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Law & Order: SVU has been a staple of the television landscape for well over a decade now. Across 17 seasons the program has been nominated for a whopping 129 awards, leading to a Golden Globe win for star Mariska Hargitay, who plays detective Olivia Benson, in 2005, and a total of 48 award wins overall. Fans have been wanting an on screen reunion with Hargitay and Christopher Meloni, who co-starred on the series as Benson’s partner in crime fighting, Elliot Stabler, but those plans will have to wait. And, now, showrunner Warren Leight has explained why.
If we weren’t coming back, there were a couple things I was absolutely going to do. We had been talking [about], had this been the last episode, we would have tried to bring him back.

Warren Leight spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about his plans for the series finale of the show, which many of the cast and crew thought might be coming at the end of this, the show’s seventeenth, season. Leight admits that he and the writers were already working on ideas for a possible finish to the very long running show, which would have included former series regular Christopher Meloni. But, the show has gotten a one-season renewal from NBC.

Christopher Meloni was in the process of working out his deal to stay on the show, but when he didn’t get the results he wanted, he left the series, and his departure happened to come 10 days after the final episode of Season 12 aired. The writers never had time to create a meaningful send-off for Stabler, and they were left with a Season 13 opener that haphazardly explained Stabler’s absence on him suddenly leaving the force. Which, considering that he and Benson were so close, never made any sense for the character.

The detectives of Law & Order: SVU investigate sex crimes, and the murders that sometimes relate to those crimes. For the first 12 seasons of the show, Benson and Stabler led the charge of most of the unit in examining these cases and trying to bring perpetrators to justice. The close relationship of the detectives even led many fans to hope that there would, some day, be a romantic involvement, but that never materialized.

Obviously Christopher Meloni was a huge part of the show and its early success. For Warren Leight to immediately consider writing a series ending that would see Benson and Stabler reunited only means that he totally understands his audience and what they’d need from the final episode of the show.

Well, luckily for fans, Law & Order: SVU will live on for at least another season. Hopefully, whenever the show does finally end, the plans for that finale will still include Benson and Stabler meeting once again.