Will Jesse Lee Soffer return to Chicago PD?

CHICAGO P.D. -- "A Good Man" Episode 1003 -- Pictured: Jesse Lee Soffer as Jay Halstead -- (Photo by: Lori Allen/NBC)
CHICAGO P.D. -- "A Good Man" Episode 1003 -- Pictured: Jesse Lee Soffer as Jay Halstead -- (Photo by: Lori Allen/NBC) /

Chicago PD fans are finally getting an answer from Jesse Lee Sofer on why he left his role as Jay Halstead…and if he’ll ever return.

Even before Chicago PD aired, Jay Halstead was a cop on Chicago Fire who was soon recruited into the Intelligence Unit. Since then, Jay has been a key character, always there for his fellow cops and managing a relationship, including marriage, with fellow detective Hailey Upton (Tracy Spiridakos).

However, early in Season 10, Halstead got involved with a case of former army veterans turning to crime. He was forced to kill one, with Hank and Hailey ready to help make it look like self-defense. Rather than have them cover up his crime, Jay admitted to his bosses what really happened, then turned in his badge to re-enlist in the military.

The key question for fans was why Soffer would leave the role so suddenly. In a recent interview with Variety, he finally answered the question.

"“I’ve thought so hard about how to answer this question — and there’s no good answer. Except I was ready for more. 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.”"

Soffer also acknowledged how fans are upset at Jay’s behavior, especially how he seemed to have cut off all contact with his wife. That has shaken Upton, especially when she called Jay only to learn from his superior officer that he had re-upped his tour. Soffer knew fans would be upset but insists it’s not his call.

"“I know the fans are upset be­cause, like, ‘This isn’t the Jay that we know and love! Why isn’t he calling? Why is he doing this?!’ But, you know, the show must go on. I don’t think I really have the right to feel any way about that. The writers have to do what they have to do to service the story and the characters that are still there. Also, our show’s pretty dark, and they love diving into the ugliest, hardest version of life. So for Hailey to have to go through this, it probably just made sense.”"

Fans are still hopeful for Jay to return, if only to wrap up the plotline with Hailey. Thankfully, Soffer seems open to that.

Will Jay ever return to Chicago PD?

Soffer did make a return to Chicago PD, directing an upcoming episode that may air in March.

Soffer talked in the interview about how happy he was about the cast, noting how they bonded filming in the tough Chicago weather. When he was asked if the door was closed to a return, his answer was clear.

"“Definitely not. Never say never. I feel so bad for the fans that are like, ‘Is he going to come back?’ ‘What’s he going to do?’ ‘What’s going on with him and Hailey?’ I like to think — and I hope the fans think this too — that he’s just in another country right now, doing what he does best and making the world a safer place. In a family, sometimes somebody moves away or goes to college somewhere else. I still love it. I still love the fans. And I still love Halstead. Halstead’s always going to be in my blood. That’s never going to change.”"

Fans can thus be hopeful Jay does return to Chicago PD as Soffer himself seems open for another chance on the hit drama.

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Chicago PD airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on NBC and streaming on Peacock.