The Wednesday episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" was unexpectedly a goodbye for actor Richard Belzer.
Belzer has played Sergeant John Munch on the series since its beginning, as a full-time cast member for 15 seasons in more than 320 episodes. He has also played Munch in "The Wire," "Arrested Development" and "The X-Files" since the character's 1993 debut in "Homicide: Life On The Street."
"Munch put in his papers," Capt. Cragen told the surprised Olivia Benson. Munch will cease to be a full-time star on the show.
Next week's episode will bid him a proper goodbye, with a retirement party for Munch. The 69-year-old Belzer will have the opportunity to be a regular as long as the show runs.