Law And Order: SVU fans will soon get the Elliot Stabler return they've wanted ever since Christopher Meloni left the show after season 12 when season 22 finally hits the small screen. That said, it won't be rolled out in the exact way that the SVU team originally planned on thanks to changes to season 21 due to the coronavirus pandemic. That shut down production of season 21, resulting in it being cut short, and now some changes will need to be made to Stabler's return in season 22. We do know a bit more about what was originally planned for Stabler's return however thanks to SVU showrunner Warren Leight, who touched on what they were planning on doing during the latest episode of The Law & Order: SVU Podcast. Leight revealed that the original storyline was going to have Kathy interact with the SVU first, setting the groundwork for Elliot later (via ET).
"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."
One of the most noteworthy bits from that comment is the fact that Elliot might have flat out left his family during the 10-year gap, and that is certainly not what we expected from him. Sure he and Kathy were having marital issues all throughout his time on SVU, but Stabler never struck us as a father who would up and leave his family and especially his children.
Again, Elliot also had issues with his children throughout the series, but we didn't expect that, especially after his daughter made such a drastic turnaround.
It remains to be seen if that original storyline will be used when season 22 finally does go into production, and if so we definitely want to know why Stabler chose to handle things that way. It would seem there is more to the story, and hopefully, it makes sense when we finally find out what that full story is.