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Law & Order SVU star Chris Meloni knows what it’s like to raise a family. Perhaps because of his experience, the actor felt giving Elliot Stabler a lot of kids might help further build his character.

Why Chris Meloni felt Elliot Stabler needed five kids

Chris Meloni posing in an episode of 'Law & Order Organized Crime' wearing a jacket and hat.
Chris Meloni | Zach Dilgard /Getty Images

Given the character’s work, and the kind of crime he investigates, Meloni’s Elliot Stabler can be a very intense character. But SVU hasn’t only followed the character’s life on the job, but his personal life as well. At times, the officer’s work has even ended up directly affecting his own family, adding more pressure to Elliot’s life.

In the series, Elliot, like Meloni, is a family man. Throughout much of SVU, the detective had a wife and kids. Initially, however, the SVU agent was only supposed to have three. But Meloni told creator Dick Wolf that perhaps they should’ve added more stress to Elliot’s life.

“Well, I think that that template was set right from the beginning. Meaning, I still remember very vividly, Dick wrote the initial SVU pilot. Dick was the one who hired me. And I went to him. And I said, he originally had Elliot Stabler with three kids. I said, ‘I think he needs four.’ He’s like, ‘Oh, okay.’ And I saw this guy as a guy under pressure constantly,” Meloni once said according to TV Meg.

Meloni’s Elliot Stabler was further inspired by real-life detectives that he’d follow around for research.

“And I felt that and this had a lot to do with after speaking with real SVU detectives, about the pressures that they were under and the crimes that they witnessed,” he continued. “And I knew that I as me, personally, Chris Meloni would have a very difficult time downloading and processing what these real people in heroes do every day, and the things that they see. So, that’s like kind of the genesis of this. So, it’s not like, ‘Oh, he’s a hothead to be a hothead.’ I think it’s his reaction to injustice. I think to him injustice makes his head explode. And I think that’s also now part of Elliot 2.0 is hopefully his evolution towards having a clear understanding of the world is unjust. And then now how is it that you adapt yourself to realities that keep punching you in the face literally and figuratively?”

How Chris Meloni felt reuniting with his ‘Law & Order SVU’ kids

Meloni took a long break from SVU, which resulted in Elliot Stabler being written off the show for quite some time. But both the actor and the character made a big comeback with the Law & Order spin-off Organized Crime. As the title suggests, the series would find Meloni’s Elliot Stabler investigating a different class of criminal. Fans would see Elliot reuniting with several familiar faces in the franchise, including Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia Benson.


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“Mariska and I have talked,” Meloni said. “And the conversation went something basically like this. ‘Wow. Congratulations. Congratulations to you.’ Ah, yeah, it was pretty overwhelming. I think she was expecting it more than I was. You know, because I think she’s still been the she’s been on the Law & Order stew. She’s been in that world continuously for the 20 years. I don’t know, I was not prepared. And it’s overwhelming. And it’s wonderful. And it’s very appreciated. And I think this time around I don’t know the pressures off. I feel less pressure than I did when Dick first tasked me with being Elliott Stabler. So, I’m a little freer to appreciate everything. It’s a nice journey.”

Meloni also got to reunite with his onscreen children, which he described as a very pleasant experience.

“My son, Dickey was the only original, original from day one SVU hits,” Meloni said. “And then some came on later. And then some were brand new. Some, ‘Hi, you’re my new daughter. Let’s figure out our history.’ It was very sweet and nice. And I think the biggest, the biggest thing to try and overcome was [and it was very sweet], they made me feel like OG – the original gangster – you know, because I’ve been playing and I’ve lived in this world for almost 20 years. And many of them were new to it. So we just had to get to know each other as people. And it was lovely. It was it. I think there’s a lot of ground that’s available to cover.”