SVU gotta smooch already. Mulder and Scully, Booth and Bones, Benson and Stabler. Partners with undeniable chemistry make for good TV. And while everyone’s favorite FBI Agents all got to hook up, Law & Order: SVU‘s two main detectives have yet to get past long looks and intimate hugs. Until now?
Their relationship has been through so many ups and downs, twists and turns, and since SVU has been on for approximately one million episodes, we figured it might be helpful to catch up on where things stand. Here’s the latest:
They’re both cops, but they’re not partners
For the first chunk of SVU’s run, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) were partners, though they also worked with other detectives like Tutuola, Carisi, and Munch. In seasons seven and eight, they realize they are too close, and try to work with other partners, but can’t…until season thirteen, when Christopher Meloni left the show and Det. Stabler just peaces out to Europe. A decade later, he returns to NYC as part of an organized crime unit, and while their paths continue to cross, they’re each in their own department (and their own show).
Benson is single, one kid
Though she’s had serious relationships, Olivia Benson is currently unattached, and has never been married. But she does have a family; she legally adopted her son Noah on season 15.
Stabler is a widow, five kids
One of the events that drew Elliot and Olivia back together was when a car bomb—intended for Stabler—killed his wife Kathy in the 2021 season. Previously, the two had a sometimes strained marriage, but with five kids together were definitely a family. Since Stabler was married before the start of his partnership with Benson, this is the first time that he’s been single with her in his life.
They love each other, obv
The fact that they cared for each other was never really in doubt, and both have made various allusions to romantic feelings, though always when talking to other people, not to each other. In a recent episode, Stabler told Benson that her loved her…as well as the rest of his family, who were all in the room. For each and every tender moment, check out this full timeline of their relationship.
There was a thing with a letter
When Stabler returned to New York, he gave Benson an emotional letter. This was happening over on Organized Crime, so you might have missed it. Anyway, the letter was like, “you’re so great but maybe we are bad for each other…if things were different I coulda loved ya” (I’m paraphrasing). It was actually written by Stabler’s dead wife Kathy, though he added the “we might have been together” part. And since he presumably knew what it said before he gave it to her, he must sign off on the whole sentiment, right? Unclear. But suffice it to say, these two have some unfinished business.
Most importantly, the two are off-screen besties, so ship away.