Chris Meloni Returns to SVU

SVU Boss Eyed Chris Meloni for Finale

NBC’s decision last week to renew Law & Order: SVU for an 18th season means fans will have to wait at least another year for a Benson and Stabler reunion.

SVU showrunner Warren Leight reveals that had this been the show’s final season, he would’ve approached Chris Meloni about bringing Stabler back. “Had this been the last episode, we would have tried to bring him back,” the EP tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Meloni left SVU at the end of the show’s 12th season after contract talks between the actor and NBC broke down. Stabler was consequently never given a proper sendoff.

“In hindsight, NBC, Dick, Universal and Chris all know they could have handled that better,” Leight says. “But I think Chris, over time from what I hear, began to realize that the fans were owed a little more…. It was a negotiation handled without much empathy on any of the participant’s parts and I think they all sort of know that now. And there wasn’t much empathy for the fans either. I think everyone probably learned, but you can’t roll the clock back.”

Back in 2012, Meloni, in an interview with TVLine, conceded that his abrupt departure resulted in fans getting “the rug pulled out from under them,” adding, “I am absolutely very empathetic about that; I get it.”

When SVU does eventually call it quits, Leight suspects Meloni’s former leading lady, Mariska Hargitay, will be tasked with getting the Benson-Stabler reunion ball rolling. “I think if Mariska were to have called him, he would have taken the call,” he says. “That can be for another day; hopefully a long way off.”

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115 Comments
  1. Mr. Tran K says:

    BEST. NEWS. EVER. For SVU fans.

    • JH says:

      I think a lot of people felt Meloni’s absence after he departed. A lot of people should both thank & blame Warren Leight depending on how you look at it. Either you feel Leight saved SVU with his style writing and producing after Meloni’s departure – or you feel he’s driven the quality of the show down.

      I make my judgement by ratings and how I feel personally by watching. Leight IMHO has revitalized SVU in a new way that makes Mariska and Benson shine in ways they hadn’t previously over the years. I feel Leight has given us more grounded storylines and more complex characters. Stabler, Huang, Warner and others were complex too, but as the years went on, arguably you could say SVU turned into a soap opera with season 8 under Neal Baer when he amped up Stablers rage and put more focus on Benson/Stabler drama and less on actual storytelling of the weekly cases.

      But to each their own. But I feel they could bring Chris back w/o waiting for the series finale or making a series finale come earlier just to bring back Stabler. SVU still has miles to go people. Its in its best years now!

      • mylittlemargie2015 says:

        I agree wholeheartedly that it is not necessary to wait for the end of the run to bring him back .. To stay! I’ve never felt satisfied with the abrupt “where ithe hell is Stabler and why is he gone!!?” feeling… Even though I have grown to appreciate the cast directly after Stabler’s exit, I am having a hard time tuning in with the newer cast additions (and exits). I take my viewing and appreciation of L&O: SVU! 🤓

      • Desiree A says:

        I agree with you soooo much!!!

  2. YASS!!! Bring the king back and make sure he’s shirtless in at least one scene.

  3. Ron says:

    F that. Why do we have to wait for the SVU series finale? Try to get him back now! I want Stabler!!!

  4. Can we cancel the show so he’ll come back, and then pull a “SIKE! Thanks for reunion though!” I was so disheartened by how Chris left, and everyone is right that the fans deserved more. At the very least, Elliot should have come back when Olivia was kidnapped and tortured by that sadist.

    • Grindr says:

      I like literally just finished that episode, like it just turned off, and thought the same thing! The brought back munch but not Elliot?

  5. Jeri says:

    I like the show with the new cast. It seems to have opened up more story ideas. Stablers’ angst got a little old to me, he was so miserable all the time. I know it’s about serious depressing cases but there’s got to be a little something else besides how pissed someone is all the time. Just my opinion.

  6. Gail says:

    So I guess Chris Meloni was not the answer to the blind item.

