Law and Order (Franchise)/Characters

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Law[edit | hide | hide all]

Seargent Max Greevey[edit | hide]

"Seventeen-year-olds shouldn't be doing the thing that makes babies."

Detective Mike Logan[edit | hide]

Secretary: Are you in charge of this ape?
Max Greevey: My cross to bear.

"She was a bottomless pit. Always 'give me your undivided attention'. And when my old man couldn't take it anymore and whacked her, she'd turn around and whack me. She got this look in her eye- I knew it was coming. And that cold witch in there... she's got that same look."

Captain Donald Cragen[edit | hide]

Seargent Phil Cerreta[edit | hide]

"Thirty years...charmed life...I never even...fired..."

  • By-The-Book Cop: Never uses any form of trickery, and is always polite to even the worst of suspects, but is still a very effective detective.
  • Cool Hat: The ushanka of awesome.
  • Cool Old Guy: Same deal as Max.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: For Max Greevey. They look so similar a casual viewer might not figure it out.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: One season and eight episodes. Replaced with Lennie Briscoe, the man who became the face of the franchise, so most people don't even remember Phil, even though he was on for longer than Greevey.

Detective Lennie Briscoe[edit | hide]

  • The Alcoholic: Until Claire's death.
  • The Atoner: After Claire's death.
  • Badass Grandpa: Lennie was on the show a long time, so this came to apply, particularly after we got Ed Green.
  • Breakout Character: There is a large group of people who think it's not Law & Order if it doesn't have Lennie Briscoe. He was in many ways the face of the show along with Jack McCoy.
  • Cool Old Guy: Lennie Briscoe was the defining example on '90s television.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Lennie made the Quip to Black trope.
  • Disappeared Dad: Because of his drinking and divorce, he wasn't the best father.
  • Killed Off for Real: Upon actor Jerry Orbach's death, both Detective Logan and Detective Green referenced Briscoe's (off-screen) death.
  • Known Only By Their Nickname Lennie's full name isn't seen or spoken until his final episode; it's Leonard J. Briscoe.
  • Papa Wolf: It's implied he had his daughter's murderer killed.
  • Quip to Black: The Trope Codifier.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Lennie predates the regular issuing of automatics, so he keeps his .38 to the day he leaves the show.
  • UST: Frequently flirts with Dr. Rogers, though it's hard to say what he actually feels. But he did take her to the opera once, according to her.
  • You Look Familiar: Jerry Orbach played a defense attorney in a Season 2 episode.

Lieutenant Anita Van Buren[edit | hide]

  • Black Boss Lady: Black, the boss, a lady. What more can be said?
  • Da Chief: Second head of the house, from Cragen's departure to the very last episode.
  • Iron Woobie: Underwent cancer treatment, and beat it, in the last season.
  • Never Mess with Granny: You will regret it. Granny has a force of personality and intensity that are enough to make you cower in fear, and she carries a gun.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Especially when she first appeared. She replaced Lt. Cragen, who continually harped to his subordinates of what can't be done, she focused on directing her troops on what can be done.
  • Token Minority: Her original role on the show could easily be seen this way.
  • You Look Familiar: S. Epatha Merkerson played a grieving mother in Season 1's "Mushrooms".

Detective Rey Curtis[edit | hide]

Rey Curtis: No, what you've got is a lot of nerve, Lennie, making it sound like I agree with you, partner.
Lennie Briscoe: It never occurred to me that you wouldn't, partner. What, you wanna see this scum bounce?
Rey Curtis: I wanna see him strapped down with a needle in his arm but I'm not gonna perjure myself to make it happen!

