Chicago P.D.: Every major character exit and how they impacted the show, ranked

Chicago P.D. exits
Sophia Bush, Elias Koteas, and Brian Geraghty as their exiting characters from Chicago P.D. Pic credit: NBC

It’s little surprise that a show that’s lasted nine seasons has seen its cast shift a few times. While several members of Chicago P.D. have been around since the series premiered in 2013, the show has undergone some cast exits.

Some were under better circumstances than others as actors moved on, while in other cases, the characters themselves seemed to reach the limits of story potential.

It’s telling what kind of characters have gotten dramatic and often sad exits while others had softer farewells. In at least one case, there was no on-screen exit at all, simply writing off the character suddenly. 

While several recurring characters have met sudden fates, it’s more dramatic when it’s a major character on the show, including the bigger cast members.

We’ve made a ranking list below of the biggest character exits from Chicago P.D.

As you’ll see, some characters had a better send-off than others, but all of them impacted the cop drama in different ways. 

9. Vanessa Rojas

Vanessa On PD
Lisseth Chavez as Vanessa Rojas on Chicago P.D. cast for Season 7. Pic credit: NBC

The annoying part of Vanessa Rojas’ exit was there wasn’t one. 

In Season 7, Episode 2, Assets, Atwater is on an undercover job and hits it off with a bartender. However, when a deal ends with guns drawn, the Intelligence Unit realizes they’ve stumbled onto another sting operation, and the “bartender” is a rookie cop herself.

Lisseth Chavez was good in the role, showcasing Rojas as a foster kid who was even homeless, so Upton took her under her wing as a roommate. There were hints of a romance between her and Atwater before the show went on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

In the off-season, Chavez left to join the cast of the CW’s Legends of Tomorrow. When Season 8 began, there was no explanation for Rojas being gone. In fact, to hear the characters talk, it was as if she’d never been on the show in the first place. 

To not even explain her absence after featuring her so much in Season 7 wasn’t fair to Rojas or Chavez. 

8. Antonio Dawson

Jon Seda as Antonio Dawson on Chicago P.D. cast.
Jon Seda as Antonio Dawson on Chicago P.D. cast. Pic credit: NBC

Already a veteran TV actor, Jon Seda was well-cast as Antonio Dawson. While having a temper at times, he was cool under pressure to aid the other cops while balancing his married life. 

Able to put Voight in his place, Dawson also aided sister Gabby on Chicago Fire. He then hit the trifecta by starring in the short-lived Chicago Justice spin-off.

In Season 6, Dawson developed an addiction to painkillers. It began affecting his work, leading to his daughter being kidnapped. When the abductor mocked him, Dawson shoved him out a window. That drove him back into drug use.

The Season 7 premiere had Dawson missing off-screen, with it finally explained that Voight had forced Antonio to check into rehab. A later episode revealed he’d moved to Puerto Rico to be with his family. 

It would have been nicer for Seda to get an on-screen goodbye, but at least the door is open for a possible return down the line. 

7. Sheldon Jin

Sheldon Jin
Archie Kao as Sheldon Jin in Chicago P.D. Season 1. Pic credit: NBC

Newer fans of Chicago P.D. may be surprised by Sheldon Jin’s prominent presence in Season 1. 

While almost never going into the field, Sheldon was the Unit’s tech wiz, always ready to help with his hacking and making sure their undercover identities were intact. 

Archie Kao made Sheldon a loveable character, possessing a nice sense of humor. That’s what made it shocking when it was revealed Sheldon was the mole for Internal Affairs officer Stillwell. 

Jin was forced into it to get money for his sick father and hated it as he knew Hank, for all his faults, was a good cop. The Season 1 finale shockingly had his dead body found in a trunk in an attempt to frame Hank.

Voight managed to prove Stillwell was the true killer to have him arrested, yet knocking off a key member of the Unit was a shocking move for the show. 

6. Julie Wilhite

Melissa Sagemiller
Melissa Sagemiller in the pilot for Chicago P.D. Pic credit: NBC

Chicago P.D. began as a “backdoor pilot” in Season 1 of Chicago Fire. While many characters made it to the regular series, a few didn’t. 

Julie Wilhite was introduced as Dawson’s partner, played by Melissa Sagemiller. She seemed a good balance to Erin Lindsay as a strong cop, tougher than she appeared.

The actual first episode of Chicago P.D. built on that, showing Wilhite with her husband and kids before going into the field and Sagemiller in the opening credits. As it turned out, the producers were setting the audience up for a turn.

As she and Dawson went after a perp, Wilhite was shot, the bullet slipping past her vest and she died in the ambulance. Erin had to tearfully break the news to her husband.

