Could A Law And Order: SVU Crossover Help Organized Crime's Renewal Odds? I Have Mixed Feelings

 Benson and Stabler on the job in SVU's crossover with OC.
Benson and Stabler on the job in SVU's crossover with OC.

Two of NBC’s three Law & Order franchise shows recently got some very good news with guarantees of at least one more season each, but Law & Order: Organized Crime was left out of the renewal announcement. At the time, the report was that OC’s status was still in discussion, and there has been no update yet. As fans worry about the future of the SVU spinoff, I can’t help but wonder: could a crossover with somebody from Stabler’s former show help the renewal odds in what remains of OC Season 4 in the 2024 TV season?

Rarely are scripted TV events as well-hyped on NBC as crossovers between Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime, and understandably so. The two are arguably the most closely-connected series in Dick Wolf’s massively successful TV universe, including the three in One Chicago and the three FBIs that air over on CBS. The bond between Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia Benson and Christopher Meloni’s Elliot Stabler literally goes back to the 20th century thanks to the pilot in 1999.

And I can be realistic – the Law & Order shows are only expected to run for 13 episodes this spring due to the production delays from the WGA writers strike and SAG-AFTRA actors strike, so a multi-episode crossover event like the one that ended SVU Season 24 and OC Season 3 last year is almost certainly out of the question. After all, the next installments will be the ninth episodes of the season. But if Peter Scanavino’s Carisi could drop by Organized Crime, could somebody even bigger make a one-off appearance for an extra hook to attract viewers?

And is there any more guaranteed way to generate some buzz for both shows than a reunion between the two leads? Well, even as a big fan of SVU and OC who very much hopes to see Stabler and Co. back for Season 5, I’m of two minds about whether an appearance from Mariska Hargitay on Organized Crime this spring would be helpful due to one very specific example. So, with the Law & Order shows on a break until April 11 and plenty of time to speculate on a hypothetical mini crossover, let’s go on a blast to the past and dig in!

Stabler and Benson cropped side by side in Law and Order SVU
Stabler and Benson cropped side by side in Law and Order SVU

Christopher Meloni’s Appearance In SVU’s Season 24 Gang Arc Didn’t Go Over Well

Benson and Stabler didn’t share too much screen time last season outside of premiere and finale events, but SVU fans undoubtedly remember the heavily-publicized appearance from Christopher Meloni in the dangerous BX9 three-parter for Benson in Season 24. Stabler appearing before the end of the arc was hyped enough that many fans built expectations that he’d have a role to play in the actual plot, and for once, it seemed like a bait-and-switch wasn’t going to be possible with the two former partners getting VERY close.

But Stabler didn’t appear in the first episode of the arc, and he didn’t appear in the second. He wasn’t even in the majority of the third episode. He turned up for one quick – albeit important – scene. I thought that the actors absolutely nailed the scene in Benson’s kitchen with Stabler making his first overt move on her, and I was very glad that it didn’t go any farther, but fans on social media who had greater expectations had A LOT to say about the misdirect of an almost-kiss.

Now, I actually loved the scene, not least because I’ve always believed that Stabler needs to put in the time and effort if he wants to have any kind of relationship with her after he ghosted her for a decade and then The Letter. But the buzz after the reveal that Stabler’s guest appearance was more of a cameo for a bait-and-switch wasn’t particularly positive.

If Benson was to cameo on OC for a potential ratings boost but with nothing more substantial than what happened with Stabler on SVU last year, I’m not sure that the talk on social media would be entirely positive. And I’d say that the more positivity for OC at the moment, the better.

Benson looking at Stabler in SVU/OC crossover
Benson looking at Stabler in SVU/OC crossover

Why An SVU Crossover Could Be Great For Organized Crime Awaiting Renewal

For as much as I sympathized with the long-suffering shippers who got their hopes up for Stabler’s cameo in early 2023, the finale crossover event between the two shows did a such a great job with Benson and Stabler’s dynamic that even I – who still refers to Stabler’s letter to Benson as The Letter, two and a half years after the reveal – was nothing but optimistic that their friendship could continue to solidify off-screen.

The shows have kept continuity with their relationship even without featuring them together in 2024, and it’s been much easier to happily suspend disbelief. It’s certainly an improvement from when I even questioned if the two shows were on the same page about the former partners’ relationship! Plus, for better or worse, Organized Crime is less procedural with more focus on character than SVU, so even a cameo from Benson on OC is more likely to carry over from episode to episode than Stabler dropping by SVU for a few minutes.

And who am I kidding? Even though I’m not at all invested in the idea of a romance, I’ve been a fan of Benson and Stabler’s dynamic going back to the Stabler era of SVU, so I’ll always be happy to see Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay sharing the screen. And I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t love to see Benson react to all of the Stabler family drama this season. I don’t necessarily think it will happen or that it would 100% help OC, but I’d be game!

Stabler and Benson in apartment in Law & Order: Organized Crime
Stabler and Benson in apartment in Law & Order: Organized Crime

I Want To See John Shiban’s Take On Benson

The newest showrunner for Law & Order: Organized Crime is John Shiban, who came to the Law & Order world with a long list of credits on shows including Breaking Bad and The X-Files. The series has explored different directions in Season 4, and while some – like the aforementioned Stabler family drama and the messiness of Jet and Reyes’ affair – haven’t been good for the characters in-universe, they’ve been great for us fans to watch. I’d love to see how Shiban handles Olivia Benson and the dynamic with Stabler.

Now, I want to reiterate that this is all purely hypothetical, and all three Law & Order shows may well be nearing the end of production on their current seasons sooner rather than later. For all anybody knows, there’s no chance of any kind of OC/SVU crossover this spring beyond Peter Scanavino’s Carisi popping up on the spinoff. Plus, we can’t even say that the delay in Organized Crime’s renewal (or cancellation) is due to ratings or a lack of buzz. The conversations about the show’s future could be entirely about different factors.

Still, if it wasn’t fun to speculate about Elliot Stabler, would fans have been doing it for almost a quarter century? The wait is currently on for Law & Order’s shows to return to Thursday nights, but the promo gives a look at what to expect for OC’s next episode:

Cue more juicy drama for the Stabler brothers! Tune in to NBC on Thursday, April 11 at 10 p.m. ET for this next episode of Law & Order: Organized crime, following SVU at 9 p.m. and Law & Order at 8 p.m. You can also revisit past episodes of all three shows streaming with a Peacock Premium subscription now.