Ships. In entertainment, and especially, in fandom, we live and die by them. Which is why every Friday, we’ll be focusing on a couple, analyzing why we ship them, and overall, just proclaiming our eternal love for those couples that make us say:
I will go down with this ship.
And if there’s a ship that has captured my heart — unexpectedly and against my own free will — it’s Chicago PD’s Jay Halstead and Hailey Upton.
There’s nothing like a good slowburn to get your fangirl heart pumping, and I’ve found that with Upstead. Watching these two strong characters fall in love with each other has been amazing to watch as a viewer. And with that chemistry, it’s what you dream of as a show runner.
So let’s dive into the reasons why I will FOREVER go down with this ship.
They caught me by surprise
My journey as an Upstead shipper was unique. I never expected to love them, yet here we are. Here’s the thing, I was a diehard Linstead shipper — Erin Lindsay and Jay Halstead — and then Sophia Bush left the show. I was heartbroken, angry, and in no way ready to start considering another ship involving Halstead.
After a two-season hiatus, I returned to Chicago PD intent on giving the show a chance, considering I loved these characters so much. I’d known that Upstead was a popular ship that was growing, and I didn’t want to love Jay and Hailey.
But I did. In fact, I was absolutely entranced by them. I loved Hailey as a character first, which made the transition to Upstead an easy one. Suddenly, I could see why Upstead had garnered so much steam — and why fans were absolutely in love with them.
Upstead wasn’t trying to be what Linstead was, which is what I was afraid of. Jay and Hailey had their own journey, their own relationship, and they had chemistry for days that made it impossible for me not to ship them.
I’m a firm believer that you can have multiple loves in your life — first love, true love, you name it. And Jay Halstead is the perfect example. Erin was the right love at that specific time of his life. But Hailey is the right love at this point of his life.
Some of my favorite ships are the ones that catch me by surprise because it’s a testament to the raw chemistry between the characters and the journey they’ve taken, to get to a point where people start to care as much as they do.
And, to be honest, considering the strong feelings I have for Upstead, I feel like I’ve been shipping them for years.
They’re partners in every sense of the word
Now, I won’t pretend to know the importance of partners when it comes to police work, but I do understand the importance of having a partner in your line of work. Someone that backs up you. Someone you know better than other coworkers. Someone that you’re closer to than others.
When discussing Upstead, the word “partner” has a deeper meaning than it does for most. The word “partner” encapsulates everything that Jay and Hailey’s relationship is. They trust each other; they rely on each other; they’re stronger together.
“You’re my partner” just means something different with Upstead. It goes beyond the police work. To them, being partners means dedicating themselves to each other — to look out for each other, to back each other, and to be the person that gets them back on track when it all goes to hell. It’s something that continues when they’re off duty.
“He’s my partner” and “she’s my partner,” they’re not just words. It’s almost like a silent “I love you.” A reminder that — no matter what — they’ve got each other.
Whenever they’re in need — or whenever they don’t know what else to do — all it takes is a look. The kind of silent communication that only true partners understand. You don’t need words. Sometimes, a look is enough.
They’ll always follow each other
When you go into the field and put your life on the line every single day, you need to have someone you know has your back. A partner that you can rely on. Someone that will back up you up; someone that will look out for you; someone that will put you in your place when the situation calls for it; someone that will follow you anywhere.
It’s an unconditional trust and respect that great partners have. Because you know that, together, you’re stronger.
Hailey has trusted Jay since the day she met him. She just knew. She knew that he was someone that was loyal beyond words. She just didn’t know that they’d wind up being partners, but here they are. And they’re damn good ones considering they’ve developed that trusting foundation from the start.
Sometimes, you have to follow your gut-instinct. Even when everyone else is telling you not to. But it certainly helps when your partner — the person you trust most — has your back when no one does.
Both Hailey and Jay have made it clear that, no matter what, they have each other’s backs. They’ll follow each other anywhere. No hesitation. And that’s a level of trust that most people can only dream of.
