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Law & Order: SVU's Mariska Hargitay Has A Picture-Perfect Ending In Mind For Olivia Benson

There are some characters that have been on TV for so long that fans never picture them leaving the small screen. Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) may be one character that comes to mind, with Pompeo recently taking a step back from "Grey's Anatomy," ending her role as a full-time cast member during Season 19 (via Deadline). And for fans of the crime procedural, it's Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) that has left a big impression. Since 1999, loyal watchers of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" have watched Benson move up the ranks from detective to captain. Many may also recall the early days of her partnership with Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni). The two were an iconic duo that became the subject of a long-awaited reunion during crossover episodes that helped to launch the Stabler-led spin-off "Law & Order: Organized Crime" in 2021 (via CNN).

Benson's 24 seasons on "SVU" have put her in the TV history books with the character gracing TV screens longer than any other female character in a primetime live-action television series (via NBC). And while Hargitay doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon, she does have an endgame in mind for her character when the time comes.

Hargitay has reportedly been thinking about Benson's exit for quite some time

Over the years, Mariska Hargitay has brought Olivia Benson to three different parts of the "Law & Order" universe. She has starred in more than 500 episodes of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," five episodes of "Law & Order," and 11 episodes of "Law & Order: Organized Crime." And while there are no reports of Captain Benson leaving "SVU" anytime soon, Hargitay has told E! News that she has some ideas about her character's eventual exit. "I hope that she can get to a point where she feels like she's done enough service and it's time to rest and be and see the best life has to offer," she said, adding that she would like to see Benson enjoy her children and spend time with someone special. This is as fans seek out hints about possible romantic feelings between Benson and Elliot Stabler.

The idea of Benson ever leaving is something that fans may not want to envision, especially after Amanda Rollins' (Kelli Giddish) recent exit. But these are plans that Hargitay has been apparently thinking about for some time now. E! News reports that they spoke to Hargitay about these details in September 2022, but she first teased her ideas for a potential end to her character back in 2018. "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" returns to NBC on January 5, 2023, at 9 p.m.