The following lists all characters, major and minor, of the "mothership" Law & Order series.
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Sergeant Max Greevey
Played by: George Dzundza (Season 1)
- Big Fun
- Deadpan Snarker
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Got shot in the first episode of Season Two.
- Nice Character, Mean Actor: Word of God states that he was killed off due to cast tension. The polite debate on abortion Greevey and Logan have was a result of the conflict between the actors.
- To elaborate, Dzundza thought that the show was going to be centred on him, as opposed to an ensemble, and he really didn't appreciate having to commute between New York and LA to do the filming, so they killed him off and replaced him with Sorvino.
- Raised Catholic: '80s Catholic. It can be somewhat bizarre viewed thirty years later.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: He appeared in only one season of the show, which considering its length is absolutely nothing.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He hates walkup apartment buildings.
Detective Mike Logan (Seasons 1-5)
Played by: Chris Noth
Secretary: Are you in charge of this ape?
: My cross to bear.
"She was a bottomless pit. Always 'give me your undivided attention'. And when my old man couldn't take it anymore and whacked her, she'd turn around and whack me. She got this look in her eye- I knew it was coming. And that cold witch in there... she's got that same look."
- Abusive Parents: His dad hit his mom. His mom got drunk and hit him.
- Alcoholic Parent: His Lady Drunk mother
- Breakout Character: Most people with an opinion say it's not Law & Order without Lennie Briscoe, but there's a good number who don't think it's Law & Order without Lennie Briscoe or Mike Logan. His departure from the show was considered to be the loss of "the heart" of Law & Order.
- Cartwright Curse: His partners sure do get shot a lot.
- Catch Phrase: "(Criminal commits some crime and then does something mundane or fun?)... Now THAT is cold."
- Cowboy Cop: Not so much a cowboy as he is a hothead, but the practical outcome can be pretty similar.
- Deadpan Snarker: Consistently. His partnership with Briscoe was a war of one-liners.
- Fair Cop: See immediately above.
- Fatal Flaw: Mike has a very short temper.
- Forgotten Childhood Friend: The case that uncovered his Rape as Backstory past kicks off with the death of a policeman who was Logan's friend when they were young.
- Hollywood Atheist: Due to his abusive childhood at the hands of religious individuals. Logan has no faith in the Catholic church as an institution, but his thoughts on God are a bit less clear. This thread is tugged again in the Criminal Intent series with a somewhat open resolution. He does make it inside a church again before death.
- Hot-Blooded: He's the first through the door when it's kicked down and the most likely to put his hands on a suspect.
- It's Personal: After Max is killed, which is ironic given the bad blood between the two actors.
- Mr. Fanservice: He's played by Chris "Mr. Big" Noth.
- Noble Bigot with a Badge: During his time on the show, he makes comments that could variously be described as sexist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and homophobic (although he seems to more or less get over that one in his final episode).
- He seems to be a misanthropist above all else and does show legitimate remorse when he sees how the black (and offensive) humour common in the force is taken by outsiders.
- Put on a Bus: After punching out a homophobic city councilman (and probable murderer) for claiming they were Not So Different, he was exiled to Staten Island. The Made-for-TV Movie Exile: A Law & Order Movie brought him back five years later, and he eventually returns as part of the Law & Order: Criminal Intent cast.
- Quip to Black: His designated job before passing the baton to Briscoe.
- Rape as Backstory: A friend set him up to be molested by a Catholic priest as a young boy.
- Really Gets Around: Mike has a lot of ex-girlfriends, given the number of references he makes to them and Briscoe's comments about his love life.
- Transplant: From the original series to Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
Captain Donald Cragen
Played by: Dann Florek (Seasons 1-3)
The entire city is enraged at the deaths of people who, normally, they wouldn't have time of day for.
Sergeant Phil Cerreta
Played by: Paul Sorvino (Season 2, eight episodes of Season 3)
Thirty years... charmed life... I never even... fired....
- By-the-Book Cop: Never uses any form of trickery, and is always polite to even the worst of suspects, but is still a very effective detective.
- Cool Hat: The ushanka of awesome.
- Cool Old Guy: Same deal as Max.
- Put on a Bus: Shot by a gun dealer in "Prince Of Darkness", Cerreta accepted a desk job afterwards.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: For Max Greevey. They look so similar a casual viewer might not figure it out. Except that only one of them dies for real.
- Both of them are rather large men. According to Jerry Orbach, while he was filming one of his first episodes on the streets of New York, a kid said to him, "You're the new fat guy, right?"
- We Hardly Knew Ye: One season and eight episodes. Replaced with Lennie Briscoe, the man who became the face of the franchise, so most people don't even remember Phil, even though he was on for longer than Greevey.
Detective Lennie Briscoe
Played by: Jerry Orbach (thirteen episodes of Season 3, Season 4-14)
If I was kidding I'd be wearing a Fez and no pants.
- The Alcoholic: A major part of his backstory as well as a plot point in one episode. When introduced, he's sober. In "Aftershock," he falls off the wagon, which starts the chain of events that leads to Claire's death.
