The Definitive Law & Order Cast Hierarchy

It's summertime, and with way less new TV to consume, we're facing a bit of drought, which has us turning to old friends like Law & Order. Did you know that at any point in time, you can find some version of Law & Order on television?* It's a fact!

Anyway, since we had the time on our hands, and since we love Dick Wolf to pieces, a Law & Order cast hierarchy was just what the summer doldrums ordered.

Thus, as there have been five (American) Law & Order series in the history of modern American society, and of those five, endless permutations of detectives, DAs, lab workers, and bad guys, it's time to rank the various casts from worst to best.

* This may not be true.


Note #1: I am not counting permutations that lasted less than one season. For example, on Law & Order: SVU, Stabler and Benson were not originally partners, and there was no Ice-T with Richard Belzer. But those problems were fixed by Season 2.


Note #2: A lot of the DAs were particularly interchangeable to me, so unless they really stood out, I've mostly skipped over them. Most of them were just tough women with great hair who looked like they'd just taken off their glasses.


Now let's get to it, shall we?


13. Law & Order: Los Angeles (2010–2011)

At the bottom of the pile, lucky number thirteen, we have Law & Order: Los Angeles.

This shitstorm.

Okay, so the show started out with Skeet Ulrich, Regina Hall, Alfred Molina, Terrence Howard, and a bunch of other folk, but after it got trounced in the ratings, producers decided to let go of Ulrich (he's a poor man's Skeet Ulrich), bump up Howard's character, and bring back Alana de la Garza, who was an ADA on the original Law & Order.

None of this worked, and the show was canceled after one season... and I'll tell you why: First, Law & Order is a New York show. Second, Skeet Ulrich. You can't cast Skeet Ulrich in anything, ever.


12. A *TIE* between the Goldblum/Burrows/Mastrantonio Criminal Intent (2010) and the Martin/Govich Law & Order (2005–2007)

It's a tie, since these are the two least popular versions of Law & Order featuring lady detectives (or ladydicks), and they're both one-season versions of the show that I'm including for random reasons... which are as follows:

Goldblum/Burrows/Mastrantonio: See how lonely the Criminal Intent group looks, just the three of them? Despite being around for only one season, this cast makes the list for two reasons. 1) Jeff Goldblum is still Jeff Goldblum. 2) For the final season of Criminal Intent, the one immediately following this season, Vincent D'Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe returned to to reprise their roles.

Martin/Govich: In other one-season news, when Dennis Farina left the show, Jesse L. Martin was promoted to lead detective, and Milena Govich came on as the original Law & Order's first female detective, Nina Cassady. People hated her very, very much. In fact, I've seen her voted the least popular Law & Order character of all time in some polls. She was ultimately replaced by Jeremy Sisto. But you have to hand it to Martin for continuing to fight the good fight.

Both casts had their good points, but overall, they caused some dark days in the criminal justice system.


10. Law & Order with Dennis Farina and Jesse L. Martin (2004–2006)

Look, you're kind of a good actor, Dennis Farina, but you look ridiculous, and you are a poor Jerry Orbach replacement. Do something about that hair! Can't you just imagine Farina's Joe Fontana going to interrogate "urban youths" and cracking racist jokes to them? BTW, during the Farina years, Jesse L. Martin left for a bit to be in the movie version of Rent, and was temporarily replaced with Michael Imperioli. I KNOW!


9. Law & Order with Jeremy Sisto and Anthony Anderson (2008–2010)

Sisto's Cyrus Lupo was actually a pretty tremendous, gravel-voiced detective, but I couldn't dig on Anthony Anderson. I think his schtick was that he liked food? See how bummed Sam Waterston looks? And S. Epatha Merkerson can't even stand appropriately close to the group. Girl is checked out. The show was canceled after this season (its twentieth), which I still thing was a massive mistake. I wish Dick Wolf & Co. would have just replaced everyone but Sisto and Anderson and let us all reboot.


8. Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005–2006)

Trial by Jury ranks eighth out of respect for Jerry Orbach. He was only able to film two episodes before succumbing to prostate cancer... although everyone in the cast looks like a ghost in this picture.


