Ray Rice /”Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit,” “American Disgrace”
The October 2014 episode stars a fictional NBA player accused of raping an employee. It came complete with security camera black-and-white elevator footage.
Benghazi/”Madame Secretary,” “Another Benghazi”
The episode focuses on the American ambassador in Yemen who has to be extracted from the country after a mob gathers outside the embassy.
Osama Bin Laden/”Homeland,” “The Drone Queen“
In the Season 5 premiere, Carrie Mathison orders an airstrike on a terrorist compound in a Pakistani tribal area bordering Afghanistan. The episode borrows heavily from the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May 2011.
Jordan Linn Graham/ “Scandal,” “Inside the Bubble”
Olivia Pope helps a bride accused of pushing her newlywed husband off a cliff, a case that had the entire country transfixed earlier this year. The bride, Jordan Linn Graham, was sentenced to 30 years after allegedly for killing her husband at Glacier National Park in July.
Ebola Outbreak/Fox’s new Ebola drama (still in development)
Fox TV is working on a new series centered entirely around the deadly pathogen. More than 6,000 people have died of the disease and 17,000 have been infected. The 2014 Ebola outbreak is by far the most widespread outbreak in history.
Vince Foster/Inspiration for death of Grayden Osborne, “Scandal”
During the Clinton administration, Deputy White House Counsel Vince Foster was found dead in Fort Marcy Park after an apparent suicide by gunshot. Conspiracy theorists still believe it could have been homicide, as Osborne might have had enough classified information to bring down the Clinton administration.
Chinese cyber-espionage/”House of Cards,” “Chapter 18”
The show’s second season covered the Chinese cyber-espionage. China is believed to have gathered information illegally to bolster its economy, as well as monitoring dissidents abroad.
Edward Snowden/”The Newsroom,” Season 3
Snowden escaped the U.S. for Russia after he leaked thousands of classified NSA documents starting in 2013. In “The Newsroom,” ACN blogger Neal is forced to flee to Venezuela after he gets a hold of more than 27,000 classified government documents.
Eliot Spitzer/”The Good Wife”
The CBS drama is based on disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer and his wife, Silda. On March 10, 2008, The New York Times reported Spitzer had been patronizing an elite escort service. The scandal led to Spitzer’s resignation as Governor on March 17.
“The Vampire of Sacramento” (Richard Chase)/ “CSI,” “Justice Served”
The chilling episode, in which a serial-killer nutritionist harvests organs from his victims postmortem to treat a blood disorder, pales in comparison to the real story of the Vampire of Sacramento. Richard Chase was convicted of murdering six people, along with countless animals, and drinking their blood to treat a completely fabricated blood disorder.
Paula Deen/Trayvon Martin/”Law & Order: SVU,” “American Tragedy”
“Law & Order” capitalized on both the Trayvon Martin case and Paula Deen’s “n-word” slip with this episode. The story follows a Southern celebrity chef who, fearing for her safety in a deserted area of New York, shoots an unarmed African-American teenager.
The Subway Gunman (Bernard Goetz)/ “Law & Order,” “Subterranean Homeboy Blues”
One of the first episodes of “Law & Order” focused on a woman who claimed she shot two men in a subway –surprisingly similar to the story of Bernard Goetz, the “Subway Gunman.” In 1984, Goetz shot four men in a N.Y. subway car. And while his actions were applauded as self-defense by some, others believe they were racially motivated against his African-American attackers.
Rihanna and Chris Brown: “Law & Order: SVU,” “Funny Valentine”
Chris Brown’s beating of Rihanna was one of the most sensationalized stories of 2009. “Law & Order” took their interpretation one step further to show the consequences of relationship abuse. Their main character, up-and-coming rapper Caleb Bryant, also abuses his girlfriend, R&B artist Micha Green, but the episode ends with Micha’s body floating next to Caleb’s chartered yacht.
Universal CityWalk Murders/”CSI,” “35k O.B.O”
On Mother’s Day in 1995, two women were stabbed to death on top of a parking structure in Hollywood. The “CSI” version of this episode is fairly similar to the real story, though they changed the victims to a couple celebrating their anniversary; in both cases, a bloody handprint leads authorities to the culprit.
Father Gerald Robinson/ “CSI,” “Double Cross”
The “CSI” version of this case reveals a nun strangled (by rosary beads, to add to the macabre) and crucified in a Catholic church. The inspiration of the story came from the murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl, who was strangled and stabbed by Father Gerald Robinson. He’s appealing to Ohio’s Supreme Court, even though he has been convicted twice.
Gloucester, MA pregnancy pact/”Law & Order: SVU,” “Babes”
The 2008 discovery of a pact made between girls at a Massachusetts high school, in which they promised to get pregnant and raise their babies together, provided the storyline for “Babes.” The “Law & Order” episode follows the murder of a homeless man to the discovery of the pact.
Sean Combs/Jennifer Lopez: “Law & Order,” “3 Dawg Night”
In this episode, Darryl “G-Trane” Collins and his girlfriend Allie Tejada are present during a nightclub shooting, and ultimately, Allie is convicted of pulling the trigger. Any resemblance to P. Diddy and J. Lo’s infamous 1999 incident, in which they were also present for and implicated in a shooting at a New York nightclub, is supposedly “coincidental.”
Casey Anthony/”Law & Order: SVU,” “Selfish”
Another case that shocked America was the 2008 trial of the mysterious death of Casey Anthony’s two-year-old daughter Caylee. In the episode based on the case, the young mother in question is accused of killing her child so she could party more.