‘Chicago P.D.’ Boss Talks Upton’s Exit, Bringing Back [Spoiler] & Season 12 Teases

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Chicago P.D. Season 11 finale “More.”]

Intelligence has lost another member, but the good news is that the door has been left for Tracy Spiridakos to return.

The Chicago P.D. finale sees Intelligence racing to find Voight (Jason Beghe), who has been kidnapped by the serial killer they’ve been chasing. And during his time in his captivity, while he’s bleeding out, Voight begins hallucinating and sees none other than the dead Olinsky (Elias Koteas). Upton gives herself up to the serial killer to find Voight. Both are injured (he’s stabbed, she’s shot), but neither spends nearly as long in the hospital as they should.

And then to end the episode, Upon brings up him saying that “no dad would want this” when she showed up. Voight claims not to remember that, nut he does wonder if he’s bad for her. Upton assures him he’s not, but she has decided that rather than be stuck trying to remake her childhood every day and be the victor, she wants to start over, though she doesn’t want to leave Intelligence. She is worried that she doesn’t deserve more, but he tells her she does. And then after looking up a few places online (FBI, FEMA, DEA), she sets out for … somewhere.

Below, executive producer Gwen Sigan talks about bringing back Koteas, writing out Upton, and more, plus teases what’s to come in Season 12.

Talk about bringing back Olinsky for that emotional moment with Voight. Also, I clocked the photo you show of him earlier and I was like, oh, that’s going to be it, isn’t it?

Gwen Sigan: Oh, nice. Yes. It’s that tiny little moment. Yeah, so exciting. I mean, what a fun thing to do. This is something that’s been a long time in the making. Jason actually had this pitch about somehow bringing Elias back. I think to Jason, Elias lives in his head, right? It’s just a part of who Voight is. And so we finally had an opportunity where the stories all converged and made that make sense to bring him back in this way. And yeah, I am just so grateful it worked out, grateful to Elias for coming back and doing it with us, and I was there on set. It was such a special moment to have him back, and he looks exactly the same and we have him in his costume again. We all were just through the roof, crew, cast, everybody.

Did you want to do multiple people or did you want it to just be that one hallucination to make it more powerful?

Yeah, we knew we wanted to keep it simple. This is a bit of a jump for our show. We don’t do things like this. We’re certainly always in the POV of our characters, and we usually are going through time with them. And so we wanted to keep it really simple. I thought it’d be more powerful that way. We didn’t need to make it too fancy. And that’s really who Olinsky is. He was a man of few words and if he was coming back to you in a moment, this is how, in my mind, he was coming back, just to give you some info and wake you up, shake you awake.

Elias Koteas as Olinsky, Jason Beghe as Hank Voight in the 'Chicago P.D.' Season 11 Finale "More"

Lori Allen / NBC

It’s been a rough season for Upton and there does seem to be some truth in the suggestion that Voight is bad for her or at least that this job is. But why did you have her decide to leave like you did?

We really wanted to give her this arc. She was starting the season off in a pretty low place after the events of last year, and she’s had the breakup with Halstead [Jesse Lee Soffer] and a lot of things really shake her and I think more than anything that was a trigger point. It triggered all these other things that were going on inside her. So we wanted to do an arc where she struggles and realizes why she’s struggling and then takes action, does something for herself, something that’s healing and realizes, I do want more. And then probably the deeper part of that is, I deserve more. And then the realization to get that you got to do something different. And so she makes this big decision to do something different that I think was really hopeful. It’s just a hopeful moment for her to be able to move on, get different.

So where is she moving on to? Because there were a couple of possibilities on the computer screen.

Yes, and I think there’s even more possibilities, right? That’s really what we wanted, was this final moment to feel hopeful. There were so many opportunities and she now has this world of possibilities. So I loved the idea that we kept it open-ended. I think there are things you can fill in on your own and your own versions of where she is and what she’s doing. I have my own version, and I think that most people will, when they watch it, especially fans of her, will kind of fill in what they want her to be doing.

Did you consider bringing back Jesse and reuniting Upton and Halsted? Or did that come down to the story you wanted to tell? Actor availability?

Yeah, it was certainly a possibility for sure. We talked about it. We wanted to do our due diligence and go through all the options and see what was the most interesting. What we really came down to is that we wanted this to be about her. I wanted this to be a decision that she makes for herself and shows growth and something different for her. And so it felt like this was the appropriate way to do it and make it really internal and really personal to her of what she was doing.

