Detective Leonard (Lennie) W. Briscoe
 
Played by: Jerry Orbach
Introduction Scene: L&O, Episode 53,  "Point of View"  (11/25/92)
First Lines: Emerging out of street vent steam, he says to crime scene police about a piece of evidence, "Put it back exactly where you found it." Detective Mike Logan asks, "Beeper not working?" Lennie responds, "What I was doing, I don't wear a beeper."
Exit Scene: N/A
Final Lines: N/A
Work Information
Office Address:
27th Precinct
10 Police Square, New York, NY 10001*
(212)555-0088*
(212)555-0957*

Badge Number: Unknown

Known Partners:
Mike Logan (1992-1995)
Rey Curtis (1995-1999)
Ed Green (1999-present)
 

Professional Skills/Idiosyncrasies/Quirks:
  • A compassionate toucher, Lennie often reaches out physically to victims' family members and witnesses with a hand on the shoulder or occasionally even a hug. 
  • Despite his shortcomings as a father (L&O Episode 134, "Aftershock" [05/22/96]), Lennie is really good with children he encounters during investigations.  See,  for example, his questioning of Laura Rudman in L&O Episode 80, "Censure" (02/02/94), or his and Rey's comforting the Rankin children in L&O Episode 135 "Causa Mortis" (09/18/96).
  • Normally restrained at crime scenes, Lennie has been known to explode.  In L&O Episode 194, "Hunters" (02/10/99), he punches one of the Georgia bounty hunters who have just splattered two innocent women with shotgun fire. 
  • When murderers are on the loose, Lennie is not unwilling to use intimidation and force on female suspects.  In L&O Episode 116, "Hot Pursuit" (11/08/95), he yells at a very pregnant woman and slams Leslie Harlan to floor during grocery store robbery. 
  • Thoroughly pragmatic, Lennie will cut corners and bend rules if it gets the job done.  He even comes within what he describes as "a foot, foot and a half" of perjury in L&O Episode 175, "Stalker" (04/15/98), because he thinks he owes the victim for having misread a situation that led to her death. 
  • A technophobe.  In L&O Episode 268,   "Access Nation" (02/27/02), when Lennie comments on not opening e-mail, Green sort of snorts and says something like, "Don't no one send you no e-mail anyway!"  In L&O Episode 113, "Rebels" (09/27/95), he follows new partner Rey Curtis around in bewilderment as Curtis tracks a suspect by e-mail.
  • Realizes that his age is becoming an issue in his work:  After Curtis effortlessly hops over a low wall, Lennie turns to Lt. Van Buren and says, "You want me to carry you or you want to carry me?" L&O Episode 126, "Encore" (02/28/96).  He also frequently is winded when he needs to run to chase suspects.  See, for an example, L&O Episode 158, "Thrill" (09/24/97).
  • Practically a walking atlas of New York City, Lennie can reel off the street addresses of not only restaurants and bars (of course!), but also other places such as a church in L&O Episode 199, "Juvenile" (04/14/99), and an S&M club in L&O Episode 170, "Castoff" (1/28/98).
Career History:
  • Served in the U.S. Army as a corporal.  L&O Episode 132, "Pro Se" (05/08/96), and L&O Episode 241, "Teenage Wasteland" (02/07/01)
  • Formally of the 116th Precinct. L&O Episode 139, "Corruption"  (10/30/96)
  • Worked vice at the 13th Precinct. L&O Episode 142, "Family Business" (11/20/96)
  • Definitely over 25 years with the force: "30 years on the job" L&O episode 155, "Passion" (05/07/97); "28 years experience" L&O episode 175, "Stalker" (04/15/98).
Medical/Psychological History:
  • Blood type is AB-negative.  L&O Episode 94, "Competence" (11/02/94)
  • A recovering alcoholic, Lennie apparently drank for a very long time.  In L&O Episode 134, "Aftershock" (05/22/96), daughter Cathy remarks to him, "I was seven years old when you stumbled out of my life."  We know that he was drinking five years before the events in L&O Episode 139, "Corruption" (10/30/96), which is about two years before Cathy's death at age 26, as indicated by her grave stone in L&O Episode 181, "Monster" (05/28/98).  So, Lennie probably was drinking for at least 13 years.  After he is sober, Lennie falls off the wagon once in In L&O Episode 134, "Aftershock" (05/22/96).  Subsequent to this relapse, he dates it, in true AA style, as a February 5th almost five years previous to the events of L&O Episode 236, "Amends" (11/29/2000).
  • Apparently has a cast iron stomach; never turns down food.  Rey teases him about this in L&O Episode 172, "Faccia a Faccia" (02/25/98): When the M.E. recites the contents of the victim's stomach as "veal picata, capers, risotto, asparagus, salad --could be arugula, could be spinach -- peanuts, red wine, expresso, and before that, corned beef on rye, mustard, and french fries," Rey quips, "Guy eats like you, Lennie!"
  • Used to smoke cigars but quit and now waves away Rey's smoke.  Preferred brands were Monte Cristos and Ramon Allones. L&O Episode 144, "Legacy" (01/15/97)
  • Hates doctors and hospitals. L&O Episode 89, "Second Opinion"  (09/21/94), L&O Episode 197, "Harm"(03/03/99)

