Chicago Med features one Law & Order actor who actually made several appearances on the hit franchise. The actress, S. Epatha Merkerson, was actually a crucial part of the early Law & Order years and starred in the series.
She then went on to star in Chicago Med. Some fans speculated that she would leave Chicago Med to re-join Law & Order, but that doesn’t look likely at this point. On Chicago Med, Merkerson plays Sharon Goodwin, the head of the Patient and Medical Services at Chicago Med’s Gaffney Chicago Medical Center.
On Law & Order, Merkerson joined the cast early on as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren. She added a critical perspective to the show, and when she left Law & Order, fans really struggled with it.
Merkerson Set a Huge Record on the Original ‘Law & Order’ Series
Merkerson was also a record-breaker during her time on Law & Order. When the show ended in 2010, she actually held the record for the longest-running Black character on television. She appeared in a shocking 388 episodes over the course of 17 years.
That record is actually now held by another Law & Order franchise actor, Ice T, who plays Fin Totuola on Law & Order: SVU.
She had interestingly already decided to leave the show before its 2010 cancellation, and her character may not even be alive right now. In her final season, Van Buren was diagnosed with Stage II Cervical cancer. It was quite a tragic end for her, and fans were sad to see her character suffer.
Merkerson was Added to the Show Because it Was Too Male Dominated
Merkerson wasn’t in Law & Order’s earliest episodes. In fact, the cast was all-male, and the show was almost canceled for it.
“NBC was going to cancel the show because they felt it was too testosterone-driven,” Merkerson recounted in an interview with the Academy of American Television. “They needed to bring in women and so Dick [Wolf] decided to make the commander of the precinct a woman and then to bring in a young ADA female and that’s how Jill Hennessey and I got on the show.”
“It was literally because they were getting ready to cancel [Law & Order]. And that change in the show after that first season… the numbers were incredible and the demographic changed exponentially. “The times were also changing,” she continued. “Women started watching the show and that’s what they really wanted. They wanted to change the demographic.”
This definitely wasn’t a problem when she joined Chicago Med. She once again won fans over with her portrayal of Sharon Goodwin. And while Law & Order fans are bummed it doesn’t look like she’s joining the revival series, Chicago Med fans are plenty happy to see her stay.