Richard Belzer’s Best Quotes as ‘Homicide’ Detective John Munch

The late actor played the cynical, conspiracy-loving detective on “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “Law & Order: SVU” and more

Richard Belzer as John Munch
Richard Belzer as John Munch (NBC)

Comedian and actor Richard Belzer, who sadly died on Sunday at age 78, played detective John Munch on several series, including “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” And on every single one of them, he had something wise and witty to say.

The character of John Munch was created on the underrated ’90s police drama “Homicide: Life on the Street.” Munch was known for his one-liners, metaphysical riffs and sprawling conspiracy theories while solving murders in Baltimore alongside detectives played by Andre Braugher, Daniel Baldwin and Ned Beatty. As he mused in one episode: “If a murder is committed in Baltimore and no homicide detective takes the call, did that homicide actually occur?”

He got a bit blue when the character moved over to “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” in 1999, where the topics were rape, assault and, sometimes, sexual dysfunction, but he was still the same Munch.

Munch’s love of conspiracy theories made him a natural to crossover on a 1997 episode of “The X-Files” with geeky trio The Three Gunman. The character appeared in ten different series on five networks since debuting in 1993, including “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: Trial by Jury” and “Arrested Development.”

Here are some of our favorite Munch-isms:

Kyle Secor, Richard Belzer on "Homicide: Life on the Street"
Kyle Secor (left) and Richard Belzer on “Homicide: Life on the Street” (NBC/Getty Images)

“Homicide: Life on the Street” (1993 – 1999)

“I don’t like to get attached to people. They have a tendency to get suspended or throw china at me.”

“Homicide: our day begins when yours ends.”

While interrogating a suspect, Munch’s too-quick verbal wordplay and reference to talk show host Montel Williams had the perp completely stumped.
Munch: “Okay, now I get it. You’re saving your really good lies for some smarter cop, is that it? I’m just a donut in the on-deck circle. Wait until the real guy gets here. Wait ’til that big guy comes back. I’m probably just the secretary. I’m just Montel Williams. You want to talk to Larry King!…
I’ve been a murder police for ten years. If you’re gonna lie to me you lie to me with respect. Now what is it? Is it my shoes? Is it my haircut? Got a problem with my haircut? Don’t you ever again lie to me like I’m Montel Williams! I’m not Montel Williams!”
Suspect: “Who’s Montel Williams?”

To a potential mugger: “Hey, we’re police! Go rob somebody else.”

Answering the squad room phone during the holidays: “Ho-ho-homicide.”

Ned Beatty and Richard Belzer in "Homicide: Life on the Street"
Ned Beatty and Richard Belzer in “Homicide: Life on the Street” (NBC)

He also proved eerily prophetic when he predicted that in the near future we’d have “500 channels” to choose from when he told partner Stan Bolander (Ned Beatty): “Soon, very soon, there’s gonna be 500 channels. Besides the sports channel and the weather channel, there’ll be the ballet channel and the dog food channel. There won’t be any books or newspapers, no telephones. We’ll only be able to communicate with email and QVC. We’ll all be interactive. All you need to see and hear, you’ll be able to see and hear without having to rise from your Sealy Posturepedic. I’m talking about high definition. I’m talking about virtual reality. I’m talking about living in the fast lane on the information superhighway. Better get ready, because it’s coming.”

“The X-Files” (1997)

Richard Belzer on "The X-Files"
Richard Belzer on “The X-Files” (Fox)

To The Lone Gunman: “Here’s a tip: Aluminum foil makes a lovely hat and it blocks out the government’s mind-control rays. Keep you guys out of trouble.”

Richard Belzer on "SVU"
Richard Belzer on “SVU” (NBC)

Law & Order: Special Victims’ Unit” (1999 to 2016)

When being questioned by a police psychologist in the first season: “Does dealing with sexual deviants every day affect me? The answer is no. Just ask my blow-up doll.”

To Jeffries (Michelle Hurd) and Cassidy (Dean Winters):

“A military plane drops JFK’s coffin in the middle into 9,000 feet of water three years after the assassination. You don’t find that suggestive, perhaps even a tad bit disquieting. No? The Justice Department waits 33 years before they impart this tidbit on the American people. And then they say they did it because it wasn’t evidence? What are you, sheep? Will you believe anything?

Having dinner with Fin (Ice T)’s son Ken (Ernest Waddell in a 2012 episode:
Ken (reads off the menu): “Branzino, dourade, and tilapia.”
Munch: “Are those fish or is that a law firm?”

Richard Belzer on SVU
Richard Belzer on SVU (NBC)

Benson (about a suspect they had just spoken to): “Two hours ago, she filled her pockets with stones and walked into Prospect Park Lake.”
Munch: “Who is she, Virginia Woolf?”

To Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) after babysitting her son Noah: “Taught him a major life lesson. Always question authority. He’ll thank me when he’s a fully functioning anti-dogmatic atheist.”

To Fin:
“I came back from Baltimore after my last marriage broke up. The only opening in my bracket was SVU. Seen enough dead bodies, figured the change would do me good. Little did I know, it’s the living victims that rip your guts out.”