The original Law & Order debuted in 1990 and ran for 20 seasons before wrapping up in 2010. Though the show has lead to numerous spin-offs, the original is still regarded as one of the most iconic procedural TV shows of all time.
The show made stars of its cast, most of whom have gone on to greater heights of fame in other TV and film projects. We’re taking a look at the top 12 Law & Order franchise actors — where they’re at now, and how they’ve changed over the years. Make sure you stick around for #2, one of the biggest stars to come out of Law & Order ever!
#12 Sam Waterson
Sam Waterson enjoyed a successful 16 year run on Law & Order. He played the role of Jack McCoy, a district attorney in NYC. There is no doubt that Waterson was among the biggest reasons why this show continued to have success for so long. Since the show, Waterson now appears on Grace and Frankie on Netflix.
#11 Jesse L. Martin
Jesse L. Martin played the role of Detective Ed Green. Martin was not only an amazing addition to the show, he was also among the first African-American actors on the show. Since then, he has appeared as a detective in The Flash and he has even been cast as Marvin Gaye in an upcoming movie.
#10 Chris Noth
Chris Noth has Law & Order to thank for turning him into a star. He appeared on the show from 1990-1995 as Detective Mike Logan. After his success on the show, he went on to star in Sex and the City, which garnered him even more fame. Since then, he had a recurring role on The Good Wife, which just ended.
#9 Benjamin Bratt
Here we have yet another detective on the show. Bratt played the role of Rey Curtis before he left the show to pursue a career in the movies. This was also around the time he started dating Julia Roberts. The move worked well for him as he has appeared in a number of big films.
#8 Fred Dalton Thompson
Before he was ever an actor, Thompson was a politician. In fact, he was actually a Senator from 1994-2003. It was in his final few months of service that he secured the role of Arthur Branch in Law & Order. After being on the show from 2002-2007, he attempted an unsuccessful run for President in 2008.
#7 Jerry Orbach
While his real name is Jerry Orbach, most of you know this man as Lennie Briscoe. He played Briscoe on Law & Order from 1992 to 2004, making him one of the longest-tenured actors on the show. Orbach enjoyed success in film, TV and on stage before passing away in 2004.
#6 Vincent D’Onofrio
For 9 years, D’Onofrio man played Detective Robert Goren on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. His stint on the show was one of his biggest TV gigs, even though he also enjoyed a successful film career. His next major TV role came in 2015 when he was cast as Wilson Fisk, the primary antagonist of Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix.
#5 Angie Harmon
The beautiful and talented Harmon got her big break on TV with her role as Abbie Carmichael on Law & Order. Since then, she has been a mainstay on TV and has recently appeared in the police procedural Rizzoli & Isles on TNT. She also has three children with former NFL player, Jason Seahorn.
While he is known by many as a rapper, Ice-T has also been a very successful actor. On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, he played Odafin Tutuola, who is often considered a breakout character on the show. Since appearing on the show, he has returned to music, and has released two albums in the last decade.
#3 Christopher Meloni
When you think of Law & Order, Christopher Meloni is probably the character who first pops into your head. Meloni played Elliot Stabler on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 12 of the show’s 18 seasons, and was a very popular character. As a result of his fame garnered from the show, Meloni has appeared in a number of popular TV shows and movies in recent years.
#2 Mariska Hargitay
Out of any actor on the show, few have as many accolades as this woman. Hargitay played the role of Olivia Benson in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and won a number of Emmy Awards for it. Hargitay’s role in the show also somewhat bled over into her real life. Inspired by her experience, she founded the Joyful Heart Foundation, which helps victims of sexual assault.
#1 Stephanie March
March had a three-year run on Law & Order: SVU and it ended when her character entered into witness protection. However, the actress’ personal life has led to her name winding up in the news lately. She used to be married to world-famous chef Bobby Flay, before he cheated on her and the two got divorced.