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Series / Chicago P.D.

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"Don't *** with my city."

Chicago PD is an NBC Police Procedural, Spin-Off of Chicago Fire, and second show in Dick Wolf's One Chicago Franchise, that debuted in January 2014.

The series follows Sergeant Hank Voight, a cop who may or may not be dirty, as he takes command of the Chicago Police Department's Intelligence Section. Voight and his unit brutally take on the city's most dangerous criminals using borderline, and outright, illegal tactics to keep Chicago safe.

See also Chicago Med, a medical drama, and Chicago Justice, a legal drama, that both belong in the same universe.


This show provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Warehouse: Both this show and Chicago Fire have an awful lot of calls that lead to these.
    • Voight has an abandoned factory where he handles off-the-books interrogations and executes his son's murderer.
  • Aborted Arc: Olinsky's daughter Michelle, Antonio's boxing gym
  • Acting Unnatural: Halstead is usually pretty good at undercover work... until he and Lindsay infiltrate a sex club to question a "bartender."
    Lindsay: (sexily) Well, what about you? Do you want to play?
    Halstead: (awkwardly) Playtime for my girl.
  • Actor Allusion: Inverted. Hank Voight is introduced as a semi-rogue cop who uses any means necessary while trying to cover up his son's involvement in a near-fatal DUI crash, including attempting to murder a fireman. Jason Beghe had previously played an actual rogue fireman-turned-hitman/arsonist-for-hire in Medium who murdered his own daughter to cover his tracks.
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  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The ending theme for the Japanese release of Season 3 is "Suna no Naka no Hoseki ~Horo-sha~ (Jewel in the Sand ~Wanderer~)" by Tatsuya Ishii.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Platt is furious at Burgess and Roman for putting Nadia in danger during a ride along and even angrier at Nadia for willfully putting herself in the line of fire.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: Voight's son Justin, from their introduction in Chicago Fire throughout Season 1. It's not until Season 2, following a bit of tough love, that the father/son relationship appears to be changing a bit.
  • Artistic License: In real life:
    • Voight would probably still be incarcerated for his abuse of power in Chicago Fire;
    • and even he were let out, he likely wouldn't be given back his cop duties or at the very least, he'd be placed on indefinite desk duty;
    • Platt's Trickster Mentor tactics with her officers would probably get her investigated for hazing and possibly fired;
    • For that matter, the position of desk sergeant does not grant the holder any authority over other officers;
    • While in-house dalliances can and do happen among officers in the same precinct or unit, depending on the circumstances and/or the precinct's code of ethics, they wouldn't be without consequences such as transfer, suspension, relief of duty(aka, firing), or having to take one or several sexual harassment workshops;
    • Even with Roman leaving, Burgess would probably still be fired, suspended, or transferred to another district for fraternizing with her partner while on duty;
    • Between all of the unethical, unwarrated searches and seizures, the off-book interrogations, and the outright Police Brutality (mostly Voight, but the others get some in as well), Intelligence as a unit wouldn't have lasted much longer than it takes Wolf Films to shoot and edit an entire season.
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Justin was already on the up and up but the birth of his son/Voight's grandson Daniel helped to cement things as far as him becoming a responsible, productive man. Didn't keep him from getting killed due to his former connections, albeit indirectly, though.
    • Many, Ruzek among them, think or hope that the fact that Burgess is carrying her and Ruzek's child as a result of their post-Infection crossover romp means that they'll instantly become a steady item once more. It doesn't, and if anything, it makes things between them worse for a while. But Burgess does eventually tell Ruzek that she loves him (which she hasn't said to him since they were engaged) and that they'll always be a family now if nothing else.
      • And then it's all cruelly rendered moot in "I Was Here" when Burgess gets viciously beaten and miscarries as a result.
    • It's worth noting that both instances lead to some of the very few times we see Hank Voight crack a smile that isn't a Slasher Smile.
  • Badass in Distress: Just about every member of Intelligence has been kidnapped and/or held hostage at least once. More often than not, they end up rescuing themselves by the time the calvary shows up.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • In "Chin Check," Antonio's wife Laura demands he bring his CI Jasmine (a prostitute) on a date with them. Both Antonio and Jasmine think Laura's there to confront Jasmine and stake her claim. Turns out, Laura just wanted to thank Jasmine for helping them find Diego in the previous episode.
