Detective John Munch: A Record-Breaking Character

Richard BelzerEvery once in awhile, a character from a cancelled TV show pops up on another series. The castaways of Gilligan’s Island returned for two animated series and made appearances on a few other shows. Cheers’ Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenberger) and Norm Peterson (George Wendt) have appeared on six different series during and after the sitcom’s run. Impressive as those are, there’s one character that has them beat: Detective John Munch.

Actor and stand-up comic Richard Belzer began playing Detective Munch in 1993 on NBC’s Baltimore-based Homicide: Life on the Street. He appeared in the Homicide movie and 119 episodes of the series. When Homicide was cancelled in 1999, the character moved to New York and joined the sex crimes investigation unit seen on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The character’s been on that show for over 180 episodes so far.

Belzer has played Detective Munch on several other series. He’s been seen on four episodes of Law & Order and one episode each of The X-Files (1997), The Beat (2000), Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005), and Arrested Development (2006). Belzer recently filmed another Detective Munch appearance for one of the final episodes of HBO’s The Wire. (Both The Wire and Homicide are based on David Simon books so it seems apropos that the detective would return to Baltimore.)

Thus far, Belzer has played the character on eight series on four different networks (NBC, FOX, UPN and HBO) and in a variety of genres. And there’s no evidence that the character is planning to stop the “show-hopping” just yet. It’s been reported that Detective Munch will put in an appearance on Paris Enquetes Criminelles, the French version of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Strangely enough, Detective Munch hasn’t appeared on the US version of Intent.

Where will Milch and Detective Munch pop up next? How I Met Your Mother? Grey’s Anatomy? Lost? The new Star Trek film? Stay tuned! TV Series Finale home page

Canceled and renewed TV show

5 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Clare says

    BBC1 in the UK just finished airing a 6 part detective series called Luther (starring the Wire’s Idris Elba). I was puzzled in Ep 5 by Detective Luther telling his colleagues to contact Detective Munch in NYPD’s Special Victim’s Unit. I think your article explains it – it’s an inside joke for cop show writers!

  2. says

    Aw, man. I was all excited like YEAH give Munch his own series! Great idea! Then I noticed that this post was from a year and a half ago. Maaaaaaan.

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