Among its many elements, the long-running NBC crime drama "Law & Order" is known for its crime scenes. They usually only appear at the beginning of each episode. These scenes are, more often than not, mere set dressing, and the main focus tends to be whatever quips Lenny Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) or Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) are saying more than the bloody scene on the ground.
Compared to the procedural shows that came after, the death tableaus of the original "Law & Order" were quite tasteful. "Bones," a show about identifying remains too decayed to recognize, has some of the grossest dead bodies on television. The original "CSI" was known for its sensationalistic approach to crimes. "[O]n 'CSI,' a 'very special episode; means only one thing: the show is going to delve into the tawdry depths," wrote in 2005. But there is one death on "Law & Order" that went too far, both in terms of the crime scene and the character who was killed off.
Alexandra Borgia, played by Annie Parisse, was the shortest-tenured assistant district attorney in the history of "Law & Order," although not by any choice her character makes. Borgia is murdered in the Season 16 episode "Invaders" (via ). She is kidnapped while investigating a rash of murders that involve impersonating federal officers. Halfway through the episode, her body is found bound, beaten, and gagged in the trunk of a car. We are told she died of asphyxiation by choking on her own vomit. Enraged by what happens to Borgia, Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) tries to get a confession from her killer under false pretenses. He is eventually taken off the case for being too emotionally involved.
Although this "Law & Order" episode aired in 2006, fans of the procedural are still talking about it today. In a post to the subreddit shared earlier this year, viewers thought Borgia's death was too lurid for a main character, even if that character appeared on a show that regularly covered troubling topics. Reddit user began by saying the show didn't hold back "with an explicitly shown kidnapping before revealing her bloody corpse in the trunk of a car that they then zoomed in on multiple times, complete with a grizzly, detailed explanation of the cause of death."
Other Redditors hopped on u/LemonyLime118's subreddit post to share their thoughts, and many agreed that ADA Borgia's death was a step too far, even by "Law & Order" standards. User agreed they were bothered by the scene, noting, One of the things I loved about 'L&O' is how the violence mostly happens off-screen. But man, for such a brutal act, it just carried next to no emotional weight."
Others disagreed, feeling that the brutality of what happened to Borgia was necessary to motivate McCoy to violate his personal ethics. "His determination to nail those responsible ramped up, and it explains his reasons for taking the gloves off and dancing close to the line of unethical conduct," wrote , who went on to say McCoy's behavior made him more understandable.
Unfortunately, the media tends to kill off female characters in order to motivate the male protagonists. This narrative trope, often seen on television, is called "fridging" (via ). The name comes from an infamous event in comics history when Green Lantern's girlfriend is killed and stuffed in a refrigerator. "Law & Order" mostly avoids falling into the fridging trap by putting a majority of the focus on a new crime every week rather than the lives of the characters — but it does happen across the franchise. Other characters stuffed into the metaphorical fridge in the "Law & Order" universe include Kathy Stabler (Isabel Gillies). Her death at the start of motivates her husband, Elliot (Christopher Meloni), to find her killer.