Detective Elliot "El" Stabler is one of the protagonists of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

He is portrayed by Christopher Meloni.

Early life

Elliot was born on October 20, 1966. He came from an Irish American Catholic family with three brothers and two sisters and went to Catholic school Sisters of Mercy School. He was a devout Catholic whose faith sometimes complicates the cases he works on.

His father, Joseph Stabler, was also a police officer. He lost his job and his pension when he refused to testify about fellow police officers.

Elliot had a difficult relationship with his parents; his father physically and emotionally abused him, while his mother Bernadette Stabler suffered from bipolar disorder (a condition that Elliot's second oldest daughter, Kathleen, inherited) and once nearly killed him during a manic phase when Elliot was 3 years old. His mom decided to drive them down Broadway during a snow storm. She crashed the car into a lamp post following snow flakes. As a result, he has "erased his childhood" and maintains little contact with his mother.

After he left the Marines, Elliot attended Queens College where he earned his B.A. (SVU "Hate").

Elliot served in the United States Marine Corps and has a USMC tattoo of an eagle, globe, and anchor on his forearm. He also did a tour in OP Desert Storm.

John Munch


Stabler often mentioned his family, particularly his children, sometimes as a way to gain trust with the victims. He was protective of his children and became defensive if a suspect asks about his family. Stabler once revealed that he helped deliver all of his children to that point, and he sees aspects of them in every child molestation victim. As a result, he had an intense hatred of pedophiles, admitting that he sometimes fantasizes about killing them, almost losing his job as a result. (SVU: "Slaves") Stabler found it particularly disturbing when he sees aspects of himself in a child abuser; in one instance, an abusive parent reminded him of a time he lost his temper and slapped his then-toddler daughter Maureen. While he restrained himself from hurting her further, he was frightened by his loss of control. (SVU: "Shaken")

Stabler often connected with child victims on a fatherly basis, and had been very willing to use physical force to apprehend a suspect that he believed to have harmed a child. In turn, many victims tended to respond to him very warmly. For example, Stabler successfully reached out to a fifteen-year old girl who regressed to childlike state after being attacked by her father. (SVU: "Resilience")

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