Exclusive: Chris Meloni Concedes Law & Order: SVU Fans Got 'Rug Pulled Out From Under Them'

Chris Meloni and Mariska Hargitay Law & Order: SVUChris Meloni has been gone from Law & Order: SVU for more than a year now, but his abrupt departure remains a sore subject among fans — many of whom felt cheated out of a proper farewell between his character Stabler and longtime partner in crime Benson (Mariska Hargitay).

Well, Meloni feels their pain.

“The fans really got the rug pulled out from under them,” he tells TVLine in his most candid remarks yet about his May 2011 exit. “I am absolutely very empathetic about that; I get it.”

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And while Meloni confesses that he doesn’t personally share viewers’ need for closure, he would absolutely consider a comeback down the road. “No one has approached me or anything like that,” he says. “But I’m open to all possibilities. I love those people, I love the actors, it was a magnificent ride. I’ll cross that bridge when it comes.”

Meloni left SVU at the end of the show’s 12th season after contract talks between the actor and NBC broke down. In the year since, he shot a top-secret role in the upcoming Superman reboot Man of Steel, and just wrapped a five-episode stint as Vampire Authority boss Roman on True Blood. He next appears in the big-screen comedy They Came Together opposite Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler.

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  1. Ben Bierman says:

    Sorry folks . I am a Law and Order SVU junkie . I have seen every episode especially seasons 1-12 about half a dozen times. Saying the show isn’t the same without Meloni , is being very narrow minded . Let’s be honest with ourselves about it . The guy that came in, was not REPLACING Meloni . They are two very different characters . They both are very good. I at first did the typical 15 year old crap “it’s not the same without Stabler,” , but I kept watching and I found myself becoming engrossed into their characters. I have watched every episode this season and I can tell you it’s been a amazing one. Now, would I like to see Stabler back for the season finale or season 15 that has already been renewed? Sure I would , but I will also be honest and tell you anyone that really thinks Olivia/Elliot made that show your just wrong. It’s a true group effort to make that show what it is. You still have lots of the old school characters left, and two new ones that you have to open your mind to. Just because something is new or different , doesn’t automatically make it worse . You have to really open your mind though it can be tough.

  2. cas says:

    I will admit I did love this show. I did however stop watching when he left. I do love Benson but I stopped because after the first episode of the season I really didn’t like the new people, and I am sure if I kept watching I could have grown to like them but really I have so many other shows I watched that it was just time to put one down, and since my favorite team was no longer together it was easy to chose this one to stop watching. If he did a guest appearance for an episode I would totally watch though! On a side note, I thought he was good in 42, I always forget about his comedic side.

  3. I agree that the show has lost some zing without Christopher. I do watch the new episodes, but did not see the season finale. CBS Criminal Minds got my view Wednesday. I am afraid Law & Order SVU has a need to go in another direction for the old viewers. The connection with Mariska and the new crew is not blending well. I will say if Mariska leaves I will not watch the show at all.

  4. I still watch the shows but its just not the same without him. It’s only money pay him and bring him back.

  5. rccourson says:

    Benson ans Stabler were SVU. Without the duo the show isn’t the same so I’ve gone from a” faithful” viewer to a “I guess I’ll watch if there’s nothing else on” viewer. Even if Meloni didn’t return to the show it would be nice to see a few guest appearances. I’m sure the other fans wouldn’t mind it and I’m sure the chemistry with the rest of the cast is still there.

  6. Debra Brown says:

    I saw the last ep where Olivia was told Eliot was gone. She took it hard. They were close. I don’t know if he ever kissed her. He did his temp female partner. He should have told her.I would have been crying. I like watching those two.

  7. Kenny says:

    I love Elliot And Oliva Together, NBC did in fact not give us(audience) a closure, but the show isn’t terrible. I love the show now and before, things happen money controls everything. If NBC would have wanted Elliot to stay they would have paid what he was trying to nigociate, but they didn’t so they let him go. I’m all for this new version of SVU. Last seasons cliff hanger and this one have to be by far the best toe clinching, eye brow raisin, hand clinching end to any shoes season.