    • Dry heat says:

      Probably either “Ziva” on NCIS, or “Izzy” on Grey’s Anatomy, but who knows?! Just because we’re told Meloni won’t appear, doesn’t mean it’s the truth…Leight wasn’t under oath. ;-)

  7. Whatevah says:

    I may be in the minority, but I like show better w/o him. His character and family were so unlikable.

    • Kevin says:

      I have to agree. I was disappointed when he left but as time went on really enjoyed the new cast. Think I was more bummed when Danny Pino left. I even find now when the repeats are on cable I am not as into Stabler as I used to be and would rather see episodes without him. I like Meloni but guess I grew tired of his character.

      • Joey says:

        Once he left the show really evolved. They coasted for so many years on Stabler and Benson, with a great emphasis on Stabler and his rage. Once he left they needed to change quite a bit in order to find its footing again. I think the show evolved more in these last, what, five years than it did in any of it’s first 12. Going between SVU 1.0 and 2.0 is pretty jarring because of that. SVU was always a fairly dark show, that comes with the subject matter, but for 12 years it felt very grim-dark. You couldn’t watch a marathon of it on USA and not walk away feeling at least a little bit sad and hopeless. 2.0 feels less like that. They still deal with dark, frightening, and realistic subjects, but it doesn’t weigh everything down as much. The characters, for the most part, are happy. It really became a new show.

    • Totally agree. I started watching after he left. So pompous and over the top. UG

  8. Michael says:

    I hope when he comes back we get an update on Kathy and the kids.

  9. Gail says:

    With the show repeated so frequently on USA and now ION there are many opportunities to see Stabler. With 12 years worth of episodes I doubt I have seen or remember all of them. So it is possible to see new to me episodes with the good detective.

    • I have over 100 episodes on my DVR thanks to USA and ION. :) All of them are the ones with Stabler in them. As much as I love Benson and Fin, it’s just not the same for me. Bring Stabler back!

  10. Tori says:

    If he does come back hopefully it won’t be romantically for Benson. That would go against everything this show is *supposed* to stand for. Hopefully Dick Wolf will stand by what he’s always said and never hook them up. But why the heck would Meloni want to come back to this infestation of a show?

  11. JosiahBartlet4President says:

    Yes, please. A real, thoughtful, and THOROUGH reunion. Not two minutes, the majority spent staring and then a couple of ambiguous one liners that leave you with more questions.

  12. Carol L. Gonzalez says:

    I know I am in the minority, but I do not miss the character of Elliot Stabler all that much. I was actually more disappointed when Danny Pino left as I also greatly enjoyed the show Cold Case and was happy to see him on another series as a regular. Looking forward to Det. Rollins coming back from her maternity leave.

  13. joey says:

    bring him back for a 2 part show. the reason being is that there is a cold case that he was involved in and new evidence came to light

  14. Nandra Price says:

    Show was never the same after he left

  15. It kind of seemed like most of the seasons up to the point when he left were geared towards him leaving. I started watching the show when it first started, left it, then came back via Hulu. Watching the whole series over again, it really seems like he was going to leave the whole time.

  16. Maggie says:

    The show has never been the same with out Christopher Meloni. Bring him back for more than the final season. How about when the show ends you have a spin off with Meloni and Hargitay.

  17. It was really never the same for me when Stabler left. That being said, I still love the show and can only hope that the fans are vindicated with some type of re-union, not necessarily romantic.

  18. Sherry says:

    I wondered why he left. I thought messed the last show because I didn’t see any reference to the departure. I love the show.

    • Carol L. Gonzalez says:

      The final episode of Season 12 there was a shoot out in the squad room and a young woman ended up dying, along with Sister Peg. When Season 13 started Captain Cragen told Olivia that Stabler had put his papers in, also that she needed to clear his desk. She was very opposed to getting a new partner. There was no specific episode where Stabler resigned. On the original Law & Order they made mention in episodes when Benjamin Bratt’s character left-he did so to care for his wife with MS; when Det. Briscoe left it was to retire; when Det. Green left it was because of a case he had been involved in that had caused him to be suspended for awhile; that was a very bittersweet episode.

