Good guys, bad guys, bad guys pretending to be good guys. Hey, these people have done it all. In honor of the Emmy-worthy performance given by Whoopi Goldberg on last night's episode of Law and Order: SVU, I think it's time to look back on the show and all the amazing guest stars its had and the captivating performances they have given.
This should go without saying but: SPOILER ALERT
10) Cynthia Nixon as Janis Donovan
In the season 9 episode, "Alternate", Nixon portrays a woman whose only child goes missing, but because she suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder, she can't ever seem to recall what exactly happened to her young child. The case is wrought with further complications after her sister shows up and their parents are both brutally murdered. In the end, the detectives discover that she and her sister murdered their parents with Janis faking having multiple personalities, to get away with the heinous crime through mental disease or defect. Her sister, as we find out in the end, wasn't so lucky and is arrested for the murder of their parents.
9) Jacquelyn Smith as Susan Delzio
In the season 11 episode, "Bedtime", Jacquelyn Smith was joined by a barrage of iconic women of the sixties and seventies such as Morgan Fairchild, Susan Anton, and Ann-Margret. In the episode, Smith portrayed a retired cop with a link to a serial murder crime that everyone thought had long gone cold many years ago. She works closely with SVU to help bring an end to a terror currently plaguing New York City after it's revealed that one of the murders from the 1970's was committed by a woman. The story itself is beyond complicated, mainly involving jealousy and rage, but in the end it is revealed that Smith herself was the murderer and that she had done it to win the sole love of a local celebrity she had fallen head over heels for.
8) Ellen Burstyn as Bernadette Stabler
Season 10 saw Detective Stabler go through many tough times with his family. Especially his young daughter, Kathleen after it's discovered she's suffering from a blood-inherited case of Bipolar Disorder. Stabler rushes to his estranged mother, remembering she suffers from it as well, to plead with her to help her granddaughter in court by revealing her own diagnosis.
7) Whoopi Goldberg as Janette Grayson
Season 17 has already been one of the most heartbreaking seasons the show has ever had and they've only aired four episodes! Last night's episode showed no change in that method. When a young, mute boy is found wandering in a convenience store in the middle of the night, SVU is called in to locate his absent parents. His mother had abandoned him and his older sister to die in their apartment while she skipped out for a drug binge. Unfortunately for the sister, the detectives arrived far too late. Whoopi Goldberg plays a social worker who has so much on her plate, she and few co-workers falsify documents to keep up with the status quo and to make everyone believe that they're doing their jobs. She and two others are charged with manslaughter and in a fit on the stand, she breaks down and is removed to a psychiatric facility.
6) Brenda Blethyn as Linnie Malcolm/Caroline Cresswell
In season 10 episode 8, Detective's Benson and Stabler become entwined in a domestic abuse case involving a cruel husband and a complicit wife. Det. Benson crossed paths with the neighbors living below the husband and wife, making friends with them in the hope they will help her get the wife away from her abusive husband. Unfortunately, after the wife returns to her home, she is murdered in a fit of rage by her husband and Detective Benson is unable to do anything to save her. The wretched day is thought over when Judge Elizabeth Donnelly (played by Judith Light) enters SVU and demand that Linnie be arrested, exposing her as being a fugitive from the law for over thirty years. This is one of the few episodes of SVU that has brought me to tears, it's gripping and in the end, somehow manages to leave the viewer completely breathless.
5) Jennifer Love-Hewitt as Vicki Sayers
The detectives are called into the hospital when they receive a report of a victim that has been severely beaten and sexually traumatized. Unwilling to expose herself to a rape kit, the victim rushes from the hospital and returns to her home where Benson and Stabler track her down later. It is revealed that she has been tracked down and raped repeatedly by the same man since she was sixteen and because evidence was treated as delicately as it should've been, it becomes near impossible for them to pin the attack on her rapist. Despite that, the detectives still manage to gather enough legible evidence to arrest him for kidnapping. In the end, Vicki gets the last word and tells him "Now I'll always know where you are. Behave."
4) Marica Gay Harden as Dana Lewis
Marcia Gay Harden made four appearances on SVU as Special Agent Dana Lewis, often bringing more trouble than she was worth. Her first appearance saw the team investigating a group of racist domestic terrorists, her second was in season eight premiere where she recruited Olivia to go undercover with a group called "Earth Defenders". Her third pop up on the show was a surprise to Olivia when Dana came knocking on her door with a rape kit she claimed was her own. Her final showcase was in the episode, "Secrets Exhumed" where it's revealed Dana killed a woman out of jealousy and pinned it on an innocent man. She was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
3) Ann-Margret as Rita Wills
In this Emmy-winning portrayal of a Hollywood starlet left behind and forgotten by the glamour of youth, Ann-Margret portrays one of three women accused of murder by Susan Delzio (Jacquelyn Smith). Her deep and undying devotion to the man that Susan murdered for makes her a prominent suspect for SVU. Later on, they realize she's just a lonely woman clinging to the past where she had a life and a career and love that took everything she had to maintain.
2) Carol Burnett as Birdie Sulloway
Carol Burnett guest-starred on the crime-drama during its tenth season where she portrayed former ballerina superstar, Birdie Holloway. The detectives encounter her while investigating a murder of a young woman who worked at an establishment owned by Birdie's husband. When her husband is thrown from the roof after it's revealed he killed the girl, the investigation turns towards Birdie herself and her nephew (played by Matthew Lillard), with whom she shares an unnaturally close relationship. The detectives discover that Birdie has been married four times to four different men, all who ended up deceased in unusual manners. In the end, facing a terminal illness, Birdie reveals that it was her nephew, Chet, who murdered these men after he turns on her and attempts to place the blame solely on her. As she says to him when they meet in the police station, "We all do what we have to, dear."
Before I Unveil My Top Pick, Here Are a Few Honorable Mentions.
John Stamos - "Bang"
Rita Wilson - "Delinquent"
Kathy Griffin - "P.C."
Elizabeth Mitchell and Jeremy Irons - "Totem"
1) Robin Williams as Merritt Rook
Known for his comedic portrayals in films like Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, Patch Adams, and Jack, Oscar-winner Robin Williams really stepped outside of his comfort zone here with his Emmy-nominated guest appearance on Law and Order: SVU. In the episode torn right from the headlines, Williams portrays Merritt Rook, a sociopathic man who crank calls a local fast-food restaurant, posing as a police officer to persuade the manager that one of his employees is a thief and she needs to be strip-searched. He is found not guilty for the crime and begins a movement to disgrace the NYPD and SVU. Unable to let it go, the detectives dig into his past and find that he was once married and that his pregnant wife died before the doctor could save his unborn child. The doctor later committed suicide after receiving letters and threats from Rook posing as a police officer. He escapes the custody of Detectives Benson and Stabler by setting off a bomb inside his old music studio. His fate, though believed by the detectives to have drowned shortly after his escape, is still unknown. With the death of Robin Williams in 2014, we can now say for sure we will not be seeing Rook on the show again.
RIP, Genie. You're free now.