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‘NYPD Blue’ Cast Then and Now: A Look Back at the Beloved 90s Police Drama

Catch up with your favorite cops from New York's 15th Precinct


The NYPD Blue cast represented one of the earliest police procedural television series set in New York City. Airing from 1993 to 2005, it was ABC’s longest running primetime one-hour series until Grey’s Anatomy. Each week, the fictional 15th Precinct detective squad in Manhattan explored the struggles facing the force both personally and professionally.

The show wasn’t shy when it came to nudity or alcoholism, even amidst controversy for its portrayals of these rather sensitive subjects. Nor was the series hesitant about portraying officers breaking the same laws they’re supposed to be enforcing. Yet, those same officers — thanks to the writers and the NYPD Blue cast — revealed on a weekly basis their grim determination to fight crime on the mean streets.

Dennis Franz and David Caruso on the set of NYPD Blue, 1993
Dennis Franz and David Caruso on the set of NYPD Blue, 1993Lawrence Schwartzwald/Sygma/Getty

Partners Detectives Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) and John Kelly (David Caruso) were the central characters when the NYPD Blue cast was first introduced to audiences. Kelly was later replaced by Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits) after Caruso left the series following the second season in order to pursue a movie career.

Besides revealing the gritty streets of Manhattan, the show also contrasted very different approaches to their difficult jobs. Sipowicz was all brash gruffness on the outside that hid an emotional vulnerability, while the two partners with whom he worked with were complete opposites.

NYPD Blue cast today

Here’s a look at some of the main characters from the NYPD Blue cast listed by the number of episodes they appeared in. Dennis Franz is the only actor to appear in all 261 episodes of the series, followed by Gordon Clapp (Detective Greg Medavoy) who appeared in 256 episodes.

Dennis Franz as Detective Andy Sipowicz (261 episodes)

Dennis Franz Left: 1994; Right: 2016
Dennis Franz Left: 1994; Right: 2016Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty; Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty

Known for his trademark short-sleeve shirt under a jacket and his strong Chicago accent on NYPD Blue, Dennis Franz was born in Maywood, Illinois, where he was active in high school baseball, football and swimming. It was in the 11th grade that he tried out for a role in the school play, The Crucible, because his girlfriend was auditioning. He won the role — she didn’t — and Franz thought it was a pretty cool thing to be up on stage.

Due to his stocky physical appearance, Franz’s career led to his being typecast as a cop and, by his own account, Andy Sipowicz was his 28th role as a police officer. But he didn’t mind — he was getting attention from millions of viewers.

For lack of a better term, they’ve labeled me a sex symbol,” he mused. “It’s flattering and it should happen to every bald, overweight guy. I consider myself fortunate that I’ve been able to find a character that people have responded to.”

Dennis Fran in NYPD Blue, 1998
Dennis Fran in NYPD Blue, 1998Bob Riha, Jr./Getty

Franz began his association with Stephen Bochco, creator of NYPD Blue, in his first major TV role on Hill Street Blues. Clearly he will always be remembered for the Sipowicz character, which garnered him four Emmy Awards throughout the show’s 12 year run.

During the 70s and 80s, Franz worked often with directors Brian DePalma and Robert Altman. Proving he didn’t take himself too seriously, he also did some voice over work for The Simpsons and the Mighty Ducks: The Animated Series. Married to the same woman for over 28 years, Franz hung up his acting shingle after NYPD Blue went off the air in 2005.

Related: ‘Hill Street Blues’ Cast: Catch Up With The Stars Since They Hung up Their Badges

Gordon Clapp as Detective Greg Medavoy (256 episodes)

Gordon Clapp Left: 1999; Right: 2019
Gordon Clapp Left: 1999; Right: 2019Vinnie Zuffante/Getty; Jim Spellman/Getty

Best known for his NYPD Blue character, Gordon Clapp actually has numerous TV shows such as Night Court and Check It Out to his credit, along with a variety of stage plays, including a revival of Glengarry Glen Ross where he was nominated for a Tony Award.

His film credits include Eight Men Out, Rules of Engagement, Sunshine State and Flags of our Father. But it was Detective Medavoy that brought him fame and recognition as well as an Emmy for the role.

In 2014, Clapp began playing a recurring role as Chaplain Orlovsky in Chicago Fire and, just three years ago, he had a modest, but critical role in the acclaimed HBO series Mare of Easttown. Not bad for a guy from a small town in New Hampshire.

