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What Happened To Captain Cragen On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit? Answered

Donald Cragen
Donald Cragen From SVU

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is one of the favorite spinoffs of the Law and Order franchise. But what fans love the most about Law and order: SVU are the characters it features, and one such character is Donald Cragen. A strong, bold, and brave sergeant in the New York Police Department was specially selected to solve sex crimes.

With more than 400 appearances in the Law and Order franchise, Cragen finally decided to retire from his position as a sergeant in Special Victims Unit. But why did he do that? Let us discover the reasons here. But before we begin, here’s a bit about who Doland Cragen is from Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

Donald Cragen, a dauntless police officer, made his appearances right from the beginning of the Law and Order franchise. As mentioned earlier, he has made countless appearances, from being a captain in the homicide department to serving as a sergeant in the Special Victims Unit Department.

Doland Cragen’s character has always been filled with bravery, yet what makes him weak is he quickly gets caught up in stressful situations that sometimes lead him to make insensible decisions. However, he knows how to handle and react in certain situations that make him catch the criminals and leads him to earn several awards and appreciation. This valiant sergeant always proves his abilities by working intellectually in a crime full of risks.

What we also know about Cragen is that he was an alcoholic. He tried every way possible to leave his addiction but always failed. But one day, in his drunken state, he pulls the trigger on an innocent taxi driver, and that is why he ultimately leaves drinking with the fear of doing something like this in the future.

Donald Cragen is a fan-favorite character from Law Order. However, in season 15, he announced his retirement. If you are one who wants to know why Cragen retired from NYPD, stay till the end of this post with us. 

In the Episode Amaro’s One-Eighty Donald Cragen announces his retirement:

After serving for years in NYPD, Donald Cragen decided to retire from NYPD, which was depicted in the episode Amaro’s One-Eighty, released on 15th January 2014. 

Before retiring, Cragen makes complete preparations before retiring so that no one will suffer the loss of such a good captain after his retirement. Cragen finds Benson a perfect replacement for his role, so he asks her to take the sergeant’s exam. Olivia Benson, blindly trusted by Cragen, successfully passes the exam that frees Cragen from his sergeant’s duty. Before leaving, Cragen announces Benson as the next captain of the Special Victims Unit and permanently retires from NYPD.

Donald Cragen - SVU

Donald Cragen and Olivia Benson from SVU

But, you know, a fighter’s duty never ends. Even after Donald’s permeant retirement, he works with NYPD to solve specific crimes because of the vital contacts he made during his old cases. As every SVU fan is aware of Cragen’s strong connections, he uses those contacts to get into the depths of the case.

Even though he is retired from duty, his frequent appearances in Law & Order justify the fact that he has always been so crucial to NYPD that he worked unofficially to solve the crimes committed after his retirement.

Also Read: Why Did John Munch Leave Law & Order: SVU? Reason Behind His Exit

Why does Donald Cragen retire from NYPD?

There are two reasons why Donald Cragen retires from his service. The first reason is he decides to go on a vacation with the love of his life, and the second is he finally comes near the mandatory retirement age. These two reasons seem pretty valid for him to finally live his life after working so hard as a sergeant for so many years.

Eileen Switzer and Donald Cragen

Donald Cragen and his partner Eileen Switzer

Donald and his partner Eileen Switzer make a plan to go on a world tour after Cragen’s retirement, and it is evident that a world tour requires more than six months of period. Retired Cragen finds this vacation a better option to spend the rest of his life in peace and joy.

Additionally, a mandatory retirement period at NYPD has already been set at 63 years of age; Cragen is already near this age, so his retirement was meant to be anyway. So, before leaving, he promotes Benson to a sergeant position and retires from NYPD forever but never forgets his sergeant duties and reappears when needed.

Also Read: The Real Reason Kelli Giddish Left Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Written By

Hi there, my name is Sanjana, and I work as a dedicated content writer during the week and as an enthusiastic social worker on weekends. I hope you enjoy my writing!

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