Law and Order SVU fans have been waiting for a long time to see Elliot Stabler return to the show and reunite with Olivia Benson, and we're finally going to get that long-awaited reunion in the SVU season 22 premiere. Meloni is heading back to the world of SVU thanks to a new spinoff series, but before that kicks off he will return to SVU, something SVU showrunner Warren Leight revealed on the latest episode of The Law & Order: SVU Podcast (via ET). "It's pretty clear that Elliot will be in the SVU season opener," Leight said. "I think that much I know. Whether we get to see his family as well remains to be seen."
Leight and fellow SVU writers Julie Martin, Denis Hamill, and Monet Hurst-Mendoza also revealed that this wasn't the original plan, as they had hoped to reintroduce Stabler and his family slowly and over time, deciding to lay the groundwork when they heard he might be coming back. The original plan was to have Elliot's wife Kathy come back first, bringing a case involving her son to the SVU, and that would start the ball rolling.
"We had heard distant thunder about Chris Meloni coming back in the fall and we were going to lay a little groundwork for that," Leight said. "We were going to see [his wife] Kathy Stabler come back very upset. Her son had been rolled by a team of ne'er-do-wells and may have been drugged, and we were going to revisit [Benson's half-brother] Simon's seeming overdose and we were going to get to know the stresses on the Stablers -- what had happened to the Stabler family after Elliot both left SVU and apparently left them."
This was set to be included as part of the final episodes in season 21, but the coronavirus pandemic put a halt on production and cut the season short.
"We were just going to lay some groundwork down in anticipation of Elliot's return of course in his own series. We had the sense that the first episode of next year for SVU was going to bring Elliot back, so we were going to foreshadow that and explain a little more what happened to Simon," Leight said.
Once Stabler is brought back to SVU, he will be launched into his own spinoff series that has him running the Organized Crime Division of the NYPD, and there will be plenty more Elliot and Olivia moving forward. "It's not just about the SVU season opener, it's how do we help launch the new series and how much crossover will there be between Elliot and Olivia as the season goes on," Leight said.
Martin added, "There's a 10-year gap of no reference point whatsoever."
We cannot wait to see Elliot and Olivia reunited, and let us know what you think of the upcoming reunion in the comments! You can also hit me upon Twitter @MattAguilarCB for all things SVU!