Law and Order: SVU fans know him as Detective Elliot Stabler, but Christopher Meloni has been in the entertainment business for ages. He’s starred in the gritty HBO drama Oz, FX’s Pose, Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale, among many other things. But let’s be honest: to most people, he’ll always be Stabler, and he should be thankful for the trademark role, as it once made him one of the highest-earning actors on primetime television, along with his co-star Mariska Hargitay, per TV Guide.
As of April 2021, Meloni is reprising his role as Stabler in a Law and Order spinoff called Law & Order: Organized Crime, along with Dylan McDermott. It’s unclear what he’ll be paid per episode but considering that his departure from SVU after Season 12 was due to a contract dispute, he’s likely making as much money as he asked for. Back then, Meloni and Hargitay were making around $395,000 per episode, per the same TV Guide report. During negotiations for Season 13, he was offered $8 million a year, which, although it’s a nice, hefty sum, would have meant that he was taking a 25% pay cut which just didn’t jive with him, per Today, so he left.
Meloni has since called his departure “inelegant” (via People) and said that he regrets not giving fans a proper send-off to Stabler at the time (when the new season started, he simply wasn’t there). But now, he’s back for the fans and for that primetime money.
Christopher Meloni donates to a lot of his money
Christopher Meloni is reportedly worth $30 million, per Celebrity Net Worth, which makes sense given his massive per episode salary on Law & Order: SVU up until his departure in 2010. That’s a nice sum to take care of his wife, Doris Sherman Williams, and two kids, Dante and Sophia. He knows how to spend his money wisely, too. According to Look To The Stars, he supports a wide array of charitable causes, including donating to LGBTQ organizations, organizations that support victims of rape and domestic violence, and various health causes. While he donates to charity, Meloni also has fun with his cash — in 2014, he bought the house that was in The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, though he later sold it, per Variety.
Meloni clearly loves what he does and isn’t afraid to negotiate when he has to. For the sake of Law & Order: SVU fans, hopefully the network will work with him next time they negotiate. Saying goodbye to Stabler twice would just be too much.
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