    • Margaret says:

      I am with you Sherry, I thought I missed the show where he left, and why? I admit I still love the show, and the cast they have now is great! I do miss Danny Pinto, and he was not there long enough for me. But Carisi is starting to grow on me as well. And Finn?? What can you say, the man is great. Also giving Olivia the top job, and a child too, has also added to the series, making missing Stabler easier.

      • April says:

        I do not miss Danny Pino. I think he came off as self righteous, following his wife around, He went out into the street and beat up that pornographer (in reality we would of all like to of done that, but a cop? NO) He had anger issues that made Elliot look pretty tame. They need to bring Meloni back for good. Sure, he makes movies (he was just in Cincinnati making a movie) but they only shoot x amount of time, then they have time off, I like Peter Scanavino’s character, (and did anyone else notice he played a single parent in an older episode?) I love Kelly’s character as well, and Ice-T, who should of been moved up behind Mariska in the credits. I miss seeing Warner, and Huang, as they are not around as much. But I never like Danny at all. He just did nothing for me. I missed Elliot I think.

  19. Irene McDougald says:

    Please bring Chris Meloni back!! It won’t be the same without him. We love his character. Please bring him back!!

  20. 'Lesley Ford says:

    Why wait till then? Try and bring him back now!

  21. The show has sucked since he left. I quit watching.

    • AlanaBeauregard says:

      I agree with you 100 percent Brenda Couch Feltner. I did watch it to see if there was any word as to why? as someone above said Cragen told Olivia to clean out his desk. I have caught a few episodes when totally bored. It just is not the same show Olivia is drinking half the time. Did the writers forget her mother was an alcoholic? *sigh* Bring him back while you have a few viewers left. Also he was the only married character on the show. I know that all cops are single. Huh what is up with that?

  22. Kenny says:

    Geez, it kinda sounds like the Staff is just waiting for the end to come any year now. I know it can’t go forever, but I thought 20(21) seasons would be a given at this point, especially since it’s performing on par withe Chicago Shows.

  23. eileen says:

    I think that thing I heard in long time.he should have never left.. see him again great on svu with Mariska it would great….

  24. Lucky Mariska is still there and the new guy Peter Scanavino is shaping up to be good news. Love the show but miss Meloni. Someone who has a brain should swallow their pride and beg him to return….He’s the Star and it’s not the same!

  25. sarafryd says:

    NBC and Dick Wolf should have done what ever they needed to keep Christopher. It has become the Mariska show and that is boring. It has lost everything that was great about the show. Basically not worth watching. And I’ve seen every show 3 times.

  26. Jeri says:

    I love all 3 Law & Orders. I rarely watch the Mariska Hargety show anymore without Stabler. She was great with Stabler, but somehow decided to appear sexy on the sex crimes show. Bring Stabler back and demote Mariska back to his partner. Those were great shows.

  27. Gas Mann says:

    Law and Order: SVU is just terrible now. The show has become soap opery, with another social issue of the week to preach — a sign that a series has run out of ideas dramatically. They’ve hired a very unappealing cast, from the boring, alien-looking blond to the dopey blond guy with the tiny head to the ADA with leering eyes who is just twitchy and annoying. The stories move SO slowly, there are fewer interesting locations, and they do everything they can to highlight the now frumpy Hargitay so she can give some frowning social justice warrior speech every episode (and contradict some of the things her character has harped about in the past).

    I caught some reruns of the show, and there’s no comparison. That last three years have been SVU “lite.” It’s like they’re making them for stupid people who couldn’t keep up with the show before. And the productions are so awful that they can’t even disguise anymore how wooden an actor Ice-T is. Meloni, Florek, and Belzer were really smart to get out before it slid to this low point. Next to L&O: LA, this was always the weakest of the L&O shows.

  28. Tru says:

    Guarantee…additional 5 years with solid ratings…if Stabler comes back. He was the the show. He was the guy who showed raw emotion and bent the rules hardcore. BRING HIM BACK NOW!!!!!

  29. Fairy May says:

    Ya know, I want a Stabler/Benson pairing for the every after as much as any other fangirl of that pairing does. But the Elliot and Kathy Stabler are written so compellingly true that honestly, I don’t really want that family broken up. In concept, yes, I love Stabler and Benson together, but … I feel like the true nature of Elliot’s character is not to cheat and not to break up his family. JMO.

