What happened to Jimmy Perez in Shetland and why did Douglas Henshall leave the atmospheric BBC drama?

You might be wondering what happened to Jimmy Perez in Shetland now that series 8 has landed with a brand new character joining the team

What happened to Jimmy Perez in Shetland? Seen here is DI Jimmy Perez played by Douglas Henshall
(Image credit: BBC/ITV Studios/Mark Mainz)

When it comes to what happened to Jimmy Perez in Shetland some fans might be looking for a reminder of the details as series 8 started without him.

The new series of Shetland has finally begun over a year after the Shetland series 7 ending delivered some particularly emotional closing scenes. Anyone who loved Douglas Henshall’s DI Jimmy Perez might have found the return of the BBC show a little bittersweet without him as the police officers tackled their latest case in his absence. However, things look to be getting seriously intriguing and with the arrival of a brand new detective into their midst Shetland series 8 can surely only get even more dramatic. As we get used to the show without Jimmy, though, some people might be interested in a quick recap of why exactly he’s not there anymore.

Here we reveal what happened to Jimmy in Shetland and why Douglas Henshall left - plus, who has replaced him…

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*


(Image credit: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz)

What happened to Jimmy Perez in Shetland and why isn’t he in series 8?  

If you missed the final moments of the Shetland series 7 ending or the announcement of actor Douglas Henshall leaving you might just have been left a little confused when the new series of Shetland started on 1st November. Douglas’ character DI Jimmy Perez had been a Shetland fixture since the show first landed. However, we’ll sadly not be seeing DI Jimmy Perez in Shetland anymore as the character was written out in emotional style in episode 6 of series 7.

For anyone wondering what happened to Jimmy Perez in Shetland thankfully the answer doesn’t involve the beloved DI meeting a grisly fate. Instead he simply reached the conclusion that he was done with police work.  

He deliberately allowed American artist Lloyd Anderson to go free from the Shetland police’s force’s custody. He did this despite his boss, Procurator Fiscal Rhona Kelly, telling him that they had to return Lloyd to the US where he was wanted for the murder of a police officer.

Lloyd’s true identity as wanted criminal Walter Edwards was discovered during the investigation which dominated Shetland series 7 and he was arrested. He maintained he’d been framed and was being discriminated against and Jimmy believed him and thought that Lloyd’s return would likely mean him facing the death penalty.


(Image credit: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz)
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On New Year’s Day a teenager is found dead in the snow with ravens circling ominously above. Suspicion soon falls upon a lonely outcast who lives nearby, but Inspector Jimmy Perez isn't so sure. Soon he begins delving into the past and it's not long before the investigation spreads distrust and fear.

Instead of risking this, Jimmy gave him back his passport and told Lloyd to take a flight to Norway and from there start another new life. Rhona immediately guessed what Jimmy had done and told him that it would mean the end of his career if Lloyd wasn’t found. But he defended his actions to her, saying it was worth risking his career to help Lloyd and ultimately quitting from the police force that had meant so much to him.

“I’m done,” Jimmy declared softly, sitting in Lloyd’s empty cell, “If the last thing I do is help an innocent man, I’m good with that.” 

He then packed up his things and bid a seriously emotional farewell to his DS Alison ‘Tosh’ McIntosh, before saying goodbye to DC Sandy Wilson and Sergeant Billy McCabe. 


(Image credit: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Kirsty Anderson)

But it wasn’t all sadness for Jimmy Perez in Shetland as the final moments of Shetland series 7 saw him set out on a brand new journey as he met up with nurse Meg Pattison.

They’d been on dates in series 7 and Jimmy had known her brother briefly, but she ended up feeling doubtful about their relationship as he always seemed to be putting the job first. She’d also been left incredibly worried about him when he’d gone off with his colleagues to help prevent a bomb being detonated for the cause of extreme eco-terrorism. 

Meg told him at the end of the finale, “You putting yourself in harm’s way like that. It seemed to me to be the actions of a man who didn’t care about himself. Or his future. Brave? Yeah, sure, but reckless. And that is scary because a world without Jimmy Perez isn’t one that I want to live in.”


