Part of what makes “Law & Order SVU” so great (besides the undeniably incredible cast) are the familiar faces that enter the lives of Detective Olivia Benson and the Special Victims Unit.
After 19 seasons we’ve seen everyone from Academy Award winners to teen heartthrobs. In New York City, the dedicated actors who (sometimes) commit these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the guest stars of SVU. These are their stories.
“Remorse” (Season 1, Episode 20)
SVU Role:Jennifer Esposito plays television reporter Sarah Logan who discusses her rape during her segments which leads to the arrest of a suspect.
Known for:Esposito has had roles in “Spin City”, “Samantha Who?”, “Blue Bloods” and “NCIS”.
“Abuse” (Season 2, Episode 11) and “Hooked” (Season 6, Episode
SVU Roles:In season 2, Panettiere plays Ashley Austin Black who intentionally injures herself in order to get attention from her parents. In season 6, she plays Angela Agnelli, a high school prostitute who kills her doctor.
Known for:Most recently, Hayden Panettiere plays country superstar Juliette Barnes on “Nashville.” She also played cheerleader/superhuman Claire Bennet on “Heroes.”
“Hothouse” (Season 10, Episode 12)
SVU Roles:In “Hothouse”, Sarah Hyland plays the highly intelligent Jennifer Banks, who suffers from a psychotic breakdown and admits to the murder of her roommate.
Known for:Sarah Hyland currently plays the vapid Hayley Dunphy on sitcom “Modern Family.”
“Sacrifice” (Season 3, Episode 7)
SVU Role:Banks played Jaina Jansen, who, with her husband, started a career in porn to pay for their daughter’s medical bills.
Known for:Banks is known for her roles in “Wet Hot American Summer”, “Spider-Man”, “The Hunger Games”, and “Pitch Perfect.”
“Monogamy” (Season 3, Episode 11)
SVU Role:Ritter plays a doctor accused of murdering his wife and removing her unborn child.
Known for:John Ritter is best known for his Emmy and Golden Globe performance in “Three’s Company” as well as voicing “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and Paul Hennessy of “8 Simple Rules.” He died suddenly during the second season of “8 Simple Rules.”
“Dominance” (Season 4, Episode 20)
SVU Roles:Langella plays Al Baker, the father of two young men to which he turns a blind eye when he learns that they are committing rapes and murders.
Known for:Langella is best known for his Tony-award winning and Oscar-nominated performance in “Frost/Nixon.” He has also been in “The Americans” and “Superman Returns.”
“Brotherhood” (Season 5, Episode 12)
SVU Role:Williams plays Chloe Spiers, an unwitting internet porn victim in a case leading back to a fraternity murder.
Known for:Serena Williams is the former number one tennis pro. She has held the number one title for a record 186 weeks and is one of the most dominant athletes of all time.
“Outcry” (Season 6, Episode 5)
SVU Role:Amanda Seyfried plays Tandi McCain, a missing high school student who claims she was raped by construction workers but changes her story several times during the investigation and trial.
Known for:Seyfried is known for roles in “Big Love”, “Mama Mia”, “Les Miserables”, and “Dear John”.
“Pure” (Season 6, Episode 18)
SVU Role:Martin Short plays Sebastian Ballentine/ Henry Palaver, a self-proclaimed psychic who comes forward to assist with a case but turns out to be the the perpetrator.
Known for:The actor and comedian is known best for his characters on “Saturday Night Live”. He has also had roles in “Damages” and “Father of the Bride.”
“Night” (Season 6, Episode 20)
SVU Role:Cooper plays estate lawyer Jason Whitaker and serves as a defense lawyer when his client is accused of multiple rapes.
Known for:Bradley Cooper is best known for his comedic roles in “Wedding Crashers”, “Wet Hot American Summer”, and “The Hangover” trilogy.
“Institutional Fail” (Season 17, Episode 4)
SVU Role:Whoopi Goldberg plays Janette Grayson, an overwhelmed caseworker who falsifies welfare reports and is ultimately put on trial for manslaughter when a child shows up dead.
Known for:The Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Ton- award winner is best known for her work in “The Color Purple”, “Sister Act”, “Ghost”, and hosting the “The View.”
“Intersecting Lives” and “Heartfelt Passages” (Season 17, Episodes 22 and 23)
SVU Role:Garrett plays crooked corrections officer Gary Munson. Munson, who has been abusing female inmates, is arrested causing a revolt from Riker’s correction officers. Ultimately, Munson takes his wife hostage, and, in an effort to save her and Olivia, Mike Dodds is killed.
Known for:Brad Garrett is best known for his role as the lovable and dopey brother, Robert, in “Everybody Loves Raymond.” He has also done voice work in Disney and Pixar films, “Finding Nemo”, “Ratatouille”, and “Planes.”
