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Linstead's Chicago P.D. Relationship Timeline Explained

One subject guaranteed to elicit a range of powerful opinions from long-term "Chicago P.D." fans is the richly nuanced romantic liaison known as Linstead. Quickly attracting a borderline fanatical following, the on-screen match-up of detectives Erin Lindsay (Sophia Bush) and Jay Halstead (Jesse Lee Soffer) was singled out by The Hollywood Reporter as the series' "most beloved couple." And the truth is, fans' shipping of Linstead still seems to be a thing, despite the duo's on-again, off-again attraction finally delaminating for good back in 2017.

In this respect, plenty of commentary online has asserted that when it comes to character hook-uppery on "Chicago P.D.," no other match-up compares to the revered Linstead combo. Typical fan-love for Linstead comes from Redditor u/cerysed, who wrote: "[It's] not even their relationship they just had such good natural chemistry and their banter was top tier." Another Redditor in the same discussion felt that losing Linstead was a severe blow to the series, saying, "I know! After Sophia Bush left the show lost some of its charm..." Considering all the above, it seems like the perfect opportunity to indulge in some nostalgic hindsight and explain a bit about Linstead's "Chicago P.D." relationship timeline.

The pre-Linstead era and the not inconsiderable Voight-factor

Theoretically, it's reasonable to assume Lindsay and Halstead would have first met when they were assigned as partners in the intelligence unit at the Chicago Police Department's 21st District HQ. And the fact is, the intel unit had only been in existence for a month when the events of Season 1, Episode 1 of the series took place. So, the two would've hardly had time to exchange names when the series' debut "Stepping Stones" episode aired in January of 2014.

As viewers familiar with that premiere outing will recall, the show hit the ground running, with intel chief Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) already strong-arming a suspect in the very first scene. Why bring up Voight and his iron-fisted, rogue-cop persona when we've only just started reviewing the Linstead equation? Because Voight's extensive backstory with Lindsay will influence the Linstead saga well beyond her and Halstead's initial meet-up.

The proto-Linstead phase: hesitation, recalculation, flirtation

We learned early in "Chicago P.D." that Lindsay came to the intel unit lugging a whole trainload of emotional baggage. With a troubled past as a teenager that included run-ins with police and general juvenile delinquency, Lindsay turned to Voight and his family as a surrogate for her own. Later on, when she's partnered with detective Halstead after joining the force, the two at first barely trust each other. After all, he's no dummy. He knows Voight is sketchy. And he can tell Lindsay and Voight have a history together. But as the first season progresses, so does the embryonic Linstead affair.

Over time, fans will see their relationship evolve from wariness to sharing a flirtatious, bantering dynamic. But because Voight is a father figure to Lindsay and his firm prohibition against intra-department hookups, things don't escalate to anything more serious for the two. The fact is, at this juncture, it's not entirely clear if there will ever be a spark of romance kindled between these two strong-willed personalities. Spoiler alert: there will be.

After long last, Linstead gets real

Moving deeper into Season 1 of "Chicago P.D.," Lindsay gets an offer she's reluctant to refuse and accepts a new position with the DEA and a newly constituted task force. This might make it seem like Lindsay and Halstead would never get together, but just the opposite happens. Since Lindsay was no longer employed in the same organization as Halstead, Voight's zero-tolerance of departmental fraternization no longer applied.

So, presto: Linstead makes its first official appearance in Season 2, Episode 11 ("We Don't Work Together Anymore") as things heat up significantly and the two start formally dating. As it turns out, however, Lindsay feels under-utilized at the task force, and before long, she's back with the 21st District intel unit. Considering Voight's disapproval, does this cool things off? Actually, her return to the team only makes the Linstead flame burn hotter. At first, they attempt to keep their dating sitch within the I.U. under wraps, but eventually, Halstead wants to tell Voight he and Lindsay are an item. For Lindsay, however, this is a deal-breaker, and she refuses, which viewers learn in a later episode is unnecessary since Voight has already figured out what's going on with them but decides to let it slide for the time being.

A shocking murder rattles Linstead

With daddy-figure Voight reluctantly resigned to the inevitability of Linstead, it should have been smooth sailing for the duo, right? Not so much. Because as "Chicago P.D." proceeds further into Season 2, the Linstead unit will take a serious hit. The foreshadowing of things to come appears in the guise of Nadia Decotis (Stella Maeve), a troubled young girl who reminds Lindsay of her rebellious younger self. Reaching out to the girl, Lindsay takes Nadia under her wing and works hard to set her on a more positive path. Then, in the "Chicago P.D." and "Law & Order: SVU" crossover episode "Daydream Believer," tragedy strikes when Nadia is mistakenly killed by a psychopath targeting Lindsay.

The murder plunges Lindsay into a downward spiral of grief, guilt, and a return to drinking and drug abuse. As a result of this emotional turmoil, she resigns from the force in Season 2, Episode 23 ("Born Into Bad News"). Even though her intended resignation doesn't go through, things are suddenly balanced at a critical tipping point for Lindsay, Halstead, and the very survival of Linstead.

Linstead is beating odds, and then: the wife-out-of-nowhere

As noted above, the show's events have conspired to torpedo the Linstead love boat just as it was picking up steam. Indeed, more storm clouds loom on the horizon as Season 3 of "Chicago P.D." begins. Shortly after the start of the Season 3, Episode 1 premiere episode "Life is Fluid," an undercover operation of Halstead's goes sideways, causing him to be kidnapped, tied up, and tortured by the drug runners he was pursuing. Determined to make amends for her recent off-the-rails behavior, Lindsay puts herself forward as the go-between for Halstead's release.

She proves herself big-time by rescuing Halstead and killing the drug lord, holding him hostage in the subsequent action. As things conclude, the couple is closer than ever, and even Voight finally agrees the existence of Linstead is good for all involved. Indeed, in the Season 4 episode "The Silos," the two move in with each other. So, it's all rainbows and unicorns from here on out, right? Meh...

The end of Linstead

When it looks like Linstead is finally on solid ground, an absolute bombshell drops. A woman shows up in Chicago and informs Halstead that she and he are still married. That's right. Halstead's secretly been a husband this entire time. And if you suspect viewers were surprised at this shocking information, imagine how Lindsay took it. In any case, it likely didn't surprise the Linstead fandom that any remaining sparks between Lindsay and Halstead proceeded to fizzle out.

In Season 4, Episode 23 ("Fork in the Road"), Halstead contemplates proposing to Lindsay even though they're still broken up. She decides to bail, with Halstead unable to propose, and accepts a new gig with the FBI in New York, ending this fan-favorite affair once and for all. All that being said, as the four-season timeline of this iconic romantic duopoly has explained, Linstead's "Chicago P.D." relationship clearly earned its place in the annals of epic TV coupledom. However, it won't be long before Halstead finds a new love at work in Hailey Upton (Tracy Spiridakos), kicking off a relationship "Chicago P.D." fans ship even more: Upstead.