Brian Cassidy

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Brian Cassidy
Law & Order character
First appearance"Payback" (season 1)
Last appearance"Chasing Demons" (season 19)
Portrayed byDean Winters
TitleNYPD Detective
Police Officer (Season 15)
DA Investigator (Season 19)
PartnerJohn Munch
Seasons1, 13, 14, 15, 19

Detective Brian Cassidy is a fictional character played by Dean Winters in the American crime drama television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on NBC. A recurring cast member during the first season, Cassidy is a young and inexperienced detective with the New York Police Department's Special Victims Unit, and the original partner of John Munch (Richard Belzer). The stress of the Special Victims Unit is too much for Cassidy, and he transfers to the narcotics unit in the middle of the season. Cassidy later returns in the 13th-season finale working undercover for a pimp the SVU detectives are investigating.

Winters had previously worked with creator Dick Wolf, but he was offered a role on SVU through Belzer, though the role proved to be temporary due to Winters' commitment to Oz. As Winters only remained with the series for 13 episodes, his character never had much of a chance to develop. Winters wanted to return to the show for a long time, though, and felt the time was right during the 13th-season finale. Critics were generally negative about Cassidy during the character's initial tenure on the show, but some were glad to see his return in "Rhodium Nights".

Character biography[edit]

Though Cassidy is a dedicated member of the Special Victims Unit, he lacks the emotional maturity to deal with sex crimes and the language to describe them.[1] He views his partner, John Munch (Richard Belzer), as a mentor. Cassidy has a drunken one-night stand with fellow SVU Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), and expresses a desire to pursue a relationship. Benson turns him down, however, citing a policy of not having relationships with co-workers.[1][2] Years later, Benson expresses regret at the way she handled the situation.[3]

This and the stress of the unit wear Cassidy down and, after an outburst in the squad room directed at Benson, Captain Donald Cragen (Dann Florek) sends Cassidy to check up on a teenage rape victim Cragen encountered when he worked in homicide. After she tells him in detail how she had been systematically violated by her abuser and then gang-raped, Cassidy decides he lacks the stomach to deal with sex crimes, and transfers to the NYPD's Narcotics Division.[1][4] Munch later laments that he felt abandoned when Cassidy became the latest in a long line of partners who left him.[5]

Cassidy returns in the Season 13 episode "Rhodium Nights". He has been working undercover for the past three years as a bodyguard for a pimp, Bart Ganzel (Peter Jacobson), that his former colleagues at the SVU are investigating, and provides the detectives with information about Ganzel's prostitution ring.[6] When a prostitute named Carissa Gibson (Pippa Black), who had been dating both Cassidy and Ganzel, is found dead in bed with Cragen, Detective Nick Amaro (Danny Pino) believes Cassidy played a role in framing Cragen despite protests from the other SVU detectives. Amaro confronts Cassidy at gunpoint and tries to force information out of him.[7]

Cassidy is later shot by a corrupt NYPD police officer after Ganzel discovers Cassidy is working undercover to expose him, and Amaro helps uncover the conspiracy that led to the attack on Cassidy. Cassidy survives, and awakens in the hospital, where Benson tells him she is not the same person she was 13 years ago and kisses him.[3] In the episode "Undercover Blue", Cassidy is accused of rape by a prostitute while he was undercover almost four years prior. It is revealed that Cassidy was being set up by the woman and her boss to make money off a lawsuit against the NYPD, and the charges are dropped. Also in this episode, Munch says that Cassidy paid the price for having a relationship with a prostitute while undercover with Ganzel, as he was demoted from detective to an officer who works nights at a Bronx courthouse. Benson and Cassidy also are forced to reveal their romantic relationship in this episode when Amaro and Munch go to Cassidy's apartment and find Benson there.

In Season 15, Cassidy and Benson move in together. In the episode "Internal Affairs", Cassidy is put undercover by Internal Affairs Bureau Lt. Ed Tucker (Robert John Burke) to investigate a corrupt precinct, an assignment that very nearly leads to his death at the hands of two of its officers. Tucker promises that if the operation is successful, he will earn his detective shield back. In the episode, "Rapist Anonymous", it is revealed that he has been given back the title of detective, and will be working in Internal Affairs. Cassidy and Benson amicably break up around the time of the episode "Downloaded Child", after realizing that Cassidy prefers to live in the moment, while Benson plans for the future.

At the end of "Gone Fishin'", he returns as a DA investigator and tells Benson he's investigating allegations that she's abusing her adopted son Noah. In "Mood", it's revealed that he told another DA investigator about Benson and her ordeal with serial rapist William Lewis (Pablo Schreiber), which indirectly led to the child abuse claim. Benson is furious and says she never wants to speak to him again.

