Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on NBC has become the longest-running live-action primetime drama in television history, with its 23rd season now airing (per Deadline). With 502 episodes and counting,
“SVU” has a long history of success than “The Simpsons,” especially considering that it is a spin-off series that has continued the legacy of a beloved show, the original “Law & Order,” which was on the air for 20 seasons.
To top it all off, “SVU” has maintained essentially the same main cast since the beginning, with Mariska Hargitay appearing in nearly every episode and a dependable cast of supporting players (including Christopher Meloni, Ice T, Dan Floreck, and Tamara Tunie) regularly turning up alongside her.
Richard Belzer, who played wisecracking NYPD Detective John Munch for 15 seasons on “SVU,” left the show after appearing in more than 300 episodes.
And if you’re wondering why Belzer left the show, he apparently had to retire from his role as a fan-favorite on “SVU” sooner than some might have liked.
Why Did Munch Leave ‘SVU’?
Fans of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit were taken aback in 2013 when they learned that Detective John Munch would no longer be appearing on the show. The shocking news that Munch would be leaving was written into the script of the episode “Internal Affairs,” when Captain Cragen told Olivia Benson that Munch had turned in his resignation papers.
Fans reacted similarly to Olivia when they learned the news, and in the following episode, “Wonderland Story,” Cragen and the squad threw a retirement party for Munch, inviting former coworkers and the detective’s family to celebrate his many years of service.
Despite Munch’s departure as a series regular, he was still able to appear occasionally in episodes of the long-running NBC drama.
While the reason for Munch’s departure from SVU was never disclosed, it was later learned, after the departure of Dann Florek, who played Captain Cragen, a few months later, that the reason was the 63-year-old mandatory retirement age of the New York Police Department.
Richard and Dann were given retirement parties that their characters probably would have had in real life when they began to age out on the show because the writers wanted to be as realistic as possible.
Since His Retirement, Munch Has Guest-Starred On SVU And Other Shows
Fortunately, even though Munch’s character retired as a detective from the Special Victims Unit, he went on to work as a special investigator for the DA’s office, leaving the door open for future guest appearances on the show.
When the time was right, Munch returned to help his old team, as seen in the Season 15 finale “Spring Awakening” and the Season 17 episode “Fashionable Crimes.”
One of the original detectives on the original Law & Order series, actor Richard Belzer was a member of the SVU family for 15 years.
Munch’s years-long partnership with Ice-Fin T’s Tutuola provided much-needed semi-comical relief in the show’s darker moments, and his dry humor, epic one-liners, and myriad conspiracy theories made him an instant fan favorite.
Richard’s portrayal of Detective Munch was so well received that he made multiple guest appearances in the role on other shows, including comedies like 30 Rock and Arrested Development as well as serious dramas like HBO’s The Wire. Even on Sesame Street, the detective was portrayed by a muppet.
Understanding John Munch’s Departure From “Law & Order: SVU”
The news of John Munch’s departure from Law & Order: SVU shocked viewers and fans alike back in 2013. Not until Dann Florek, who played Captain Cragen, also left the thriller drama did the reasons for his departure become public knowledge.
Is there a particular reason that Richard Belzer decided to leave Law & Order: SVU? The official retirement age for the New York Police Department is 63 years old, so this was the underlying cause.
Despite this, Richard continued to make guest appearances on the show even after he had officially left it. How? In charge of a special investigation for the District Attorney’s Office.
So, how did Richard’s actual departure from the show affect John Munch’s character? The writers, after all, were intent on maintaining continuity and realism.
With his retirement from the SVU, the episode depicted the end of John Munch’s career as a private investigator. Retirement parties were held for both him and Cragen in Season 15 of the show. It was in the episode “Wonderland Story” that he last appeared as a regular cast member.
On Law & Order, Who Portrayed John Munch?
Richard Belzer, who played Detective John Munch, suddenly retired. Yet the real question is: Why did Munch quit SVU?
After finding success with his portrayal of Detective Munch on 30 Rock and Arrested Development, Richard was invited to guest star as Munch on other shows, including serious dramas like HBO’s The Wire. On Sesame Street, the detective was portrayed by a muppet.
When Captain Cragen told Olivia Benson that Munch had turned in his resignation papers, the bombshell news was written into the script of the episode “Internal Affairs.”
The next part of the article is below the break for advertisements. Actor Richard Belzer joined the cast of SVU in its first season and remained a fixture on the show for the next fifteen years. He had previously appeared in the original Law & Order series.
Although Munch’s character retired as a detective from the Special Victims Unit, he went on to work as a special investigator for the DA’s office, leaving the door open for future guest appearances.
A muppet portrayal of the detective even appeared on Sesame Street. The fictional character Munch is the only one to have been portrayed by the same actor in ten different shows across three different television networks. Advertisement.
Cragen tells Benson that Munch has turned in his retirement papers after the events of “Internal Affairs,” the fifteenth episode of the show. In the episode “Wonderland Story,” the gang throws a retirement party for Munch to celebrate his official retirement.