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How Long Has Ice T Been on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit?
How Ice T turned a four-episode appearance on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit into the longest running job for a male actor on television.
Celebrated actor and rapper Ice T is an integral part of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, serving as Sergeant Odafin “Fin” Tutuola for over two decades. With SVU's rich history and long-running place on the NBC schedule, let's explore the origins of Ice T's character, how he got his start on the drama (only to become the longest-running male actor in a TV series), and his numerous career highlights across TV, film, and, of course, music.
How long has Ice T Been on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit?
Ice T joined Law & Order: SVU in 2000—Season 2 of what has since become the longest running show on television. His character, Fin, was first introduced to SVU audiences in Season 2 Episode 1 "Wrong Is Right" (then as a detective).
Ice T's Law & Order: SVU Origins
Ice T said during his 2022 Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony that, when he was cast 23 years ago, his role as Fin was only supposed to be temporary: He had just four appearances scheduled. "Four episodes turned into 24 years,” he said.
He was made a series regular because of his chemistry with the other cast members: His pairing with the late Richard Belzer’s Detective John Munch, for instance, was the beginning of a beautiful and iconic television relationship.
Ice T has since appeared in more than 500 episodes. In November 2022, he became the longest-running male actor in a TV series. (His co-star, Mariska Hargitay, is the longest-running female actor.)
"You've gotta be on the show that stays on the longest,” he told ET. "There are people that have acted way longer than me, but to be on one show continuously for that long, it has never been done."
He's also portrayed his character on the original Law & Order (2005) and Law & Order: Organized Crime (2021), on two episodes of 30 Rock, on three episodes of Chicago P.D., and in a 2019 episode of Saturday Night Live.
How Long Has Ice T Been in the Entertainment Business?
Before stepping into acting, Ice T had enjoyed a long career as a trailblazing rapper—he is widely credited for popularizing the then-controversial genre of gangsta rap in the 1980's—and heavy metal rocker with his band Body Count. Some of his most famous hits include the metal song "Cop Killer" (with Body Count) and the rap song "99 Problems," the hook of which was re-used by Jay-Z in 2003.
Ice T, whose given name is Tracy Morrow, also appeared in several movies prior to his time on SVU, including the now-classic New Jack City with Chris Rock, Wesley Snipes, and Judd Nelson (1991) and Ricochet (1991) with Denzel Washington and John Lithgow.
Prior to being cast on SVU, he appeared on four episodes of series creator Dick Wolf's New York Undercover starting in 1995 and starred in Wolf's one-season show Players starting in 1997. At Ice T's Hollywood Walk Of Fame ceremony, Wolf said, "Ice has been the gold standard for the past 28 years."
He and his wife, Coco Austin, had a three-season reality show on E! called Ice Loves Coco from 2011 until 2013.
When Did Ice T Receive A Hollywood Star?
When, Ice T was honored with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 17, 202, his SVU co-star Hargitay spoke and called him the “O.G. of Friendship,” while Law & Order creator Wolf dubbed Ice T “the coolest guy” he’s ever met.
In 2023, he was among the music legends who performed at the Grammys to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. He was joined by Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Run D.M.C, Missy Elliot, and others.
Ice T nearly skipped out on the opportunity, but said that Questlove—who produced the tribute along with his band The Roots, the official band for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon—convinced him to appear.
"I get a call from Questlove and he says, 'We're doing a thing in L.A. this weekend. I say, 'I can't make it,'" he told PEOPLE during a red carpet interview at the event. "He says, 'The Grammys.' And I go, 'Eh.' And he goes, 'You don't wanna be sitting home Ice, watching it—all your homies—and saying I was invited but I didn't go. And I got my Black ass on the plane. He put it in perspective."
He added: "The Grammys didn't even respect hip-hop for so long. And now to be here and to be honored like this, we'll take it."
The performer, however, does have two Grammys: He won Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for his part in the 1989 collaboration "Back on the Block" and Best Metal Performance for the 2000 Body Count song "Bum Rush."