Chicago PD’s Esai Morales heading to NCIS: Los Angeles

Esai Morales with Jason Beghe in a scene from Chicago PD season 4. Photo Credit: Courtesy of NBC.
Esai Morales with Jason Beghe in a scene from Chicago PD season 4. Photo Credit: Courtesy of NBC. /

Esai Morales is moving from supervising Chicago PD’s Intelligence Unit to supervising NCIS, as the actor has been cast in NCIS: Los Angeles season 10.

After recurring on Chicago PD as Chief Lugo, Esai Morales is moving to another franchise next season.

The actor has been hired on CBS‘s NCIS: Los Angeles as that show’s new Deputy Director, named Gaines.

Per a report from Deadline, Gaines is “there to protect” the NCIS team as they open the upcoming tenth season being investigated by the Department of Defense.

That investigation centers around a rescue mission to save the son of Assistant Director Shay Mosley (Nia Long), so obviously Morales’ character outranks her—and could possibly replace her as it’s rumored Long might be leaving the series.

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Esai Morales appeared in four Chicago PD season 4 episodes in the role of Lugo, then briefly returned in the season 5 opener “Reform.”

He hasn’t been seen since, though, so perhaps the show has moved on from his character (much like Commander Crowley, as Barbara Eve Harris’s boss hasn’t appeared since the fourth season).

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Morales should be an excellent fit for NCIS: LA, as he was able to work well opposite Jason Beghe on PD while also making Lugo feel like he could hold his own with Hank Voight.

He’s also played other boss-type roles in the past, most notably as an FBI section chief on both Criminal Minds and its spinoff, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. This new role will be familiar territory for him, especially as since like his work in One Chicago, it’s billed as a recurring part.

In case you don’t remember who he is, here’s a clip of him from HBO‘s The Brink to showcase one of his other recent parts:

Who will fill Morales’s spot as the supervisory character in Chicago PD season 6? Our money is on Anne Heche, the former star of NBC‘s The Brave, who was cast earlier this month as the Deputy Superintendent. Like Morales, her character is recurring—but unlike him, her role sounds like an antagonist toward Voight, rather than a colleague.

If there’s a silver lining here for One Chicago fans, it’s that other TV shows are starting to take notice of the actors. Morales is the second PD performer to be tabbed for a CBS drama this month; Michael McGrady just booked a role on SEAL Team. Harris, meanwhile, is headed to a new Netflix drama.

Next up for Morales, though, is season 2 of NatGeo’s science drama Mars, which also happens to co-star Chicago Med alum Jeff Hephner. Mars season 2 premieres this fall; watch the trailer.

Next. Chicago PD recruits another NBC star. dark

Will you watch Esai Morales on NCIS: Los Angeles? Are you disappointed that it appears he won’t be returning to Chicago PD? Let us know your thoughts on this casting news in the comments.

Chicago PD returns Sept. 26 on NBC.