    • Sergeant Platt, as is her wont, pulls a double on Burgess and Roman, telling Roman that his new partner would be "Tim", instead of "Kim", and telling Burgess that Roman would be friendly while knowing that Roman has issues with female partners and would be belligerent towards her.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Lindsay has this for Nadia and is fiercely protective of her well-being.
    • Burgess sometimes steps in as a big sister figure for Atwater's siblings. When her own sister is raped, Burgess stops at nothing to make sure that he is caught and the she gets 5 minutes alone with him before he is formally arrested. Bonus points for her being the little sister.
  • Bilingual Bonus: So far, the Gratuitous Spanish has been unsubtitled.
  • Blackmail: Both Platt and Voight have no qualms about using this when needed (in Season 2, Voight even reveals that he rents a storage unit where he keeps potentially incriminating materials).
    • How Burgess gets Platt to retake her less-than-flattering ID badge photo, by threatening to put Platt's own childhood/teenage pictures in the next CPD newsletter. Platt is not amused.
  • Book-Ends: The first season starts and ends at one of Chicago's many abandoned grain elevators with a dramatic view of the downtown skyline.
  • Butt-Monkey: Burgess for Platt, although the latter has shown her softer side from time to time, actually complimenting Burgess when she does well.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Except for Halstead occasionally questioning his fellow cops' willingness to simply go along with Voight's methods, the cops of the 21st District will conspicuously turn their eyes away and let Voight and the Intelligence Section do what they have to do.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The series was already serious, especially when compared to the Lighter and Softer Chicago Fire but Season 3 onward really turned up the dark elements, killing off recurring characters we'd grown to like and finding creative new ways to traumatize the main cast and even killing one of them off. By contrast, all of the running gags like Platt's Trickster Mentor relationship with Roman and Burgess and the more lighthearted B-plots were steadily erased away.
    • Speaking of Burgess, she's practically a Cerebus Syndrome incarnate by Season 4.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Olinsky sees that Ruzek is getting cocky over being assigned to Intelligence straight out of the academy. In order to fix that, Olinsky turns Ruzek over to Platt, who is more than delighted to have the rookie as a plaything. The desk sergeant proceeds to treat Ruzek worse than she normally treats Burgess and Atwater, which doesn't thrill Burgess because she's partnered with Ruzek for the day. Ruzek is suitably cowed by the end of the day and Olinsky takes him back as his partner.
  • Could Say It, But...: In "The Docks." It is mixed with Deadly Euphemism when Halstead tells a hospitalized Antonio that Voight and Olinksy have captured Pulpo... but didn't arrest him.
    Antonio: I didn't see anything on the news.
    Halstead: I'm not sure you're going to.
  • Cowboy Cop:
    • Voight plays hard and fast with the rules in the name of keeping Chicago safe. It comes out he and Olinsky have committed truly horrific, outright illegal, actions to get erstwhile criminals off the street.
    • Jimmy Shi, Voight and Olinsky's friend from the old days, runs a deep undercover unit of Asian cops whose sole task is to violently take down gangs in Chinatown.
  • Crapsack World: The show isn't shy about showing how violent Chicago can be and occasionally touches on corruption and navel gazing within the CPD. In fact, the city's rate of gun crimes is so high, the Chicago Police Department is one of the few cities where all officers (uniformed and plainclothes) wear vests outside of their clothing while on dutynote .
  • Crimefighting with Cash: Voight always manages to come up with obscenely large amounts of cash, just when it's needed, leading many to suspect him of being a crooked cop.
  • Crossover Ship: In-Universe. Thanks to Dick Wolf's decision to have the characters of Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. regularly make crossover appearances, characters from both shows have entered into relationships.
    • Severide from Fire and Lindsay from PD started a relationship, which Lindsay ended after Severide, still reeling from Shay's death, kept bailing on her.
    • Starting in Fire's third season, Mouch and Platt from the two shows are in a relationship. They later marry.