7. A *TIE* between all the Chris Noth years (1990–1995 on Law & Order, 2005–2008 on Criminal Intent))

Confession: I am not a huge Chris Noth fan, but he brought a certain brooding something to his role on the original Law & Order, and also to Criminal Intent. When Noth was on CI, he and Vincent D'Onofrio took turns playing the lead in any given episode, and whenever he was on-screen I just wondered what D'Onofrio was doing. I was not a fan of the redhead during these Criminal Intent years, though. The show seemed convinced she was the most beautiful woman in the world, whereas Kathryn Erbe only got to play an undercover hooker like, once, and she was gorgeous too!


5. Law & Order with Benjamin Bratt (1995–1999)

Benjamin Bratt's Det. Rey Curtis was brought in to replace Chris Noth's Michael Logan (who many viewers found to be "too similar" to Jerry Orbach's Lennie Briscoe), and to sex up the show. Plus he spoke Spanish to perps! Meow!


4. Criminal Intent with Jeff Goldblum (2009–2010)

It was almost criminal (heh) to have both Jeff Goldblum and Vincent D'Onofrio on the same show, not to mention alongside the wondrousness that is Eric Bogosian. (However, just imagine if D'Onofrio had been partnered with Jerry Orbach—how effing hilarious would that have been? Orbach would have been constantly telling D'Onfrio to calm down.)


3. The Original Criminal Intent (2001–2006)

Vincent D'Onofrio is the shit, but this version of Criminal Intent definitely made me question its setup, wherein Kathryn Erbe's only job seemed to be to ask one question and then stare at D'Onofrio so that his character, Detective Robert Goren, could mindf*ck the perp. And with that said, man do I love Courtney B. Vance. His voice is butter.


2. Law & Order with Jerry Orbach and Jesse L. Martin (1999–2004)

Never has a young black (gay) man gotten along so well with an old white man! Plus Sam Waterston! And Dianne Wiest sometimes! (not pictured)

P.S. Did you know the first season of Law & Order had Chris Noth with some dude named George Dzundza, who was pissed that it was an ensemble show and left after the first season? (Smart move, dude.) In Season 2 Dzundza was replaced with Paul Sorvino (!!!), who also left after one go-round because the job was too taxing.


1. Law & Order: SVU: The Golden Years (2000–2011)

What, too obvious? There's just no getting around it: The best cast in the history of the Law & Order franchise is this one from SVU, after Ice-T and Richard Belzer joined and before Christopher Meloni left. Not only is this particular iteration of the show great because the crimes are always "of a sexual nature," and therefore salacious, but there was always a wonderful quiet sexual tension between Stabler (Meloni) and Benson (Mariska Hargitay). Stabler had the best thousand-yard stare this side of Henry Rollins. Benson has a bizarre backstory (she's the product of a rape!). Tutola (Ice-T) and Munch (Belzer) were—and still are—an amazing twosome. Plus you've got the no-nonsense Medical Examiner Melinda Warner (Tamara Tunie) and the scene-stealing psychologist Dr. Huang (B.D. Wong) from the FBI. Magnifique!


Or course, this list is just one woman's opinion on the hierarchy of Law & Order casts, so now I want to hear from you! Do you agree? Disagree? I've gotten into near fistfights with people about Chris Noth's detective work, so I can take it. Let me know your thoughts!