  • Back for the Finale: In the final season, we saw Van Buren attending his wife's funeral.
  • Bilingual Bonus: His ethnicity and fluent Spanish has enabled him to develop a rapport with similar witnesses, victims, etc, enabling him to garner necessary information they might otherwise not have gotten.
  • By-The-Book Cop: Slight subversion, as he was both young and Hispanic.
  • Fair Cop
  • Happily Married: His wife considers divorce after his affair, but they stay together and the justification for his Put On the Bus is that he needs a desk job so he has more time to care for her because of her MS.
  • Inspector Javert: He has an initially unyielding black-and-white view of crime and criminals, but this softens slightly over time.
  • Raised Catholic

Detective Ed Green[edit | hide]

Defense Attorney: Detective! Put a leash on your partner!
Lennie Briscoe: We gave up, he chewed through all of ours.

  • Character Development: From rash, short-tempered Cowboy Cop to mature, wise mentor to his younger partners.
  • Cowboy Cop: At the start.
  • Cunning Linguist: Speaks fluent Spanish, as well as a decent amount of French and some Russian "enough to get a date."
  • Fair Cop
  • The Gambling Addict: It's referred to several times, though it's never known how severe a problem it was. It even comes back to bite him in the ass in during his final episode--he mentions that his despondency over Lennie's retirement and later, his death was enough to trigger a relapse, kicking off a chain of events that led to his downfall.
  • Scary Black Man: He isn't actually, but he'll often pretend to be during interrogations. Which ironically leads to him being Mistaken for Racist when he makes a sarcastic comment to a perpetrator about the perks he gets for beating up black suspects.

Detective Joe Fontana[edit | hide]

Suspect: Is that a threat?
Joe Fontana: A threat? No. A threat would be more like... 'If you stonewall this investigation any more I'm gonna break your jaw. And when you're on the ground, I'm gonna kick you 'till you spit blood you cheap shyster.' That would be a threat. This is more of a request.

Detective Nick Falco[edit | hide]

Detective Nina Cassady[edit | hide]

Anita Van Buren: What is your issue Cassidy? You're always leadin' with your chin, always playin' tough. It's not smart. A good cop never takes the bait, never escalates.

"Mr. Glover, if I really had it in for your client, I could have dropped him with a justifiable shooting when I found him stabbing his own daughter to death. But I didn't. Because I exercised the control I learned in my training. That control is why your client is still alive today."

Detective Cyrus Lupo[edit | hide]

Detective Kevin Bernard[edit | hide]

Order[edit | hide]

Executive Assistant District Attorney Benjamin "Ben" Stone[edit | hide]

Dr. Edward Auster: When you practice medicine, Mr. Stone, sometimes the patient dies.
Ben Stone: And when you're a lawyer, Dr. Auster, some of the people you prosecute are convicted.

Assistant District Attorney Paul Robinette[edit | hide]

"Don't tell me that tearing down a 200-year old justice system, no matter how flawed, is going to alter the consciousness of a society. Now, we're past the separate drinking-fountain stage. We're past legal discrimination. We're at the hearts and minds stage. And believe me, there's no quick fix."
From "Out Of The Half-Light" (ep. 1-11)
Ben Stone once told me I'd have to decide if I was a black man who was a lawyer or a lawyer who was black. All these years, I thought I was the latter. All these years... I was wrong.
From "Custody" (ep.6-14)
  • Amoral Attorney: In his return appearances as a defense attorney.
    • Your Mileage May Vary as there was nothing remotely "amoral" about him becoming a defense lawyer.
      • Some of his tactics skirt the line, though.
        • As does some of the ADA's
  • Brother Chuck: Although he has come back for the occasional guest appearance, and his departure was explained in a deleted scene in Season 4.
  • But Not Too Black: Frequently gets accused of this by other African Americans.
  • Eighties Hair: The Flattop of Justice.
  • Malcolm Xerox: When he comes back as a defense attorney, and slings race cards like Al Sharpton on meth.
  • Strawman Political: See above.
  • Token Minority

District Attorney Alfred Wentworth[edit | hide]

Appeared only in the pilot episode, and thus appears for the fewest episodes out of any regular cast member (1).