  •  
Personal Information/History:

Religion:

  • Father Jewish, raised as a Catholic. He tells Jack McCoy this in L&O Episode 119, "Blood Libel"  (01/03/96).  In L&O Episode 108,  "Bad  Faith" (04/26/95), he mentions an aunt who "says the Rosary every morning."  In L&O Episode 186  "Agony"  (11/04/98  ), he uses the exclamation "Mother of God!" upon discovering an unusually gory victim.
  • Sufficient knowledge of the Bible to recognize the Book of Numbers as part of the Old Testament -- L&O Episode 100, "Progeny" (01/25/95).
Other Aliases/Nicknames:
  • "Old Spice," used once by Green, but Lennie says he doesn't like nicknames. L&O Episode 206, "Gunshow"  (09/22/99)
  • Called "Stretch" by a shopkeeper.  L&O Episode 176, "Disappeared" (04/22/98)
  • Called "Poppa" by a parking attendant. L&O Episode 243, "A Losing Season" (02/21/01)
Childhood Events/Family History:
  • Father was a GI with the first regiment into Buchenwald. L&O Episode 57, "Night and Fog" (02/03/93)
  • Lennie says that in the 1920s his grandfather brewed gin in the bathtub and sold it door-to-door. L&O Episode 232, "Dissonance" (11/01/00)
  • Grew up on Upper West Side.  L&O Episode 70, "Profile" (10/13/93)
  • Has two ex-wives. L&O Episode 53,  "Point of View"  (11/25/92)
  • Has two daughters. They were both in college at one point.  L&O Episode 87, "Doubles" (05/18/94)  In L&O Episode 117, "Paranoia" (11/16/95), Lennie remarks that one of them (probably Cathy) is "two years into a nursing degree."
  • Daughter Cathy, a nurse, appears in three episodes: L&O Episode 134,  "Aftershock" (05/22/96); L&O Episode 178, "Bad Girl "  (04/29/98); and L&O Episode, "Damaged" (05/06/98).  In the last, Cathy is murdered by a drug-dealer ex-boyfriend against whom she testified.  In L&O Episode 181, "Monster" (05/28/98),  she is buried in a Jewish graveside service.  Subsequent to her death, a defense attorney brings up the matter of Cathy's drug involvement during a trial in which Lennie is testifying, and his pain is palpable. L&O Episode 215,  "Loco Parentis"  (01/05/00)
  • The other daughter rarely is mentioned, but her name is Julia.  L&O Episode 98, "House Counsel" (01/04/95)
  • Says he is a grandfather. L&O Episode 119, "Angel" (11/29/95)
  • Lennie has a nephew Ken Briscoe who also is with the NYPD.  SVU Episode 3, "Or Just Look Like One" (10/04/99) and SVU Episode 15, "Entitled (1)" (02/18/00)
  • Apparently a good relationship with his mother: "Any mother too good to be true probably is -- except mine." L&O Episode 26, "Born Again" (03/0602), but not with his father, "a schmuck." L&O Episode 283, "Hitman" (11/13/02)
  • Mentions his ex-wife -- singular -- in connection with child support, apparently indicating that the two daughters have the same mother. L&O Episode 141, "Deadbeat" (11/13/96). That is also supported in Lennie's interrogation of Marty Willach, in which Lennie's comments imply that his two daughters lived in the same household. L&O Episode 95, "Precious" (11/09/94)
Friends:
