Munch Makes the World Go ‘Round

Not munchman, Munch. John Munch, played by Richard Belzer. We thought he was just another TV cop. Turns out he’s the glue that holds the entire television world together. For reals:

From TVTropes.Org:

What we have here is a small, semi-just-for-fun page to the character with the single most appearances outside his own series this side of a Public Domain Character, making him the king of the Intercontinuity Crossover. In every appearance, Munch is portrayed by Richard Belzer, who outside of this role is better known as a stand-up comedian.

Shows to feature John Munch:

As a main character:

As a guest star:

  • The X-Files – As the Baltimore cop interrogating the future Lone Gunmen. There’s also a hilarious scene in SVU where a reporter refers to Munch and Novak as Mulder and Scully. So…
    • Not only that but in one episode of Homicide, Munch mentions that a character is probably watching The X-Files.
  • Law & Order
    • Munch’s appearance on the original Law and Order as part of a Homicide cross-over is partly what got him the job on SVU. Belzer originally pitched to Dick Wolf that Munch join Law and Order as Briscoe’s new partner. The role had been filled, so Wolf transplanted Munch to SVU instead.
  • The Beat
  • Law & Order: Trial by Jury
  • Arrested Development (credited as himself), as a “Professor of Scrapbooking
  • The Wire (ironically, former Baltimore Police Department detective Jay Landsman, the real-life inspiration for Munch, plays a recurring role).
    • It should also be pointed out that Landsman, playing Lieutenant Mello, was actually in the scene. As was Clark Johnson, formerly Munch’s fellow Homicide castmate.
      • If that’s not enough, The Wire has a character named Jay Landsman who was also inspired by the real Jay Landsman, and was played by yet a third actor. One rather suspects that David Simon was having a particularly Mind Screwy field day with this one.
  • Sesame Street (the skit, “Special Letters Unit“, a spoof of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, is the one time the character is not played by Richard Belzer.
    • This puppet returns in Elmopalooza as the ‘Richard Belzer stunt puppet’, accompanied by Belzer himself.
  • And then there’s the character’s appearance in the French version of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which is what tipped the character into a trope-on-his-own territory.
  • And he’s now gotten a subtle Shout Out in London police drama Luther — “Send the details to Detective Munch in Special Victims Unit, New York.” Munch might get a surprise if he met the eponymous British cop face to face though, since he’s the absolute spit of Stringer Bell from The Wire
  • In the book I Am Not A Cop, by Richard Belzer, Richard Belzer is mistaken for John Munch, and asked to help solve a case.
    • A joke book about stupid criminals recounted a story about a robber who stumbled into a taping of Homicide and surrendered to John Munch.
      • Which is actually true. I heard it from the horse’s mouth (well, in an interview with him on Youtube). However, the reports that he testified in court is just a rumour.
  • In an episode of 30 Rock, Belzer and Ice-T show up as their L&O:SVU characters for a joke. It’s more than just an incidental cameo because it’s clearly not a real episode of SVU.
  • Pete Munch, supposedly John’s father, is an astronaut who appears in the “Minions of the Moon” backup in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. III, Century: 1969. Like John he is a conspiracy theorist but since this world of the League he’s actually probably right about most of his ramblings.

Not only are we in awe of the John Munch character, we’re astounded by the work put in by TV Tropes nameless minion(s?) who compiled the data above. At last we can use the word “awesome” correctly. So, all together now:

Awesome.

(Somebody get this site onto our links page! Quick!)