Law & Order: SVU Character Review: John Munch

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Sarcasm and cynicism, when doled out properly, is a wonderful thing.

On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the sarcasm and cynicism usually comes from Detective John Munch (Richard Belzer). Munch is a believer in conspiracy theories and is more than willing to share his opinions with his colleagues. The character originally started out on Homicide: Life on the Street before transferring to SVU. Like all of the detectives on SVU, Munch has had several partners. His longest lasting partner was Fin Tutuola (Ice-T), the street smart former narcotics detective who balanced out the wise ass that is John Munch.

Though no one would say that Munch is outwardly sentimental, he is known to have occasionally worn his heart on his sleeve, especially when the victims are children. He also is a firm believer in individual rights and once in a while may cross a moral boundary when he believes that it is the right thing to do.

To sum it up: Not every character has to be sunshine and light. There is something to be said for a well placed sarcastic remark or a cynical question. Munch’s cynicism reminds the audience of the reality of that world, may bring out a question or two and perhaps make them laugh. Fans of SVU still love Munch not only for his sarcasm, but also for his heart and his convictions. When all of those characteristics are tied together, they present a portrait of a man who is flawed, deeply human, but goes out of his way to do what is right.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, New York City, Television

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