Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni continued teasing Law & Order: Special Victims Unit fans with selfies on Instagram Friday, with both sharing photos with the other in the background. The two are set to appear on the show together for the first time in a decade during Season 22, with a special episode that will lead to Meloni's own spin-off, Law & Order: Organized Crime. Meloni's appearance on the show is easily the one most are excited about, even during a season jam-packed with guest stars and returns.
Hargitay's on-set photo showed herself smiling in the foreground, with an absolutely giddy Meloni standing behind her. "Now even closer," she wrote in the caption, without giving anything away. This was the first time she referenced Meloni's return since she posted a hilarious Photoshopped image of the two in Christmas attire on Dec. 25. "Coming soon to a television near you Merry Christmas from Benson and Stabler," she wrote at the time.
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As for Meloni, he shared a black and white selfie from the SVU set earlier Friday, with Hargitay sitting behind him. "We are a little bit closer," he wrote in the caption. Meloni previously confirmed he was back to work as Stabler back on Dec. 8 when he shared a photo of the U.S. Marine Corps tattoo Stabler was seen with on SVU. "First day of school," Stabler wrote as a hashtag in the caption.
Meloni's return to SVU has been in the works for a long time. He starred in the first 12 seasons of SVU, but his exit was considered a disappointment for fans. When the show came back for Season 13, Meloni was nowhere to be found because his contract was not extended. Stabler was never killed off though, leaving the door open for his return. No one thought it would take 10 years to materialize though. Showrunner Warren Leight told Entertainment Tonight the chemistry between Hargitay and Stabler was back the second the first table read took place.
"We have been Zooming our cast read-throughs all season," Leight explained. "This one was different. In some ways, it had the feel of an opening night on Broadway: lots of anticipation, excitement, even nervousness. We had many well-wishers from the network, studio, and Wolf Entertainment join us. The moment Benson and Stabler had their first scene, everything fell into place. I just wish we could have all gone to an opening party when it was over."
NBC still has not set a premiere date for Organized Crime, which already had its first big change behind the scenes. Matt Olmstead was originally set to be the showrunner, but he was replaced by The L Word creator Ilene Chaiken in December. In the meantime, new SVU episodes continue airing on NBC Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.