- The Atoner: To his children. Not surprising, as he was raised Catholic.
- Badass Grandpa: Lennie was on the show a long time, so this came to apply, particularly after we got Ed Green.
- Breakout Character: There is a large group of people who think it's not Law & Order if it doesn't have Lennie Briscoe. He was the face of the show along with Jack McCoy.
- The Cast Show Off: A striking aversion. Despite Jerry Orbach being a Tony Award-winning song and dance man who even recorded a solo album, Lennie Briscoe never sings a single note on the show, and at one point claims to be no good at music. However, Orbach did have a few occasions to display his talents at trick shots in pool.
- Cool Old Guy: Lennie Briscoe was the defining example on '90s television.
- Deadpan Snarker: Lennie made the Quip to Black trope. One series of adverts for the show were titled Briscoe's Best.
- Disappeared Dad: Because of his drinking and divorce, he wasn't the best father.
- Dirty Cop: There are hints of this in his past, when he was a drinker. In the present, it's a role he plays to the hilt to get snitches to trust him, but the audience never sees anything but decency from him. However, his knowledge of the dirty cop play book often gives him the inside track on cases.
- Character Death: Upon actor Jerry Orbach's death, both Detective Logan and Detective Green referenced Briscoe's (off-screen) death.
- Known Only by Their Nickname Lennie's full name isn't seen or spoken until his final episode: it's Leonard J. Briscoe.
- Noble Bigot with a Badge: It's downplayed in later episodes, but his first appearance has him make some pretty xenophobic remarks about Italians and Latinos.
- Papa Wolf: He's offered a chance to put a hit on his daughter's killer, but it's never revealed what, if anything, Briscoe does with this information.
- Quip to Black: The Trope Codifier.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: Lennie predates the regular issuing of automatics, so he keeps his .38 to the day he leaves the show.
- Sherlock Scan: When he first shows up at a crime scene, he immediately and correctly deduces that the uniformed officer on the scene was lying about what he was doing and where he was, and identifies both: eating donuts at a particular shop, based on the powdered sugar on his blues.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Averted; he's notably different from his predecessors. Where they were both fairly reasonable, well-adjusted family men, Briscoe is a snarky, cynical recovering alcoholic with two failed marriages behind him.
- Transplant: Orbach left the show to do Trial By Jury, because his prostate cancer was getting worse and Trial By Jury, being a Law Procedural, made his work less demanding. Unfortunately, Orbach succumbed to his cancer, which had made him so weak that they had to re-write his last scene in the series to accommodate him.
- UST: Frequently flirts with Dr. Rogers, though it's hard to say what he actually feels. But he did take her to the opera once, according to her.
- You Look Familiar: Jerry Orbach played a defense attorney in a Season 2 episode.
Lieutenant Anita Van Buren
Played by: S. Epatha Merkerson (Seasons 4-20)
Oh, am I sitting too close? What, I remind you of somebody? Your mother? Was she dark-skinned? High yellow? Redbone? You're scared now, aren't you? You been scared for almost 40 years.
- Black Boss Lady: Black, the boss, a lady. What more can be said?
- By-the-Book Cop: Demands that her detectives toe the line, and when they engage in unethical or illegal conduct (such as when Briscoe perjured himself to try and convict a cop-killer) she will chew them out for it.
- Da Chief: Second head of the house, from Cragen's departure to the very last episode.
- Limited Advancement Opportunities: She applied to be Captain at one point, but a white woman with less seniority was promoted instead. She then sued the NYPD, which resulted in internal police politics coming into play making things harder for her and her unit, to the point where she was told by her superior she would have to resign to get her detectives the resources they needed; a judge later dismissed her lawsuit, and she never received a promotion in all of her time on the show.
- Never Mess with Granny: You will regret it. Granny has a force of personality and intensity that are enough to make you cower in fear, and she carries a gun.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Especially when she first appeared. She replaced Captain Cragen, who continually harped to his subordinates of what can't be done, she focused on directing her troops on what can be done.
- Twofer Token Minority: Her original role on the show could easily be seen this way.
- Indeed, Merkerson has often noted that at the time she was hired, no black woman in the NYPD had yet risen to the rank of Lieutenant.
- You Look Familiar: S. Epatha Merkerson played a grieving mother in Season 1's "Mushrooms".
Detective Rey Curtis
Played by: Benjamin Bratt (Seasons 5-9)
Rey Curtis: No, what you've got is a lot of nerve, Lennie, making it sound like I agree with you, partner.
Lennie Briscoe: It never occurred to me that you wouldn't, partner. What, you wanna see this scum bounce?
Rey Curtis: I wanna see him strapped down with a needle in his arm but I'm not gonna perjure myself to make it happen!
- The Atoner: After cheating on his wife, he does everything he can to salvage their marriage. More generally, he's a faithful Catholic who plays by the rules and the least cynical of all the detectives to appear on the show.
- Back for the Finale: In the final season we saw Van Buren attending his wife's funeral.
- Bilingual Bonus: His ethnicity and fluent Spanish enabled him to develop a rapport with witnesses and victims, garnering necessary information the detectives might otherwise not have gotten.
