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As Chicago Med Adds Another New Doctor For Season 9, Here's When Fans Can Expect A Will Halstead Shout-Out

 Archer and Dr. Charles in Chicago Med Season 9 premiere.
Archer and Dr. Charles in Chicago Med Season 9 premiere.

Chicago Med returned to NBC in the 2024 TV schedule with a six-month time jump to mix things up for the doctors and nurses, and new doctor Mitch Ripley was already causing complications in the ED in the Season 9 premiere. As it turns out, Luke Mitchell isn't the only new cast member to Med in 2024, and the newest addition to the ensemble already has medical drama experience thanks to Grey's Anatomy. She'll debut sooner rather than later... and that too is the case for the first name-drop of Will Halstead in Season 9.

Sophia Ali in Grey's Anatomy as Dr. Qadri
Sophia Ali in Grey's Anatomy as Dr. Qadri

Chicago Med's Newest Doctor

Sophia Ali, known for portraying Dr. Dahlia Qadri across three seasons of Grey's Anatomy (seen above), has been cast as ED resident Dr. Zola Ahmad in Season 9 of Chicago Med. TVLine reports that the role will be recurring. The character has a tendency to make impulsive decisions that don't necessarily jive with hospital policy, if those decisions can help patients.

Ali debuts the role in the January 24 episode of Chicago Med, called "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both of Us." According to the episode description, Archer's transplant surgery will be in jeopardy when a woman from his past returns, while Dr. Charles attempts to fix his relationship with Ripley after the newcomer revealed some longtime resentments in the premiere. Then, in the storyline that presumably involves Dr. Zola Ahmad, Crockett will clash with the ED's newest first-year resident.

The promo for the episode doesn't drop any clues about Dr. Ahmad, although it does give away that the woman from Archer's past is Sean's mother, so Dean may need Hannah's friendship more than ever. I do wonder how the new character's tendency to bend the rules of hospital policy will work after what the showrunners told CinemaBlend about Goodwin and the new owners of Med.

And speaking of characters in the ED with a knack for bending the rules, what about Will Halstead?

Nick Gehlfuss as Will Halstead in Chicago Med Season 8 finale
Nick Gehlfuss as Will Halstead in Chicago Med Season 8 finale

When Will Gets A Mention

The biggest reveal of the Season 8 finale back in 2023 was that Will sabotaged OR 2.0 and then left both the hospital and Chicago itself, heading to Seattle to reunite with Natalie and start a new life there. It was a twist to write out actor Nick Gehlfuss (and lead me to flash back to ER), and Will wasn't even mentioned in the Season 9 premiere. When I spoke with showrunners Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider about the new season of Med, they explained why nobody was thinking about Will (and when Will will get a mention):

  • Diane Frolov: "They've had time to process this [departure]. We reference Will in Episode 2."

  • Andrew Schneider: "It's not a fresh wound. People have processed it."

Schneider also commented that Crockett was "resentful of Will for having sabotaged the surgery" back in the Season 8 finale (which is available streaming via Peacock Premium subscription), but that resentment wasn't so fresh for him in the Season 9 premiere following the six-month time jump that he needed to specifically mention his former colleague's actions.

The showrunners didn't spoil the context in which Will will be mentioned in the second episode, but considering that it's the same episode that introduces a new doctor who seemingly prioritizes patients over procedure, I have to wonder if one of Will's former coworkers will make the comparison. After what Will and Vanessa did last season, I certainly couldn't blame Maggie or Goodwin if they compared the new doctor to Will!

The showrunners also confirmed that fans shouldn't think of Mitch Ripley as filling Will's shoes; perhaps the new character will fit that role a bit more. Meet Sophia Ali as Dr. Zola Ahmad and experience the Will reference with the next new episode of Chicago Med, airing on Wednesday, January 24 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.