Leslie Hendrix

Longtime Law & Order fans know the cha-chung, they know the signature location cards, and they most likely know Leslie Hendrix.

The 51-year-old actress has been playing medical examiner Elizabeth Rodgers on the legal franchise for almost two decades. After first appearing on the original tentpole in 1992, she has since recurred on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, the short-lived Law & Order: Trial By Jury and even the 1998 Law & Order TV movie, Exiled.

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Long before Dana Delany and Sasha Alexander made medical examiner characters popular on Body of Proof and Rizzoli & Isles, respectively, Hendrix says she didn't even know what a medical examiner was. "I auditioned to be an attorney. I didn't even know what a medical examiner was when I first started," Hendrix says. "I had no idea it would last this long. I thought it was a one-time gig."

Nineteen years later, Hendrix says playing the "cranky, old broad" has been a gift. "I love the cast and I love the crew and I'm really sad to see this go," she says of Criminal Intent, which wraps its 10-year run this month. "I love my job."

Watch the behind-the-scenes video:

Law & Order: Criminal Intent airs Sunday at 9/8c on USA.