Chicago PD: Here's Why Jay Left the Show

By Klein Felt Posted:
Chicago PD Jay

The latest season of Chicago PD explained why series mainstay Jay left the show after over a decade. 

Jay (played by Jesse Lee Soffer) has been a part of the hit NBC procedural since the beginning. He was a former army ranger before starting work as a senior detective in the windy city and became one of the figureheads of the fan-favorite drama

However, in Season 10, it was revealed the character would be leaving the series after becoming disillusioned with the force. 

Why Did Jay Leave Chicago PD?

Jesse Lee Soffer as Jay Halstead in Chicago PD

Jesse Lee Soffer's Jay Halstead was last seen in Chicago PD in Season 10, Episode 3 (which aired in October 2022) before leaving the show. 

Soffer's character resigned from the police force after no longer believing he could take the emotional and physical toll the job was putting on him.

This came following the shocking death of Elias Koteas' Senior Detective, Alvin Olinsky, and Jon Seda's Senior Detective, Antonio Dawson's resignation.

Without the companionship of some of his longtime friends and coworkers, Jay feels his detective work weighs on him. 

He eventually leaves, becoming disillusioned with the grey area he is forced to work in as a member of Chicago's Intelligence Unit. 

He then lives in Bolivia, rejoining the Army as a part of their narcotics program. The last fans see of him, he is headed to the South American nation where he will be hunting down some of the globe's biggest drug cartels. 

Jay was mentioned again in Season 11; it is revealed he and Detective Hailey Upton Halstead (played by Tracy Spiridakos) had divorced while she stuck around in Chicago. 

Hailey and Jay first married in Season 9 but split because of the distance between them, which resulted from his departure from the force and Chicago. 

The Real World Reasons for Jay Leaving Chicago PD

While the Chicago PD team did everything they could to have Jesse Lee Soffer's departure from the show as Jay make sense in-universe, it was not a decision they made lightly. 

The character left the series after 10 seasons because Soffer himself was done with the NBC drama. 

In a 2023 conversation with Variety, Soffer told the outlet, "There’s no good answer" for why he left other than he was "ready for more."

This would make sense for anyone who has worked in the same job for nearly a decade and wants to expand their creative horizons.

Soffer added that there is not much more room to "shift or transform:"

"Eventually, you know the character so well, there’s not much that can shift or transform."

"If I signed up again, it would have been for another three years," he continued, adding that he loves his fans and is grateful for the series:

"I really wanted to grow and expand, and we’ve only got this one trip. If I signed up again, it would have been for another three years. I would have turned 40 on the show. I thought, 'You know what? It’s time to take a risk.' It was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make in my life. Let’s be honest: I love the fans of our show so much, and I love my fans. I know that they’re still grieving this, and to some degree, I am too."

Chicago PD has already been renewed for a twelfth season, with more expected beyond that. 

While the door is likely always open for Suffor (and, in turn, Jay) to return at some point, the actor and character need some time away after working nonstop on the series since 2014. 

Chicago PD is streaming now on Peacock.

Read more about Chicago PD on The Direct:

Is Voight Leaving Chicago PD? Jason Beghe's Future on the Show, Revealed

Who Is Bojana Novakovic? 4 Things to Know About Chicago PD Actress

Full Cast of Chicago P.D. 2024 - Season 11 Main Characters & Actors (Photos)

- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.