Spoilers for the Season 12 premiere of Chicago Fire, “Barely Gone” lie ahead. Continue with caution!
One Chicago is finally back following those major cliffhangers and, in the aftermath of the long hiatuses, changes are taking place. After Chicago Med said goodbye to numerous characters throughout Season 8, most recently Nick Gehlfuss’ Will Halstead, Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. are following suit when it comes to cast departures. With one exit down already and at least one more to go on Fire, showrunner Andrea Newman is addressing the franchise's cast changes, and her reasoning makes sense.
The Season 12 premiere of Chicago Fire saw the departure of Alberto Rosende’s Blake Gallo by way of him moving to Michigan to finally be with family. The series will also see Kara Killmer’s Sylvie Brett moving to Oregon to be with Casey after their wedding later in the season. Chicago P.D., meanwhile, is saying goodbye to Tracy Spiridakos’ Hailey Upton, who's leaving the Intelligence Unit after on-screen husband, Jesse Lee Soffer, said farewell at the beginning of Season 10.
Since the major franchise has been around for so long, the shows have seen their fair share of cast exits, so it’s not like it’s unusual. However, the fact that it’s been happening much more frequently as of late may be a bit alarming to some. Andrea Newman tells TVLine that this all simply has to do with the progression of storylines:
[In] storytelling and in terms of real life, 12 years is a long time, and things need to change, just dynamic-wise. You want new characters, and you want new dynamics. Actor-wise, 12 years is a long [time]. Nobody expects in TV [that] they’re going to be anywhere for 12 years, I can say that for sure, from all sides.
It does make sense that not everything can stay as is, especially for a show that's in its 12th season. Kara Killmer joined in the third seaso, while Alberto Rosende was added in the ninth. Ultimately, it would just seem that it was time for their characters' stories to be wrapped up. It's bittersweet that their arcs have run their course. But, luckily, even with these major changes, Andrea Newman promises that the aura surrounding Firehouse 51 will remain the same:
[Firehouse 51] still feels very intact to me. There’s still Boden at the helm and Severide and Kidd. It still feels very strong, and it still feels, because we’ll see Matt Casey, like most people who’ve been part of it are still part of it in lots of ways. So that’s lucky for us, too.
Changes are honestly to be expected for shows that have been on as long as the One Chicago series And, at the end of the day, fans need to remember a few things. Firehouse 51 is still Firehouse 51, the Intelligence Unit is still the Intelligence Unit, and Gaffney Chicago Medical Center is still Gaffney Chicago Medical Center, just without some fan-favorite characters. It's also worth mentioning that not every character fans say goodbye to are gone forever, as some are placed in situations that allow them to come back at some point. For instance, April returned to Chicago Med last season to help close out Ethan’s story, while Casey has returned multiple times on Chicago Fire and will again this season.
That being said, fans may not always like it when their favorites leave, and it wouldn’t be surprising if more exits were on the horizon. Despite that, I'm hopeful that those who are exiting the fray will get the send-offs they deserve.
To see how all of that plays out, will just have to tune in to One Chicago 2024 on Wednesdays starting at 8 p.m. ET on NBC as part of the 2024 TV schedule. Past episodes are also available to watch using a Peacock subscription.