• "Rafael Barba" was a fan-favourite on SVU
  • He left the show in season 19
  • Find out what he's been up to since

SVU fan-favourite "Rafael Barba" broke hearts when he departed in season 19.

"Barba" had debuted on SVU in season 14, when he got off to a rocky start with "Benson." The new ADA then left viewers stunned with his courtroom methods, which pressed traumatized victims just as hard as the accused. But his devoted ways grew on viewers and "Benson," who built chemistry (and romance rumours) with "Barba" over the years.

Actor Raul Esparza portrayed "Barba" until his season 19 exit. What's the star up to today — and what does his 2020 cameo on SVU mean for his future?

Law & Order: SVU: "Barba" actor Raul Esparza

Cuban American actor Raul Esparza was born in Delaware in 1970. The 51-year-old star is also known to viewers as the twisted "Dr. Frederick Chilton" on NBC's Hannibal and "Jackson Neill" on web series The Path.

Law & Order universe diehards may also recognize Esparza from single-episode appearances on Criminal Intent in 2009 and the main series in 2010. But if you haven't seen much of the actor on TV since he left SVU in 2018, that's no mistake.

When he quit SVU, Esparza said he was moving on to return to the stage, which was where he got his start as an acclaimed actor. In the last three years, he's been involved with multiple off-Broadway productions as well as a virtual celebration of Stephen Sondheim's work.

"Rafael Barba": His Law & Order: SVU future?

But "Barba" made a shocking reappearance on SVU in season 21, two years after he'd resigned from his position. In "Redemption in Her Corner," the former ADA, sporting a new beard, joined "Benson" for a video chat, which hinted at a possible reconnection between the pair.

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"Barba" didn't end up returning again in season 21, but it did wrap up several episodes early due to the pandemic. He is set to appear in one final episode of SVU in May 2022. 

Esparza also has a few recent and upcoming projects in the works! You can catch the actor in the 2022 mini-series Candy as "Don Crowder" and in the upcoming film Glimpse (2022) and series Retreat as "David" (2022).