Law and Order, the mega-successful crime legal drama series, was created by Dick Wolf and aired for the first time in 1990. The show is one of the longest running television shows in history – 20 years. Since the launch of the original Law and Order, there have been several spinoff Law and Order chapters, creating a franchise of this practically cult series. The last episode of the show aired in 2010, however, the SVU chapter is still running and reruns of the rest of the chapters are aired daily all over the world. Over the many seasons and chapters, there have been many actors (and their characters) that have made the show the hit it became. Here’s a comprehensive list of these characters and those who played them. You can’t imagine what they look like now…
Richard Belzer – John Munch
Richard played the role of Detective John Munch from 1993 until 2016. His character started out of the NBC show, Homicide: Life on the Street, before moving on to the original Law and Order. Richard’s character went on to be on almost every form of the shows chapters, including, Special Victims Unit, The Beat, Law and Order: Trial by Jury, Arrested Development, and 30 Rock. These days, Detective Munch has retired and therefore much quieter; but the record breaking character, Munch, who was on six different prime time shows, will always be the thing we remember.
BD Wong – Dr. George Huang
BD Wong played the clever forensic psychiatrist on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. He was the department’s go-to when it came to their disturbed victims and bad guys. BD was on the show from 2001 until 2015. After his departure from the show, BD went on to land roles in films like Jurassic World (he was also in the original Jurassic Park film in 1993), Focus, and The Space Between Us. BD is an advocate for the LGBT community. He was in a long term relationship with Richie Jackson; they share a son together.
Ice T – Fin Tutuola
Ice has been a part of Law and Order: SVU since 2000. He is still on the show and going nowhere, as his character is a fan favorite. Ice plays Detective Fin Tutuola, an eager to catch bad guys type of guy. These days, in addition to his role as Fin, Ice has continued to produce music, his first love. He came out with his album, Murder 4 Hire in 2006, and Manslaughter in 2014. Ice and his wife, Coco, had their own reality show portraying their lives in New Jersey. Most recently, Ice and Coco have welcomed their first child, a daughter they named Chanel.
Mariska Hargitay – Olivia Benson
Mariska started on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit since the very first episode in 1999. The SVU chapter is still running and is currently in its 18th season. She is the only actor/character that has not only been there from the start but has also been in the most amount of episodes. Mariska does little else than Law and Order, which makes sense considering it really is a full-time job. She has been nominated for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her role as Detective Olivia Benson. Little known fact about Mariska – she’s the daughter of the legendary actress, Jayne Mansfield. Taking a cue from her on-screen character, Mariska has opened the Joyful Heart Foundation, a support system for sexually abused women.
Christopher Meloni – Elliot Stabler
Christopher was one of the main characters in Law and Order: SVU, playing Detective Elliot Stabler. His character was a staple on the show. Chris played Elliot from 1999 until 2011, when he decided to end his run on the show. He and co-star Mariska are still very close and get together often. Chris has since been seen in roles in True Blood, Veep, Man of Steel, and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. We are secretly hoping that Chris will come back to SVU, at the very least for a cameo appearance.
Dann Florek – Donald Cragen
Dann played the role of Captain Donald Cragen on both Law and Order and it’s subsequent chapter, Law and Order: SVU. He was on the show from it’s beginning in 1990 and has been on and off both of the chapters until 2015. Over the years Dann has been solely busy with Law and Order, leaving little time for other roles other than minor roles in television films. Just like with Christopher Meloni, we have a hunch that Dan will probably find his way back to the show, the two can’t seem to stop seeing each other.
Elisabeth Röhm – A.D.A. Serena Southerlyn
Elisabeth played the role of A.D.A. Serena Southerlyn on the original Law and Order, for four seasons, from 2001-2005. Her steady take no prisoners attitude was perfect on-screen, earning her a steady following. Elisabeth has since been in films like American Hustle and Joy, as well as television shows like, The Client List, Beauty & the Beast, The Last Ship, Hawaii Five-0, and Flaked. Elisabeth is showing no signs of slowing down in her acting roles. Personally, she and partner, Ron Anthony Wooster, have been together since 2005 and share one daughter together.
