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Law & Order Fans Tell Looper Who Their Favorite Character Is - Exclusive Survey

After 21 seasons and a whole host of cast changes, "Law & Order" has developed a large fan base. The legal drama has seen a revolving door of talented actors and fascinating characters pass through the precinct and courtroom over the years, from the tough-minded Ed Green (Jesse L. Martin) to tender-when-she-needs-to-be psychologist Elizabeth Olivet (Carolyn McCormick) and newbies like Frank Cosgrove (Jeffrey Donovan) and Jalen Shaw (Mehcad Brooks). A rarefied number of actors and characters ended up appearing in a large number of seasons. The only real constant the show's ever had is Sam Waterston's impassioned DA, Jack McCoy — and he didn't even join the show until the middle of its third season.

With that incredibly wide field of character options in mind, Looper conducted a survey of 607 people around the country and asked our readers which "Law & Order" regular they call their favorite. The results are in.

Fans still love Lennie Briscoe

Jerry Orbach's Detective Lennie Briscoe was the wise and witty linchpin of the show's important middle years. From Season 3 to 14, he pounded the pavements of New York City, trying to dispense justice and protect the innocent. His retirement changed the face of the show forever, closing the book on an era. Orbach became emblematic of the show's success, so when he passed away at 69 from prostate cancer in 2004 (per The New York Times), it was a truly seismic shift for the show. Lennie, in all of his wit and warmth, was deemed our reader's favorite character, grabbing 22.73% of the vote. The fact that it's been nearly 20 years since Orbach's passing and Lennie is still this beloved is a tribute to his stellar performance. 

Lieutenant Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) anchored the show just as much as Briscoe did with her no-nonsense ways, appearing from Season 4 to 20. The cancer survivor is tough as nails in all aspects of her life, and our readers respected that enough to give her a second-place finish at 21.91%

In third place is the just-as-stalwart Jack McCoy — the only character to place in this poll who's still appearing on the program after popping up for the first time in Season 3. He grabbed 20.76% of our reader's affection. The resolute and mature ADA Adam Schiff (Steven Hill) came in at fourth place with 14.83%. Ed Green nailed down 11.04%. And bringing up the rear is dedicated coroner Elizabeth Rodgers (Leslie Hendrix), who sliced into 8.73% of the poll.