How Should ‘Chicago P.D.’ Handle Rojas’ Departure?

Lisseth Chavez as Vanessa Rojas in Chicago P.D. - Season 7
Parrish Lewis/NBC

Intelligence will be down a member in Chicago P.D. Season 8, but it likely won’t stay that way for long.

Lisseth Chavez is leaving behind the Chicago police department to join DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (and chase after aliens) in the 2020-2021 season. That means we’ll be saying goodbye to rookie Vanessa Rojas, though it’s unclear how the One Chicago drama will go about doing that.

In her only season with the show, she especially bonded with fellow Intelligence members Officer Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins) and Detective Hailey Upton (Tracy Spiridakos). With Atwater, it looked like they could become one of the next office romances; Upton and Detective Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) have their ongoing will they/won’t they “when will they” slow burn. Midway through Season 7, showrunner Rick Eid told TV Insider they were “hopeful” for “some sort of romantic connection down the road” between Atwater and Rojas. That isn’t something we saw come to fruition.

Tracy Spiridakos Lisseth Chavez Chicago PD Season 7 Upton Rojas

(Matt Dinerstein/NBC)

Meanwhile, Hailey took Rojas under her wing, especially when the rookie’s past ended up coming up in a case. “Vanessa being the new person in the family, [Hailey] wants to protect her and do what she can do for her. They also have a unique bond. She and Vanessa are roommates and are much closer than maybe some of the other people because of [that] situation,” Spiridakos said near the end of the season.

How will those two deal with Rojas’ exit? It’ll depend on how she leaves. If she heads to another unit, somewhere else in Chicago or even another state, it shouldn’t be a big deal. If it’s case-related, that’s a different story. It’s possible she’ll just take an undercover assignment — she has the experience — and we’ll get a line or two about it.

But Season 7 did end with Atwater caught up in some trouble, after he told Internal Affairs the truth about a cop’s racial profiling leading to his own and an innocent man’s deaths. “Atwater should definitely be worried. Doyle’s friends and family are taking this very seriously,” Eid said after the finale. “They’re also well-connected in CPD and the Mayor’s Office. So, this crew will present a serious challenge to Atwater … and Intelligence.”

Let’s just hope that Rojas doesn’t get caught in the middle, though it is always possible she does. After all, we don’t know how far Doyle’s friends and family might be willing to go — or who they may turn to who may make some drastic moves like going after one of Atwater’s close friends and coworkers. But given the fact that she could always leave Legends of Tomorrow after Season 6, and P.D. has been renewed for two more seasons after the upcoming one, why not leave the possibility of a return on the table?

Lisseth Chavez LaRoyce Hawkins Chicago PD Season 7 Rojas Atwater

(Matt Dinerstein/NBC)

So what should come next for the unit once Rojas is gone, however her exit is written? There will be new characters coming on, TVLine reports. (At the end of Season 7, Eid had told TV Insider, “It’s possible we might some sort of shakeup, but I don’t anticipate any major changes.” Obviously plans change, but losing Chavez isn’t the same as losing one of the cast members who has been there longer.)

Should we get another rookie officer for one of the unit’s officers to take under his or her wing? Should we get someone with a bit more experience, like Detective Alvin Olinsky (Elias Koteas)? (Who else still isn’t quite over his death?) Maybe one of each — and someone in the middle — in the precinct would be the best idea, though we’ll have to see how many new faces are coming in for Season 8. But whatever happens, hopefully P.D. doesn’t act like Rojas never existed after explaining her exit. It sometimes feels that way with other characters who have been written out due to cast departures.

Chicago P.D., Season 8 Premiere, Wednesday, November 11, 10/9c, NBC