Oct. 10, 2013 at 11:34 AM ET
Say goodbye to Richard Belzer's Sgt. John Munch and the humor he brings to "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." The crime show revealed at the end of Wednesday's episode that the character, who has been with the series since it launched in 1999, has handed in his resignation papers to Capt. Cragen.
Fan reaction was likely similar to that of Det. Olivia Benson's — shock. "What? No he didn't!" she whispered. Cragen explained that the Mehcad Carter case had hit the SVU veteran pretty hard. (That particular ripped-from-the-headlines story, which aired Oct. 2., was a mashup of the Paula Deen and Trayvon Martin cases.)
Belzer himself hasn't hinted that he would be leaving. When we asked him at the premiere screening whether fans could expect to see more of Munch this season, the actor joked, "I don't know! That's another mystery!"
But according to The Huffington Post, just because Munch is retiring doesn't mean he'll be off the show for good. A source told the website that the character will be making recurring appearances on "SVU."
"While there are no immediate plans for Belzer to return, the way Munch's story line ends leaves the door open for him to work with the SVU squad in the future," NBC told TODAY.
And who's to say the cynical investigator won't show up elsewhere? Belzer's character originated 20 years ago on "Homicide: Life on the Street." Since then, Munch has shown up on various shows, ranging from "The X-Files" to "The Wire" to the original "Law & Order" and "Arrested Development."
Unlike Chris Meloni's Det. Stabler, Munch will get a proper farewell. "SVU" will be throwing him a retirement party next week.
"Law & Order: SVU" airs at Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.