‘Chicago Fire’: Executive Producer Matt Olmstead Reveals How They Decide Who to Kill Off

When you watch a show religiously, it’s hard not to get attached to your favorite characters. Fans of Chicago Fire are no exception, and they’ve had to endure a lot of heartbreak over the years. The series has had quite a few major character deaths. Some of these deaths were unexpected, and many of them affected numerous characters in the series. The Chicago Fire writers have revealed their approach to deciding who meets their demise…

(L-R) Eamonn Walker as Wallace Boden, Joe Minoso as Joe Cruz in front of a fire truck
(L-R) Eamonn Walker as Wallace Boden, Joe Minoso as Joe Cruz | Adrian Burrows/NBC/Getty Images

Chicago Fire is part of the wildly popular One Chicago franchise on NBC. Chicago Fire was the first of the three series, which now includes Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med. The series is among the most popular prime-time shows on television right now, and they rule the ratings every Wednesday night. 

Chicago Fire takes place at the fictional Firehouse 51, and follows the lives of its firefighters and paramedics. The drama explores the intense situations that rescue workers face every day. The series keeps fans on the edges of their seats, with exciting plots and engaging characters. The characters are expertly portrayed and fans have formed major attachments to some of their favorites throughout the seasons. Chicago Fire started in 2012, and it’s currently in the 9th season. 

What were the most shocking deaths on ‘Chicago Fire’?

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When a show like Chicago Fire is on for nine seasons, they’re bound to have a few character deaths. Usually, these deaths are secondary characters, and they don’t alter the show too much. Chicago Fire threw their fans for a loop, however, when they killed off a major character. Fans were stunned when Leslie Shay, a central character for the first two seasons, was killed. The paramedic was killed in the line of duty while responding to a fire, but it was later revealed that the fire had been started by a serial arsonist as a trap to lure the firefighters to the scene. The building exploded while the team was inside. Although they survived the blast, a metal pole hit Shay in the head and killed her instantly.

There were several other shocking deaths on the series, as The Hollywood Reporter notes, including Hallie Thomas, Rebecca Jones, and Anna Turner. Thomas was engaged to Casey when the series began, but she broke off the engagement. Later, the two were about to get back together when she was murdered after witnessing a drug operation in her clinic. Rebecca Jones was a new addition to the firehouse in season two, but she knew Dawson because they had trained together. Jones was the chief’s daughter, which put a lot of stress on the candidate. She also had trouble fitting in with the team, and eventually took her own life. Anna Turner was Severide’s love interest in season five, but she died from cancer. 

How do the writers decide who to kill off?

The One Chicago writers have admitted that they were going for shock value with Shay’s death. They said they could have chosen to kill off a minor character, but that wouldn’t have had as much impact. They said it would have felt like a “pulled punch.”

The writers actually have a very methodical way of deciding who gets the ax. They have photos of all of the actors lined up, and they go through each one, discussing the impact that their death would have on the show and the current plot. They described the process in an interview with TVLine, “It’s like a roster of a sports team when you’re having to make a cut. You’re having to weigh the pros and cons of each one. Some we moved off in two seconds, said that wasn’t going to happen. Others we debated, but we gave everybody a day in court.”

They ultimately decided to kill off Shay because her death affected the most people on the show. She touched everyone’s lives in some way, so her death had a major impact on nearly every character. This led to richer writing and a more emotional storyline — and should concern fans on who could be next.