Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni's portrayal of Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler in "Law & Order: SVU" had a profound impact on fans of crime dramas worldwide. Their undeniable on-screen and off-screen chemistry fueled fans' desires for a romantic relationship between the characters. Although Meloni's departure in 2011 dashed those hopes, his highly anticipated return to the "Law & Order" franchise was met with enthusiasm. The reunion of Benson and Stabler in both "Law & Order: SVU" and "Law & Order: Organized Crime" was hailed as a cultural moment by TODAY. Hargitay acknowledged that fans appreciate their characters' ability to communicate through eye contact alone and expressed how effortlessly they resumed their dynamic partnership.
In a 2022 interview with People, Mariska Hargitay shared her thoughts on the Benson-Stabler relationship in the "Law & Order" universe. While acknowledging their complicated history and strained relationship after Stabler's departure, Hargitay believes there are romantic feelings between them, albeit not yet explored. She emphasized that Stabler is grieving his late wife and needs time to heal while adjusting to his new job. Nevertheless, Hargitay stated that Olivia loves him deeply, will always be there for him, and they share an unparalleled bond. Working with Christopher Meloni again felt natural due to their strong trust and understanding built over the years.
Christopher Meloni, who portrays Stabler in "Law & Order: Organized Crime," opened up about Stabler's feelings towards Benson in a February 2022 interview with TODAY. Meloni suggested that Stabler is in the midst of realizing his emotions and finds it more challenging than Benson. Stabler carries a burden of grief, which forms the foundation of his spin-off series. The hand-holding scene, which caused a frenzy among fans, was not improvised but rather a collaborative effort between Meloni and Mariska Hargitay. They feel intimately connected to their characters and work together to determine the precise words and emotions. Fans responded ecstatically on Twitter, expressing their joy and excitement over the moment.