At the end of Chicago P.D. Season 5, Elias Koteas' Detective Alvin "Al" Olinsky was killed off. Although the episode aired nearly three years ago, fans of the show might still be wondering why Koteas left the show after being a series regular for the show's first five years. While some actors leave a show due to a contract dispute or other behind-the-scenes drama, there was none of that involved in Koteas' departure.
During a May 2018 interview with Us Weekly, executive producer Rick Eid explained it was simply a story decision. "It just evolved from a storytelling perspective," Eid said at the time. "Once we started down the road of Woods (Mykelti Williamson) and Voight (Jason Beghe) going at each other, Bingham's body being recovered and Olinsky's DNA being found on that body, we started playing it out to its creative, dramatic conclusion, it just felt like an interesting way to wrap up that storyline."
Voight's decision to kill Bingham had to come with a cost, Eid said. That cost would be the death of his best friend. "We thought that possibly losing his best friend became this interesting idea that we all graduated toward. We could see this long arc playing out in that direction," he said.
There was no bad blood between Koteas and the producers, so telling the acclaimed actor his character was going to die was not easy. Koteas is a "terrific actor and a good person," Eid told TVLine. "So this part of the process was really challenging," the showrunner continued. "But Elias handled the news like a true professional and remained committed to the show and his character until the final shot. We will miss him dearly."
The decision to have Olinsky die from his knife wound did not really set in until a week before thy started shooting the episode. "It was truly just one of those things that just evolved from storytelling and at the end of 20 'What If’s,' everybody kept coming back to this idea of how this would impact Voight," Eid told Us Weekly.
Koteas, 59, began his film and television career in 1985 and has countless classic films on his resume. He starred in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film as Casey Jones and reprised the role in the third film in 1993. He also starred in David Cronenberg's Crash, Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line, David Fincher's Zodiac, and Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island. In February 2020, Deadline reported Koteas booked a recurring part in the last season of Amazon's legal drama Goliath, starring Billy Bob Thornton. In the meantime, fans can catch Chicago P.D. Season 8 on NBC Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET.