"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" premiered in 1999. It's since earned the title of longest running TV drama and live-action show in history. Ever wonder what happened to the former stars of this critically acclaimed police program? In celebration of the premiere of the iconic drama's Christopher Meloni-led spinoff series, "Law & Order: Organized Crime," on April 1, 2021, Wonderwall.com is checking up on the actors and actresses who've left the original… starting with Michelle Hurd (second from right), who played Detective Monique Jeffries on seasons 1 and 2. Keep reading for more…
Since her departure from "Law & Order: SVU" in 2001, Michelle Hurd has had no shortage of roles. From guest starring on shows like "The O.C.," "Charmed," "Bones," "CSI: Miami," "The Good Wife," "Pretty Little Liars" and "How to Get Away With Murder" to landing recurring roles on hit series like "ER," "Gossip Girl," "90210," "Daredevil," "Lethal Weapon" and "Hawaii Five-0," Michelle's remained a constant fixture on the small screen. She's also appeared in numerous independent films including "Play it By Ear," "Girl Most Likely," "We Don't Belong Here" and "Being Frank." From 2016 to 2020, Michelle tapped into some serious dark energy as Shepherd — the leader of a covert terrorist organization known as Sandstorm — on the Emmy-nominated drama series "Blindspot." Since 2020, she's portrayed Raffi Musiker on the sci-fi action-adventure series "Star Trek: Picard." Michelle's been married since 2007 to actor Garret Dillahunt, whom she began dating in 1997.
Dann Florek played Captain Donald Cragen on "Law & Order: SVU" from 1999 to 2015. From 1990 to 2004, Dann played the same role on the original series in the franchise, "Law & Order."
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Dann Florek (seen here with his buddy John Goodman in 2017) has enjoyed a more relaxed career since leaving "Law & Order: SVU" in 2015 after playing the same role for an impressive 25 years. Immediately after Dann retired his "SVU" character, we got to see him on the small screen again when he appeared as Col. Walker on an episode of the sci-fi mystery drama "Under the Dome." In 2016, he returned to the theater in a Broadway production of "The Front Page," in which he played the mayor. Since then, we've only seen Dann one more time on screen — as Jeb in the TV movie "Disillusioned." As for his personal life, Dann has been married to artist Karen Florek for nearly four decades.
Richard Belzer (seen here with Mariska Hargitay) starred as Sergeant John Munch on "Law & Order: SVU" from 1999 to 2016. Richard played the same role on the original "Law & Order" from 1996 to 2000 and on "Homicide: Life on the Streets" from 1993 to 1999.
One month after retiring longtime character John Munch on "Law & Order: SVU" in May 2016, comedian, author and actor Richard Belzer was back in the spotlight with the release of his sixth book, "Hit List: An In-Depth Investigation into the Mysterious Deaths of Witnesses to the JFK Assassination," which he co-wrote with author David Wayne. Since then, we've only seen Richard on screen once more — in the 2017 dramatic comedy "The Comedian." It appears that these days, his new mission in life is taking it easy. He shared an adorable pic on Twitter on Aug. 31, 2019 of himself floating in a pool at his home in France with one of his four beloved dogs nestled happily on his chest.
Christopher Meloni (left, with Ice-T) starred as Detective Elliot Stabler on "Law & Order: SVU" from 1999 to 2011. Elliot was primarily Olivia Benson's partner throughout the series. Like Richard Belzer and Dann Florek, Christopher's character first appeared on the original "Law & Order" before landing a recurring role on the spinoff series. Fun fact: Christopher also appeared on two episodes of the "Law & Order" predecessor "Homicide: Life on the Street" but as a different character. In that series, he played bounty hunter Dennis Knoll.
Christopher Meloni left "Law & Order: SVU" in 2011 and immediately began filming his next recurring TV role — Roman Zimojic on the HBO supernatural drama "True Blood." Since leaving that show in 2012, the Emmy-nominated actor hasn't slowed down. He's appeared on shows like "Surviving Jack" (a series he headlined), "Veep," "Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp," "Underground" and "Pose" as well as in films like "42," "Man of Steel," "They Came Together" and "Snatched." In 2019, Christopher played High Commander George Winslow on the Hulu dystopian drama "The Handmaid's Tale" and Nick Sax on the SyFy action-crime-comedy series "Happy!" In addition to voicing roles on the animated series "Harley Quinn" from 2019 to 2020, Chris — who's been married to Sherman Williams since 1995 — also portrayed Don Wild in the television series "Maxxx." Starting in April 2021, he's reprising his role as Elliot Stabler on NBC's "Law & Order: Organized Crime."
