Wednesday's episode of "Law & Order: SVU" was an unexpected farewell to actor Richard Belzer, who has played Sergeant John Munch on the series since its beginning.
"Munch put in his papers," Capt. Cragen told the surprised Olivia Benson. And indeed, Munch will cease to be a full-time star on the show.
Belzer has played Munch since before the inception of the show, beginning to fill the character's shoes in 1993's "Homicide: Life on the Street." The 69-year-old comedian has also played Munch in "The Wire," "Arrested Development" and "The X-Files." Since then, Belzer has appeared as Munch for more than 300 episodes.
But it won't be Belzer's last time as Munch. Next week's episode features a retirement party for the Sergeant and an opportunity to keep him on as a regular, even into his golden years.