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‘Law & Order: SVU’ Boss Says It’s ‘Pretty Clear’ Christopher Meloni’s Elliot Stabler Will Return in Season 22 Premiere

Stabler spinoff series starring Meloni is in the works at NBC

Before he gets his spinoff series up and running, Christopher Meloni’s Elliot Stabler will make his long-awaited return to “Law & Order: SVU” for the show’s Season 22 premiere — whenever that might be.

“First of all, we don’t know when we’re back to shooting and what shooting will be like in the post-COVID world,” “SVU” showrunner Warren Leight said on the April 30 edition of the “The Law & Order: SVU Podcast.” “It’s pretty clear that Elliot will be in the ‘SVU’ season opener. I think that much I know. Whether we’ll get to see his family as well remains to be seen. There’s a lot of moving parts, they’re launching a new series as well. So it’s not just about the ‘SVU’ season opener, it’s about, how do we help launch the new series and how much crossover will there be between Elliot and Olivia [played by Meloni’s former co-star Mariska Hargitay]?”

“SVU” writer and executive producer Julie Martin added: “It’s a 10-year gap of no reference points whatsoever, we’ll sort of backfill in, which will be challenging.”

In March, news broke that an “SVU” spinoff series starring Meloni as Stabler was in the works at NBC. The project, which will center on Stabler as he comes back to the NYPD as the head of an organized crime unit, marks Meloni’s first return to the Dick Wolf universe since he exited “SVU” following the show’s 12th season in 2011.

Leight explained earlier in the “SVU” podcast that the original plan was to slowly reintroduce Stabler’s storyline in the final four episodes of the drama’s recently ended Season 21. But production shutdowns due to the pandemic didn’t allow for that, so now Stabler’s return will be held until the first episode of Season 22.

Since leaving “SVU” in 2011, Meloni has starred in a number of other series, including Syfy’s “Happy!,” Netflix’s “Wet Hot American Summer” series and Fox’s short-lived “Surviving Jack.” His other recent TV credits include “Handmaid’s Tale,” WGN America’s “Underground,” as well as voicing Commissioner Gordon in the animated “Harley Quinn” series for DC Universe.

Representatives for NBC and Meloni did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.