Entertainment TV Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni's Cutest Friendship Photos You have the right to remain best friends forever! By Andrea Wurzburger Updated on January 23, 2023 01:40 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos 01 of 22 Mariska Hargitay and Christoper Meloni in Law & Order: SVU. NBCU Photo Bank In 1999, Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni stepped into their roles as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit's Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler, playing partners on screen and ultimately becoming pals off. Now, over two decades later, the pair continue to be friends (Hargitay is godmother to Meloni's daughter) and even reunited for a crossover event between Law & Order: SVU and its Stabler-centric spinoff, Law & Order: Organized Crime. 02 of 22 Mariska Hargitay/instagram In the criminal justice system, it should be illegal how much fun these two have on set (captured here in a shot from set shared by Hargitay). 03 of 22 chris meloni/instagram Melon has returned the favor, sharing his own set photos with his longtime BFF on Instagram. 04 of 22 RJ Capak/WireImage The pair described their initial screen test to PEOPLE, recounting how they walked into the audition room while Meloni was in the middle of telling Hargitay a story, and were so engaged they asked executives to give them a moment to finish the story before they began auditioning. From there, Hargitay says it was "effortless, easy, fun." (And yes, you're correct: This photo is from the 2000 premiere of Coyote Ugly, a film we also saw in theaters with our BFF.) 05 of 22 Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Hargitay described meeting Meloni, telling PEOPLE, "I walked in, saw him, and I went, 'That guy. That's the guy.' It went deep, very fast. We both knew that it was something big." She added, "I won't say that I fully understood it, but I knew that meeting him was important and life-changing." 06 of 22 Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty "It was like family," Hargitay said of their relationship. "It was like having a brother that had me." And Meloni certainly had her back (or at least, the back of her dress) at the People's Choice Awards in 2000. 07 of 22 Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank Their chemistry off screen made for even better chemistry on the show, with Hargitay playing the even-keeled "good cop," Olivia Benson, and Meloni playing the passionate (and at times impulsive) Stabler. 08 of 22 Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni in Law & Order: SVU. Craig Blankenhorn/NBCU The pair played the partners — who worked in sync and always had each other's backs — for 12 years before Meloni left in 2011 due to issues with contract negotiations. 09 of 22 Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Hargitay told PEOPLE she was "devastated" when her friend and costar abruptly exited the series. "I was just so sad, because we started this thing and built it together," she explained. "And we went through so many milestones and spent so much time together and understood so many things that nobody else could understand." 10 of 22 Jim Spellman/WireImage Milestones that included seeing each other get married and have children ... and this blonde hair that Hargitay rocked in 2001. 11 of 22 Evan Agostini/Getty Meloni told Entertainment Tonight that, despite his departure from the show in 2011, that they have always stayed friends. "We just pick it up right where we left off and we've said it's like we don't have this relationship with anyone else… It's unique, it's full of laughter, she's full of love. We just kind of fall seamlessly into that place every time we see each other," he told the outlet. 12 of 22 Toni Anne Barson Archive/WireImage The future of their friendship was so bright, they had to wear shades. 13 of 22 Gregory Pace/FilmMagic Meloni told PEOPLE of Hargitay, "Her insights into life and how she engages life — which I have always found fascinating, interesting — makes me consider my engagement with life and how I go through life. It's kind of enviable and nice to be around." 14 of 22 Kevin Winter/Getty In 2010, the pair looked gorgeous while presenting at 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Hargitay has been nominated eight times, winning once in 2006. Meloni earned himself a nod in 2006 for outstanding lead actor in a drama series. 15 of 22 Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic Here they are on Valentine's Day, 2011, pulling apart two other actors (one of which is Rose McGowan) on set of Law & Order: SVU. Who hasn't wanted to do this with their bestie at some point or another? 16 of 22 Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni in Law & Order: SVU. Will Hart/NBC Hargitay told PEOPLE that the moment they came back together on screen was "so emotional." "It was this thing that I had really dreamed about," she added. Us, too, Mariska. Us, too. 17 of 22 Bobby Bank/WireImage "It was Pavlovian: Ring that bell, and you get right into Stabler and Benson," Meloni told PEOPLE of their return to the screen in the Organized Crime crossover event. "There was so much shorthand between us, which all goes back to the trust we have," Hargitay added. "He's always made me feel like I could just jump off the ledge, the cliff, the bridge, and he would catch me, in so many ways, whether it was comedy or acting or friendship." "It's simple," Meloni said. "We have each other's back." 18 of 22 Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images Not even a pandemic can stop this pair. 19 of 22 David Dow/AP Get you someone who goofs off with you the way Meloni does with Hargitay, here at the 2021 US Open. 20 of 22 Nathan Congleton/NBC Speaking to PEOPLE on Sept. 20, 2022, at the Law & Order season premiere red carpet in New York City ahead of the show's 24th season, Hargitay shared her feelings about being dubbed costar Meloni's "second wife" on Wikipedia. "That is awesome," she said. "It's kind of right in a way, isn't it?" 21 of 22 Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay. Mark Von Holden/NBC via Getty The stars were each other's plus-ones at the 2022 Primetime Emmy Awards, where they fought off a thief (and almost kissed!) before presenting an award. 22 of 22 Will Hart/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty This is an accurate depiction of me screaming about how much I love that these two are friends after all these years.