- By-the-Book Cop: In his methods, yes, to the point of exasperating others.
- Character Development: He starts off quite judgmental, aloof and self-righteous, which creates tension with the more laid-back Briscoe. A few years on the job (and a slip in his morality after he has a brief affair), he's more relaxed about things and has a better working relationship with Briscoe.
- Chick Magnet: While Mike Logan's success with the ladies was more of an Informed Ability, our boy Rey is quite popular with the females. Examples include Jamie from S6s "Aftershock", Lisa from the S7s LA trilogy, his female boss at OCCB who sexually harassed him, and about 80% of the women that are witness, suspects, friends of witnesses and suspects, and plain old friends who help out on cases.
- Not just women, either. In one episode, a guest detective makes a man as gay because he was checking Curtis out.
- Fair Cop: Considering that Bratt was cast to replace Noth, this was guaranteed.
- Happily Married: His wife considers divorce after his affair, but they stay together. When Bratt decided to leave the show, Curtis stepped down to a desk job so he could spend more time with his wife (who had recently been diagnosed with MS).
- Inspector Javert: He has an initially unyielding black-and-white view of crime and criminals, but this softens slightly over time.
- Raised Catholic: And how. He's still faithful, as demonstrated several times throughout his run, and he often uses his knowledge of the faith to convince other believers to talk.
- Your Cheating Heart: Cheats on his wife in the Season Six finale, and is eventually so consumed with guilt over it that he spills the beans to his wife, who wouldn't have found out otherwise. His guilt gets even worse when his wife is diagnosed with MS.
Detective Ed Green
Played by: Jesse L. Martin (Seasons 10-18)
Defense Attorney: Detective! Put a leash on your partner!
Lennie Briscoe: We gave up, he chewed through all of ours.
- Character Development: From a rash, short-tempered Cowboy Cop to mature, wise mentor to his younger partners.
- Cowboy Cop: Van Buren notes he already has some discipline issues for excessive force, and early on he tends to be much more physical with suspects than absolutely necessary.
- Cunning Linguist: Speaks fluent Spanish, as well as a decent amount of French and some Russian "enough to get a date".
- Fair Cop
- The Gambling Addict: It's referred to several times, usually mentioning his frequent trips to Atlantic City, though it's never known how severe a problem it was. It even comes back to bite him in the ass during "Burn Card"—he mentions that his despondency over Lennie's retirement and later, his death was enough to trigger a relapse, kicking off a chain of events that led to his downfall.
- Scary Black Man: He isn't actually, but he'll often pretend to be during interrogations. Which ironically leads to him being Mistaken for Racist when he makes a sarcastic comment to a perp about the perks he gets for beating up black suspects.
Detective Joe Fontana
Played by: Dennis Farina (Seasons 15-16)
Suspect: Is that a threat?
Joe Fontana: A threat? No. A threat would be more like... 'If you stonewall this investigation any more I'm gonna break your jaw. And when you're on the ground, I'm gonna kick you 'till you spit blood you cheap shyster.' That would be a threat. This is more of a request.
- Badass Grandpa: Don't let his smooth talk and slick style fool you - if he has to get rough, he will.
- Catchphrase: "We're authorized"
- Cowboy Cop
- Cool Old Guy
- Dirty Cop: This was suggested in a long-running B-plot that backed up several episodes, due to the fact that he always had a money clip filled with at least a couple of grand on him, lived in an expensive condo, wore tailored suits, and drove a sports car, all on a cop's salary. But this was averted when...
- Secretly Rich: ... it turned out that Fontana's grandfather was "the original Chef Luigi" (a Bland-Name Product alternative for Chef Boyardee), and that Fontana's been living off his share of the family fortune since he was a teenager.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: On more than one occasion. Don't kill a cop or kidnap a kid near him.
- Rabid Cop
Detective Nick Falco
Played by: Michael Imperioli (Four episodes of Season 15)
Detective Nina Cassady
Played by: Milena Govich (Season 17)
Anita Van Buren
: What is your issue Cassidy? You're always leadin' with your chin, always playin' tough. It's not smart. A good cop never takes the bait, never escalates.
"Mr. Glover, if I really had it in for your client, I could have dropped him with a justifiable shooting when I found him stabbing his own daughter to death. But I didn't. Because I exercised the control I learned in my training. That control is why your client is still alive today."
- Action Girl
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Not mentioned again after Season 17, though the finale implied Van Buren was going to get her transferred out after one too many slip-ups.
- Cowboy Cop
- Ensign Newbie: Very young to have moved from being a uniform cop to a homicide detective. Van Buren in particular feels that she is too inexperienced and only got her gold shield because the brass wanted some good PR.
- Fair Cop: The fairest of them all.
- Noodle Incident: How Nina got tagged "The Beauty Queen Detective" was barely addressed and only in her debut episode.
- Never Live It Down: The incident is one of the reasons her co-workers at the 27th have a hard time taking her seriously.
- It's implied, actually, that when Nina was in the 97th, she did an undercover operation at a beauty salon that went out of hand. Her impulsive bravery in that situation was widely admired by the press, but the police believe that she did it to garner sensationalism.
