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What Chicago P.D. Losing Jesse Lee Soffer As Jay Halstead Means For Season 10

Chicago P.D. Season 10 has already shaken up the Intelligence Unit, and the fall TV premiere season hasn’t even started yet. With a few weeks still to go before the three shows of One Chicago return to NBC, news broke that Jesse Lee Soffer will leave the show in the first half of the tenth season. He was not only a series regular from the very beginning, but also appeared as his character Jay Halstead on Chicago Fire back before P.D. had even premiered as a spinoff. 

The news of Soffer's departure came as a shock. Halstead has strong roots in Chicago and has kept evolving, even marrying Upton. Honestly, if I would have had to guess at a major character who would most easily lift out of the narrative at this point, I would have named Voight. Halstead has ties throughout One Chicago; Voight seemed to be tying off his own loose ends in the ninth season by agreeing to work more closely with Halstead, and the whole mess with Anna that ended in tragedy seemed like it could have resulted in Voight heading for the bench. Compared to Halstead, anyway! 

So, in light of all of the character's professional, personal, and romantic ties throughout the three Chicago shows, let’s look at what losing Jesse Lee Soffer as Jay Halstead means for Season 10. We can’t say too much with certainty without knowing how P.D. is writing him out, though, so let’s start with what is pretty much guaranteed.

Chicago PD Season 10 Halstead and Upton

(Image credit: NBC)

Intelligence Won’t Have An Even Number Of Cops

I was pretty excited about the news that Chicago P.D. was bringing back Benjamin Levy Aguilar after his guest appearance in a big Halstead episode of Season 9. Since there was no sign at the time that Halstead would be gone, Aguilar’s Officer Torres arriving seemed like it would mean an even number of cops working under Voight again, which could have meant three sets of partners instead of an odd man out. Now, it appears that Intelligence will be down to five: Upton, Atwater, Burgess, Ruzek, and Torres. R.I.P. to my dream of three sets of partners! And apparently Upton will need a new one.

Upton and Halstead in Chicago PD Season 10

(Image credit: NBC)

Jesse Lee Soffer Won't Hit The 200-Episode Milestone

Although neither NBC nor Soffer has officially confirmed just yet when his final episode will air, it will reportedly be in the first half of Season 10. With the episode count as of the end of Season 9 at 186, some basic math tells us that Chicago P.D. will hit 200 episodes in 2023, when Halstead will presumably already be long gone (however he’s written out). On the plus side, Soffer has easily hit 200 episodes between the One Chicago shows, as his appearances on both Chicago Fire and Chicago Med number in the double digits, but all signs point toward him missing the big milestone on P.D.

chicago pd voight and halstead season 9 nbc

(Image credit: NBC)

Intelligence Loses Its Second-In-Command

Although Halstead wasn’t officially second-in-command to Voight and actually holds the same rank of detective as Upton, it’s pretty clear who held the unofficial title. Even Voight himself envisioned Halstead taking over one day just a few seasons ago. Upton is the logical one to step up next, since she also holds the rank of detective and was part of the new status quo with him and Halstead after the Roy mess.

It would be nice to finally see Atwater (or any of the others) promoted to detective, but there could be a leadership void under Voight. Depending on how her husband exits, Upton may not be in the best emotional place to pick up extra responsibilities. Who would be, if the worst should happen? 

Now, let’s move into some of what can only be guessed until we know how exactly Chicago P.D. is explaining Halstead’s absence despite all of his One Chicago roots.

Halstead and Upton in Chicago PD Season 10 squad room

(Image credit: NBC)

Halstead And Upton Will Be Separate

Even if we assume the absolute best-case scenario for what’s up with Upstead and imagine that Halstead is just hanging out and fighting crime off-screen, the two will certainly be more separate than ever before. Even when she was partnered with Rojas, they still worked out of the same unit… and pretty much still worked as partners a lot of the time. And even when she was sent to New York for the FBI crossover, she and Halstead kept in contact over the phone.

Plus, if we assume a less-than-best-case scenario, then Upton is almost certainly in for some heartache. Killing Halstead off would make her a widow less than a year after getting married and finally finding joy, but I’m hoping that P.D. finds a less permanent way to say goodbye to him. After all, Chicago P.D. is already the darkest and heaviest of the three One Chicago shows, and the last thing that it needs is to get even darker by killing off Jay Halstead and definitively ending what grew into the biggest relationship of the show with no chance of reunion.

chicago pd halstead voight upton season 9

(Image credit: NBC)

Chicago P.D. Historically Lets Major Characters Live

Let's look back in time for some hope! With Olinsky as a notable exception, P.D. does tend to write out major characters without killing them off. Sure, Rojas being written off between seasons still has me asking questions, and I was actually joking about Antonio’s absence being explained by sending him off to Puerto Rico to be with his sister before that was confirmed in Season 7, but they both lived, as did Erin Lindsay. Since Halstead dying would also affect Chicago Med, I’m going to cross my fingers that there’s another way of writing him out. 

There is still the problem of finding a reason why he would suddenly be absent despite his close ties to Upton and his brother over on Med. My ideal is that he returns to the Army for some kind of overseas mission that he alone can complete. Does that make sense as something that could actually happen in real life, or even with the generous rules of TV land? I have no idea, but it could explain his absence without killing him off or forcing him to abandon his loved ones. This show will never be as comparatively light as Fire or Med, but it doesn’t need to get any darker!

Chicago Med Will Halstead

(Image credit: NBC)

Bonus: Will Halstead Will Be Missing His Brother

Even though Will Halstead is a series regular over on Chicago Med and the Halstead brothers haven’t interacted on screen as much over the past couple of seasons, Jay is his only close family member in the city. Whether Jay is killed off or walks out or goes back to the Army for some unforeseen reason, Will presumably won't have his brother around. That won’t change P.D., but could make a difference for Med.

So, what will Chicago P.D. look like without Jesse Lee Soffer? Find out when Season 10 returns, with the premiere on Wednesday, September 21 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, although Halstead will still be around for some episodes. If you want to revisit earlier days of One Chicago, you can find the shows 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.