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benson mariska hargitay stabler christopher meloni law and order svu nbc

We've known for a few months now that Christopher Meloni will be heading back to his old stomping grounds as Elliot Stabler on Law & Order: SVU when the record-breaking hit returns for Season 22 sometime this fall. What this means, of course, is that after almost a decade without the character, fans will finally get to see Meloni reunite on screen with his good friend and former co-star, Mariska Hargitay, who's made SVU's Olivia Benson one of the longest-running characters on television. Meloni and Hargitay are no strangers to mingling off camera, and he's now talking about how "inextricably linked" they are.

Even though Christopher Meloni left SVU behind rather suddenly after Season 12 (with his character being written out off camera in the Season 13 premiere), he and Mariska Hargitay have remained good friends over the years. And, with fans being largely devastated when he decided to depart their favorite police procedural, every time they post a friendly snap of themselves to social media, it's brought up a wealth of feelings for those who've been hoping to see the two in the squad room again. Now that it's about to happen, Meloni says they've been connected from the beginning:

[SVU] gave birth to Mariska and Meloni, and Benson and Stabler. So we’re kind of inextricably linked and connected in that way. Beyond that, we’re very good friends. I think we value each other.

Awww! What I'm hearing from Christopher Meloni's words to Entertainment Tonight is that he and Mariska Hargitay bonded from the beginning, when they were both cast on Law & Order: SVU. The show not only gave birth to one of the greatest cop show partnerships of all time, but an amazing real life friendship, as well, which makes the fact that the two of them will be working again as the characters who first brought them together all the more special.

Earlier this year, the two spoke about the instant chemistry they had with one another during a Paley Center tribute to SVU, and made it clear that even they realized, as far back as the audition process for the series, that what they had together was something special. Meloni noted that he and Hargitay "hit it off right from the get-go," while she said their on and off screen relationship was "instantaneous ease, chemistry, trust, comfort, and all good" from the beginning.

It was, clearly, that special connection, both as Benson and Stabler and behind the scenes that helped make Law & Order: SVU the juggernaut that it still is today. And, lest you think that Meloni and Hargitay need any kind of adjustment period when they meet up in real life, he's ready to disabuse you of that notion:

We just pick it up right where we left off and we’ve said it’s like we don’t have this relationship with anyone else… It’s unique, it’s full of laughter, she’s full of love. We just kind of fall seamlessly into that place every time we see each other.

I kinda want these two to work on everything together, don't you? Right now, Christopher Meloni believes that Law & Order: SVU will begin filming in September, while filming for his spinoff, Law & Order: Organized Crime, will be likely to follow. Both are scheduled to air on NBC this fall, so be sure to stick with CinemaBlend for updates!