- We Hardly Knew Ye
- You Look Familiar (Melina Govich played a bartender in an episode in Season 16. She was also in the spin-off series Conviction)
Detective Cyrus Lupo
Played by: Jeremy Sisto (Seasons 18-20)
Detective Kevin Bernard
Played by: Anthony Anderson (Four episodes of Season 18, Seasons 19-20)
Executive Assistant District Attorney Benjamin "Ben" Stone
Played by: Micheal Moriarty (Seasons 1-4)
Dr. Edward Auster: When you practice medicine, Mr. Stone, sometimes the patient dies.
Ben Stone: And when you're a lawyer, Dr. Auster, some of the people you prosecute are convicted.
- Beware the Nice Ones
- Gentleman Snarker: When he calls you "sir", it means he doesn't like you.
- Opt Out: Resigns when one of his prosecutions results in the implied death of a woman who he had put on the stand as a witness.
- Raised Catholic
- Schiff One-Liner
- The Stoic: Ben had the emotional range of a brick. It made him all the scarier.
- Tranquil Fury: Masterfully portrayed in "Indifference". During the prosecution of a scumbag spousal/child abuser, the look he gives the aforementioned defendant makes it clear that he would beat the crap out of him if he could.
Assistant District Attorney Paul Robinette
Played by: Richard Brooks (Seasons 1-3)
"Don't tell me that tearing down a 200-year old justice system, no matter how flawed, is going to alter the consciousness of a society. Now, we're past the separate drinking-fountain stage. We're past legal discrimination. We're at the hearts and minds stage. And believe me, there's no quick fix."
From "Out Of The Half-Light" (ep. 1-11)
- Amoral Attorney: In his return appearances as a defence attorney
- Brother Chuck: although he has come back for the occasional guest appearance, and his departure was explained in a deleted scene in Season 4
- But Not Too Black: Frequently gets accused of this by other African Americans. Probably what led him to become a Malcolm X/Johnnie Cochran parallel.
- '80s Hair: The Flattop of Justice. The first time Robinette guest starred, Richard Brooks had notably shaved his hair.
- Face-Heel Turn
- Hidden Depths: The first episode that he guest-starred in proved him to be a more than competent attorney, competent enough to deadlock a jury. In contrast, when he was a regular Stone mostly had him do leg work.
- Malcolm Xerox: When he comes back as a defence attorney, and slings race cards like Al Sharpton on meth.
- Strawman Political: See above
- Token Minority
District Attorney Alfred Wentworth
Played by: Roy Thinnes
Appeared only in the pilot episode, and thus appears for the fewest episodes out of any regular cast member (1).
District Attorney Adam Schiff
Played by: Steven Hill (Seasons 1-10)
Adam Schiff: You got what you wanted. Take the rest of the week off.
Jack McCoy: It's Friday, Adam.
Adam Schiff: So it is. See you on Monday.
Assistant District Attorney Claire Kincaid
Played by: Jill Hennessy (Seasons 4-6)
- Bus Crash (quite literally. Claire was originally supposed to only be paralyzed in the car crash in the Season 6 finale and then Put on a Bus, but when actress Jill Hennesey declined to return for a final episode in Season 7 she was killed off instead)
- Interestingly, Jill Hennessey has stated that she wanted to return and was not aware that her character was killed off until someone watched the episode and told her.
- Hello, Attorney!
- The McCoy
- Retirony: She debates either resigning from the DA's office or quitting law altogether (and Jack talks her out of it) shortly before she's injured/killed in a car accident.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist
Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy (later District Attorney)
Played by: Sam Waterston (Seasons 5-20)
Jack McCoy: Ask me how I sleep at night.
Connie Robirosa: How do you sleep at night?
Jack McCoy: Like a baby.
- Abusive Parents: As revealed in "Aftershock" Jack's father was a policeman who drove him to succeed at all times and pushed him into law school rather than become a cop like him. He was also a chain-smoking drunk who regularly beat Jack's mother (and its implied he hit Jack as well). Jack still has something of a Broken Pedestal towards him, telling a Cutter that he still remembers when he realized that his dad was "a son of a bitch."
- Breakout Character: He didn't show up until the 5th season, but he became the face of the franchise, arguably even moreso than Lennie Briscoe. This was helped by the fact that, unlike Orbach, Waterston survived the series and Orbach's death made the District Attorney's office much more important.
- Character Development: Becomes less reckless and ruthless as he got older, especially when he becomes the District Attonery, and reprimands Cutter's actions, just as other DA's did with him. To wit, in person he actually withdrew a plea deal at a hearing revolving the surgery of young girl, much to Cutter's chagrin.
- Commuting on a Bus (after he becomes District Attorney)
- To elaborate, while his screentime got diminished he still had more of an active role than previous D As.
- Determinator (The things he will do to get his way legally...)
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Due to some of the questionable ethics and legality of stunts he pulled by the time he becomes the actual DA he doesn't get that much respect from the Legal Establishment.