(Image credit: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz)

It was then that the former detective told her that he’d left the force for good and rushed to reassure her that it wasn’t because of her but because he wanted to.

“I just didn’t want to hide in that police station anymore,” he said calmly as Meg looked delighted as it dawned on her that he was truly ready to commit to a life with her.

The couple kissed and sat talking on the wall by Jimmy’s iconic sea-front home before the credits rolled, drawing the era of Jimmy Perez in Shetland to an end. This was a wonderful way to round off his story and his feelings of discomfort about continuing as a police officer could have been seen to start back in series 6. He almost lost his job when returning Shetland character Donna Killick came back to the islands after being convicted for a historic murder in series 4.


(Image credit: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz)

She was terminally ill and wanted to die on Shetland but not before manipulating her former lover Duncan - the biological father of Jimmy’s step-daughter Cassie - into helping. Behind his back, she'd written a letter to her solicitor implicating him in murdering her and claiming Jimmy helped him cover it up.

DI Perez technically had helped Duncan cover up his involvement and whilst Duncan went to prison for Donna’s death, Jimmy was eventually cleared by a tribunal at the beginning of Douglas Henshall’s final series on the show.

Why did Douglas Henshall leave Shetland and who replaced him? 

Given how much long-time fans loved the character many people might not have only been asking themselves what happened to Jimmy Perez in Shetland, but why his actor Douglas left. He previously said in a statement, as per RadioTimes.com, that whilst it had been a great privilege to play Jimmy, he felt that the character’s journey was reaching a natural conclusion and that he’d intended to wrap up his story in a “satisfactory” way.

“After series 5 of Shetland, David Kane and I decided we wanted to do two more series to complete the story of Jimmy Perez. So series 6 and 7 were commissioned together to give us time to wrap up Perez's story to a satisfactory end,” he said. 

Douglas Henshall attends a photocall during the annual Edinburgh International Book Festival

(Image credit: Photo by Roberto Ricciuti/Getty Images)

Douglas continued, “It’s been one of the privileges of my career to play Jimmy Perez for almost 10 years and to work with so many wonderful people both in front of and behind the camera, and also to spend so much time in Shetland. The isles were so much a part of our show and of Perez himself. I'll miss him and the place." 

He also expanded upon this a little in an interview with the BBC where he referenced Jimmy’s private life in particular as needing to be resolved. 

"I decided to leave a few years ago because I felt that Perez's story was coming to a natural end - it was time to find a resolution to Perez's private life," he said. "I never wanted to ruin the things that were unique to him and our series so it felt like the right time to wrap up his story in a way that would be satisfactory to everybody.

Douglas Henshall appears on the Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show

(Image credit: Photo by Russell Cheyne/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In terms of the wider storyline of what happened to Jimmy in Shetland, Douglas’ comments do make a lot of sense. At first he and Duncan were in a sometimes uneasy alliance, both trying to be part of Cassie’s life. Jimmy also struggled to move on following the death of his wife and Cassie’s mother Fran. By the end of series 7 he’d found love with Meg, Cassie was off living her own life and he and Duncan were friends, with Duncan telling him in a prison visit that he had no intention of returning to the Shetland Islands after his release.

Whilst many fans might’ve been left intrigued over the possibilities for who could replace Douglas Henshall, Ashley Jensen has joined the Shetland police force’s team of investigators now. 


(Image credit: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz)

She is playing DI Ruth Calder from series 8 and, like Jimmy, was born and raised on Shetland. Ruth is the daughter of a reverend and her estranged brother Alan is now the minister at the church and she has mixed feelings about returning after spending decades working in London. In episode 1 of series 8 we saw her team up with Tosh and the others to help solve the series’ new crime and it’ll certainly be interesting to see how she fits in going forward.

Shetland series 1-7 are available to watch on BBC iPlayer and Shetland series 8 continues on Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC One with episodes available afterwards on BBC iPlayer.

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!