Christopher Meloni Returning to 'Law & Order: SVU' Season 22 Premiere Ahead of New Series

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By , RADIO.COM

“Law & Order: SVU” showrunner Warren Leight is updating fans about the return of beloved character Elliot Stabler.

In March, it was revealed that Christopher Meloni would revive his character of Elliot Stabler and reunite with his partner, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), during the show's season 21 finale.

Leight revealed Isabel Gillies was also set to return to reprise her character of Elliot's wife, Kathy Stabler.

Sadly, the long-awaited reunion episode that was supposed to serve as the backdoor pilot for Meloni’s spinoff series never happened because production was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Leight explained what the vision was for the finale during the official “SVU” podcast.

"We had heard distant thunder about Chris Meloni coming back in the fall and we were going to lay a little groundwork for that. We were going to see Kathy Stabler come back very upset. Her son had been rolled by a team of ne'er-do-wells and may have been drugged, and we were going to revisit Simon's seeming overdose and we were going to get to know the stresses on the Stabler—what had happened to the Stabler family after Elliot both left SVU and apparently left them," he said.

Leight further explained: "We were just going to lay some groundwork down in anticipation of Elliot's return of course in his own series. We had the sense that the first episode of next year for SVU was going to bring Elliot back, so we were going to foreshadow that and explain a little more what happened to Simon.”

With production halted, Leight said fans may see some of what was supposed to happen in season 21’s final episode make its way into the season 22 premiere. He also admitted the some of what was set to happen may air as a teaser in the upcoming season.

"It's very hard for me to tell NBCUniversal and [Dick Wolf], ‘Can you guys hold off on introducing Elliot because I had something in mind?,'" he said adding that due to circumstances, he has to be flexible with his storytelling.

However, he assured fans that Stabler would appear in season 22 in some capacity before embarking on his own series. “It’s pretty clear that Elliot will be in the SVU season opener. I think that much I know," Leight added.

Stabler and Benson together again!

"Whether we'll get to see his family as well, remains to be seen. There's a lot of moving parts," he said. "It's not just about the SVU season opener, it's how do we help launch the new series and how much crossover will there be between Elliot and Olivia as the season goes on."

In the spinoff, Stabler will lead the NYPD's organized crime task force.

Meloni starred alongside Hargitay on "SVU" for 12 seasons before his character retired and was written out of the show in 2011.

The NBC series is the longest-running scripted drama TV history besting both “Gunsmoke” and the original “Law & Order.” It was previously renewed through season 24.

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