    Talk to me on Twitter @SpaceBoundDucky

  8. Donna Loftin says:

    I am also a fan of the old SVU with Elliott and Olivia,, and even though that feeling and chemistry is not there on the new episodes, I watch them anyway to support the actors who didn’t jump ship, yeah we miss Elliott but Olivia is still there, support her, she is so loyal to her fans, I think it’s unfair to her to dis the show when she is staying for her fans,,, and who knows, the more support the show receives now will keep the ratings up and then a possibility for Meloni to return to either give closure, guess star at times or come back for good, so lets support the new show to keep ratings up for this chance to happen, heck you don’t even have to watch it, just let that channel run for that hour once a week,, do it for Mariska, finn, the captain and munch, *sigh* But yeah, I feel you guys on the whole matter.

  9. Sarah says:

    Stabler should come back. I don’t like the new male and female detectives very mainstream and not the same without chris

  10. Christina says:

    Please bring elliot back. i just started watching the shower in january of this year. I DVR every tuesdays reruns and the new ones. but to be honest i cant stand the new ones at all. i understand it is just a show but i got emotional almost every episode with benson and stabler. and it made the show. the show is losing fans and is goign to be cancelled if you dont bring him back.

  11. Sj Wilemon says:

    Bring Chris back!!! It will never be the same without him.

  12. I cannot believe what some people are saying. Christopher Melloni is no where near greedy. If you were being paid less than everyone else on that show, you would be ticked too. This is what I have to say: Chris, Mariska, B.D Wong, Danny, Ice-T… All the originals made the show. The reason people stop watching a TV series is almost ALWAYS because they get rid of people, change the characters, exc… Chris, I honesty love you and am still heart broken over the fact that you’re gone. I love the whole team when you’re in it. Don’t listen to the haters because they don’t know a thing. You have so many fans who adore you and want you to come back. We need you to come back. The show is so empty without you and B.D Wong. It’s so upsetting. I’m even watching the SVU marathon right now because you’re in all of them along with Mariska and the rest of the cast. PLEASE COME BACK. WE LOVE YOU. DO IT FOR THE FANS.

  13. Ozzy Bracken says:

    Pay Meloni the money he ask for and deserves, plus add 50% for being idiots and letting him go in the first place!

  14. Charlotte Peterson says:

    Chris was with the start of the show and is a main stay. You are right, SUV is not the same without him. He made the show with Benson. Why can’t people leave a good thing alone…it probably cost plenty over the long haul, that he was let go. I wish him well and the best…he was and is a great actor. I miss him loads and I bet SUV would even be more successful with him back.

  15. Ruth says:

    I still watch show on occasion, but not as much as when Meloni was on, but every actor on the show is very good at what they do. If their ratings go down enough, maybe they can come to an agreement and even keep Pino!!!!!!!!

  16. Patrick says:

    SVU SUCKS NOW! Chris Meloni was the show and these new actors suck. They should’ve came to an agreement with him for one more and final season. The other are good but were great when he was on the show. The only way this show would have had continued success with the new actors is if Chris stayed and they played victims and were killed off. Hopefully SVU is cancelled cause its more painful to watch now than a Keanu Reaves movie or anything with Ashton Kutcher starring in. The mystery that should be solved is why NBC IS MURDERED BY CBS IN THE RATINGS?! Wait even a first grader could solve that mystery. I’d rather watch Michael J. Fox convulse and his health decline which is just terrible but would pass as watchable in comparison to this freak show. Is the new girl detective a mild retard?! And the new Guy has the acting skills of a porno star! Wait even a porno has better writing and plot. PATRICK B FROM COLORADO (NOT MAD JUST STATING REALITY) P.S how do the writers and producers make that much. The ratings are way down and their salaries went up??????????????

