‘Law & Order’: Why Elliot Stabler Actor Chris Meloni is Returning for Season 22 ‘SVU’ Finale

by Josh Lanier

Law & Order: SVU has had a lot of big guest stars over the years, but the biggest may be in the show’s season 22 finale. Elliott Stabler, the longtime former partner of Mariska Hargitay’s Detective Olivia Benson, is making his return to the popular procedural.

Christopher Meloni left the Law & Order universe a decade ago, only to return earlier this year on Law & Order: OC. He went from busting child predators to policing organized crime.

According to Cinemablend, Meloni will return for the finale titled “Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing” on Thursday. Though, producers haven’t given many clues as to why he’s returning.

If anything, Meloni and Hargitay enjoyed being on set together again. Meloni posted a cute Instagram video of them goofing off between takes.

The two have remained closed friends since Meloni left the show in 2011.

This is Meloni’s second appearance on Law & Order: SVU this season. He came back to help find a woman’s killer. He announced in that episode he was coming out of retirement to lead the NYPD’s organized crime taskforce, Cinema Blend said.

That episode brought in 8 million viewers, according to Nielsen ratings, which is the show’s highest number since 2016. Law & Order: SVU had a 1.7 rating in the most sought-after advertiser demo of adults 18-49. It’s the show’s highest posting in that category since 2017.

Why Is Stabler Coming Back To Law & Order: SVU?

The short answer is, no one has said. But there are some guesses.

The IMDB plot synopsis for the episode says, “While Fin and Phoebe make wedding plans, Benson and Rollins try to help a homeless single mother who’s being trafficked in exchange for safe housing.” Stabler isn’t mentioned at all.

Law & Order: SVU showrunner Warren Leight told TVLine that the relationship between Benson and Stabler has always been a close one. He said he was tired of seeing angry partners who disliked each other or had no relationship at all. He wanted to remind fans of how close the two used to be.

“It’s always bugged me that everybody in all cop shows comes from, or is in, a dysfunctional relationship or is not in a relationship at all. So we just wanted to have somebody be in a good relationship for once,” Leight says. “If there’s an event at the end of our episode, it’s an event that Stabler would have been invited to.”

So, best guess is Stabler will be attending Fin and Phoebe’s wedding at the end of the episode. Perfect timing too, considering NBC just picked up Law & Order: OC for a second season.

Trailer for Law & Order: SVU finale.