How will Chicago PD move on without Antonio?

Antonio Dawson is leaving Chicago PD after this season, but what will Chicago PD season 7 look like without Jon Seda’s character?

When Chicago PD returns this fall, it will be without Antonio Dawson. Most One Chicago viewers probably never truly considered Jon Seda not being on the show, and with good reason; the series without him will look a lot different.

After all, Antonio was one of the two characters who first started on Chicago Fire and made the whole idea of a spinoff—and therefore the entire One Chicago franchise—seem plausible.

And he’s been with the Intelligence Unit through almost everything, except for the brief time he was working for the State’s Attorney’s Office on Chicago Justice.

And with his own strict moral code, yet same sense of world-weariness, he’s developed into the counterpoint to Hank Voight’s (Jason Beghe) “ends justify the means” philosophy.

That last part is something that Chicago PD ought to have more of, not less. Of the three One Chicago shows, it’s the most one-dimensional in the sense that everyone almost always agrees with Voight and everybody is loyal to the team first and foremost.

What’s more, they never face real consequences for their actions beyond the disciplinary board hearing that pops up every so often and is usually resolved by the end of the episode. Even though Antonio told the truth about last season’s finale, Voight was only suspended through the season premiere when he could’ve been arrested by now.

Antonio Dawson was that voice of saying sometimes they weren’t doing the right thing. He was the one who tried to play within the rules. Voight said that at the start of this season, which makes it all the more curious that Chicago PD would feel it doesn’t need him, when the show’s main character has specifically explained that he does.

You can’t even compare when he left for Chicago Justice to this, because he wasn’t gone long enough to see the long-term effect of his absence—and because this isn’t just about him, but the effect of his exit on top of other recent changes for the show in the last two seasons.

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The loss of Antonio means that Chicago PD is getting rid of another of its veteran characters, after the murder of Alvin Olinsky (Elias Koteas) at the end of season 5. It’s hard to figure out what that means. Is the show trying to skew younger? Focus more on its ships, since Antonio was one of the few main characters not involved in some kind of romantic relationship?

Or is it just a coincidence that all of the old guard are either leaving, or in the case of Trudy Platt (Amy Morton), hardly around? You never want to assume a show’s intentions, but this sends a really mixed message to longtime fans.

Without Antonio Dawson, the show is going to have less experience and less variety of opinions while Intelligence navigates the dark corners of Chicago. And that’s not counting the off-screen effect on the One Chicago fans, the majority of whom consider Antonio to be one of their favorite characters, if not the favorite.

He’s a reason that a lot of viewers tune in every Wednesday, so when the show decides it doesn’t need him, it may make them feel like the series doesn’t care about them either. That’s not the case but you can’t blame anyone for thinking it when the most popular character, and one who helped build the franchise, is suddenly not there anymore.

Chicago PD will move on after Antonio, because the show’s a well-oiled machine and it still has a strong cast. But there will be a lasting void, not only because no other character has his same set of skills, but because fans know this is the second season in a row that the writers have decided to take a character away from them. And that skepticism may be something that the series just has to live with.

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