From the archive
[Belzer appeared on The Flash and Lois and Clark.] He followed that success with starring roles on the Baltimore-based Homicide: Life on the Street (1993–99) and the New York-based Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–), portraying police detective John Munch in both series. Barry Levinson, executive director of Homicide, said Belzer was a "lousy actor" during his audition when he first read lines from the script for "Gone for Goode", the first episode in the series. Levinson asked Belzer to take some time to reread and practice the material, then come back and read it again. During his second reading, Levinson said Belzer was "still terrible", but that the actor eventually found confidence in his performance.
In addition, he has also played Munch in episodes of seven other series and in a sketch on one talk show, making Munch the only fictional character to appear on ten different television shows played by a single actor. These shows were on five different networks:
- Homicide: Life on the Street (NBC)
- Law & Order (NBC)
- The X-Files (Fox)
- The Beat (UPN)
- Law & Order: Trial by Jury (NBC)
- Belzer's appearance on Trial by Jury, which aired April 15, 2005, made him the third actor ever to play the same character in six different prime time TV series. The other two actors are John Ratzenberger and George Wendt, who played Cliff Clavin and Norm Peterson, respectively, in Cheers (1982–93); St. Elsewhere (1985); The Tortellis (1987); Wings (1990); The Simpsons (1994); and Frasier (2002).
- Arrested Development (Fox)
- The Wire (HBO)
- 30 Rock (NBC)
- The characters are watching a Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode, the scene was shot for 30 Rock
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC)
- Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC)
Belzer has portrayed Det. Munch for nineteen consecutive seasons on live-action primetime television, one season short of tying Kelsey Grammer (who portrayed Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers and Frasier from 1984–2004) and James Arness (who portrayed Marshal Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke from 1955–75) for the record of twenty consecutive seasons.