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Not to nitpick, but Ice-T's character's name was Tutuola (tu-tu-ola), not Tutola.
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You are a hilarious writer... and honestly I agreed with your great list, for the most part! I remember when I was growing up in the 90's and I would see Law and Order on TV and think 'Man, who watches this show it looks so boring!' and now as an adult it is my absolute favorite. Now I wish I could go back in time and talk some sense into that kid.
The L&O SVU 'Golden Years' was some of the best for sure, it pretty much got me hooked on L&O. And L&O CI with D'onofrio was my next favorite. Still, there is nothing better than the original show in my opinion. Briscoe and Curtis are one of the best pairs for sure, but since I have begun to go way back and watch the very beginning few seasons, to feed my addition, I have begun to notice that Chris Noth actually was pretty funny and entertaining in his own way. I completely agree about watching L&O CI though when it was either D'onofrio or Noth- when the beginning credits would start I would hope so much to see D'onofrio's picture instead of Noth's and actually get mad about it, lol. I guess now as I get older I am beginning to see the talent in more and more people?
For instance in season 1 of the original with Noth and George Dzundza, the few episodes I have seen were really pretty good. I don't know if they stand up to the Briscoe and Curtis episodes but there was a gritty feeling to the show that made it highly enjoyable to watch. To actually think at one time I might have seen a few seconds of the original airing of one of those first season episodes and just clicked right by it. Craziness, plain and simple. You also nailed the comment on Martin and Orbach, they were fun together and really only had one fight when they first got together. Lenny throws a folder at Green, that was a good episode!
Another topic entirely that you should write about, if you have not already, would be the female assistant attorney pair ups with McCoy. My favorite would have to be Claire Kincaid ;) Again, thanks for making me laugh and talking about one of the best shows ever made. Oh, and when I see an episode of L&O on TV and it is season 17 or above I just keep on going... Take care.
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Can't quite agree with this list completely. SVU's golden years are actually in it's first five. (Sometimes I consider season 5 part of those golden years.) Then 6-8 are silver.(9 is iffy) Seasons 10-12 are the worst. I managed to find episodes I liked out that 3 year disaster caused by Daniel Truly(seriously that whole astronaut episode and that awful episode Bombshell, seriously!), but the most part it was mediocre at best and I expect more. Seasons 13-15. Now those seasons redeemed the ridiculous Daniel Truly seasons. Especially 13. I felt a sense of realism return to the show and the drama didn't feel too soapy and if it was at least it was with people we're watching every week and not just the victim of the episode or the "villain" of the week (i.e. Special Guest).

The SVU cast is just overrated. And it is something that CBS really tried hard to emulate in their "crime shows." Adding B.D Wong and Tamara Tunie to the cast as regulars wasn't necessary. Because then almost every week we got to expect the pathologist and the psychologist to who might also now have to play larger roles when they really do not need to be there every episode. Doesn't the FBI need Dr. Hueng for other cases in parts of the city if not the country? Why don't do the 27 Detectives or the MCS detectives ever call him down?

After watching season 1 various times it does look like that Elliot and Olivia were meant to be paired from the beginning. They are named after two of Wolf's own children. Anyways, the Munch Tutuola pair was at it's best in the golden years especially in season 2. Finn was very conservative and Munch was very liberal as we know from Homicide. But maybe this was from Ice-T's choice not to portray the character as Wolf had planned or maybe maybe it was the fact that the writers didn't work like a traditional writing staff and instead one member of the staff at a time wrote an episode and thus character development was screwy. Whatever it was Finn changed from conservative to liberal(ish). Same with Benson and Stabler. One week Benson is tough and Stabler is chill, the next Stabler is the hardass and Benson is the voice of reason.

The nineties had the best teams. In the first few years, having a pair of white cops was good for race influenced episodes so the investigation could be challenging like in Out of the Half Light. Or like season 3's Conspiracy Theory. There are not many episodes in SVU or Criminal Intent that is fueled by racial bias the way they are in Law & Order.

This actually turned out longer than it should have been. And I think I went past the point I was trying to make XD
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I totally agree with this ranking. I can watch a gazillion marathons of SVU. My favorite line though is, "Look, you're kind of a good actor, Dennis Farina, but you look ridiculous." Lmao.
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I AGREE witn no1 - the original SVU team, but will not stop watcing it because Meloni left the shoe! Why?? Because Im hooked!

I must admit that i simply adore Sam Waterstone as the ADA, not the DA - he was awesome, and his tricks, long court speeches... I miss him :(

Another thing is Vincent DOnofrio - hes just brilliant!! lots of laughs watching that guy doing his job!! miss him a lot - he could nail every perp on the wall...

Jerry Orbach was a legend, I think we can all agree on that! Also liked Chris Noth, Jeremy Sisto on Law&Order - they were both great and very different.

If I talk about female ADAs I think my first chice would be Jill Hennessy, she was very good in and out of the courtroom, especially her confrontations with Waterstone - they were the best ADA couple, dont you agree???

Also liked Angie Harmon, my second top choice! And in Svu I really cant decide between

Stephanie March and Diane Neal.. they were both actually pretty good! Not that im suprised, because the whole SVU team was just perfect!

One ADA who i kinda resented for taking Waterstones place is Linus Roache, but I outgrew that and became more focused on his telents as an actor. Hes not Waterstone, but the second closest thing to him.



