One “Law & Order: SVU” ADA may be gone, but another is making a triumphant return

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 18: (L-R) Actor BD Wong, comedian Richard Belzer and actress Stephanie March arrive at the "2003 Creative Coalition Spotlight Awards" at Sotheby's New York November 18, 2003 in New York City. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)

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“Law & Order SVU” has been breaking viewer hearts for nearly two decades.

There are the harrowing tales of sexually based offenses — which are considered especially heinous — the personal struggles of Lt. Olivia Benson and her close-knit team and, of course, the revolving door of assistant district attorneys who insist on leaving audiences heartbroken by going just as we’ve come to love them. (Here’s looking at you, Barba.)

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“I am delighted to be on the ‘SVU’ set again,” said Stephanie March, 43, to PEOPLE magazine. “The show is such a meaningful part of my life, and I get to see two people I have missed dearly — Mariska Hargitay and Alex Cabot.”

That’s right — Assistant District Attorney Alex Cabot is coming back to (hopefully) kick criminal ass and take names, NBC confirmed in an announcement Monday.

“It is a thrill to welcome Stephanie back to the SVU family, even for a short visit,” said executive producer Michael Chernuchin in a statement. “She is and will always be part of SVU’s DNA.” March’s ADA Cabot worked alongside, and sometimes against, the SVU team for four seasons, before the character’s death was faked and she was put into Witness Protection. ADA Cabot reemerged in Season 13 but hasn’t been seen since, until now. According to a synopsis for Stephanie March’s special guest appearance, she and Mariska Hargitay’s Lt. Benson will will be crossing paths during a search for an abducted woman.

This makes for some good news after long-time cast member Raúl Esparza left the series after six seasons as ADA Rafael Barba.

The 47-year-old stepped into the ADA role in Season 14 as a recurring character before being bumped to series regular in Season 15. ADA Barba was the squad’s fourth full-time ADA, one of only three male ADAs in the show’s 19-season history — Harry Connick Jr. and Linus Roache both had four-episode stints — and was the the second longest running ADA in the franchise after Diane Neal’s Casey Novak.

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According to Entertainment Weekly, Esparza exited the show to return to his roots on Broadway to star in a revival of the musical “Chess” at the Kennedy Center.

“I’ve done six seasons; I felt like it was time to go,” Esparza told EW. “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.”

With so many returning faces, we can’t wait to find out who else might be popping up now that Olivia Benson  — never leave us! — heads her team in its 19th (and counting) season.

What do you think?

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