Law & Order: Why Elliot Stabler Joins the Organized Crime Unit

Elliot Stabler came out of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 10 years ago. Here’s why his character has suddenly returned.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 22, Episode 9, “Return of the Prodigal Son.”

After being absent from the Law franchise for 10 years, Christopher Meloni reprized his role as Detective Elliot Stabler as the lead in a new series. Law and order: organized crime. The latest entry in the franchise follows Stabler as part of a new task force for the NYPD that aims to take down powerful crime syndicates. Organized crime is a derivative of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, another series that focuses on a different task force investigating sexual crimes. Stabler was one of the lead detectives alongside Olivia Benson from Mariska Hargitay.

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Stabler was written out of Special Victims Unit after the season 12 finale, when a shooting at the SVU offices forced him to shoot the daughter of a rape victim who attempted to kill those responsible for the crime against her mother. Not wanting to undergo an internal review and psychological evaluation to keep his job, Stabler resigned off-screen in the season 13 premiere, leaving Benson and the rest of the team without a proper goodbye. Since his departure, Stabler’s whereabouts were never revealed until he returned in “Return of the Prodigal Son” season 22, in which Stabler and Benson met for the first time in a decade as part of a crossover event to Organized crime.

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After leaving the Special Victims Unit, Stabler worked for private security abroad before landing a job as an international liaison for the New York police in Rome investigating organized crime. She returned to New York for work reasons, but she also wanted to surprise Benson when she found out she was receiving an award while he was in town. However, Stabler’s wife, Kathy, was seriously injured in a car bomb. It was then that he met with Benson and the rest of the new SVU team, while trying to help them discover who had planted the bomb. Later, Benson confronted Stabler about his abrupt departure, criticizing him for not explaining why he left and for having to listen to others. Stabler apologized and said that he might not have left the SVU if he had heard his voice.

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It was later revealed that the car bombing could be linked to a much larger criminal ring, and that Stabler was the intended target. As the investigation continued, Kathy died in hospital after her spleen ruptured. Devastated by the loss of his wife, Stabler joined the new Organized Crime Control Office to find his wife’s killer and help bring down a larger criminal network. This leads directly to the pilot episode of Organized crime, which sees Stabler continue his investigation while also trying to keep his family together after his tragedy.

Created by Dick Wolf and produced by Wolf Entertainment and Universal Television, Law and order: organized crime stars Christopher Meloni, Dylan McDermott, and Tamara Taylor. The series premiered on Thursday, April 1 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

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