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NBC Insider Law & Order: Organized Crime

What Happened to Elliot Stabler's Wife, Kathy, on Law & Order?

Stabler and Kathy's time together ended too soon.

By Jessica White
Bensler Get Steamy and Almost Kiss | NBC’s Law & Order: SVU

While romance tends to take the back burner for Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni), he was once married to the late Kathy Stabler (Isabel Gillies) before he was dismantling criminal empires on Law & Order: Organized Crime 

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Watch Law & Order: Organized Crime on NBC and Peacock.

Stabler and Kathy were married for over 30 years, with fans meeting her for the first time in Season 1 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Stabler and Kathy's marriage wasn't always perfect, but they always managed to make it work. The high school sweethearts had five children together, the youngest of which was born in Season 9 of SVUOnce Stabler headed to Italy after quitting the SVU, Kathy and the kids went with him, returning to New York for a ceremony honoring Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). 

Tragically, that trip to the Big Apple had mortal consequences for Stabler's longtime wife. Stabler has never been the same since losing Kathy, and it's safe to say that he still holds her close to his heart. Learn everything that happened that led to Kathy's tragic death, below.

What happened to Elliot Stabler's wife, Kathy, on Law & Order?

Kathy was tragically murdered after being mortally wounded in a car bombing intended to kill Stabler. The loss is devastating for Stabler, but fortunately, he had Benson at his side to help take the blow. Notorious for always getting to the bottom of something, Stabler swiftly joined the Organized Crime Control Bureau to track down his wife's murderer, partnering up with Sgt. Ayanna Bell (Danielle Moné Truitt) as the OCCB's lead detective. 

Stabler on Law And Order OC

Naturally, Stabler struggles with survivor's guilt after the attack, throwing himself into the job to distract himself from the loss. Through his investigation, Stabler learned the person responsible for killing Kathy was Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott), one of the most dangerously corrupt mob affiliates in the city. Stabler and Wheatley duked it out in a thrilling game of cat-and-mouse from Seasons 1-2 of Law & Order: OC until Wheatley allegedly died in the Season 2 finale, so Stabler never truly got his revenge. 

In the years following Kathy's death, Stabler has kept his romantic endeavors to a minimum. That said, there has been growing tension between him and Benson, whom Stabler recently attempted to kiss. Just as Benson told Stabler that she needed more time, Stabler's past came back to haunt him. In Season 3, Episode 20 ("The Pareto Principle"), Stabler sees the ghostly image of Kathy waiting for him in the OCCB interrogation room. 

Elliot Stabler on Law And Order Organized Crime

Stunned by the strange sighting, Stabler started to wear his wedding ring again. It's a fascinating regression after he has made such massive strides in navigating a new chapter of life.

Benson lends an ear and says the sighting likely indicates Stabler hasn't addressed the trauma of losing Kathy as much as he thought he did. We'll have to wait and see what he does next about this.