District Attorney Adam Schiff[edit | hide]

Adam Schiff: You got what you wanted. Take the rest of the week off.
Jack McCoy: It's Friday, Adam.
Adam Schiff: So it is. See you on Monday.

Assistant District Attorney Claire Kincaid[edit | hide]

  • Bus Crash: Quite literally. Claire was originally supposed to only be paralyzed in the car crash in the Season 6 finale and then Put on a Bus, but when actress Jill Hennesey declined to return for a final episode in Season 7, she was killed off instead.
    • Interestingly, Jill Hennessey has stated that she wanted to return and was not aware that her character was killed off until someone watched the episode and told her.
  • Hello, Attorney!
  • Killed Off for Real
  • The McCoy
  • Retirony: She debates either resigning from the DA's office or quitting law altogether (and Jack talks her out of it) shortly before she's injured/killed in a car accident.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist

Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy (later District Attorney)[edit | hide]

Jack McCoy: Ask me how I sleep at night.
Connie Robirosa: How do you sleep at night?
Jack McCoy: Like a baby.

  • Breakout Character: He didn't show up until the fifth season, but he became the face of the franchise, arguably even moreso than Lennie Briscoe.
  • Commuting on a Bus: After he becomes District Attorney.
  • Determinator: The things he will do to get his way legally...
  • It's Personal: The deaths of Claire Kincaid, ADA Ricci, and Alexandra Borgia cause him to go on legal Roaring Rampages of Revenge of sorts. All come close to getting him disbarred.
    • Specifically: Following Claire's death, McCoy later collaborates with a judge to frame a drunk driver for first degree murder (the driver really killed the people, but was so intoxicated he couldn't form the intent needed for a murder charge. McCoy and the judge collaborated to keep evidence proving that the man was drunk out of court, so McCoy could falsely claim that he wasn't drunk and deliberately killed the people. It is implied that all this was because he was bitter that Claire's killer received a light sentence and wanted to see proper justice done for the victims in this case.
    • When a bit character, ADA Ricci, dies, McCoy suspends habeas corpus.
    • After Borgia dies, McCoy sets up a show trial with fake evidence and perjured testimony to try to trick the killer into a confession.
  • Jerkass Facade: Deliberately cultivates a reputation as a hardass, but frequently backs down when confronted with a defendant who legitimately deserves sympathy.

To Jamie Ross, "Then you can tell him he's dealing with a junkyard dog."

McCoy: Four minutes.
Defense Attorney: Always have to play the tough guy, don't you.
McCoy: Tough has nothing to do with this.
Defense Attorney: You feel for the woman, Jack. It doesn't make you weak.
McCoy: Three minutes.
Defense Attorney: I could win this case, y'know.
McCoy: Not when the judge instructs the jury on the definition of legal insanity.
Defense Attorney: Ten years is a long time.
McCoy: She killed a man.
Defense Attorney: A scoundrel. ... Ten years, or until a panel of three medical professionals certifies she's not a threat to herself or others.
McCoy: Doctors to be chosen by my office.
Defense Attorney: But in the private psychiatric facility of her choice.
McCoy: To be approved of by me and located within my jurisdiction. One minute.

Defense Attorney: Done.

McCoy: I tell the judge. [stands up to leave]

Defense Attorney: It's not a bad thing, Jack.

McCoy: What?

Defense Attorney: Having a heart.

Assistant District Attorney Jamie Ross[edit | hide]

  • Hello, Attorney!
  • Mama Bear: Her devotion to her daughter occasionally conflicts with the show, such that she debates quitting more than once and eventually is Put on a Bus because of it. Her Amoral Attorney ex-husband uses it against her to help his client.
  • Retool: The character was originally a morally ambiguous ex-defense attorney who became a prosecutor after a client she got acquitted, went on to kill again. As such, she was originally a lot more underhanded and devious when it came to court room trickery. Sadly this was quickly dropped and the character was turned into a single mother Suspiciously Similar Substitute of Claire Kincaid.
  • Transplant: From the original to Law & Order: Trial by Jury, although she was only a recurring guest character in the latter.