James McDaniel as Lieutenant/Captain Arthur Fancy (167 episodes)

James McDaniel Left: 1999; Right: 2014
James McDaniel Left: 1999; Right: 2014Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty; Theo Wargo/Getty

James McDaniel wanted to become a veterinarian and studied at the University of Pennsylvania. But after taking his final exams, he decided to move to New York City and become an actor, despite having no prior acting experience. At the same time, his determination was strong and he earned his first role in a Pepsi commercial soon after arriving. As with so many new actors, McDaniel took to the stage, appearing in Six Degrees of Separation and receiving the Clarence Derwent Award for his performance. He also received an Obie after performing in Before It Hits Home.

Early TV roles and film appearances in the 90s led to a guest starring role as a cop on Bochco’s Hill Street Blues, after which the writer/producer called on McDaniel for L.A. Law and Civil Wars. But it was Bochco’s NYPD Blue that really put McDaniel’s career on the fast track, with his being nominated in 1996 for a Primetime Emmy.

Following the police drama’s demise, McDaniel appeared in various TV series and films. He portrayed Nat King Cole in Livin’ for Love: The Natalie Cole Story in 2000, being personally chosen for the role by Natalie herself.

(Click through to our sister site to see the cast of L.A. Law then and now!)

Nicholas Turturro as Officer/Detective/Sergeant James Martinez (138 episodes)

Nicholas Turturro Left: 1996; Right: 2023
Nicholas Turturro Left: 1996; Right: 2023Steve Eichner/WireImage/Getty; Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty

Anyone who has watched TV or gone to the movies is familiar with the whole Turturro clan, Nicholas being the youngest of three boys. Born in Queens, New York, Nicholas Turturro majored in theater at Adelphi University for two years, but left to marry and help raise a daughter, though the marriage ended in divorce.

It was a fortuitous meeting outside the St. Moritz Hotel in New York City where he was working as a doorman, that Nick managed to find a job as both an extra and voice-over artist. Older brother John then introduced him to Spike Lee and Nick was cast in the director’s Do The Right Thing. Lee took an instant liking to the rough-edged Nick and wrote a part for him in Mo’Better Blues in which he and John played obnoxious brothers.

Nicholas Turturro with the NYPD Blue cast, 1998
Nicholas Turturro with the cast of NYPD Blue, 1998Hulton Archive/Handout/Getty

Although Lee cast Nick in his next two films, it was being cast as rookie detective James Martinez on NYPD Blue that gained serious TV attention and brought Nick a regular paycheck. Turturro continued to play rough and complex characters in mobster roles and also showed his funny side in such TV comedies as The Drew Carey Show, The Biz and The Shipment and feature funnies like The Deported, Zookeeper and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.

Never one to stray too far from family, he’s appeared in a number of John’s projects over the years that have also occasionally featured cousin Aida Turturro.

Kim Delaney as Detective Diane Russell (137 episodes)

Kim Delaney Left: 1997; Right: 2018
Kim Delaney Left: 1997; Right: 2018Ron Wolfson/Hulton Archive/Getty; Cassidy Sparrow/Getty

Kim Delaney’s a Philly girl who attended John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls High School, where she was a standout cheerleader — though her dreams were of being a court reporter and settling down close to home. While still in high school, Km worked for the Elite modeling agency and upon graduation continued to model in Philadelphia.

Then guess what? She decided to take the 80 minute train ride to New York City and quickly won parts in commercials. She studied acting and auditioned for TV roles in Dynasty and Dallas only to lose out, but she won the part of innocent teenager Jenny Gardner in 1981 on daytime’s All My Children. She earned a daytime Emmy Award nomination as well as a loyal fan base, which helped her acting career to skyrocket.

Related: Original ‘Dynasty’ Cast: See the Stars of the Hit 80s Soap Opera Then and Now

She moved on to the big screen in various films such as The Delta Force, That Was Then…This is Now, and The Force. In 1988, Kim became a regular on the TV series Tour of Duty, but opted to leave a year later to give birth to her son. Coincidentally, her character was killed off in an explosion just like Jenny Gardner had met her end five years earlier.

Another big role came her way in the form of Detective Russell on NYPD Blue. Originally only slated for four episodes, the role became permanent after Russell’s relationship with Detective Simone became a huge hit with viewers.

Kim Delaney poses with her Emmy Award for NYPD Blue, 1997
Kim Delaney poses with her Emmy Award, 1997KIM KULISH/AFP/Getty

For her portrayal of this role, Delaney won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1997. Following her role as part of the NYPD Blue cast, she went on to play Claudia Joy Holden on Lifetime’s military drama, Army Wives, though she was written out a few weeks after the conclusion of Season 6. Next up was a return trip to daytime — where she first saw fame and fortune — when, in 2020, she joined General Hospital in the role of Jackie Templeton.

