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Richard Belzer says goodbye, Munch: TV’s longest-serving cop retires

Richard Belzer, who has played Munch on 10 different shows over two decades, is moving on from 'Law & Order: SVU' now that Munch turned in his retirement papers.

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Actors Dann Florek (l.) and Richard Belzer from 'Law & Order: SVU' attend the NBC Network 2013 Upfront at Radio City Music Hall, Monday, May 13, 2013, in New York.

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

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Sgt. John Munch — TV’s longest-serving live-action character — is retiring. Without a flashy sendoff.

Richard Belzer, who has played Munch on 10 different shows over two decades, is moving on from “Law & Order: SVU” now that Munch turned in his retirement papers at the end of Wednesday’s episode.

The only characters who have spent so many continuous seasons on TV are the cartoons on “The Simpsons.”  But Munch is real. Or at least based on a real person.

He’s the brainchild of “The Wire” creator David Simon, who first introduced him on NBC’s “Homicide: Life on the Street.” Munch was based on Baltimore homicide Det. Jay Landsman, one of the central characters in Simon’s book that inspired the series.

Landsman has already retired. Munch outlasted him. His character moved from “Homicide” to “Law & Order” when “Homicide” was canceled. He was partnered through the years with characters and actors as varied as Brian Cassidy (played by Dean Winters) and Fin Tutuola (Ice-T).

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