    • Although not confirmed in canon, there have been hints about Voight and SVU's Benson possibly being involved. There is a great deal of speculation across the internet. Jason Beghe said that there are undertones of romance in how he and Mariska Hargitay play their scenes but that Voight is currently still mourning the loss of his wife and not quite aware of the mutual attraction.
  • Daddy DNA Test:
    • When Lindsay's deadbeat father Jimmy suddenly shows up, after decades of no contact, Halstead is suspicious. He has a DNA test conducted, which indicates Jimmy isn't Lindsay's biological father after all.
    • Olinsky has one done after being approached by a young woman claiming to be his daughter. Ultimately, he decides to throw it away without looking at the results.
  • Day in the Limelight: "What Do You Do" is almost exclusively focused on Burgess returning to patrol after being shot. In fact, the Intelligence Unit is limited to a humorous subplot about getting TASER re-qualified while Voight and Olinsky spent most of the episode talking in his office (see Hand Wave about the details).
  • Desk Jockey:
    • Sergeant Platt works the desk of the 21st District's station house. She later explains that she was Antonio's training officer and took a shot to the hip while they were on patrol. Antonio managed to get her to safety but the injury meant that she'd be stuck behind a desk for the rest of her career.
    • Nadia takes a job as the Intelligence Section's secretary as of the Season 2 premiere, although she has ambitions to become a cop in the future.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • It's no secret Voight is heavily suspected of being this in the Chicago police department. Chicago Fire seemed to set up that he's pretending to be dirty in order to flush out street gangs, but developments on Chicago PD add more layers to it. Voight finally reveals to Intelligence he did indeed put himself out as a corrupt cop as a pipeline to take down high profile criminals as his deal with IA to get reinstated, but that doesn't completely clear if his hands are truly clean.
    • The only thing that's certain is that Voight has always acted extra legally but still operates safely conscious and has Chicago's best interests at heart.
    • While there are a fair number of honest cops in the city of Chicago, and Voight's unit is indeed cleannote  (in the sense that they're working against criminals), Chicago also has its fair share of corrupt cops.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Averted. The cops go to great lengths to help anyone who needs it, and Lindsay even opens her home to Nadia after the girl comes out of rehab.
  • Everybody Owns a Ford:
    • Seasons 4 and 5 were a little prominent with GMC product placement. Halstead's Sierra and Antonio's Terrain were the only examples of this, though.
    • Timeskip to Season 6, and by the end, all but Burgess and Ruzek are owners of products from Fiat-Chrysler. Voight gets a Dodge Durango SRT, Atwater a Charger Hellcat (although he's had it since Season 4), Halstead's rig is now a RAM 1500, and even Upton gets a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT 8.
  • Everyone Can See It: Lindsay and Halstead, from pretty much the start of the show. Even Sgt. Benson, visiting from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, comments upon it literally the moment she sees them interact.
  • Evil Gloating: Gish, the pyromaniac who killed Shay traps Gabby in an elevator and spends enough time doing this for the team to show up and kill him.
  • Fair Cop: Pretty much everyone of course, but special mention should probably go to Detective Erin Lindsay, who's played by Sophia Bush, and Officer Kim Burgess, played by Marina Squerciati. Hailey Upton (Tracy Spiridakos) and Vanessa Rojas (Lisseth Chavez) also fit the bill.
  • Family of Choice: Lindsay and Voight. After a meeting with her birth mother, during which she is told that Voight is not her family, Lindsay goes straight to Voight, simply to tell him that he definitely is.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Detective Julia 'Jules' Willhite is introduced carpooling with her husband and kids, and dies at the end of the pilot.
    • The sonogram picture of Burgess and Ruzek's unborn child, who she tragically miscarries after being assaulted in "I Was Here".
  • Five-Token Band: Intelligence Unit is made up of various incarnations of this throughout the series. The current makeup is Voight, Halstead and Ruzek (Caucasian), along with Upton(Greek-American, as is her actress, Tracy Spiridakos), Burgess(played by Italian-American Marina Squerciati), Atwater(African-American) and Rojas(Latina). Before their departures there were Jin (S1 Asian-American) and Sumner (S1 African-American) , Lindsay(S1-4 Caucasian), Dawson(S1-5 Latino), and Olinsky (S1-5, Polish, played by Greek-American Elias Koteas).
