The fifth season of Homicide: Life on the Street aired in the United States on the NBC television network from 20 September 1996 to 16 May 1997 and contained 22 episodes. A new opening sequence debuted with the start of this season, including elements of a police investigation and a growing chatter of radio transmissions behind the theme music. In addition, pictures of the actors were displayed alongside their names for the first time. The sequence ends with the ringing of the squadroom phone and a voice answering, "Homicide." Two new characters appeared during this season: Chief Medical Examiner Julianna Cox; and Detective Terri Stivers, a Narcotics officer who works with Homicide to bring down local drug kingpin Luther Mahoney. The season finale introduced Detective Paul Falsone, a member of the Auto Squad briefly on loan to Homicide, and re-introduced Stuart Gharty, now a detective assigned to Internal Investigations. It also marked the departures of regular characters Megan Russert, Kay Howard and J.H. Brodie.