Attorney Rafael Barba (Raúl Esparza) quit his job on Wednesday night's episode, effectively exiting the show.
The episode begins in typical fashion with a woman trying to find her son, who has been kidnapped by her husband. However the situation is resolved rather quickly, but there is with a twist.
The child is virtually braindead, with no vision, hearing or ability to breath on his own. His life is completely dependent on machines, and his mother has been trying to get a court order to have him euthanized. That is why the father took the child.
Barba is faced with the dilemma of possibly charging the father for kidnapping. As he talks to the mother and sees the child for himself, he agrees the child should be killed. He then does something no one expected: He turns off the child's life support machines, killing the child.
He is then tried for murder by attorney Peter Stone (Philip Winchester),who previously appeared on Chicago Justice, but is found not guilty after lengthy proceedings
After the trail, he chooses to resign and move on from his position against Jack McCoy's (Sam Waterston) wishes.
Esparza confirmed that this was, in fact, his exit from the show.
"Goodbye Barba," Esparza tweeted. "Thank you. You changed my life. My squad. And you, you always, my Liv, my friend Mariska. I will always treasure my time with all of you."
Former SVU showrunner Warren Leight also chimed in on the exit, complementing Barba's acting and wishing him the best.
"I love writing for Raúl Esparza -- no sentence, thought, cadence or scene beyond his ability," Leight wrote. "For years, my secret challenge was to try to write something he couldn't deliver. I never did. Le deseo toda clase de éxitos en sus esfuerzos (I wish you every success in your trans efforts)."
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.
Photo Credit: NBC / Michael Parmelee