Chicago Med showrunners discuss the hospital’s season 6 future

"Do You Know The Way Home" Episode 603 -- Pictured: (l-r) Oliver Platt as Daniel Charles, Brian Tee as Ethan Choi, Yaya DeCosta as April Sexton -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC)
"Do You Know The Way Home" Episode 603 -- Pictured: (l-r) Oliver Platt as Daniel Charles, Brian Tee as Ethan Choi, Yaya DeCosta as April Sexton -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC) /

Chicago Med’s executive producers preview the rest of season 6.

Chicago Med showrunners and executive producers Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider faced the biggest challenge of the new One Chicago season, incorporating the COVID-19 pandemic into the medical drama both on and off-screen.

Ahead of the series’ spring premiere tonight, the duo spoke to One Chicago Center to discuss the process of tackling such a critical subject—and what the ongoing pandemic means for the rest of season 6.

They also talked about some of the biggest plot developments so far this season, including Dr. Will Halstead’s (Nick Gehlfuss) future as he undertakes a clinical trial that begins this week.

Look ahead before Chicago Med airs tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. SPOILER ALERT: This interview contains spoilers for the two episodes that have already aired; if you’re not caught up, do so here.

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One Chicago Center: We spoke at the beginning of Chicago Med season 6 about the COVID-19 situation, but how has it been for you continuing to deal with the issue since the pandemic is still ongoing as you’re writing?

Andrew Schneider: It was something that we had to incorporate, being a contemporary medical show. One of the big challenges was trying to divine the state the country might be in, because of course there’s a lag time between when we develop a script and when [an episode] airs.

When we started this process of development back in May, we didn’t know whether the country would still be in trouble, what the issues would be. Sadly, the country is still in a terrible state, so it didn’t really affect the [COVID-19] story we had developed, unfortunately.

Diane Frolov: We had a big learning curve this year, because this was something completely new to humankind. We spent a lot of time talking to doctors, as Andy was saying, to foresee what was going to happen and learn all the protocols that had to be in place, which was very different. And the protocols in real life affect our storytelling as well, because we can’t have as many people in a scene, we can’t have big intakes, you can’t have bunches of people waiting in the waiting room.

So it was not just only the disease itself, but it was also the protocols around it that changed our storytelling.

OCC: You made a surprising but interesting decision in the most recent episode to promote Dr. Ethan Choi (Brian Tee) to ED chief, which is something Chicago Med can do that the other One Chicago series can’t necessarily. Why did you want a new ED chief, and why was it Choi?

AS: By having Dr. Lanik say he wanted to stop being chief, we felt that that would reflect the feeling of being overwhelmed that so many doctors and nurses have experienced during the pandemic. It gave us an organic way to have him give up his position. He left his position as chief and returned to just being a trauma surgeon.

And then Ethan  seemed like the natural choice, as Goodwin explained, because of his military background, his knowledge of chain of command and hierarchy, his organizational skills.

DF: Also as writers, we’re always looking [at] which person can give us the most conflict. And so Ethan we knew would be more of “abide by the rules,” and that’s going to ruffle more people’s feathers than say, Will would probably let things fly.

OCC: Speaking of Will, this week’s episode starts his clinical trial storyline, which is the first time we’ve really seen that part of medicine featured on the show. What can we expect from that plot, because there are a lot of grey areas in that respect.

DF: We’ve talked about it for years, but we’ve never done a big clinical trial like this one, and it’ll span, really, the rest of the season.

AS: It’s the Will Halstead story. It’s about this guy who brings a certain kind of passion and tendency to break rules into a world where the rules are very strict. He’s still Will Halstead, and that will cause him some problems.

DF: And the ethics, the business side, the conflicts with medicine—people actually trying to make people well and conducting a trial at the same time—those are the conflicts that we’ll be exploring through Will.

OCC: You spent years investing into Will and Natalie Manning’s (Torrey DeVitto) relationship, and a number of their storylines had them together. The two are quite firmly separated now so how has that transition been for Chicago Med creatively?

AS: I’d say not so fast. As the season progresses, Natalie’s own storyline and Will’s will converge in a very dramatic way.

DF: But on the other hand, it has given us other ways of telling stories. She’s able to interact with other doctors, so it also opens up more story avenues for us.

OCC: The new season has also given you different ways to incorporate Dr. Charles, which was a concern once Chicago Med stopped having dedicated psychiatry storylines. How has that ended up working in season 6?

DF: It’s because of the pandemic. So many healthcare workers are overwhelmed, and so we set up at the beginning that Goodwin wants him to check in with the staff. All the emotional tendencies that our characters have just are exacerbated by the pandemic and the work they’re having to do: Ethan, by being the chief in a very difficult situation. We’re going to learn some things about Maggie that we’ve never learned before. Everyone will have a session with Dr. Charles, who will help us reveal these characters more.

OCC: Last but not least, we’ll learn more about Marcel’s backstory in the next few weeks. Can we say anything about that, or anything else that may be revisited?

DF: We actually, from the get-go, had this backstory for him. There were a few little changes that we made along the way, but in essence, it was his backstory. It’s really been the question of, when do we bring it out, when do we reveal it? But that was a lot of the debate from the writers.

We didn’t want to introduce a new character with a lot of arrows pointing at the character: “This is our new character.” We wanted to ease him in that way, so he became integrated into the show before you even were really aware.

AS: Goodwin’s son, Michael, who’s a medical rep, will be back and we will explore the mother-son relationship between these two.

DF: That’s an important thing, that Goodwin will be back as well. She’ll be back in episode four in person, in the hospital.

Next. Here's where Chicago Med left off in November. dark

For the latest Chicago Med season 6 spoilers and news, plus more on the entire series, follow the Chicago Med category at One Chicago Center.