What Chicago Fire Does Better Than Any Other TV Show, According To The Showrunner

Taylor Kinney as Kelly Severide in Chicago Fire Season 11 midseason finale
(Image credit: NBC)

Chicago Fire is going strong at eleven seasons and counting with the heroes of Firehouse 51 braving the most dangerous situations in the Windy City to save lives. Although the show is currently on a break before returning early in the 2023 TV premiere schedule, the fall finale delivered a sequence that – according to co-showrunner Derek Haas when speaking with CinemaBlend – shows off what Fire does better than any other show on television. 

In the fall finale, a motorcyclist with very bad timing ran the gate on an elevated bridge as it was raising, and he was stuck on an almost vertical incline, clinging to the bridge grating with his bike in the perfect position to fall on top of him and carry him to his death. Luckily for him, Squad 3 and Truck 81 were on the scene and worked together to rescue the man, with Severide climbing up the bridge, swinging over the top edge, and then belaying himself down while Kidd worked to get the aerial in position and Carver got control of the bridge. 

Chicago Fire pulled it off with a series of practical stunts, with actor Taylor Kinney extremely high up on top of the bridge and doing most of the stunt himself. When I spoke with showrunners Derek Haas and Andrea Newman, I noted that the bridge emergency was one of Chicago Fire’s most impressive and believable stunt sequences, and Newman praised it as “amazing” and “incredible,” while Haas explained why he thinks the NBC drama beats all the competition when it comes to stunts:

We were nervous watching it! That's what our crew does. I watch a lot of television – and not to disparage any other show, because everybody's working hard – but we do it better than anyone. And these calls are real [and] there's danger! I mean, we're safe. We're a safe show, but it's scary when you actually shoot on a bridge that's open and they're fifty up in the air and dangling from ropes. I think that transfers to the audience being on the edge of their seat watching our stunts.

Taylor Kinney and any stunt performers may not have been in any real-life danger for the bridge sequence in the fall finale, but the Fire team found a way to shoot it without removing the sense of dread that something could go very wrong for Severide and the man he was trying to save. The stakes feel sky-high on Chicago Fire because of the very real stunt sequences, rather than stunts completely faked with special effects. Just take a look at some behind-the-scenes drone footage of Taylor Kinney himself on the top of the bridge: 

Not all shows can pull off sequences like that, let alone with an actor who already has more than a decade of experience in doing many of his own stunts! The bridge certainly wasn’t the first impressive stunt sequence in the show’s history (and not even the only one in the episode thanks to the explosive cliffhanger), with plenty of examples over the years

When speaking with the showrunners, I shared that Severide on the bridge felt more like a movie than a network TV show, and Haas pointed out that Fire’s team does award-worthy work. He said:

I'm so glad you said that! Do you know what's crazy? Here's the thing. There's an Emmy… for stunts, and it states that the Emmy campaigners or whatever always go to whatever is the cable show. So they're saying their stunts are better than [ours]. Our stunts are the best on television, hands down. We do it 22 times a year. It's insane.

Few cable shows even run for 22 episodes per season nowadays, let alone deliver cinematic stunt sequences on a weekly basis like Chicago Fire. Whether or not the original One Chicago series ever wins an Emmy for its action (or at least scores a well-earned nomination) remains to be seen, but fans can count on seeing the heroes of Firehouse 51 back on NBC in the not-too-distant future.

The showrunners already previewed how the winter premiere will pick up on the explosion that caught Kidd and Carver in the blast, with Severide watching from afar. Be sure to tune in to Chicago Fire on Wednesday, January 4 at 9 p.m. ET for the Season 11 winter premiere on NBC. If you want to revisit some of the earlier days of the long-running drama, you can find past seasons streaming with a Peacock subscription!

Fire returns in the middle of a night of One Chicago action, with Chicago Med picking up after its own cliffhanger in the Season 8 return at 8 p.m. ET on January 4, and Chicago P.D. returning in the aftermath of catching the man who showrunner Gwen Sigan described as “one of the worst criminals” in show history with the Season 10 winter premiere at 10 p.m. ET.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).