NBC’s popular series Chicago P.D. has gone through many casting shake-ups over the years, and the most heartbreaking among them is perhaps the departure of Jon Seda, who played Detective Antonio Dawson. After being on this One Chicago series for six seasons, Seda won the hearts of many viewers, who had been closely following his character’s progress. The news of his exit came as a sudden blow to his fans, leaving them wondering why he left the show.
While Chicago Med‘s Rhodes and Bekker worked under many higher-ranking officers, Detective Antonio Dawson was the second-in-command in the Intelligence Unit, behind Detective Sergeant Harry Voight. This means there’s a chance that Seda’s exit would leave a gaping hole in the narrative of the series. As such, it raises a big question mark on the producers’ decision to let him go. Below are three possible reasons why Jon Seda left Chicago P.D.
The Detective Dawson Character Was Played Out
In April 2019, entertainment news website Deadline published an exclusive article saying that Jon Seda would no longer be a part of the cast of Chicago P.D. because of creative reasons related to Detective Dawson’s story evolution. Additionally, the website reported that the producers of the show said they felt that the character had been “played out,” which eventually led to Seda’s exit. It’s said that Seda had a strong working relationship with the producers, so it seemed unlikely that he was cut from the series because of personal reasons.
When he was asked about his departure from Chicago P.D., Seda appeared level-headed as he referred to his six-year stint as Detective Dawson as “an honor.” Although he didn’t seem to have any regrets leaving the series, it’s a big bummer that he walked away right after the producers wrote in a painkiller addiction relapse for his character.
There Was Confusion Behind the Scenes
Although they said that the Detective Dawson character was played out, the showrunners of Chicago P.D. implied that there was a possibility Jon Seda might reprise his role at some point in the future. Rick Eid, one of the showrunners, told CinemaBlend that everybody in the production team loved Seda and the door is always open for him. In fact, the show’s creative team tried to get him to appear in the first episode of the seventh season, which suggested that there might have been conflicting opinions about his departure.
To put things into perspective, what happened was that the Chicago P.D. crew made a public announcement that Jon Seda was leaving the show, the actor bade a heartfelt farewell to his fans, and then the producers went to seemingly considerable trouble to bring him back for one more episode. Those messages were very mixed and confusing.
If they had wanted Seda to come back for another episode, the showrunners could have done so during the final contract negotiation before writing him off. Generally, it’s regarded as a polite practice to rhetorically suggest that a character may come back in a non-committal public statement. However, in this case, the network or producers appeared to be very confused in letting a main star go and then scrambling to get him back just before filming began.
In the final part of Season 6 of Chicago P.D., the plot went back to Detective Dawson’s struggle with prescription opioid painkillers by having him suffer a relapse. Then, the show let this thread take off into the wild blue yonder. The only possible hint was the detective leaving his shield behind. Despite the showrunners’ efforts to bring Seda back, he didn’t appear in the premiere of the seventh season of Chicago P.D. Instead, Detective Sergeant Voight explained to everybody that Detective Dawson had gone back to his home in Puerto Rico after completing a rehab stint.
It’s somewhat strange that the producers created such suspense at the end of Season 6 when Seda wasn’t going to return for Season 7. It gave viewers the impression that there was a cliffhanger to be explored in the next season, but instead, it seemed like the original plot was abandoned without a worthy send-off for an exceptionally popular character. Although network television has often been cautious in portraying drug addiction in detail, it made little sense that the producers brought it up this time just to skip over it, and then removed Seda from the show.
The Producers Were Trying to Keep the Show Fresh
As mentioned earlier, the exclusive Deadline article announcing Jon Seda’s exit from Chicago P.D. suggests that the producers believed his character had been played out. Many people regarded this reason as a supposition instead of a fact. Then, rehab became the excuse to drop Detective Dawson, probably to make room for other characters on the show. While every character can and should have their time on a series as the producers deem appropriate, Seda’s departure feels somewhat callous in view of the context.
Seda wasn’t the only series regular who left NBC’s One Chicago franchise. Another actor who had an eerily similar fate was Charlie Barnett, who played Peter Mills on Chicago Fire. He was given his walking papers because the producers wanted to cycle in new talent to keep the series fresh. After Barnett’s exit, former executive producer of Chicago Fire, Matt Olmstead, told TV Guide that part of his job was to bring in new actors for new stories as a way to prevent a show from turning into a “clown car.”
Nevertheless, Barnett’s Peter Mills was given a proper send-off on Chicago Fire. Seda, on the other hand, was abruptly removed from Chicago P.D., which suggested that the series’ producers were perhaps too eager to usher him away. Olmstead left his position as the executive producer for all of the One Chicago series, but his casting strategy may very well live on beyond him.
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