B.D. Wong starred as Dr. George Huang, a psychiatrist and criminal profiler, on "Law & Order: SVU" from 2001 to 2015.
Just five months before B.D. Wong's 2015 departure from "Law & Order: SVU," the two-time Emmy nominee returned to the big screen to reprise his role as Dr. Wu in the sci-fi adventure "Jurassic World." He also took the character to TV in the animated miniseries "Lego Jurassic World: The Indominus Escape." Since then, we've seen B.D. (which is short for Bradley Darryl) in films like "The Space Between Us," "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" and "Birdbox" as well as on TV shows like "American Horror Story," "Gotham" and "Mr. Robot." In 2017, B.D. made a long-awaited return to the theater as a producer, director and writer of a theatrical production of "Mr. Holland's Opus" at the San Diego State University Regional Theater. The following year, he also starred in an off-Broadway production of "The Great Leap." Since 2020, B.D. has played Wally on "Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens," which is based on rapper-actress Nora Lum's life. In 2021, he'll portray Hon Wing on the series "Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai." As for 2022? B.D. will reprise his role as Dr. Henry Wu in "Jurassic World: Dominion." In 2018, he married Richert Schnorr, the director of digital media for the New York Public Library. The couple are raising B.D.'s two sons from a previous relationship.
Tamara Tunie starred as medical examiner Dr. Melinda Warner on "Law & Order: SVU" from 2000 to 2018.
Although Tamara Tunie made a single guest appearance on "Law & Order: SVU" in 2018, her tenure as a regular character actually ended in November 2015. Since then, Tamara's been one busy lady. In addition to appearing on TV shows like "The Red Road," "Blue Bloods," "Dietland," "Better Call Saul" and "Black Earth Rising," she's co-starred in several films including "Bad Vegan and the Teleportation Machine," "Irreplaceable You" and "Her Only Choice." Tamara's also continued her work in the theater, appearing in off-Broadway productions of "American Dream" and "Building the Wall" in 2017. After starring in the acclaimed "The 24 Hour Musicals" in New York City in 2019, Tamara will appear in the forthcoming film "A Journal for Jordan" starring Michael B. Jordan. In 2015, she separated from her husband of 20 years, jazz musician Gregory Generet.
Raúl Esparza (seen here with Ice-T) played Rafael Barba, assistant district attorney for the Sex Crimes Bureau, on "Law & Order: SVU" from 2012 to 2018.
Four-time Tony nominee Raúl Esparza's departure from "Law & Order: SVU" in 2018 was a shock to many but thankfully, his exit was on good terms, leaving it highly possible that in the future, his character, Rafael Barba, could make a guest appearance on the show. In the meantime, Raúl's remained in the spotlight with roles on shows like "The Path" and the animated series "BoJack Horseman." In 2018, Raúl co-starred in the TV movie "Suspicion" and appeared in three theatrical productions: "Chess," "The Waves" and "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui." 2019 and 2020 were just as exciting for this multifaceted actor who more recently performed in off-Broadway productions of "Roadshow" and "Seared."
Diane Neal (right) played Casey Novak, the assistant district attorney of the Sex Crimes Bureau, on "Law & Order: SVU" from 2003 to 2012. Fun fact: Diane also appeared as an entirely different character on the series in 2001 — Amelia Chase, a stockbroker convicted of sexual assault and murder.
Prior to leaving "Law & Order: SVU" in 2012, Diane Neal had already picked up another steady gig as CGIS Agent Abigail Borin on "NCIS" and "NCIS: New Orleans," where she remained until 2015. In between, the actress also landed roles on popular TV shows "The Following" and "Blue Bloods" as well as in the made-for-TV movie "Captain Blackout." By 2016, Diane had made her directorial debut with the two-episode TV short "Alphabet Boys." After that, her acting career seemed to come to an abrupt halt. Although we aren't sure what Diane was up to in 2017, we do know that in 2018, she embarked on an unexpected career path as an independent candidate for Congress in New York's 19th congressional district. She lost in the November elections that year. She made her return to acting in 2020 when she appeared in the television movie "Circle of Deception."
Stephanie March starred as Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot on "Law & Order: SVU" from 2000 to 2018.
Stephanie March's last appearance on "Law & Order: SVU" was on April 18, 2018 — a full six years after she left the series as a regular guest star. Since her initial exit in 2012, Stephanie's had several major personal and professional shifts, including a headline-making 2015 divorce from celebrity chef Bobby Flay. Amid her personal drama, Stephanie continued to land roles on shows like "Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter," "Nightcap" and "Odd Mom Out" as well as in films like "Innocence" and "Who We Are Now." Two years following her divorce from Bobby, Stephanie exchanged vows with tech investor Dan Benton in 2017. Stephanie was once again in front of the camera in 2019 with roles in two comedy films: "A President Show Documentary: The Fall of Donald Trump" and "The Social Ones." In 2021, she played Deb Green in the television movie "A House on Fire."
