Chicago PD, Jay Halstead
Credit: NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

It’s been less than a year since he resigned from the 21st district, yet fans still have questions left for Detective Halstead. Mainly: Is Jay Halstead coming back to Chicago P.D.? His return could answer a lot of lingering questions.

Chicago P.D. is NBC’s drama series following the personal and professional lives of patrol officers and Intelligence Unit detectives at the Intelligence Unit of Chicago Police Department’s fictional 21st District. The show is a spinoff of Chicago Fire, Chicago Med and Chicago Justice, which exist in the same universe. Jesse Lee Soffer played Senior Detective Jay Halstead, a former Army Ranger who works as a detective in the Intelligence Unit. He’s also the older brother of Dr. Will Halstead, an attending physician at the Gaffney Chicago Medical Center, on Chicago Med.

Halstead left Chicago P.D. in season 10, episode 3 after almost a decade with the 21st District. With so many questions still unanswered — what will happen to Hailey?! — it’s understandable why fans want to know if Jay Halstead is returning to Chicago P.D. to finish what he started. Read on what we know about if Jay Halstead is returning to Chicago P.D. and why Jesse Lee Soffer left in the first place.

Is Jay Halstead returning to Chicago P.D.?

Chicago PD, Jay Halstead

Is Jay Halstead coming back to Chicago P.D.? The answer is no. At least, not yet. However, he did almost make an appearance in season 10, episode 16, “Deadlocked,” which Jesse Lee Soffer — who played Halstead from seasons 1 to 10 of Chicago P.D. — directed. “There are a couple of screens where I thought about doing that. Like, what if I just walked through the background with my back to the camera? Would someone know it was me?” Soffer told Deadline in March 2023. “There are a couple of scenes where I’m literally right around the corner from where they’re filming, watching on the monitors. So, I am sort of there.”

Soffer’s last episode of Chicago P.D. was season 10, episode 3, “A Good Man,” which saw him leave Chicago — and his wife, Hailey Upton — to go on a mission to take down the cartel in Bolivia with the United States Army. The episode ended with Hailey learning on a phone call from Halstead’s boss that he’s extended his trip, despite telling her that he wanted to make their relationship work. While he wasn’t in the episode. Soffer told Entertainment Tonight in 2023 that he “totally” missed acting alongside his former Chicago P.D. co-stars. “As far as that, never say never,” Soffer said when asked if he would ever return to Chicago P.D. “Halstead’s always going to be in my blood. It was 10 years as that guy. I love that cast and that crew so much because you have to be a family. You’re working in rugged conditions in the winter and you’re trying to crank these episodes out and there’s 20 of them or 22 of them every year. And you go through all the blood, sweat and tears together. So it was fun to get to be on the other side of things and to play that game with everybody.”

Soffer also told Variety in 2023 that the door is “definitely not” closed on a return from him on Chicago P.D. “Definitely not,” he said. “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.” Soffer also confirmed to Us Weekly in 2023 that he’d “never say never” to coming back as Halstead. “Halstead’s totally in my blood and always will be so, never say never,” he said. “But I’m taking it one day at a time just like everybody else.” He also told the magazine that he’s “not opposed” to directing more episodes of Chicago P.D. either. “Not opposed to it,” he said, confirming “there haven’t been” any conversations yet for him to return as a director. “I’m definitely interested in scratching that itch more and learning more and having more directing experience, so not opposed to it. We’ll see,” he said.

“Deadlocked,” which was Soffer’s first-ever time directing, followed Halstead’s boss, Sergeant Henry “Hank” Voight, as he went “off the rails.” “This was the perfect episode for me to direct,” Soffer told Deadline. “I love this episode because it was like a throwback episode to old-school PD with Voight going off the rails, Man on Fire kind of stuff, vigilante stuff, and living in the gray area off the books. That’s the story we’ve been telling, especially the foil between Halstead and Voight, for so long—it’s something I really know deeply. So to get to do that kind of story with Jason was really fun.” Of directing his “tight-knit” cast, Soffer told Deadline, “It was like I never left. We were hanging out and we were goofing off, then we’re cameras rolling and we’re working bringing the scenes to life. We have one of— probably the hardest working crew and cast in TV—I feel confident saying that. It was great to be with everybody.”

As for if he plans to direct full-time, Soffer confirmed to Deadline that acting is still is main “passion.” “No, it’s not a career shift because I love acting. Acting is definitely my passion,” he said. “I think around midway through P.D., like season four, season five, I started going, ‘Oh, I really have an idea in my head about how these scenes should get played or how we should shoot them.’ Jason and I would be working some scenes out and figuring out how to elevate what’s on the page and make it come to life in the location. Tracy [Spiridakos] started doing that, and everybody else there, too. And I was thinking I can do this; I’d like to try. And that just grew until I finally felt like I was ready. I’m grateful to Dick Wolf and everybody there for giving me this opportunity.”

Why did Jesse Lee Soffer leave Chicago P.D.?

Chicago PD, Jay Halstead

Why did Jesse Lee Soffer leave Chicago P.D.? Soffer explained to Variety in 2023 that he left the show after 10 seasons because he wanted “more” as an actor. “I’ve thought so hard about how to answer this question — and there’s no good answer. Except I was ready for more,” Soffer said when asked why he left Chicago P.D.  “Eventually, you know the character so well, there’s not much that can shift or transform.”

Despite the limitations of playing the same role for 10 seasons, Soffer told Variety that he was thankful to Halstead’s storyline in season 9 of Chicago Fire, which saw him marry Hailey Upton, another detective at the 21st District’s Intelligence Unit, and become the second in command to Sergeant Hank Voight. Still, it wasn’t enough to stay for another full season. “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,’” Soffer said. “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 told TV Insider in March 2023 that the “long hours” and “10-month commitment” that came filming Chicago P.D. were also reasons behind his exit. “What does more look like? This. You want to grow and playing the same character… An episodic TV show is 10 months of a commitment every year and it’s really long hours and it’s difficult work,” he said. “It’s really rewarding work and very fulfilling work. But at some point, you know that character so well, and as an actor, you want to do other stuff and you want to grow and you want to stretch and you want to keep learning. If we stop learning, what’s the point? And I really wanted to see if I could direct and learn and I got that opportunity to shadow. So I’m doing it. That’s what this is right now. You want to grow. You don’t want to stop growing.”

Despite leaving Chicago P.D., Soffer confirmed to Entertainment Tonight in March 2023 that he doesn’t plan to retire as an actor any time soon. “I’m an actor first and foremost, and I love acting. And that’ll always be a passion for me. But it’s definitely something new that I’m interested in and I think is fascinating,” Soffer said. “And I’ve had a growing itch to do it and to learn more about it for a while. So I’m grateful that I’m getting to scratch that itch.”

Chicago P.D. airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC.

For more more on the One Chicago franchise, check out our photo gallery of Chicago Fire stars and their real-life loves