‘Law & Order’ Fans Are Upset the Dead Wife Trope Was Used to Bring Back Stabler


Detective Stabler (Christopher Meloni) is back on our screens in Law and Order: Organized Crime, which is certainly cause for celebration. That being said, some are taking issue with the storyline that brought this beloved character back into the fold.

If you’re watching the show, you know Stabler has rejoined the force to find his wife Kathy’s (Isabel Gillies) killers after she was murdered in a bombing attack. (The attack was intended to kill Stabler.) Some viewers are upset Kathy had to die in order for Stabler to reappear in the franchise. 

“I was looking forward to Stabler’s return since it was announced, and these are my first episodes watching in a few years, but the fridging has taken me completely out of it,” one fan wrote. (“Fridging” describes the trope of a female character dying to advance a male one’s narrative.) 

“They bring Stabler back to the NYPD by fridging his wife. I’m done,” another fan tweeted. 

But Law and Order: Organized Crime showrunner Ilene Chaiken is defending the choice. “When I joined this show, it was a fait accompli—a premise I was given to work with. I wasn’t in any way put off by it—I was immediately drawn in,” she said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “When you tell a story about a character who’s been gone for many years, a question you have to answer is ‘why now?’ [Kathy Stabler’s death] as a storytelling catalyst is one of the best ‘why nows’ I could think of.”

Meanwhile, per THR, Law and Order creator and executive producer Dick Wolf said, “I didn’t see anything that was critical of that storytelling choice, [but] you can’t please all the people any of the time.” He added that the plot point is “one of the most dramatic teasers I can remember on any show.”

Law and Order: Organized Crime airs Thursday nights on NBC.


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