*Thea*

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i definitely agree that SVU is #1, no questions asked. but i would contend that the original Criminal Intent is #2. i just love kathryn erbe. she's actually in this great new movie that just premiered in june, it's called "the love guide." parker posey also stars, and it's hilarious. it's currently on iTunes and OnDemand, all kathryn erbe fans should check it out asap! here's the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwSkHKK2EjA
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SVU The Golden years #1!!! Defenitely!!! =)

Just a perfect cast.
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Any day is made better when I have time to watch an episode of L&O CI. D'Onofrio, Erbe and any others are my favs. Noth and Nicholson or Witt were also good for variety.

The music was great!

There's a special feel to CI. Some of the best drama ever.

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I did not know Jesse Martin's character in Law & Order was gay. Where did you get that, writer?

You left out Michael Moriaty. He was one of the best DA's on Law & Order. Yes I loved and love everything about Chris Noth and could find no fault in him. I wish they had continued Law & Order with Anthony Anderson. I think he was a good detective. Glad you didn't trounce Elizabeth Rohm, as I liked her and found people's criticism unfairly harsh. What about that actress from Crossing Jordan who was in Law and Order. And the other one from Rizzoli and Isles? They were both great but you didn't mention them. They were awesome.
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I'm a long time L&O fan and I don't think you can beat Criminal Intent with D'Onofrio and Eames in their prime years. I also like Noth more than you do and enjoyed him in both shows. Honestly I'm not a huge fan of SVU. I find Stabler and Benson both somewhat off-putting - though I enjoy every minute of the supporting cast - especially Munch and Tutola.



Hard to beat Briscoe and any partner on the original. Kudos to McCoy as the moral center of the show for so long. And as far as the ADA's. I rank them as follows: Carmichael, Southerlyn, Rubirosa and then all the rest in a tie.
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I agree with your top 3 in that those are the three best casts. I might toss Orbach/Bratt into the top 3 mix also. If I look from a different perspective, and say the best chemistry among the two lead detectives, I'd have to go with Eames and Goran. Benson and Stabler are definitely more iconic, and their show was much better with better writing, but no two actors on any show, Law & Order or otherwise, in my opinion have had better chemistry than Erbe and D'onofrio.
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any episode with Vincent D'Onofrio...
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This article is mostly unintelligible.
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I always thought of the original was yhe best.. jack mccoy
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The original was Michael Stone. Are you Emily's researcher, because she doesn't really seem to know the show either, and the article reads like a half-assed Cracked article. I read somewhere that George Dzundra quit because Dick Wolf wouldn't give him time off to attend the birth of his son. My vote for best L&O cast would be Briscoe, Logan, McCoy, and Kincaid, closely followed by Briscoe, Curtis, McCoy, and Richard Gere's wife, and Serreto, Logan, Stone, and Robinette..
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Funny how you sit there and insult other people for their lack of knowledge about the show, meanwhile you refer to the original ADA as Michael Stone, when any fan of the show would know his name was Ben Stone.
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Fair point on getting Stone's first name wrong. However, that doesn't invalidate any of my criticisms about LenoxAcosta's thinking Jack McCoy was the original ADA or the quaiity of the article. At least I'm not putting my mistakes in an actual article.
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What, no mention of Michael Moriarty. It's criminal!

I don't understand the hate for Milena Govich. She's great, also in Conviction, another spin-off.
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SVU is definitely the best of them all. Love Stabler and Benson. Ice-T and Belzer are perfect foils for each other. Chris Meloni is HOT!
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this article is unreadable...too many TIES!



show some back bone. Choose one.



Or make it a list of 20...sorry to be so harsh but geez
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Props to showing respect for Jerry Orbach. Briscoe was the quintessential NY cop, and will be for as long as the show airs.

Also, I wouldn't even care about SVU if Munch (Belzer) hadn't come over from Homicide: LOTS, which crossed over with L & O on several occasions, to the benefit of both series.

