'Law & Order: SVU' Actor Raul Esparza Confirms Exit

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit said goodbye to one fan favorite character.

Assistant District Attorney Rafael Barba shockingly quit his job during Wednesday's episode of the long running NBC crime series.

Shortly after the episode, Raul Esparza took to Twitter to confirm his exit from the show.

"Goodbye Barba. 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," the actor tweeted.

During Wednesday's episode Barba found himself in trouble after he chooses to unplug a virtually brain dead baby.

He finds himself tried for murder, but is found not guilty. The case proves too traumatic, however, as Barba decides to quit his job at the end of the episode.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Esparza has played the role of Barba since season 14. The exit will move for Chicago Justice alum Philip Winchester, who played Chicago-based ASA Peter Stone, to join SVU as an ADA. Winchester made his debut in Wednesday's episode and has now been promoted to series regular for season 19 and beyond.

"It has truly been an honor writing for Raul. The power, sensitivity and morality he brought to the character of Rafael Barba never failed to elevate our scripts," showrunner Michael Chernuchin said in a statement. "Raul is family and we look forward to seeing his talent shine in new projects. As for Barba, SVU fans may see him again soon."

Esparza's exit comes after an emotional episode that saw the return of Law & Order mothership veteran Sam Waterston to SVU.

"I've got to move on," Barba told Mariska Hargitay's Lt. Olivia Benson before a tearful embrace. According to Chernuchin's statement, that might not be the last time Barba is seen on the series — but it's unclear what "soon" means, exactly, and in what context he would be back.

SVU will return with all new episodes Wednesday Feb. 28 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.