Why It's Not Uncommon For Law & Order Stars To Play Multiple Characters In The Franchise

Fans of the "Law & Order" franchise may think they know all there is to know about the hit series. The original series, "Law & Order," debuted in 1990 and spawned incredibly popular spin-offs like "Law & Order: SVU" and "Law & Order: Organized Crime" (via Ranker).


Dick Wolf, the show's creator, has built an empire. Not only do fans adore the show, but the actors do, too. Mariska Hargitay, who plays the most beloved character on "SVU," Olivia Benson, shared how special the character is to her (via the New York Times). She said, holding back tears, "It became very apparent to me early how much, culturally, we needed this character who relentlessly fights and advocates for women and for survivors, and who does it with compassion," she added, "Somebody who is unequivocally committed to righting wrongs, who believes survivors, who's aware of the healing in it."

It is clear that those who work on the many series within the franchise love their job. So much so, that it is not uncommon for some actors to play multiple different characters on the show.


Several background actors have been brought back for major roles

Sometimes in the "Law & Order" universe, actors who made appearances on the show as minor characters come back to play a whole new role later down the line. According to Insider, it is not uncommon to find yourself doing double takes, recognizing actors from older episodes. Infamously, Peter Scanavino, who played a major role on the original "Law & Order" series as Detective Dominick Carisi, started his venture on the show as a janitor in an early episode.


Another example is actress S. Epatha Merkerson. She originally played a role of a mother whose son was shot but would return to the series a few years later to play the character Van Buren.

"SVU" has also seen its fair share of returning actors. None other than Diane Neal, who plays Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak, started her time on the show as a bit character a few years before joining the cast for good (via The Blast). Her original role was that of a lawyer, too, but this one was accused of a crime!

Sometimes, "Law & Order” bit characters make such a splash that they are brought on to play bigger roles. It is surprisingly common!