#Bensler forever. There are many great TV partnerships, but nothing quite like the relationship between Law & Order’s Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler.
The twosome, portrayed by Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni, were partners for over a decade on Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit until Meloni’s departure from the series in season 13. While the pair had their ups and downs over the course of their tenure together, their dynamic flourished due to their opposing personalities. Benson’s empathy juxtaposed with Stabler’s blunt nature created two complex characters who worked well together — and caused fans to fall in love with their relationship.
While Meloni exited SVU in May 2011 before anything could romantically happen between the two characters, his return in Stabler’s spinoff, Law & Order: Organized Crime in April 2021, offered viewers a glimmer of hope that the duo would take their relationship to the next level.
“I think there’s a world [where they could get together],” the Man of Steel star told Today in January 2023 of Benson and Stabler. “I used to not, but I think we’re all trying to still figure out what the exact steps are and what that endgame is.”
Hargitay, meanwhile, confirmed in January 2022 that fans are not the only ones who feel the chemistry between the detectives.
“Olivia Benson is hurt! I mean, he left me in a lurch for 10 years. She’s frightened,” she explained on The Drew Barrymore Show at the time. “The energy’s there. Olivia’s been in love with him for many a year and I think that we are slowly finding our way back to it, but I want to give him the amount of time he needs to grieve [late ex-wife] Kathy Stabler.”
However, the Leaving Las Vegas star played coy later that year when asked about the longtime partners turning romantic when asked on the 2022 Emmys red carpet.
“You want the tea, baby? Sweetheart, get in line,” she joked to E! News at the time.
Despite not giving up any spoilers about the pair’s romantic future, both Meloni and Hargitay have gushed about working with each other over the years — and how they knew there was a special connection from the very beginning.
“I just knew that Mariska was going to be The One,” Meloni confessed in 2009’s The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion book. “I was in the middle of telling her this story, this joke. So we got up on the stage and I’m like, ‘Hold on just a second, I’m going to finish telling this story.’ Not being disrespectful, but this is important too. This may change my life, but the story is that funny. And I think that put us at ease, and unconsciously there was a connection you could see: That she was now my partner.”
Hargitay echoed Meloni’s sentiments during an interview with TV Line in 2018. “From the second we met, bells went off. We knew we were going to be a huge force in each other’s lives. He was intense and mercurial but also fun,” she shared.
Keep scrolling for Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler’s complete relationship timeline: