How did Otis die on Chicago Fire?

CHICAGO FIRE -- Pictured: "Chicago Fire" Key Art -- (Photo by: NBCUniversal)
CHICAGO FIRE -- Pictured: "Chicago Fire" Key Art -- (Photo by: NBCUniversal) /

The characters who comprise Chicago Fire are always in the line of fire. Their professions constantly drop them into life threatening situations, and the season 10 premiere was no different. All four members of Squad 3 were trapped under a sinking boat, and Joe Cruz (Joe Minoso) nearly drowned before he was rescued by Severide (Taylor Kinney). Fortunately, everyone got out alive.

That being said, survival isn’t always the outcome. There have been multiple Chicago Fire characters who have perished over the years, and one that consistently gets brought up as an example is Brian “Otis” Zvonecek (Yuri Sardarov). The character was a fan favorite, largely due to his role as the comic relief, but his season 8 death was a sobering reminder of how serious things can get for the Firehouse 51 team.

What happened to Otis on Chicago Fire?

Otis’s fate was sealed in the season 8 premiere, “Sacred Ground”. There was a boiler explosion at a mattress factory, and Otis’s failed attempt to evacuate led to him suffering devastating injuries. The rest of the team eventually pulled him from the rubble and rushed him to the hospital.

Otis’s injuries proved terminal, however, and the beloved firefighter died in the hospital with his best friend Joe Cruz at his side. His final words to Cruz were: “Brother, I will be with you, always.” He spoke in Russian, which meant Cruz wasn’t able to understand the meaning of these words until months later. A statue was eventually erected in Otis’s honor, ensuring that the rest of the team never forgets his heroic contributions.

The decision to kill of Otis was a shock to many, as there had been no creative differences or contract disputes with actor Yuri Sardarov. When asked why he decided to pull the rug out from under such a beloved character, Chicago Fire executive producer Derek Haas told TV Insider that he wanted to shake things up.

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Haas cited the numerous last-minute saves that had peppered the show throughout its first 7 seasons, and wanted to remind viewers that firefighters put their lives on the line every time they answer a call. “We realized there was so much emotional landscape we could cover”, he added.

The decision proved a devastating one, and for many, Otis’s passing remains one of the most memorable (and tragic) in Chicago Fire history. Rightfully so.

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For the latest Chicago Fire season 10 spoilers and news, plus more on the entire series, follow the Chicago Fire category at One Chicago Center.