‘Law & Order: SVU’: Dann Florek’s Exit as Captain Donald Cragen Was to Keep The Show Realistic

The stars of Law & Order: SVU tend to remain on the show for many years. But for one of the stars who left the show several years ago, Dann Florek (Captain Donald Cragen), his exit was a part of keeping the show in the realm of reality as far as depictions of police.

Dann Florek, Kelli Giddish and Danny Pino on the set of 'Law & Order: SVU'
Dann Florek, Kelli Giddish and Danny Pino on the set of ‘Law & Order: SVU’ | Bobby Bank/WireImage

Dann Florek as Captain Donald Cragen

The actor appeared in several films and television series before began starring in his iconic role in the Law & Order franchise as Captain Donald Cragen. He starred in the television series L.A. Law from 1988 to 1993 as Dave Meyer. Aside from appearing in films like The Flinstones, Getting Even with Dad, and more. He also had a recurring role on the sitcom Smart Guy as Coach Gerber.

In the Law & Order universe, Florek first starred as Cragen in the original Law & Order series for several seasons from 1990 to 1993. Florek exited the series as a main character after the s how went through. a restructuring, although he came back to direct several episodes of the show and guest-starred in some as well. He also returned to the role for the Law & Order franchise television movie, Exiled.

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About five years after he leaving Law & Order, he was tapped to star in the spinoff series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit reprising the Cragen role. He portrayed the role consecutively for many years 1999 to 2013.

In an interview a few years ago, Florek talked about working on the show.

“On a television series there are certain things that just have to be set in place about schedule and when the script is ready and when you go into prep and things like that,” he explained in part. “But then what is different is the nature of each story, each episode and who the guest stars are and that always brings in a kind of new mix and a new energy. So we kind of have to start at the same place but I think each one finds a life of its own. And in some you rehearse more and some you kind of jump right in.”

Why Captain Donald Cragen was written out

Cragen’s departure was a huge one from the show, since he was a major cast member who had been a part of the show from its beginning. However, it seems as if his exit was only due to the fact that the show wants to remain realistic in its portrayal of law enforcement.

As Florek continued to get older, it was a given that one day, he would exit the show. The same thing went for Richard Belzer left the show as John Munch.

“In the real world, which we try to very hard to simulate, NYPD has mandatory retirement before your 63rd birthday. And we were trying to figure out how to deal with it,” Leight said when Belzer left the show. “The reason NYPD does it is because you can’t have 65-year-old guys running after guys. It is a hard and fast rule.”

If Law & Order: SVU continues to be the show that never ends, look for more characters to exit like this.