Christopher Meloni was the face of Law & Order: SVU along with Mariska Hargitay for the first 12 seasons, and fans have spent the years since his departure hoping Elliot Stabler would return for a reunion with Olivia Benson. Well, Meloni is returning as Stabler, but he won't just be popping onto SVU for a quick guest shot. Meloni will star in his own series.
A new Dick Wolf crime drama starring Christopher Meloni scored a series order from NBC, according to Deadline, with 13 episodes as part of the initial order. Although the title of the show has not been announced, he will be reprising his SVU role rather than playing somebody new in an unrelated Dick Wolf show. In fact, the drama will revolve around a crime unit organized by the NYPD and led by Stabler.
Former Chicago P.D showrunner Matt Olmstead is reportedly under consideration to take the reins as writer/showrunner for the Stabler-led series. If you started getting your hopes up for Meloni's return as Stabler last fall, you are now rewarded!
Even if this new show doesn't have the Law & Order title (which remains to be seen), it will share a universe with SVU and be set in New York City, which opens the door for all kinds of crossovers and a potential on-screen reunion between longtime partners Benson and Stabler, whose electric chemistry was a key part of SVU before Meloni departed. Mariska Hargitay remained on board and has made TV history with her long tenure as Olivia Benson.
Stabler was written out of Law & Order: SVU without Stabler getting a big farewell episode. The character's absence was explained as a retirement from the police force, which surprised but didn't anger his best friend and partner given all the stress of working in the Special Victims Unit. It should be interesting to see if the new show features Stabler returning to the NYPD or tweaking SVU history and simply explaining that he went off to another unit.
Either way, Stabler has evidently done well for himself off-screen, if he's the cop who organized and will lead this crime unit. He and Benson have leadership positions now. Would it be too much to ask for them to hang out and crossover on a semi-frequent basis?
Interestingly, news of this new show under Dick Wolf comes just the NBC and CBS branches of his empire are on the verge of colliding, with Chicago P.D.'s Hailey Upton crossing over to CBS' FBI. With this crossover, a whole bunch of shows will share a universe: Law & Order: SVU, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Chicago Med, FBI, FBI: Most Wanted, and now this Stabler series.
Viewers probably shouldn't count on a lot of crossovers between the Law & Order shows and FBI, despite all being set in New York, but the possibility is there for the characters of all these shows to jump into each other's cases.
The only real bad news for Law & Order: SVU fans already dying to see Stabler back in action (and back on screen with Benson) is that there is no news of when the new series might debut. SVU itself had to stop production on its current 21st season due to the coronavirus, and the future for the production of many network TV shows is uncertain.
Still, the Stabler project starring Christopher Meloni has received a series order and the Dick Wolf shared universe isn't going anywhere, so there's a lot to look forward to moving forward. The final episodes of SVU Season 21 air Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, and be sure to vote in our poll below about whether or not you're excited about the return of Stabler!