Demore Barnes, who had a surprisingly short tenure as a lead star on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, is returning to the long-running series in an upcoming episode. Barnes starred as Deputy Chief Christian Garland, who was introduced in Season 21. However, in September, his character was pushed out of the precinct during the Season 23 premiere.
On Monday, Barnes posted a dramatic photo of himself at the steps of the New York City courthouse used for exterior shots on SVU. "What? You didn't think there'd be an encore?" Barnes wrote in the caption. He included the hashtags "Christian Garland," "Not all heroes wear capes," and "see you soon." Give Me My Remote reported Barnes' return first. Deadline added Barnes would appear in the April 28 episode.
Garland's first appearance came in the Season 21 episode "Down Low in Hell's Kitchen," when he went undercover to help the team stop a serial racist targeting black men in gay bars. At the start of Season 22, Barnes was promoted to series regular, alongside Jamie Gray Hyder, who played Detective Kat Tamin. Barnes also appeared in an episode of Law & Order: Organized Crime.
Before Season 23 began, Barnes and Hyder confirmed they would be leaving the show even though they both wanted to stay. In a lengthy Instagram message to fans, Barnes said he was proud to play the first black deputy chief in the show's history and was thankful for the experience.
"What I know is that it is almost every actor's desired right of passage to appear on one episode of SVU, and yet here I am. I've not only gone on to do more than one episode, but I know I've done it with style," Barnes said in September. "I also know, now on the other side of our having made it through this past season of filming in the minefield of COVID with fear and without fallen colleagues, that I am honored and proud to have helped this storied franchise bridge its most difficult year in its record-breaking run, and that the show did it with style."
Barnes and Hyder made their final regular SVU appearances in the two-hour Season 23 premiere, "And The Empire Strikes Back/Never Turn Your Back on Them." Tamin left SVU after she was shot in the chest and decided she didn't think being an SVU detective was what she was meant to do. Captain Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) tried to convince her to stay but was unsuccessful. As for Barnes, he resigned after Chief Tommy McGrath (Terry Serpico) thought he was moving too slow on a high-profile case. Barnes' NYPD superiors also grew suspicious of him after he voiced support for reforming the police during Season 22.
Law & Order: SVU airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC, between the original Law & Order and Law & Order: Organized Crime. New episodes are available to stream on Peacock and Hulu.