Will Christopher Meloni return to Law & Order: SVU at some point in the future? We know that we’d like to see it happen! His exit was a huge landmark moment in the show, and Stabler remains near the top of our list of characters we’d like to see some closure for. We know that he remains close friends with series star Mariska Hargitay, and there have been various campaigns over the years to get him back. Unfortunately, none of this has led to anything concrete.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, new showrunner confirmed that Meloni’s “name is tossed around, but [they] have no plans” to bring Stabler back right now. Our sentiment remains the same that it’s been for a while — we’d love to see him back either for a milestone episode down the road or some sort of big final story. Everyone knows that Meloni’s impact on the show is huge; he was essential to the first decade and beyond, and Stabler and Benson’s partnership remains one of the great ones in television history.
Unfortunately, there are so many reasons why getting him back remains difficult. For one, he is an incredibly busy guy with a ton of different things on his plate, and many of these said things could easily get in the way of him coming on board and being a part of the show again. The more work he takes on the better it is for him as a performer, but also the more complicated it is to get him back.
Meanwhile, there’s also the issue of the way he left, which came about as the result of contract negotiations falling through. This is all too complicated than we care to get into here (we don’t like to speak about any negotiation without specifics), but overall we tend to find that performers who leave shows due to complicated negotiations have less of a chance of returning than ones who leave for other reasons. This isn’t a signal that Meloni is done with the show forever, but we’d never had 100% confidence that we’ll ever see Stabler again.
At least so long as Hargitay remains a part of the show, we’ll continue to hold out some shred of hope that somehow, someway we’ll see Stabler pop up again before it comes to a close.