The news broke early yesterday that Tracy Spiridakos will be leaving Chicago PD after the upcoming Season 11. Spiridakos starred as Hailey Upton, one-half of the show’s best ship in Upstead. But after Jesse Lee Soffer’s Jay Halstead left last season, resulting in disastrous changes in the characterization, the show lost a ton of its depth.
Is Hank Voight’s someone’s favorite character? Sure. Should he be? Absolutely not. In the year of our Lord 2023, where we shouldn’t, under any circumstance, support corrupt cops; Hank Voight isn’t a character who should be the pivotal character on a TV show. Watch The Rookie instead if a procedural is your jam—the romantic relationships are significantly better, too. It’s especially a vile shame that every single character consistently suffers while Voight gets away with anything and everything he does.
Tracy Spiridakos is also one of the strongest performers on Chicago PD, making her exit much more frustrating because viewers are still stuck with Hank Voight. Hailey Upton is a compelling character with a fantastic backstory, and for seasons on end, all we’ve seen is torture and sadness thrust upon her to service the plot and create drama. This is what happens when characters are put on the back burner to service only one person, bringing Voight centerfold in all the wrong ways.
Again, it’s 2023. Why is a corrupt, vile cop at the story’s forefront? How does he continue to commit one heinous crime after another and still get away with it when every other character pays the price? Now, this isn’t to say that a character with a villainous arc like Voight can’t be compelling, but as a cop, this isn’t something anyone should want to see on television when the real world is as vile as it is. One arc, sure, fine, but he’s not a bad guy who comes in and leaves; he’s the main character. And the show continues catering to him while everyone else falls into unnecessary traps that break them apart.
It’s no surprise that the show’s means of handling Jesse Lee Soffer’s exit ruined much of the development we got with Jay Halstead. He was, in every way, Voight’s foil, but having him essentially abandon his wife destroyed so much of that development. Now, perhaps Chicago PD will do a better job of handling Tracy Spiridakos’ exit. One could hope. Hailey Upton is a character who deserves the ultimate happy ending, and she’s a character who deserves to go out with a solid future ahead of her. The fans deserve the closure necessary, especially, again, if the show will continue to go on with Hank Voight as its star.
At the very least, Chicago PD could give Hailey and Jay their earned happy ending again. Whatever it does, she deserves to be free from all the pain and trauma she’s ceaselessly endured throughout the show’s run since Season 4. There’s never been an excuse for how much the character had to go through, and it’s always been to uplift the male characters in her circle. Yes, drama is essential. Yes, pain is a part of life. Yes, to a degree, trauma makes fiction realistic, but there’s a line that Chicago PD often crosses: refusing to understand that earned joy can also result in great storytelling. But alas, here’s to hoping it ends well for Hailey. She deserves it.