Jesse Lee Soffer said goodbye to Chicago P.D. earlier this season, and the star still gets bombarded with questions on social media about whether he would return.
In a new interview with Variety, the actor revealed that he had a feeling at the end of Chicago P.D. Season 9 that he was ready to move on from the NBC procedural.
The star revealed that he didn't have a specific answer about why he wanted to move on other than "I was ready for more."
"Eventually, you know the character so well, there's not much that can shift or transform," he said.
Soffer wanted to "grow and expand" and knew that if he renewed his deal, 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,'" he revealed.
"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."
Jay Halstead's final arc culminated in him going to Bolivia to take down the cartel.
The sticking point for fans was that the development left them questioning what would become of Jay's relationship with his wife, Hailey.
Initially, the mission was only for a set amount of time, but Hailey recently learned that his mission was far from over.
"I know the fans are upset because, like, 'This isn't the Jay that we know and love! Why isn't he calling? Why is he doing this?!' But, you know, the show must go on," he explains.
The actor acknowledged that the writers of the show need to do what's right for the characters, so he understands how he was written out.
Soffer says that he isn't ruling out returning to the series down the line.
"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?'"
"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."
What are your thoughts on Jesse's exit?
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Paul Dailly was an Associate Editor for TV Fanatic.Follow him on X.