- Irony: In Arthur Branch's last episode Branch says McCoy may one day fill his seat. McCoy responds that he has no mind for politics. The very next episode, McCoy is filling Arthur's seat as District Attorney.
- It's Personal: The deaths of Claire Kincaid, ADA Ricci, and Alexandra Borgia cause him to go on legal Roaring Rampages of Revenge of sorts. All come close to getting him disbarred.
- Specifically: Following Claire's death, McCoy later collaborates with a judge to frame a drunk driver for first degree murder (the driver really killed the people, but was so intoxicated he couldn't form the intent needed for a murder charge. McCoy and the judge collaborated to keep evidence proving that the man was drunk out of court, so McCoy could falsely claim that he wasn't drunk and deliberately killed the people. It is implied that all this was because he was bitter that Claire's killer received a light sentence and wanted to see proper justice done for the victims in this case
- When a bit character, ADA Ricci, dies, McCoy suspends habeas corpus.
- After Borgia dies, McCoy sets up a show trial with fake evidence and perjured testimony to try to trick the killer into a confession.
- Jerkass Façade: Deliberately cultivates a reputation as a hardass, but frequently backs down when confronted with a defendant who legitimately deserves sympathy.
To Jamie Ross, "Then you can tell him he's dealing with a junkyard dog."
McCoy: Four minutes.
Defense Attorney: Always have to play the tough guy, don't you.
McCoy: Tough has nothing to do with this.
Defense Attorney: You feel for the woman, Jack. It doesn't make you weak.
McCoy: Three minutes.
Defense Attorney: I could win this case, y'know.
McCoy: Not when the judge instructs the jury on the definition of legal insanity.
Defense Attorney: Ten years is a long time.
McCoy: She killed a man.
Defense Attorney: A scoundrel. ... Ten years, or until a panel of three medical professionals certifies she's not a threat to herself or others.
McCoy: Doctors to be chosen by my office.
Defense Attorney: But in the private psychiatric facility of her choice.
To be approved of by me and located within my jurisdiction. One minute.
Defense Attorney: Done.
McCoy: I tell the judge. [stands up to leave]
Defense Attorney: It's not a bad thing, Jack.
Defense Attorney: Having a heart.
- It is made even more explicit in the episode, "Burned," where McCoy prosecutes a boy who is obviously mentally ill and needs to be committed to a mental hospital. However, the boy's grandfather interferes with the plea bargaining and blatantly would rather risk his grandson being sent to regular prison than have a mental commitment draw attention to his own fragile mental health. At this, McCoy goes out of his way to prevent that when he could have simply stayed out of the way and score an easy conviction win.
- Karma Houdini: He's done things that in real life would get you disbarred at best and imprisoned at worst. Yet, he some how ends up as DA. (However by that time he was a tarnished reputation, and he's eventually out of office as revealed in an episode in SVU a few seasons after the parent show ended).
- May-December Romance: Heavily implied with Claire; confirmed a couple of seasons after Claire's death.
- No Indoor Voice
- Old-School Chivalry: Subtle, but notice that every time he's speaking with a woman getting into a cab, he opens the door for her. Even if she's opposing counsel, a suspect, hindering prosecution, etc.
- Parental Substitute: As noted by Linus Roache, there's a fairly adversarial father-son dynamic between McCoy and Cutter, but generally McCoy acts as a surrogate father to Cutter, who has little-to-no contact with his biological father.
- McCoy's relationship with Schiff is a similarly adversarial father-son dynamic. Schiff and McCoy often tend to be at odds and argue far more than Schiff did with Stone but Schiff nonetheless acts as McCoy's surrogate father and mentor. Of note is that fact that McCoy had a terrible relationship with his biological father, a racist Irish Chicago cop who abused him and his mother.
- Raised Catholic
- Schiff One-Liner
- Sleeping with the Boss: Is notorious for having had this kind of relationship with his assistants, all female. When he first came into the District Attorney's office, Claire Kincaid pointed out that he'd slept with all three of his previous assistants (and married one of them), to which Jack replied that all the relationships were mutually consensual. Then Claire declared that nothing of the sort would happen between herself and Jack, to which he agreed...only for them to get intimate later on down the line.
- Team Dad: Once he becomes District Attorney
- What the Hell, Hero?: his actions have been called out by Schiff, his colleagues, the judges, the Bar Association disciplinary committee, and eventually himself.
Assistant District Attorney Jamie Ross (later Judge)
Played by: Carey Lowell (Seasons 7-8)
- Hello, Attorney!
- Mama Bear: Her devotion to her daughter occasionally conflicts with the show, such that she debates quitting more than once and eventually is Put on a Bus because of it. Her Amoral Attorney ex-husband uses it against her to help his client.
- Re Tool: The character was originally a morally ambiguous ex-defense attorney who became a prosecutor after a client she got acquitted, went on to kill again. As such, she was originally a lot more underhanded and devious when it came to court room trickery. Sadly this was quickly dropped and the character was turned into a single mother Suspiciously Similar Substitute of Claire Kincaid.)
