A real live criminal, on the run from the Baltimore Police Department, entered the set of Homicide: Life on the Street (1993) and surrendered to the actors in uniform. This incident was later spoofed in an episode where the actors in the show chased a suspect onto the set of "Homicide" and encountered the director, Barry Levinson, and several of their favorite actors from the show.
In 1988, a Baltimore Sun reporter named David Simon joined the Baltimore Police Homicide Unit as a civilian assistant, in order to chronicle a year in the life of a big city homicide squad. His extensive notes, interviews, and observations were eventually published as the book, "Homicide: A Year On The Killing Streets." This book served as the inspiration for the TV series Homicide: Life on the Street (1993). Much of the first and second seasons are taken from actual events recounted in the book.
Barry Levinson wanted Richard Belzer as Munch after hearing him on "The Howard Stern Radio Show". NBC suggested Jason Priestley but Levinson refused. Belzer was the last cast member hired.
Detective Munch is mentioned in the BBC's crime drama Luther (episode 5). Luther instructs a subordinate to telephone Special Victims Unit in New York, specifically Detective Munch to garner information about the villain in the episode.
All of Detective John Munch's partners either retire or resign from the Baltimore Homicide Unit shortly after having been partnered with him... Bolander after season 3, Russert after season 4, Kellerman after season 6, and Bayliss after season 7.
On several occasions, Homicide: Life on the Street (1993) teamed with Dick Wolf's Law & Order (1990) for either single or two-part crossover episodes.
Richard Belzer (John Munch), Kyle Secor (Tim Bayliss), Yaphet Kotto (Lt. Al Giardello) and Clark Johnson (Meldrick Lewis) are the only actors to remain with the series for its entire run.
Richard Belzer has appeared as Detective John Munch in a total of ten different series: as a regular on Homicide: Life on the Street (1993) and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999), and as a guest on Law & Order (1990), The X-Files (1993), The Beat (2000), Arrested Development (2003), Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005), The Wire (2002) and 30 Rock (2006).
Producers insisted that staff writers live in the Balitmore area whenever possible.
Richard Belzer (John Munch), Kyle Secor (Tim Bayliss), Yaphet Kotto (Lt. Al Giardello), Clark Johnson (Meldrick Lewis) and Sharon Ziman (Naomi) are the only actors to appear in both the first and last episodes of the series: Homicide: Life on the Street: Gone for Goode (1993) and Homicide: Life on the Street: Forgive Us Our Trespasses (1999).
The board showing unsolved and solved cases for each detective was a real device used by the Baltimore Police Department. It was stopped when it was shown to bring down morale, but it returned later at the request of the detectives.
Characters were often named after grunge musicians (i.e. Layne Staley and Krist Novoselic).
Richard Belzer (John Munch) appears in 119 of the series' 122 episodes, more than anyone else. The only episodes in which he does not appear are Homicide: Life on the Street: The Damage Done (1996), Homicide: Life on the Street: The Subway (1997) and Homicide: Life on the Street: Lines of Fire (1999).
Five of Detective Steve Crosetti's cases are alluded to throughout the first three seasons, but none of the investigations appear in any given episode. Thus, the viewers never get to witness Crosetti be the 'Primary'.
Though Reed Diamond and Peter Gerety were part of Season Six's ensemble cast, Detectives Mike Kellerman and Stu Gharty only have one exchange of dialogue in 23 episodes, in Homicide: Life on the Street: Abduction (1998).
Al Giardello is based on Gary D'Addario, a real-life Baltimore police homicide detective. D'Addario appears as a recurring character, Lt. Jasper. Giardello was written to be of Italian-American heritage like D'Addario but after Yaphet Kotto was cast, Giardello's heritage was changed to part-Italian and part-African-American. Giancarlo Esposito, who joined the cast as Giardello's son in season seven, is of Italian/African-American heritage in real-life.
Jon Polito originally read for the part of Detective Lewis but requested to be cast in the part of Crosetti. The character was not named Crosetti in the original script but the name was changed to reflect Polito's Italian heritage.
Toni Lewis who portrays Detective Terri Stivers is married in real-life to Chris Tergesen who was the music editor/supervisor on Homicide. Chris is the brother of Lee Tergesen whose first wife was Tanya Lewis, no relation. Lee's spouse on Homicide was played by Edie Falco. Both Lee and Edie's acting careers were just getting started when they appeared on Homicide in 1993.
Lieutenant Giardello's door number is the same as the case number assigned to the series' most acknowledged homicide case - 209, which was Adena Watson.
In a list appearing Spectrum issue #22, dated April 2000 of the best TV series of the 1990s, Craig Miller ranked this show as #2.
In a list appearing Spectrum issue #22, dated April 2000 of the best TV series of the 1990s, John Thorne ranked this show as #3.
Dean Winters appears in 4 episodes, and would later go on to star in Oz, also a show written by Tom Fontana.