Christopher Meloni is returning to one of his most famous roles, as the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star will reprise the role of Elliot Stabler in an upcoming spin-off series from Law & Order creator Dick Wolf. Reportedly, NBC has already ordered the untitled Elliot Stabler spin-off series straight to series with a 13-episode freshman season. The project will serve as the first of Wolf's new five-year deal with NBCUniversal which includes multiple new series orders for various platforms. Wolf will also executive produce the series alongside Arthur W. Forney and Peter Jankowski, with Matt Olmstead (Chicago PD) in talks to serve as showrunner and head writer.

As fans of the franchise have been calling for Stabler's return for years, this news will undoubtedly have a lot of people excited. Set in the SVU universe, the upcoming spin-off will follow Meloni once again playing the role of Elliot Stabler, who has since begun working as the head of an NYPD organized crime unit. As SVU is also set in New York, it seems more than likely we'll be seeing some fan favorites from the original series popping up for special appearances, though fans are certainly keeping their fingers crossed especially for a cameo from Mariska Hargitay as detective Olivia Benson.

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Along with Hargitay, Christopher Meloni starred as Stabler in the first 12 seasons of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit; simultaneously, he portrayed Stabler's total opposite by playing convicted psychopath Chris Keller on the HBO prison drama Oz. Following his runs on both series, Meloni has appeared in a variety of movies and television shows. This includes a starring role on the Syfy series Happy! alongside Patton Oswalt, which many would say was axed too soon when the network gave it the boot after two seasons. More recently, Meloni voiced Commissioner James Gordon in the DC Universe series Harley Quinn and it set to appear in an upcoming episode of Jordan Peele's rebooted Twilight Zone.

This doesn't mean Law & Order: SVU is going to end anytime soon. Now nearing 600 episodes, the series remains just as strong as ever in the midst of its 21st season. Last month, NBC showed its confidence in the show's continued success by renewing SVU for another three seasons, guaranteeing the crime drama will stick around for at least a few more years. Of course, this also means Stabler and other characters from his solo series may be appearing on SVU with some special appearances of their own. Ultimately, what will happen with Meloni's series in the future will depend on how it's received by fans.

Given current events, it doesn't seem likely Meloni's untitled Elliot Stabler spin-off will begin production, and there's no word yet on when we can expect to see the series. Still, it gives us something to be excited for, and an entire 13-episode season sure beats a simple cameo appearance on SVU. In any case, whether Meloni had returned to SVU or launched this new solo series, it's certainly nice to see him back home in the Law & Order franchise. This news comes to us from Deadline.