- Transplant (from the original to Law & Order: Trial by Jury, although she was only a recurring guest character in the latter)
Assistant District Attorney Abbie Carmichael
Played by: Angie Harmon (Seasons 9-11)
Abbie Carmichael: I have a solution that will make us all happy.
Jack McCoy: What's that?
Abbie Carmichael: No deals for anybody. Let's hang 'em all.
- Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: Albeit a brunette.
- Hello, Attorney!
- Inspector Javert: Often displays a black-and-white view of crime and criminals, to the point where in early season 9 she has zero sympathy towards a young woman she sent to prison on a minor drug charge who is now accused of arranging the murder of a guard who was abusing her (demanding sexual favors from her and threatening to harm her daughter if she didn't comply). It's especially disturbing considering that Abbie is a rape survivor herself, yet her attitude towards the woman is essentially disbelief mixed with, "It's your fault for doing something that put you in jail in the first place".
- She eventually relents and convinces McCoy to set up a good deal for the woman.
- When she's at Arraingment hearing, there's a venom in her voice as she makes the people's case why the defendants should not be given bail as opposed to the other ADA's who did this part of their job with a strict professionalism.
- Knight Templar: She's very keen to push for the Death Penalty and if that's not an option the most severe charge and sentence. In short, don't expect any mercy from her.
- Before she was assinged to work with McCoy she worked in Narcotis where she had a 95 % conviction rate.
- Rape as Backstory: Abbie was date-raped by a law student when she was a college freshman.
- Smug Smiler:
- Whenever the Proseuction drops the bomb on the Defendants with new evidence or a witness that nails, she loves doing this.
District Attorney Nora Lewin (Seasons 11-12)
Played by: Dianne West
Assistant District Attorney Serena Southerlyn
Played by: Elisabeth Rohm (Seasons 12-14, thirteen episodes of Season 15)
"Is this because I'm a lesbian?"
- Hello, Attorney!
- Lipstick Lesbian
- The McCoy: To the point where it got her fired.
- Shout-Out: Serena is named after one of Dick Wolf's kids.
- Sweeps Week Lesbian Kiss: She didn't kiss anybody, but the effect was much the same.
- Suddenly Sexuality: Looking backwards you can see the attempts at foreshadowing, but they don't mean anything to anyone without hindsight. When she drops the bombshell in her final scene it's implied even her bosses didn't know.
- Interviews with Dick Wolf suggest that he wrote that scene just to shock the viewers and get them talking, implying that any and all foreshadowing was unintentional. This is reflected in viewer response, which was not 'Oh, that's so edgy' like Wolf expected, but more 'Oh, that's so cheap'.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist
District Attorney Arthur Branch
Played by: Fred Thompson (Seasons 13-17)
- Brother Chuck: When Fred Thompson decided to return to politics, Arthur was abruptly written out with Jack taking his place as DA. He was mentioned once or twice, afterward.
- But I Play One on TV: Actor Fred Thompson's reputation as a "law and order candidate" (no pun intended) came more from his time on this show than on anything he'd actually said or done.
- Good Is Not Soft: He was elected to make New Yorkers feel safer in the wake of 9/11.
- Good Ol' Boy
- Large and in Charge
- Team Dad: Neither affectionate nor even really nice, but always ready with encouragement or to make an attempt at convincing before he ordered. Even when he fires Serena, he points out that she has the skills and mindset of a superb defense attorney...which simply don't work for a prosecutor.
- Transplant: Sort of. He became a regular cast member on spin off Law & Order: Trial by Jury, but he was still a cast member on the original series at the same time)
Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Borgia (ten episodes of Season 15, Season 16)
Played by: Annie Parisse
Arthur Branch: So, what now? We pat each other on the back and break out the blue label?
Jack McCoy: Alexandra always hated that.
Arthur Branch: I just assumed she didn't like scotch.
Jack McCoy: The whole old boy ritual. It was a little much for her.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: She was kidnapped and viciously beaten. The beating caused her to vomit, but as she was gagged she choked on it. She choked to death on her own vomit.
- Dropped A Bridge On Her
- McLeaned: Rumor has it that her particularly brutal death was a result of actress Annie Parisse refusing to sleep with one of the show's writers.
- That has been debunked. Word of God says she left because she felt unfulfilled in her role and wanted to explore different acting opportunities, and the reason she was killed off was because the writers had always wanted to murder an A.D.A.
- You Look Familiar: Annie Parisse played a stripper in a Season 12 episode. Supposedly, she wanted to play the same character and have her backstory be that she was working as a stripper to pay for law school, but the idea was vetoed.
Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa
Played by: Alana de la Garza (Seasons 17-20)
Executive Assistant District Attorney Michael Cutter
Played by: Linus Roache (Seasons 18-20)
Cyrus Lupo: Is this some sort of sport to you?
Michael Cutter: Stick with your law books, detective. On the page, the law is a much purer thing.
Dr. Elizabeth Olivet
Played by: Carolyn Mc Cormick
(Seasons 2-7, 9, 13-20)
A psychologist who often interviews people that are claiming to have insanity defenses, and who also assists with profiling defendants. She comes from an academic background, having earned her degree in psychology through a graduate research program. Olivet is generally non-confrontational when talking to her patients. Often inclined to believe that a given client is insane (or was during the time of the crime), and has disagreed with McCoy vehemently when she feels obligated to do so. Appears in 87 episodes between seasons 2-19.