  • Following in Their Rescuer's Footsteps:
    • Detective Upton was inspired to become a police officer after her family's diner was robbed and a officer came to comfort them during the investigation. When she came to work for the Intelligence Unit, she found herself reunited with the officer who comforted her: Trudy Pratt.
    • Erin Lindsay is a police officer just like Hank Voight, who took her in when she was a teenager. Before that, Erin was stuck at the whim of her flighty, criminalistic, drug abusing mother.
  • Fostering for Profit: Subverted, with Voight and Lindsay. It's never really been established whether Lindsay was an official foster child - meaning the Voights would be eligible to receive compensation for her - or if they simply got guardianship. In any event, it's clear that the Voights have gone above and beyond for Lindsay, even sending her to private school as a teenager, which would have been out of pocket in any event. However, a number of the cases that come to Intelligence have involved foster children in horrific situations, taken brutal advantage of by both the foster parents and crooked social service workers.
  • From Bad to Worse: Burgess and Roman get caught up in a baby formula smuggling ring and have to deal with increasingly violent twists as the day goes on.
  • The Gunslinger:
    • Voight, apropos because he's also a Cowboy Cop, will stomp up to a gun-wielding perp and take them down. Sometimes he'll shout that he wants the perp alive before shooting to maim. The sound effect of his gun is even more booming (closer to a shotgun) than the other characters' guns.
    • Every character, except Platt (because she works the desk), has been shown firing their weapons. Not terribly surprising because, even with some of the toughest gun laws in the country, Chicago currently leads the United States in gun crimes.
  • Guttural Growler: Voightnote .
    • Lindsay also has a very husky voice.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The Intelligence Unit is involved in taking down some of Chicago's more erstwhile, most violent criminals, but Voight and Olinsky, specifically, see themselves as people who will do the unspeakable in order to protect the public.
  • Hot-Blooded: Many of the officers, but Halstead and Roman in particular. He even punched another cop when the guy disagreed with him in a crisis.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: The men of the Intelligence Unit all tower over their female counterparts.
  • Internal Affairs: Frequent antagonists to Voight, and two separate IA cops, Erica Gradishar and Edwin Stillwell have tried to be The Handler to Voight. Though Voight is implied to have genuinely been dirty in the past. In any case, both of them are erstwhile Jerkasses and dirty themselves. The second is a straight-up murderer.
  • It Runs in the Family: Voight's father was a cop. So was Ruzek's.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique:
    • Voight will use official interrogation rooms and techniques when investigating something that isn't time sensitive. But if the clock is running down, or he's in a really bad mood, Voight will show why the mere mention of his name will get many of Chicago's criminals shaking in fear.
    • With time running out to find Diego's kidnappers, Voight convinces Antonio to beat the truth out of a suspect.
    • In the crossover event with SVU, Olivia Benson has to tell Voight not to do this to the arrested child molester, because she needs to bring their perp back to New York to close a kiddie porn ring.
    • Olinsky gets properly angry when investigating people smugglers and Voight actually has to step in and pull his friend back from going too far with this style of interrogation.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Voight is one of the most brutal and vicious cops in Chicago but he does it because he wants to protect the public. He's also fiercely loyal and protective of his team and will go to great lengths to help those who genuinely want get out of a life of crime.
    • Platt loves nothing more than to toy with her subordinates but there are lessons to be learned (in a very roundabout way) from the hell she puts them through. She also takes Nadia under her wing and will do what she can to help the officers in her district if they're in genuine need of it.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Intelligence often clashes with the FBI, with the DEA or other agencies. Even when the other group pulls rank, somehow Voight generally manages to take over the case anyways.
  • Killed Off for Real:
  • Land Mine Goes "Click!": A car bomb goes "bzzzzz" when Voight turns the key in the door lock, alerting him to the threat in time for him and his companions to start running before it blows.
  • Last-Name Basis: Pretty much everyone, except for the cops' family members.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Averted only with Ruzek, who seems prone to a variety of brightly colored clothing. Everyone else in Intelligence generally wears jeans and dark t-shirts; Voight is often in a dark button-down. Olinsky always wears a dark woolen hat. The others, such as Platt, Burgess and Roman, are always in uniform unless they're at Molly's.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Used mainly as a means of showing another side of Roman.