  17. Patrick says:

    BTW I like Michael J FOX I just think that his show is a bad idea and the network is cashing in on a tragedy. And ending this show like this would be like ending the Sopranos with a fade to black. I just want people to know how hard it was to not use one single explicit word. And to the ones that think the new actors are good and also probably watch The Carrie Diaries I tried to watch this show with the new actors but I couldn’t handle it and thanks to you saying give it a try ill never get back those four hours and the therapy needed is going to be terribly expensive. I’ve seen better acting from the Disney channel. I Died alittle inside. Good luck to Meloni and everything he does.

  18. Ana says:

    I think Meloni is a good actor. But he himself did not make the show. Olivia, Munch, Fin, Captain are all important. I miss Stabler. But not the character. And yes because they could not replace it. Detective Nick Amaro is weak, unconvincing in the role. Nor does a double as was Stabler and Benson. I can not stand when fans Meloni said he left because NBC did not want to give him, which led to Mariska. It’s a lie. At the time it came out Meloni, Mariska has renewed his contract with no increase. They earned equal. And Cris wanted to make more. It was his right. Only that NBC did not accept. I wish all the success in the world for Christ. But I understand that he’s no Brad Pitt, no George Clooney. Never saw any film of him after his departure from SVU. I can not make any comment in this regard. Just think, maybe it was more important to him to be a main star in the hit series, than being an adjunct in a movie. But it’s who you know. I would love to know how much he will be earning this Fox comedy, which he will star. I do not understand why he came back to TV. He did not want to make movies?

  19. Vaughn says:

    I just recently became a fan about two years ago! I have all the epsidoes on DVR and do not miss an episode when USA has a marathon. Elliott Stabler is a must to the show. The show has a lot more potential if they bring Elliot back. It’s like you cannot have the show without those main characters! When Cragen says “Benson, the next word should be, Stabler”. Fin, Munch, Benson and Stabler! Now that is a show! Bring Eli back! I can’t have my Elliot Stabler dreams anymore without knowing that he is not back. Plus, I really wanted Eli and Olivia to at least almost kiss! That would have been hot.

  20. Jerry walls says:

    Please bring back stabler.we need closer for oliva and Eliot. I hope they end up being friends. I would love to see them together forever. Jerry

  21. Emma says:

    I really miss stabler on svu,i watch law & order because of chris & olivia,
    since he left i have not watch any of the other episodes…….the chemistry
    and the relationship between chris & olivia is just amazing……. its just that
    am use to seeing them both together always there with and for each other.
    please bring back chris…..please please bring him back.

  22. Tom Hubbard says:

    Stabler was to SVU as Hawkeye was to MASH. When they left, the show was over. I am 63 and have watched many shows come and go, but I still watch reruns many times over of SVU as long as Stabler is in it, otherwise I go elsewhere and watch something else. Don’t think he will return but that is NBC’s loss and the viewers as well. I wish him well and thanks to USA I still can see the reruns.

  23. gary says:

    Its been said over and over so I will just ditto; w,/o Chris Meloney, SVU is just ok

  24. Debbie says:

    Simply stated..bring Elliot Stabler back. The show has never really been any good without him. The new characters have not made up for the loss of Stabler. His character with Munch, Fin, Olivia, the Caption, etc. made the show, the new ones…not so much.

  25. master ron kempo says:

    I love Christopher meloni and his part on law and order. please come back Chris. I miss you. you are law and orders only true tough guy.I wish I could meet him. gr8 actor very talented.

