Mariska Hargitay welcomed her former co-star Christopher Meloni back to the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit family on social media. It was announced earlier this week that Meloni will be playing Elliot Stabler for the first time in nine years on a Law & Order: SVU spin-off series. The new untitled drama series is also set in New York, which means that Stabler and Hargitay's Olivia Benson could cross paths again on the small screen.

Mariska Hargitay was just as excited as Law & Order: SVU fans to hear about Christopher Meloni's return. She wished the actor a happy birthday and said, "Congratulations and welcome home Elliot Stabler." Hargitay also used the hashed tags "It's Been A While," "Missed You", and "Elliot Stabler" in her post. As it turns out, not a lot fans knew about the untitled Law & Order: SVU spin-off series and the return of Meloni's Stabler character. Hargitay's post was the first time that many were hearing the news.

RELATED: Stabler & Benson Reunion Teased by Christopher Meloni & Mariska Hargitay Ahead of SVU Spinoff

Christopher Meloni starred as Elliot Stabler for 12 seasons of Law & Order: SVU before taking off in 2011. It is believed he left the popular series when contract negotiations broke down. Mariska Hargitay has remained on the show, which is currently in its 21st season, as Olivia Benson. Last year's season 21 renewal made the show TV's longest-running primetime live-action series in history, beating out Law & Order, which ran for 20 seasons, and Gunsmoke, which ran from 1955 to 1975. At the time of the announcement, Hargitay said, "I'm deeply proud to be a part of this groundbreaking show, and humbled to make television history."

NBC has ordered a 13-episode series from executive producer Dick Wolf, and starring Christopher Meloni. The drama will focus on an NYPD organized crime unit led by Meloni's Stabler. There's not really a whole lot of information about the show at this time, but more details should be revealed in the near future, especially when casting starts. So far, Meloni is the only one officially attached to the show. The actor seems excited to be back on social media and is enjoying seeing fan reactions to the news.

Christopher Meloni spoke about his on screen dynamic with Mariska Hargitay in 2016. "I'm the guy who will right the wrong and she's the one who will nurture," he said. Many Law & Order: SVU fans have wondered why an on-screen romance between the two characters never happened, but Meloni maintains that it would have ruined there aforementioned dynamic. It sounds like it was for the best. Since he left SVU, Meloni has not been back, though Stabler has been brought up on screen more than once over the past nine years. It seems his name will be coming up a lot more often now that Meloni's back. You can check out Mariska Hargitay's Instagram post below.

Kevin Burwick at TVweb
Kevin Burwick