P.S. Courtney B. Vance does indeed have a voice like butter. I could listen to him read a phonebook!
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the only thing about noth's character from day one he had that plaid tie and it lasted thru all the law and orders
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I gotta go with Jerry and Jesse, then Jerry and Benjamin, then Stabler and Benson. Stabler is just a little too macho boiling under the surface but still makes the top 3. I did like the assistant DA in the first season. He had a great voice also.
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SVU didn't have a regular assistant DA during season 1, and the original L&O didn't have a female assistant DA until season 4, so who are you talking about?
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Kjoyner was clearly talking about two installments of L&O, the original and SVU. I'm sure she/he was referring to actor Richard Brooks, who played the original assistant to Ben Stone on the original L&O.
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I agree with almost everything you said ..I liked Chris Noth but Law & Order SVU was the best with Benson and Stabler. Sam Waterston and Jerry Orhbach were the best. I would rather watch re-runs of Law and Order instead of the drivel that is on T.V. in the summer but I do lik Rookie Blue and Southland. Does anyone else like these two shows?
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Chris Noth was excellent in both L&O and CI. Michael Moriarty was very good in early L&O as well. Enjoyed Paul Sorvino. Hate to see him and George Dzundza overlooked here.
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I loved SVU, but I think it's more that they didn't change a ton of times like the original and CI. I mean, SVU is only here once on the list once compared to the other two that lasted more than 2 seasons since the only other different SVU casts only lasted as long as LA and TbF. It allowed the characters to stay and develop more. I just prefer SVU, although I do enjoy the original and CI (in that order of preference).
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Law &order is superb season .. it is amazing . i became a grt viewer of this . It will Rock nd makr a history on T.V

...best wishes wd u ...

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I loved this last season of SVU. Stabler/Benson got boring and predictable the last few seasons so the new cast was such a treat. If they ever do a spinoff they should do Rollins/Tutola. But Cragen better not get the boot next season, I mean it was only him naked with a dead girl. No biggie.
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I'm amazed as much by the fact that Ice-T never learned to act as I am by the fact that it hasn't hurt his acting career.
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He can act, when given the right material. There are a lot of episodes in which his acting shines.
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I don't really watch "Law and Order", but SVU is cheesy and manipulative and horrible. I think the best cast clearly is the one including Michael Moriarty; the writing was also much better.
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Is it not cheesy at all..
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I agree with almost all of what you said. The ADAs really did not matter much even though I loved the ones in SVU. SVU definitely deserves first place hands down. I loved all the seasons but now that Christopher Meloni is gone I can't watch it with the same enjoyment. The one thing I disagree on is Skeet Ulrich. I love him. The poor guy just has really bad luck on TV. All the series he's on were canceled, yes, but that does not mean that he is not a good actor.
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Chris Meloni was not the reason why SVU is the way it is. He didn't make SVU what it is, there is no I in team and if it wasn't for us fans the show wouldn't be popular. How can you not enjoy it without him?? C'mon, the show is still enjoyable to watch
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I didn't watch consistently after Jerry Orbach died. It was never the same afterwards! That's the only reason I can support SVU in the #1 spot because that was my go to after I stopped watching the original. Plus I LOVE me some Stabler and Benson! :-)
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I think what you meant was all the junior ADAs were interchangeable, which is fairly true except for Robinette and Kincaid.



You forgot that L&O:LA bumped down Alfred Molina's character from ADA to detective.



Det. Fontana was a little too larger-than-life, super cash-money, but I think cracking racist jokes and being an old school douchebag would have made the show more authentic - sometimes a cop is saddled with a bad partner.



I liked Det. Bernard as portrayed by Anderson, his schtick was that he was from the ghetto in Los Angeles and played the game from his own way, not that he liked eating. Sam Waterston would look bummed during birthday sex, it's just his melty face and giant eyebrows.



Seriously, Trial By Jury gets in at #8? Everybody on this show was miscast except Lenny Briscoe, the whole show was a misstep in concept. You may as well list Briscoe's turn on Homicide Life on the Street here too for all the sense it makes to put TBJ in at #8. I love Lenny Briscoe as a character, but that doesn't excuse anything.



Chris Noth is in at #7? Ok, now this list has totally gone off the rails, Briscoe & Logan with Ben Stone and Claire Kincaid and Paul Robinette and Adam Schiff and Cragen and Van Buren were the best few years of the show's life! That little window between seasons 2 and 5 were awesome, and it's #7? Granted, Noth on CI wasn't so good, it was a bad fit for CI as Noth was just a regular cop so the writers had to change him to fit. Heck, I was glad to watch more Logan when he got a TV movie.



AND THEN YOU PUT BEN BRATT'S TURN AT #5! What the hell?



