‘Law & Order: SVU’ Season 23 Finale: Raúl Esparza to Return as Attorney Rafael Barba

by Shelby Scott

Our favorite crime shows are nearing their season finales and we’re a little more than anxious to see what’s next. One of those is the NBC series, “Law & Order: SVU.” As Dick Wolf’s oldest franchise, with SVU itself boasting 23 seasons, the upcoming finale promises to welcome back Raúl Esparza as Attorney Rafael Barba. And fans are here for it.

According to Yahoo Entertainment, NBC confirmed Esparza’s return for the “Law & Order: SVU” season finale to TheWrap on Thursday. As per the outlet, the upcoming episode, airing Thursday, May 19th, spotlights “SVU” actress Kelli Giddish as Amanda Rollins. Rollins, one of the detectives on “Law & Order: SVU,” approaches Barba and asks for his help. The brand new episode centers around a victim of domestic violence as they’re prosecuted in court. The domestic violence survivor will be played by Jordana Spiro, who also stars in the TBS comedy, “My Boys.”

Raúl Esparza’s Rafael Barba hasn’t been seen since he departed the series in season 19. Fans of “SVU” will remember that Barba pulled the plug on a brain-dead child during the episode, “The Undiscovered Country.” As the outlet states, the incident traumatized his character enough to see him resign from his position.

Esparza was, by no means, an original “Law & Order: SVU” character. Especially not when compared to fan-favorite cast member Mariska Hargitay. Nevertheless, he was much beloved by the time he left the series. And while fans mourned the loss of the character, Barba’s actor spoke out about what drove him from the show.

“I had explored a lot of what I thought Barba was about,” Esparza previously shared with Entertainment Weekly. “I just felt it was time to move on.”

Another Fan-Favorite Character Set to Make a ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Return

Given that “Law & Order: SVU” has spent a successful two-plus decades on NBC, it makes sense that the show would have a kind of revolving door cast. That said, Raúl Esparza isn’t the only well-liked cast member set to make an appearance before the show concludes its 23rd season.

Prior to announcing Barba’s return, “Law & Order: SVU” alum Demore Barnes also shared with fans that he would make another appearance in the hit series. Taking to Instagram, Barnes shared a post writing, “What? You didn’t think there’d be an encore?”

Fans absolutely flocked to the comments to share their excitement. “KING ENERGY,” one “SVU” fan shared, while another wrote, “Im just so happy about this sir.”

Many others were ecstatic about Barnes’ return as Chief Christian Garland, though many are confused as to why his character left in the first place. And, following his previous departure, they’re not the only ones.

In addressing his character’s cut from “Law & Order: SVU,” Barnes wrote, “I know you’re sad and surprised. I am too, I don’t totally know why this has happened.”

Whatever the reason might be, it appears “SVU” showrunners don’t want to give up Chief Garland just yet. And for excited “SVU” fans, be sure to tune in to Barnes’ return episode when it airs on Thursday, April 28th.