In the criminal justice system, a reunion between stars who once played partners tasked with investigating sexually-based offenses is considered especially joyful. Christopher Meloni took to Instagram to share a selfie with his former Law & Order: SVU costar Mariska Hargitay.
"Friends at Xmas," Meloni captioned the sweet photo. Oh, what a holiday treat this is.
Meloni and Hargitay starred as Detectives Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson, respectively, for 12 seasons of SVU. Meloni left the show after season 12. Hargitay's character is now Lt. Benson and the show is currently airing its landmark 18th season on NBC.
The two previously shared a reunion selfie in March 2016.
Meloni left the long-running police drama between seasons 12 and 13 and incoming showrunner Warren Leight, who shepherded the show from seasons 13-17, said not having a televised goodbye was one of his biggest regrets.
"Again, the audience deserved an arc out for Stabler," Leight told E! News on set of his last episode. "That should have been understood by everyone involved, instead I kind of walked in and he was just gone…A little out of my hands, but there's still continued ill will about it and that's unfortunate."
During an appearance on Inside the Actors Studio, Meloni opened up about working with Harigtay.
"She was always ready for anything new…There was always an unspoken shorthand to what we were doing. That makes it just so much easier, and off camera as well," Meloni told host James Lipton. "There's a lot to be said for that when you're working with someone for 16 hours a day, you better get along when the cameras aren't rolling as well as when it is. That was priceless, I think for both of us."
The show never "went there" romantically with Benson and Stabler, despite some tension.
"That I think they always knew would be the death knell of that relationship," he explained. "I think they needed to keep that line taut and very clear…Keep the tension, never cross it."
Law & Order: SVU returns with new episodes on Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 9 p.m. on NBC.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)