Chicago P.D. fans have been waiting through a long hiatus following the premature end of Season 7, and not much news about the upcoming Season 8 has broken in the months since the finale back in April. Now, as the three One Chicago series gear up to resume filming again after the long break, one member of the Intelligence Unit is officially out. Lisseth Chavez, who joined Chicago P.D. in Season 7 as Officer Vanessa Rojas, will not return for Season 8.
Lisseth Chavez landed a new role on a show that couldn't be much more different than the dark and gritty Chicago P.D., and ET reports that the jump to Legends of Tomorrow over on The CW means that she'll be out of One Chicago on NBC. Despite Chavez's relatively short tenure on Chicago P.D., Rojas became a key member of the unit and forged some important relationships with some of her fellow cops.
So, with Chicago P.D. scheduled to kick off production on Season 8 in early October, let's take a look at what Chicago P.D. losing a member of Intelligence means for Season 8.
What It Means For Intelligence
The departure of Rojas may mean big things for the Intelligence Unit personally and practically. From a practical standpoint, Rojas joined in Season 7 to fill the vacant sixth spot in Voight's unit after the abrupt departure of Jon Seda as Antonio Dawson, who did not return after a cliffhanger ending in the Season 6 finale. Rojas was definitely not Antonio 2.0, but she evened out the numbers to guarantee that there could be three sets of partners at any given point, even if the partners occasionally switched up.
From a personal standpoint, Rojas went from a newbie in Intelligence who Voight wasn't even sure about keeping around to a trusted member of the team with a background that gave her a unique perspective on cases. Joining Intelligence meant getting involved in their heroics that went above and beyond as well as their shadiness. Losing somebody they trust and who fit in means they may need to start all over with somebody new, and that could be tricky considering how Season 7 ended.
What It Means For Atwater
Not all of Rojas' relationships were created equal within the Intelligence Unit, and she formed a strong bond with Atwater early on. Sparks flew between them before they even knew they were both undercover cops, and Atwater got her to open up about some of her difficult past while she adjusted to working with Intelligence. Chicago P.D. showrunner Rick Eid also teased a potential romance between them, which could have meant Atwater finally getting a major relationship after seven years.
Actor LaRoyce Hawkins even suggested that P.D. could "do something very different" and deliver a new kind of relationship with RoWater. Sadly, Lisseth Chavez's departure means those sparks flying between Rojas and Atwater won't be fanned into any kind of flames, and the bond they forged won't be an element in Season 8. The romance focus of Chicago P.D. seems to be shifting to Upstead, but at least the Season 7 finale guarantees that Atwater's story will have to remain important, even if he still doesn't get his relationship.
What It Means For Upton
The other strong bond that Rojas formed in Season 7 was with Upton, who took the rookie cop under her wing and into her home after they began working together. Despite her initial displeasure at being split up from her regular partnership with Halstead, they became fast friends and roommates. Speaking with CinemaBlend toward the end of Season 7, Tracy Spiridakos shared that Upton saw herself as a "big sister" to Rojas and just wanted to "be there for her and protect her."
Well, that backfired on Upton somewhat, when she crossed some lines to protect Rojas and got herself shipped off to the FBI (and FBI in the first NBC/CBS crossover of Dick Wolf shows), but the friendship was strong. Rojas' departure means that Upton will have lost a friend and roommate as well as coworker, and Rojas was arguably the closest person to Upton other than Halstead. While I could see Upton living alone actually opening P.D. up to more Upstead, I'm already sad that Upton will lose one of the very few people she has opened herself up to and P.D. will lose a complex character.
What It Means For Chicago P.D.
While the absence of Lisseth Chavez as Vanessa Rojas will should have a major impact on the storytelling for several key characters and plots, Chicago P.D. has some practical issues to address. First and foremost, Chicago P.D. has to find a reason for Rojas to no longer be around. Will she go back undercover, so deep that her Intelligence friends can't see her? Will she quit her job? Will she be killed off? Or will P.D. pull an Antonio and ship her off to Puerto Rico like Chicago Fire did with Gabby?
In all seriousness, I definitely hope Rojas won't be killed off, but the Season 7 finale did give the impression that any of the Intelligence cops who stood with Atwater would be in danger, and I don't imagine any of them would abandon him. In a perfect world, I would love to see Lisseth Chavez return as a guest star in early Season 8 for Rojas to get the sendoff that Antonio didn't, but I will settle for her just not being killed off.
Assuming P.D. wants to keep the numbers even for the cops under Voight in Intelligence, then another cop will have to be cast to join the unit. The show got by in Season 7 with five cops when Halstead was out of the action due to his gunshot wound and then when Burgess was recovering from her brutal miscarriage, but six cops means three sets of partners, and my money is on a new actor joining the cast.
With production starting in the not-too-distant future and the Season 8 premiere date approaching, hopefully more details will begin to release about what Chicago P.D. will look like with Lisseth Chavez as Vanessa Rojas. If you want to relive Rojas' days on P.D., you can find the full seventh season streaming on Peacock now. If you'd rather start at the beginning, you can find earlier seasons of Chicago P.D. streaming on Amazon.
Chicago P.D. is currently scheduled to premiere Season 8 on Wednesday, November 11 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC as the third hour of the One Chicago block, following the Season 9 premiere of Chicago Fire and the Season 6 premiere of Chicago Med. For some more viewing options now and in the coming weeks, check out our 2020 fall TV premiere schedule!