It was a stunning turn to tell the audience how dangerous the show was as what was expected to be one of the main characters met an end before the midway point of the pilot.  

5. Nadia Decotis

Chicago PD Nadia
Stella Maeve as Nadia Decotis on Chicago P.D. Pic credit: NBC

The loss of this character hurt fans and sent Lindsay into a dark place.

Erin had arrested 17-year old Nadia for drug use, among other things, and tried to get her clean. The third time was the charm as Nadia cleaned herself up and began working as an assistant for the Unit. 

Stella Maeve was engaging in the role with Nadia winning over everyone, even Trudy. Erin enjoyed the young woman and was open to Nadia joining the police academy.

Tragically, in a Chicago P.D.-Law & Order: Special Victims Unit crossover, Nadia was abducted by serial killer Gregory Yates. Erin was devastated to find her body, with the rest of the team mourning her as well. 

Erin nearly self-destructed herself before avenging Nadia yet never got over the loss of her young protege, who was taken far too soon.

4. Greg Gerwitz

Mouse Chicago PD
Samuel Hunt as Greg “Mouse” Gerwitz on Chicago P.D. Pic credit: NBC

Best known by his nickname “Mouse,” Greg Gerwitz had appeared in Season 1 as a former Army friend of Halstead who was used as a criminal informant.

In Season 2, Mouse became the Unit’s technical aide with his hacking and know-how. Sadly, his criminal record prevented him from becoming a full cop. 

Season 4 had Mouse feeling anxious about his work and wanting to rejoin his Army unit. Halstead tried to stop him in an attempt to protect Mouse, which led them to a fight. 

Halstead finally accepted that Greg wanted to do this and helped expunge his record to rejoin the Rangers. While their goodbye was tense, it allowed Mouse to return to where he felt he belonged best. 

3. Sean Roman 

Sean Roman
Brian Geraghty as Sean Roman on Chicago P.D. Pic credit: NBC

Sean Roman is unique in that he got two big goodbyes on Chicago P.D.

After two years as Kim Burgess’ partner (and briefly lover), Roman was shot in Season 3. While he survived, the long-term injuries meant he couldn’t stay on the streets as a patrolman. 

Roman decided to move to San Diego, accepting Burgess wouldn’t go with him. He had a good send-off with the rest of the team wishing him luck. 

In Season 7, Roman returned in a Chicago P.D.-Chicago Fire crossover, looking for his missing sister. This got him involved with a drug gang and a tragic conclusion to the search.

Roman then took the law into his own hands, but Voight let him skate on it given the circumstances. His farewell was far more bitter as Sean learned the hard way that you can’t go home again.

2. Erin Lindsay

Sophia Bush
Sophia Bush as Erin Lindsay on Chicago P.D. Pic credit: NBC

Since the start of Chicago PD, Sophia Bush’s Erin Lindsay was a key figure in the series. Raised almost as a foster daughter by Voight, Erin rose to become a top detective.

Erin had hard times in the series, such as her difficult mother and the loss of Nadia sent her on a downward spiral of drinking. Finally, she pulled out of it. She even had a relationship with Halstead.

In the final episodes of Season 4, Erin was called before the review board for beating a child abductor. That was combined with her mom being arrested for shooting a guy in a bad deal.

Knowing Lindsay’s career in Chicago was over, Voight arranged for her to be accepted to a federal unit in New York. Erin left, unaware Halstead had been about to propose to her. 

It was sad to see one of the original members of the Intelligence Unit go, yet hopefully, Erin found a new life away from her dark roots. 

1. Al Olinsky

One Chicago crossover
Olinsky (Elias Koteas) deals with a horrible loss on the One Chicago crossover Deathtrap. Pic credit: NBC

Of all the losses on Chicago P.D., Al Olinsky’s was one of the hardest.

Al and Voight had been friends for years and formed the Unit together. Al was there to back Hank up on tough calls and cases but had his own dark side as well. 

That was proven by the discovery of a daughter he’d fathered in a case that nearly ruined his marriage. Al then lost another daughter in a fire which sent him to a dark place.

In Season 5, Al was set up for a murder and imprisoned. He was then stabbed in his cell on orders from a drug boss for a past case of Al’s.

It was heartbreaking for Voight to have to silently break it to the team that Al had died of his wounds, with everyone devastated. While they caught the man responsible, Voight was hard hit, especially when Al’s wife banned him from the funeral.

Even years later, Al’s absence is still felt by the entire Intelligence Unit.

Chicago PD Seasons 1-9 streaming on Peacock.

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