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Guest Actors Who Appeared On Law & Order More Than Once

Producer Dick Wolf's "Law & Order" franchise has become a sprawling television empire, comprising three active series (the revived "Law & Order" ("L&O"), "Special Victims Unit" ("SVU"), and the more recent "Organized Crime"), three defunct programs ("Criminal Intent" and the short-lived "Trial By Jury" and "Law & Order: LA"), as well as the anthology show "True Crime," which is currently on hiatus. Its most successful titles all enjoyed exceptionally long network runs: "SVU," now in its 23rd season, is the longest-running live-action American primetime TV series in history, surpassing even "L&O," which ran for 21 seasons before its cancellation in 2010 and return in 2022. And while "Criminal Intent" ("CI") enjoyed a shorter run than those programs, it still aired for ten seasons — a lengthy tenure by any network series standard.

The phenomenal lasting power of the "L&O" franchise has kept its stars active for lengthy stretches, in an industry known for abbreviated TV gigs and left-field cancellations. They've also provided countless guest stars with employment and screen time, including such Hollywood notables as Bradley Cooper, Amanda Seyfried, Zoe Saldana, Elle Fanning, and Elizabeth Banks. Many "L&O" guest stars even appeared in multiple episodes, and on more than one franchise title. Below is a list of guest actors who have appeared in the "L&O" franchise on more than one occasion. 

Before Succession, J. Smith-Cameron was a seven-time L&O guest star

Actress J. Smith-Cameron, who plays Gerri Kellman, the steely general counsel to the Roy family on "Succession," appeared as seven different characters on three titles in the "L&O" franchise. She made her debut on the flagship series in Season 2's "Severance" and returned for four additional episodes, playing grief-stricken mothers in Season 9's "Flight" (opposites fellow "L&O" vet Dylan Baker) and Season 14's "Blaze" and a defense attorney in Season 19's "Take-Out."

Between these efforts, Smith-Cameron also played two gritty characters on "Criminal Intent" ("CI"): the serial killer Trudy Pomeranski in Season 1's "Poison" and a serial killer's victim in Season 6's "Endgame." Her final "L&O" appearance to date was in the Season 13 "SVU" episode "Educated Guess," which again cast her as a mother whose daughter is the victim of a horrible crime, this time perpetrated by a family member.

Smith-Cameron, who is married to playwright and filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan ("Manchester by the Sea"), began her career on the New York stage before moving into feature films and television in the mid-1990s. Film roles included "Mighty Aphrodite," "In & Out," and her husband's 2011 movie "Margaret," with Anna Paquin. TV work included a recurring role on "True Blood" and a stint as a series regular on "Rectify" as star Aiden Young's mother. After several years on both "Divorce" and "Search Party," Smith-Cameron earned her breakout role as Gerri on "Succession," which earned her an Ensemble Screen Actors Guild Award and a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Character actor and Wire vet Isiah Whitlock Jr was a guest and recurring star

Screen Actors Guild Award nominee Isiah Whitlock, Jr. has a sizable list of film and television credits that reach back to the early '80s ("Gremlins 2: The Next Batch") and encompass films ranging from "Goodfellas" to "Pete's Dragon." Whitlock also has a vast number of TV roles under his belt, including Senator Clay Davis on "The Wire," George Maddox on "Veep," and ten characters on three titles in the "L&O" franchise.

He made his debut on the series in Season 5's "Guardian" before stepping up to a spotlight role as a child murderer on Season 6's "Trophy." Whitlock returned to the flagship series on three other occasions, including Season 10's "Loco Parentis" and Season 15's "Gunplay," which cast him as a civil rights attorney connected to the murder of undercover police officers. By this point, Whitlock was also appearing on both "CI" and  "SVU," beginning with that series' first season episode "Limitations." He eventually returned for an additional guest role on both series before settling into the recurring character of Police Captain Reece, who appeared in four episodes of "SVU."

"L&O" isn't the only project to host Whitlock on multiple occasions: he's appeared in numerous films for director Spike Lee, including "The 25th Hour" and "Da 5 Bloods," and enjoyed recurring and series regular roles on "Your Honor," "The Mist," and "Rubicon."

