'Law & Order: SVU' Premiere Won't Feature Stabler's Return or Sir Toby's Trial

Law Order SVU Season 22 Toby Trial Not in Premiere
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Law & Order: SVU won't begin Season 22 by bringing back a familiar face as previously expected or offering resolution to a loose thread from the spring finale.

SVU has a premiere date (a bit later than usual) of November 12, while its spinoff, Law & Order: Organized Crime, following Christopher Meloni's Elliot Stabler heading a new elite team taking down criminal syndicates, will debut in the midseason. Showrunner Warren Leight previously said (in the spring) that "it's pretty clear that Elliot will be in the SVU season opener," getting fans excited about former partners Stabler and Captain Olivia Benson's (Mariska Hargitay) reunion, but that has since changed.

"These days all plans are subject to change. And then they change again. And again. For now, we won't reintroduce Stabler until the night of his Organized Crime premiere," Leight wrote on Twitter on August 27.

Also, at the end of Season 21, Sonny Carisi (Peter Scanavino) was trying to see to it that Sir Tobias "Toby" Moore's (Ian McShane) trial actually happens, but the media mogul accused of sexual assault by multiple women was MIA due to health issues, including a "heart episode" that required yet another postponement. Fans will have to wait for the conclusion of that, however, as Leight revealed that that storyline will not be part of the Season 22 premiere.

"A lot has happened since we shut down, in New York, and in our country," he explained on Twitter on September 1. "First few eps will see our squad grappling with many of the losses and changes and challenges we're all going through at this moment."

Leight previously addressed reflecting real-world events on screen, saying, "We altered a teaser to have somebody who's assumed to be guilty because he's Black and he's in the wrong place, and we added the extra beat that they can arrest him on the spot because he was arrested during demonstrations and he didn't show up for a desk appearance, so there's a warrant out on him." He then added that George Floyd's death and the subsequent protests against racism and police brutality "has to come up and it will."

Furthermore, we'll see "the obstacles it presents to Carisi, our district attorney, because he knows the cop on the stand isn't going to be believed at the moment," Leight said.

Mariska Hargitay Olivia Benson Law Order SVU

(Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

Stay tuned for more details about the new SVU season — including when we'll hopefully see that long-awaited Stabler-Benson reunion!

Law & Order: SVU, Season 22 Premiere, Thursday, November 12, 9/8c, NBC