Law and Order

Elliot Stabler

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Elliot Stabler
Elliot Stabler in Law & Order- Special Victims Unit
Title Detective
Affiliation New York City Police Department
Division Special Victims Unit
Precinct 16th Precinct
Family Kathy Stabler (wife)
Maureen Stabler (daughter)
Kathleen Stabler (daughter)
Richard Stabler (son)
Elizabeth Stabler (daughter)
Elliot Stabler, Jr. (son)
Status Alive (Retired)
Actor Christopher Meloni
First Appearance Payback
Last Appearance Smoked

Elliot Stabler (born October 20, 1966) was a detective in the Manhattan Special Victims Unit. He was partnered with Olivia Benson for over twelve years, and reported to Captain Donald Cragen.


Elliot is married to Kathy Stabler; they have been married since 1984 when they were 17 years old. They have five children: Maureen Stabler (born 1984), Kathleen Stabler (born 1989), twins Elizabeth Stabler and Richard Stabler (born 1993), and Elliot Stabler, Jr. (born 2007).

Early life

Elliot was born on October 20, 1966. He comes from an Irish-Catholic family with three brothers and two sisters and went to Catholic school Sisters of Mercy. He is a devout Catholic whose faith sometimes complicates the cases he works on.

His father Joseph Stabler was also a police officer.  He lost his job and his pension when he refused to testify about fellow police officers.

Elliot had a difficult relationship with his parents; his father physically and emotionally abused him while his mother Bernadette Stabler suffered from bipolar disorder (a condition that Elliot's second oldest daughter, Kathleen, inherited) and once nearly killed him during a manic phase. As a result, he has "erased his childhood" and maintains little contact with his mother.

After he left the Marines, Elliot attended Queens College where he earned his B.A. (SVU "Hate").

Elliot served in the United States Marine Corps and has a USMC tattoo of an eagle, globe, and anchor on his forearm. He also did a tour in Desert Storm.

Police force


Detective Olivia Benson in 1999

Stabler was a detective with Manhattan's 16th Precinct, also known as the Special Victims Unit, which investigates sex crimes. He was dedicated to his job, but this dedication occasionally turned into obsession, as he often takes cases personally, affecting his judgment. Nonetheless, Stabler had a 97% case closure rate. His badge number is 6313.

He had not been issued a passport until an investigation required him to travel to the Czech Republic in 2003.

Stabler had over the course of his career suffered a host of injuries and faced a number of incidents, some of which have even threatened his job and his life.

In 2001, Stabler sustained a deep cut to the hand while searching the garage of former cop and murder suspect Sam Winfield. When he and Benson later pulled HIV-positive Gloria Palmera out of her tub after she slit her wrists in a suicide attempt, her blood soaked into Stabler's bandage, and he had to be tested for HIV and he took antiretrovirals which made him sick. Fortunately, the test came back negative.

In May 2003, Stabler let his feelings interfere with his duty when he was called to the stand by the Assistant District Attorney, Alexandra Cabot, where he provided unsubstantiated information (that the victim had been raped) to a dead girl's father he sympathized with.

In November 2004, Stabler was forced by Captain Donald Cragen to take sick time in lieu of being suspended, for refusing to seek counseling after finding the bodies of several murdered children in the Church of Wisdom and Sight; Stabler was flagged as being at risk for excessive emotional investment after mentioning to Dr. George Huang that one of the children was wearing the same brand of pajamas as one of his own kids. This was one of several incidents that contributed to the long-running acrimony between Stabler and Huang. Benson instead worked the case with John Munch, as Detective Odafin Tutuola was also on sick leave.

In September 2005, Elliot went undercover as parolee "Elliot McEvoy" in order to investigate paroled rapist Ray Schenkel. His actions were barely sanctioned by Cragen, and he was nearly pulled off the case after a failed attempt to bait his new "friend" with an undercover female officer. He later ended up in a sticky situation when Schenkel stole his van and picked up a live victim. He was knocked unconscious by Schenkel after setting the girl free, and came very close to being killed, but managed to put Schenkel in a sleeper hold.

In October 2005, Stabler encountered former partner Pete Breslin, whose son Luke was the prime suspect in an assault case. When Stabler advised the family of the victim not to file charges, Captain Cragen ordered him home for the remainder of the day. Stabler later witnessed Breslin assaulting Luke in the bathroom after Luke's arraignment. While defending the boy, Stabler lost his temper and beat Breslin unconscious. He sought counseling from Dr. Rebecca Hendrix, a forensic psychiatrist and former police officer, who helped him to deal with his long-repressed feelings toward his father.

Later that month, Stabler had a close call when he was shot in the arm by Kyle Ackerman, the teen-aged son of white supremacist Brian Ackerman during the latter's trial, but made a full recovery. He had another close call in January 2006, when he was held hostage by drug addict Daniel Hunter after a botched kidnapping, but was saved by Melinda Warner, who shot Hunter. In April of that same year, Stabler was held at gunpoint for several minutes in a warehouse by sadistic serial killer Victor Paul Gitano. Benson refused to shoot Gitano as doing so would have put Stabler's life in even more danger. Benson subsequently asked to be reassigned because Stabler told her they couldn't put the other before the job if they were to remain partners.