“Baby Killer” (Season 2, Episode 5) and “Chameleon” (Season 4, Episode 1)
SVU Roles:In season 2, Ramirez plays Mrs. Barrera, the mother of a young boy suspected of murder. In “Chameleon”, Ramirez plays Lisa Perez, a prostitute who helps the police in an investigation at a men’s club.
Known for:Sara Remirez is best known for her role as Dr. Callie Torres on “Grey’s Anatomy” and has also won a Tony for her role in “Spamalot.”
“Criminal” (Season 5, Episode 21)
SVU Role:Saldana plays Gabrielle Vega, the daughter of a heroin addict who was wrongly accused of murder. She sues the SVU department and Captain Cragen individually.
Known for:Saldana made her film debut in “Center Stage” and since then has starred in movies such as “Star Trek”, “Avatar”, and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
“Influence” (Season 7, Episode 22)
SVU Role:Snow plays Jamie Hoskins, who falsely claimed rape. She attempts suicide by mowing down nine people, one of whom she kills. Rock star Derek Lord takes an interest in her case and convinces her to stop taking her medication.
Known for:Snow is known for her role as Meg in the series “American Dreams.” She later had roles in movies “The Pacifier”, “John Tucker Must Die”, “Hairspray”, and “Pitch Perfect.”
“Ballerina” (Season 10, Episode 16)
SVU Role:Carol Burnett plays Birdie Sulloway, a black-widow type serial killer who marries and murders men she feels the world is better off without.
Known for:Carol Burnett is best known for her sketch comedy series “The Carol Burnett Show.”
Melissa Joan Hart
“Impulse” (Season 9, Episode 3)
SVU Role:Melissa Joan Hart plays Sarah Trent, a teacher who is accused of raping a student. SVU learns that the student, who has a sex addiction, is actually the one who committed the crime against Sarah Trent. She asks the DA to be lenient with the student, Shane, whom she feels sorry for.
Known for:Melissa Joan Hart is best known as Sabrina in the teen sitcom “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” She also starred in “Melissa & Joey” with Joey Lawrence.
“Sugar” (Season 11, Episode 2)
SVU Role:McCormack plays Vance Shepard, the CEO of a dating website who is accused of murdering a young woman. It is later found that his daughter committed the crime and she ultimately murders him as well before her prison sentence starts.
Known for:McCormack is known for his leading role in “Will & Grace” for which he won an Emmy.
“P.C.” (Season 11, Episode 13)
SVU Role:Griffin plays Babs Duffy, a leader of a lesbian rights group. She accuses the police of neglecting the deaths of lesbians due to homophobia.
Known for:Kathy Griffin gained recognition for her role as Vicky in “Suddenly Susan.” She also had her own reality television show, “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List”.
“Authority” (Season 9, Episode 17)
SVU Role:Williams plays Merritt Rook, who abducts Olivia Benson and tricks her partner Elliot Stabler into thinking he is inflicting pain on her.
Known for:Robin Williams is best known for his rise to fame in “Mork & Mindy” in the 70s. Since then, he had iconic role in “Dead Poets Society”, “Good Morning Vietnam”, “Good Will Hunting”, “Aladdin”, and “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Williams committed suicide in 2014.
“Dreams Deferred” (Season 14, Episode 9)
SVU Role: Patricia Arquette stars as prostitute Jeannie, who is kidnapped by an armed and dangerous man. The squad goes after her in an attempt to save her.
Known for: Arquette is known for her role as Allison in “Medium” and had international recognition as Olivia in “Boyhood.” The movie filmed the same cast over eleven years to show the true maturation of each character.
“Alternate” (Season 9, Episode 1)
SVU Role:Nixon plays Janis Donovan, who fakes Dissociative Identity Disorder. She “suffers” from six different personalities including a man, teenage girl, and therapist. Nixon eventually won an Emmy for this guest performance.
Known for:Cynthia Nixon is best known for her role in “Sex and the City.” The HBO series also had two spinoff movies as well.
“Selfish” (Season 10, Episode 19)
SVU Role:Hilary Duff plays young, irresponsible mother Ashlee Walker, whose daughter dies of measles after she is exposed by an unvaccinated child. Ashlee and her mother try to get revenge on the family for incidentally killing her child.
Known for:Hilary Duff is best known as the leading actress in Disney channel series “Lizzie McGuire.” She has also starred in “Cheaper by the Dozen”, “A Cinderella Story”, “Gossip Girl” and “Younger.”
“Lunacy” (Season 10, Episode 4)
SVU Role:Brolin plays astronaut Dick Finley, who murdered his competition in order to get a chance to return to the Moon. Detective Elliot Stabler is close with Finley, whom his son is named after and is the one to ultimately determine that Finley is the murderer.
Known for:James Brolin is best known for his Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning performances in “Marcus Welby, M.D.” as well as “Hotel”, and “The Reagans.” He is married to Barbara Streisand.
