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Jesse Lee Soffer Returned to the Chicago P.D. Set for Season 11 — Kind Of

Marina Squericiati made sure the cast wouldn't miss Soffer too much.

By Jackie Manno

Jesse Lee Soffer (Jay Halstead) may have exited Chicago P.D. in Season 10, but Mariana Squerciati (Kim Burgess) made sure he was still with the cast in spirit while they film Season 11. 

How to Watch

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

On November 29, Squerciati shared a funny snapshot on her Instagram story of a plush Soffer-inspired doll sitting on a chair behind the scenes of Chicago P.D. She committed to the bit, giving him a totally serious look as if they were hashing out a high-stakes case. 

"The weird things you do when you miss your co-star," she wrote on the post, tagging Soffer. 

RELATED: Jesse Lee Soffer's Message to Fans After Chicago P.D. Exit

Jesse Lee Soffer's exit from Chicago P.D.

In 2022 showrunner Gwen Sigan explained to NBC Insider the team's thought process behind Halstead's exit. 

Marina Squerciati posts her and a doll of Jesse Lee Soffer on her social media

"We all really wanted to do justice for Halstead's character as best we could — to who he's been for the show — we really wanted to make that decision to leave his own decision. For it to come from him," she says. "It felt important to keep him alive and keep him out in the world trying to do good. The idea of him getting back to who he was gave us that opportunity. The army's always been integral to who he is. I think that time with the rangers shaped him, his morals, his compass, and it was fitting that he'd want to get back to that; to some sort of simplicity and an idea of 'right and wrong.'"

In an interview with Variety, Soffer explained the reason behind his departure from Chicago P.D. 

"I really wanted to grow and expand," he told the outlet. "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.”

RELATED: How Jesse Lee Soffer Feels About Halstead Ghosting Upton on Chicago P.D.

When it comes to a possible return to Chicago P.D. in the future, Soffer left that door open. 

Jesse Lee Soffer standing next to an emergency vehicle on Chicago P.D.

“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?’” he said. “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 did in fact make a return to Chicago P.D. in Season 10, but behind the scenes. He directed the Season 16 episode titled "Deadlocked," and in an interview with NBC Insider, he said he would be open to directing another episode in the future. 

"I'm definitely not opposed to it. It was a great experience, I learned so much," he told us. "Leaving the show, I was grateful for the opportunity to have this experience, to keep learning and growing and I definitely would not say no."