‘Chicago P.D.’ Season 11 Finale How Tracy Spiridakos Got Written

‘Chicago P.D.’ Season 11 Finale: How Tracy Spiridakos Got Written Off and That Fan-Favorite Surprise Return Came About

SPOILER ALERT: This story includes major plot points from the May 22 Season 11 finale of “Chicago P.D.”

Well, buckle up, “Chicago P.D.” fans. The Season 11 finale didn’t just serve up a hefty plate of drama—it also marked the end of Tracy Spiridakos’s tenure as Hailey Upton. Yeah, you read that right. Hailey is out of the Windy City. Let’s dive into how her departure was handled, what that tear-jerking exit means for the show, and oh, that unexpected return of a beloved character. Grab your tissues and let’s break it down.

Hailey Upton’s Emotional Farewell

Hailey Upton’s exit was nothing short of a rollercoaster. Tracy Spiridakos, who joined the “Chicago P.D.” cast midway through Season 4 and became a regular by Season 5, delivered a final performance that left fans both devastated and hopeful. The episode, titled “More,” revolved around the squad’s desperate hunt for Voight (Jason Beghe), who was at the mercy of serial killer Frank Matson (Dennis Flanagan). Matson’s sick game involved making his victims call the person they loved most, only to lure them into a deadly trap.

Of course, for Voight, that person was Hailey. But in classic Voight style, he refused to make the call, opting to endure more torture instead. This brings us to a delirious Voight hallucinating none other than Alvin Olinsky (Elias Koteas). Yes, you heard that right—Al made a ghostly cameo, urging Voight to hang on because, as he put it, Hailey wasn’t ready to lose him yet.

Eventually, Hailey, despite being shot in the process, managed to rescue Voight. The intense, near-death experience saw Voight referring to himself as her father in a blurred moment, which just added to the emotional weight of their bond. They fought off Matson together, with Voight finishing him off bare-handedly.

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‘Chicago P.D.’ Season 11 Finale How Tracy Spiridakos Got Written 3

Tracy Spiridakos on Leaving the Show

In an exclusive conversation with Variety, showrunner Gwen Sigan and Tracy Spiridakos discussed Hailey’s poignant departure. Tracy shared that knowing in advance about her exit gave the team ample time to craft a fitting farewell. And it’s clear they wanted to do justice to Hailey’s character arc.

Spiridakos expressed her love for the open-ended nature of Hailey’s exit, emphasizing how it represents a new beginning for her character. She said, “We finally get to see her be happy and do something for herself.” Hailey’s last scenes showed her tearfully explaining to Voight that she needed a fresh start, although she was terrified of leaving the team behind. Voight reassured her that she would never lose him or the team’s support. The episode ended with Hailey looking at job opportunities with the FBI, FEMA, and DEA, before taking a cab to the airport—her future wide open.

Al’s Surprise Return

Elias Koteas’s brief return as Alvin Olinsky was a highlight for long-time fans. Voight’s vision of Al was both a heart-wrenching callback and a crucial turning point for his character. Gwen Sigan revealed that the idea came from Jason Beghe himself. “Jason has had this idea for a while,” Sigan explained. “We finally found the perfect way to do it, considering the serialized story and how low Voight was going to get.”

Seeing Voight converse with Al allowed him to reflect on his life choices and the people he’s lost. It was a necessary moment of introspection for a character who seldom shows his vulnerabilities. And it worked brilliantly to set up Hailey’s emotional conversation with Voight, where he ultimately supports her decision to leave.

What’s Next for Voight and the Team?

With Hailey gone, Voight finds himself increasingly isolated. Gwen Sigan hinted at the emotional journey ahead for Voight in Season 12. “Everyone he’s loved and connected to has left him in some way,” she noted. “Next season provides a lot of opportunity for us. Will he harden again, or will he continue his journey towards vulnerability?”

It’s clear that Voight’s future will be a focal point moving forward. He’s lost his son Justin, his protégé Lindsay, his close friend Al, and now Hailey. Each loss has chipped away at his tough exterior, revealing a more vulnerable side. The question is whether he will shut himself off emotionally or find new ways to connect with his team.

New Faces and Fresh Dynamics

With Hailey’s exit, the Intelligence Unit is operating with a significantly smaller team. Gwen Sigan teased the potential for new characters and dynamics. We’ve already seen some backstory for Jo Petrovic (Bojana Novakovic), leading to speculation that she might join the squad in Season 12. “We’ve got some space to bring in new people, shake things up, and create new dynamics,” Sigan hinted.

As for whether Spiridakos would return if asked, she didn’t hesitate. “Yes, I would love that—that would be amazing,” she said. So, while Hailey’s departure feels like a significant shift, the door is definitely open for her to make a comeback.

Reflecting on Hailey’s Journey

Hailey Upton’s journey on “Chicago P.D.” has been a tumultuous one. From joining the team to her complicated relationship with Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) and her intense partnership with Voight, Hailey’s character has grown tremendously. Her decision to leave, driven by a need for self-discovery and happiness, is a testament to her evolution.

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This open-ended farewell allows fans to imagine Hailey finding peace and purpose beyond the dangerous streets of Chicago. It’s a hopeful send-off that feels right for a character who has given so much to the team and the city.

The Impact on Fans

Unsurprisingly, Hailey’s departure has stirred up a mix of emotions among fans. Some are heartbroken to see her go, while others are excited for what this means for the character’s future. The finale’s emotional depth and unexpected twists have left viewers eagerly anticipating Season 12.

The return of Al, even as a vision, was a poignant touch that reminded fans of the show’s rich history and the deep connections between its characters. It served as a beautiful reminder that no one is truly gone in the One Chicago universe.

Wrapping Up

The Season 11 finale of “Chicago P.D.” was a masterclass in balancing intense action with deep emotional storytelling. Tracy Spiridakos’s exit as Hailey Upton was handled with care and respect, giving her character a meaningful send-off. The surprise return of Elias Koteas as Alvin Olinsky added an extra layer of emotional resonance, making this episode one for the books.

As we look forward to Season 12, one thing is clear: “Chicago P.D.” continues to evolve, keeping us hooked with its dynamic characters and compelling narratives. Whether Hailey returns or the team welcomes new members, the heart of the show remains strong. And honestly, I can’t wait to see where they take us next.

So, what’s your take on Hailey’s departure? Do you think Voight will soften up or harden even more? And who would you like to see join the team next season? Drop your thoughts in the comments below—we’re all in this together, after all.

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