These two have seen their fair share of drama throughout the years.
With 23 seasons and countless awards under its belt, has become a long-running NBC classic.
The iconic legal drama created by Dick Wolf has cultivated a widespread audience. While the action-packed plots and suspenseful villains keep fans on the edge of their seats, the partnership between Olivia Benson () and Elliot Stabler () is what made fans initially fall in love with the show. (Meloni is now on his own series, .)
The first 12 seasons of were defined by Benson and Stabler's strong and complicated partnership, with many memorable moments defining their relationship. Despite being opposites in many ways, Benson and Stabler prove that work dynamics can often become like family ones. Let's revisit some of the most dramatic scenes where , lives, and careers were put to the test.
After a boy and girl are kidnapped, Stabler fails to run after an assailant after he witnesses Benson getting her throat slashed by the kidnapper. Benson's wounds are not fatal, but the boy dies due to Stabler not pursuing the assailant. Later, Benson is put in a similar situation when Stabler is held at gunpoint by the kidnapper, and Benson refuses to shoot the culprit for fear of Stabler getting killed. Both Stabler and Benson choose each other over their jobs in the end, resulting in the pair taking a brief break as partners. No worries: They reunite only two episodes later. Phew!
fans got to see how far Benson is willing to go to protect Stabler after an arrest goes belly-up. Stabler is injured while reading out the rights to a sexual predator who suffers from schizophrenia. The culprit head-butts Stabler, shattering a car window and knocking out Stabler in the process. Instead of chasing down the escaped offender, Benson rushes to Stabler's side. Stabler's injuries cause him to struggle with temporary blindness, but Benson is at his side the whole time.
There is "work friend" close, and then there is "saved your wife and unborn baby" close, with Benson and Stabler in the latter category. One of the most dramatic moments between Benson and Stabler occurs in Season 9 when Benson gets into a car accident with Stabler's pregnant wife, Kathy, while Stabler is on a road trip. The collision causes Kathy's water to break and go into labor. Have no fear: Benson is here to deliver the baby and save the day. Stabler shows Benson how much he appreciates her efforts when they reunite at the hospital and share a rare but memorable long hug.
Sometimes the SVU requires a little undercover detective work, and Benson and Stabler will do whatever it takes to avoid blowing their covers. When Stabler goes undercover to bust an exotic animal trading ring, Benson visits him at the same time as some of the bad guys show up, causing the two partners to panic. Benson finds a solution by stripping to pose as a sex worker alongside a half-naked Stabler. The pair successfully fool the animal smugglers into thinking they're not cops but not without creating one of the most tense moments in
After Benson is targeted by an suspect and framed for a murder, Stabler proves that he'll pay any price to see Benson safe. After Benson is successfully framed for the crime by a rapist she previously put behind bars, she is arrested, with her bail posted for $250,000. Who ends up paying the tab? Stabler, of course, but not without mortgaging his home without his wife's approval. Stabler is also the person responsible for leading the pursuit of the actual murderer, which proves Benson's innocence.
Get the tissue box ready because we are revisiting one of the most devastating Benson and Stabler moments, and Stabler isn't even onscreen for this one. Season 13 begins with Benson learning that Stabler has suddenly quit the SVU and moved to Europe without telling Benson . Even worse, Benson only receives this life-changing news after Stabler fails to show up to work. Benson and fans everywhere were blindsided and destroyed by Stabler's sudden abandonment, with many rooting for his eventual return.
After a decade apart, Benson and Stabler were finally reunited during the NBC crossover of
and return this fall to NBC on September 22. Watch both (and ) on Peacock now.