Another Wire fave, Wendell Pierce, also turned up on L&O.

Wendell Pierce's resume includes a number of indelible television characters, including the cagey Detective Bunk Moreland on "The Wire," the tough-as-nails James Greer on "Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan," and the hard-hustling trombonist Antoine Batiste on "Treme." Pierce has also played countless other characters on television and in film, including four separate roles on "L&O" and a recurring character on "Trial By Jury."

Pierce was a Nigerian tribal chief tied to a New York drug smuggling ring in Season 3's "Consultation," and then played a civil rights attorney in Season 5's "Rage." He returned for Season 9's "Disciple," which looked into a religious rite that left a young woman dead, and then returned to the courtroom to defend fellow "Wire" actor Isaiah Whitlock, Jr. after his son is killed by undercover police officers on Season 15's "Gunplay."

Pierce, who also played Dr. Richard Link on two episodes of "Trial By Jury," remains exceptionally busy in features and on television. Recent small screen roles include the voice of Death on the BBC's fantasy series "The Watch," and a three-year run as Chicago alderman Ray Price on "Chicago P.D." Pierce also earned a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for a 2019 production of "Death of a Salesman" in London.

Stranger Things star David Harbour played some strange characters on L&O

Before rocketing to stardom on the strength of "Stranger Things" and "Black Widow," David Harbour was a hard-working character actor in numerous features and on television series. Among the latter were five appearances in very different roles on the three longest-running "L&O" series. The first was a minor turn as a waiter on "Patsy" from Season 10 of "Law & Order." His next appearance was anything but minor: Harbour played a deranged child murderer on the Season 4 "SVU" episode "Dolls."

Harbour then moved to "CI" to play a thief and accused murderer on Season 4's "Silver Lining" before returning to "L&O" for Season 18's "Submission," which cast him as a wealthy man connected to a dog-fighting ring. His last "L&O" franchise appearance came on the Season 8 "CI" episode "Family Values," for which he played a religious fanatic turned serial killer.

Harbour has enjoyed enormous success since his last go-round with "L&O." In addition to the aforementioned shows, he's also starred in "Suicide Squad" (as agent Dexter Tolliver), "Hellboy," and Steven Soderbergh's noir "No Sudden Move." He also netted a Golden Globe nomination and two Emmy Award nods for playing Jim Hopper on "Stranger Things."

Amy Ryan was the guilty party in several L&O episodes

Before scoring Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for her role in Ben Affleck's "Gone Baby Gone" brought her to fame, Amy Ryan was a character actor on television and in film. One of her earliest small screen roles was a minor part in "Jurisdiction," a Season 3 episode of "Law & Order," which preceded a more substantive turn in the Season 1 "SVU" episode "Bad Blood."

Ryan's "L&O" roles got juicier with each subsequent appearance. Detectives Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio) and Eames (Kathryn Erbe) surmised that she had murdered her mother in the Season 2 "CI" episode "Suite Sorrow," and Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) rooted out the truth about her connection to a murdered thief in "Family Friend," a Season 16 episode of "L&O." Ryan capped her five "L&O" episodes on "CI" as the wife of a two-timing space program officer who orchestrated the diabolical murder of his lover on Season 6's "Rocket Man."

Ryan went on to draw critical praise for her turns on "The Wire" and "The Office" before the success of "Gone Baby Gone" boosted her to stardom. Since then, she's moved successfully between films and television, netting high-profile roles in films like Clint Eastwood's "Changeling" and Steven Spielberg's "Bridge of Spies," and on television programs like "In Treatment," "Broad City," and a scene-stealing turn on "Only Murders in the Building."

