'Little Bit Of A Rude Shock': Chicago Fire Showrunner On Embracing Challenges For Season 12 After Major Cliffhangers

 Severide, Ritter, and Carver in Chicago Fire Season 12 premiere.
Severide, Ritter, and Carver in Chicago Fire Season 12 premiere.

The days are counting down until Chicago Fire fans will be able to see the heroes of Firehouse 51 in action without watching reruns or revisiting earlier episodes via Peacock Premium subscription. As usual, the previous season back in the spring ended on some cliffhangers to keep viewers on the edges of their seats, but the wait was much longer than usual this time around due to the WGA writers strike and SAG-AFTRA actors strike. Fire showrunner Andrea Newman spoke with CinemaBlend about returning for Season 12, and what was a “rude shock” in the process.

The cliffhangers at the end of Season 11 weren’t all life-or-death, although Mouch’s fate was very much uncertain. Fans were also stuck waiting for answers about Casey proposing to Brett and Stella leaving Chicago to go retrieve Severide. When I spoke with the showrunner about the 2024 return, I asked how the Fire team approached the time jump in light of the urgent cliffhangers, and Andrea Newman shared:

That's a good question, because we often will try and do kind of a direct pickup and then maybe a little time jump after a teaser, but in this case, we really embrace it and we're doing six months. I think all the One Chicago shows are doing a six-month time jump, so that we're all in it together for the viewers. The shows are all on the same page. It felt organic [after] six months.

A six-month time jump is certainly longer than usual, but as the first-look photos proved, there’s no hiding winter when it comes to filming in Chicago in the coldest months of the year. Half a year passing off-screen certainly beats episodes of Fire set entirely indoors! After I noted to Newman that it surely would have been hard to pass filming outdoors in January off for September – a.k.a. when One Chicago usually returns – she responded:

That's really funny you say that! You're the first person who brought that up, but the first round of writers room stuff [was] like, 'And then a boat goes into it and then they're walking out on the beach!' And then I'm like, 'Oh shit, it's winter.' [laughs] Yeah, that was a little bit of a rude shock, that we never got those outdoorsy, on-the-lake calls to start with. We had to jump right into the, you know, 'Put your beanie on.'

As the showrunner shared, all three of the One Chicago shows will be doing a six-month time jump, so it’ll be beanies all around in outdoor scenes once Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Med return in the 2024 TV schedule. The Med showrunners addressed how that specific window of six months will affect Dean Archer and Hannah Asher’s dynamic, and P.D. boss Gwen Sigan previewed Hailey Upton on “autopilot” over that half year. So, did the Fire team have to scrap any initial plans for Season 12, in light of the long break? Andrea Newman explained:

We're always careful to be tentative in our plans. We know what the first one up will be usually, but we like to take the beat of the hiatus and give the the writing staff the time to come back. We would have definitely had a different premiere if there hadn't been quite a huge time jump, but I think it actually ended up working really well, especially in terms of the Severide and Kidd dynamic.

The showrunner also shed some light on what’s next for Stellaride in Season 12, following the release of a trailer with a tense moment between the duo. Severide departed Firehouse 51 back in March for an OFI training course in Alabama, and didn’t return before the end of Season 11. This is a role reversal from when Kidd went radio silent on him in Season 10, and should be interesting to see how Chicago Fire handles their dynamic.

Called “Barely Gone,” the Season 12 premiere will feature an arson case that tests the relationship between Severide and Kidd while 51 has to share the firehouse with 17. Unsurprisingly in light of Alberto Rosende’s message about leaving Fire as Gallo back in December, the episode will also see the crew saying goodbye to one of their own. Let’s just hope that Gallo’s exit is closer to Casey leaving alive and well than Otis’ demise!

Tune in to NBC on Wednesday, January 17 at 9 p.m. ET for the Season 12 premiere of Chicago Fire, right between Chicago Med starting Season 9 at 8 p.m. ET and Chicago P.D. kicking off Season 11 at 10 p.m. ET.