In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous, and for more than 10 years, Elliot Stabler (played by Chris Meloni) and Olivia Benson (played Mariska Hargitay) worked side by side to protect and find justice for victims on Law & Order: SVU.
Recently, the detective duo reunited for the first time since Chris Meloni’s exit from the series in 2011, and tensions were high. After the death of Stabler’s wife, Kathy, it appears that Benson and Stabler have gotten especially close. Their behavior makes us wonder: Did Stabler and Benson ever have an affair?
Did Benson and Stabler have an affair on 'Law & Order: SVU'?
Although Benson and Stabler have had a strong bond since Season 1 of Law & Order: SVU, they were never romantically involved on the show. But showrunners have never ruled out the possibility that they could end up together someday.
Despite their seemingly platonic relationship, recent episodes of the show suggest that the bond between Benson and Stabler was much more complex than we had previously assumed.
In a recent interview, actor Chris Meloni opened up about Stabler’s relationship with his former partner. He shared, “I mean, it’s such a long time. It is so many unanswered questions.” “I think there’s such a great sense of abandonment and betrayal and a what-the-f--k-ed-ness of it all, that, you know, that wound is, you know, not going to… get its dressings all, you know, squared away," he added. "You know, it’s going to be a process, right?”
Before Kathy’s tragic death, she showed subtle signs of jealousy toward her husband’s former partner. In the crossover event, Kathy asked Benson to confirm that the two had not been in contact since his exit from the department, which ultimately made fans wonder if Kathy was aware of Benson and Stabler’s obvious romantic chemistry.
When Benson was finally given the opportunity to confront Stabler about his abrupt exit alone, she asked, “Are you sorry for leaving, or are you sorry for walking— for not giving me the courtesy of telling me? You were the single most important person in my life, and you just... disappeared.”
Stabler replied, “I know. I was afraid if I heard your voice, I wouldn’t have been able to leave.”
Benson and Stabler have never had a physical affair, but their emotional relationship is an entirely different story. Long before Stabler left his old unit to join the squad at Organized Crime, Stabler and Benson risked both their lives and their jobs for one another. Along with jokingly offering her former partner a kidney, Benson had also said that her relationship with Stabler is the longest she’s ever had with a man.
Since the crossover event was filmed, showrunners have teased that Benson and Stabler’s story hasn’t come to an end just yet, and have confirmed that Chris Meloni will also make appearances in future episodes of Law & Order: SVU.
In a tweet, Mariska Hargitay wrote, “So many stories, told step by step, side by side.... with so many stories still waiting to be told. #SVU #OrganizedCrime.”
You can watch new episodes of Law & Order: SVU on Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST on NBC.