“I’ve thought so hard about how to answer this question — and there’s no good answer,” Soffer, 38, told Variety in an interview published on Wednesday, February 22, about why he left. “Except I was ready for more. Eventually, you know the character so well, there’s not much that can shift or transform.”
He explained: “I really wanted to grow and expand, and we’ve only got this one trip. If I signed up again, it would have been for another three years. I would have turned 40 on the show. I thought, ‘You know what? It’s time to take a risk.’”
The New York native began playing Detective Jay Halstead in 2014 when the NBC drama first premiered. In August 2022, Soffer surprised viewers when he revealed he would be exiting the series amid the upcoming 10th season.
“To create this hour drama week after week has been a labor of love by everyone who touches the show,” the Mob Doctor alum said in a statement to Variety at the time. “I will always be proud of my time as Det. Jay Halstead.”
Once the news broke of his departure, Soffer shared another message with his fans via social media. “This is sad but true. Just want all the fans to know how grateful I am,” he tweeted. “You guys are why we do it! It has been an honor. Love you all ❤️.”
The Brady Bunch Movie actor signed off as Halstead during the season 10 episode “A Good Man,” which aired in October 2022. “I left it all out there for this one,” Soffer wrote via Instagram ahead of his final bow.
During the episode, Halstead told his wife, Hailey Upton (Tracy Spiridakos), that he took an assignment in Bolivia to help take down drug cartels. He explained that his current role in the Intelligence unit made it hard sometimes to know who was truly good and evil.
“It’s not forever. It’s eight months, maybe a little longer,” Halstead promised. “But I swear to you that we’re going to get through this because you’re the love of my life, and if I’m yours, then you’ll know that you have to let me go.”
Earlier this month, Soffer teased his return to the Chicago P.D. set as the director for an upcoming March episode of the cop drama. “Back at it. Just different :),” he wrote via Instagram on February 4, sharing behind-the-scenes photos from his visit.
Soffer’s role as director has many fans wondering whether the Two of a Kind alum will ever reprise his role as Halstead — especially after the character started ghosting Upton during season 10. The Chicago Med alum, who also played Halstead on the medical spinoff over the years, told Variety on Wednesday that he’s still “grieving” his 2022 exit.
Scroll down for Soffer’s biggest Chicago P.D. revelations about his departure — and his 10 years working on the series:
Chicago P.D. airs on NBC Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET.