‘Law & Order: SVU’: Fans React To the Return of a Popular Former ADA

In the history of Law & Order: SVU, there have been a number of characters to depart that fans would like to see more of. Luckily for us, a popular attorney and former ADA will be returning, and it couldn’t come at a more perfect time. What are fans saying about the news?

Rafael Barba will return for season 22, episode 4 of ‘Law & Order: SVU’ in 2021

Ice-T, Raúl Esparza, Mariska Hargitay, Kelli Giddish, and Peter Scanavino in 'Law & Order: SVU'
Ice-T, Raúl Esparza, Mariska Hargitay, Kelli Giddish, and Peter Scanavino in ‘Law & Order: SVU’ | Virginia Sherwood/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

ADA Rafael Barba (Raúl Esparza) was a fan favorite on the series for six years – from season 14 to season 19. He was an ADA who truly thrived at his job, and he had a strong friendship with Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). Barba left in season 19, and according to his Fandom page, he became involved in a difficult case and turned off life support to a child with MDDS. Indicted on murder charges, Barba was eventually cleared and left his job.

In reality, it was Esparza’s choice to leave the series, although he has made an appearance since then in season 21, episode 13 called, “Redemption in Her Corner.” But that isn’t the last we’ve seen of Rafael Barba. He will return in 2021 for episode 4, which will drop on January 7. The news was shared on the official social media pages, and a new promo trailer was released at the end of episode 3.

The post on Instagram shows Barba looking out a window dressed in his usual classic look for court. “We’ve already got something for you to look forward to. Barba returns to #SVU in 2021,” the post is captioned on Instagram.

In the preview trailer for episode 4, Barba returns as a defense attorney, and he’ll take ADA Dominick Carisi, Jr. (Peter Scanavino) on in court.

Why did Raúl Esparza leave ‘Law & Order: SVU’?

Raúl Esparza and Mariska Hargitay in 'Law & Order: SVU
Raúl Esparza and Mariska Hargitay in ‘Law & Order: SVU’ | David Giesbrecht/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

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Fans may wonder why Esparza chose to leave the series in the first place. He told Entertainment Weekly he felt “it was time to go.” He also admits that showrunner Warren Leight’s departure in 2016 (he has since returned) was a factor as well.

“I’ve done six seasons, I felt like it was time to go,” Esparza said. “I had explored a lot of what I thought Barba was about. I just felt it was time to move on. I was also feeling like the role has changed over the years in a way that has been an interesting experience for me. Again, I’m a theater guy, so it’s like having a script in front of you that keeps changing every time you go to do it. The learning process of how roles grow over a period of time with a series has been kind of fascinating, and I just felt I had reached the end of what I wanted to explore where they were writing.”

Fans react to Barba’s return

Raúl Esparza in 'Law & Order: SVU'
Raúl Esparza in ‘Law & Order: SVU’ | Michael Parmelee/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Fans are buzzing about the news of Rafael Barba’s return. On Reddit, a fan of the series shared a screenshot of the post on Instagram, and a number of other fans commented with their thoughts on the matter. Viewers seem to be pretty excited about Barba’s return and what it could bring.

A fan on Reddit is on board, but doesn’t think they needed to share “such a dramatic photo” of Barba. “I’m all for it but they didn’t have to post such a dramatic photo 🤣,” a fan said.

Another says they’re “ecstatic” over the return of Barba. “I’m ecstatic over this, but the only thing I can focus on is how damn good he looks in this picture 😂,” they wrote.

A Reddit user admits to having been “so upset” when the character exited. “Ugh yesssss! I just watched his last episode the other day (I’ve been catching up) and I was so upset he was leaving the show 😭,” someone else wrote.

“God**** my biggest SVU crush for sure. Can’t wait to see him back!” a fan said.

Another admits it’s a “good move” and that they’re “hyped.”

One fan hopes the series doesn’t “destroy his character.” “I just hope they don’t destroy his character,” they said. “SVU has a habit of taking a machete to good, well-established characters.”

Fans on Instagram seem to be equally as excited as Reddit users. “😱 OMG! This is so exciting…. he was the best DA in the show,” a fan said. “It would be nice if he came back as a regular.”

One Instagram user said it’s the “best news” they’ve heard that day. “Yes!!!! Best news I’ve heard all day,” they said.

“2021 already looking better!!!” another fan weighed in.

Fans seem to be more than onboard for the return of Rafael Barba. We’ll have to see how it all plays out between him and Carisi in the courtroom on Law & Order: SVU.