  • Local Hangout: Molly's, for this group as well as the folks in Chicago Fire
  • Longing Look: Halstead at Lindsay, especially after Voight catches on to their unspoken connection and forbids them to date.
  • The Mole: Voight is convinced someone in his unit is a spy for Internal Affairs, and strongly suspects Sumner who IA placed in his unit. Its actually Jin.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!:
    • Seeing their obvious attraction, Voight tells Halstead and Lindsay to stay away from one another. It's not that he really objects to the relationship in and of itself, but mainly just don't want romantic fallouts to get in the way of their focus on police matters.
    • Interestingly, he also claims to be doing it to look out for Halstead. Lindsay has left a trail of broken hearts behind her, and Voight can't have that compromise his unit.
    • As of season 3, Voight's changed his mind on this, and the two are in a public relationship.
  • Nepotism: Although Lindsay isn't Voight's biological daughter, he has raised her since age 15, making her addition to the elite unit he heads possibly a bit sketchy. However, the two have different last names, and never acknowledge any personal relationship within the precinct, although quite a few people have picked up on it.
  • Nice Hat: Olinsky is rarely seen without his flat cap.
  • Noodle Incident: When Ruzek's father walks into the precinct, Platt exclaims, "Disco Bob!" It's never explained why she calls him that.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Voight's son Justin has shown quite a bit of attraction toward Lindsay, kissing her on the mouth and showing jealousy at her perceived relationship with Halstead. Even though they aren't biological siblings, she was 15 when the Voights took her in, and Justin significantly younger, meaning he really should be thinking of her as a sister.
  • One of the Boys: Lindsay, of course, having been raised by Voight alongside his son, then becoming a police officer.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted in "Start Digging" with Kevin Bingham.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Both Voight and Olinsky. Technically speaking, so do Ruzek and Burgess.
  • Parental Substitute: The Voights for Lindsay, after he took her in at age 15. Lindsay is later moved to tears at the memory of Voight's wife, Camille, and how the woman was the one who actually got her to clean up her act.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Voight, Olinsky and Dawson, with their respective offspring.
    • Voight goes out of his way to terrorize people in order to protect his son. He does admit however he crossed the line with Matt Casey, and comes to realize the kid needs a form of discipline that he himself isn't willing to dispense so he drives his son to an army recruiting station to get him away from Chicago, its influences, and to get him away from a number of felony charges.
    • Voight's protective streak extends to his fellow cops.
    • Atwater, with his siblings as their legal guardian. Crosses over with Big Brother Instinct.
  • Pint Sized Power House: None of the ladies on the Intelligence Unit top 5'6" in height. All of them have taken down their fair share or perps, many being half again to 2x's their size.
  • Playing Drunk: The cops - usually Lindsay - often pretend to be junkies looking for a high in order to have a reason to get into a drug dealer's place.
  • Police Brutality: And how! Voight is liberal with menacing and brutalising perps and interrogating suspects.
    • Olinsky too, but to a lesser degree.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Throughout the first episode, Voight continually clashes with Violent Crimes, with their Lieutenant, Bruce Belden, annoyed that Voight doesn't share information - to which Voight retorts that neither does Violent Crimes. Towards the end of the episode, Intelligence rolls up to an apartment where they believe a drug dealer is going to be killed... and Violent Crimes rolls up, telling Voight they're following up on the car belonging to some cartel hitmen, which was spotted at the apartment. It results in one Intelligence detective being shot in the neck, and pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot:
    • Season 2 featured more and more references to Chicago Med and Halstead's brother, a plastic surgeon looking to make a career change, started recurring as well. Combine that with out-of-universe industry news being filled with reports of actors being cast as doctors and nurses with contracts that have series options, it wasn't that difficult to guess that Dick Wolf and company were angling for a third series set in Chicago.
    • "Justice", in Season 3, mainly focused on the Illinois State's Attorney office for Cook County investigation and subsequent prosecution of a shooting involving Burgess and Roman. NBC ordered Chicago Justice to series the day after the episode aired.
  • Post-Injury Desk Job: Sergeant Platt was shot in the line of duty and the injury permanently restricted her mobility, making her ineligible for street duties. She instead took the position of desk sergeant in the 21st District.
