Elliot Stabler

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Elliot Stabler
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit character
Elliot Stabler - SVU.png
First appearance"Payback"
Last appearance"Smoked"
Portrayed byChristopher Meloni
TitleNYPD Detective 1st Grade
FamilyWife: 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
two sisters[1]
PartnerOlivia Benson
Donald Cragen
Lucius Blaine[2] (temporary)
Danielle Beck (temporary)
Seasons1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

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 retires from the police force off-screen during the season 13 premiere.

Character overview[edit]

Stabler is an NYPD detective 1st Grade with Manhattan's 16th Precinct, which investigates sex crimes. His partner during the first 12 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% case-closure rate as of 2007.[3] His badge number is 6313.[1][4]

Stabler is an Irish American Catholic[1] and lives at 72-12 Castleside Street, Glen Oaks, Queens with his wife Kathy (Isabel Gillies) and five children (Maureen, Kathleen, Richard "Dickie", Elizabeth "Lizzie", and Elliot "Eli", Jr.). Stabler was born October 20, 1966.[1] 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.

Series creator Dick Wolf named SVU's two lead detectives after his son, Elliot, and his daughter, Olivia.[5] Executive producer and head writer Neal Baer has explained that, in contrast to Benson - "the empathetic, passionate voice for these victims"-[6] Stabler embodies "the rage we feel, the 'How can this happen?' feeling".[6] Of their partnership, Baer assessed that: "They both represent the feelings that we feel simultaneously when we hear about these cases. That's why they work so well together."[6]


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.[4] His mother, Bernadette (née McGinley) (Ellen Burstyn), has bipolar disorder and once nearly killed her son during a manic phase. As a result, Stabler has "erased his childhood"; he rarely talks about his father, and maintains little contact with his mother.[7]

Stabler was a Marine and served in Operation Desert Storm.[8] During his time in the military, he was a hand-to-hand combat specialist.[9] 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.[1] He has a B.A. from Queens College.[1]

Stabler harbors a great deal of anger that is sometimes fed by his job. He is often openly aggressive and intimidating toward suspects, which can either complicate the case further or lead to speedy confessions. When his wife leaves him in season 6, Stabler's anger rises closer to the surface and in a few episodes threatens to boil over. One such instance occurs when Stabler investigates serial killer Gordon Ricketts (Matthew Modine), whom he had investigated 14 years earlier. During interrogation, Ricketts tells Stabler 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 murder a young girl, Stabler appears ready to kill him in cold blood; it's only Benson's intervention that prevents him from doing so.[10]

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,[4] and they become close until Hendrix is transferred.[11] By season 9, 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).[12] After the shootout, Stabler is placed on administrative leave by the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau.[13] 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 retires from the police force off-screen during the season 13 premiere.[14]


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),[15] Kathleen Louise (born July 13, 1989),[16] and twins Richard "Dickie", and Elizabeth "Lizzie" (both born February 21, 1993).[17] Richard (he stopped using his nickname upon entering adolescence) is named after Col. Richard Finley (James Brolin), Stabler's former commanding officer in the Marines, whom Stabler later arrests after discovering that he murdered a woman.[18]

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.[19] 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."[20]

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.[21] A short time later, Kathy announces that she is pregnant and asks Stabler to come home.[22] After a serious car accident, Kathy delivers a healthy baby boy, Elliot Stabler Jr. (Eli) (born November 17, 2007). Kathy nearly dies as a result of the crash, but paramedics are able to save her.[23]

Of his five children, Kathleen (Allison Siko) and Dickie (Jeffrey Scaperrotta) have most directly affected his job. Kathleen is twice charged with DUI;[22] 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.[24] Kathleen then steals her father's credit card and gives it to her boyfriend, who rings up thousands of dollars in charges.[25] 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. When she faces prison time, Stabler reaches out to his mother for the first time in three years and asks her to tell Kathleen about her illness so she will get help. After speaking with her grandmother, Kathleen agrees to treatment.[7] She later becomes an advocate for sexual assault victims, and in one episode, helps her father on a case.[26]

Dickie also occasionally gives his father problems. In a season 11 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.[27]

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.[28] He almost loses his job as a result.[29] In a later episode, he beats up a pedophile (Tom Noonan) who posts a picture of Elizabeth on his website.[17]

