NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 05:  Actor Richard Belzer attends the Friars Club celebration of Jerry Lewis and the 50th anniversary "The Nutty Professor"  at New York Friars Club on June 5, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images)
TV - Movies
The Real Reason
Richard Belzer
Left Law And
Order: SVU
Of all of the cast departures from “Law & Order: SVU,” few were quite as conspicuous as that of Richard Belzer, who appeared in more than 300 "SVU" episodes as the wise-cracking NYPD Detective John Munch. It seems an avoidable factor led to an earlier retirement than some may have expected for his fan-favorite "SVU" character.
The show's devotion to depicting life in the NYPD realistically meant Belzer had more or less aged out of the series. "In the real world, which we try to very hard to simulate, NYPD has mandatory retirement before your 63rd birthday,” said showrunner Warren Leight.
Belzer was almost 70 when he left "SVU,” so he'd already worked well past the NYPD's "hard and fast" retirement rule. Thankfully, he still managed to bring his infamously quippy character back for scene-stealing "SVU" cameos in the ensuing seasons.