As much as I liked Jeff Goldblum, they kinda pigeonholed his character too much by writing him as the son of a psychiatrist, plus I really didn't like his partner Wheeler at all, she was so very grating, and the interplay between Nichols and Capt. Ross was too over-the-top, too forced.



At least Criminal Intent 1.0 gets props at #3, I can agree again with something.



Dianne Wiest was not a good DA, that was poor casting, it just wasn't her thing. The cast was otherwise fine, although Dt. Green wasn't gay just because the actor played a gay character in Rent. And yes, I did know that George Dzundza and Paul Sorvino were on the show, I watched those episodes when it first aired. I am oldish (mid 30s).



Hmm, sorry, SVU's cast in the good ol' days was fine, but it feels like such a snore at #1. There's very little "order" on the show, and they didn't give Belzer or BD Wong enough to do most of the time. Plus, Benson became an overbearing cliche, while Stabler's home life got an on-again/off-again treatment a few times too often.
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Orbach and Martin were together from 1999-2004. And Orbach joined the show in 1992 not 1991. And why no mention of Conviction, I think it was a good show and that should have been renewed.
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Munch partnered with anyone really. But I agree. Benson with Stabler will always be the best.
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Team Lenny forever. And I loved to watch the show weekly until the Death Penalty episode where Claire died, Lenny fell off the bottle and Curtis cheated on his wife. I can understand a debate about the death penalty but to make the argument that all the characters were virtually destroyed over the angst of a murderous thug being executed really broke the spell L&O had on me. I am ok with an entertaining show making points that the owners believe in, but don't try to beat it into me. I will turn the channel.
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So wrong. Lenny Briscoe not in top spot? Wrong wrong wrong. Jack McCoy, Claire Kincaid, Lenny Briscoe, and Mike Logan/Rey Curtis. Those are the Law & Order golden years.
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I'm kind of surprised L&O w/ Dennis Farina and Jesse L. Martin is ranked so low. I liked that period and cast, although I can't disagree with you about Farina.



The only other difference for me would be switching 2 and 3. I like Orbach and Martin, but I like that original CI cast a bit more. I guess SVU would be first for me, although it's not that obvious a choice.
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ice-t is awful. his face seems more botoxed than his wife's. it never changes!



but, i'm a huge hargitay fan. for the same reason i'm a mccormack fan (in plain sight). they look like real women and real police officers, instead of models turned detectives. i wish erbe had a bit more a role, but d'onofrio is very hard to tone down.
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Great thought put into this, but I could never have Jerry Orbach not at the top slot.
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In my opinion one of the best Law and Order casts have been completely left out of this list. What happened to Law and Order: UK? How can you forget JAMIE BAMBER (Apollo BSG)? The answer you can't. His razor sharp cheek bones eclipse the bad teeth seen on some other cast mates.
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Because once I realize what Law & Order episode from 20 years ago the case is based on, I have no reason to sit through the show? Don't they have crimes or newspaper headlines native to the UK the writers can rip?
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favorite cast: Jack McCoy, Claire Kincaid, Lennie Briscoe, and Rey Curtis. I shouldn't forget their bosses, either: Adam Schiff and Anita Van Buren. yes, I know all their names! Jeremy Sisto was fantastic and should have been cast after Lennie left. Carey Lowell (she played Jamie Ross) was my other favorite ADA. The M.E. Rogers (also on CI) was awesome and props to Dr. Olivet, too. I never really cared for SVU. I do love Munch from his Homicide days and Meloni is awesome.

I also really loved CI and was sad to see it go and also confused when they went all crazy with the theme song. what the heck was that about?

Can you tell I watch a lot of Law & Order? :)
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#1 and #2 are reversed. Law & Order is Jerry Orbach and Jerry Orbach is Law & Order.
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Nice list. I agree with a lot of it, but have a few things to say: I like the red head who was partnered with Chris Noth. It was Alicia Wiit, and she was Zoe on Cybil and plays a mean piano. I hated Vincent D'Onofrio at first but now I think he is one of the best ever. Really complex character. Mariska Hargitay has an interesting back story. She was in the car with Jayne Mansfield when she died. Hargitay's father was a body builder who was dating Mansfield. That story might not be true, but it is well within the realm of possibility.
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there were two redheads on CI. I thought he was referring to the other one (short hair).