  30. Randi Rosen Lauritano says:

    I would love for him to come back to the show! I hope to see him sooner then later!

  31. Mary says:

    I love Law & Order SVU – ESPECIALLY with Elliot Stabler!

  32. Sarah says:

    I stopped watching a year after he left because it wasn’t the same & if he does comeback, I will start watching again.

  33. Debbie Wallace says:

    Would love to see Stabler come back for an episode or two.Add a love interest for him when he does??

  34. Joanne says:

    Sow hasn’t been the same since Chris Meloni left. Miss Captain Cragen and Munsch also. Still love Tutuola and Mariska but shows were better when the old crew was there. Try to bring back “Stabler” What a hottie!!!!!

  35. Jo Perry says:

    In my opinion, Law & Order SVU jumped the shark when Elliot’s character was written out of the show. I agree with other commenters who say the last several yrs just pale in comparison to the original episodes. I have stopped watching SVU, but every now and then I’ll try to watch a newer episode, but I find myself rolling my eyes so much because the story line is so ridiculous and unrealistic, and I end up turning the channel. I think the best combo of characters and therefore best episodes are the ones with Benson and Stabler, Fin and Munch, Dann Florek (as captain Donald Cragen), Tamara Tunie (as Melinda Warner the medical examiner), and BD Wong, as Dr Huang (FBI profiler and psychologist). Just my 2 cents.

  36. Patricia Johnson says:

    It is not the same without him. But I love the show. My favorite.

  37. Lana says:

    I love Law and Order: SVU! When Chris Meloni was on it was great then, as well,, but I was so disappointed on how he left the show and for a long time after; however, when Danny Pino arrived, it was revived again. But then, he left too. I think I was more disappointed when he left the show than when Chris did. WHY? Why do you do keep doing that? Letting all of them go? All of the great ones leave!!! Bring them both back, but not just for the finales. Keep it going, because I love watching SVU. By the way, I love Mariska Hargitay, too, and how she stands up for what she believes in. And don’t just do the finale so Christopher Meloni can come back soon. Keep it going!!!

  38. The heck with Eliot naked…..let’s see Mariska take it off, as she’s so happy Stabler is back!

  39. SoxFan89 says:

    I dream about Chris Meloni coming back to the show. It’s never been as good since he left. The Benson/Stabler chemistry was gold! I’d rather watch re-runs with Meloni than new episodes.

  40. Marcia Walsh says:

    I so agree!! Miss that chemistry between the two!!

  41. Beverly says:

    Well your looking for someone to be with Olivia, should anything ever happen to her, someone to be there for Noah, Chris Meloni would be a great family man. Just saying. Why wait until the last episode?

  42. Rahz says:

    The show was Never as good without Chris Meloni.

  43. Ciara Anderson says:

    There were times watching seasons 1-12 and being put in a sad mood. But i look at it as good acting, good plot, a good show. I didn’t like how Stabler left and this show seems to have aged not only Liv as a character, but Mariska as a person. Anyway, I am excited to see Stabler, but I actually want Novak or Cabot to come back :)

  44. Chris Leonardi says:

    Am I the only one happy he left? I mean he was ok early on. But he really became a terrible character in the later seasons.

  45. Laura76 says:

    YES YES ABSOLUTELY YES, bring Benson and Stabler back together again!!!!!!!!!!! They were and are the core heart of the show. Matter of fact of any other detective show on tv. They as a partnership set the bar.Love svu, Hargitay and Meloni all the way!!!!!!

  46. Donna Heinle says:

    I feel that Chris should be back on the show, Elliott an Olivia were a great team and had chemistry. I watch the reruns all of the time. I love the show.

  47. darryl guy says:

    its not the same without him

  48. Eg Murphy says:

    I have missed the Olivia -Elliott relationship

  49. I stopped watching when Meloni left. Wasn’t the same.

  50. Nidian says:

    Still missing him… :(