Former Law & Order: Special Victims star returning this year

Demore Barnes
Demore Barnes returning as Chief Christian Garland on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Pic credit: NBC

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit brings back a familiar face once again. 

Demore Barnes will reprise his role as former Deputy Chief Christian Garland in an upcoming Season 23 episode. While details are being kept under wraps, it promises to wrap up Garland’s story and be a good return for fans. 

Chief Garland’s rise and fall on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

Debuting in the Season 21 episode Down Low In Hell’s Kitchen, Christian Garland proved himself by going undercover to help the SVU team track a predator targeting gay men. 

A happily married father, Garland handled the leadership of SVU, able to navigate the politics of the job alongside some tough cases. That included Garland’s Baptism By Fire, where Garland discovered an old preacher friend was a suspect in a case. 

In Season 22, Garland became disillusioned by the NYPD’s treatment of minority suspects. When he spoke out publicly, Garland was unprepared for a backlash by the upper brass that threatened to end his career. 

Season 22 ended with Garland being pushed toward a desk job but vowing to fight back. But the Season 23 premiere had Garland hung out to dry by his superiors in a public row. Finally, deciding nothing was going to change, he resigned.

This was part of a shocking dismissal by the show of both Barnes and Jamie Gray Hyder, who played Detective Kat Tamin, who also left in the Season 23 premiere. 

That seemed to be the last of Garland, but it appears he’s returning.

Barnes posted an image on his Instagram feed confirming the return, writing, “What? You didn’t think there’d be an encore?”

Why is Garland returning to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit?

Garland SVU
Demore Barnes as Chief Garland on Law & Order: SVU Pic credit: NBC

The website Give Me My Remote was the first to break the news of Garland returning, although no further details are available as to why the character returns. 

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has brought back some past faces this year. The 500th episode had Danny Pino reprising his role of Nick Amaro. It also had a cameo from Dann Florek as Donald Cragen, who will appear in an upcoming episode of Law & Order Organized Crime. 

In September, Barnes had spoken in an Instagram post on his dismissal to cite how leaving was not his decision. 

“There are things I know and things I don’t. 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.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Do not hear that I was just happy to be here, that’s not what I’m saying. Because while I know you’re happy I was here, and I’m happy I was here, I also know you’re sad and surprised, and I am too. I don’t totally know why this has happened, but, I also know that I hope. I hope Wolf Entertainment’s leadership in giving me the opportunity to amplify a vital voice in the story will result in many studios continuing to open doors of opportunity for others to do the same.”

His return indicates that whatever bad blood there might have been between Barnes and the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit showrunners have been settled. It’s possible Barnes has insight into a case or became an advocate for police reform to clash with the team.

If nothing else, it will be good for fans to see Garland once more and hopefully do justice to his character.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 23 returns with new episodes Thursday, April 7 at 9/8c on NBC.

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