‘SVU’ Needs To Ditch the Benson/Stabler Will-They-Won’t-They for Good

In the 25 years Law and Order: SVU has been on the air, it has garnered a massive fanbase, and for good reason. The series follows the detectives of the Special Victims Unit in New York City as they investigate sexually-based crimes. Early seasons featured the lead detective pairing of Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni), and viewers saw them go through a lot together — everything from arguments over cases to life-and-death situations while on the job. Throughout it all, they’ve always had a deep love and respect for one another, which, of course, has led many viewers to ship the pair.

Mariska Hargitary and Christopher Meloni in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

But Benson and Stabler haven’t so much as shared a peck on the cheek, despite the obvious tension between them. Granted, Elliot was married for the majority of his time on the series, but even after the death of his wife Kathy (Isabel Gillies), SVU has yet to make Elliot and Olivia an official couple. This wouldn’t necessarily be a cause for complaint if it weren’t for the fact that a romance between them is heavily teased across multiple episodes. Even when it seems like they’ll finally get their moment, the show pulls the rug out from underneath them, and it’s back to square one. Maybe it’s time SVU — and show creator Dick Wolf — drops the will-they-won’t-they aspect between Benson and Stabler for good.

Benson and Stabler Have Been Through a Lot on ‘SVU’


SVU is notorious for putting its characters through the wringer at times — specifically Olivia Benson. The woman has been party to so many devastating and traumatizing things that it’s honestly a miracle she’s still a part of the unit. She’s been kidnapped and tortured, nearly assaulted, wounded, lost loved ones, and the list goes on and on. But the one constant good thing in her life was Elliot Stabler. He was always more than just her partner, he was her closest friend. Working together in such an intense unit is bound to bring any two people close together; after all, you have to trust your partner when dealing with such high-intensity cases. Even though Benson and Stabler didn’t always see eye to eye, they always managed to work it out and come out just as strong. When Elliot left SVU in Season 11, coinciding with Meloni’s departure from the show, it’s safe to say that Olivia was gutted. He didn’t even tell her that he was leaving — she found out via Cragen (Dann Floreck) — and his absence notably changes her as a character.

When Stabler finally returned to the series as a recurring character starting in Season 22, fans rejoiced — but there was still so much left unsaid between the former partners, so much that Benson had gone through without him by her side. After so many years of knowing each other and working together, his departure without even so much as a face-to-face goodbye was a tough pill to swallow. Even in Season 25 of SVU, Stabler doesn’t know the full scope of what happened to Liv while he was gone. It wasn’t as if a romance was immediately going to blossom between them as soon as he returned, and no one expected it to. A romance between Stabler and Benson was always going to be something that happened gradually. But with how much the show has teased it and then yanked it away, it feels as though it’s more of a game, rather than anything SVU is still planning on building towards.

Dick Wolf Decided To Cut a Benson and Stabler Kiss From ‘SVU’

Benson and Stabler from SVU sharing an intimate moment

Awaiting a Benson and Stabler romance wasn’t impossible when it still seemed it could happen at any time. But then, in Season 24, a promo was released that showed Elliot and Olivia in a very intimate embrace. With her hands on his face and his forehead pressed to hers, fans began to screech in excitement. Finally, after 24 long seasons, the two characters were going to kiss.

When the actual episode premiered, the scene in question was notably different. It wasn’t as intimate as it seemed in the promo, and, frankly, it didn’t look the same. Just when fans thought the characters were still going to share a kiss, Benson cut Stabler off and told him that, while she wanted to, she couldn’t. On the one hand, her choice was understandable, because as previously mentioned, there was still so much they hadn’t discussed since his return. But fans still felt misled because of the previously-released promo, which used a completely different version of the scene as bait to bring in viewers.

It wasn’t just fans who were left disappointed, as Mariska Hargitay recently shared her thoughts on the cut scenein an interview with Variety. Speaking of the infamous almost-kiss, Hargitay shared her thoughts on the moment between the characters, referencing the fact that she and Meloni seemed to be at odds with creator Dick Wolf over how the scene should play out:

“To be honest with you, Chris and I thought it should go one way and the powers that be didn’t, so it got changed at the last minute, that near kiss. Obviously Dick gets final say. It’s his show and he didn’t want that.”

It’s Time for ‘SVU’ To Commit to a Benson/Stabler Relationship or Let It Go

Detectives Elliot Stable and Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU.

It’s clear the Benson and Stabler ship isn’t sailing any time soon, but at least the audience isn’t alone in seeing the potential between the characters, as Hargitay herself remarked to Variety: “Our chemistry is undeniable. It’s just the way it is.” It makes sense that the show wants to take things slow with Stabler and Benson, because putting them together could very easily break all the tension that has built up over the years. But fans have just grown tired of the constant back and forth. Is there hope for a Benson and Stabler romance in the future, or should viewers forget the possibility altogether?

SVU isn’t a show that needs romance to be successful, but after all these years of teasing the potential of romance, it would be nice to get confirmation one way or another. Before, it came down to the simple fact that SVU either had to commit to the Benson and Stabler romance or let it go, but now it may be for the best if the show calls it quits altogether. No more dragging fans along for a ride that isn’t going anywhere any time soon, or teasing the idea of it only to take it away at the last minute for the sake of unnecessary drama — when even the actors themselves seem to want it to happen.

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