‘Law & Order: SVU’ Fans Secretly Wish for a Romance Between These Popular Characters

by Suzanne Halliburton

If you’ve watched more than a handful of scenes of Law & Order: SVU, you know that Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler sizzle on screen. Fans adore them.

But on a Thursday with 39 days before the season 24 premiere, we’re not here to talk Benson-Stabler, portrayed by Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni. Let’s chat Benson-Barba. The Law & Order: SVU sub-Reddit is having quite the ongoing discussion about a potential relationship and past interactions between the two.

First, let’s set the SVU table. Benson is a captain. Rafael Barba is the former ADA assigned to the SVU who now is a defense attorney. Raul Esparza portrays Rafael Barba, who has been part of the show since 2012. That’s the year after Meloni left the series. In total, Esparza is listed in 119 episodes of Law & Order: SVU. So fans officially can obsess over him. He’s family.

Check out this Law & Order: SVU tweet from May showing the soft side of Barba.

What Do Law & Order: SVU Fans Think About Barba/Benson?

Here’s the topic in question. It’s “DAE lowkey wish Benson and Barba got together?” (DAE means does anybody else). Fans have lots of thoughts. The Reddit user then explained: “They had so much chemistry and they’re both such dynamic characters, I would have LOVED to see that storyline even if it would have been a little cringe.”

The answers were immediate, pro and con. Trust us, Law & Order: SVU enjoys a passionate and loyal fan base, which is why the show heads into a 24th season.

“I loved the Benson/Barba relationship. But I genuinely never picked up on anything remotely romantic between them. That’s why I was disappointed to see SVU hint at Barba having unrequited romantic feelings for Benson in the most recent season finale. I really liked their dynamic and felt that bringing romance into it was both unnecessary and unjustified.”

So let’s talk about that potential romance between Benson and Barba (you have to admit, the B & B alliteration is catchy). It served as a cliffhanger in the season 23 finale, “A Final Call at Forleni’s Bar.” Barba returned for season 23 to represent Richard Wheatley (Dylan McDermott), even though Benson asked him not to take the case. Wheatley killed Stabler’s wife and was behind Benson’s traffic accident. The two great friends got on the outs. Then came the season finale.

Barba finally enticed Benson to meet him at the bar, which was closing down. He told her that he didn’t like Stabler. Then he dropped his thoughts about Olivia.

Barba told Benson “In this case I can because I do know what it means to love someone unconditionally. And when you’re ready to stop feeling betrayed by me, I’ll be here.”

How does Benson react? She tells him “I miss you, too.” At a minimum, we can see these two being friends again. Esparza is in production with the FX miniseries, Retreat. But in interviews back in May. Esparza said he’d love to do more episodes of Law & Order: SVU. But he also gave no clues about a potential Barba romance with Benson.

So let’s go back to that SVU discussion. “Barba + Benson over Stabler + Benson any day.” Another fan observed that the show dropped similar hints in season 19. And another proclaimed:

“I’ve been (wor)shipping them for years. I didn’t think the show would survive without Stabler and then Barba came in and I forgot all about him! He’s what Liv deserves.”