Diane Neal – A.D.A. Casey Novak
Diane was on Law and Order: SVU from 2003 to 2012. What all of the people on this list have in common is that they were all of the show for a very long time, which is reasonable considering how long the show has been around. Diane played the ruthless A.D.A. Casey Novak, she took no backtalk from anyone and we all loved it. After the show, Diane has been on shows like Suits, NCIS, and Blue Bloods. She really does like to stick to the police crime drama theme, doesn’t she?
Jeremy Sisto – Cyrus Lupo
Jeremy was on Law and Order from 2007 to 2010 as Detective Cyrus Lupo. He isn’t the most memorable of the cast members, but he did have a rather long stint on the show. Jeremy may be more familiar to you from shows like, Numbers, Suburgatory, Six Feet Under, and The Returned. He has also been in films like, As Cool as I Am, Break Point, and The Other Side of The Door.
Tamara Tunie – M.E. Melinda Warner
Tamara played the role of Medical Examiner Melinda Warner. She was the one they all went to to know the cause of death of each victim – juicy stuff. She was on the original Law and Order from 2000 to 2007, with guest appearances in 2009 and 2010. Tamara has since been in films like Flight, and television shows such as, The Good Wife, Chicago Fire, Zoo, Elementary, and Blue Bloods. Tamara has had a long and extensive career in television, one that she is not shying away from.
Stephanie March – A.D.A. Alexandra Cabot
Stephanie played the role of Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot in Law and Order: SVU. She was on the show from 2000 to 2003, with returns in both 2005 and 2011. She moved on from Law and Order with smaller roles in Grey’s Anatomy, 30 Rock, Made in Jersey, and Happy Endings. Stephanie was married to celebrity chef, Bobby Flay for 10 years, before calling their marriage off in 2015. Much like her character on-screen in SVU, March is an advocate for women and a supporter of Planned Parenthood.
Sam Waterton – Jack McCoy
Sam may not have been with Law and Order from the very beginning but he sure made and left and impression. He was on the show as District Attorney Jack McCoy from 1994 to 2010. The show won him both a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award. The man is still all over film and television. Most recently you can find him on, The Newsroom, Grace and Frankie, and Miss Sloane. He started out his career in the theater, and so it only makes sense that he would also go back to it. Sam has recently been in the production of The Tempest at the Delacorte Theater.
Vincent D’Onofrio – Robert Goren
Vincent spent ten years as Detective Robert Goren on Law and Order: Criminal Intent, yet another chapter split from the Law and Order original series. Vincent has since been on the series Daredevil, and has kicked him film career up a notch with films like, Sinister, The Judge, Jurassic World, The Magnificent Seven, and three new upcoming films in 2017. The man doesn’t rest! His career started way before his role as the detective, but it was that very role that made him known to the newer generations.
Benjamin Bratt – Rey Curtis
Benjamin was on the three forms of the Law and Order franchise series on four separate occasions. He was on Law and Order from 1995-1999, during which time he was also on Homicide: Life on the Street, he was on the television movie Exiled: A Law & Order Movie in 1998, and Law and Order again in 2009. His role as Detective Rey Curtis was one viewers weren’t letting go of! After the show, Ben found himself in hit series like Modern Family, Private Practice, and 24: Live Another Day. We also remember this one from Miss Congeniality.
Fred Dalton – D.A. Arthur Branch
Well this one is an interesting one. Fred played the role of D.A. Arthur Branch on Law and Order, from 2002 to 2007. He was on four of the Law and Order franchise series. The interesting bit was that before Law and Order, Fred was a congressman! The two jobs even overlapped in 2002 at the start of his run on Law and Order. It seems as though art really did imitate life in his case.
Jerry Orbach – Lennie Briscoe
Jerry was probably one of the most recognizable faces of the show. He played Detective Lennie Briscoe from 1992 to 2004. Jerry was on the show for 273 episodes and on six different series from the Law and Order franchise, more than any other character on the history of the show. Jerry’s departure from the show was not planned, as sadly, Jerry passed away in 2004 from prostate cancer. His character will always be one of the most crucial and unique ones of the show.
Kathryn Erbe – Alexandra Eames
Kathryn was Detective Alexandra Eames on Law and Order: Criminal Intent, alongside Vincent D’Onofrio. She was on the show from 2001 until 2011 and on Law and Order: SVU from 2012 to 2013. After Law and Order, Kathryn has been on the show Blue Bloods and Elementary; yet another Law and Order alum who is all about crime dramas. Before becoming Alexandra Eames, Kathryn was on the HBO show, Oz for five years.
