Mariska Hargitay Explains 'Last Minute' Decision to Block Bensler's Kiss on 'SVU'

Bensler forever.

Not everyone behind the scenes at Law & Order: SVU is shipping Benson and Stabler.

In a new profile for Variety, star Mariska Hargitay, who has played Olivia Benson since 1999, addressed a particularly cruel moment in the show's marketing. In January 2023, a promo for Season 24, episode 12 featured a moment where Benson held the face of her long-time friend and former partner Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and appeared to be going in for a kiss. The promo was thrilling for all those who had waited 24 years for such a scene, so when the episode aired with no hint of a near-kiss, fans were baffled and disappointed.

Related: Christopher Meloni Shares His Thoughts on 'Bensler' and Stabler's Evolution

"To be honest with you, Chris and I thought it should go one way and the powers that be didn't, so it got changed at the last minute, that near kiss," Hargitay told Variety. "Obviously [creator Dick Wolf] gets final say. It's his show and he didn't want that."

Related: Dick Wolf Is Now a Billionaire: Find Out the TV Mogul's Net Worth In 2024

While the characters have yet to kiss, not even Wolf could keep what Hargitay called "undeniable" chemistry off screen, and the story isn't over yet.

"We want to hold the tension," Hargitay said. "And do what's right and truthful for both characters."

It also sounds like fans shouldn't worry that Law & Order: Organized Crime hasn't been renewed yet (the show is reportedly moving to Peacock for Season 5, but that deal hasn't been confirmed). Even if the series were to be canceled, when it comes to Benson and Stabler, Hargitay insists there's no reason to think Meloni couldn't return to SVU.

Related: Everything to Know About 'Organized Crime' Season 

"I don't see why that wouldn't happen or couldn't happen," she said. "I think that we're sort of irrevocably locked."

Stabler was, of course, happily married throughout his entire run on SVU. He left the series at the end of Season 12, but returned in Season 22 in what turned out to be an explosive, game-changing episode that left his wife, Kathy, dead after a car bomb. Her death sent Stabler chasing after various crime organizations around New York City, leading to the Organized Crime spinoff and opening up the possibility of Benson and Stabler finally getting together. Fans are still waiting, and the good news is that there's still plenty of time.

Next, Mariska Hargitay Reveals She's Fighting for Kelli Giddish to Return to 'Law & Order: SVU'