Dr. Emil Skoda
Played by: J.K. Simmons (Seasons 8-15, 20)
A psychologist who handles the psych workups required when a defendant pleads an insanity defense, and who also assists in creating profiles of suspects. His background is in practicing medicine; he was a physician with a specialty in psychiatry before becoming an expert witness. Often disinclined to believe that a patient is insane, to the point of arguing with other psychologists (such as Olivet, and in one case, the criminal's victim) about it. Appears in 42 episodes between seasons 8-15, and 3 more in season 20.
Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers
Played by: Leslie Hendrix (Seasons 2-20)
Rogers: You get used to the smell.
Det. Ed Green: No you don't.
Wise-cracking doctor who figures out why people died. Blase about her job, to the point of eating lunch in rooms containing corpses. She at least once had to perform an autopsy in a full HAZMAT suit. Appears in 143 episodes throughout seasons 2-20.
Other police officers
Chief of Detectives Laird
Van Buren's superior. He supports her through her bout with breast cancer. Appears in 3 episodes in seasons 18-20.
Detective Tony Profaci
Another detective in the 27th precinct. Friendly and affable. Was working for the mob.
Appeared in 45 episodes in seasons 1-9. His replacements are even less known than he is.
Detective Morris Lamotte
Detective who worked with the squad in seasons 9-10. Burly and cheerful. In one episode he went undercover to a Neo-Nazi rally.
A younger Latina detective who apparently replaced Morris Lamotte and lasted from Season 11 to season 14.
McCoy's friend and rival. Zealous, crusading attorney, who often takes on cases to make political points. Appeared 13 times, between seasons 2-17.
- Call Back: After "Open Season," where she is shot in The Tag, she disappears for several seasons. When she returns, she's using a cane.
- Characterization Marches On: In her first few appearances, she's just another of the show's revolving door of Amoral Attorneys who will work for anyone with the money to pay them. She didn't start being portrayed as a crusader until the episode "Hot Pursuit."
- Crusading Lawyer: Melnick is a civil rights extremist—she even defended a neo-Nazi who had shot a personal friend, because the principles were that important to her. Only problem is, they weren't as important to the defendant...
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: ...who asked her to send messages to the outside world, in defiance of a communication ban. She did, believing that the ban was cruel and unusual punishment. The messages turned out to be the next target for her client's associates to kill. Oops.
- What Have I Done: Once McCoy hit her with the results of her above actions.
- Worthy Opponent: She and McCoy are on much friendlier terms than he usually is with defense attorneys.
Professor Norman Rothenberg
A law professor who takes cases for rich clientele, Rothenberg delights in setting precedents that will help later cases — even going so far as to throw one case in order to be able to appeal it and have the appellate court rule certain types of searches unconstitutional. He admits that he only cares about the law, not justice. Appeared in 8 episodes, between seasons 4-18.
Generally worked for poor defendants. Was often involved on cases involving systematic oppression such as racism and oppression of mentally disabled people. Appeared in 6 episodes in season 1-4, and one additional episode in season 14.
Attorney for the rich. Known for being extremely well-prepared. Appeared in 7 episodes between seasons 4 and 12.
Shrewd attorney for the rich and high-profile. Stone had a rivalry with him. Appeared in 6 episodes between seasons 2-11.
- Amoral Attorney
- Batman Gambit: Gold could - and often did - goad Ben Stone into mistakes just by playing up his Smug Snake tendencies.
- One of these backfires on him when it allows Stone to pull a legal maneuver that wouldn't have been possible if he hadn't been manipulated into his action in the first place.
- Foil: Gold was explicitly designed to embody everything the relentlessly honorable Stone despised. (This is why he disappeared after Stone was replaced by McCoy: not enough of a contrast.)
- Manipulative Bastard
- Smug Snake
A lawyer who tends to use affirmative defenses (e.g., "My client did it, but for a good reason.") Notable for having one of the best records of all the show's recurring defense attorneys; his clients were only convicted twice, and one of those was then appealed, with the outcome undetermined at the end of the episode. He appeared in 4 episodes in seasons 10-15.
- Asshole Victim: Chiles argued this at least three times. It worked when he argued that a former Black Panther was justified in shooting a cop because the cops had oppressed the black community, and when he argued that the father of a dead soldier was justified in killing a guy because the other guy insulted the military in front of him. It failed when he argued that a basketball player was justified in killing a guy who was harassing him and his family.
- Malcolm Xerox: In 'Burn Baby Burn', he turned in to this in order to argue that a former Black Panther who killed a white cop shouldn't be jailed.
Randall 'Randy' J. Dworkin, Esq.
A jovial and goofy lawyer, nicknamed 'Squirt', who at first disgusts McCoy but eventually earns his respect. His perpetual irreverence irritates judges, and his creative defenses often frustrate the prosecution. Only appears in 3 episodes in seasons 13-16, but memorable nevertheless.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer
- Hey, It's That Guy! Since when did Taub from House go to law school?