Assistant District Attorney Abbie Carmichael[edit | hide]

Abbie Carmichael: I have a solution that will make us all happy.
Jack McCoy: What's that?
Abbie Carmichael: No deals for anybody. Let's hang 'em all.

  • Base Breaker: She's either one of fans' most or least favorite ADA's.
  • Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: Albeit a brunette.
  • Hello, Attorney!
  • Inspector Javert: Often displays a black-and-white view of crime and criminals, to the point where in early Season 9 she has zero sympathy towards a young woman she sent to prison on a minor drug charge who is now accused of arranging the murder of a guard who was abusing her (demanding sexual favors from her and threatening to harm her daughter if she didn't comply). It's especially disturbing considering that Abby is a rape survivor herself, yet her attitude towards the woman is essentially disbelief mixed with, "It's your fault for doing something that put you in jail in the first place."
  • Knight Templar: See above.
  • Rape as Backstory: Abbie was date-raped by a law student when she was a college freshman.

District Attorney Nora Lewin[edit | hide]

Assistant District Attorney Serena Southerlyn[edit | hide]

"Is this because I'm a lesbian?"

District Attorney Arthur Branch[edit | hide]

  • Bus Crash: When he left the series to run for President, his character died of a heart attack.
  • Good Is Not Soft: He was elected to make New Yorkers feel safer in the wake of 9/11.
  • Good Ol' Boy
  • Large and In Charge
  • Team Dad: Neither affectionate nor even really nice, but always ready with encouragement or to make an attempt at convincing before he ordered. Even when he fires Serena, he points out that she has the skills and mindset of a superb defense attorney... which simply don't work for a prosecutor.
  • Transplant: Sort of. He became a regular cast member on spin off Law & Order: Trial by Jury, but he was still a cast member on the original series at the same time.

Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Borgia[edit | hide]

Arthur Branch: So, what now? We pat each other on the back and break out the blue label?
Jack McCoy: Alexandra always hated that.
Arthur Branch: I just assumed she didn't like scotch.
Jack McCoy: The whole old boy ritual. It was a little much for her.

  • Cruel and Unusual Death: She was kidnapped and viciously beaten. The beating caused her to vomit, but as she was gagged she choked on it. She choked to death on her own vomit.
  • Dropped A Bridge On Her
  • Killed Off for Real
  • You Look Familiar: Annie Parisse played a stripper in a Season 12 episode. Supposedly, she wanted to play the same character and have her backstory be that she was working as a stripper to pay for law school, but the idea was vetoed.

Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa[edit | hide]

Executive Assistant District Attorney Michael Cutter[edit | hide]

Cyrus Lupo: Is this some sort of sport to you?
Michael Cutter: Stick with your law books, detective. On the page, the law is a much purer thing.

Psychologists[edit | hide]

Dr. Elizabeth Olivet[edit | hide]

A psychologist who often interviews people that are claiming to have insanity defenses, and who also assists with profiling defendants. She comes from an academic background, having earned her degree in psychology through a graduate research program. Olivet is generally non-confrontational when talking to her patients. Often inclined to believe that a given client is insane (or was during the time of the crime), and has disagreed with McCoy vehemently when she feels obligated to do so. Appears in 87 episodes between Seasons 2-19.

Dr. Emil Skoda[edit | hide]

A psychologist who handles the psych workups required when a defendant pleads an insanity defense, and who also assists in creating profiles of suspects. His background is in practicing medicine; he was a physician with a specialty in psychiatry before becoming an expert witness. Often disinclined to believe that a patient is insane, to the point of arguing with other psychologists (such as Olivet, and in one case, the criminal's victim) about it. Appears in 42 episodes between Seasons 8-15, and 3 more in Season 20.

Medical Examiners[edit | hide]

Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers[edit | hide]

Rogers: You get used to the smell.
Det. Ed Green: No you don't.

