with it. Fortunately, thanks to Detective Benson’s deft investigative skills, Wickerberg is exposed as the fraud he is. FriendCollection.com is rightfully returned to the Thornton twins, and Mark Wickerberg is sentenced to life in prison. This story is loosely based on the real-life controversy surrounding the ownership of the popular social network Facebook.
7. “Gandhi”: This two-part episode is based on the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.