In September 2006, Stabler was injured in an explosion involving dynamite but recovered from his injures. In November of that year, he was stabbed in the chest with a pen.

Stabler was injured after Cupid threw him out the window, and hurt his arm. Later that year, Stabler was put on suspension after it was alleged he beat a teenage murder suspect to death. An eye-witness used a video phone to record the incident of Elliot punching and restraining the much smaller teen. Elliot was cleared of the charges when it was determined that the teen died due to a cardiac syndrome during the struggle, and the teen's internal injuries were not due to Elliot's use of force, but actually Elliot's attempt at using CPR to save the teen.

Stabler was shown having to use deadly force. In one incident, a corrupt police officer raised his weapon at Stabler in fear of being caught, forcing Stabler to shoot him. (SVU: "Risk") At another time, Stabler shot a suspect who was threatening to shoot his hostage despite the suspect's willingness to work the situation out with Benson. (SVU: "Debt") The third time was when he shot Jenna Fox, a girl who opened fire in the precinct in retaliation for her mother's rape and murder. (SVU: "Smoked") According to Cragen, there were three other occasions when Stabler used deadly force. (SVU: "Scorched Earth")

In September 2007, Stabler was temporarily blinded when schizophrenic rapist Saul Picard threw him into a car window.

More recently, Elliot fractured several ribs while trying to restrain fifteen-year-old Tommy Ross, who lashed out after his mother Susan Ross died from untreated AIDS. Stabler pressed charges, but only did so in order to get Tommy to testify against his mother's doctor, Gideon Hutton; the charges were later dropped, though Stabler urged the boy to get tested for HIV, as Susan's death suggested that he was at risk for the disease. Tommy refused to get tested, but owed Stabler for dropping the charges so Stabler used it to convince him to meet a young boy named Kyle who was recovering from brain cancer after getting treated against his parents wishes. Kyle convinced Tommy to get tested and he shared the results with Stabler: he was HIV positive, but Stabler convinced him his life wasn't over.

Stabler Trials

Stabler in 2008

That year also saw Stabler get shot while working undercover to gather evidence against animal smuggler Andre Bushido. One bullet passed clean through his chest but did not damage any vital organs, while the other lodged in his bicep and had to be removed. Though he was urged to take a week off, he came back on the job the next day to take down Bushido.

Stabler was forced to shoot and kill a young woman who fired shots in the Special Victims squad room. Before dying in Stabler's arms, she managed to kill two suspects involved in the rape and murder of her mother and injure a third. Also killed by her was Sister Peg, although it is unclear if this was intentional. Although he was eventually cleared of the shooting, he still chose to leave the police force, as he still feels remorse for killing the girl.


Stabler often mentioned his family, particularly his children, sometimes as a way to gain trust with the victims. He was protective of his children and became defensive if a suspect asks about his family. Stabler once revealed that he helped deliver all of his children to that point, and he sees aspects of them in every child molestation victim. As a result, he had an intense hatred of pedophiles, admitting that he sometimes fantasizes about killing them, almost losing his job as a result. (SVU: "Slaves") Stabler found it particularly disturbing when he sees aspects of himself in a child abuser; in one instance, an abusive parent reminded him of a time he lost his temper and slapped his then-toddler daughter Maureen. While he restrained himself from hurting her further, he was frightened by his loss of control. (SVU: "Shaken")

Stabler often connected with child victims on a fatherly basis, and had been very willing to use physical force to apprehend a suspect that he believed to have harmed a child. In turn, many victims tended to respond to him very warmly. For example, Stabler successfully reached out to a fifteen-year old girl who regressed to child-like state after being attacked by her father. (SVU: "Resilience")

At one point, Stabler and his wife separated, and Kathy moved in with her mother. (SVU: "Doubt") Though she had sole custody of their children, they frequently visited their father, once surprising him at work on his birthday. Kathy eventually sent him divorce papers; (SVU: "Raw") later, Stabler realized during a case involving a divorcing couple that "when love twists into hate, there's nothing you won't do," and silently returned the signed papers to his wife. However, eventually Stabler showed up at Kathy's house at night after being cleared in the supposed beating death of a suspect. (SVU: "Dependent") He told her that he loved both his job and his family, and couldn't live with the thought of losing either, and asked for a reconciliation with his wife, saying "I want to come home". Stabler eventually moved back home with his family; he met Kathy for drinks to discuss rebuilding their relationship. (SVU: "Sin") They ultimately became intimate once again. (SVU: "Annihilated")

At one point, Stabler took his daughter Kathleen's driver's license and burnt it. (SVU: "Responsible") He did this because, two years prior, Kathleen had been arrested for DUI and Elliot had used his clout as a police officer to get the charge to disappear. Reasoning that he could not be a good father if he did that, Elliot decided to take away Kathleen's license. In 2007, Kathleen was arrested again for the DUI. (SVU: "Screwed") Kathy also told Elliot that she was pregnant and that she wanted him to come home; he hid so, and reconciled with Kathy. (SVU: "Alternate") Around that time, Kathy was briefly held hostage in their home by a knife-wielding perpetrator who allegedly suffered from multiple personality disorder and who appeared to be stalking Elliot.

