Christopher Meloni was an original member of the Law and Order: Special Victims Unit cast. He played Elliot Stabler, the partner to the incomparable Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), and was one of the defining characters on the show for years.
So the shock, disappointment, and tears were all understandable when he suddenly disappeared in 2011 from the series, which is about to enter its record-breaking 21st season. What exactly did happen to Stabler? And do we think Christopher would ever reprise his role? We investigated like the dedicated detectives we are, and here’s what we found out.
So, what happened to Stabler?
Stabler’s last moments were dramatic, to say the least. In the season 12 finale called “Smoked,” a girl named Jenna (Hayley McFarland) decided to avenge her mother’s murder. She went to the SVU office and shot the criminals in the cell where they were being held. Unfortunately, she also claimed the life of a fellow officer, eventually forcing Stabler to take matters into his own hands. Jenna did not survive.
Season 13 returned later in 2011, but Stabler did not. That fall, Ice-T’s character, Fin, suggested Stabler was on required leave. “Too bad Stabler’s still out, he would have loved to crack this guy,” he said.
Internal affairs continued to investigate the shooting throughout that episode, but it was Stabler who ultimately decided to put in his papers and retire, though he did so via Cragen (Dann Florek).
But why did Christopher really leave?
According to reports from TVLine and The Hollywood Reporter, Christopher left after protracted talks between him and NBC broke down. He later confirmed that information when he appeared on Watch What Happens Live in 2017.
When asked if he regretted leaving the series he candidly said, “Not for a day.” Christopher also added that he knew it was time to leave, “When the negotiations broke down.”
Would he ever come back?
The fans certainly want it, but as of now it seems like a long shot. In 2018, he tweeted that he has “zero plans” for a return, and we’ll need a minute to process our heartbreak, thanks.
The positive news is that the network seems open to the idea. “I assume that if some year, some decade, couple decades from now, we get to the last SVU, [Christopher] would have to come back before we do the last episode or before the show signs off,” showrunner Warren Leight said earlier this year, according to TVLine. “However, I don’t think we’re at that point in the show’s run.”
Important: Is he still friends with Mariska?
The two are still as thick as the fictional thieves they used to track down together. In fact, they reunited in September 2019. Mariska shared a series of selfies from their evening, which she described as “Sunday night dinner….”
Yep, they’re still the ultimate dream team!
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