'Chicago P.D.': Why Did Melissa Sagemiller Leave the Show?

'Chicago P.D.': Why Did Melissa Sagemiller Leave the Show?

March 17, 2022

It’s been a long time since Melissa Sagemiller was a part of Chicago P.D. In fact, the actor only appeared in the pilot episode, as well as an episode of Chicago Fire. Sagemiller portrayed Detective Julia (Jules) Willhite, but her time on the show was short-lived. Here’s why Sagemiller left the show and what happened to her character.

Melissa Sagemiller portrayed Detective Julia Willhite in ‘Chicago P.D.’

Sagemiller’s character Julia Willhite was first introduced in the Chicago Fire episode “Let Her Go,” which served as the backdoor pilot for Chicago P.D. Lieutenant Matt Casey is forced to team up with Hank Voight’s Intelligence Unit to investigate Hallie’s death.

Jules is a wife and mother of two who was close friends with Antonio Dawson and Erin Lindsay. In the pilot episode of Chicago P.D., Voight’s team investigate a drug lord named Pulpo. Jules enters a building with Dawson, believing it to be empty. Suddenly a gunshot blasts through the door, hitting Jules. She dies in the hospital shortly after.

Why did Melissa Sagemiller leave ‘Chicago P.D.’?

The cast of Chicago P.D. has changed significantly, with some characters not making it past the backdoor pilot of Chicago Fire. According to One Chicago Center, killing off Jules was a decision made for recasting purposes. The outlet states that Chicago P.D. chose not to keep Melissa Sagemiller going forward. Instead, they brought on Sophia Bush to portray the show’s female lead.

Interestingly, Sagemiller had a role in another series created by Wolf Entertainment. The actor portrayed A.D.A. Gillian Hardwicke in season 1 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, according to IMDb. Hardwicke transfers to SVU because of her admiration for detectives Benson and Stabler. Sagemiller also had another small role in an episode of SVU in 2000.

Sagemiller thanked her ‘Chicago P.D.’ co-star for standing up for actors

Sophia Bush also eventually left Chicago P.D., and she didn’t have the most pleasant experience working on the show. Over the years, Bush has begun opening up about the uncomfortable working conditions she experienced while on Chicago P.D.

In an interview with Dax Shepard on his Armchair Expert podcast, Bush described “a consistent onslaught barrage of abusive behavior” while working on the show. She explained that certain complaints, like having to work outside in the freezing Chicago weather, were ignored. Eventually Bush left the show for her own health and happiness.

Sagemiller has applauded Bush for voicing her concerns about the working conditions on Chicago P.D. The actor posted an Instagram photo of the pair in costume, with the captain, “Thank you @sophiabush. Even in the beginning eps spent in Chicago P.D., I knew it was a hard place for a breastfeeding mom of 2 babies. But years on that set, I can only imagine your pain. Thank you for standing up for all of us.”

Chicago P.D. Season 9 airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. EST on NBC.

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