‘Law & Order: SVU’: Mariska Hargitay Welcomes Christopher Meloni Back to the Franchise as Elliot Stabler

Fans of the Law & Order franchise are absolutely ecstatic that Christopher Meloni will be back as Elliot Stabler. His former co-star, Mariska Hargitay, who still stars on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, gave him a special welcome back message on social media.

Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni on 'Law & Order: SVU' in 2007
Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni on ‘Law & Order: SVU’ in 2007 | Virginia Sherwood/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Elliot Stabler is back, finally!

After years and years of viewers hoping for the fan-favorite to return, Meloni is returning to the Law & Order franchise as Stabler. However, Meloni is not reprising the role on Law & Order: SVU. There will be Stabler-centric spinoff at NBC. It has a straight-to-series order and will center on “an NYPD organized crime unit led by Stabler.”

According to The Hollywood Reporter, it will be able to crossover with Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and by proxy, Wolf’s other two franchises, Chicago and FBI.

Stabler initially left the show during its twelfth season in 2011. It was initially reported that contract negotiations between NBC Universal and the actor had broken down.

The untitled Stabler show is not the only Law & Order spinoff that has been planned in recent years. Law & Order: Hate Crimes was also in development at NBC with a straight-to-series order. The show was shelved last year and there haven’t been any updates on it in a while, only that it was still in development.

Aside from the original Law & Order series and Law & Order: SVU, there have been four more spinoffs:  Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, Law & Order: LA and Law & Order: True Crime.

“As with all of my crime shows, I want to depict what’s really going on in our cities and shine a light on the wide-ranging victims and show that justice can prevail,” creator Dick Wolf said back when Hate Crimes was picked up. “Twenty years ago when SVU began, very few people felt comfortable coming forward and reporting these crimes, but when you bring the stories into people’s living rooms – with characters as empathetic as Olivia Benson – a real dialogue can begin. That’s what I hope we can do with this new show in a world where hate crimes have reached an egregious level.”

Hargitay officially welcomes Meloni back to the fold

Hargitay tweeted a photo of herself and Meloni from the show and used the opportunity to wish Meloni a Happy Birthday and to welcome him back to the Law & Order universe. She wrote, “Happy birthday @Chris_Meloni Meloni #It’sBeenAWhile #WelcomeHome.”

The actress also posted a different photo with a similar caption on her Instagram page.

Meloni commented on Hargitay’s Instagram post, writing, “Saddle up gurl, we ridin again. And TY for all the BD wishes.”

Law & Order: SVU, currently in its 21st season, airs Thursdays on NBC.