So is that also why you left them on the divorce versus even a hint in off screen reunion? 

Yeah, and I think we wanted to be honest to that storyline and to life in general. And I think a little bit of closure there was what also triggered her to go on this journey and to be able to look at herself differently and realize that she does still need to do work and that she does need an opportunity that allows her to do that in a different way than she’s had.

So could we see Tracy again next season? The door is open for her to come back.

I don’t know if we’ll see her next season. I think we will always keep that door open. We will never say never. And yeah, if the opportunity arises to bring her back in some context over the next years, we’d be happy to.

Jason Beghe as Hank Voight, Tracy Spiridakos as Hailey Upton in the 'Chicago P.D.' Season 11 Finale "More"

Lori Allen / NBC

So how is Intelligence going to be doing without Upton next season? Will there be a new series regular to fill that spot?

Yeah, we’re still figuring that out. I don’t have a clear answer for you, but definitely the unit is operating small at this point, so there’s going to be a lot of space. As a writer, it’s really exciting. It’s going to be very fun to come up with some ideas and a new character and what a new character could add and how it would shift up the dynamics of the unit and new stories to tell. I think it will invigorate the show a lot to have somebody new come on.

So Burgess (Marina Squerciati) and Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger) got engaged earlier this season. What can you say about possibly seeing a wedding next season?

Yeah, it’s definitely in the cards. I think the possibility’s there. It’s going to be a fun year for them to see them finally make that step and get on equal footing. And yeah, I mean we’ve got nothing but opportunity to go through all of those fun moments with them.

Is there any possibility of anyone getting promoted to detective next season?

I always get this question. Yes, of course. It’s always a possibility. I think story-wise, it’s not as exciting of a story as you want it to be. It’s really a test and then they do the same job. So yes, it’s definitely a possibility. I think they’re all pretty ready for it as terms of they’ve earned it.

Will everyone else be back next season?

Yes, I believe so. Yeah, all of our regulars.

Is there anything else you can tease about the next season or anything you’re looking forward to doing? Because this was a shortened season. 

I know, I’m very excited for next season. We get back in the room next week, actually, we’re starting on next Tuesday. So yeah, we’ve got a lot to figure out, a lot of fun stuff. I’m really interested to see where Voight goes. He’s kind of grown a lot the past couple seasons and we’ve seen him get a little more vulnerable and have more connections and more intimacy with people. And then now Upton’s leaving, another person leaving him. And so he’s in this interesting position of, you could really see it go both ways where, does he harden up? Does he shut down? Does he say this isn’t worth it, this has gotten me nothing? Or does he lean more into it? So I think there’s so much to play with him.

I can’t wait to write some more for Torres [Benjamin Levy Aguilar]. Two never feels like enough with the shortened season. It’s like, they each got two big starring roles and that was it. And then, yeah, I’m really excited for Burgess and Ruzek, too, because they really had their episodes at the beginning of the season, so I’ve just kind of missed them. So I can’t wait to start thinking about where they could be, what that new life is going to look like for them. And of course we always get excited about crime stories and what haven’t we done yet? What can we do differently? How can we incorporate some nasty new criminal worlds? Yeah, all the fun stuff for us.

Is Petrovich (Bojana Novakovic) going to be back? She was really tied into Upton’s story.

Yeah, I don’t have an answer on that one. I love Petrovich. I think that Bojana came in and really made it her own and gave such a great performance and it certainly was so enmeshed in Upton and was able to tell that story for us of where her headspace was at and moving on and healing and trying something different. So yeah, doors are open. I don’t know yet.

What can you say about Platt (Amy Morton)? I really like seeing her stepping in and taking charge and out of the precinct in the finale.

Yes, I did too, right? It’s so nice to see her out of the precinct. She is just the finest actor. She’s just such a good actor and anytime we have to really give her something to use her and to get to see her talent… I really did enjoy that element. I think in the finale, she was so great because they all were running at a 10. They were all very emotional in that first scene. And then to see her come in and just steady the whole group, there’s no one else that could do that. That is her. And it comes with her experience. Yeah, I’m excited to write more for Amy next year as well.

Chicago P.D., Season 12, Fall 2024, NBC

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