Christopher Meloni to Return as Det. Elliot Stabler for Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Premiere
This will be the first time Christoper Meloni will be playing Stabler since leaving Law & Order: SVU back in 2011
Elliot Stabler is reporting for duty!
During the season 22 premiere, Christopher Meloni is set to make his triumphant return to Law & Order: Special Victims Units nearly a decade after his exit.
"It’s pretty clear that Elliot will be in the SVU season opener. I think that much I know," showrunner Warren Leight said during a recent episode of SVU's behind-the-scenes podcast.
Meloni will reprise his role as the iconic detective Stabler for the episode to help launch his own spinoff series. The still-untitled show will follow Stabler as he leads the organized crime division of the NYPD. It’s already received a 13-episode order.
But fans might have to sit tight to see Stabler and Dectevice Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) reunite. Leight said that due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's unclear when the new season will start shooting.
This will be the first time Meloni will be playing Stabler since leaving Law & Order: SVU back in 2011 after contract negotiations broke down.
He was an original cast member when the franchise premiered in September 1999, and he earned a lead actor in a drama series Emmy nomination for his work on the show in 2006. Meloni was written off in the show after its season 12 finale, showing his character retiring from the police force.
In February, Law & Order: SVU was renewed through its 24th season. Its current record-breaking 21st season displaced Gunsmoke and the flagship Law & Order series as the longest-running live-action primetime television show.
In January, Hargitay told E! News at The Paley Center’s salute to Law & Order: SVU that she credits her relationship with Meloni for “part of the success of the show.”
Meloni agreed, the two actors both stressing they felt immediate “chemistry” when reading during auditions for the show.
“She and I hit it off right from the get-go,” Meloni said, with Hargitay describing her relationship with him as “instantaneous ease, trust, comfort.”
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.