John Munch is a fictional police detective and an important character in the Westphall multiverse, having made more appearances in more shows than any other.

Character detailsEdit

When first seen on Homicide: Life on the Street, John Munch is a police detective working in the homicide unit of Baltimore Police Department. He is partnered with gruff old-hand Stanley Bolander (Ned Beatty), whom Munch idolises and very much wants to impress. He also takes over the running of a local bar, along with several fellow officers. Munch later takes and passes the sergeant's exam before moving to New York, where he joins the cops of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He retired from the NYPD in 2013 and took work as an investigator in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

Although Munch is a smart and capable police officer, he is prone to getting emotionally involved in cases, causing his judgement to be impaired; especially when those cases touch his private life, or when they involve anti-semitism (Munch is Jewish by race, though he doesn't have any religious beliefs). He is blessed with a dark and cynical sense of humour and is always on hand with a snarky quip, but has a soft spot for children and will let down his armour if he is forced to look after them. He is also an avid conspiracy theorist and is distrustful of the government. It is implied in several episodes that he smokes pot recreationally.

At the start of Homicide, Munch has been married and divorced three times; he marries again at the end of the series, but by the start of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit the marriage has broken down again. In an episode of Homicide, a psychiatrist suggests that he is an incurable romantic, and that his cynical remarks are a shield that he uses to stop himself being hurt.

Primary series Edit

Appearances in other series Edit

  • Homicide crossed over with the original Law & Order series five times, four of which involved Munch making appearances on the other show - usually being paired up with detective Lenny Briscoe (Jerry Orbach), with whom he had a friendly rivalry. The episodes were "Charm City", Baby, it's You (part one)", "Sideshow (part one)" and "Entitled (part two)".
  • The X-Files "Unusual Suspects" sees FBI agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) being interrogated by Munch after being found naked in a Baltimore warehouse. The episode is set in the 1980s, when Munch was still working in Baltimore.
  • Munch turns up at a murder investigation in The Beat episode "They Say it's Your Birthday" because he's "nostalgic for a good homicide"; The Beat is set in NY and is contemporaneous with Munch's appearances in L&O:SVU.
  • Munch makes an appearance in "Skeleton", an episode of Law & Order: Trial by Jury.
  • In "Exit Strategy", an episode of Arrested Development, Munch goes undercover in California to try to extract confessions from several criminals, including main character Oscar Bluth (Jeffrey Tambor). Richard Belzer appears as himself in a small cameo role in another episode.
  • The Wire, a police show set in Baltimore, features a brief cameo by Munch, who is shown sitting in a bar, complaining about the service; he mentions that he used to run a bar himself (as seen in Homicide).

Mentions in other series Edit

  • In the (untitled) fifth episode of the first season of British cop show Luther, the protagonist tells his colleague to call "Detective Munch, in New York. He works the Special Victims Unit."