Robert John Burke played recurring character Captain Ed Tucker on "Law & Order: SVU" from 2002 to 2017. On the series, Ed was part of the Internal Affairs Bureau and determined to expose dirty cops. He was also engaged in an affair with Olivia Benson (played by Mariska Hargitay, right).
Robert John Burke has earned bragging rights for his work since leaving "Law & Order: SVU" in 2017– namely for his role as Chief Bridges in the Academy Award-winning 2018 biographical drama "BlacKkKlansman." Other films on his roster include "We Only Know So Much," "Boarding School" and "The Finest." In 2019, Robert returned to the big screen with the sci-fi drama "Being" and the short action film "JAKTEN." In 2021, he'll portray Detective Gregory Watts on the Amazon Prime series "Hudson Falls." Fun fact: Robert also happens to be a volunteer fire captain — he's served with his local volunteer fire department for nearly two decades!
Tony- and Emmy-winning actress Judith Light played Bureau Chief (and later Judge) Elizabeth Donnelly on "Law & Order: SVU" from 2002 to 2010.
The indomitable Judith Light has had many incarnations on the stage and small screen, including as Angela Bower on "Who's the Boss?" and Claire Meade on "Ugly Betty." After leaving "Law & Order: SVU" in 2010, Judith made a long-awaited return to Broadway with the theatrical production of "Lombardi" — earning herself a Tony Award nomination for best featured actress. She later appeared in the Broadway plays "Other Desert Cities," "The Assembled Parties" and "Therese Raquin" — which earned her two Tonys. She continued to land roles on television as well, guest starring on shows like "Nurse Jackie," "Eden" and "Raising Hope" while also co-starring on the rebooted romantic drama "Dallas" as Judith Ryland until 2014. The same year she left "Dallas," Judith landed the role of Shelly Pfefferman on the comedy series "Transparent" — which earned her a Golden Globe nomination in 2016. Judith has also co-starred on shows like "Doubt," "American Crime Story" (the performance earned her an Emmy nomination), "The Good Fight" and "Queen America" and appeared in two off-Broadway productions: "All the Ways to Say I Love You" and "God Looked Away." In addition to portraying Bobi Jewell on the television series "Manhunt," she also plays Dede Standish on Netflix's "The Politician." As for 2021? The beloved actress will appear in the flick "tick, tick…Boom!" Judith — who scored a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2019 — has been married to actor Robert Desiderio since 1985.
Danny Pino starred as Det. Nick Amaro on "Law & Order: SVU" from 2011 to 2015. Nick arrived at SVU as the replacement for Det. Elliot Stabler (played by Christopher Meloni), who departed from the series in early 2011. Fun fact: Danny also played the same character on two episodes of "Chicago P.D."
After retiring the role of Nick Amaro on both "Law & Order:SVU" and "Chicago P.D." in 2015, Danny Pino continued his forward momentum in Hollywood. In 2016, the talented Cuban American actor picked up a recurring role as Alex Vargas on the TV drama "Scandal" and as Luke Healy on the horror-comedy series "BrainDead." The following year, Danny landed the role of former Army intelligence officer John Bishop on the crime drama "Gone." In 2018, he landed a recurring role on the "Sons of Anarchy" spinoff series "Mayans M.C." as Miguel Galindo, the son of the head of the Galindo Cartel. Danny returned to "Mayans" in 2019 for the season 2 premiere and has also guest starred on two episodes of the hit family comedy "One Day at a Time." In 2021, he'll portray Larry Murphy in the film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical "Dear Evan Hansen." Danny has been married to actress Lilly Pino Bernal since 2002. They share two children.
Peter Hermann guest starred as Trevor Langan, a high-profile defense attorney, on "Law & Order: SVU" from 2002 to 2017. Trevor was so well-known on the series that when Olivia Benson (played by Mariska Hargitay, left) was framed for murder, he was the attorney her friends hired to defend her.
TV, film and Broadway star Peter Hermann might just make another appearance on "Law & Order: SVU" even though he hasn't been on the show since 2017. The reason? It gives him a chance to spend a little extra time with his wife, Mariska Hargitay, who just so happens to be the star of the show. Aside from occasional appearances on "SVU," Peter has landed roles on several other shows including "Instinct," "Blue Bloods" and "Younger" — a series on which he still stars today. In 2019, this hunky father of three appeared on the Amazon Prime series "Modern Love," which is based on the popular New York Times column of the same name.