John Munch, known simply as “Munch” to those that know and love him, has been a fixture in television since 1993. Played by Richard Belzer, he is a snarky, lanky cop who has been known to wear a fedora and photochromic sunglasses.
He’s appeared in supporting and/or leading roles on Law & Order, Homicide: Life on the Street, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and made appearances in shows The Beat, The X-Files, Sesame Street and Arrested Development.
These days, he’s working in the 16, Manhattan SVU. He landed there after retiring from the Homicide beat in Baltimore. A few months later, he moved to New York to work, but the only opening in his bracket was in Special Victims. He goes through partners like it’s going out of style, and in the first two seasons of SVU alone has three different partners (Cassidy, then Monique, before sticking with Fin for what appears to be the duration.)
Munch has intimacy issues, and he's a lousy date, but a good cop. He's been married (and divorced) three times. Each ex has been spoiled, pretty, and not one matched him intellectually. Despite these disappointments in matrimony, he still believes in true love. If he had kids, which he doesn’t, he says he’d call them Munchkins. Alas, he doesn’t have kids—he wouldn’t want to give them the responsibility of him.
As a kid, Munch wasn’t allowed to eat sweets; he overcompensates for it as an adult, and has a major sweet tooth. He grew up in a Jewish household on the lower East side.
Fin: Why do we always get stuck with looking for the needle in the haystack?
Munch: Takes me back to the Easter egg hunts of my youth.
Fin: You’re Jewish. Your parents hid eggs?
Munch: My point exactly. All those futile hours of searching.
Growing up, his ambition was to be a bus driver like Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners. During his teenage years, he worked at the Two Cousins Fish Market. While he readily admits that while working there he smelled like sin, he splashed on some Aqua Velva and away he’d go. When he was younger, but old enough to know better, he allowed a girlfriend to photograph him au naturel, and found himself in all his nekkid glory posted in an art gallery, much to the chagrin of his fellow cops at the time. He has a closet fear of letting abused children down, stemming from an incident in his youth, in which a neighbor girl was repeatedly abused and eventually murdered.
The Munch you don't see
Even though he’s sarcastic and hard to read, Munch is a nice guy who is good with kids and cats. “Uncle Munchie” even keeps pudding cups in his desk for Elliot’s twins. (Nevermind that by the time Dickie and Elizabeth get to them, the snacks are fuzzy and black.)
Munch is a conspiracy theorist, who will tell anyone that will listen about the government’s ills. He speaks Russian and Greek, and because he’s Jewish he’s been known to speak some Yiddish. He hates taking pills, pyramid schemes, Newt Gingrich, laptops, and bureaucrats. He drinks tea in the morning, and likes gabardines in the summertime, Huxley, and Rolling Stone. He often hits on redheaded doctor Elizabeth Rodgers, and was close to news anchor Sarah Logan before she was murdered.
"I was never much into sports. My hospital basketball coach said I looked like a retarded gazelle with a spastic disorder. Mr. Daley. Real loving guy,” John Munch