Tonight’s very special episode of Law & Order: Los Angeles promises an event unseen in the last 20 years of the franchise. Avid L&O; fans—and those who have read any of the news stories about LOLA’s shake-ups—know this means the death of a detective. It’s true that few on-screen deaths have touched the Law & Order universe, but that doesn’t mean characters don’t come and go. Here are the 10 cast departures that are still on my mind.
10. Det. Monique Jeffries (Michelle Hurd)
Last episode: “Runaway” (Law & Order: SVU)
After nearly dying in an explosion, Jeffries became something of a loose cannon. When a department psychiatrist suggested she needed treatment, Captain Cragen decided to put Jeffries on desk duty. Frustrated with her inactive role, she dropped her gun and badge on Cragen’s desk and left SVU for good.
9. Sgt. Max Greevey (George Dzundza)
Last episode: “Confession” (Law & Order)
This is the big death the promos for Law & Order: Los Angeles keep alluding to. And yes, it was pretty surprising that Greevey was shot in his home. But given that he was only a detective for the show’s inaugural season, no one had much time to get attached. Besides, Dzundza declined to appear in the episode—we got a stunt double instead.
8. Det. Ed Green (Jesse L. Martin)
Last episode: “Burn Card” (Law & Order)
Green was one of only a few detectives to survive a shooting, but his problems weren’t over when he returned. In “Burn Card,” Green was accused of shooting a hustler from his past and almost lost his job. Even though all of the charges were dropped by the end of the episode, Green decided to leave.
7. Det. Chester Lake (Adam Beach)
Last episode: “Cold” (Law & Order: SVU)
At the end of Season 9, Lake joined a group of people solving cold cases—strange business for a working detective. In “Cold,” he shot an officer suspected of raping young girls, but it was ruled self-defense. At the end of the episode, however, he was caught red-handed standing over the dead body of another corrupt cop.
6. ADA Serena Southerlyn (Elisabeth Rohm)
Last episode: “Ain’t No Love” (Law & Order)
There’s nothing all that spectacular about the way Southerlyn was let go—DA Arthur Branch felt that she was too emotionally invested in the defendants, and that it was clouding her judgment. The real shocker came when Southerlyn asked, “Is this because I’m a lesbian?” News to us.
5. Det. Mike Logan (Chris Noth)
Last episode: “Pride” (Law & Order, before his return in the TV movie Exiled: A Law & Order Movie and as a regular on Law & Order: Criminal Intent)
In a case inspired by the shooting of Harvey Milk and San Francisco mayor George Moscone, a homophobic murderer was acquitted. Logan had no trouble showing his outrage, publicly punching the now-free defendant. As punishment, he was transferred to the Staten Island Domestic Disputes Squad.
4. ADA Alexandra Borgia (Annie Parisse)
Last episode: “Invaders” (Law & Order)
In the middle of an intense investigation, Borgia disappeared and was later found in the trunk of an abandoned car—bound, beaten, and dead from choking on her own vomit. Surely the most gruesome of all Law & Order departures, Borgia’s death was rendered slightly less impactful by her brief stint on the show.
3. Executive ADA Ben Stone (Michael Moriarty)
Last episode: “Old Friends” (Law & Order)
Stone resigned of his own volition, but the reasons for his exit were rough. He all but forced an unwilling witness to testify in a case against the Russian mob. As the woman was being transported to witness protection, she was shot and killed. Finding it impossible to live with his guilt, Stone left the DA’s office.
2. ADA Alex Cabot
Last episode: “Loss,” (Law & Order: SVU, before her return as a regular on "Conviction," as a guest on SVU, and again as a recurring character on SVU)
Well, they sure jerked the audience around with this one. Cabot received death threats while prosecuting a rapist and was eventually forced to drop the charges. She was later shot in a drive-by and pronounced dead. But at the episode’s end, it was revealed Cabot’s death was faked and that she would be entering witness protection. Phew.
1. ADA Claire Kincaid
Last episode: “Aftershock” (Law & Order)
“Aftershock” was a mistake of an episode, focusing on the characters' personal lives instead of on a case. But the ending was a real shocker. Kincaid had to pick up a drunk Lennie Briscoe from a bar—only to get hit by a drunk driver. Briscoe exited the car unharmed, but found Kincaid dead in the driver’s seat. Lieutenant Van Buren’s voiceover made this one of Law & Order’s most haunting moments.
Law & Order: Los Angeles returns to kill off a detective tonight at 9pm on NBC. Which Law & Order cast departures do YOU remember most?