NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider Law & Order Franchise

Dann Florek's Final Scenes as Cragen Feature an Emotional Heart-to-Heart with Benson

The veteran announced his retirement during Season 15 of SVU.

By Elizabeth Logan

The squad room wouldn't be the same without his influence. Captain Donald Cragen (Dann Florek) appeared in the very first episode of Law & Order and continued through the end of Season 3. He came back to the franchise for the spin-off, Special Victims Unit, where audiences got to know him as the stern, wise, compassionate man who was always ready to pour a detective a drink after a long day.

How to Watch

Watch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Thursdays on NBC and next day on Peacock.

When both Cragen and Det. Munch (Richard Belzer) left during Season 15, audiences understandably had a tough time letting go. And Cragen's impact is evident in his emotional final scene.

RELATED: Law & Order: SVU Stars Beautifully Tribute Richard Belzer in Wake of His Passing

Cragen's final SVU scenes

Though he has returned for cameos and episodes of Organized Crime, Florek made his final appearance as a full-time cast member in Season 15, Episode 11 of SVU. The episode, "Amaro's One-Eighty," centers on Det. Nick Amaro (Danny Pino), who gets into what he thinks was a gunfight only to learn later that, because of assumptions and misunderstandings, he unwittingly shot and paralyzed an unarmed teenager.

After his situation is resolved, Cragen makes the surprise announcement that he is taking his unused vacation days and retiring early to go on a cruise with his wife. After some kind words to the squad. "Now, it's not easy going from player to coach, so don't bust her chops" he tells them, referring to then-sergeant-Olivia Benson's (Mariska Hargitay) recent promotion.

Cragen handed everything off to Benson

Donald Cragen in a scene from Law & Order: Organized Crime Season 4 Episode 8.

During a private moment in his office, Cragen gives Benson some advice: don't work so hard you forget to live your life. "Take care of yourself. You deserve it," he says to her, truly the father (figure) she never had.

When Cragen retired from the unit in Season 15, he left it in capable hands. Steven Harris (Adam Baldwin) may have been the interim captain, but Benson was well on her way to becoming a Captain herself, the position she's in now.

RELATED: Dann Florek Tears Up Talking About Mariska Hargitay: "A Beautiful Passing of the Baton"