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|Law & Order character|
|Portrayed by||Christopher Meloni|
|Time on show||1999–2011|
|Seasons||1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12|
|Credited appearances||272 episodes (SVU)
2 episodes (L&O)
1 episode (TBJ)
275 episodes (total)
|Title||NYPD Detective 1st Grade|
|Family||Wife: Kathy Stabler
Maureen Stabler (daughter)
Kathleen Stabler (daughter)
Richard "Dickie" Stabler (son)
Elizabeth "Lizzie" Stabler (daughter)
Elliot "Eli" Stabler Jr. (son)
Parents: Joseph Stabler (father, deceased)
Bernadette Stabler (mother)
Siblings: three brothers
Lucius Blaine (temporary)
Dani Beck (temporary)
Elliot Stabler is a fictional character portrayed by Christopher Meloni and one of the lead characters on the NBC police procedural series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit during the first twelve seasons. As a result of Meloni's sudden departure from the cast at the end of the twelfth season, Stabler abruptly resigns from the police force off-screen during the thirteenth season premiere.
Stabler is an NYPD Detective 1st Grade with Manhattan's 16th Precinct, which investigates sex crimes. His partner during the first twelve years is Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). Stabler is dedicated to his job, but often takes cases personally, thus affecting his judgment. Nonetheless, Stabler has a 97-percent case-closure rate as of 2007. His badge number is 6313.
Stabler is an Irish American Catholic and lives in Glen Oaks, Queens with his wife Kathy and five children (Maureen, Kathleen, Richard "Dickie", Elizabeth "Lizzie", and Elliot "Eli", Jr.). Stabler was born October 20, 1966. He is devoted to his family and frequently mentions or thinks about them while working cases. He is also a practicing Catholic whose faith sometimes complicates the cases on which he works.
Stabler was born and raised in Bayside, Queens. His father, Joseph Stabler, was a policeman who lost his pension and eventually died of cancer. Stabler had a difficult relationship with his father, who physically and emotionally abused him. His mother, Bernadette (née McGinley), (Ellen Burstyn), suffers from bipolar disorder and once nearly killed her son during a manic phase. As a result, Stabler has "erased his childhood", and maintains little contact with his mother.
Stabler was a Marine and served in Operation Desert Storm. During his time in the military, he was a hand-to-hand combat specialist. He also has three tattoos, notably the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor tattoo on his forearm (the official emblem of the Marine Corps), and the crucifixion of Christ on his left bicep. One of his best friends died in the September 11 attacks. He has a B.A. from Queens College.
Stabler harbors a great deal of anger that is sometimes fed by his job. He is often openly intimidating, belligerent, physically aggressive, morally demeaning, insensitively straightforward, belittling, and threatening towards suspects, which can either complicate the case further, lead to speedy confessions, or cause the suspect to break down emotionally, all of which has earned him somewhat of an infamous reputation even among some of his colleagues. When his wife Kathy leaves him in season 6, Stabler's anger rises closer to the surface, and in a few episodes, threatens to boil over. During an interrogation, serial killer Gordon Ricketts (Matthew Modine), whom Stabler had investigated 14 years earlier, tells him that they harbor the same kind of rage, and that if it weren't for his family and his job, Stabler would be just like him. When Benson and Stabler catch Ricketts about to kill a young girl, Stabler appears ready to kill him in cold blood; it is only Benson's intervention that prevents him from doing so. In season 7, he goes to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Rebecca Hendrix (Mary Stuart Masterson), after using excessive force on an abusive parent. Stabler eventually opens up to Hendrix about his personal demons, and they become close until Hendrix is transferred. By season 8, he and Kathy reconcile, and Stabler learns to better deal with his problems.
In the season 12 finale, Stabler is forced to shoot and kill a young woman who opens fire in the Special Victims squad room. Before dying in Stabler's arms, she had killed two suspects involved in the rape and murder of her mother and injured a third, as well as killing recurring character Sister Peg (Charlayne Woodard). After the shootout, Stabler is placed on administrative leave by IAB. Although he is eventually cleared, it is nonetheless his sixth career "good shooting" and according to Cragen, IAB "wants to go over his entire jacket...if Elliot wants to keep his job, he's gonna have to submit to a psych eval, anger management, a lot of hoops." Confirming Benson's assurance that he will instead tell them to "go to hell", Stabler subsequently resigns from the police force off-screen during the thirteenth season premiere. Benson and Cragen agree that he's earned it "and then some". Nevertheless, Benson is quietly devastated by his resignation as she breaks down sobbing in the interrogation room.
