Who will replace Annie Ilonzeh in Chicago Fire season 9, and how?

CHICAGO FIRE -- "The Tendency of a Drowning Victim" Episode 816 -- Pictured: (l-r) Annie Ilonzeh as Emily Foster, Kara Killmer as Sylvie Brett -- (Photo by: Adrian S. Burrows Sr./NBC)
CHICAGO FIRE -- "The Tendency of a Drowning Victim" Episode 816 -- Pictured: (l-r) Annie Ilonzeh as Emily Foster, Kara Killmer as Sylvie Brett -- (Photo by: Adrian S. Burrows Sr./NBC) /

With Annie Ilonzeh leaving Chicago Fire, who could replace Emily Foster in Chicago Fire season 9? And how will that character affect Firehouse 51?

The news of Annie Ilonzeh exiting Chicago Fire creates a major void in the upcoming season—who will be cast as the new paramedic for Chicago Fire season 9?

And almost more importantly, how is the series going to write the second change on Ambulance 61 in three seasons?

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the Chicago Fire season 8 finale, “51’s Original Bell.” If you missed the episode, you can catch up with our recap.

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Fans were somewhat surprised on Wednesday when the Chicago Fire season finale, entitled “51’s Original Bell,” had a subplot where Foster revealed that she was once again considering a return to medical school.

The episode ended with Foster attending her admissions interview at Northwestern University—and One Chicago Center confirmed on Thursday, followed by a tweet from showrunner and executive producer Derek Haas, that the character will not be returning for Chicago Fire season 9.

Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) can’t ride alone on Ambulance 61, so there will be a new cast member next season. The question is who?

Haas and company have options. The most obvious is Hanako Greensmith, who appeared in “51’s Original Bell” as Violet, another paramedic who dumped Blake Gallo (Alberto Rosende). She could somehow end up working at Firehouse 51, making things that much more awkward for Gallo and that much funnier for everyone else. But would there be enough about Violet beyond that to have her around on a weekly basis?

Or Chicago Fire could look to solve two problems at the same time. Daniel Kyri deserves to be made a series regular after two seasons recurring as Darren Ritter. Gabriela Dawson trained to be a firefighter; could Ritter train to be a paramedic and partner up with Brett?

That would fill the open spot with a talented actor who’s already familiar to fans and proven that he’s great fit with the rest of the cast. The only issue there is explaining why Ritter would give up being a firefighter—something he has a personal connection to—and join the ambulance.

Or it’s possible that Haas and company do another casting search and hire a total newcomer, the way they did when Annie Ilonzeh replaced Monica Raymund.

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But whoever gets the job, Chicago Fire has another big issue: how to write them into the series. Brett seemed to make peace with Foster’s potential departure at the end of “51’s Original Bell,” but it stands to reason that season 9 will still have to touch on how she feels once Emily actually leaves. And we’ve already seen the “Brett can’t get used to a new partner because her previous one left her” storyline when Dawson was written out.

That creates a conundrum. Canonly, Brett will be going through the same emotions, and the writers will want to stay true to the character. But they can’t just throw up a carbon copy of what we’ve already seen less than two years ago; the new paramedic deserves their own unique story arc.

If the character is someone who’s already established like Violet or Ritter, then Brett will have at least some familiarity and Chicago Fire season 9 can skip over the “getting to know you bit” and focus on how the relationship changes with the new partnership. If it’s an entirely new person, well, then the writers have some thinking to do. Hopefully over hiatus, they’ll come up with an idea that makes Brett’s third partnership just as interesting as her first two.

Next. Our full Chicago Fire season 8 finale recap. dark

For the latest Chicago Fire season 8 spoilers and news, plus more on the entire series, follow the Chicago Fire category at One Chicago Center.