‘Law & Order: SVU’: Has Olivia Benson Been Able to ‘Grow’ Since Elliott Stabler’s Exit?

by Katie Maloney

Is there such a thing as too close when it comes to friendships? “Law & Order” SVU” duo Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler played by actors Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni respectively, always skirted the line between friendship and relationship. Even their onset SVU co-worker, Donald Cragen, called the two “too close” during one episode.

So, were Benson and Stabler too close? Was it actually beneficial to Benson when Stabler left? “Law & Order: SVU” fans are sharing their thoughts on the subject via a Reddit thread.

One fan wrote, “But I think it was important for Liv that Stabler went away. And if he stayed she would’ve got down with him. He was a bad influence sometimes.”

Another fan agreed while also disagreeing. They wrote, “I think it’s less of a ‘bad influence’ more of a comfort/stability thing. I think Elliot and Olivia could’ve been partners together forever had he stayed because they’re each other’s person. They were dependent on one another…’too close’ as Cragen said…and that goes both ways.”

The user added that when Stabler left, Benson had to re-evaluate her job and become more independent.

“Without Stabler, Liv had to figure out for the first time what her role was in SVU without him since they had been partners the entire time she had been there. I think a combo of her lengthy experience and no one being able to (emotionally) fill Elliot’s shoes as her partner were catalysts for her upward mobility.”

Another “Law & Order: SVU” fan agreed that Benson and Stabler were great together but may have held each other back because of their closeness.

“Too comfortable being each other’s partner to seek any upwards ambitions. So while Olivia might have sought a promotion, a part of me kind of doubts it. I think I read somewhere that Mariska [Hargitay] had said she doesn’t think Olivia would have sought a promotion.”

Has Olivia Benson Changed Since Elliot Stabler Left?

Another fan agreed that Benson grew a lot in Stabler’s absence. They wrote, “I agree actually. I love and missed Stabler, but Olivia grew a lot as a main character. You can see it when she keeps him from going too far in the cross-over when he comes back. She’s grown, and in a lot of ways he hasn’t.”

However, one fan disagreed. They suggested that Benson certainly did change after Stabler left but maybe not for the better.

They wrote, “I think it depends on whether you prefer the Stabler era Olivia who was a passionate but flawed human being who was relatable. and not the Saint Olivia we’ve had in the post-Stabler seasons with the whispering voice.”

Whether Benson has changed or not, we’re excited to see what the next season of “Law & Order: SVU” brings. Will Benson and Stabler “ride off into the sunset” after all?