The rumors are true.
Law and Order's Olivia Benson is in love with Elliot Stabler, according to Mariska Hargitay. The actress addressed fan speculation (and hope) that Benson and Stabler would fall in love years after their characters met on Law and Order: SVU, and despite their tangential love lives.
"He is free, and I think he's got eyes for me," Hargitay said of the death of Stabler's wife on The Drew Barrymore Show. "But Olivia Benson is hurt! I mean, he left me in a lurch for 10 years. She's frightened."
She added: "The energy's there. Olivia's been in love with him for many a year."
While Benson and Stabler don't work together anymore, there seems to be a chance for their relationship plotline. Christopher Meloni has reprised his role as Stabler on Law and Order: Organized Crime. So even though their time as partners may have run out, there's room for a romance, should Stabler and Benson decide to pursue one.
Hargitay still stars on the SVU series, though Meloni left in 2011. In 2020, he returned to NBC for the Organized Crime spinoff focused entirely on Stabler.
While Benson doesn't appear as a star on the spinoff, it seems the fantasies of a Stabler/Hargitay romance haven't been wasted. There's potential for a series crossover, given that both Stabler and Benson are fighting their respective crimes on NBC. But will the fictional favorites actually fall in love? Or will the Organized Crime plotline take Stabler deeper into grieving the loss of his wife?
"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 [his wife] Kathy Stabler," Benson concluded. So, the connection may not take over anytime soon, but hope for a reconciliation isn't entirely lost.
Though their characters haven't gotten the love story right just yet, Hargitay and Meloni are close friends in real life. In November, Meloni presented Hargitay with Glamour's 2021 Woman of the Year Award.
"You know he, after my husband, he knows me pretty well," Hargitay, 57, told Entertainment Tonight of Meloni. "So it's very meaningful, especially after the journey we've had these 22 years. The creative journey, the trust, the friendship, he's sort of seen it all."