Chicago P.D. Boss Breaks Down That Season 11 Finale Exit — What Happened With Upton?

The following contains major spoilers from Chicago P.D.’s Season 11 finale. Proceed accordingly.

Chicago P.D.’s 11th season came to a hopeful conclusion for Tracy Spiridakos’ Hailey Upton, who made her final appearance in the long-running cop procedural. (The hour also featured a surprise cameo, which you can read all about here.)

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As previously reported, the actress has left after six full seasons with the Dick Wolf procedural.

Following a brutal takedown of the serial killer who kidnapped Voight (who barely survived), Wednesday’s finale found Upton researching different career options, looking to move on from Intelligence. After glancing over jobs with the FBI (where Sophia Bush’s Erin Lindsay went in the Season 4 finale), FEMA and DEA, Upton exited the series in a taxi headed for Chicago O’Hare International Airport — though it’s unclear which job she took.

Showrunner Gwen Sigan tells TVLine that Upton’s decision was left opened ended as a way of wrapping the character’s story arc with a feeling of “hope and possibility.”

“I wanted this idea that the world is hers now, and that she’s finally in a headspace where she can see that there’s a lot out there and there’s a lot you can choose,” the Chicago P.D. boss explains.  “Leaving it that open-ended gave that feeling of possibility.”

The EP notes that she has her own version of where she thinks Upton goes — as does Spiridakos and the Chicago drama’s writing staff — but it’s open for interpretation. “The audience can also fill in a little bit of, ‘Where is she going?’ because that’s the idea. She could go so many places,” she shares.

As for whether there will be a definitive answer about Upton’s choice in the future, Sigan says, “the door is open.”

“I love the idea that a lot of these characters are still out there and could come back to the show,” she adds. “They’re all in the world and so, maybe someday.”

Upton’s bittersweet departure came after an earlier conversation in the episode with an injured Voight, where she opened up about wanting more for herself. The vulnerable moment, which served as Upton’s pseudo goodbye, saw Voight give her his blessing to pursue whatever made her happy as a show of unconditional support. The scene, Sigan divulges, was the first one she wrote for the finale.

“We kind of knew what that scene needed to be for a while, and it was just about earning it and how we could get those characters to that space where they could say those things to each other,” she says. “They have this understanding, and they really are very similar in a lot of ways and so, they’re able to call each other out and push each other.”

“There has always been that underlying parental sort of thing, and it’s something that Upton hasn’t had in her life,” Sigan continues. “She hasn’t had parents that loved her unconditionally and so, what was emotional about that scene was that he gave her [that] even though it hurt him to give it because he was going to miss her and loved her.

“He gave her what she needed, which was basically a parent to tell her, ‘You are enough and you’re going to be OK, and you deserve to be OK. And whatever you have to do, you’re going to have a safety net.’ She hasn’t had that — even with her marriage and her relationships in the past. So, it gave her a little more courage to realize, ‘I can do this, and I should.’”

Thoughts on Chicago P.D.’s Season 11 finale? Grade the episode below, and then sound off in the comments!

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