Stabler has occasionally seen aspects of himself in a child abuser; during one case, the actions of an abusive parent prompt him to recall an incident in which he lost his temper and raised his hand to slap his daughter Maureen, then a toddler.[30]

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.[31]


Olivia Benson[edit]

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,[32] and they have even each promised to give the other a kidney should they need a transplant.[23]

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. For example, during a case in which three women are charged with raping a male stripper, Benson and ADA Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March) believe the man's story, while Stabler takes a cynical view of his claim from the start.[33]

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.[34] Instead, she is briefly reassigned to computer crimes and replaced by a Queens SVU detective, Lucius Blaine (Anthony Anderson).[2] Benson and Stabler become partners again after her replacement, Dani Beck, leaves the squad.[35] They remain partners for the rest of Stabler's time in the precinct.

In the Season 12 episode "Merchandise," Benson and Stabler are temporarily appointed as Special Deputy U.S. Marshals so they can arrest the leaders of a human trafficking operation located outside their jurisdiction. Once the criminals are in custody, they turn in the badges and take up their positions in the SVU again.

Dani Beck[edit]

Stabler is assigned a temporary partner named Dani Beck (Connie Nielsen) while Benson is undercover in Oregon, embedded in an eco-terrorist group at the request of the FBI in season 8 (Mariska Hargitay was pregnant and on maternity leave). Beck takes well to the job, and she and Stabler become close. There is also some sexual tension between the two, and during one case, they share a kiss.[36] The relationship goes no further, however, as Beck leaves when she realizes that she will not be able to save every victim.[37]

Jo Marlowe[edit]

Jo Marlowe (played by Sharon Stone) was Stabler's training officer. She is appointed by District Attorney Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) 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.[38] She was diagnosed with an "aggressive" type of breast cancer and had a bilateral radical mastectomy a year before joining the SVU squad.[39]

Development and casting[edit]

For the role of Stabler, the finalists were Meloni, Tim Matheson, and John Slattery. Meloni and Hargitay had auditioned in the final round together, and after the actors left, there was a moment of dead silence, after which Wolf blurted out, "Oh well. There's no doubt who we should choose – Hargitay and Meloni." The duo, who Wolf believed had the perfect chemistry from the first time he saw them together, were his first choice. Garth Ancier, head of NBC, agreed, and the rest of the panel assembled voiced their assent.[40]

In May 2009, after the show's tenth season, Hargitay and Meloni's contracts expired when they were reportedly making $375,000[41]–$385,000 per episode.[42] During negotiations in April for a new contract, the actors attempted to receive a percentage of the show's profits. It was rumored that NBC threatened to replace Hargitay and Meloni if they persisted in their demands.[43] Two months later, however, it was officially reported that both their contracts had been renewed for two more years.[42]


In May 2011, Meloni announced that he would not be returning to SVU in fall 2011 for its 13th season after the failure of negotiations over a new contract.[44] The Stabler character was subsequently written out of the show.[45]


Meloni was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2006, in the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, for his role as Elliot Stabler.[46]

Awards and decorations[edit]

The following are the medals and service awards worn by Stabler, as seen in "Dolls".

American Flag Breast Bar.jpg American Flag Breast Bar
NYPD Medal of Honor breast bar.svg NYPD Medal of Honor
Unit Citation.jpg NYPD Unit Citation Bar


