Will Chicago P.D. Build Up To Jesse Lee Soffer's Departure As Jay Halstead? The Showrunner Sheds Some Light

Although all three shows of NBC’s One Chicago had cliffhangers to resolve and questions to answer with their premieres on September 21, the biggest news of the franchise over hiatus was that Jesse Lee Soffer would be departing Chicago P.D. after ten seasons. Official details are scarce about the when, why, and how of Halstead leaving, but CinemaBlend spoke to P.D. showrunner Gwen Sigan about whether or not the cop drama will actually build to his exit. 

Gwen SIgan spoke with CinemaBlend about the new season, including how “messy” the dynamic would be between Voight, Upton, and Halstead as well as what the new theme of Season 10 means for the various characters of Intelligence. In light of Soffer’s upcoming departure, I asked the P.D. showrunner if Halstead’s exit will be built to over multiple episodes or more contained to one. She shared:

We will build to it, yes. We're kind of keeping it under wraps as far as when will it happen, but yeah, we're certainly going to build to it. I think the fans will understand, and it will make sense when they see the episode, where he actually is departing. But we tried to keep it as grounded and authentic to who Halstead is and what he's meant to this show for, gosh, a decade.

Chicago P.D. is less serialized than Chicago Fire and Chicago Med, so there was no guarantee that Season 10 would build to however Halstead leaves. While the show set the stage for exits like Lindsay’s and Antonio’s in earlier seasons, that wasn’t the case for Rojas between the end of Season 7 and beginning of Season 8. However P.D. says goodbye to Halstead, it won’t come out of nowhere. 

It should be interesting to compare how Chicago P.D. Season 10 says goodbye to Jesse Lee Soffer as Halstead to how Chicago Fire said goodbye to Jesse Spencer as Casey in early Season 10 last year. Their tenures in One Chicago will be approximately the same length, especially in light of Soffer debuting on Fire before P.D. had even premiered. Fire spent several episodes on Casey’s final storyline before he bowed out; what will P.D.’s build to Halstead’s swan song look like? 

Of course, the more pressing question on many fans’ minds might be how exactly Halstead bows out, as some possibilities are more tragic than others. It’s not unprecedented for Chicago P.D. to kill off even longtime series regulars, as viewers saw with Olinsky’s death at the end of Season 5. Halstead has such strong ties to Upton on P.D. and even his brother over on Chicago Med that it’s hard to imagine reasons why he would leave them without being killed off. 

“Hard to imagine” isn’t "impossible to imagine," however! It’s possible that Halstead would just transfer out of Intelligence and keep on working as a CPD cop off-screen, although that’s not my top bet. My pet theory is that he returns to the Army for some kind of mission that takes him off screen, which could explain why he’d leave his wife and brother without killing him off. 

Since the Season 10 premiere set up the discontent and upcoming “fallout” within Intelligence involving Halstead, Upton, and Voight, the coming weeks will presumably go on to set up far more of why he will leave. We can only speculate for now, and fans can hope for the best for the character. Gwen Sigan has faith that fans will understand, after all! 

Tune in the NBC on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET for new episodes of Chicago P.D. Season 10, following Chicago Fire (which featured Upton for a key reason in its season premiere) at 9 p.m. and Chicago Med (which set up a major Crockett storyline with a big cast departure) at 8 p.m. ET in the 2022 TV premiere schedule.

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. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).