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A Fan-Favorite Law & Order: SVU Character Is Returning This Season

Season 23 of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" is more than halfway through, but that doesn't mean NBC doesn't still have a few tricks up its sleeve. According to reports, there's a former fan-favorite that's set to return to "SVU" in the near future, and it's someone who left the show in a pretty controversial way.

Since its inception, "SVU" has been a series fueled by the viewers' relationship with the on-screen cops, legal pros, and victims they deal with. Main stars Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni, aka Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler, led the way as the show's lead detectives for over a decade until Meloni's exit in 2011. Hargitay is still doing her thing on the long-running police procedural, but a number of other characters have also come and gone over the years.

But, just like any great crime drama, never say never when it comes to a person showing back up again on "SVU." Case in point: The return of a beloved SVU deputy chief fans had to say goodbye to last year.

Demore Barnes is back as Christian Garland

According to Deadline, actor Demore Barnes will be returning to "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" for at least one episode despite his character, Deputy Chief Christian Garland, being written off the show back in September 2021. At the time of his reported dismissal, Barnes expressed dismay by his character's (and, by extension, his) sudden exit from the NBC procedural. "While I know you were happy that I was here ... I also know you're sad and surprised — and I am too," Barnes explained in an Instagram video to his followers at the time of his departure. "I don't totally know why this happened," he added.

From Barnes' debut on "SVU" in Season 21 to his departure after the premiere of Season 23, both Barnes and his character played integral roles on the NBC drama. Not only did Barnes portray the first Black deputy chief in the history of the series, but Garland was also a major fan-favorite who tried to bring change to the force. "Both Garland and I were so very well-loved and embraced by [the fans] from Day 1," Barnes said on Instagram in 2021.

In a March 21 post, the actor posted a picture of himself in character as Chief Garland and wrote: "What? You didn't think there'd be an encore? #svu #christiangarland #notallhereoswearcapes #seeyousoon." According to Deadline, the episode in which Barnes will return airs on Thursday, April 28.