Olivia Benson & Elliot Stabler: Their Full Relationship History Ahead Of ‘SVU’ Reunion

Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler together again... it's about time! Take a look at notable moments in their relationship history before their epic reunion.

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Christopher Meloni Mariska Hargitay
Image Credit: Everett Collection

There’s never been a TV duo quite like Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni). For 12 seasons, Benson and Stabler were partners on Law & Order: SVU. They tackled the most shocking NYC crimes and formed an incredibly close bond.

Benson and Stabler will reunite in the game-changing Law & Order: SVU and Organized Crime crossover on April 1. These former partners have a long history together, so you know their first face-to-face moment in 10 years is going to be an emotional one. Look back at their relationship history that spans over 20 years.

The original cast of ‘Law & Order: SVU.’ (Everett Collection)

Benson & Stabler’s First Episode

The first episode of Law & Order: SVU aired on September 20, 1999. The show, a spinoff of Law & Order, starts right in the middle of the action. Benson and Stabler are already partners and investigating the brutal murder of a cab driver.

Stabler Is Benson’s Partner ‘For Better Or Worse’

In the tenth episode of the first season, Stabler figures out Benson’s been sleeping with Cassidy. When he asks her about it, she tries to deny it. But Stabler knows Benson. “I’m your partner. For better or worse,” he tells her. This line pretty much sums up their relationship, regardless of what’s happened over the years. Benson says she broke a rule, and now Cassidy wants to see her again. “Can you blame him?” Stabler quips. He then gives Benson some pointers about how to break things off with Cassidy in a nice way.

Benson & Stabler Choose ‘Each Other’ 

In episode 19 of season 7, Benson and Stabler take on a devastating case. When Elliot chooses to check on Olivia over running after the suspect, a young boy loses his life. Elliot lashes out at Olivia afterward. Later, the perpetrator has Stabler at gunpoint. Stabler tells Benson to take out the shooter, even if it means he dies. Before that can happen, a member of SWAT kills the perp.

At the hospital, Stabler tells Benson that he believes she would have pulled the trigger. “No, I wouldn’t of. Did you really expect me to? Did you really expect me to cause your death?” she says. Stabler replies, “We both chose each other over the job. We can never let that happen again. Otherwise, we can’t be partners.”

Christopher Meloni Mariska Hargitay
Benson and Stabler on the job. (Everett Collection)

Benson is stunned at what Stabler is saying. “I can’t believe you’re saying that,” she tells him. He admits, “You and this job are about the only things I’ve got anymore. I don’t want to wreck that. I couldn’t take it.” After this honest conversation, Benson goes to Cragen and asks for a new partner.

Benson & Stabler’s ‘Kidney’ Promise

Benson and Stabler are back as partners after Benson went undercover. They share a sweet and important moment at the end of the episode. Benson admits that, even after all these years, she doesn’t even know Stabler’s blood type. They turn out to have the same blood type. “I’d give you a kidney,” Stabler tells Benson. She replies, “Not if I gave you mine first.” No matter what, Benson and Stabler would risk their lives for each other.

Stabler Is Benson’s ‘Longest Relationship With A Man’

At the end of the eleventh episode of season 8, Benson shows up on Stabler’s doorstep because she couldn’t sleep. He reveals that he signed his divorce papers. After some silence, Benson asks, “So are we okay?” Stabler admits, “I just need space to disagree with you so I don’t feel like it’s going to cost me our partnership.” Benson tells Stabler, agreeing with what he said previously, “Well, like you’ve said, you’re the longest relationship that I’ve ever had with a man. Who else would put up with me?”

Benson & Stabler’s PDA

After Sonya Paxton’s brutal murder in episode 17 of season 12, Stabler rushes to Benson’s side. “I’m really glad your back,” Benson says, with tears in her eyes, when she sees Stabler. They share a big hug right then and there. “I should’ve come back sooner,” Stabler tells Benson.

Benson & Stabler As A ‘Married’ Couple

Christopher Meloni Mariska Hargitay
Benson and Stabler in season 12. (Everett Collection)

In episode 19 of season 12, Benson and Stabler go undercover as a married couple, who go to a swingers club to investigate a case. Benson and Stabler get all dolled up for their trip to the swingers club. When they walk in, Stabler won’t let go of Benson’s hand. For the fans who have always wanted Benson and Stabler to be more than just partners, this episode was a treat.

Stabler Leaves

After the tragedy in the squad room in the season 12 finale, Benson finds out that Stabler has left SVU in the season 13 premiere. Cragen calls Benson into his office to tell her that Stabler put his papers in. Benson immediately gets emotional. “He’s earned it,” Benson says. She looks totally stunned by the news. Before she heads out to investigate a new case, Benson finds an empty to room to cry in about losing her beloved partner.

Stabler Returns

Christopher Meloni
Christopher Meloni returns to the NYPD after 10 years. (NBC)

After 10 years away, Stabler is coming back to New York City. Benson and Stabler will reunite, but not under the best of circumstances. Stabler has suffered a “devastated personal loss” and comes back to the NYPD to take on organized crime. Stabler will be getting his own spinoff, Law & Order: Organized Crime.