Wise-cracking doctor who figures out why people died. Blase about her job, to the point of eating lunch in rooms containing corpses. She at least once had to perform an autopsy in a full HAZMAT suit. Appears in 143 episodes throughout Seasons 2-20.

Other police officers[edit | hide]

Chief of Detectives Laird[edit | hide]

Van Buren's superior. He supports her through her bout with breast cancer. Appears in 3 episodes in Seasons 18-20.

Detective Tony Profaci[edit | hide]

Another detective in the 27th precinct. Friendly and affable. Was working for the mob. Appeared in 45 episodes in Seasons 1-9.

Detective Morris Lamotte[edit | hide]

Detective who worked with the squad in Seasons 9-10. Burly and cheerful. In one episode, he went undercover to a neo-Nazi rally.

Defense Attorneys[edit | hide]

Danielle Melnick[edit | hide]

McCoy's friend and rival. Zealous, crusading attorney, who often takes on cases to make political points. Appeared 13 times, between Seasons 2-17.

  • Call Back: After "Open Season", where she is shot in The Tag, she disappears for several seasons. When she returns, she's using a cane.
  • Crusading Lawyer: Melnick is a civil rights extremist--she even defended a neo-Nazi who had shot a personal friend, because the principles were that important to her. Only problem is, they weren't as important to the defendant...
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: ...who asked her to send messages to the outside world, in defiance of a communication ban. She did, believing that the ban was cruel and unusual punishment. The messages turned out to be the next target for her client's associates to kill. Oops.
  • What Have I Done: Once McCoy hit her with the results of her above actions.
  • Worthy Opponent: She and McCoy are on much friendlier terms than he usually is with defense attorneys.

Professor Norman Rothenberg[edit | hide]

A law professor who takes cases for rich cliental, Rothenberg delights in setting precedents that will help later cases -- even going so far as to throw one case in order to be able to appeal it and have the appellate court rule certain types of searches unconstitutional. He admits that he only cares about the law, not justice. Appeared in 8 episodes, between Seasons 4-18.

Shambala Green[edit | hide]

Generally worked for poor defendants. Was often involved on cases involving systematic oppression such as racism and oppression of mentally disabled people. Appeared in 6 episodes in Season 1-4, and one additional episode in Season 14.

  • Foe Yay: Green was the one of the few defense attorneys you could count on to flummox Ben Stone in court, and there always seemed to be the hint of attraction between them.
  • Worthy Opponent: Ben Stone seems to have have a lot of respect for her, and vice versa.

Lawrence Weaver[edit | hide]

Attorney for the rich. Known for being extremely well-prepared. Appeared in 7 episodes between Seasons 4 and 12.

Arthur Gold[edit | hide]

Shrewd attorney for the rich and high-profile. Stone had a rivalry with him. Appeared in 6 episodes between Seasons 2-11.

  • Amoral Attorney
  • Batman Gambit: Gold could - and often did - goad Ben Stone into mistakes just by playing up his Smug Snake tendencies.
    • One of these backfires on him when it allows Stone to pull a legal maneuver that wouldn't have been possible if he hadn't been manipulated into his action in the first place.
  • Smug Snake

Randall 'Randy' J. Dworkin, Esq.[edit | hide]

A jovial and goofy lawyer, nicknamed 'Squirt', who at first disgusts McCoy but eventually earns his respect. His perpetual irreverence irritates judges, and his creative defenses often frustrate the prosecution. Only appears in 3 episodes in Seasons 13-16, but memorable nevertheless.

  • Bunny Ears Lawyer
  • Informed Ability: We never actually see him win a case, although he once managed to plea bargain a murder-2 charge down to manslaughter-1 with a maximum sentence.
  • Large Ham
  • Obfuscating Stupidity
  • Worthy Opponent: After McCoy learns that his Bunny Ears tendencies are an obfuscation for genuine legal talent. He warns his ADA not to dismiss him.
    • During one trial they have a serious ex parte moment. They share a drink, each admitting they feel terrible about the trial. McCoy because he hates that he's winning using evidence produced by torture, Dworkin because he's defending a man who's vile trash and glad that he's losing.

