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Jay Halstead's Most Intense Chicago P.D. Moments

The fan-favorite character departed in Season 10 but left a mark on Chicago. Relive some of the highlights of his tenure.

By Megan Lasher

Detective Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) on Chicago P.D. was known for his strong sense of conviction — and that firm moral compass ultimately led him to leave Chicago. According to showrunner Gwen Sigan, Halstead's Season 10 departure in which we saw him join the Army was all about him "getting back to who he was." 

How to Watch

Watch the Season 12 premiere of Chicago P.D. Wednesday, September 25 at 10/9c on NBC

Luckily, Soffer himself stayed close to Chicago while his character went off to another continent; he made his directorial debut in Season 10, Episode 16 ("Deadlocked"), which aired on March 22. Fans are hoping that means they'll see more of Halstead — and get more information about his marriage to Detective Hailey Upton (Tracy Spiridakos) — but we will have to wait and see. 

In the meantime, walk down memory lane with us and revisit all of the moments that proved Halstead to be the intense, truth-seeking detective fans know and love. 

Halstead's Fight to Get His Badge Back 

Halstead and Antonio on Chicago Pd

In Season 1, one of the first Halstead-heavy storylines over several episodes involved a man who he believed was a pedophile. Voight learned of Halstead's sneaky actions and confronted him. "Don't push me, I will run you out of this unit. You've got eyes on you, Halstead, I've warned you all I can," the leader told him in Episode 9 ("Material Witness"). 

When the case went awry and the suspect was found dead, Halstead was accused of the murder. Voight called him into his office in Episode 10 ("At Least It's Justice"), where the commander caught him in a lie and ultimately stripped his badge. 

Halstead stuck to his guns and did not offer the investigators a further statement, waiting instead for the real murderer to be located. Voight told Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda) that he was partially responsible for Halstead's actions, so Dawson confronted Halstead and then snuck him the homicide file. 

With the information in the file, Halstead realized that the victim's father was lying in his testimony, and single-handedly got the man's confession to clear his name in that same episode. 

Halstead Earns Voight's Respect

Hank Voight speaking on a cell phone on Chicago PD

In the first few seasons, Halstead struggled to earn the respect of Sergeant Hank Voight (Jason Beghe), so it was a triumphant moment when Voight told Halstead he was glad to have him on his team. 

The conversation came in Season 3 Episode 17 ("Forty-Caliber Bread Crumb"), after Halstead watched coworker Terry Egan get shot in the neck. Halstead and Egan were on a bank run that ended in a shootout, and Halstead took the death to heart. 

"You're going to take a week's medical leave," Voight told Halstead at the end of the episode. "And I've been meaning to tell you: I'm lucky to have you in my unit." Halstead nodded and left the office then proceeded to break down crying in the bathroom in an emotional, heart-wrenching scene. 

Halstead's Military Background

We know that Halstead eventually leaves P.D. to rejoin the Army, but fans spent a great deal of time in the dark about much of the character's backstory. In Season 5 Episode 7 ("Care Under Fire"), Halstead finally revealed a lot more about his personal history. 

The episode began with Officer Adam Ruzek (Patrick John Flueger) finding Halstead having a nightmare while sleeping in the precinct. A tired Halstead then went undercover to get intel from a man suspected of a string of crimes. 

Halstead talked to the man and his sister, and found out that the suspect was in the Army like him. "My brother, he hasn't come back all the way," the sister said, referring to the man's PTSD from his time serving.

"I don't think anybody ever does," Halstead responded. "I think you just kind of fill up whatever's missing with something else."

Years later, Halstead went undercover at a Veterans' Support meeting, where fans and fellow P.D. officers learned that he went by "Ricky" while serving, and saw more emotions as he revisited his military memories as seen in the video above.

Halstead's Show-Stopping Foot Chases

Fans know that no one did a foot chase like Halstead. While there are plenty of P.D. highlights of him running after suspects, one of the most notable came during a crossover episode with Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Halstead teamed up with SVU detectives to chase a murder suspect across rooftops and through alleys. 

Halstead grabbed the man, pulled him down from stairs and fought him before he escaped again. The ordeal ended in a bloody mess when the perpetrator jumped off one last building, but fell to his death after missing his target. 

Jay Halstead's Relationship with His Brother, Will

One Chicago fans have been able to watch familiar characters interact in crossover episodes among the franchise, and brothers Jay and Will Halstead (Nick Gehlfuss) are always an exciting pair to see. One particular Halstead-heavy crossover happened in P.D.'s Season 6 Episode 2 ("Endings"), which aired right after a Chicago Fire episode in which a high-rise building caught fire with the Halsteads' father inside. 

While the senior Halstead initially survived the fire, he later died in Chicago Med's hospital from complications of inhaling too much smoke, and the brothers mourned his loss together. Jay Halstead then went on a mission to avenge the death, finding the man who started the fire and chasing him into a tunnel. This ended in a shootout between the two, in which Halstead was left with multiple injuries. 

Halstead Proposes to Upton

The slow-burn "Upstead" romance was a centerpiece of P.D. for many seasons, so fans were delighted when Upton proposed to her then-boyfriend Halstead in the Season 8 finale ("The Other Side"). 

Halstead asked Upton if she was sure about proposing to him, and once she confirmed that it was out of a genuine desire to be together, he proposed right back at the end of Season's 9's opening episode ("Closure"). "I've known for years that I want it to be you and me, always," he said, getting down on one knee. 

Halstead and Voight's Moral Differences

As Halstead's time in the precinct came to an end, it became clear that he had major moral differences with Voight. In Season 9, Episode 9 ("A Way Out"), the pair worked together to blackmail an agent into letting them off the hook in a messy investigation. In an emotional confrontation, the blackmailed agent told Halstead he was surprised that Voight "changed him." 

Coping with this fear of corruption, Halstead confronted Voight. "It's over. But it's gonna be different now, you and me. You always say, 'Tell me the truth so I can lie for you.' From here on out, you tell me the truth. You bring me in, so we don't have to lie anymore, so I can protect you from yourself. Understand me?" 

Halstead's Final Goodbye 

Halstead Resigns | NBC’s Chicago P.D.

His tumultuous relationship with Voight came to a peaceful ending when Halstead decided to go his own way. Season 10, Episode 3 ("A Good Man") began with Upton laying in bed alone. The couple had visible tension throughout the episode, even as they worked to find the perpetrators who were violently robbing local drugstores to get ingredients for their meth lab.

The pursuit of the drug store robbers put Halstead in harm's way, and he needed to stab a man to death in an act of self-defense. Voight devised a plan to avoid legal issues around the murder, and Upton played around while Halstead went blank. "We're doing it again," he said, questioning the morality of following Voight's orders. "What the hell am I doing?" 

This moral crisis led Halstead directly to the Bureau, where he said "I'm here to tell the truth." The Bureau leader instead contributed to the corrupt story, covering up more of the details, and Halstead put his badge down and announced his resignation. 

Halstead and Upton Say Goodbye | NBC’s Chicago P.D.

"You were right about me, I've changed," he told Upton. "I had to [resign]. It was the right thing to do. Nolan put in a call and the Army offered me a spot." 

Upton tried to convince him to stay, but Halstead said he was confident in his decision, explaining how the Army would be less morally corrupt. "It's black and white, it's good and bad, it's right and wrong. It's no more of this. I need that back," he said about the choice. "We're gonna get through this, because you're the love of my life, and if I'm yours, then you know that you have to let me go." 

Watch Chicago P.D. on NBC Wednesdays at 10/9c and next day on Peacock.