Cops and crooks - Jose Zuniga played them both on L&O

In his eight appearances on the "L&O" franchise series, character actor Jose Zuniga played characters on both sides of the legal fence, from world-weary cops to cold-blooded criminals. He gave his first bow on "Wedded Bliss," a Season 3 "L&O" episode which cast him as a human trafficker, and returned in Season 9 for "Bait" as a narcotics officer who caused the death of his underage informant, and in Season 15's "Cry Wolf" as a radio shock jock who believes that he's been targeted by mobsters. Zuniga's final "L&O" appearance came as an investigator in Season 17's "In Vino Veritas," though he also enjoyed three turns as crime lab tech Miguel Cruz on "SVU" and a sizable role in the Season 9 "CI" episode "True Legacy" as a scandal-plagued senator.

The Honduran-born Zuniga began his screen career in indie features like Spike Lee's "Crooklyn" and the Paul Auster/Wayne Wang/Harvey Wang flick "Blue in the Face" while also logging time on series like "NYPD Blue" and "New York Undercover," for which he played lead Michael DeLorenzo's brother. Regular work on series like "CSI" and "Ghost Whisperer" soon followed, as did Hollywood features like "Con Air," "Constantine," and "Mission: Impossible III." Zuniga's tireless schedule of appearances continued into the 21st century with "Twilight," "Agents of "S.H.I.E.L.D." and recurring roles on "Madam Secretary" and "The Expanse."

Mad Men and Stranger Things vet Cara Buono tackled five L&O outings

"Stranger Things" and "Supergirl" star Cara Buono kicked off her first of five turns on the "L&O" franchise with a juicy role as the leader of a prostitution ring in Season 6's "Girlfriends." She returned in Season 9 as a physically and psychologically abused prison inmate in Season 9's "Punk" before tackling another character with grey moral shadings in "Phantom," a Season 1 episode of "CI" which cast her as the mistress of a homicidal con man played by "Lost" veteran Michael Emerson. Buono stepped into a lawyer role for the Season 17 "L&O" episode "Melting Pot" before moving to "SVU." In the harrowing Season 9 episode "Unorthodox," she played the mother of a boy who was repeatedly abused by another young man.

Buono, a two-time Emmy nominee (a Daytime nod for a 1992 "CBS Schoolbreak Special" and a Primetime nom for "Mad Men"), began her acting career at the age of 12 and quickly advanced from juvenile roles to stints on Broadway and in films like "The Cowboy Way" and "Kicking and Screaming" while still a student at Columbia University. After graduation, Buono worked in films like Ang Lee's "Hulk" and "Let Me In," and enjoyed recurring and starring roles on "The Sopranos," "Third Watch," and "The Dead Zone." In addition to her acting career, Buono also wrote and directed the 1997 short "Baggage," and co-produced and starred in the 1999 indie feature "Two Ninas."

You can see Emmy winner Ann Dowd in nine L&O episodes

Before rising to fame with an Emmy nomination for "The Leftovers" and an Emmy win for "The Handmaid's Tale," Ann Dowd amassed a sizable list of screen credits that included nine guest roles on various titles in the "L&O" universe. She made her debut on "Sonata for Solo Organ," a Season 1 episode of "L&O," and returned in Season 4 to play a hopeful adoptive mother in "Breeder." Dowd then played the sister of deranged attorney Denis O'Hare in Season 6's "Pro Se" before moving to the dark side as a woman killing rapists with HIV in "Victims," a Season 2 episode of "SVU."

Dowd doubled down on "L&O" in 2003, playing the mother of a psychotic killer in the Season 4 "SVU" episode "Soulless" and a mentally ill oncologist who poisoned a phony medium on "Compassion," an "L&O" episode from Season 14. She turned up in supporting roles for episodes of "CI" (Season 4's "Inert Dwarf") and "TBJ" ("Truth or Consequences") before capping her "L&O" career (to date) as a nurse overseeing a serial pedophile in Season 10's "Lead."

Soon after completing "Lead," Dowd earned critical praise for the nerve-wracking indie thriller "Compliance," which led to a string of high-profile character turns on the first season of "True Detective," "Olive Kittridge," and "Masters of Sex." Her turn as the fanatical Patti Levin on "The Leftovers" brought an Emmy nod and feature work in "Hereditary," while "The Handmaid's Tale" delivered the Emmy, as well as more showcases like the film "Mass" and guest shots on "Search Party."