He married his wife, Kathy, when they were both 17 years old, and at the beginning of the series, they have four school-aged children: Maureen (born September 30, 1984), Kathleen Louise (born July 13, 1989), and twins Richard "Dickie", and Elizabeth "Lizzie" (both born February 21, 1993). Richard (he stopped using his nickname upon entering adolescence) is named after Col. Richard Finley, a friend whom Stabler greatly admired. After years of the stress involved with being married to a police officer, Kathy Stabler leaves her husband, taking their children, and temporarily moves in with her mother. Following a case involving a divorce that turned violent, Stabler signs the divorce papers, saying, "when love warps to hate, there's nothing you won't do." However, after being cleared in the death of a suspect, Stabler realizes that he cannot bear to lose either his job or his family, so he seeks reconciliation with his wife. A short time later, Kathy announces that she is pregnant and asks Stabler to come home. After a serious car accident, Kathy delivers a healthy baby boy, Elliot Stabler, Jr (Eli) (born November 17, 2007); however, the crash nearly cost Kathy her own life as her heartbeat flat-lines while en route to the hospital in the FDNY Ambulance.
Of his five children, Kathleen and Dickie have most directly affected his job. Kathleen is twice charged with DUI; he uses his clout as a police officer to make the first charge disappear, but he eventually realizes that he has to let her face the consequences of her actions, and she is sentenced to community service. Kathleen then steals her father's credit card and gives it to her boyfriend, who rings up thousands of dollars in charges. She is later arrested for breaking and entering and robbery, at which time doctors and her family realize that she suffers from bipolar disorder, which she inherited from her paternal grandmother, Bernadette Stabler (Ellen Burstyn). After speaking with her grandmother, Kathleen agrees to treatment. She later becomes an advocate for sexual assault victims, and in one episode, helps her father on a case. Dickie also occasionally gives his father problems. In an 11th season episode, he runs away from school and tries to join the Army, something Stabler disapproves of. It later turns out that Dickie was acting out because his friend, Shane, had been murdered. Stabler refuses to sign a parental consent form for Dickie to join the Army, but resolves to be a more attentive parent.
Stabler is fiercely protective of his children and becomes defensive if a suspect asks about his family; it is suggested that he sees aspects of his children in every victim. As a result, he harbors an intense hatred of pedophiles, admitting to a police psychiatrist that he sometimes fantasizes about killing them. He almost loses his job as a result. Stabler has occasionally seen aspects of himself in a child abuser; during one case, an abusive parent reminds him of an incident in which he lost his temper and slapped his daughter Maureen, then a toddler. In another, he beats up a pedophile (Tom Noonan) who posts a picture of Elizabeth on his website.
Child victims tend to respond to him. For example, Stabler successfully reaches out to a 15-year-old girl (Rachael Bella) who regresses to a childlike state after being attacked by her father. SVU's resident psychiatrist, Dr. George Huang (B.D. Wong), theorizes that only Stabler would be able to reach her, as he is a father, and she is looking for another father figure.
Stabler is partnered with Olivia Benson for 12 years. They are best friends, and trust each other completely. Stabler is Benson's longest relationship with a man, and they have even each promised to give the other a kidney should they need a transplant.
Their relationship is not without friction, however. The two sometimes argue over the cases they work on; Benson tends to be quicker to side with the victims, while Stabler tends to be quicker to side with the non-victims. However, during a case in which three women are charged with raping a male stripper, Benson and ADA Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March) are quick to believe the man's story, while Stabler takes a cynical view of his claim from the start.
Benson and Stabler are separated at times during the show. She asks for a new partner after Stabler expects her to jeopardize his life to shoot a convicted sex offender (Lou Diamond Phillips) who had kidnapped two children and killed one of them. Instead, she is briefly reassigned to Computer Crimes and replaced by a Queens SVU detective, Lucius Blaine (Anthony Anderson). Benson and Stabler become partners again after her replacement, Dani Beck, leaves the squad. They remain partners for the rest of Stabler's time in the precinct.
