Why Chicago Fire Went With That Shocking Character Exit

Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't seen the latest episode of Chicago Fire, "A Real Wake-Up Call."

Being a firefighter is a dangerous job that not everyone is meant to stick with for an entire lifetime, and so it goes with NBC's Chicago Fire, which has seen several characters come and go over its first four seasons and change. The second episode of Season 5 brought on another big shake-up, as "A Real Wake-Up Call" marked the last appearance of Steven R. McQueen's Jimmy Borrelli, who will no longer be a member of Firehouse 51 after suffering career-ending injuries. Here's why that decision was made, according to co-creator Michael Brandt.

We've wrestled with this over the last four years, in terms of threats and real dangers to people in the firehouse. There are times when people get injured, or really bad things happen to them, and we don't follow through on that, and sometimes we feel like we have to pull the trigger on certain things. With Jimmy's character, it just felt like he needed to stand up for what he believed in, but Boden needed to stand up for what he believed in, and those two things couldn't live together. It was driven by the story and who the characters have evolved into.

There's a fine line for Chicago Fire to walk in terms of how much legitimate danger its characters can make it through unscathed without it seeming cartoonish. And as Michael Brandt put it, Jimmy was a character who was just as good a candidate for life-threatening injury as he was a candidate for being a firefighter, even if he hasn't been on the show as long as some of the other characters. (Or perhaps because he hasn't been around as long.)

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The end of last season took a dark turn for Jimmy when his brother Danny was killed, and the event weighed heavily on Jimmy, who blamed the actions of Chief Boden, going so far as to file a grievance against the chief in the Season 5 premiere. Jimmy should have been worried about his own judgment calls, however, as he screwed himself though his lack of trust in Boden as a leader, getting severely burned after taking matters into his own hands during a call. The first rule of Fire Club is you don't mess with Boden.

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In the long run, it'll take a bit of an adjustment to get used to Chicago Fire being completely free for all things Borrelli, but it's good that the creative team made the decision not to just kill Jimmy off completely. Given how deadly the small screen has been in recent years, it's always somewhat comforting when a big series says goodbye to a character in a way that doesn't involve funerals and mourning. Jimmy and Boden even got to bury the hatchet by the end of the episode, but we might not want to take that as a sign that we'll get to see Jimmy on a regular basis soon. Here's what Steven Brandt told TVLine about Steven R. McQueen's possible return.

Boden respects why Jimmy did what he did. But that said, there are no plans right now to bring Jimmy back to the show.

That could always change, though, right? Chicago Fire airs Tuesday nights on NBC, and we'll hopefully see most of the cast sticking around for the duration of Season 5. To see what else TV has to offer for the rest of the year, check out our fall premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.