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Who Narrates The Law & Order: SVU Opening Credits?

"Law & Order" is well-known for many things beyond the famous "dun-dun" noise in each episode. It was the longest running police procedural show until its spin-off, "Law & Order: SVU" took the spot (via Hollywood Reporter), and most people are familiar with the voice that narrates each episode, beginning with "Law & Order" and extending to the "Law & Order" spin-offs "Trial by Jury," "Criminal Intent," and "SVU," and it's now is part of the latest show, "Law & Order: Organized Crime."

The opening scene narration for "Law & Order" wasn't even part of the pilot episode, even though the actor who would go on to be the narrator was in the episode, playing a detective in a very small role alongside Michael Moriarty, Richard Brooks, and William H. Macy (via Backstage Magazine). The introduction that begins with "In the criminal justice system..." quickly became synonymous with the franchise from every episode onwards, with slight changes to the wording for each different spin-off. So who exactly is this mystery voice? 

Steve Zirnkilton helped Dick Wolf buy a house and got the job

Steve Zirnkilton is the man behind the voice of "Law & Order," and his foray into becoming the narrator was a little luck and a lot of determination. Zirnkilton shared with Backstage Magazine how he ended up first crossing paths with Dick Wolf, explaining how Wolf was looking to buy a house in the state of Maine, and at the time, Zirnkilton was working in real estate. 

Zirnkilton went on to become Wolf's buyer's representative, and "when the transaction was complete [Wolf] said, 'What do I owe you?' I immediately passed him a cassette tape which was my [voice over] demo." Intercepting a writer and producer when they're buying a house just so you can pass them your resume is about as determined as a person can get. Months later, Wolf's secretary called, and Zirnkilton's working relationship with Wolf began.

About a year after Zirnkilton had his small role in the "Law & Order" pilot, he received a call from Wolf's secretary telling him to meet Wolf at the recording studio and that he wanted him to read something. "And that was the opening," Zirnkilton said. "I had no idea if the show would have any legs, but happily it hung around for a while" (via Backstage Magazine). Zirnkilton has refused to discuss how much he makes with his role as the narrator, but given that he's been the famous voice for the franchise for over 30 years, he's likely done quite well for himself.