christopher meloni law and order svu stabler

Law & Order: SVU continued its record-breaking primetime run on NBC when Season 22 debuted a few weeks ago, with pandemic-related issues pushing the premiere nearly two months back from the drama's traditional September start window. That lateness, in effect, means that fans aren't getting very any episodes to enjoy before SVU goes on winter hiatus. However, even that bummer of a realization can be brushed under the rug now that we have visual evidence proving Christopher Meloni's impending return to the franchise is happening in the relatively near future.

Warren Leight, who has served as Law & Order: SVU's showrunner during two separate stints in its 22-year history, took to social media this week to celebrate the latest episode read-through. And there among the many cast and crew members was none other than Christopher Meloni himself, which almost definitely means the actor will very soon reprise his role of Elliot Stabler on camera and in costume. While contemplating how awesome those first looks will be, check out Leight's post below.

You can tell Warren Leight is purposefully understating things, possibly not to make everyone else in that video read-through jealous of Christopher Meloni for getting all of the attention. And just in case any fans out there suspected that Meloni might have just been popping by as a spectator only, the "original character" hashtag there very likely seals the deal that Detective Stabler is in the building. Though judging from the limited story details that have surfaced concerning Stabler's current-day situation and his emotional headspace, the character's return may inspire as much worry and stress as it does smiles and warm feelings.

Note that Meloni's return to Law & Order: SVU after his nine-year absence won't be the last time Elliot Stabler shows up in primetime, as Dick Wolf & Co. are also in the process of setting up the character's upcoming spinoff, to be titled Law & Order: Organized Crime. That project has faced some delays along the way, and lost its original showrunner in October, so it's not entirely clear when we can expect to see it on NBC in full, but the actor's involvement on SVU proper can only mean good things.

Someone else who was also in celebration mode for this particular read-through was Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay, who shared her own pic on Instagram, with Christopher Meloni owning the upper corner.

Christopher Meloni's SVU return was announced earlier this year just as COVID lockdowns were spreading across the country, though it didn't stop Mariska Hargitay from being pumped about the future, although no one likely expected things to happen this far into the future. That said, fans are no doubt hoping that the wait will be worth every second.

With guest stars Tamara Tunie and Jordan Lane Price popping in for the next episode, Law & Order: SVU will air its fall finale on NBC on Thursday, December 3, and will return for its winter premiere on Thursday, January 7, at 9:00 p.m. ET. While waiting through the cold, head to our Fall 2020 TV premiere schedule and our Winter and Spring 2021 TV rundown to see what other shows will be popping up before and after SVU's return.

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