'Law & Order: SVU': Where Is "Rafael Barba" Today?

Law & Order: SVU: "Rafael Barba" Today
September 5, 2020 - 10:45 / Lucas Anderson

Law & Order: SVU fans were sad to see ADA "Rafael Barba" exit the show in season 19 after a strong five-season run. "Barba" was known for his intense methods as a prosecutor as well as for his unique bond with "Olivia Benson." Where is actor Raul Esparza today? And did his SVU cameo in season 21 hint at a possible return to the series?

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 49-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.

Raul Esparza as "Dr. Chilton" on Hannibal.

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.

Law & Order: SVU - "Barba" (Raul Esparza) and "Benson" (Mariska Hargitay)

"Barba" didn't end up returning again in season 21, but it did wrap up several episodes early due to the pandemic. Nothing has been confirmed at this time either, but fans will certainly still have "Barba" on the mind when season 22 arrives on NBC this fall.

Esparza also had a guest spot on CBS's The Good Fight in 2020, so a TV return for the actor could be on the way.