In "Chasing Demons", Cassidy testifies against a child molester whom he had physically assaulted while placing him under arrest; Cassidy loses his temper during cross-examination and threatens to kill him, causing a mistrial. The suspect is murdered the following day after Cassidy is seen at his house, and ADA Peter Stone (Philip Winchester) has him arrested for murder. However, it is eventually revealed that the killer is one of the suspect's victims, and Cassidy is exonerated. He tells Stone that one of the reasons he joined SVU was that he had been molested as a child by his Little League coach (a fact he never told Benson), and that one of the reasons he left was that he couldn't handle the memories coming back.


"It's amazing. I've wanted to come back for a long time but scheduling difficulties never really permitted it, so, with this storyline, with the [season 13] finale and now what we're doing with the two-hour [season 14] opening movie, it feels like this was the right time to come, so I'm glad I waited."

Although Winters previously worked with Dick Wolf on New York Undercover,[9] he credited fellow cast member Richard Belzer with getting him the job on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Belzer and Winters had first worked together when Winters guest-starred on Homicide: Life on the Street, where Belzer was a regular. Wolf invited Belzer to join the cast of his new Law & Order spinoff after Homicide was cancelled, and Belzer told Wolf he would only join the cast if Winters was his partner on the show.[8][9] Winters had a role at the same time on the HBO drama Oz and, while the SVU role was initially only supposed to last a few episodes, he was contractually obligated to Oz, and eventually departed SVU completely to focus on Oz.[9]

Winters believed that Cassidy was not unintelligent, but simply naive. He voiced early on a desire to executive producer Ted Kotcheff that Cassidy not be made into the "dumb blonde" of the unit because he did not believe there would be any in the Special Victims Unit.[1] Cassidy's character did not see much development, but Winters attributed this to the lack of time the character was on the show. His character appeared during the first half of the first season, when the writers were trying to flesh out all of the characters on the show. Had he remained on the show longer, Winters believed that the writers would have found much more for Cassidy to do.[10]

Winters was not bitter that the SVU role did not work out, and he wanted to return to the series for many years. During the 13th season, SVU was filming scenes in front of the building where Winters lived, so he chatted with the cast and crew, especially his former costar Mariska Hargitay. Hargitay helped Winters return to the show for the season finale that year. Winters saw potential in the storyline involving Cragen being framed for the murder of a prostitute and believed the time was right, so he agreed to stay on as a recurring character in the 14th season. Winters was excited about the changes in Cassidy's character; while Cassidy was young and immature in the first season, he had become more jaded in the years since, and Winters believed the audience was left in suspense in the 14th-season premiere not knowing whether Cassidy was corrupt or not.[8]

Awards and decorations[edit]

The following are the medals and service awards fictionally worn by Detective Cassidy, as seen in "Internal Affairs".

American Flag Breast Bar.jpg American Flag Breast Bar
Mpd.jpg NYPD Meritorious Police Duty


After the premiere of SVU, Variety's Phil Gallo felt that Cassidy was not given much to do, and what he comes up with is an "irksome single note".[11] Entertainment Weekly's Bruce Fretts agreed that the audience did not get to see enough of Cassidy.[12] Regarding Cassidy's return to the show, Brittany Frederick of Star Pulse said, "It was a pleasant surprise to see Dean Winters reprise his role as Detective Brian Cassidy last season; his character was with the show so briefly that we didn't really get to know him...Cassidy is an entirely different person now - as he should be after so many years absent - but there's an odd comfort in getting to see him again when the show could've easily come up with a random undercover cop to fill his role."[13]



  1. ^ a b c d Green, p. 157
  2. ^ "Closure". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 1. Episode 10. January 7, 2000. NBC.
  3. ^ a b "Above Suspicion". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 14. Episode 2. September 26, 2012. NBC.
  4. ^ "Disrobed". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 1. Episode 13. February 4, 2000. NBC.
  5. ^ "Trials". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 10. Episode 1. September 23, 2008. NBC.
  6. ^ "Rhodium Nights". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 13. Episode 23. May 23, 2012. NBC.
  7. ^ "Lost Reputation". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 14. Episode 1. September 26, 2012. NBC.
  8. ^ a b c "Dean Winters" (September 19, 2012). "Dean Winters' Official "Law & Order: SVU" Season 14 Premiere Interview" (Interview video).
  9. ^ a b c Green, p. 156
  10. ^ Green, p. 158
  11. ^ Gallo, Phil (September 19, 1999). "Variety Reviews: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit". Variety. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved October 1, 2012.
  12. ^ Fretts, Bruce (September 30, 1999). "Special Victims Unit divides Law & Order devotees". Entertainment Weekly. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Retrieved October 1, 2012.
  13. ^ Frederick, Brittany (September 27, 2012). "'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' Review: 'Lost Reputation/Above Suspicion' (14.01/14.02)". Star Retrieved October 1, 2012.