Brow Beat

Which Law & Order Characters Did Their Jobs Best? The Answer in Five Graphs.

Two and a half years ago, Matthew Belinkie at Overthinking It announced a plan to “crowdsource a list of how all 456 episodes of Law & Order ended.” This morning, he produced the wonderful results: a big public database which lists the verdicts in every case tried by the hardworking district attorneys, detectives, et al, across 20 seasons of the beloved procedural. He also created several charts that help visualize the data, and encouraged others to mine the numbers as well.

Encouragement heeded. While Slate is full of Law & Order fans, not everyone on staff is on the same side when it comes to such important debates as Stone vs. McCoy, Robinette vs. Kincaid, and Schiff vs. Branch. In order to help settle these matters, we decided to look into the success rates of these crime fighters. Who got results?

A note about the findings. Whenever a case ended in a guilty verdict, a plea bargain, or an “implied win”—i.e., an episode ended before the verdict was shown, but not before making it clear that a guilty verdict or plea bargain was on the way—we counted this as a “win” for the Law & Order team. Whether you regard a high winning percentage as a point in a character’s favor is, of course, entirely up to you. Personally, “Hang ’em High McCoy” will always be second in my affections to the more upstanding Mr. Stone. And Lennie Briscoe is second to none.* But now you can come to an informed verdict of your own.

* This post originally misspelled the last name of fictional character Lennie Briscoe.