The story behind Chicago Fire’s DuShon Monique Brown tribute

CHICAGO FIRE -- "TV Guide Cover Party" -- Pictured: (l-r) DuShon Brown, Yuri Sardarov -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC)
CHICAGO FIRE -- "TV Guide Cover Party" -- Pictured: (l-r) DuShon Brown, Yuri Sardarov -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Morris/NBC) /

Chicago Fire’s season premiere included a tribute to DuShon Monique Brown, and Derek Haas explained how the touching scene came together.

Wednesday’s Chicago Fire premiere had a touching sendoff for actress DuShon Monique Brown, while also explaining what happened to her character, peerless firehouse assistant Connie.

After Brown suddenly passed away earlier this year, Chicago Fire acknowledged her passing by dedicating an episode in her memory, but fans wondered how the series would handle Connie.

The answer came in one of the early scenes from Wednesday’s premiere. At the start of the morning briefing, Chief Wallace Boden (Eamonn Walker) draws attention to Connie’s absence.

“You may have noticed that Connie’s desk is empty,” he explains. “I am delighted to tell you that over the past four years, Connie has received her Masters’ Degree in Counseling.

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“Just got hired at her dream job,” Boden continues. “Head of Counseling at Whitney Young Magnet School. They asked her to start immediately and I couldn’t stand in her way.”

But the Chicago Fire scene is more than just an explanation for why fans won’t be seeing Brown’s character anymore.

It also pays tribute to the tremendous work DuShon Monique Brown did off-screen; when she wasn’t in the show, she was herself a counselor.

And it acknowledges the sadness of her departure, when a visibly stunned Christopher Hermann (David EIgenberg) replies, “I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. None of us did.”

“It’s okay,” Boden reassures him. “She knows how much we love her here.”

Chicago Fire executive producer Derek Haas explained how Chicago Fire came to this particular way of both recognizing DuShon Monique Brown and finding a satisfying ending for Connie’s story. It was something that understandably hit close to home.

“When [DuShon’s death] happened, it caught us so off guard,” he recalled. “I didn’t want to do something reactionary or unfair to the character or family. I didn’t want to do something exploitive for the show that didn’t work with real life. I became conscious of that. And so many of our cast members were very close to her, so they wanted to do something nice and didn’t know how that would be.

“Andrea Newman, who’s one of our head writers, had this idea. She said Connie and DuShon are not the same. Connie’s a character and DuShon’s the actor; they don’t have to have the same fate. She had that idea of why don’t we pay tribute to [what] DuShon was in her life—in addition to acting, she was a counselor.

‘Eamonn in particular was pretty close [to DuShon]. So I called Eamonn and said what do you think? Eamonn said he thought it was lovely. I said, will you talk to her family because it’s not worth it to do something that would hurt her family. Eamonn said I already know what the answer is going to be, but I will. So he talked to them and then we wrote that in there.”

Next. Why DuShon Monique Brown was one of Chicago Fire's best. dark

What did you think of the Chicago Fire farewell to DuShon Monique Brown? Did you appreciate the way Connie was written out? Let us know your reaction in the comments.

Chicago Fire airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on NBC.