Trivia: Law & Order

  • Actor Allusion: Ed Green says he wasn't sure if Joe Fontana was "a cop or a wise guy" when they first met. This referred to Dennis Farina's having played mobsters in Miami Vice, Midnight Run and Get Shorty.
    • In one episode, Lennie Briscoe mentioned that his father was Jewish and his mother was Catholic, while he was Raised Catholic himself, the same as Jerry Orbach's real family background.
    • Fontana would also frequently mention his days as a Chicago cop. Farina played the lead character in Crime Story, who was a cop from Chicago.
      • Also, Farina was a Chicago cop in Real Life before he became an actor.
    • Sam Waterston is well-known for his various stage and screen portrayals of Abraham Lincoln. Perhaps as a result, Jack McCoy has at various times suspended habeus corpus and become deeply involved in cases relating to human trafficking and slavery.
    • One episode featured a bitter, paranoid, blind man who blamed his lost vision on the medical profession. The actor playing him was Dana Elcar, who lost his sight while co-starring on MacGyver.
  • 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 as Arthur Branch than on anything he'd actually said or done.
  • Cast the Expert: Attorney and politician Fred Thompson played the district attorney for several years, though he also had prior acting experience playing the roles of senior government officials and authority figures, so this would be a cross between Cast the Expert and Type Casting.
  • Executive Meddling: A strangely positive case. You know S. Epatha Merkerson's character? How about Jill Hennessy's? Both came about via NBC wanting more women on the cast. Thus, Dann Florek (Don Cragen) and Richard Brooks (Paul Robinette) were written out of the series, since the show's formula could only handle six principals.
    • Both Michael Moriarty and Chris Noth were bitter about NBC's meddling; the former even went on rants in public about the whole deal and proved to be a liability for Dick Wolf. Thus, both actors were canned (or resigned) in Seasons 4 and 5, respectively.
  • Fake American: Jill Hennessy and Michael Moriarty are both Canadian. Hennessy's character (Claire Kincaid) does have a slight accent, while Moriarty does an exceptional job hiding his very thick accent in his portrayal of Ben Stone.
    • Same with Linus Roache, who has a very thick English accent but pulls off a compelling Brooklyn accent in his portrayal of Mike Cutter.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: ... Be ready to make double-takes once you see who play defendants, prosecutors, etc.
    • Agent Coulson plays a victim's boyfriend in the early episode "Life Choice"
    • Antwon Mitchell joins the show as detective Kevin Bernard.
    • Of course, statistically, there's a damn good chance that any New Yorker has appeared in the background of a Law and Order scene at least once. It is apparently not uncommon for people to have seen themselves during the show's run.
    • ADA Robinette was Jubal Early's ancestor?
    • And how the defense attorney in the Season 17 finale was played by Jeremy Sisto... who joined the series as Cyrus Lupo the very next episode, Season 18's premiere.
    • Dick Wolf liked to joke that if you go to a play in New York City and a cast member doesn't have a "Law & Order" credit in the Playbill, s/he either just got off the bus or isn't any good.
    • Tomoya Okazaki is a security guard in "Murder Book". Too bad he couldn't use magic to make Mickey go faster.
    • Philip Seymour Hoffman had his first appearance on this show, according to IMDB. He plays a drug dealer and rapist. It's a short role, but not as jarring as Samuel L. Jackson as a defence attorney. Who doesn't get to kick ass. What Could Have Been.
    • "Be Our Guest" takes on a whole new meaning when Briscoe breaks out the handcuffs.
    • Speaking of Disney, Sebastian plays a defense attorney in one episode.
    • In the Fourteenth Season episode "3 Dawg Night", the detectives interview the owner of the nightclub where an aspiring hip-hop artist is shot. The owner is none other than Idris Elba.
    • Mac plays a kid who, with another kid, kill's a delivery boy for a thrill.
    • Lois was threatened with her kid being kidnapped for ending an affair with a judge.
  • Michael Imperioli (Nick Falco) was a limo driver in a season 6 episode, and of course, Christopher Moltisanti on The Sopranos.
  • J. K. Simmons as Emil Skoda (Hey, it's J. Jonah Jameson! Hey it's Vern Schillinger! Hey, it's the Pope!)
  • Randy J. Dworkin is Taub
  • Rodney Fallon is Gus Fring.