  26. I totally agree that Christopher Meloni should return to the show.After watching season 15 episode one,having Lewis psych out detective Benson forcing her to confront her feelings for stabler that was enough for me to be convinced that she is not over him in any form!On top of that,viewers have to realize that Stabler did not leave her completely,he sent her his Semper Fi necklace,Semper Fi means ALWAYS FAITHFUL!Olivia wear it around her neck as her third necklace,it is conveniently hanging on a long gold chain which rest perfectly between her breast and heart!On top of that Stabler also sent her his Mini Badge,she sealed it on the bottom of the ‘Butt’of her gun!You can clearly see it when Lewis put the gun in her mouth,and when she kicked his ass and got hold of it again pointing it at him,it is seen again when she place it in the waistline at the back of her pants!Yeah,I have great attention to detail!Lol!That means people ,that Elliot Stabler never left her completely,and I think her wearing the chain and placing his badge on her gun signify to her that Stabler will ALWAYS be with her,sound cheesy,but hey!It is what it is!As for Cassidy,they need to get rid of him!He showed absolutely no emotion when he found out Olivia was missing!His reaction was just as fake as the so call relationship between them!’Nuff Said!’

  27. ramond says:

    I miss the real team. I would love to see liv n el date they are just made for each other

  28. chel says:

    I love Svu with Stabler and Benson together , i watch all the reruns , just wish he would come back to the show !!! It is just not the same without him !!

  29. Frank Vinci says:

    Chris can run circles around Mariska she is so overrated all she does is whisper and now she is overweight and sloppy looking. All she is doing is going through the motions.She is milking it for all its worth.

  30. Jacqueline Agnew says:

    Enough is enough!!! NBC could have boosted their ratings by bringing Elliot back when Olivia was kidnapped and raped. I waited and assumed they would only to be disappointed. Now that Olivia is in charge, her attitude stinks, and it’s just not the same. they really really really need to think about brining Chris back to pick up their ratings.

  31. Cecilia Duran says:

    I’ve been a law and order svu fan since year one have seen every episode and started buying the season’s on DVD after Christopher Meloni left I was heartbroken buy like all shows the networks never want to pay them what they ate worth do they go. …..I saw the episode where Benson gets taken hostage and hoped against hope that they would have at least brought Elliot back to save her not happen but I Wished it

  32. Carole says:

    SVU without Stabler is like All My Children without Erica.

  33. The new SUV is flat. I was hoping at least they would make Olivia and Fin partners but
    the new show just doesn’t work.

  34. Kathleen Graham says:

    The team has really tried, but it just isn’t the same without the Stabler character. I would hate to lose this program like we lost LAW & ORDER and LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT. I think NBC needs to consider keeping this program going in a positive way. People can’t help it … they “feel” regarding characters and the loss is sometimes like grieving. Like it or not, that’s the way it is.

  35. Jaden Little says:

    I really miss him, and wish he would return ASAP

  36. Don says:

    Elliot and Benson are an inseparable pair . They and the other regulars make this series.

  37. roz says:

    I can’t Watch the new episodes. They don’t feel real. Elliot brought that passion that we all loved. I’ll keep watching reruns until my tv bursts. Bring Elliot back. He and Olivia are the best.

  38. I’ve been an SVU fan from the beginning. There’s no chemistry between liv & Pino. He was OK in cold case that aired on CBS. But they need to bring Chris back to SVU. Elliot & Liv had that chemistry that made you wanting and come back for more. If Chris don’t comeback I can see law and order losing a lot of fans and problaby not lasting another season. I’M JUST SAYING

  39. M J Poo says:

    Bring back Chris I like the way he act he is real he play the roll like real life he makes the show

  40. Darr says:

    I don’t want an ending. Too final. They need to give him what he wants & get him back.

  41. Cindy Howard says:

    I soooo mis Elliot / Christopher on SVU Olivia and Elliot are two peas in a pod Like Lucy and Desi starsky and hutch Some are just made to be together for tv They have that connection

  42. ludi66 says:

    I have just watched an episode of Law and Order SVU and even now I think the show would be better if Elliot Stabler came back. Any chance of this ever happening??

  43. Susan Beard says:

    I know this was awhile ago, but I would LOVE to see the return of “Elliot”!!!!!!!!!!

  44. Sandra lowe says:

    Without Chris and Mariska it is not the same dynamic that fans felt comfortable with.