How Much Did Christopher Meloni Make Per Episode Of Law And Order: SVU?

Christopher Meloni is known for his role as hard-headed Detective Elliot Stabler in NBC's hit crime show "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." The actor made his debut in September 1999 alongside his television partner Mariska Hargitay, who plays the beloved Detective Olivia Benson. He starred on the show for 12 seasons before his abrupt departure after spending more than a decade with the franchise. Meloni revealed the reason behind his exit was an inability to reach a happy medium with the network. 

"Instead of 22 episodes, bring me back for nine episodes, or bring me back for 18 episodes," he said during an interview with Men's Health. That was his initial proposal, but it appeared NBC wasn't too fond of that idea. "They literally came to me on a Thursday night and said, 'This is the deal. We want the answer by tomorrow. It's our way or no way.'"

Meloni wasn't happy about how they handled the situation and decided it was time to go. But, even though his time with "Law & Order: SVU" was up, he still made a pretty penny while he was on the show. 

Christopher Meloni made millions on Law & Order: SVU

Christopher Meloni was making bank during his time on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," but it's not as much as you might think. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the actor was reportedly bringing in about $395,000 per episode, which totaled to about $10 million per season. While that seems like a hefty amount of cash, it's not nearly as much as what his fellow co-star receives. Mariska Hargitay, who plays Detective Olivia Benson, makes a whopping $500,000 per episode, which brings her to about $13 million for the season, per Forbes.

According to Cosmopolitan, there's a reason for the major wage gap. Meloni left in 2012 and was unable to negotiate a better contract. However, during an interview with Men's Health, Meloni revealed that he tried to negotiate a better contract, but they didn't want to pay the amount he wanted. So he left. "This is what I want," he told them. "If you can't do it, that's fine. Let's figure out my exit.

Despite their little mishap, it appears all is well with Meloni. In fact, it looks like things are even better. 

Christopher Meloni returned to the franchise

In April 2021 Christopher Meloni reprised his role as Detective Elliot Stabler as one of the lead characters on the spinoff "Law & Order: Organized Crime" — a monumental television moment fans never thought they'd see. For a decade, the actor kept a low-profile and starred in a few minor roles. However, when Meloni was first approached with the idea of returning, he was actually interested.

"If you have, at least from my perspective, a very well-known and beloved TV character who left abruptly and, I would argue, unceremoniously ... there's a built-in recognizability, a thing that needs to be satiated with a sense of closure," he told Entertainment Weekly. "I was intrigued for a variety of personal reasons."

Fans were excited to see Meloni back in the role that made him a household name. And, they can expect to see more of him because according to NBC, "Law & Order: Organized Crime" was renewed for Season 3, which is slated to air in fall 2022. It's unclear how much the actor is making for his time on "Law & Order: Organized Crime," but we can assume it's a whole lot of money.