In the history of NBC’s Law & Order: SVU, there’s been one assistant district attorney who fans have really taken a liking to. And that’s Rafael Barba, played by Raúl Esparza. He has a special relationship with his good friend, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). Some fans have wondered whether the two could have been romantically involved and what their lives would have been like if that were the case.
Rafael Barba was the ADA for ‘SVU’
There have certainly been some passionate ADAs over the course of SVU history. Barba is extremely driven and always seems to put the case first before everything else. But unfortunately, Barba was written off the show after six years on the series.
Barba gets involved in a difficult case, and he ends up turning off life support to a child with MDDS. Barba is indicted on murder charges, but he’s eventually cleared of them. However, he chooses to leave his job after the case and shares a heartfelt goodbye with his friend Benson. Their goodbye is extremely well written, and it’s hard not to tear up a little when watching it. They clearly care a lot about each other, but could it have been more than a friendship?
Does Raúl Esparza think Benson and Barba could have found love together?
Esparza spoke with Entertainment Weekly in 2018 after leaving the series. He said it was his decision to leave the show. And he was also asked about a potential love connection between Benson and Barba considering how close the two are. It’s hard not to imagine them together in some capacity because they got along so well and work together with such ease. However, Barba never thought things would go that way.
“No, I didn’t, honestly, because they are both workaholics,” Esparza said. “I was never really interested in exploring his private life as much in terms of feeling like he’s a man who has given up on relationships in order to succeed. His ambition has driven him. Maybe that’s making an excuse for what they do or don’t write on shows like Law & Order, but Benson’s life is a much more complicated situation.”
Taking things to the next level would remove the ‘excitement’
Esparza also said going there would essentially take away the unexpectedness of it all. Not knowing where things will lead can sometimes be half the fun in television.
“I always thought it would remove a layer of excitement and friction and sexiness between us if we ever went in that direction,” Esparza continued. “I really thought that would just state the obvious instead of letting it just simmer, which one of the rules of good television is keep them wanting — never have successful relationships and keep them wanting the one that you really wish would happen.”
Although Benson and Barba never took things to the next level, they will always have a connection that is undeniable.