  • Rape and Revenge: Nadia is kidnapped, raped and murdered by Greg Yates and the SVU and Intelligence units all want him to suffer but Lindsay and Voight in particular find it difficult to show restraint, Voight stopping within literally inches of strangling Yates to death when they're alone in a restroom.
    • After Yates escapes some episodes later and the unit tracks him down, Lindsay goes against orders to apprehend him alone, presumably on the gambit that he'll attack her and force her to kill him in self-defense. Sure enough, that's exactly what happens.
    • The guy who drugs, then rapes and sodomizes Burgess's sister ends up on the wrong side of this trope and Burgess's fists when she finally gets a hold of him. That he was planning to do the same to her didn't help his case in the slightest, either.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The horrible fate suffered by Nadia Decottis and anyone else unfortunate enough to become the victim of Gregory Yates.
  • Red Herring Mole: While Sumner was placed in the unit by IA, and is sleeping with the IA officer, she's not the Mole.
  • Red Shirt: The life expectancy of CI's tends to run on the short side.
  • Reminiscing About Your Victims: In "A Little Devil Complex," Olinsky and Ruzek follows the arsonist into a hardware store. The arsonist waits patiently in line and the cashier has a burn on the side of her face. Her burns are from a fire the arsonist "heard about." The arsonist also reveals he was burned on the arm in a fire as child, which allows the Intelligence Unit to find out his real name.
  • Returning the Handkerchief: Subverted hilariously by Lt. Kelly Severide, crossing over from Chicago Fire. Wanting to see Lindsay again but not having a reason once his police business concludes, Severide steals a paperweight from her desk, then shows up at her apartment, claiming it fell into his pocket.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: "Fallen" (5x06) turns out to be directly inspired by the "murder" of cop Joe Gliniewicz, who killed himself to cover up his Dirty Cop dealings. Unlike Gliniewicz, McGrady tried to implicate a known drug-dealing murderer, so at least his death would do some good for the city.
    • "Remember the Devil" (4x17) is obviously based on the Todd Kohlhepp case right down to the victim of the week being kept chained in a storage container in the middle of nowhere.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Hurting or killing anyone close to any of these officers will result in at least one episode full of this and if you're the one responsible, there won't anyplace far enough to for you to run to escape what's coming to you.
  • Running Gag:
    • Characters thinking Olinsky isn't around only for him to announce "I'm here!" and come out from his desk, obscured behind a pillar.
    • Whenever Lindsay and Halstead are in a car together, she reiterates that he's not "allowed" to drive.
  • Ship Tease: A little between Halstead and Lindsay and the become a couple up until her departure. Now it's between Halstead and Upton. Also a little between Ruzek and Burgess and moreso now since they're expecting a child.
    • Between Platt and Mouch, which sees them get married.
    • Apparently some between Atwater and Rojas, as even after their flirting in their first meeting, they're almost always paired together as a fake couple when undercover or backing each other up on takedowns.
  • Shout-Out: At the end of "A Little Devil Complex," Voight compares the arsonist to Henry Howard Holmes, the serial killer who terrorized the 1893 Columbian Exposition and the subject of The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.
    Voight: Devil in the White City.
    Olinsky: Back in Hell where he belongs.
  • Standard Cop Backstory: Just about everyone has had some tragedy in their past.
    • Voight's father, who was also a cop, was killed when Voight was 8.
    • Lindsay, whose mother was a junkie and father was sent to prison, bounced around foster homes.
    • Halstead, Olinsky and Mouse were all in the service.
    • Olinsky's marriage fell apart and he moved into his garage in order to remain close to his daughter. He and his wife are starting to patch things up but then she kicks him out completely upon the discovery he has another previously-unknown daughter by another woman.
    • Atwater has custody of his ten-year-old sister and teenage brother until he's forced to send them off with relatives for their own safety.
    • Platt joined the force at a time when policewomen were not well-respected by their male peers, was shot in the line of duty, and is now on desk duty for the remainder of her career. Then she was assaulted and her father murdered by an ex-con she helped put away some time ago.
    • Dawson's job lead to his getting divorced and he rarely gets to see his children.
