'Law and Order: SVU' season 17 news: Showrunner on Stabler returning to the show; renewed for season 18

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For 17 seasons that “Law and Order: SVU” has been running on primetime television, a lot of characters have come and gone. Currently, Mariska Hargitay’s Sgt. Olivia Benson is the only one left from day 1, while Ice T’s Fin Tutuola follows, joining the show at the last episode of season 1. While SVU (Special Victims Unit) has been the springboard of a lot of actors, there is one actor that is definitely sorely missed in the show, Chris Meloni’s Elliot Stabler.

The character was played by Meloni for a total of 12 seasons from 1999 to 2011 and was Olivia’s trustee partner all throughout the series. And while the two did not quite make it as a romantic couple as the usual formula for male-female cop partners, their relationship has been nothing short of special. That is the reason why when Meloni announced that he will no longer be coming back for season 13, slated to come out fall of 2011, a lot of people questioned how the show will go on without one of its most notable lead stars.

“In hindsight, NBC, Dick, Universal and Chris all know they could have handled that better,” current showrunner Warren Leight told The Hollywood Reporter in reference to the split which rooted from a failure to negotiate a new contract. “But I think Chris, over time from what I hear, began to realize that the fans were owed a little more.” Unfortunately, Leight and Meloni did not get the chance to work together as Meloni’s exit and Leight’s entry coincided.

“I think if Mariska were to have called him, he would have taken the call,” he added positively giving hopes to the fans who are clamoring for a Benson and Stabler reunion.

The current longest running series on TV is also having a moment as they were just renewed for another serving. But if the show will close its curtains by the end of this season, the 59-year-old shares that they will definitely be trying to get other notable characters like Richard Belzer (John Munch), Danny Pino (Nick Amaro) and of course Stabler.

“Law and Order SVU” airs Wednesday nights on NBC.