They’ve got chemistry for days
If you don’t have chemistry, you don’t have any chance. It’s the simple rules of shipping. But one of the reasons that Upstead took off as quickly as it did was because the chemistry between Halstead and Upton was undeniable.
In fact, it was so sizzling that they had to put Upton with Ruzek for a brief period in season 6 because, honestly, there was no reason to deny Halstead and Upton from acting upon their feelings. And, as we know, a good slowburn takes time to grow —- anticipation and all.
The kind of chemistry between Halstead and Upton is the stuff that epic ships are made of. Where, almost instantly, you can feel a connection. And every moment that happens thereafter continues to build something really beautiful.
Upstead haven’t acknowledged their feelings for each other yet, which makes them my favorite kind of slowburn. And yet, one look can voice a thousand thoughts.
One look can say, “You’re important to me.” One look can say, “I’ve got you.” One look can say, “I love you.”
And Upstead are the kind of ship whose true feelings remain bottled up. Even though everyone around them can see that they’re in love with each other. Which goes back to that sizzling chemistry that cannot be extinguished.
They’re my favorite kind of slowburn
While there’s no feeling in the shipping world quite like endgame, it’s the journey that makes a ship truly special. And there’s nothing like watching two characters fall in love for the first time.
My favorite kind of slowburn is when two people that have feelings for each other — that they don’t acknowledge — but everyone around them knows that they have the hots for each other. And that’s been Upstead from the start.
It’s certainly been a journey watching Jay and Hailey fall in love with each other over these last three years. Watching them grow from strangers to partners; from partners to friends; from friends to friends that have romantic feelings that they choose not to act on.
When you find yourself shouting at your television screen for two characters to just kiss already, you know that they’ve got you. And you’ve committed yourself to a ship — no matter how long it takes.
But the thing with slowburns is that, eventually, they come to fruition. That’s what makes it a slowburn. All of the build-up; all of the anticipation; all of the longing stares that spoke words they couldn’t — there’s a payoff. And, luckily, that payoff is coming sooner rather than later for Upstead.
Jay and Hailey have been in enough life-and-death situations to recognize the importance of their relationship — that tomorrow isn’t promised. That’s never been in question. If anything, they’ve been afraid to admit their true feelings because the possibility of losing each other is too great to bear.
But on the other hand, if they give in to the fear — the fear that things will change, that their relationship will be altered — they could wind up missing out on something even greater. And isn’t it better to have loved and lost to have never have loved at all?
And, I might be biased, but Upstead certainly has the makings of endgame.
They’re lost without each other
You know the phrase, “you don’t appreciate something until it’s gone?” Well, it’s the truth. Not to say that you don’t know when you have it good. But when you lose it — be it temporarily or permanently — you realize just how good you had it.
Halstead and Upton didn’t even realize how much they’re dependent on each other’s presence until they’re apart. You see it in their demeanor. Even the idea of separating as partners — what we saw briefly at the end of season 6 — was unimaginable for them. They’re partners, through and through. And good partners are hard to find.
Not to mention, in this line of business, there’s a chance that they won’t come home alive. Not that I believe Chicago PD would ever kill Jay or Hailey, but you can never say never on television. With this line of work, the risk is great.
When Jay almost died last season, Hailey was beside herself. Unable to rationalize a world without Jay. She loves him, of course, he’s her partner. But she didn’t breathe until she saw with her own eyes that he was okay.
But it goes beyond life-and-death situations. Just being around each other is something that they’ve grown dependent on. Look no further than the end of season 7, when Hailey joined FBI in New York for a few episodes, and Jay was left without his partner. And he was like a lost puppy — scared about the slimmest of possibilities that she might stay in New York rather than return home to him.
There’s no use trying to hide it. Jay and Hailey rely on each other’s company. They crave that closeness, that safety, that dependability, that companionship.