Det. Elliot Stabler makes his long-awaited return back to NBC tonight after a long COVID-related delay. The character, once again played by Christopher Meloni, will first return to his old stomping grounds at SVU before heading up a new Law & Order spinoff, Law & Order: Organized Crime.
Meloni's return to the procedural mega-franchise has been talked about for a year due to the ongoing pandemic and production delays. Now, nearly a decade after he departed from Law & Order: SVU after Season 12, Meloni is returning to the role in a new form. Organized Crime will give fans a new look at Stabler in a serialized format that is new to the franchise.
Fans never stopped hoping he'd return to the show, and for good reason. When SVU premiered in 1999, Meloni's portrayal of Stabler was one of the things that drew viewers in those early episodes, along with his rapport with co-star Mariska Hargitay, who played Captain Olivia Benson. Despite his return, don't expect much satisfaction on the front with his former partner.
While SVU managed to succeed in the wake of Meloni's absence, Season 22 and the introduction of Organized Crime will scratch an itch for fans. The show's dedicated viewers never let go of the possibility of his character's eventual return, despite the actor previously insisting he had "no plans" to return to Law & Order. There is still much to be revealed about Organized Crime and how it will follow SVU on Thursday nights, some details have made themselves known. Here's a rundown of what we do know about Law & Order: Organized Crime.
Be sure to catch the premiere of Organized Crime Thursday following a new SVU crossover episode. You can stream NBC live at NBC.com with a cable or satellite provider log-in and will be available to stream on the NBC app the next day. Most NBC stations are available to stream on platforms like YouTube TV, Fubo, Sling, and Hulu With Live TV. These platforms offer limited free trials when you sign up. SVU is also available to stream on Hulu and Peacock.
The Rise of Elliot Stabler
Law & Order: SVU premiered in September of 1999, and was itself a spinoff of Dick Wolf's drama Law & Order. Meloni's Elliot Stabler was a dedicated family man who often took his department's grim cases to heart, oftentimes complicating the investigations along the way. This was regularly at odds with Hargitay's Captain Benson, who often took the opposite perspective, and created a dynamic that drove the show for more than a decade.prevnext
The Unceremonious Goodbye
After helping anchor SVU for 12 seasons, Stabler's absence was casually explained away in an off-screen retirement. Given that he never received a proper send-off, which is why so many fans and series creator Dick Wolf have been yearning to see him come back. It turns out, the actor left the show simply because he was unable to reach terms with NBC on a contract extension.prevnext
Rumors of His Return
In an interview with PEOPLE back in February 2020, Hargitay mentioned there had been "conversations" about Stabler being brought out of retirement, though she was also scarce on the details. "I can't tell you that; I'm taking the Fifth!" Hargitay said. "There have been conversations, many a conversation." Back in August of last year, showrunner Warren Leight told TVLine that he was hopeful that Stabler would return, though he pointed out that the decision was "above my pay grade."prevnext
Small quibble:— Chris Meloni (@Chris_Meloni) April 1, 2020
I did not confirm on Facebook.
I’m not on Facebook https://t.co/CRoV6AeNOt
After rumors started gaining steam in March, Meloni himself confirmed the news on Twitter, albeit indirectly. He did have a "small quibble" about the announcement, which was just that he's "not on Facebook." While the actor does have a verified page on the platform, he later clarified that someone else runs it. Regardless, fans were beside themselves over the news.prevnext
Stabler's New Journey
Law & Order: Organized Crime will see Stabler return to the NYPD to battle organized crime, which comes with some extra motivation due to a personal loss. His triumphant comeback also comes during dramatic changes in the city's police department, not to mention the city at large. The series will follow Stabler as he attempts to rebuild his life as he leads a new elite task force tasked with taking apart the city's most powerful crime syndicates. In addition to the new series, Stabler will also appear in SVU's Season 22 within the crossover. Before the pandemic, Stabler was set to be in the season premiere of SVU.
Organized Crime executive producer Ilene Chaiken made it clear that this show is far different than SVU's formula. "It's not a case of the week, because organized crime doesn't work in that way. It's an episodic show; the episodes will stand on their own. But the stories will also play out over the course of a whole season." Chaiken said. "We want to do a different Law & Order."prevnext
Don't expect to see Christopher Meloni return full-time to his old SVU stomping grounds. While Stabler will make more guest appearances on the longrunning series, he ruled out a full return to the series.
"That, I didn't want to do," Meloni told Entertainment Weekly when asked about rejoining SVU . "That felt like going back to what was. That boat had sailed.prevnext
'Law & Order' in Today's World
Along with Tuesday's announcement, NBC Entertainment Chairman Paul Telegdy addressed how Organized Crime, as well as the rest of its cop dramas and comedies, will fit into a world being reframed by Civil Rights protests. Telegdy stated that "the events of this year have allowed us the time to take pause, examine our business with a new lens and take some immediate action."0comments
He added that they're using the temporary shutdown as an "opportunity to offer all of this season's showrunners the chance to enrich their team with an additional diverse writer at any level." While he admits that it's "not the solution by any means, but it is something we can do right now to take a positive step."
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