Chicago PD is over Antonio Dawson, so should fans get over it?

CHICAGO P.D. -- "Anthem" Episode 514 -- Pictured: Jon Seda as Antonio Dawson -- (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC)
CHICAGO P.D. -- "Anthem" Episode 514 -- Pictured: Jon Seda as Antonio Dawson -- (Photo by: Matt Dinerstein/NBC) /

Chicago PD has moved on from Antonio Dawson, so should fans move on from being upset over Jon Seda’s exit? Here’s why Antonio’s loss is still a hot topic.

Chicago PD showrunner Rick Eid made headlines this week when he informed One Chicago fans that the show won’t be saying anything more about Antonio Dawson, believing the writers have already given audiences enough information with the character’s off-screen exit in the season 7 premiere.

The reaction to Eid’s comments was swift and loud—many viewers were upset about the news, and they’re still angry about how Antonio was dropped from the series.

And other fans pointed out that it’s been a half-season since Jon Seda was let go, and told the first group that they ought to stop “whining” about it.

But it’s not that simple. Eight months after Seda’s last episode aired, this is one of the more hot-button topics within the One Chicago fandom, and it’s easy to understand why Antonio’s story still has people up in arms.

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There are the immediate specifics: Jon Seda did not want to leave Chicago PD. He was released from the show by the producers’ choice.

That automatically leaves a bad taste in some fans’ mouths—especially when it’s an actor as beloved as Seda, who was one of the most popular performers in the entire One Chicago franchise. No one likes to see their favorite character be cut from the show, even less so when that’s a lot of people’s favorite character.

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Then there was the way Antonio’s departure was handled. Many fans never bought into his drug addiction storyline to begin with, and having him go back to rehab for a second time was ending an already unpopular arc on a negative note. It was a lot different than, say, Chicago Fire where his sister Gabriela left town to help people, and Monica Raymund chose to leave the series.

Which brings us to the third issue: that Jon Seda didn’t come back for that farewell episode. The Chicago Med producers brought both Colin Donnell and Norma Kuhling back to do one more hour to wrap up their characters’ stories. Monica Raymund agreed to come back to shoot a goodbye scene for Gabriela Dawson and her now ex-husband Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer).

Fans have gotten to see these actors one last time except for Jon Seda and Elias Koteas, whose character Alvin Olinsky died in Chicago PD season 5’s penultimate episode. And at least in Koteas’ case, the following episode devoted a large amount of time to avenging Olinsky’s death and to mourning his loss.

Antonio just disappeared, and none of the other characters really seemed that upset by it. It wasn’t until Chicago Fire that we got a full explanation of where Antonio ended up and if he was okay. In every respect, both on and off camera, the Antonio situation had room for improvement.

That’s the small picture. The big picture is that what happened with the Antonio Dawson character is symptomatic of a larger trend with Chicago PD that fans have an understandable reason to feel confused or annoyed by. Over the last few years, the show has had a fair bit of turmoil, and it has created an unintentional pattern of negativity.

Since season 4, Chicago PD has had someone leave every season, and none of them have been good exits. Sophia Bush left at the end of season 4, and while her character Erin Lindsay had a decent final story, it’s been well-documented how she left over some serious issues behind the scenes of the show.

The next two exits, those of Koteas at the end of season 5 and Seda after season 6, were both decisions made by Rick Eid and company. So for longtime fans, in the last few years, you’ve seen one actress leave over controversy, and two other actors exit because the producers didn’t feel they needed them anymore.

That doesn’t mean the show is coming to an end, and it is true that One Chicago fans have to realize that the writers aren’t going to keep telling Antonio stories. They have to focus their time and effort on the characters who are on the show at this moment; that’s how TV works. It’s not reasonable for them to keep going backward, when Chicago PD has to be moving forward every week.

But at the same time, it’s also true that fans aren’t just whining out of nowhere. They have some genuine reasons to dislike what happened with Antonio, and of course they’ll always want to hear more about him, in hopes of maybe getting to what they’d consider a proper ending. Neither side is right or wrong in this debate; we’ll just have to agree to disagree, and as Eid himself pointed out, see if maybe Antonio Dawson comes back for a guest appearance someday.

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