“When Christopher Meloni left Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2011, it was unclear how the show would fare without him.
“For 12 years, the relationship between detectives Elliot Stabler (Meloni) and Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) had provided the backbone for some of the most unsettling crimes on prime-time television.
“Their chemistry and companionship was the stuff of legend and — despite never actually getting together — one of the most compelling will-they, won’t-they stories in the crime-procedural circuit.
“Hargitay proved to be the beating heart of the show, which is still going strong in its 22nd season, but the what ifs and if onlys of Stabler’s sudden departure continue to haunt fans. It’s not difficult to understand.
“The two — known as Bensler — had the attraction factor of Mulder and Scully, Castle and Beckett, and Hayes and Addison but exist in a franchise that’s not built on romantic relationships.”
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