'Law & Order: SVU' Teased Yet Another Potential Benson/Stabler Kiss — Did Fans Get Their Wish?

Promos for another charged moment between Mariska Hargitay's Benson and Christopher Meloni's Stabler dangled the prospect that fans' years-long hopes might finally come true

Christopher Meloni Upcoming Apparent Lip-Lock with SVU Costar Mariska Hargitay
Photo: NBC

The moment Law & Order: Special Victims Unit fans have been waiting for almost happened.

Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska's Hargitay) and Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) shared an emotional moment at the end of Thursday's episode that nearly led to the pair sharing a kiss.

The two detectives caught up at Benson's apartment after Stabler helped pick up her son, Noah (Ryan Buggle), who had been staying with his half-brother's family outside since her attack. Stabler questioned why she didn't call him with the assault happened, and Benson explained that she knew he'd "try to protect" her.

"Is there something wrong with that?" Stabler asked as Benson remained silent.

Then he added, "I care for you."

His words loaded with years of romantic tension, which was clearly overwhelming for his former partner. Stabler moved closer, saying, "Liv, look at me."

After the pair touched foreheads, Stabler appeared to lean in to kiss her — but Benson pulled away.

"Elliot I want to — I want to," she said. "But I can't."

Stabler asked, "Why not?"

SVU Stabler and Benson
Zach Dilgard/NBC

"Because what if it doesn't work out?" Benson asked in response as Stabler said, "And what if things work out?"

Benson was unfortunately still hesitant and eventually fully backed away.

"Elliot, I'm not ready for this," she said, before repeating several times: "I'm not ready for this."

Fans watched as Benson and Stabler worked alongside each other in Manhattan's Special Victims Unit for 12 seasons. But Meloni exited the long-running series, now in its 24th season, in 2011 before returning in 2021 for season 22.

Benson and Stabler have shared smoldering, fraught moments many time since Meloni launched the Stabler-centric spin-off Law & Order: Organized Crime in 2021. But a recent promo for the series had fans more hopeful than ever for a long-awaited kiss between the two colleagues.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 12: 74th ANNUAL PRIMETIME EMMY AWARDS -- Pictured: Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay arrives to the 74th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Microsoft Theater on September 12, 2022. -- (Photo by Evans Vestal Ward/NBC via Getty Images)
Evans Vestal Ward/NBC/Getty

Hargitay recently revealed how Benson actually feels about Stabler.

"The energy's there. Olivia's been in love with him for many a year," Hargitay said on The Drew Barrymore Show in January 2022. "And I think that we are slowly finding our way back to it, but I want to give him the amount of time he needs to grieve Kathy Stabler."

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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET, followed by Law & Order: Organized Crime at 10 p.m. ET, on NBC.

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