  • John Flynn of the 116th, but Flynn lies about Lennie in front of the Hellman Commission because he perceives that Lennie has crossed him. L&O Episode 139, "Corruption" (10/30/96)
  • Former police detective Ted Parker.  L&O Episode 81, "Kids" (02/09/94)
  • Brian Torelli of the 71st Precinct in Brooklyn.  Lennie is present when the IAB arrests Torelli for suborning perjury and obstruction of justice in L&O Episode 60, "Jurisdiction" (03/03/93)
  • "Old boss" Tommy Brannigan.  Now retired, Brannigan has to admit that 20 years ago he let murderer Michael Sarno walk in exchange for a promotion. L&O Episode 236, "Amends" (11/29/2000)
  • Partner Rey Curtis.  Rey takes Lennie home with him when his daughter is killed. L&O Episode, "Damaged" (05/06/98); and after having committed adultery with the girl he met in the park, Rey seeks out Lennie at his apartment. L&O Episode 134, "Aftershock" (05/22/96)
  • A curious rapport with Baltimore detective John Munch.  L&O Episode 195, "Sideshow (1)" (02/17/99), and H:LOTS Episode 115, "Sideshow (2)" (02/19/99)
Romantic Entanglements/Dates:
  • Has two ex-wives. L&O Episode 53,  "Point of View"  (11/25/92) 
  • Says that mother of daughter Cathy cheated on him. L&O Episode 134,  "Aftershock" (05/22/96)
  • Remarks that he cheated on his first wife in L&O Episode 137, "Good Girl" (10/07/96). 
  • Had an affair with married policewoman Betty Abrams five years prior to the events of L&O Episode 139, "Corruption" (10/30/96), which she broke off because she wanted to save her family.  Lennie still feels protective toward her.
  • Dated a girl named Katrina for two months. L&O Episode 74, "American Dream" (11/09/93)
  • Tries to pick up a hospital nurse, but she turns him down by implying she is gay. L&O Episode 164, "Blood" (11/19/97)
  • Tries to take a woman named Cele (?) to a Knicks game, but on the phone she tells him she is busy.  L&O Episode 83, "Mayhem" (03/09/94)
  • Obviously exaggerating, he claims that the last time he "got lucky" was in 1986. L&O Episode 208, "DNR" (10/06/99)
  • In L&O Episode 103, "Seed" (02/15/95), he mentions a woman named Gloria with whom he apparently is intimate enough  to know that she has to spend one day a month in bed -- could be a current girlfriend or maybe one of the ex-wives.
  • Had an affair with Det. John Munch's ex-wife Gwen. H:LOTS Episode 45, "For God and Country" (02/09/96), and H:LOTS Episode 82, "Baby, It's You" (11/14/97).
  • Seems a bit embarrassed when the waitress in John Munch's Baltimore bar comes on to him.  H:LOTS Episode 45, "For God and Country" (02/09/96)
Education:
  • PS 189. L&O Episode 86, "Nurture" (05/04/94)
  • CCNY, where he says he never finished reading Melville's novel Moby Dick. L&O Episode 117,  "Paranoia" (11/15/95 )
  • Knowledge of African-American poet Langston Hughes; quotes Hughes' poem "Motto" to Lt. Van Buren in L&O Episode 130, "Slave" (04/21/96). 
  • Has traveled to London where his first wife wanted to stay at the expensive Hotel Connaught. L&O Episode 166 "Burned" (12/10/97)
  • Able to recognize Arabic script. L&O Episode 167, "Ritual" (12/17/97)

