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Why Re-Watching This Benson-Stabler Scene Made Mariska Hargitay Cry

Hargitay is still emotionally affected by this scene over a decade after its filming. 

By Jackie Manno

Elliot Stabler's (Christopher Meloni's) initial departure in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit hit everyone hard, including his longtime partner in (fighting) crime, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) 

The Benson-Stabler scene that still makes Mariska Hargitay cry

How to Watch

Watch the Season 26 premiere of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Thursday, October 3 at 9/8c on NBC.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Hargitay talked about a pivotal moment while filming SVU that still sticks with her to this day. It was the Season 12 finale in 2011, when Stabler (Chris Meloni) is involved in a shootout and Benson is informed by Captain Cragen that he won't be returning to the squad, to which Benson has a devastated reaction. 

“I just remember that. I remember that,” she told the outlet, through tears. “It was sad. Just brings me back."

RELATED: Stabler Leaves Heart-Wrenching Message for Benson

Of course, Meloni has since gone to reprise his character of Stabler in Law & Order: Organized Crime, which premiered in 2021. 

Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay on Law and Order

Hargitay and Meloni have had a strong friendship for many years. At the 2021 Glamour Women of the Year Awards, he said about her, “I have been trusted with one task tonight: introduce someone who needs no introduction, who I’ve been working with for 13 years, and been friends with for 22. She’s got great energy, great personality. So tonight, I say this: Radiant. Charming. Funny. Generous. Elegant. Bawdy. Honest. Appreciative. Inclusive. Direct. Vivacious. That’s my favorite word; it comes from the Latin, to live. Which is what she does with great passion, every day, with everyone that she engages, be they friends, family, strangers, or commitments.”

“She’s fearless, without the bravado of the warrior stance, but always with the open arms, the open heart. She’s a connector of people because she knows we’re all better when we’re working together. She is as comfortable in the sacred as she is in the profane; she is a soul in the constant search of the beauty and the truth that she knows that this world holds, but she also knows requires vigilance, persistence, and insistence to pry magic from the oftentimes mundane reality. Her first instance is to always react with compassion and empathy. She sees hope in the hopeless; she sees the potential in the you, and me, and us,” he added.

RELATED: Chris Meloni Hopes Benson & Stabler “Keep Trying” at Their Relationship on SVU