that story is true. Mariska was asleep with her brother in the back seat when her parents were killed. so sad.
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only Mariska's mother was killed in the accident, her father, Mickey Hargitay died much later, I think after her 1st child was born



IMO the annoying red-head (short hair) is Julianne Nicholson, i've never liked her in anything, don't understand why she's been on so m any shows
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The best cast era was definitely seasons 1-3 of the mothership. Really just the best era of the franchise. And then they changed the writing around season 4. idk, it was still good after that, but theres something about those first 3 years. Michael Moriarty and Richard brooks especially.
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The list was OK, and I understand most D.A.s are interchangeable, looking like fresh lawyers out of (modeling?) school. But Sam Waterston's jack McCoy is the life and soul of Law and Order. And Jill Hennessy's Claire Kincaid also had a very remarkable participation. And not to mention Linus Roache's Mike Cutter. These were fantastic D.A.s and I'd say were even more relevant than their respective detectives at the time.
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Ah most def is SVU the best cast!!!!!! just the best!! I never watched the law & order that jeremy sisto as in, many a couple eps but I love him!!!!
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The best detective combo was always Briscoe & Logan, no other paring ever came close to those two and after Orbach left L&O it just went to sh*t
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I am glad you said Golden years for SVU. When Stabler left it was no longer Golden years (and not even on my my DVR list anymore)



And I still miss you Jerry Orbach. No one will outdo Lenny for me as the greatest Law & Order Character of them all
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Give my a break, just because Stabler's not there doesn't mean it's not golden.. That's not true, just because of him.. Please.
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Not a bad list. And I know he wasn't everyone's favourite, but I enjoyed Chris Noth on this show, and let's not forget that his character was popular enough for Dick Wolf (or maybe he was just friends with Dick Wolf, what do I know) that after quitting the original show they made a Law & Order movie around him, and then brought him into the CI iteration. Say what you will, the guy's career in the franchise was 9 years and a movie spanning almost 2 decades.



But the last two are obviously the best. Jerry Orbach and Jesse Martin just had something. 13 years on the show as partners, and with good reason. And of course SVU had the golden cast. There's a reason that that show had 1 cast for 11 years. Neither of the other two franchises even come CLOSE to the solidity of the SVU cast. As a man who watched the original from the beginning (as a child with my mommy) to someone who still watches and loves SVU today, I heartily approve of this article and it does make me miss it, even after all this time.



P.S. It is most definitely a FACT that on some channel no matter what hour of the day, what day of the year, you can find some episode of Law & Order on TV. My little brother actually asked him to prove that to him a few years ago, and he picked out 5 random times during that week, and I was able to turn on the TV and find an episode of Law & Order each time. So yeah. Proof.
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Actually Orbach and Martin had only five years as partners. Martin joined in 1999 (for season 10). 1991 is when Orbach first appeared as a defence attorney. Then became a main character (as senior detective) mid way through season three (1992) when Sorvino retired. They are still the longest L&O detective pairing but I think they're rated too highly in this list..
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Whatever. My memory isn't perfect, and I was young. Either way, I recall these years highly and they're my favourite episodes to rewatch.
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The show came on when I was 4, but I too started watching with my mom at a very early age. Go moms.
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Go moms indeed.
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I really respect this list and think much of it is spot on. However I think you've focussed too much on the detectives. Any cast article without idolising Steven Hill (the best character in the franchise, period.), Richard Brooks, Jill Hennessy and Michael Moriarty are painfully lacking. While Logan is a polarising character (and added nothing to CI), the characters I've listed above were the best in their respective roles and for this reason the casts in the first five years of L&O have to be much higher, at least second IMHO. Especially since while Martin's character was solid and improved throughout his run, I felt it took a long time for his banter with Orbach to get compelling and tragically that wasn't until their last season together.
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For the years Christopher Noth was on Criminal Intent, I always skipped the episodes he was in. And I only sometimes watched Goldblum's. I think, despite D'Onofrio and Erbe not having as much time to develop, they are evenly matched with Meloni and Hargitay. D'Onofrio was just fantastic.
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This list is pretty on the nose. I wish they could bring the show back but that depends on Sam Waterson wanting to do double duty.



Oh and I don't know why but I always thought of Criminal Intent as the Law & Order version of The X-Files dynamic.
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