Mariska Hargitay sent her former co-star Christopher Meloni a happy birthday greeting on Twitter, as well as welcoming him back into the fold, so to speak. For years, Meloni and Hargitay starred side-by-side on the Dick Wolf procedural Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and on Tuesday it was announced that he'd be reprising the character on an all-new show from the prolific TV producer.
This new series, which will be helmed by Chicago P.D. showrunner Matt Olmstead, is the first of Wolf's unprecedented five-year, nine-figure, multi-platform deal that he signed with Universal Television back in January. Previously, Meloni played Stabler on the first 12 Seasons of SVU, opposite Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson. His work earned him an Emmy nomination for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series back in 2006. Meloni left the show in 2011, and his character was written off after he'd suddenly decided to retire from the NYPD.
It appears that Stabler's retirement didn't stick, and he'll be back to face-off against organized crime as part of an all-new task force. Unsurprisingly, fans were beside themselves with excitement with the news.
In February, Hargitay had previously teased the possibility of Meloni's' return to SVU in an interview with PEOPLE. While she admitted there'd been "conversations," she added that the decision was above her "pay grade."
"I can't tell you that; I'm taking the Fifth!" Hargitay said at the time. "There have been conversations, many a conversation."
Back in August of 2019, SVU showrunner Warren Leight also addressed the possibility of Stabler returning to the series while speaking with TVLine. "Look: I assume that if some year, some decade, couple decades from now, we get to the last SVU, [Meloni] would have to come back before we do the last episode or before the show signs off."
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the wake of Meloni reprising the role of Stabler was that he told fans back in December that he had "zero plans" to return to the long-running series.
On March 27, Hargitay also joined in her fellow SVU cast and crew to mourn the loss of Josh Wallwork, who worked in the show's costume department and recently passed away from COVID-19. "I don't think I ever saw him without a smile on his face," Hargitay said. "He brought love and kindness everywhere he went. Always ready with the joke."