Sharon Lawrence as A.D.A. Sylvia Costas (103 episodes)

Sharon Lawrence Left: 1998; Right: 2023
Sharon Lawrence Left: 1998; Right: 2023Mychal Watts/WireImage/Getty; Michael Kovac/Getty

Sharon Lawrence was born a southern belle in Charlotte, North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism. She shifted her focus to acting and began her career on Broadway in the 1987 revival of Cabaret, followed by Fiddler on the Roof in 1990. A number of TV movies and series throughout the 1990s dotted her resume until her first big breakthrough role as Sylvia Costas on NYPD Blue, which garnered her many Emmy and SAG nominations.

For the first half of the season she didn’t have to worry about the show’s nudity clause, because she wasn’t a series regular yet. But in January 1994, she was made a full NYPD Blue cast member and told her character was going to start a relationship with Andy Sipowicz. Uh-oh: At that point, Sharon knew she’d be naked at some point and boy, was she right. But she admitted it didn’t really bother her much. “I didn’t have qualms about doing it,” she recalled. “I was working with and for the best this industry had to offer in terms of television.”

Portrait of Sharon Lawrence, 2002
Portrait of Sharon Lawrence, 2002Justin Sullivan/Getty

After her NYPD Blue breakthrough, Lawrence starred in sitcoms such as Fired Up and Ladies Man, as well as the supernatural drama Wolf Lake. Her recurring performances and guest roles were many: Desperate Housewives, Drop Dead Diva, Rizzoli & Isles, Shameless, Monk, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Mentalist, Grey’s Anatomy and others.

In 2021, Lawrence had recurring roles in Punky Brewster and Rebel, later starring in the neo-Western series Joe Pickett. Not to be relegated to the bright lights, Lawrence has played on the World Poker Tour.

Jimmy Smits as Detective Bobby Simone (91 episodes)

Jimmy Smits Left: 1998; Right: 2022
Jimmy Smits Left: 1998; Right: 2022SGranitz/WireImage/Getty; Michael Loccisano/Getty

While Jimmy Smits comes in at just 91 episodes, his screen presence was a welcome addition to the police procedural as widow and homing pigeon breeder Bobby Simone. But the actor, who received a Masters in Fine Arts from Cornell University, has had a long and illustrious career. In the mid-80s, Smits was featured in a number of stage performances in Ithaca, New York’s Cornell’s summer repertory program, later (in 2002) participating in the New York Shakespeare Festival.

Beginning in 1986, Smits played Victor Sifuentes on Bochco’s legal drama, L.A. Law, for which he won an Emmy in 1990. In 1989, he took his smoldering looks to the big screen romantic adventure Old Gringo as Jane Fonda’s love interest. Not to be typecast, Smits played a repairman on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse and then starred alongside Edward James Olmos and Jennifer Lopez in My Family.

Dennis Franz and Jimmy Smits on the set of NYPD Blue, 1997
Dennis Franz and Jimmy Smits on the set of NYPD Blue, 1997Mitchell Gerber/Corbis/VCG/Getty

One of his most acclaimed roles came with NYPD Blue’s Detective Bobby Simone, where he received several Emmy nominations and twice won the ALMA award. He played Congressman Matt Santos on the final two seasons of The West Wing — his character running for and winning the U.S. Presidency. Appearances in several Star Wars movies and video games, along with a role in Sons of Anarchy, came in quick succession. In 2021, Smits played Kevin Rosario in the musical film In The Heights.

Ricky Schroder as Detective Danny Sorenson (58 Episodes)

Ricky Schroder
2000/2020J. Vespa / Contributor / Getty // JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX / Contributor / Getty

Though the character of Detective Danny Sorenson was short-lived, Ricky Schroder’s presence was felt. The character, introduced in Season 6 was killed off two seasons later, though the actor’s departure was for a good cause: he wanted to spend time with his family.

After he left the series, Schroder starred in Poolhall Junkies (2002), Black Cloud (2004), and Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008). Schroder also made appearances in series like Scrubs (2003) and Strong Medicine (2005).

He was married to Andrea Bernard from 1992 to 2016, and the couple have four children together.

NYPD Blue cast facts

The character of Detective John Kelly was originally names Flinn and intended for Jimmy Smits, who turned down the role only later to play Kelly’s replacement, Detective Simone.

The character of Andy Sipowicz was ranked number 31 in TV Guide’s list of the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time” in their June 2004 issue.

Terms thrown around the station were The House, which was shorthand for the term station house; Riding DA meant The Assistant District Attorney assigned to a particular precinct, and Up/Catching, which is a baseball metaphor used to describe the system by which cases are assigned.

Find more of our favorite 90s TV dramas below!

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