SVU’s Mariska Hargitay Reveals the Real Reason Benson and Stabler Didn’t Kiss in Season 24

If you were frustrated when former Law & Order: SVU partners Benson and Stabler didn’t smooch in a pivotal Season 24 episode, get in line behind the procedural’s star.

“Chris [Meloni] and I thought it should go one way, and the powers that be didn’t, so it got changed at the last minute, that near kiss,” SVU‘s Mariska Hargitay tells Variety in a new interview.

SVU's Mariska Hargitay Reveals the Real Reason Benson and Stabler Didn't  Kiss in Season 24

She refers to the SVU/Law & Order: Organized Crime crossover episode (SVU‘s 12th of Season 24) that ends with Olivia and Elliot in her kitchen, standing very close, as he tells her that he cares about her. As they draw even closer, and it looks like they’re about to kiss, she pulls back. “Elliot, Elliot, I want to,” she whispers. “I want to, but I can’t.” When he presses her, she admits that she’s worried that a romance between them might not succeed. And when he posits that it might, she seems very troubled as she repeats, “I’m not ready for this.” (Read a detailed recap of the episode.)

TVLine has reached out to NBC and Wolf’s representatives for comment.

The question of whether or not Stabler and Benson should become romantically involved is a polarizing one within the SVU/OC fandom. The notion was pretty much a hypothetical during Meloni’s 12 seasons on SVU, given that his character was married to Isabel Gillies’ Kathy. But Kathy was killed during the SVU episode that led into OC‘s first season; Benson and Stabler have shared several close moments (like the post-shooting scene in this episode) in the seasons since, and several characters — including Olivia’s therapist and Det. Rollins — have urged the captain to be open to the possibility of love with her former partner. (We even deemed their sweet gift exchange the best inadvertent holiday movie of 2023.)

Hargitay adds: “We want to hold the tension and do what’s right and truthful for both characters.”

In the same interview, the Emmy winner says that she’s trying to get former SVU series regular Giddish — who appears as a guest star in this week’s episode — back full-time for Season 26.

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