NYPD Blue was a long-running police procedural set in New York City, that depicted life in the fictional 15th police precinct of Manhattan. Each episode typically used several interwoven plots involving an ensemble cast. It was created by Steven Bochco and David Milch and was originally broadcast on ABC from September of 1993‚ to March, 2005. It's still ABC's most successful (i.e. longest-running) primetime one-hour drama series.
NYPD Blue won critical acclaim for its grittiness and realistic portrayal of the casts' personal and career lives, as well as controversy for its unblinking depictions of nudity and alcoholism.
The show's characters included:
Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz)
A police detective and the central character of the show in its twelve-year run — the only regular cast member who appeared in every episode (Gordon Clapp as Detective Greg Medavoy was a close second; he didn't make his first appearance until episode 3 of season 1 and wasn't a regular until the start of season 2).
Critic Jason Gay, writing for The Boston Phoenix, described Sipowicz as a "drunken, racist goon with a heart of gold" who was "the moral core" of NYPD Blue. In 1997, he wrote that even as Sipowicz became "sobered up" the detective "won't ever go totally soft."
Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits)
Simone joined the squad after Andy Sipowicz's previous partner, John Kelly, was driven out by an IAB witch hunt. Prior to this Simone had worked as a driver for the police commissioner, which riled Sipowicz at first, though his attitude changed when Simone explained that he'd asked for the job so he could spend more time with his wife, who was dying from cancer. Bobby and Andy became great friends and partners, although Bobby called Andy out when Andy made racist comments in his presence.
Soon after joining the squad Simone started a relationship with Diane Russell, another cop in the office. NYPD guidelines prohibit such couplings for officers working in the same precinct, so they kept it under wraps up until they were married by a justice of the peace. Simone fought to convince Diane that she had a drinking problem, and was also a source of strength and comfort for her as she struggled with her own demons. The couple also conceived a child together, but Diane suffered a miscarriage in season 5.
Not long after the wedding, Simone came down with a heart infection, which led to a heart transplant that initially seemed successful, but his body rejected the new organ and he died. Bobby would return much later in the show (in season 12) in the guise of a spirit, offering guidance and comfort to a troubled Andy.
John Kelly (David Caruso)
An Irish-American, promoted to detective at the relatively young age of 28, Kelly was a brilliant and often-smoldering man, the son of an heroic cop murdered in the line of duty. John Kelly Sr. had been seen by many as a shoe-in for Chief of Detectives had he lived. Kelly always managed to somehow stay just on the right side of the law, usually keeping his hotter-headed partner Andy Sipowicz under control in the process. This changed when he became romantically linked with Janice Licalsi, a uniform cop who murdered a mob boss who'd ordered her to kill Kelly (Licalsi was simultaneously protecting her father, also a cop, who was on the payroll of the mob boss).
Kelly was married to lawyer Laura Michaels (Sherry Stringfield). After their divorce they continued for a while to sleep together, but ended up deciding mutually to go their separate ways. Kelly also played a mentoring role to James Martinez, a young cop with whom he was partnered while Sipowicz was on probation.
Danny Sorenson (Rick Schroder)
Sorenson, a Desert Storm veteran in his late twenties, entered the show in episode six of the sixth season as the 15th precinct's successor to the deceased Bobby Simone, and partnered with Sipowicz. Sorenson immigrated in childhood to the U.S. from Norway along with his younger sisters. At first his colleagues saw him as inexperienced and green and mocked his youthful appearance, but Sorenson's hardcore professionalism and aggressive tactics won him respect. In private, he was tormented by personal problems leading back to childhood events revolving around his familial responsibilities. He was attracted to Detective Diane Russell, widow of detective Bobby Simone, whom Sorenson replaced. The pair were romantically involved for a time.
In 2001 Rick Schroder expressed dislike of the presentation of his character, claiming NYPD Blue's writers had changed him to the point where he, Schroder, had lost both sympathy for and interest in him. He wanted to leave the series at the end of season eight. The show's writers obliged. Late in season eight, Sorenson, who'd mentored a homeless drug addict whose addiction ultimately killed him, entered a state of personal turmoil, becoming inattentive and apathetically disrespectful on the job, and spending his off-duty hours drinking and carousing. It was also written into the storyline that he took on an assignment in which he pretended to fall from grace with the NYPD and infiltrate an organized crime group in Manhattan. After going missing, Sorenson's remains were discovered in a shallow grave at the start of season nine, his death attributed to the mob syndicate he'd tried to penetrate just before the 9-11 attacks.
John Clark, Jr. (Mark-Paul Gosselaar)
Clark Jr. was partnered with Sipowicz after Sipowicz's previous partner, Danny Sorenson, was murdered. Clark earned his detective badge for taking courageous action in the course of an undercover operation. Sipowicz ended up becoming a kind of mentor to him.
His father, Clark Sr., was a straight-arrow detective who disapproved of his son's choice of precinct. He said it was a "hellhole" — he also strongly disliked Sipowicz, with whom he had a bad history. The conflict between father and son boiled over when Clark Sr. threw John out of the house over his decision to work at the 15th, rather than choosing his father's precinct. Clark Sr. further tried to damage his son's career by showing up drunk at the 15th Precinct, and putting his alcoholism on full display for all to see.
Tragedy later struck when John's father had to quit the police force (and later commit suicide), over an IAB trial. At about the same time, John's bipolar ex-girlfriend, Dr. Jennifer Devlin, suffered a fatal prescription drug overdose. John then went through a brief but ugly interval where he was often drunk and engaged in serial indiscriminate sexual encounters, which undermined at least one of the squad's court cases. With Sipowicz's help, Clark was able to clean up his act.
Despite these troubles and other early career mistakes, Clark Jr. developed what turned out to be an excellent interview manner and attitude, which even Sipowicz noted after observing it first-hand. Clark went on to become the 15th Squad's lead detective, alongside Baldwin Jones, after Sipowicz was promoted to Sergeant at the conclusion of the series.