Stabler is assigned a temporary partner named Dani Beck (Connie Nielsen) while Benson is on loan to the FBI in season 8 (Mariska Hargitay was pregnant and on maternity leave). Beck takes well to the job, but leaves when she realizes that she will not be able to save every victim working as a detective.
Jo Marlowe (played by Sharon Stone) was Stabler's training officer. She is appointed by Jack McCoy to be the new ADA for the SVU squad during a four-episode run in season 11. Stabler reveals that he has not seen her for 15 years when she first arrives as the new ADA. Marlowe was a Lieutenant in 1995 when she left the NYPD after her command decision resulted in the deaths of two of her officers. She was diagnosed with an "aggressive" type of breast cancer and had a bilateral radical mastectomy a year before joining the SVU squad.
Awards and decorations
The following are the medals and service awards fictionally worn by Detective Stabler, as seen in "Dolls".
|American Flag Breast Bar|
|NYPD Medal of Honor|
|NYPD Unit Citation Bar|
- "Hate". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 5. Episode 13. January 13, 2004. NBC.
- "Fat". Law & Order: SVU. Season 7. Episode 20. May 2, 2006. NBC.
- "Haystack". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 8. Episode 15. February 20, 2007. NBC.
- "Ripped". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 7. Episode 4. October 11, 2005. NBC.
- "Swing". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 10. Episode 3. October 14, 2008. NBC.
- "Goliath". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 6. Episode 23. May 24, 2005. NBC.
- "Annihilated". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 8. Episode 20. May 8, 2007. NBC.
- "Rage". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 6. Episode 17. March 1, 2005. NBC.
- "Philadelphia". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 8. Episode 16. February 27, 2007. NBC.
- "Smoked". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 12. Episode 24. May 18, 2011. NBC.
- "Mega Buzz: Tiva Time on NCIS? Plus: Fringe's Future and Stabler's SVU Exit". TV Guide. August 30, 2011.
- "Scorched Earth". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 13. Episode 1. September 21, 2011. NBC.
- Maureen is said to be 15 in episode "Wrong Is Right". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 2. Episode 1. October 20, 2000. NBC.
- Kathleen is said to be 19 in episode "Swing". Law & Order: SVU. Season 10. Episode 3. October 14, 2008. NBC.
- Lizzie is said to be 15 in episode "Confession". Law & Order: SVU. Season 10. Episode 2. September 30, 2008. NBC.
- "Doubt". Law & Order: SVU. Season 6. Episode 8. November 23, 2004. NBC.
- "Burned". Law & Order: SVU. Season 8. Episode 11. January 8, 2007. NBC.
- "Dependent". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 8. Episode 14. February 13, 2007. NBC.
- "Screwed". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 8. Episode 22. May 22, 2007. NBC.
- "Paternity". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 9. Episode 9. November 27, 2007. NBC.
- "Alternate". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 9. Episode 1. September 25, 2007. NBC.
- "Trials". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 10. Episode 1. September 23, 2008.
- "Gray". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 12. Episode 9. November 17, 2010. NBC.
- "Turmoil". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 11. Episode 8. November 11, 2009. NBC.
- "Slaves". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 1. Episode 22. May 19, 2000. NBC.
- "Wrong is Right". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 2. Episode 1. October 20, 2000. NBC.
- "Shaken". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 5. Episode 10. March 25, 2003. NBC.
- "Confession". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 10. Episode 2. September 30, 2008. NBC.
- "Resilience". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 4. Episode 10. December 6, 2002. NBC.
- "Futility". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 4. Episode 22. April 25, 2003. NBC.
- "Ridicule". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 3. Episode 10. December 14, 2001. NBC.
- "Fault". Law & Order: SVU. Season 7. Episode 19. April 4, 2006. NBC.
- "Choreographed". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 8. Episode 9. November 28, 2006. NBC.
- "Cage". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 8. Episode 8. November 21, 2006. NBC.
- "Ace". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 11. Episode 22. May 5, 2010. NBC.
- "Shattered". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 11. Episode 24. May 19, 2006. NBC.