Christopher Meloni is back on the beat as Elliot Stabler in Law & Order: Organized Crime. The new series set to launch in the fall of 2020 is the first time Meloni is playing the character since the end of season 12 of Law & Order: SVU in 2011.
According to NBC, the new series follows Stabler as he returns to the NYPD to battle organized crime "after a devastating personal loss." Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) learned of her one-time partner's retirement in the season 13 premiere of SVU. In the finale of season 12, Stabler was involved in a shooting in the precinct and was written out after contract negotiations broke down.
NBC's official description continues, "However, the city and police department have changed dramatically in the decade he's been away, and he must adapt to a criminal justice system in the midst of its own moment of reckoning. Throughout the series, we will follow Stabler's journey to find absolution and rebuild his life, while leading a new elite task force that is taking apart the city's most powerful criminal syndicates one by one."
The return of Elliot Stabler comes in the wake of worldwide protests against police brutality and urging for criminal justice reform. Meloni's character was known for his temper during the first 12 seasons of Law & Order: SVU.
According to SVU showrunner Warren Leight, the original plan was to introduce the Stabler family in the season 21 finale and have them tie into the drug overdose death of Olivia Benson's brother. That was scrapped when production shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the plan is to reintroduce the character to audiences in the SVU season 22 premiere.
"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," Leight said.
"Whether we'll get to see his family as well, remains to be seen. There's a lot of moving parts," he continued. "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."
Law & Order: SVU also plans to address the coronavirus pandemic as well as George Floyd's death while in police custody, as well as the marches inspired by the incident in Minnesota.
"There are ways, we will find our way in to tell the story. Presumably our cops will still be trying to do the right thing, but it will be harder for them and they will understand why it will be harder for them," Leight recently said.
Law & Order: SVU moves to Thursdays at 9 p.m. on NBC with Law & Order: Organized Crime following at 10. No premiere dates were announced at the time of the fall schedule reveal.
(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)