Jessica “Chilli” Chilton delighted fans from the moment she debuted on Chicago PD. She gave such a spirited performance as an informant that the showrunners for Fire decided to recast her as the informant’s twin sister. She joined Fire as an ambulance driver in season 3, and was set up to be a mainstay character in the future.
So what happened? Chili was completely written out of the show by season 4, and there’s been no mention of her since. It’s an odd case in Chicago Fire history, and fans have rightfully questioned if there was any behind-the-scenes drama to explain the character’s sudden departure.
Here’s what you need to know about Chili and the actress who plays her, Dora Madison Burge.
Why did Chili leave Chicago Fire?
Things got increasingly tough for Chili after a workplace romance fell apart, and she began to show signs of irritability at the drop of a hat. The rest of the 51 was unsure how to deal with her sudden changes in mood, leading to her being further isolated.
It was eventually revealed that Chili’s twin sister had died offscreen, and the shock of the loss led her to start drinking heavily. To make matters worse, Chili’s drinking began to spill over into work, as she was caught sneaking away to the bar during a daytime shift. Chief Boden (Eamonn Walker) fired Chili on the spot when he found out, despite her promise to change.
Dora Madison Burge has not returned to the show since her character’s season 4 exit, which has led some to wonder if there is any animosity between her and the showrunners, or even the rest of the cast. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Showrunner Matt Olmstead praised Burge and said she did a “great job” as Chili, but that the writers wanted to take an unpredictable route with the character.
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Chili’s mid-season exit was done specifically to catch fans off guard, and ensure that they didn’t fall into a predictable racket of saving all the big personnel stuff for the season finales.
“You can’t just save up the big moments and departures and entrances for characters at episode one and episode 22”, Olmstead told the Hollywood Reporter. “So you can threaten people leaving and you can kind of rattle your saber here and there, but unless you follow through on it, no one is going to believe you.”
The showrunner confirmed that Chili won’t be coming back to the show, as a cameo would serve to undermine the severity of her firing. Fortunately, you can get your Burge fix by checking out her guest appearances on shows like Friday Night Lights, Dexter, and NCIS: Los Angeles.
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