    • Ruzek's parents had an extremely vicious divorce when he was a child.
    • Nadia was a teenage drug addict working as an escort. Subverted, since she wasn't promoted to being a full cop, at least not while she was alive anyway.
    • Burgess actually averted first. Everything that happens to her from Season 2 onward is her backstory.
    • Upton was raised in an abusive home and often witnessed her father domestically abuse her mother.
    • Rojas grew up in the foster system and aged out, something that the series has made clear usually just leads to becoming another statistic. It was thanks to her boyfriend taking the full rap for their carjacking forays and a compassionate caseworker helping her out that she was able to become an officer.
  • Street Urchin: Lindsay, growing up with a junkie mother, until she meets Voight, becoming his CI and is taken in by him and his wife at age 15.
    • Nadia has a similar backstory but didn't have the benefit of being taken in by somebody who could have put her on the right path. Lindsay and Platt eventually step in to guide her.
    • Rojas was this from time-to-time as she bounced around foster homes. At one point, she turned to squatting and carjacking to survive.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Nadia, who gets killed in the Chicago Fire-PD-SVU crossover to make the Intelligence squad suffer.
  • Technology Marches On: Invoked by Trudy Pratt in "The Price We Pay":
    TRUDY PRATT: "Let's get it on film or whatever they're calling it now."
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Burgess and Roman come across a man who refuses to vacate an apartment he was renting through AirBnB by claiming squatters rights and refuses to allow them entry by threatening to sue. They kick him out finally when they discover he murdered his wife and was trying to use the apartment to conceal her remains..
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: In "Prison Ball", while talking to a person of interest, Atwater is outed by another prisoner as an undercover cop, leading to a Curb-Stomp Battle between the two inmates and Atwater, with Atwater upper-handing them both. After Dawson, disguised as a guard, "breaks up" the fight:
    Atwater: [to the inmate] Hell yeah I'm a cop, you punk-ass bitch, and I got you on a wire for murder!
    • Happens again much later when he and Rojas take down a suspect:
    Rojas: [trying to cuff the suspect] Shut up and quit moving!
    Suspect: Get off me, bitch!
    Atwater: [gun drawn, aimed at suspect's face] Call her a "bitch" again!
  • The 'Verse: The show crossed over with Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, meaning that Chicago PD, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago Justice are set within the same continuity as the Law & Order franchise and by extension, Homicide: Life on the Street and New York Undercover.
    • And now, FBI and FBI: Most Wanted, due to Upton guest starring on the former.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Lindsay/Upton/Rojas's Tomboy to Burgess's Girly Girl. They're all tough women, but Burgess is arguably the most feminine out of them.
  • Watch the Paint Job: In "Thirty Balloons" in season 1, Atwater and Burgess get a brand-new Chevrolet Impala Interceptor that's fresh from the factory (20 miles on the odometer). When Platt gives them the keys, she tells them to bring the unit back in one piece at the end of their shift, because the 21st District commander is going to use the vehicle as a show car in a Toys for Tots parade. Subsequently, while on patrol, Atwater and Burgess end up picking up a female drug mule who's suffered a psychotic break due to a cocaine balloon in her body rupturing. In the resulting scuffle to subdue her, the passenger's door mirror is knocked off the car. After taking the mule to the hospital, Atwater and Burgess contemplate taking the unit to a CPD garage, but decide against it because, in Atwater's words, the garage takes up to a month to fix a flat tire. So they take it to a street mechanic to have it fixed. The damage is repaired, but later, while parked outside another crime scene, a cinder block at a nearby construction site falls on the hood, leaving a dent.
  • With Friends Like These...: "What Do You Do" shows the Intelligence Unit getting taser qualified, which requires them to be zapped with a taser. Everyone seems a little too eager to zap each other.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Big Bad of "Profiles" and "Hiding Not Seeking" (a Crossover with Chicago Fire)... An ex-reporter who was Wrongly Accused of murder. And despite being cleared, he still lost everything — his job, prospects, wife (who was even Driven to Suicide by the stress), etc. — due to the bad publicity. Now he's finally snapped and invoked Then Let Me Be Evil, going on a Mad Bomber Roaring Rampage of Revenge against everyone he blames for ruining his life based on "fake news."

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