“Personal Fouls” (Season 13, Episode 2)
SVU Role:Plays Stevie Harris, a former basketball player who accuses his coach of sexually abusing him.
Known for:He first became known through his role as Trip Van Der Bilt in teen drama “Gossip Girl.” He has also starred in “Graceland”, “Grease: Live!”, and the movie adaptation of “Les Miserables.”
Jennifer Love Hewitt
“Behave” (Season 12, Episode 3)
SVU Role:Jennifer Love Hewitt plays Vicki Sayers, a repeat rape victim who almost never leaves her house. Olivia Benson is working to help confront and convict her attacker.
Known for:Jennifer Love Hewitt got her start in the teen drama “Party of Five.” She then went on to star in the movie “I Know What You Did Last Summer” and the sci-fi series “Ghost Whisperer.”
“Pursuit” (Season 12, Episode 17)
SVU Role:Debra Messing plays Alicia Harding, a TV host who is being sent threatening packages and is working to find her sister’s killer from several years prior.
Known for:Messing played lead character Grace in “Will & Grace” and also had leading roles in “Smash” and “Mysteries of Laura.”
“Bang” (Season 12, Episode 22)
SVU Role:Stamos plays Ken Turner, a “reproductive abuser” who has over 20 children.
Known for:John Stamos is best known for his role as Uncle Jesse in “Full House”, which he has reprised in “Fuller House.”
“Valentine’s Day” (Season 13, Episode 18)
SVU Role:Sevigny playsChristine Hartwell. Christine is supposedly attacked and kidnapped while video chatting her husband who is overseas. Eventually, Olivia grows suspicious of her story.
Known for:Sevigny is known as a fashion “it girl” but has also starred in “Big Love” and “Bloodline.”
James Van Der Beek
“Father Dearest” (Season 13, Episode 20)
SVU Role:Van Der Beek plays Sean Albert, a man who is targeting young women who are looking for their biological fathers.
Known for:Van Der Beek had his start as namesake character Dawson Leery on “Dawson’s Creek.” Since then, he has had roles in “Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23” and “CSI: Cyber.”
“Influence” (Season 7, Episode 22)
SVU Role:Reedus plays reformed rock star Derek Lord. He offers to pay the medical expenses for a high school student, Jamie, who makes false rape claims and attempts suicide. Lord uses his fame to preach against psychopharmacology, which he blames for Jamie’s troubles.
Known for:Norman Reedus is most recognized from his role as Daryl Dixon in “The Walking Dead” and Murphy MacManus in “The Boondock Saints.”
“Hammered” (Season 11, Episode 4)
SVU Role:Scott Foley plays Dalton Rindell, a murder suspect who wakes up after a night of drinking to a dead body and no memory of the night before.
Known for:Scott Foley currently plays one of Olivia Pope’s love interests on “Scandal.” He began his career on “Felicity” and had roles in “Scrubs”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, and “True Blood.”
“Shadow” (Season 11, Episode 12)
SVU Role:The recent Emmy winner played Anne Gillette, a murder suspect who is thought to have killed her parents in order to collect their money and pay off some of her debts.
Known for:Most recently, Paulson won for her role as Marcia Clark in “The People vs. O.J. Simpson.” She has also starred in multiple seasons of “American Horror Story.”
“December Solstice”(Season 16, Episode 16)
SVU Role:PlaysCharmaine Briggs, who is accused of abusing her husband by slipping him erectile dysfunction medication and removing him from the hospital against medical advice.
Known for:Marcia Cross is best known for her role as Bree Van de Kamp on the hit series “Desperate Housewives.” She also starred in 90s soap opera “Melrose Place” as Dr. Kimberly Shaw. Recently, she has taken on a recurring role in ABC’s “Quantico.”
“Criminal Stories” (Season 15, Episode 18)
SVU Role:Plays Jimmy MacArthur, a controversial newspaper columnist who questions the motives of the Special Victims Unit while they investigate a hate crime.
Known for: Alec Baldwin is best known as Jack Donaghy of “30 Rock.” He first gained recognition on “Knots Landing” and has had roles in “The Aviator” and “The Departed.”
“Father’s Shadow” (Season 13, Episode 13)
SVU Role:Plays Lacey Ford, an actress who is at risk of being assaulted by a reality show producer.
Known for:Lambert is known as a Grammy-winning country artist and songwriter. She was previously married to Blake Shelton before their divorce in 2015.
“Learning Curve” (Season 13, Episode 21)
SVU Role:Hale plays Rick Simmons, a brutalized gay teacher. Detectives try to find a connection between his beating and several others but instead uncover a scandal at an elite prep school.
Known for:Tony Hale is know for comedic roles in both “Arrested Development” and “Veep”, for which he has won two Emmys.