  • In a witty exchange with Ed, Lennie demonstrates he is familiar with the basic thought of philosopher Rene Descartes L&O Episode 280, "True Crime" (10/16/02)
Political Opinions/Affiliations:
  • May possibly tend toward the politically liberal.  In an effort to placate an anti-immigrant shopkeeper, he refers to "your boy Newt." L&O Episode 119, "Angel" (11/29/95)  In L&O Episode 130, "Slave" (04/21/96), he likens his conservative partner Rey to Pat Buchanan.  In L&O Episode 93, "White Rabbit" (10/19/94), he says of the FBI's obsession with political activists during the '60s, "Every once in a while they actually tangled with a criminal."
  • Ambivalent about the death penalty.  L&O Episode 114, "Savages" (10/18/95), and L&O Episode 134, "Aftershock" (05/22/96)
  • Not in favor of legalizing drugs. L&O Episode 59, "Mother Love" (02/24/93)
  • Probably not a friend of the gun lobby.  Upon finding a militia's huge cache of arms, Lennie suggests, "Take a picture, and send it to Charlton Heston!"  L&O Episode 162, "Nullification" (11/05/97)
  • Generally tolerant, or at least not judgmental, of  homosexuals.  In L&O Episode 65, "Manhood" (05/12/93), he and Mike Logan risk their careers to get to the truth about a gay cop who was killed because he didn't get the backup he requested. 
  • Since 9/11 a U. S. flag lapel pin has joined his PBA pin. 
  • Angry about the 9/11 attack: [to Green] "Hey, take a look, partner -- there's supposed to be two towers standing over there!" L&O Episode 277, "Patriot" (05/022/02)
  • Didn't vote for George W. Bush. L&O Episode 283, "Hitman" (11/13/02)
Interests/Hobbies/Tastes:
  • Fan of rock-and-roller Fats Domino.  L&O Episode 80, "Censure" (02/02/94)
  • Fan of jazz great Mose Allison.  L&O Episode 54, "Consultation" (12/09/92)
  • Pronounced opinions on food. Doesn't approve of mayo on corned beef. L&O Episode 270, "Girl Most Likely" (03/27/02)   Likes his pretzels "extra salty."  L&O Episode 116, "Hot Pursuit" (11/08/95) Wonders "what's the point?" of decaffeinated cappucino with skim milk. L&O Episode 97, "Scoundrels" (11/30/94)  Wants his hot pastrami "with extra mustard, and don't trim the fat."  L&O Episode 147, "Matrimony" (0219/97)
  • Knowledgeable of typical male sports -- football, baseball, basketball, boxing.  Participates in off-track betting, golf, and poker.  Demonstrates his extraordinary prowess at pool in L&O Episode 87, "Wager" (03/30/94), and H:LOTS Episode 45, "For God and Country" (02/09/96).
  • A Zane Grey fan. L&O Episode 155, "Passion" (05/07/97)
  • Apparently does not care for the beach: "Not a sand and sun-block kind of guy." L&O Episode 283, "Hitman" (11/13/02)
Catch Phrases/Personal Quirks:
  • Something of a grammarian. PUNK SUSPECT: Hey, man -- we wasn't doin' nothin'! LENNIE: Oh, yeah? And just where wasn't you doin' it?" L&O Episode 123,  "Trophy" (01/31/96).  PUNK SUSPECT: Look, man -- I don't know nuttin' about nuttin'. LENNIE: See, we already know that because if you did know anything about anything, you'd know not to keep a semi-automatic .45 caliber pistol in a shoebox under your bed!" L&O Episode 243, "A Losing Season" (02/31/01)
  • In numerous episodes, Lennie seldom misses an opportunity to share his cynical quips about marriage.
  • Stereotypical New Yorker: "[New Hampshire] -- I spent a year there one weekend." L&O Episode 83, "Mayhem" (03/09/94).  And "I hate going to Jersey!" L&O Episode 156, "Past Imperfect" (05/14/97)
  • Clearly doesn't appreciate playing the straight man -- see scene in morgue with M.E. Rodgers.  L&O Episode 250, "Brother's Keeper" (05/09/01)
  • An apparent fondness for the epanodos (or anadiplosis): "Great, if we knew who it was, we'd know who it was" L&O Episode 102, "Performance" (02/08/95); "You know, Mike, if I didn't already know you don't have kids, I'd know you don't have kids" L&O Episode 103, "Seed" (02/15/95); and "If we'd been a little more alert the first time, maybe there wouldn't have been a first time." L&O Episode 277, "Patriot" (05/022/02)
  • Quite the mimic, Lennie imitates the elevator engineer in L&O Episode 136, "ID" (09/25/96), and the talking TV horse Mr. Ed in L&O Episode 122, "Corpus Delecti" (01/17/96).
  • A rarely-seen enormous smile that seems to be especially reserved for the children or grandchildren of friends. L&O Episode 117,  "Paranoia" (11/15/95 ), and L&O Episode 236, "Amends" (11/29/2000)
  • Prefers ties with oval or circular patterns; some paisley or splash patterns, occasionally geometric, but never stripes or plaid.
  • Engaged in some sort of curious french-fries rivalry with Lt. Van Buren. L&O Episode 232, "Dissonance" (10/18/00) and L&O Episode 184, "Bait" (10/14/98)
Repeat Offender?
L&O Episode 24, "The Wages of Love" (09/24/91), as Attorney Frank Lehrman. 
Other Relevant Appearances
As Det. Lennie Briscoe: 
H:LOTS Episode 45, "For God and Country" (02/09/96)
H:LOTS Episode 82, "Baby, It's You" (11/14/97)
H:LOTS Episode 115, "Sideshow (2)" (02/19/99)
SVU Episode 3, "Or Just Look Like One" (10/04/99)
SVU Episode 4, "Hysteria" (10/11/99)
SVU Episode 15, "Entitled (1)" (02/18/00)
CI Episode 7, "Poison" (11/11/01)
Web Pages
E! Online File
IMDb Page
The Official Unofficial Jerry Orbach Homepage
NBC Law & Order Bio
Bibliography
Erickson, Chris.  "Who Is This Briscoe? Well, He Resembles Jerry Orbach, Oddly." The New York Times, 7 April 2002, section 14; page 14; column 5. 
Key
* = denotes information yet to be confirmed
H:LOTS = Homicide: Life On The Streets
L&O = Law & Order (the original series)
SVU = Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
CI = Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Character Editor: Leslie Rampey

 

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