Chicago PD season 5’s best guest stars

CHICAGO P.D. -- "Captive" Episode 512 -- Pictured: Mekhi Phifer as Joe -- (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC)
CHICAGO P.D. -- "Captive" Episode 512 -- Pictured: Mekhi Phifer as Joe -- (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC) /

Chicago PD season 5 featured a number of excellent guest actors coming through the Intelligence Unit. We rank Chicago PD’s best guest stars of the season.

The stars of Chicago PD can’t do it alone. Every episode is populated by guest stars who come in and liven up the case of the week—whether it’s playing witnesses, suspects, or civilians. They’re the folks who flesh out the universe.

Chicago PD season 5 had plenty of guest stars. The season’s entire main storyline was built upon the presence of a recurring guest star (Mykelti Williamson as Denny Woods). Without him, there would’ve been no season-long arc. Several other episodes introduced people from the past who came back to make our characters’ present more complicated.

This post is dedicated to those people. Today, we’re sending up a few notes of appreciation to the folks who visited One Chicago and turned in some great performances while they were here.

Here are our picks for the best guests in Chicago PD season 5:

More from One Chicago Center

3. Ben Youcef

In “The Thing About Heroes” we met Officer Frank Toma, played by Ben Youcef (Law & Order, Munich). It was revealed that Kim Burgess (Marina Squerciati) had trained Youcef when she was still a patrol officer.

That was the crux of the episode, as Toma vanished after a bomb detonated, making him look like a suspect and Burgess agonize over the idea of her friend being a bad guy.

But “The Thing About Heroes” was really Burgess discovering Toma’s story. Chicago PD gave us an episode where we were learning about him right along with her, and came to care for him, too. That came out of Ben Youcef’s subtle, heartfelt performance.

The scene where Burgess finally tracks down Toma, and has what would be their last conversation, is one of the most heartbreaking in the entire season. That he could make us feel so much for a character we just met speaks volumes about his talent.

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2. Titus Welliver

The episode “Ghosts” brought in a true heavyweight actor in Titus Welliver (Bosch, The Good Wife, and many other shows). One Chicago fans may not recognize his name, but you’ve seen him in plenty of films and TV shows, and he always delivers an outstanding performance. His guest spot here was no exception.

Welliver was the perfect bogeyman as Booth, the man who’d killed Hailey Upton’s (Tracy Spiridakos) partner and tried to assault her. When you set up a backstory like that, you have to cast an actor who makes it believable that he’s that evil and that scary, and Titus Welliver was both those things. He played Booth with just the right amount of creepy menace, but didn’t overdo it and make him come off like a caricature.

The back and forth between Booth and Upton was a large part of the reason why “Ghosts” was such a successful episode, and that episode really helped bring Upton to life. So Welliver’s time on the show, while short, was vital for Chicago PD.

1. Mekhi Phifer

If you’ve watched NBC in the last decade, you recognized Mekhi Phifer when he guest starred in the episode “Captive.” Phifer had a regular role on ER as Dr. Greg Pratt, and an important guest bit on Homicide: Life on the Street where he shot up the police squad room (with Jon Seda in it).

But Phifer outdid himself in “Captive.” As Joe, the man with a serious grudge against Kevin Atwater (LaRoyce Hawkins), he essentially was one half of a two-man play. And we’ve seen characters with axes to grind against the cops before, even on this show—remember the guy who once held Mouse hostage when he was upset about his daughter’s case? But Phifer made us care about his character, and played off Hawkins beautifully.

We’d watch these two read the phone book together, and that’s why Mekhi Phifer takes the crown as the best guest star from Chicago PD season 5.

Next: Chicago PD season 5's best episodes, ranked

Who were your favorite guest performers from the latest Chicago PD season? Let us know which guest stars stood out to you in the comments.

Chicago PD returns to NBC on Sept. 26.