The world recently lost a talented comedian, a gifted actor, and an all-around incredible human being when Richard Belzer passed away at the age of 78. Belzer was a former audience warm-up comedian for "Saturday Night Live," and his knack for bringing the funnies helped make his most memorable character, BPD Detective, NYPD Detective/​Sergeant, and DA Investigator John Munch, everyone's favorite fictional member of law enforcement. The television empire of cop dramas from executive producer Dick Wolf has made household names of characters like Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson, Christopher Meloni's Elliot Stabler, and Ice-T's Odafin Tutuola — but Belzer's John Munch is in a class all his own.

Plenty of voices or old footage of characters have been used and reused countless times across an immeasurable number of shows (like anytime someone is watching "The Simpsons" in an episode of live-action television), but Detective John Munch is the only fictional character played by the same actor to physically appear on over 10 different television series. The character has appeared in "Homicide: Life on the Street," "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Law & Order: Trial by Jury," "30 Rock," "The X-Files," "Arrested Development," "The Beat," "The Wire, "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

We'd also be remiss to ignore his appearance on the adult animated series "American Dad," and the fact "Sesame Street" turned the character into a Muppet voiced by David Rudman for the sketch "Law & Order: Special Letters Unit." A cynical detective with a sharp tongue and a strong belief in conspiracy theories, when paired with his memorable dark-lensed glasses, it's no surprise that Munch found his way into a variety of TV shows.

A Distinctive Character For A Distinctive Man

What's most interesting, however, is that John Munch's crossover appearances weren't limited to the world of "Law & Order," which means the character canonically connects a children's educational program like "Sesame Street" to the sci-fi horror series, "The X-Files."

The character first appeared in "Homicide: Life on the Street," which was based on the book "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets" by David Simon, who would go on to create "The Wire." Are the planets aligning for you, yet? Belzer would not only appear as Munch, canonically across 10+ shows, but would often appear in random films (like "A Very Brady Sequel") and other TV shows ("Mad About You") as random members of law enforcement, yet still in his distinctive costuming.

His interconnectivity also makes for some fascinating multiverse developments. For example, Munch appears in an exclusive "made-for-the-show" scene of "Law & Order" for "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," and Kimmy acknowledges Richard Belzer as playing the actor on TV. At the same time, Kimmy's landlady Lillian is played by Carol Kane, who is canonically Detective Munch's ex-wife, Gwen Munch. To make it even more interesting, both Gwen and Lillian are noted conspiracy theorists. Is Lillian just Gwen's alter-ego?

Given the number of crossover appearances of John Munch and the number of crossovers each of those shows had with other shows on their own, we might as well replace the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game with "Six Degrees of Detective John Munch." In an era where every brand has been trying its hardest to develop its own multiverse, we've been living in the Munchiverse all along.

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The post Richard Belzer's Greatest Conspiracy Was Playing Detective John Munch In Every Show On TV appeared first on /Film.