Chicago P.D. Boss And Stars Talk The Importance Of Family And Home For The Characters In Season 9

Chicago P.D. has spent the better part of a decade digging into some of the most complex crimes that the Windy City has to offer, and most of the cast has been around from the very beginning. In Season 9, the show has started to spend more time with the characters at home and in their personal lives rather than almost entirely in the precinct. According to showrunner Gwen Sigan, embracing the theme of “home” was a goal for Season 9, and she along with stars Jason Beghe and Marina Squerciati opened up about the increased importance of family for the show. 

As of the second half of Season 9, Upton and Halstead are married, Burgess and Ruzek are co-parenting Makayla successfully (or at least they were before “dire consequences” were on the way), and even Atwater got a love interest after seasons without much romance. Tracy Spiridakos previously weighed in on her character finding a family within the Intelligence Unit. In honor of the upcoming One Chicago Day, Jason Beghe, Marina Squerciati, and showrunner Gwen Sigan spoke with CinemaBlend and other outlets, and Beghe – who plays Voight – shared:

I find it interesting because me as an actor, for this particular show, I always felt I wanted to stay more with the job, and less with the going home. But what I like about what we've done this season, is that we’ve gone home in a way that informs the job. And I think that because it's Chicago P.D., it's not Chicago Policemen At Home. But you know, police officers are human beings, and they have a home. And I find this filling out the picture in a way that I consider interesting and responsible. I mean, Voight, obviously, is still kind of alone, but his family is the unit and they're all being affected by their home lives, and that's affecting his home life, which would probably be the district or the station. So it's something that continues to happen, and it makes it interesting. I hope for the audience, but definitely for me as an actor, and I think for all of us, is that it gives us different layers to play, which is fun. And I hope it's interesting. I think it is, at least on the page. And from what I've seen.

Voight may not have much of a home life compared to some of the others, but P.D. has shown some ways that cases have affected him personally, such as with the C.I. Anna. He was also in a sort of triangle with Upton and Halstead in the first half of Season 9, although it certainly (and thankfully) wasn’t a love triangle with the aftermath of Roy’s death! The ratings have held up for Season 9, so it seems safe to say that viewers are also finding this approach with more home and family interesting as well. Marina Squerciati, who plays Burgess, shared her thoughts:

I also think that there's a nice family dynamic on set. And I always feel self-conscious saying this in press because it feels like a line or something, that we're supposed to be like, 'Tell them you all get along and you're like family.' But we really do, and I think Jason's at the helm of that. He cares so much about the show, and he cares about us. It's just a really cool... it's not exactly the way it is on screen, but there is sort of something reflected and I think that really helps the show, that we're this family and Jason's sort of guiding all of us in certain ways.

Honestly, it’s probably a good thing for the actors that their family dynamic on set is “not exactly the way it is on screen,” considering everything that their characters go through. Burgess alone has faced enough troubles and tragedies that it’s impressive that she can even keep going in the job, and the rest of the characters haven’t had easy rides either. Ruzek didn’t handle Makayla’s kidnapping well, and it wasn’t that long ago that Upton had to jump into the Chicago River in freezing temperatures. Throw in Atwater trying to live a double life and Halstead having to cross a line to blackmail an FBI agent, and the cops of Intelligence don’t exactly live uneventful lives at work or at home. 

Gwen Sigan, who was promoted to showrunner after Rick Eid (who is now showrunner on the Law & Order revival and CBS’ FBI) stepped down in late 2021, explained why P.D. is exploring home and family more in Season 9: 

We definitely made it a conscious choice this season. We always pick sort of a theme or word in the writers room before we start writing, and this year it was 'home.' So it very naturally fell out that we would go home with our characters more and see their relationships. It helps that so many of them are in relationships with each other, so we can easily bring it back to the district. And like Jason said, we have tried very hard to always keep it part of the A story and part of the police storytelling that when we go home, it is linked to whatever case we're working on. And so far, it's worked. It's been fun to write for sure.

Since this is Chicago P.D., it’s not always the best news for the characters if their home lives are linked to the cases that they’re working on, but it certainly makes for some thrilling TV! Besides, good can come out of even some of the darker personal stories. Upstead’s marriage might not have happened when it did if not for Upton’s panicked initial proposal, and Makayla’s kidnapping doesn’t take away from Burgess coming to love her after taking her in as her own. I just hope that Atwater catches a break in his personal life – or is promoted to detective, as LaRoyce Hawkins has suggested – at some point.

New episodes of Chicago P.D. air on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, closing out a full night of action with Chicago Fire (which will soon deliver a big episode for Joe Minoso’s Cruz) at 9 p.m. and Chicago Med (which hasn’t held back with the Maggie storylines for Marlyne Barrett) at 8 p.m. April 6 is also One Chicago Day, and fans can look forward to some fun releases starting at 3 p.m. ET on the One Chicago YouTube page. If you want to revisit some earlier days of Chicago P.D., you can find the series streaming with a Peacock subscription.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.