Q: I saw Richard Belzer, who played John Munch on "Law & Order: SVU," in an episode of "The X-Files," and I think they called him Munch there as well. Was that supposed to be the same character?

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

Brace yourself, because this goes deep: there was once a conspiracy among pretty much all of television to get Det. (and later Sgt.) John Munch, always played by Richard Belzer, in as many shows as possible.

Munch, the grouchy and somewhat world-weary New York cop who delighted in just this sort of conspiracy theory for 17 years on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," actually started out on a different show. A few times on "SVU" he mentioned his time back in Baltimore — that's a reference to the birth of the character on the groundbreakingly gritty procedural "Homicide: Life on the Street."

It was towards the end of that show's run that he appeared on "The X-Files" — an episode set partly in Baltimore.

Eight more TV shows followed, giving Munch the record for the biggest number of TV crossover appearances in history (blowing past Norm and Cliff from "Cheers").

If you think Munch's "X-Files" appearance was weird, look up his turns on sitcoms "30 Rock" and "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." And then, if you think you're ready, watch him on "Sesame Street," doing a bit called "Law & Order: Special Letters Unit." That's how deep this conspiracy goes.

Kidding aside, Belzer himself is actually a well-known conspiracy theorist. He's written whole books on the subject, including "UFOs, JFK, and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Believe" and "Someone Is Hiding Something: What Happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?"

And with John Munch drawing mysterious links between seemingly unconnected shows across decades, Belzer's at the heart of a conspiracy of his very own. (OK, I'm kidding again.)


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