Angie Harmon – D.A. Abbie Carmichael
Angie was on Law and Order from 1998 to 2001; in the grand scheme of the show that’s not very long, but her character was well remembered. D.A. Abbie Carmichael could not have been played by anyone other than Harmon. Angie mostly stuck to television roles after Law and Order, specifically she landed roles in, Women’s Murder Club, Samantha Who?, and Rizzoli & Isles, for which she won a People’s Choice Award for.
S. Epatha Merkerson – Anita Van Buren
Merkerson played the epic role of Anita Van Buren on Law and Order for 17 years (1993-2010)! She was the go-to person for the detectives, to ask permission that is. Since Law and Order, Merkerson has been keeping busy with her role as Sharon Goodwin on Chicago Fire. She was also on The Good Wife, Drop Dead Diva, and The Closer. She was nominated several times for NAACP and Screen Actor Guild Awards for her role as Anita.
Danny Pino – Nick Amaro
Danny has the warm latin vibe going, and he keeps that throughout his role on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. He was on the show from 2011-2015 with a crossover of his character to Chicago P.D. in 2015. Danny played the role of Detective Nick Amaro on the show. Danny also has a thing for crime television shows, he was on The Closer, Cold Case, CSI: NY, and Burn Notice. We see a pattern here for Danny.
Kelli Giddish – Amanda Rollins
Kelli played the gorgeous detective on Law and Order: SVU, Amanda Rollins. She started acting on the show in 2011 and is still going strong alongside Mariska and gang. Her character, just like Danny’s did a crossover to Chicago P.D. and Chicago Fire in 2014 and 2015. On the personal end, Kelli married Lawrence Faulborn in 2015 and the two welcomed their son, Ludo, later that year.
Dean Winters – Brian Cassidy
Another SVU alum! Dean, who is better known these days as Mayhem in the bunch of Allstate Insurance commercials. On Law and Order he played Detective Brian Cassidy from 1999-2000 and again in 2012-2014 – with a break of more than ten years between appearances, reprising his role as an ode to the show. Brian was also on 30 Rock, Life on Mars, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and most recently the new HBO series, Divorced, alongside Sarah Jessica Parker.
Michaela McManus – A.D.A. Kim Greylek
Michaela was on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit for just one year and 22 episodes, but man did she leave her mark. Those piercing blue eyes and attitude are hard to forget. She was on the show from 2008-2009, as A.D.A. Kim Greylek. She went on to get roles on CSI: Miami, The Vampire Diaries, Hawaii Five-0, Necessary Roughness, and most recently on Aquarius. Michaela married Mike Daniels in 2011 and in April of 2014 she gave birth to the couples first child, son Gabriel.
Peter Gallagher – William Dodds
Peter has been on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit since 2014 and is still going strong with the show. He plays Deputy Chief William Dodds. While on the television show, Peter is simultaneously in both films and theater roles. He was in Step Up: Revolution, Hello, My Name Is Doris, and Broadway’s On The Twentieth Century. Peter has been married since 1983 and has two children. We look forward to seeing him basically everywhere on multiple screens.
Chris Noth – Mike Logan
Chris was Detective Mike Logan on Law and Order from its inception in 1990, and until 1995. He was there right from the start. Since then he has been (obviously) on the ridiculously successful series, Sex and the City, where he played the character of Big. In 2005 he went back to his Law and Order family until 2008. After which he landed the leading role of Peter Florrick in The Good Wife.
Jesse L. Martin – Ed Green
Jesse played the role of Detective Ed Green, from 1999 to 2008, making him the fifth longest-running cast member of the Law and Order franchise. He shot the movie, Rent, while doing the show, which is why around 2004 there was a time he was not shown in any episode. Since Law and Order, Jesse has been in films and shows like Joyful Noise, Smash, and The Flash.
Jill Hennessy – D.A. Claire Kincaid
Jill was on Law and Order from 1993-1996 as D.A. Claire Kincaid. Her performance was honored with a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. Since then, Jill was the star of the show Crossing Jordan, and made appearances on The Good Wife, Madam Secretary, and Shots Fired. Jill is married to Paolo Mastropietro, and they have two sons together. Jill is also an avid motorcycle rider, along with her husband.