Neil Gordon[edit | hide]

Jamie Ross's ex-husband. He started off only defending the innocent, but eventually attracted the attention of a client who was guilty of violent crimes but had very deep pockets. Gordon and Ross got the man acquitted, and he went on to commit more crimes. Gordon is willing to do anything to win a trial, including exploiting the terms of his divorce settlement with Ross (which requires them to spend a set number of hours with their children; Gordon, who runs a big law firm, can delegate to his assistants so he can spend the requisite number of hours at home, but Ross, working for the government, can't, putting her custody of the children at risk).

Marcus Woll[edit | hide]

A stereotypically oily defense attorney, who's an ex-DA. Turned out be more corrupt than anyone suspected.

Judges[edit | hide]

Judge Gary Feldman[edit | hide]

A judge with political ambitions, who wanted to base his campaign around targeting drunk drivers. He collaborated with McCoy to hide evidence in a case involving a drunk driver that killed three people. When McCoy backed out of the scheme, he vowed revenge and went on to run against Adam Schiff. He was backed by Carl Anderton ("Burned"), who wanted revenge on Schiff for his own reasons. Appeared 3 times in Season 8.

Judge William Wright[edit | hide]

A judge whose defining characteristic was disagreeing with McCoy on everything. Notable appearances included setting aside a 'guilty' verdict for three boys convicted of raping a mentally disabled girl ("Damaged") and setting aside a 'guilty' verdict when McCoy convicted a gun dealer of murder due to his unethical business practices ("Gunshow"). In his final episode "Dissonance", Nora Lewin threatened that she would destroy him unless he judged the trial fairly. Appeared in 4 episodes between Seasons 8-11.

  • Depending on the Writer Whether Wright is reasonable or not varies drastically depending on the episode that he's in. In "Gunshow", the episode takes his side, indicating that the gun dealer, while evil, hadn't actually violated any law, and that McCoy was basically engaging in prosecutorial misconduct by trying to get him convicted for being a bad guy, not for violating any actual statute. In "Damaged", on the other hand, Wright is shown as a heartless and stupid jerk who refuses to even consider that the mentally disabled girl could have been raped, even though McCoy provided ample evidence that the girl was incapable of consenting to sex.
  • "It's Not Rape If You Enjoyed It" Wright's reasoning for why he wouldn't reverse his decision to set aside the guilty verdict in "Damaged".
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Calls out the jury for convicting the three boys of rape.

Politicians[edit | hide]

Carl Anderton[edit | hide]

An old friend of Adam Schiff's. When his son was arrested for murder, he refused to allow his grandson to plea to an insanity defense, even though it would get his son better treatment. It turned out that this was because his grandson's insanity was genetic, and if it were known that his son had the illness, people would suspect him of having it too. When Schiff refused to allow him to sacrifice his son, Anderton sponsored Judge Feldman in the forthcoming election for District Attorney. Appeared 3 times in Season 8.

Governor Donald Shalvoy[edit | hide]

At first an ally of McCoy, he turned against the district attorney when McCoy said he'd reveal that Shalvoy was seeing prostitutes as part of a case. Shalvoy then sabotaged the case and began trying to destroy McCoy, going so far as to sponsor someone to run against him in the next elections. He appeared 4 times in Seasons 18-19.

Family members of the main cast[edit | hide]

Deborah Curtis[edit | hide]

Cathy Briscoe[edit | hide]

Briscoe's daughter, who isn't very close to him. Gets caught up in a drug operation, with fatal consequences.

Other[edit | hide]

Dr. Valerie Knight[edit | hide]

Van Buren's doctor, who treated her when she developed breast cancer. Appeared in 4 episodes in Season 20.