Sarah Shahi returns to Chicago Fire: A Renee Royce primer

CHICAGO FIRE -- "The Unrivaled Standard" Episode 621 -- Pictured: Sarah Shahi as Renee Royce -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)
CHICAGO FIRE -- "The Unrivaled Standard" Episode 621 -- Pictured: Sarah Shahi as Renee Royce -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC) /

Sarah Shahi joins Chicago Fire season 6 tonight as Renee Royce, so here’s a refresher on the actress and her role as Kelly Severide’s ex-girlfriend.

Tonight’s Chicago Fire is hyping the return of Sarah Shahi as Renee Royce, but if you haven’t been watching the whole series, you might not understand why her guest spot has everyone talking.

So we’ve created a quick refresher guide so you’re caught up on her character before she walks back into Firehouse 51 tonight.

Shahi recurred in Chicago Fire season 1 and one episode of season 2, playing the first of many love interests for Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney).

It was a pretty straightforward storyline, in which Severide rescued Renee and then she showed up at the firehouse flirting with him. Though he resisted her advances at first, it did not take him long to change his mind and she became his girlfriend.

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She left the series when she got a job in Brazil, but not before presenting Severide with the first time he’d consider leaving Chicago. Renee wanted Kelly to go with her, and he thought about it, but ultimately decided against it.

Then we didn’t see Renee Royce again until the Chicago Fire season 1 finale—when she told Severide that she was pregnant with his child, which turned out in season 2 not to be his. And that was supposedly the end of the story, until now.

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If that sounds rushed, it is: the storyline was mixed up when Sarah Shahi landed her role as Sameen Shaw on CBS‘s Person of Interest, which meant she wasn’t available for future episodes of Chicago Fire.

But now she’s back (and starring in a new NBC series called Reverie, to boot) so Fire has taken the opportunity to resurrect Renee and have her return to Severide’s life for the rest of the season.

Renee is significant because she was the first love interest Chicago Fire gave Severide on-screen; he had been previously engaged, but that relationship was over before the show started. (The ex-fiancee was also named Renee, which was really weird, but at least the series acknowledged that.)

But how will her character hold up with time? For one, the things that seemed big about her then aren’t so big now. He considered leaving with her, but he also thought about it with Anna Turner (Charlotte Sullivan). And no matter the reasons why off-screen, Chicago Fire season 6 still has to deal with the fact that she lied to Severide.

Plus, it doesn’t look like she brought the kid back with her, so where is that aforementioned child now? Hopefully the show doesn’t just handwave that for the sake of romantic drama.

There’s a lot of baggage that comes with Renee, and it’s hard to see this working out well for Severide or Stellaride fans (because it’d be foolish to think her return isn’t going to affect that relationship). But it’s worth getting used to her, because Sarah Shahi will be in all three episodes left this season. Welcome back, Renee—now try not to hurt Severide again, would you?

Next: Look back at all of Kelly Severide's love interests

Are you excited to see Renee Royce back on Chicago Fire? Give us your opinion on Sarah Shahi’s return in the comments.

Chicago Fire airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.