Back when it was announced that Christopher Meloni was leaving Law & Order: SVU, many couldn’t believe that the long-standing crime-show could last. Among those skeptical was the person writing this article – me. Meloni had played Elliot Stabler for twelve seasons and although the series had a handful of great cast members, its bread and butter was Stabler and Benson. The hot-headed family man was, a lot of times; what was needed in many cases when dealing with the most despicable of perps on the show. His chemistry with Mariska Hargitay was unreal and although Stabler and Olivia Benson never officially hooked up, they still were one of the best platonic couples on TV.
Season thirteen had some growing pains and we all felt Benson’s hurt as she attempted to find her place within the squad without Stabler around. SVU is currently in its 20th season and it’s really come around since Meloni’s departure. We had some great changes such as Kelli Gillish’s inclusion as Amanda Rollins, Benson becoming the squad’s Lieutenant and Finn as the Sergeant, and the true gem of the new crew, Peter Scanavino as Dominick “Sonny” Carisi Jr. There have been some bad changes, as well, though. For one, Raul Esparza’s departure. Esparza came in season 14 as SVU’s ADA and lasted until mid-19. His character, Rafael Barba; was a titan in the courtroom and as amazing as Alex Cabot and Casey Novak were, we were spoiled with Barba. So much so that after his departure, Phillip Winchester’s Peter Stone simply does not live up, no matter how much the writers of SVU insist on shoving him down our throat. Seriously, guys, give the screen time to Carisi.
Although the first twelve seasons had more brutal cases, the second half of this series gave us some of the most memorable villains. We were given great crossovers with Dick Wolf’s Chicago shows and the best, most memorable villain of all, Pablo Schreiber’s William Lewis. Seriously, no other bad guy will compare and having a storyline like that was something SVU was missing.
At this point, it’s been eight seasons since we saw Stabler on our screens. And, I have to ask; is it time to bring him back? Does the show necessarily need him anymore? Meloni left the show due to money talk and since then, there’s been a few times on screen where lines were drawn up to even diss Stabler. We had Liv critiquing Hank Voight’s interrogation methods and comparing them to her “former partner”, as Liv telling Nick Amaro how she had grown more with having him [Amaro] as a partner for four years than she did having Stabler for twelve. At the same time, though; Liv embodied Stabler when faced up against William Lewis, stating how if her partner was there, he wouldn’t hesitate to hurt Lewis after all the things the villain had done.
Would the show, though; even have room for a character like Stabler? Someone so loud, so hot-head, so controversial? We all loved Stabler, but Stabler throwing around perps in such a high-tension society wouldn’t bode well. In the episodes now, the detectives try to empathize with suspects to get them to talk and even when Rollins tries to be rough with perps, the internet seems up in arms with her treatment of suspects. Imagine if Stabler was still on? Not to mention, Stabler could, at times; be seen with classic traits of “toxic masculinity” – how would that fair against the new members of the team? We’ve seen Amaro descend into that sporadic, violent behavior, and it did not end well for him. Not to mention, if we remember; Finn and Stabler do not get along. With how tight-nit everyone is now, this would surely add tension.
But, Mariska is still friends with Christopher Meloni. And no matter how much time goes by, we all miss him. Maybe we miss Stabler throwing a perp around or two, maybe we miss his family drama, but overall, we miss Benson having a true partner. Amaro never felt like he was really a partner to Benson and although it’s nice seeing Benson and Finn work so closely with each other, Stabler is missing. I’m not saying to bring him on full time, because who knows how he’d react to Benson being his boss now; but maybe one episode? Maybe one, single episode is all we need. After all, Brian Cassidy was brought back after thirteen seasons; isn’t it time to bring Stabler back?
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