- Informed Ability We never actually see him win a case, although he once managed to plea bargain a murder-2 charge down to manslaughter-1 with a maximum sentence
- Large Ham
- Obfuscating Stupidity
- Worthy Opponent: After McCoy learns that his Bunny Ears tendencies are an obfuscation for genuine legal talent. He warns his ADA not to dismiss him.
- During one trial they have a serious ex parte moment. They share a drink, each admitting they feel terrible about the trial. McCoy because he hates that he's winning using evidence produced by torture, Dworkin because he's defending a man who's vile trash and glad that he's losing.
Jamie Ross's ex-husband. He started off only defending the innocent, but eventually attracted the attention of a client who was guilty of violent crimes but had very deep pockets. Gorton and Ross got the man acquitted, and he went on to commit more crimes. Gorton is willing to do anything to win a trial, including exploiting the terms of his divorce sesttlement with Ross (which requires them to spend a set number of hours with their children; Gorton, who runs a big law firm, can delegate to his assistants so he can spend the requisite number of hours at home, but Ross, working for the government, can't, putting her custody of the children at risk). Appeared in 3 episodes in season 7.
A defense attorney who often advocates for the downtrodden. Appears in 3 episodes in seasons 14-15.
- Butt Monkey: Turns into this in 'Vendetta.' Not only is he repeatedly humiliated by McCoy, but his client abducts him and ties him up in a bathroom. There's also the time his deranged client fires him in 'Locomotion' over his own vehement objections.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: So that's where Gus got his legal acumen.
A stereotypically oily defense attorney, who's an ex-DA. Turned out be more corrupt than anyone suspected.
Judge Gary Feldman
A judge with political ambitions, who wanted to base his campaign around targeting drunk drivers. He collaborated with McCoy to hide evidence in a case involving a drunk driver that killed three people. When McCoy backed out of the scheme, he vowed revenge and went on to run against Adam Schiff. He was backed by Carl Anderton ('Burned'), who wanted revenge on Schiff for his own reasons. Appeared 3 times in Season 8.
Judge Morris Torledsky
"Your client is getting dangerously close to the textbook definition of chutzpah!"
An arraigning judge who enlivens his boring job with witty comments to his judgments.
Judge William Wright
A judge whose defining characteristic was disagreeing with McCoy on everything. Notable appearances included setting aside a 'guilty' verdict for three boys convicted of raping a mentally disabled girl ('Damaged') and setting aside a 'guilty' verdict when McCoy convicted a gun dealer of murder due to his unethical business practices ('Gunshow'). In his final episode, 'Dissonance,' Nora Lewin threatened that she would destroy him unless he judged the trial fairly. Appeared in 4 episodes between seasons 8-11.
- Depending on the Writer Whether Wright is reasonable or not varies drastically depending on the episode that he's in. In 'Gunshow,' the episode takes his side, indicating that the gun dealer, while evil, hadn't actually violated any law, and that McCoy was basically engaging in prosecutorial misconduct by trying to get him convicted for being a bad guy, not for violating any actual statute. In 'Damaged,' on the other hand, Wright is shown as a heartless and stupid jerk who refuses to even consider that the mentally disabled girl could have been raped, even though McCoy provided ample evidence that the girl was incapable of consenting to sex.
- "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Wright's reasoning for why he wouldn't reverse his decision to set aside the guilty verdict in 'Damaged.'
- What the Hell, Hero?: Calls out the jury for convicting the three boys of rape.
An old friend of Adam Schiff's. When his son was arrested for murder, he refused to allow his grandson to plea to an insanity defense, even though it would get his son better treatment. It turned out that this was because his grandson's insanity was genetic, and if it were known that his son had the illness, people would suspect him of having it too. When Schiff refused to allow him to sacrifice his son, Anderton sponsored Judge Feldman in the forthcoming election for District Attorney. Appeared 3 times in season 8. Played by Robert Vaughn.
Governor Donald Shalvoy
At first an ally of McCoy, he turned against the district attorney when McCoy said he'd reveal that Shalvoy was seeing prostitutes as part of a case. Shalvoy then sabotaged the case and began trying to destroy McCoy, going so far as to sponsor someone to run against him in the next elections. He appeared 4 times in seasons 18-19.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder (he tries to bring down former ally Jack McCoy after the latter attempts to expose his use of prostitutes, he then offers to take down new ally Joe Chappel, McCoy's rival for District Attorney, to bribe McCoy, and then sells out his own WIFE to keep from losing his position as Governor)
- Corrupt Politician
- No Celebrities Were Harmed (he started out as a thinly vieled Expy of New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, but in subsequent appearances grew into his own character)
- Our Presidents Are Different: President Corrupt and President Playboy.
- Smug Snake
Rey Curtis' wife.
Briscoe's daughter, who isn't very close to him. Gets caught up in a drug operation, with fatal consequences.
Dr. Valerie Knight
Van Buren's doctor, who treated her when she developed ovarian cancer. Appeared in 4 episodes in season 20.