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The Late Richard Belzer's Final Scene as Munch on SVU Was So Emotional

The late actor's last appearance as Munch on the show was a major tearjerker. 

By Jackie Manno

Richard Belzer's death at the age of 78 in February 2023 was a major loss, however, fans can make peace with the fact that his last appearance on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was a perfect, poignant send-off. 

How to Watch

Watch the Season 26 premiere of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Thursday, October 3 at 9/8c on NBC.

An original member of the Season 1 cast in 1999, Belzer originally left SVU during Season 15 in 2014. However, his character Det. Munch, made guest a guest return in Season 17, Episode 20 in 2016.

RELATED: Mariska Hargitay Reveals What She Learned From the 'Beautiful' Richard Belzer

For his final appearance on the show, Munch is brought back to help investigate a case that involves a photographer who is accused of sexually assaulting young models. In the episode, he babysits Benson's adopted son, Noah, and the three share a beautiful moment together. 

''I was worried when I left that I'd fall apart without the job, or the place would fall apart without me,'' Munch says to Benson. 

"I was too,'' Benson says.

''But it's been good. Turns out there's more to life than SVU,'' he says. 

''Ain't that the truth?'' Benson responds.

''Well, I'm glad we both found that out. Had a great time today. Taught him a major life lesson: Always question authority,'' Munch says with a chuckle. 

''Ah, what a surprise. How was that?'' Benson says. 

''Noah, show mommy. Say 'Why?''' Munch says to Noah. Noah repeats the word, causing Benson and Munch to both chuckle. ''You can thank me when he's a fully functioning, anti dogmatic atheist,'' Munch quips. 

''I'll do that,'' Benson says.

When Munch got up to leave, he takes a long, reflective pause and looks at Benson and Noah before exiting.

''Take care of each other,'' he says to them.

''We will. You too. Say bye, Munch!'' Benson says with a sentimental sigh while cradling Noah.

Waterworks alert!  

Richard Belzer's Law & Order: SVU co-stars pay tribute to him in lieu of his passing

Mariska Hargitay and Richard Belzer on Law And Order Svu

Belzer passed away on February 19, 2023. Shortly after the news of his death, his SVU co-stars took to social media to honor the late actor

“Goodbye my dear, dear friend. I will miss you, your unique light, and your singular take on this strange world. I feel blessed to have known you and adored you and worked with you, side by side, for so many years. How lucky the angels are to have you. I can hear them laughing already. I love you so very much, now and forever,” Mariska Hargitay wrote on Instagram.

Christopher Meloni shared a photo of himself and Belzer posing with their arms around each other, with Belzer wearing his signature sunglasses.

“Richard 'The Belz' Belzer. A beautiful soul, a dapper dresser, with the spirit of a child. Never met anyone like him, and I never will again. Ur last words have helped make ur passing easier to take,” Meloni captioned his post.

RELATED: Ice T Opens Up About Richard Belzer's Passing: 'I Love Him, Man'

Detective John Munch Detective Fin Tutuola. and Captain Cragen on Law And Order Svu Episode 1505

Ice T posted a snapshot of him and Bezler posing in character while on the set of SVU.

“Highs and Lows… After one of the most amazing weeks of my life. I wake up to the news I lost my friend today. Belz is gone.. Damn it! But remember this..’When you ARE having real fun and are Truly Happy. ENJOY it to the fullest! Cause Pain is inevitably coming.’ I’ll miss you Homie 🙏” he wrote. 

Executive producer Dick Wolf spoke about his grief to People.

"I first worked with Richard on the Law & Order/Homicide crossover and loved the character so much, I told Tom [Fontana] that I wanted to make him one of the original characters on SVU," Wolf told the outlet. "The rest is history. Richard brought humor and joy into all our lives, was the consummate professional, and we will all miss him very much."