Warning: This story contains spoilers for the mid-season premiere of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and the series premiere of “Law & Order: Organized Crime.”
Good morning to Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson, and Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson only.
Thursday night’s epic crossover episodes of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Law & Order: Organized Crime” reunited dynamic duo Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and Benson (Mariska Hargitay) for the first time in a decade, and fans of the long-running procedural drama lost their minds on social media.
During the back-to-back mid-season premiere of Hargitay’s “Special Victim’s Unit” and series premiere of Meloni’s brand-new spinoff, “Organized Crime,” Stabler returned to the NYPD after losing his wife, a somber plot twist that — let’s be real — created a convenient opening for the detectives to resume their long-mourned will-they-won’t-they relationship. (Insert side-eye emoji here.)
The reaction to Stabler’s highly anticipated comeback was, predictably, intense — and mostly communicated through various GIFs and memes of people crying, screaming and collapsing on the floor. So yeah. That’s where the “Law & Order” fandom is at right now.
“Liv … and Stabler on my screen again,” one person tweeted, along with a GIF of Jenna Fischer’s Pam Beesly breaking down in “The Office.”
“ELLIOT STABLER AND OLIVIA BENSON IN AN INTERROGATION ROOM TOGETHER AGAIN,” another captioned a GIF of Sandra Oh’s Christina Yang sobbing and shouting “Somebody sedate me!” on “Grey’s Anatomy.”
As soon as Stabler reappeared onscreen, his many admirers reappeared like clockwork on Twitter, shamelessly thirsting over his notoriously hot, uh… temper, and perpetually exposed forearms.
“Elliot Stabler hasn’t been back for more than 15 whole minutes and he’s already rolling up his shirt sleeves ready to throw down god i’ve missed him,” wrote one person.
“Stabler starts rolling up his sleeves and we’re not even 10 minutes in!” observed another.
— samantha 💫 (@samanthakry) April 2, 2021
And when Stabler and Benson finally addressed the former’s sudden, unceremonious exit all those years ago in a climactic exchange, viewers were conflicted about how they wanted the seasoned interrogators’ relationship to move forward.
“I know she’s a fictional character, but she’s one who has been in our lives for 22 years, so I’m happy for Benson to be able to get this closure and have this convo with Stabler,” one person mused.
“Half my timeline wants Benson and Stabler to kiss already and the other half wants her to slap him into next week,” another remarked.
The next installments of “SVU” and “Organized Crime” are both set to air April 8 on NBC. In the meantime, here’s a sampling of ecstatic and unhinged responses to the fated Meloni-Hargitay reunion, including some nostalgic commentary from the scene partners themselves.