Dylan Baker handled both recurring and guest L&O roles

Dylan Baker is perhaps best known to "L&O" viewers for his recurring role as defense attorney Sanford Remz, who was featured in four episodes of the flagship series. But the Emmy- and Tony-nominated actor also played three other characters on episodes of both "L&O" and "CI," including a father accused of murdering his own son on the Season 9 "L&O" episode "Flight" and scientist Henry Muller, who uses his forensic skills to cover up a murder in the Season 8 "CI" episode "Major Case."

Baker began his screen career with minor roles in films like "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" before earning critical praise as a remorseless pedophile in Todd Solondz's 1999 film "Happiness." His performance led to roles in major features like "Requiem for a Dream," "The Tailor of Panama," and "Spider-Man 2," which cast him as the original big-screen Dr. Curt Connors, a.k.a. The Lizard. Baker also starred in Steven Bochco's popular law drama "Murder One," and earned three Emmy nominations as accused murderer Colin Sweeney on "The Good Wife."

Baker remains in demand as a character player in features and on television, most notably "Trick 'r Treat," "Secretariat," and as J. Edgar Hoover in "Selma." His recent small screen work includes recurring roles on "Blindspot," "Homeland," "The Hot Zone: Anthrax," and "Hunters."

Before he was Big Pussy, Vincent Pastore was a frequent L&O guest star

Actor Vincent Pastore, the once and future Salvatore "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero on "The Sopranos," has a long list of credits outside that celebrated series. Included on Pastore's c.v. are the films "Goodfellas," "Carlito's Way," and "The Hurricane," and episodes of numerous series including "Bull," "Ed," "Hawaii Five-0," and four episodes of "Law & Order." All of Pastore's appearances on the crime series aired before his breakout role on "Sopranos," but helped imbue him with the street gravitas that would make him the perfect Big Pussy.

His largest "L&O" role came in Season 5's "House Counsel," which cast him as a hit man who bumped off a City Parks employee. Pastore's other guest shots on the series were minor characters: a police supply store worker in Season 3's "Wedded Bliss," a building superintendent in Season 4's "Big Bang," and a car dealer in Season 7's "Deadbeat."

Pastore, who began his acting career in the late '80s, maintains a busy schedule of film and TV appearances after 30 years in the business. He's also a frequent contestant on reality series, including "Dancing with the Stars" (from which he withdrew after a single week) and "Shark Tank," for which he pitched the Broccoli Wad, a rubber band that holds money instead of a wallet (really).

Hollywood and stage star John Heard tackled four L&O appearances

"Home Alone" dad John Heard's long career in front of the camera took him from movie leads in the 1970s and '80s (the cult favorite "Cutter's Way" was among his best roles) to character turns in "Big," "Awakenings," "In the Line of Fire," and "Pollack," among many other features. Heard also worked extensively on television, netting an Emmy nomination for "The Sopranos" and enjoying recurring roles on "Prison Break" and "CSI: Miami," as well as four appearances on the "L&O" franchise.

Heard, who could play shifty and sympathetic with equal aplomb, parlayed both in his "L&O" appearances. He was a demanding coach who may have deliberately injured his tennis champ daughter on the Season 4 "L&O" episode "Doubles," and then returned to play an architect accused of trying to kill his wife in Season 10's "DNR." In 2001, he appeared as the brother-in-law of a murdered journalist in "The Pardoner's Tale," an episode from the debut season of "CI." His final appearance on an "L&O" title came with "Disappearing Acts," a Season 4 episode of "SVU" which cast him as a mobster in witness protection whose son was committing horrific crimes.

Heard, who starred in both "Home Alone" and "Home Alone 2" as Kevin McAllister's dad, Peter, was remarkably busy on television and features after his "L&O" appearances, including recurring appearances on "Entourage," "Southland," "The Chicago Code, and "NCIS: Los Angeles." His final small screen turn came in a 2017 episode of "Outsiders"; Heard died from heart disease on July 21, 2017 at the age of 71.

