NBC shared the news on their official Instagram account.
Fans of NBC's long(est)-running drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit officially have something big to look forward to in 2021. Next year, Raúl Esparza will reprise his role as ADA Rafael Barba. It is unclear how much screen time Esparza will actually have, but his return has fans elated, for sure.
"We've got something for you to look forward to," the post on NBC's official Instagram account read. "Barba returns to SVU in 2021."
Esparza joined the cast of SVU in Season 14 and departed midway through Season 19 when he was put on trial for murder by DA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston). In a crisis of faith, Barba disconnected the life support of an infant who's parents could not decide what to do for their child. Although he was found not guilty, Barba effectively stepped down from his post and was replaced by ADA Peter Stone (Philip Winchester).
Last season, Barba made a cameo when he Skyped with Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay). In the brief clip, he told her about his new gig - investigating voter fraud in Iowa. The scene gave fans hope for a full return. Now, they're getting that Christmas wish.
The writers have made it clear that there is a strong bond between Benson and Barba. Their passion for the job is undeniable, and it led them to forge a friendship. There's love there, for sure, but the question is - what kind? Olivia's struggle to find a permanent romantic partner is well-documented. Fans had always hoped for a love connection with now-former partner Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni). Despite Meloni's return to the Dick Wolf universe, it's relatively safe to say that it's not in the cards.
Will Benson and Barba make the connection, or is their love platonic? Hopefully this question will be answered in 2021.
- Matt Bishop