Law & Order stars Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni posed with franchise creator Dick Wolf in a selfie shared to the series’ Twitter.
“‘Iconic’ doesn’t even begin to describe this trio,” the photo was captioned. Meloni and Hargitay, of course, played partners Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU. Hargitay has been with the series since its start in 1999, while Meloni left the series in 2011. In 2021, Meloni’s Stabler received his own spinoff, Law & Order: Organized Crime.
Of course, neither show would exist without powerhouse television producer Dick Wolf. He created the original Law & Order in 1990, which spawned six spinoffs, including SVU. Additionally, Wolf created the successful Chicago franchise, which includes series based on the hospital, police, and fire departments of the Windy City.
For many Law & Order fans, Stabler and Benson were the be-all, end-all of partnerships in the franchise. As a result, his exit due to salary concerns came as a huge blow.
The Incredible Chemistry of Stabler and Benson
Even so, Meloni has nothing but praise for his former costar. The actor said, “she brought her game, I brought mine, and I liked the results.” When asked how to describe her, Meloni offered many options: “Radiant. Charming. Funny. Generous. Elegant. Bawdy. Honest. Appreciative. Inclusive. Direct. Vivacious.”
When the time came for his return to Law & Order, Meloni described working with Hargitay as “Pavlovian: Ring that bell, and you get right into Stabler and Benson.”
Meloni isn’t alone in feeling a sense of comfort sharing the screen with Hargitay. She describes her relationship with the actor as “meaningful”
“He’s always made me feel like I could jump off the ledge, the cliff, the bridge, and he would catch me,” the actress said. “In so many ways—whether it was comedy or acting or friendship.”
“It’s simple, we have each other’s back,” Meloni added. Much like their onscreen characters, Meloni and Hargitay share a deep bond. That bond created the chemistry between Stabler and Benson fans know and love.
The Reunion of Two Law & Order Greats
When Stabler made his return to the world of Law & Order, emotions ran high. A lot had changed in the time he was gone. His former partner was now the captain. Many of his former coworkers had gone their separate ways.
“I think they have a lot of understanding and a lot of healing to got through before things get back to a state of normalcy or understanding,” said Hargitay of their reunion. “Where they are in their lives and how each other, truly, deeply fit in with each other.”
Stabler’s departure was abrupt, to say the least. The character retired from the NYPD after refusing a psychiatric evaluation. He left behind a devastated Benson to pick up the pieces. Hargitay found she felt the same way as her character after losing her costar—a point that Meloni sympathized with.
“We’ve reintroduced two characters that their ‘their-ness’ ended abruptly,” Meloni explained. “So you know it’s a long-winded way of saying, it’s complicated.”
As for repairing their relationship, Organized Crime showrunner Ilene Chaiken assures fans that Benson and Stabler’s relationship will remain a focus of the series. Whether or not that means a romantic relationship is in their future remains to be seen.
“They’re very busy cops who have a lot of other very urgent things on their plates that [kept] them away from one another and from having these conversations,” Chaiken explained. “But the truth is that they will have those conversations. Like I keep saying, we’re really determined not to be coy about it and to just really let them grow.”