How ‘Law & Order’ Narrator Landed the Iconic Voice Over Role

by Madison Miller

Somehow, it’s one of the most iconic and consistent parts of the long-running drama series. True fans of the series can eagerly recite the statement at the start of each “Law & Order” episode.

“In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories,” states the narrator each time.

How Narrator of ‘Law & Order’ Got the Important Gig

The narration is something that appeared in the original “Law & Order” series. It is also something that has stuck around for all the spin-offs, including “Law & Order: Organized Crime.” The opening lines are all slightly different for each of the spin-offs.

This introduction has become synonymous with the entire franchise, so, who is it that has the honor of doing this narration?

Steve Zirnkilton is the narrator in the franchise. As it turns out, getting this iconic job was a stroke of good luck. He shared with Backstage Magazine that he was working as a real estate agent when he crossed paths with the show’s creator Dick Wolf. He was looking to buy a house in Maine at the time.

After helping him get a house, Wolf asked him how much he owed him for it all.

“When the transaction was complete [Wolf] said, ‘What do I owe you?’ I immediately passed him a cassette tape which was my [voice over] demo,” Zirnkilton said.

This very bold move worked out for him. His secretary called months later and Zirnkilton started working with Wolf.

Steve Zirnkilton Work with the Show

As it turns out, that narration didn’t appear in the pilot episode. Steve Zirnkilton still got a role in the pilot though.

He played a very small role as a detective alongside Michael Moriarty, Richard Brooks, and William H. Macy. After the pilot, that narration would be firmly solidified as a part of “Law & Order” history.

A year had passed since filming that pilot. Zirnkilton got another call to meet at the recording studio. This time he was handed that opening line.

“I had no idea if the show would have any legs, but happily it hung around for a while,” he told the news outlet.

Seeing as he’s an iconic part of the “Law & Order” world, although not actually seen, Zirnkilton must make decent money. During that interview, he refused to disclose just how much he makes from his voice gig. Since his narration is used at the beginning of each episode of current “Law & Order” shows, he has to have racked up a decent living.

His voice will likely also be used in the upcoming “Law & Order” revival series. Season 21 of the show will air on Thursday, February 24. The other two spin-offs will follow at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.