'Law & Order: SVU' Season 22: How did Elliot Stabler return on 'Special Victims Unit' and is he here to stay?

The latest episode of 'Law & Order: SVU' saw Stabler and Olivia reuniting as Stabler faces a devastating situation in his personal life

                            'Law & Order: SVU' Season 22: How did Elliot Stabler return on 'Special Victims Unit' and is he here to stay?
Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson and Christopher Meloni as Elliot Stabler in 'Law & Order: SVU' (NBC)

‘Law and Order’ fans, rejoice! One of the show’s most intriguing characters is returning almost a decade after an abrupt end to his story. Nearly 10 years after leaving the ‘Law and Order’ universe, one of its most beloved characters – Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) – returns in the highly anticipated crossover.

The two-hour crossover event at ‘Law and Order: Special Victims Unit’ saw Meloni reprising the role of Stabler on the highly popular NBC show. The event also reunited him with his former partner, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay).


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The crossover event saw Stabler and Benson reuniting for the first time in over a decade but not all is joyous as the entire squad rallied around Stabler to find a person who is threatening his family. The episode was filled with thrilling sequences and a lot of emotional moments.

But, what exactly Stabler’s return means to the show and is he here to stay?

Christopher Meloni as Stabler in 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' (NBC)

Why did Christopher Meloni leave the show?

If you have been an ardent fan of the show, then you know that Stabler’s character was just written off the show. The actor’s departure from the show took place because of a contract dispute that arose as he reportedly tried to increase his salary for Season 13 and beyond. The actor did not receive a pay-raise and decided to leave the show. While talking to People, he recently described his departure as “inelegant.”

What brings Stabler back to ‘Law & Order: SVU’?

The makers and network seem to have a lot of reasons for bringing Stabler back on the show. The most obvious reason being the spin-off series titled ‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’. The two-hour crossover event will be a launch pad for the spin-off series. However, there might be a more depressing reason for his return. According to the official synopsis, Stabler returns to NYPD after experiencing a personal loss. He is devastated and needs some help.

The episode reveals that Stabler’s wife Kathy has received serious injuries in a car bombing. When Olivia arrives at the scene, she hears someone calling her name, she turns and whispers, “Elliot?” Apparently, Stabler and his family have been living in Italy, because Elliot is the NYPD’s international liaison in Rome. However, Stabler needs help to solve the case. The entire team gathers around him and launches a search operation. 

Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson (NBC)

On the other hand, Kathy is going into cardiac arrest. There’s no guarantee if Kathy will come back alive out of the situation or not. The episode ends with Stabler hugging his children while Olivia looks on.

Christopher Meloni in 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' (NBC)

Is he here to stay?

Now, this is the most interesting part of the entire scenario. Meloni will star on the spin-off series ‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’ soon. His appearance gives us an idea that he might a part of the universe and will make guest appearances in such crossover events. Fans are hoping for the same because they are finally getting to see their favorite character back after a long, long time.

‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ returns to NBC with a new episode every Thursday.

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