TV staple George DiCenzo played tough three times on L&O

A familiar, if not immediately identifiable face on TV and in film for four decades, George DiCenzo's long list of credits include everything from lawyer Vincent Bugliosi in the original "Helter Skelter" miniseries to films like "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Back to the Future," to the voice of Hordak on "She-Ra: Princess of Power" (among many other voice-acting roles) He also appeared in three episodes of "L&O" series, including a crooked union president linked to a bank chairman's murder in Season 2's "The Working Stiff" and a judge turned crime author (and criminal) in "Semi-Professional," a Season 1 episode of "CI."

DiCenzo, whose career began as an actor and associate producer on the supernatural daytime soap "Dark Shadows," worked in films and on television from the early 1970s through the early 2000s. In addition to his many acting roles, DiCenzo was a prolific voice-over artists for television commercials and audiobooks, and taught acting in New York. He died after a long period of failing health at the age of 70 on August 9, 2010.

Michael O'Keefe L&O roles included bad priests, twins, and evil doctors

After enjoying early stardom in "Caddyshack" and an Oscar nomination for "The Great Santini," actor Michael O'Keefe settled into character roles in numerous features and on television. The former included films like "Ironweed," "Ghosts of Mississippi," and "Michael Clayton," while small screen work ranged from recurring roles on "Roseanne" (as Jackie's husband, Fred), "Masters of Sex," and "Sleepy Hollow" to numerous guest shots on episodic series, including six episodes of the "L&O" franchise series.

O'Keefe made his first appearance in a dual role on "Brother's Keeper," a Season 11 "L&O" episode which cast him as a mobster and his twin brother, a professor accused of murdering drug dealers. He moved to "CI" for "The Faithful," a Season 1 story with O'Keefe as a priest who murdered his illegitimate son, and Season 7's "Seeds," for which he played a gynecologist who used his own sperm to impregnate women with fertility issues.

Between these appearances, he also guested on four episodes of "SVU," playing a cop accused of sex crimes in Season 3's "Counterfeit," the father of a kidnapping victim in Season 6's "Outcry," and a crooked priest in Season 17's "Manhattan Transfer" and "Unholiest Alliance." O'Keefe's Father O'Hanigan was the cousin of Ed Tucker (Robert John Burke), an Internal Affairs Bureau captain and romantic interest of Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), which made his involvement in a sex trafficking ring and church embezzlement difficult for the police department.

American Horror Story star Denis O'Hare played a few scary figures on L&O

Busy actor Denis O'Hare, who earned Emmy nominations for the "American Horror Story" series "Murder House" and "Freak Show" and a guest shot on "This is Us," also played seven characters on episodes of "L&O," "SVU," and "CI." Many of O'Hare's characters were memorably dark, including the serial killer James Smith on the Season 6 "L&O" episode "Pro Se" (with Ann Dowd) and mentally-challenged murderer Jimmy Walp in the Season 1 "SVU" story "The Third Guy." However, O'Hare also played sympathetic figures, including a doctor who defended his wife against a dangerous transient in the Season 4 "L&O" episode "Volunteers" and a Catholic priest who killed a drug dealer that murdered the child of his parishioner in Season 13's "Under God."

Another priest, Father Chris Shea, appeared on the Season 7 "CI" episode "Last Rites," where a confession of murder from a dying man in prison put him in the crosshairs of an ambitious district attorney who pinned the crime on an innocent man. Shea later returned in the Season 14 "SVU" episode, where he is again dragged into a cover-up, this time involving assaults against children by another parish priest.

In addition to his TV work, O'Hare's long list of feature credits include films like "Half Nelson," "Michael Clayton" (with Michael O'Keefe), the Steven Spielberg drama "Charlie Wilson's War," Clint Eastwood's "Changeling" (with Amy Ryan), and Gus Van Sant's "Milk." In addition to his "Horror Story" efforts, O'Hare also had recurring roles on "True Blood" (as vampire king Russell Edgington), "The Good Wife," "The Good Fight," and "Brothers and Sisters."