  • Neil Gorton in Daniel Holtz.
Werner Klemperer, better known as Colonel Klink, makes an appearance in the season 2 episode "Star Struck".
  • Earl Hindman (Home Improvement's Wilson) played an Amoral Attorney in Season 10's "Black, White and Blue".
  • If you watch the series long enough, you'll probably see loads of extras and minor recurring actors who tend to show up in different roles throughout the series.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Regina Taylor, who co-starred as Sam Watterson's maid in the critically-acclaimed but short-lived drama I'll Fly Away, appeared in the episode "Virtue" as a lawyer who took the stand against the senior partner who forced her to sleep with him for a promotion, thus getting him convicted of felony extortion. Fans of I'll Fly Away couldn't help but smile as the two shook hands at the end of the episode.
  • Life Imitates Art: Both Jamie Ross and her actress, Carey Lowell, left for the same reasons: they wanted to spend more time with their daughters.
  • McLeaned: Rumor has it that Alexandra Borgia's particularly brutal death was a result of actress Annie Parisse refusing to sleep with one of the show's writers. Though it's since 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.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: While Lennie Briscoe isn't as bad as most characters in this trope, the real Jerry Orbach was univerally said to be a warm, friendly guy who constantly told jokes, not at all like the dry and snarky character he made famous.
    • He was so well-liked that actual NYPD officers who spotted him on the streets would often take the time to give him a ride to his destination.
  • Name's the Same:
    • The judge who is both senile and being guided by his law clerk in Season 19's "Zero" is named Malcolm Reynolds.
    • One of the victims in Season 2's "The Wages of Love" was named Edward Cullen.
    • Crossed with Appeal to Obscurity: From "House Calls," which is about the death of an aspiring model. Andee Mae Khan, who runs the modeling agency in the episode, talks about how, in modeling, "an inch here, an ounce there" means the difference between (Real Life supermodel) Elle MacPherson and "Cookie Rutigliano." Green asks who that is and the character says, "That's my point." This episode was written by Janis Diamond, who was later one of the writers of the short-lived TNT series Bull, which included a character named Cookie Rutigliano.
  • The Pete Best: The original DA was not Adam Schiff, but Alfred Wentworth, who appeared only in the pilot. Ironically, Schiff was played by Steven Hill, who was himself subject to this trope (he was the original lead on Mission: Impossible).
  • Playing Against Type: Anthony Mackie as Kevin Bernard, a cop.
  • Type Casting: Jerry Orbach had performed in numerous musicals and other performances prior to his role on the show, playing a detective character only once in a movie. Nevertheless, his performance in that movie impressed Dick Wolf so much that he wanted Jerry to continue with the snarky detective character; because of his immense popularity as Det. Lennie Briscoe, he remains instantly recognizable as his detective character.
    • Dennis Farina, as mentioned before, was a cop in the Chicago PD, so he played numerous police roles before and after his stint as Joe Fontana.
  • Under Age Casting: Jill Hennessy was twenty-four when she was cast as Claire Kincaid. In the United States the minimum age at which one can graduate from law school is twenty-five.
    • Not necessarily. If don't take any time off and have a birthday after May, you would graduate at twenty-four (high school graduation at seventeen, college at twenty-one, law school at twenty-four). It's not common, but it's possible, especially if you commit to becoming a lawyer young.
  • What Might Have Been: A particularly tragic case of Real Life Writes the Plot: In early 2001, Dick Wolf was planning a large-scale miniseries event involving the casts of Law And Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent teaming up to investigate a terrorist attack on New York City. Then September came along, and...
    • Less tragically, Detective John Munch from Homicide: Life on the Street was originally pitched as joining the original series as Detective Briscoe's new partner, but by the time the suggestion was made a new character had been created to fill the role, so he was moved to SVU instead.
    • Alana de la Garza's pregnancy would have been written into Season 21 if the show had not been canceled.
    • Remember those crossovers that would involve Law & Order and Homicide: Life on the Street? At one point, producers wanted the story arc to include ER, but ER's producers either declined outright or the collective group couldn't figure out how to work the latter show in, so the idea was dropped.
    • A new lieutenant would have been introduced in Season 21, had there been one — S. Epatha Merkerson announced her departure from the show well in advance of its cancellation.