"Law & Order: SVU" fans know that Elliot Stabler has got some 'splaining to do.
Nearly 10 years ago, when he left the show after season 12, Stabler's last scenes ended up being part of a cliffhanger, and his longtime partner, Olivia Benson, was briefly informed of his retirement in the first episode of the next season.
Fortunately, Stabler — who is making fans happy by returning in his own spinoff, "Law & Order: Organized Crime," on April 1 — seems to know he's got some mea culpa'ing to do.
The former "SVU" detective offered viewers an explanation for his abrupt departure from the force in a promo released Friday by NBC.
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"Stabler was always looking for the right moment," the caption reads.
Now, anyone paying close attention will know that this is not an entirely new trailer. A shorter version of it popped up on Instagram in February, giving everyone their first real glimpse as to what Christopher Meloni, who originated the character in 1999, will look like in the "SVU" spinoff.
But this time, he's got a little bit more to say, and now we know who he's talking to: Odafin Tutuola (Ice-T). And Fin has a few choice words to fire back.
We see the men sitting in what looks like a bar, and Stabler says, "Look, when I left SVU, I know I didn't handle that well."
"You didn't handle it at all!" barks Fin. "We worked side by side for 10 years, man!"
Clearly, Fin is the voice of the people here. Audiences became fast fans of Meloni's Stabler, Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson and the rest of the "SVU" cast. Stabler and Benson were partners right up until the 2012 season 12 finale, which saw Stabler fatally wounding a shooter in the squad room.
That was his last scene. Off camera, contract negotiations broke down with Meloni, and he never got an on-camera farewell. Instead, audiences were told that since this was the sixth such shooting of his career (which, admittedly, whoa) he'd have to undergo anger management training (something he'd kind of needed for a while) and submit to an internal review of his file. Instead of taking his medicine, Stabler retired.
Well, fortunately, Stabler's not just getting a coda, he's getting a whole new series of his own (it'll be interesting to see if he actually did tame his temper professionally a bit). And knowing that fans are chomping at the bit to learn whatever they can about the new series, NBC has cleverly been parceling out tidbits and photos for some time.
Just for starters, Meloni and Hargitay posted images of themselves looking tough and mysterious and doing table reads a few months ago; then in January, more photos emerged of Benson and Stabler (whose portrayers are good buds in real life) palling around the set.
But wait, there's more! Earlier in March, Meloni posted a picture of himself with some of his castmates, including newcomer Dylan McDermott, on Instagram, writing, "What I did yesterday: Made new friends on the #L&O:OC April 1 premiere."
And then just this Thursday, fans got a behind-the-scenes shot of Meloni and Hargitay masked and ready to do some "Crime" together with the caption: "This is happening as I type #L&O:OC #L&O:SVU."
Oh, yes, indeed. It really all is happening! We couldn't be more excited. And you know, Stabler ... apology accepted.