10 hard and gritty facts about NYPD Blue

By: H&I Staff    Posted: May 27, 2016, 1:53PM

Bold. Aggressive. Daring. NYPD Blue wasn't afraid to push the boundaries of prime-time television. Here are 10 things you might not know about the controversial 1990s cop drama. 


The show drew a lot of criticism for its content.

From the beginning, Blue tested the limits of network television decency. It featured frank depictions of alcoholism (in main character Detective Andy Sipowicz), offensive language, violence and nudity. The American Family Assocation took out full-page ads in major newspapers defiling the show and asking viewers to boycott, and many affiliates refused to pick it up. Blue also influenced L. Brent Bozell III to start the Parents Television Council, a United States censorship advocacy group.

Image: Wikipedia


Actors came and went – and sometimes came back and went again.

The show had some infamous departures, including David Caruso, who reportedly left due to pay disputes and because he wanted to make movies. Jimmy Smits, whose Bobby Simone came in as a replacement for Caruso’s John Kelly, left because of the on-set antics of writer/co-creator David Milch (more on that below). Andrea Thompson also left because of Milch. Sharon Lawrence left more than once because she wasn’t satisfied with her character’s development/screen time. Amy Brenneman says she was fired. Kim Delaney left to star in a new show. Charlotte Ross left because she had a baby. Dennis Franz as Sipowicz was the only cast member to appear in every episode. 


Martens didn’t get a first name until the 12th season.

Even though he was on the show since the second season, IAB Sgt. Martens, played by Scott Allan Campbell, did not get a first name until the 12th (and final) season of the show. His first name is Jerry.


David Milch had something in common with Sipowicz.

Milch was considered a genius by his fellow co-creator Steven Bochco, but he had his demons. His procrastination and last-minute, on-set script and direction changes left many cast members frustrated. He revealed later that he was struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction during the production. Milch eventually cleaned up his act and went on to create the critically acclaimed HBO series Deadwood.

Image: YouTube / theideaofthewriter


Sharon Lawrence got married in the same church as her character.

Lawrence wedded Dr. Tom Apostle at the Greek Orthodox church Saint Sophia Cathedral in Los Angeles, the same church where her character Sylvia Costas married Andy Sipowicz.


Dennis Franz is a veteran.

Franz, the son of German immigrants, was drafted into the United States Army after graduating college. He served eleven months with the 82nd Airborne Division in Vietnam. Before he became an actor, he was a baker and a postal worker. Because of his physical appearance, he was often typecast as police officers.


The station house shares its face with another classic TV location.

The exterior of the fictional 15th Precinct station on NYPD Blue is the same building used to represent the station house on Kojak. In reality, it is the NYPD's 9th Precinct, located on E 5th St.

Image: Google Maps


Some of the show’s sets were built for a 1960s musical.

Many of the New York City street sets were actually filmed on the 20th Century Fox back lot in Los Angeles and were originally built for the Barbra Streisand musical Hello, Dolly

Image: 20th Century Fox


Kathy Bates directed an episode.

The Misery actress and Academy Award winner directed a season four episode called “I Love Lucy.” Bates has also directed episodes of Homicide: Life on the Streets, Oz, Six Feet Under and Everwood

Image: Misery, Columbia Pictures


Steven Bochco’s dad is in the credits.

Bochco’s father, concert violinist Rudolph Bochco, is seen playing the violin during the closing credits. It’s actually a special effect: A still portrait of Rudolph was animated over a recorded track to make the illusion.