Benjamin Stone (Law & Order character)

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Ben Stone
Law & Order character
First appearance "Prescription for Death"
Last appearance "Old Friends"
Portrayed by Michael Moriarty
Time on show 1990–1994
Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4
Credited appearances 88 episodes (total)
Succeeded by Jack McCoy

Benjamin "Ben" Stone was a fictional character portrayed by Michael Moriarty in the TV drama Law & Order. He was the Executive Assistant District Attorney for New York County until his resignation at the end of season four. He appeared in 88 episodes.

Character overview[edit]

Stone works in the Manhattan District Attorney's office under Alfred Wentworth (in the pilot episode) and Adam Schiff. He was raised in an Irish Catholic family. He was raised mostly by his Irish grandmother,[1] his father having been an alcoholic.[2] Stone is divorced and has a son, Peter Stone, who is the Deputy Chief of the Special Prosecutions Bureau in Chicago,[3] and a daughter.[4]

Stone's prosecutorial methods are portrayed as being grounded in moral principles stemming from his Catholic faith. He is shown to be pro-life[5] and opposed to the death penalty.[6] He also is a strong advocate of social justice, having marched in the civil rights movement.[7] It is implied that Stone, like actor Moriarty, is a Dartmouth College alumnus, with references to "fraternity row" and New Hampshire.

Career within the show[edit]

Stone became Executive Assistant DA in 1985 after convicting con artist and murderer Philip Swann, who years later enters a civil suit against Stone when the validity of the conviction is called into question. (Swann is ultimately found guilty, however, and sent back to prison.)[8] Stone's assistants have been Paul Robinette and Claire Kincaid.

A strict, unyielding boss, Stone can be very difficult to work with; in the pilot episode, Sergeant Max Greevey and Detective Mike Logan, intimate that Stone "eats ADAs for lunch."[9] Nevertheless, Stone is usually rather soft-spoken, and is fond of using harmless words like "sir" to convey his contempt for the people he prosecutes.

Stone makes his last appearance in the show in the episode "Old Friends," the final episode of season four. The episode portrays a racketeering case in which the main witness (portrayed by Allison Janney), whose testimony Stone had secured by threatening to send her to prison, is murdered by the Russian Mafia. He feels responsible for her death and resigns from the DA's office.[10] He is succeeded by Jack McCoy as Executive ADA.


Stone is mentioned in the 1996 episode "Custody" as a possible witness against a judge. When his former assistant Paul Robinette, now a defense attorney, wants a judge to recuse himself for past comments showing bias against drug addicts and support for forced sterilization, Robinette threatens to subpoena Stone to testify about the comments, which both he and Stone heard the judge make. Upon hearing of the threat, Schiff informs McCoy that Stone "is travelling in Europe, not available to testify at any hearing." However, the judge by this time has already declared himself "unavailable" to hear the case.

Twenty-one years later, his son Peter is introduced in the Chicago Justice episode "Uncertainty Principle". He has followed in his father’s footsteps as an ADA. In the 19th season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Peter succeeds Rafael Barba as ADA for the titular sex crimes bureau.

Ben Stone is shown to have died in 2018, as of the opening scene of the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "The Undiscovered Country". The episode shows Stone's successor as ADA, Jack McCoy, giving the eulogy at his funeral.


Stone's son is Peter Stone, a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney and lead character on Chicago Justice.[11] Peter first appears on the Chicago P.D. episode "Justice", which is the backdoor pilot for Chicago Justice. After the latter's cancellation, Peter will also recur in season 19 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.[12]

Stone also had a daughter, Pamela, who appears in the nineteenth-season episode "Send in the Clowns" of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Pamela Stone is said to be schizophrenic, living in upstate New York. According to Peter Stone, Ben Stone would visit her once a week, and Peter Stone has continued the visits since Ben Stone's death.

Reason for departure[edit]

Stone's departure from the series stemmed from actor Michael Moriarty's dispute with the network and U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, who in 1993 began promoting legislation to limit portrayals of violence on television. Moriarty, who was outspoken against Reno and what he felt was government censorship, was scheduled to appear on NBC shows Today and Now with Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric, but both ended up canceled. Moriarty had already taped his segment for Now; for his Today show appearance, during which he was scheduled to debate Senator Kent Conrad, he was replaced by FCC chairman Reed Hundt. Both appearances were scheduled to air on January 26, 1994. Moriarty submitted his resignation to producer Dick Wolf on January 25, 1994, and his departure was written into the series.[13][14]


  1. ^ "The Troubles". Law & Order. Season 1. Episode 20. November 26, 1991. NBC. 
  2. ^ "Prescription For Death". Law & Order. Season 1. Episode 1. September 13, 1990. NBC. 
  3. ^ "Breaking News - NBC's New Comedies Earn Key Timeslots with Strong Support While Powerful Sunday Lineup Launches March 5 as #1 Network Sets Midseason Slate -". 
  4. ^ "Night and Fog". Law & Order. Season 3. Episode 13. February 3, 1993. NBC. 
  5. ^ "Life Choice". Law & Order. Season 1. Episode 12. January 8, 1991. NBC. 
  6. ^ "Vengeance". Law & Order. Season 2. Episode 16. February 18, 1992. NBC. 
  7. ^ "Sanctuary". Law & Order. Season 4. Episode 19. April 13, 1994. NBC. 
  8. ^ "American Dream". Law & Order. Season 4. Episode 8. November 9, 1993. NBC. 
  9. ^ "Everybody's Favorite Bagman". Law & Order. Season 1. Episode 6. October 30, 1990. NBC. 
  10. ^ "Old Friends". Law & Order. Season 4. Episode 22. May 25, 1994. NBC. 
  11. ^ Stanhope, Kate (January 18, 2017). "'Chicago Justice': Dick Wolf Talks 3-Show Crossover, 'Law & Order' Comparisons". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 19, 2017. 
  12. ^ Kimberly Roots (August 8, 2017). "Law & Order SVU: Philip Winchester to Bring Chicago Justice Role to NY". TVLine. Retrieved August 12, 2017. 
  13. ^ Brozan, Nadine (February 1, 1994). "Chronicle". The New York Times. Retrieved June 30, 2017. 
  14. ^ Weber, Bruce (March 4, 1994). "On Stage, and Off". The New York Times. Retrieved June 30, 2017.