|Law & Order character|
|Det. Elliot Stabler|
|Time on show||1999-Present|
|Portrayed by||Christopher Meloni|
Stabler is a NYPD detective with Manhattan's 16th Precinct, which investigates sex crimes. His partner is Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). Stabler is dedicated to his job, but this dedication occasionally turns into obsession; he often takes cases personally, thus affecting his judgment. Nonetheless, Stabler has a 97 percent case closure rate.
Stabler lives in Glen Oaks, Queens, with his wife and five children. He is a devout Catholic whose faith sometimes complicates the cases he works on. In the episode "Annihilated", it is suggested that he was a hand-to-hand combat specialist while he served in the United States Marine Corps, since he displayed great knowledge in that field while dealing with a case involving those skills. He also has two tattoos, notably the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor tattoo on his forearm the official logo of the United States Marine Corps, and a crucifix on his left bicep. Stabler's birthday is October 20, as found out in Season 6's "Contagious".
Stabler is devoted to his family and frequently mentions or thinks about them while working cases. He married his wife, Kathy (Isabel Gillies), when he was 20, and in the beginning of the series they have four school-aged children: Maureen, Kathleen, and twins Richard ("Dickie") and Elizabeth ("Lizzie"). After years of the stress involved with being married to a police officer, Kathy Stabler leaves her husband, taking their children and temporarily moving in with her mother. Stabler later signs the divorce papers, saying "When love turns to hate,there's nothing you can do". He did not believe that that had happened yet, but realized it would, and he did not want Kathy to regret him. However, after being cleared in the death of a suspect, Stabler realizes that he can't bear to lose either his job or his family and seeks reconciliation with his wife. A short time later, Kathy announces that she is pregnant and asks Stabler to come home. After a serious car accident, Kathy delivers a healthy baby boy, Elliot Stabler, Jr.
Of his five children, Stabler receives the most trouble from his second daughter, Kathleen. She is twice arrested for DUI; though he uses his clout as a police officer to make the first charge disappear, he realizes that he cannot continue to protect his daughter, and she is sentenced to community service. Kathleen then steals her father's credit card and gives it to her boyfriend, who rings up thousands of dollars in charges. She is later arrested for breaking and entering and robbery, at which time doctors and her family realize that she suffers from bipolar disorder, which she inherited from her paternal grandmother, Bernadette Stabler (Ellen Burstyn). After speaking with her grandmother, Kathleen agrees to treatment.
Stabler is fiercely protective of his children and becomes defensive if a suspect asks about his family. In the episode "Tragedy", Stabler reveals that he helped deliver all of his children to that point; he sees aspects of them in every molested child. As a result, he harbors an immense and open hatred for pedophiles, admitting in the episode "Slaves" that he sometimes fantasizes about killing them; he almost loses his job as a result. Stabler finds it particularly disturbing when he sees aspects of himself in a child abuser, as in the episode "Shaken" when an abusive parent reminds 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. In the episode "Confession", he brutally beats a pedophile who posts on his website a picture of his daughter Elizabeth.
Stabler often connects with child victims on a fatherly basis, and has been very willing to use physical force to apprehend a suspect that he believes to have harmed a child. In turn, many victims tend to respond to him. In the episode "Resilience", Stabler successfully reaches out to a 15-year-old girl (Rachael Bella) who regresses to a child-like state after being attacked by her father. SVU's resident psychiatrist, George Huang (B.D. Wong), theorizes that only Stabler would be able to reach her, as he is a father, and she is looking for another father figure.
Stabler rarely talks about his childhood. It is implied that his father, Joseph, also a police officer, was abusive, and his mother, Bernadette (née) McGinley; (Ellen Burstyn), suffers from bipolar disorder. As a result, Stabler has "erased his childhood", and maintains little contact with his mother. However, Benadette finally admits that she is bipolar when her granddaughter, Kathleen, is suspected to suffer from the same disorder.
In the episode "Turmoil", Stabler's son, Richard ("Dickie") is nowhere to be found after a fight at school. It is later revealed that he is trying to get recruited into the Army, something Stabler disapproves of. It later turns out that Dickie's friend, Shane, has been murdered.
Stabler's partner is Olivia Benson. Their relationship is not without friction, as the two sometimes argue over the cases they work on; Benson is quicker to side with the victims, while Stabler is more impartial. This became obvious in the season 3 episode "Ridicule", where three women are charged with raping a male stripper; Benson and ADA Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March) are quick to come to the man's aid, while Stabler takes a cynical view of his claim from the start.
Benson and Stabler are separated at times during the show. She is briefly reassigned to Computer Crimes in the season 7 episode "Fat", and replaced by a Queens SVU detective, Lucius Blaine (Anthony Anderson). Benson returns to SVU in the next episode, "Web". In the season 8 premiere "Informed", Benson teams up with an FBI agent and eventually goes undercover in Oregon to infiltrate an eco-terrorist group.
Stabler is assigned a temporary partner named Dani Beck (Connie Nielsen), who remains until Benson returns full-time to SVU. After an altercation with a nearly mute homeless man, Benson re-enters Stabler's life as his partner. Upon their reunion, they both comment on how the other has changed since their original partnership. Beck had helped Stabler loosen up, while Benson had picked up a few health conscious habits from her stint infiltrating the eco-terrorists.