Warning! Spoilers ahead for Chicago Fire season 11.
As sad as it is to see the actor leave the show, Taylor Kinney’s exit from Chicago Fire is actually good. Being one of the few original characters who are still in the first-responder procedural, Kinney’s Kelly Severide has served as the show’s poster boy for more than a decade. So, it’s understandably disappointing to learn that Kinney is taking a leave of absence from Chicago Fire. Considering how season 11 is shaping up so far, however, Kinney’s exit from Chicago Fire could do the project wonders.
The One Chicago franchise is not new to cast changes. It permanently lost Jesse Spencer’s Matt Casey in the Chicago Fire season 10 finale. Like Kinney, Spencer was also an original cast member, with Casey being a fan-favorite member of Firehouse 51. Losing another important player in Severide will definitely have a big impact on Chicago Fire, but if NBC handles it right, they can use Kinney’s absence to elevate the show’s storytelling.
Severide is entering a new chapter in his life in Chicago Fire season 11 after he and Stella Kidd finally tied the knot after a tumultuous engagement period. However, since getting married, it seemed like NBC started struggling to come up with a compelling arc for them. While other Chicago Fire relationships suffered, they remained together, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it felt like their story was getting stagnant. So, the show started subjecting them to shallow crises that eventually got resolved in one episode.
Putting some separation between Severide and Kidd could shake things up for the couple in a way that doesn’t feel like a cop-out. It’s worth noting that this doesn’t mean that they will have to split up. It could be a carefully planned decision that they both agreed on. During Severide’s absence, Chicago Fire can focus on Kidd’s career as the new Truck 81 Lieutenant. They could also use this time to set up their eventual reunion, giving viewers something to look forward to.
Details are scant about why Kinney is leaving Chicago Fire, but he reportedly needs to deal with a personal matter. One thing is sure, however; this isn’t planned. Unlike Jesse Lee Soffer’s departure from Chicago PD and even Spencer’s from Chicago Fire, Kinney’s impending leave was unforeseen, hence why NBC is scrambling to do script rewrites to explain Severide’s upcoming absence. Wolf Entertainment and NBC continue to be mum on the matter, and considering the recent controversy regarding Kelli Giddish’s Law & Order: SVU exit, it’s safe to say that they will be very careful with their statements if they even release anything at all.
Chicago Fire season 11 airs every Thursday on NBC.
More: Chicago Fire Subtly Explains Why Severide & Kidd Can’t Have Children Yet