Kathy's pregnancy continued to progress normally, and Kathleen did not receive jail time for her DUI conviction but was sentenced to community service. (SVU: "Alternate")

Kathy was seriously injured by a drunk driver who hit Olivia's car when she was driving Kathy to a doctor's appointment. Olivia and a team of firefighters managed to get Kathy out of the car and into an ambulance, where Kathy gave birth to a baby boy. Kathy's life appeared to be in jeopardy but she survived. Elliot was grateful to his partner, who asked him what name he and Kathy chose. Elliot said Kathy wanted to name the boy after him. "Just what the world needs," Olivia quipped, "another Elliot Stabler". (SVU: "Paternity")


Main article: Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson

Olivia Benson

Stabler's partner for over twelve years was Olivia Benson. Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson had never been romantically involved. Their relationship was not without friction, as the two sometimes argued over the cases they worked on; Benson was quicker to side with the victims while Stabler was more impartial. This became obvious when three women were charged with raping a male stripper; Benson and Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot were quick to come to the man's aid, while Stabler took a cynical view of his claim from the start. (SVU: "Ridicule") This also came to a head when a woman going through a bitter divorce claimed her husband raped her. (SVU: "Burned") Benson instantly believed her, while Stabler thought she might be lying. Stabler told her that as she was not married, she did not know how bitter divorces could be; while she accuses him of letting his own divorce influence his judgment. Ultimately Stabler was proven right, the woman's husband ultimately sets her on fire, but he never raped her.

Benson and Stabler were separated at times during the show. At one point Benson was briefly reassigned to Computer Crimes and replaced by a Queens SVU detective, Lucius Blaine. (SVU: "Fat") Benson returned to SVU soon after. (SVU: "Web") Later, Benson teamed up with an FBI agent and eventually went undercover in Oregon to infiltrate an eco-terrorist group. (SVU: "Informed")

Stabler's wife Kathy was worried that her husband preferred being at work with Benson but was told by Benson that it wasn't true. Combined with his long hours on the job and away from home, Stabler's work at SVU placed considerable strain on their marriage, eventually culminating in their separation; they later reconciled before the divorce became final. They have recently welcomed the birth of their fifth child.

Season 11 episode 21 introduced a former partner of his, Jo Marlowe who is now an A.D.A. He has had at least two other partners, Dave Ruzzetti, who committed suicide over his inability to solve Debbie Cooper's murder "Execution"; and Alphonse, who retired and moved to Florida, and may have been his partner immediately prior to Oliva. (SVU: "A Single Life")



  • Stabler has a deep-seated distrust of psychologists and psychiatrists stemming from his being hauled in front of the Morris Commission after being interviewed by Dr. Audrey Jackson ("Slaves"). This has manifested itself in his hostility towards Dr. George Huang, whom he views as meddlesome, particularly when it comes to interrogations. (SVU: "Execution", "Demons", "Scavenger")
  • According to his mother, as a child, Stabler wanted to be an architect, (SVU: "Swing") since he made buildings out of blocks when he was eight. But Stabler has said he always wanted to be a cop. (SVU: "Ripped", "Swing")
  • Stabler's blood type is A-positive, same as his partner.
  • Stabler carries a Glock 19 as his sidearm, and a Kahr K9 as his off-duty sidearm
  • In the episode solitary Stabler mentions how he got appointed to Detective in 1989 which would have made him 23, which is near impossible in real life since you have to be 21 on the day of hire and do at least 18 months in an investigation unit before earning your gold shield not run into a bank robber.
  • Whenever the SVU team is involved with FBI Agent Dana Lewis Elliot gets injured. Only one its because of her.
  • Stabler has been hurt seven times in the life of duty


  • Elliot lives at 72-12 Castleside Street in the Glenoaks section of Queens with his family. (SVU: "Pure", "Paternity", "Swing", "Lunacy")
  • Munch referred to Elliot as a Desert Storm veteran. (SVU: "Goliath") But Desert Storm ran from August 1990 through February 1991 when Elliot was a detective in the NYPD - unless he was a reservist.
  • Actor Nick Chinlund also originally screen-tested for the role of Stabler, according to Meloni. Chinlund later appeared in the SVU episode "Execution" in a different role.
  • He was often referred to as "El" (Instead of Elliot) by many people like his partner, Olivia Benson, Captain Cragen, Kathy Stabler, and others.
  • Stabler was often the Senior Detective on cases because he has been in the unit for longer than anyone else. He started there in 1993. (SVU: "Rooftop")
  • Elliot Stabler was a detective first grade. (SVU: "Haystack")
  • Elliot's shield number was 6313.
  • One of Elliot's best friends died in the World Trade Center.
  • Between the end of Season 12 and the beginning of Season 13 Elliot was put on administrative leave. Although he was cleared after the shooting, he chose to retire from the police force.

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