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Hate". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 5. Episode 13. January 13, 2004. NBC.
  2. ^ a b "Fat". Law & Order: SVU. Season 7. Episode 20. May 2, 2006. NBC.
  3. ^ "Haystack". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 8. Episode 15. February 20, 2007. NBC.
  4. ^ a b c "Ripped". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 7. Episode 4. October 11, 2005. NBC.
  5. ^ "Dick Wolf: Biography". TVGuide.com.
  6. ^ a b c David, Greg (February 19, 2007). "Law & Order: SVU's Mariska Hargitay speaks!". MSN. Archived from the original on February 6, 2009. Retrieved May 12, 2009.
  7. ^ a b "Swing". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 10. Episode 3. October 14, 2008. NBC.
  8. ^ "Goliath". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 6. Episode 23. May 24, 2005. NBC.
  9. ^ "Annihilated". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 8. Episode 20. May 8, 2007. NBC.
  10. ^ "Rage". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 6. Episode 17. March 1, 2005. NBC.
  11. ^ "Philadelphia". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 8. Episode 16. February 27, 2007. NBC.
  12. ^ "Smoked". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 12. Episode 24. May 18, 2011. NBC.
  13. ^ Bryant, Adam; Abrams, Natalie (August 30, 2011). "Mega Buzz: Tiva Time on NCIS? Plus: Fringe's Future and Stabler's SVU Exit". TV Guide. Portland, Oregon: NTVB Media. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  14. ^ "Scorched Earth". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 13. Episode 1. September 21, 2011. NBC.
  15. ^ Maureen is said to be 15 in episode "Wrong Is Right". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 2. Episode 1. October 20, 2000. NBC.
  16. ^ Kathleen is said to be 19 in episode "Swing". Law & Order: SVU. Season 10. Episode 3. October 14, 2008. NBC.
  17. ^ a b "Confession". Law & Order: SVU. Season 10. Episode 2. September 30, 2008. NBC.
  18. ^ "Lunacy". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 10. October 21, 2008. NBC.
  19. ^ "Doubt". Law & Order: SVU. Season 6. Episode 8. November 23, 2004. NBC.
  20. ^ "Burned". Law & Order: SVU. Season 8. Episode 11. January 8, 2007. NBC.
  21. ^ "Dependent". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 8. Episode 14. February 13, 2007. NBC.
  22. ^ a b "Screwed". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 8. Episode 22. May 22, 2007. NBC.
  23. ^ a b "Paternity". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 9. Episode 9. November 27, 2007. NBC.
  24. ^ "Alternate". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 9. Episode 1. September 25, 2007. NBC.
  25. ^ "Trials". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 10. Episode 1. September 23, 2008.
  26. ^ "Gray". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 12. Episode 9. November 17, 2010. NBC.
  27. ^ "Turmoil". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 11. Episode 8. November 11, 2009. NBC.
  28. ^ "Slaves". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 1. Episode 22. May 19, 2000. NBC.
  29. ^ "Wrong is Right". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 2. Episode 1. October 20, 2000. NBC.
  30. ^ "Shaken". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 5. Episode 10. March 25, 2003. NBC.
  31. ^ "Resilience". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 4. Episode 10. December 6, 2002. NBC.
  32. ^ "Futility". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 4. Episode 22. April 25, 2003. NBC.
  33. ^ "Ridicule". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 3. Episode 10. December 14, 2001. NBC.
  34. ^ "Fault". Law & Order: SVU. Season 7. Episode 19. April 4, 2006. NBC.
  35. ^ "Choreographed". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 8. Episode 9. November 28, 2006. NBC.
  36. ^ "Underbelly". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 8. Episode 7. November 14, 2006. NBC.
  37. ^ "Cage". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 8. Episode 8. November 21, 2006. NBC.
  38. ^ "Ace". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 11. Episode 22. May 5, 2010. NBC.
  39. ^ "Shattered". Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Season 11. Episode 24. May 19, 2010. NBC.
  40. ^ Green, Susan; Dawn, Randee (2009). Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Unofficial Companion. Dallas, Texas: BenBella Books, Inc. p. 11. ISBN 978-1-933771-88-5.
  41. ^ Schneider, Michael (June 29, 2009). "Meloni, Hargitay seal deal with 'SVU'". Variety. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on October 23, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  42. ^ a b Martin, Denise (June 29, 2009). "'Law & Order: SVU' stars Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay sign on for two more years". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California: Tronc. Archived from the original on October 23, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  43. ^ Ausiello, Michael (April 8, 2009). "'SVU' exclusive: NBC to replace Chris and Mariska?!". Entertainment Weekly. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Archived from the original on October 23, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2010. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  44. ^ Abrams, Natalie (May 24, 2011). "Christopher Meloni Exits Law & Order: SVU". TV Guide. New York City: NTVB Media. Retrieved May 24, 2011.
  45. ^ Carter, Bill (May 24, 2011). "Christopher Meloni to Leave 'Law & Order: SVU'". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
  46. ^ Rudolph, Ileane (August 22, 2006). "Christopher Meloni Preps for the Emmys". TV Guide. New York City: NTVB Media. Retrieved July 5, 2018.