‘Law and Order: SVU’ Will Destroy Stabler and Benson’s Relationship If They Add a Romance

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has been a staple of primetime TV for more than two decades. Much of what has made it so successful is its tendency to use real-life cases with high-profile stories as its source material. But it also kept fans tuning in for the romantic tension between its two protagonists.

For many years, fans were playing a “will they or won’t they” game with Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). The question seemed to be answered for good when Meloni left the series for other projects at the end of season 12. But now that he’s back — albeit on a different spinoff of the series — the chance for those romantic sparks to finally fly has also returned. Would that really be a good thing? 

‘Law & Order: SVU’ used romantic tension as a catalyst 

RELATED: ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Intentionally Kept Benson and Stabler’s Sexual Tension Alive

Law & Order: SVU has been the most successful spinoff of Dick Wolf’s Law & Order franchise, and some of that is because of its headline-grabbing material. The show frequently pulls its plots from real-life events — often jazzed up a bit for the screen.

On top of that, the show’s entire premise has viewers peeking behind the law enforcement curtain on some of the most gruesome and tragic crimes imaginable. It certainly provides heart-stopping drama at every turn. 

Still, it wasn’t just the crime that kept people on the edge of their seats. Fans were heavily invested in the relationship between Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson. Always flirtatious, many wanted to see the pair start a romantic relationship on top of their close friendship and intense professional partnership. 

The series creators knew what fans wanted and definitely dangled hints at the possibility. However, they never crossed the line — not least because Stabler was married. 

Detective Elliot Stabler returned to ‘Law & Order: SVU’

Christopher Meloni in 'Law & Order: SVU'
Christopher Meloni in ‘Law & Order: SVU’ | Will Hart/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

RELATED: Does Christopher Meloni Regret Leaving ‘Law & Order: SVU’?

A decade has passed since Detective Elliot Stabler bid farewell to the rest of the team on SVU. But now he has returned — sort of. Meloni is starring in a new spinoff for the series and has reprised the role of Elliot Stabler. Law & Order: Organized Crime follows the now-familiar police procedural format that has defined the franchise. But it focuses specifically on the organized crime world in New York City. 

Stabler’s personal demons factor heavily into the plot as well. After watching his wife get murdered in front of him, Stabler is suffering from PTSD and trying to piece his life back together. A lot has changed in the 10 years since he’s been away. But perhaps the most pressing question on so many viewers’ minds is what hasn’t changed: Will he and Benson remain caught in a web of never-realized romantic tension?

It could be a mistake to put Stabler and Benson together

While many fans have certainly been clamoring to see the couple come together for decades, others are quite certain taking that step would be a mistake for the show and the characters. Just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should be done, And that’s why some fans are arguing it would be a mistake. After all, we’ve had countless examples of friendships that spin into romance, and many are tired of the trope.

Stabler and Benson have been there for each other during extremely intense moments of their lives. And it would be powerful to see that friendship continue and even grow deeper in the face of this tragedy — without forcing a romance.