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Why did Peter Mills leave Chicago Fire? (Charlie Barnett exit explained)

Peter Mills (Charlie Barnett) and Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) in a scene from Chicago Fire season 3, episode 14. Photo Credit: Courtesy of NBC.
Peter Mills (Charlie Barnett) and Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) in a scene from Chicago Fire season 3, episode 14. Photo Credit: Courtesy of NBC. /

Across the early seasons of Chicago Fire, Charlie Barnett’s Peter Mills was one of the show’s central characters. Introduced in the series premiere back in 2012, Mills joined the Firehouse 51 family as a rookie firefighter who decided to follow in the footsteps of his late father by joining the CFD.

During the first three seasons of the show, Mills was often at the heart of the show’s central storylines and provided the writers with a wealth of storylines by exploring life through the eyes of the rookie firefighter.

It seemed like Mills would be a staple on the series for years to come, serving as a character who would get to grow with the show. After all, what would be more rewarding than getting the chance to see a rookie come into his own as a firefighter and rise up through the ranks at the firehouse as the seasons progressed?

While it seemed like Mills would be in for the long haul, the writers threw a major curveball fans’ way when they decided to write the character off of the show in season 3. It’s a move that still has fans talking all these years later as there remains a natural curiosity about what happened to Mills and why the writers bid farewell to the character.

What happened to Peter Mills on Chicago Fire?

In “You Know Where to Find Me,” Mills finally is able to return to Squad after being sidelined and couldn’t be more excited. However, his excitement is quickly squashed when his sister and mom drop some shocking news on him: they’re moving to North Caroline to start a new restaurant and want him to come with them.

At first, Mills is adamant that he can’t leave Chicago — especially after finally getting back on Squad after working so hard to get his spot back. However, as the episode goes on, Mills struggles with the idea of choosing his job over his family as he comes to see how important family truly is.

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After thinking things over, Mills decides to choose his family and leaves Firehouse 51 in order to move to North Carolina with his family and assist them in their venture to open a new restaurant. While Boden, Casey and Severide all try their best to convince him to stay, he ultimately realizes he can’t live without his family which sets up his exit from the series.

Why did Peter Mills leave Chicago Fire?

In the series, Peter Mills leaves Firehouse 51 to move to North Carolina with his mom and sister to open a new restaurant; however, the character’s departure from the Chicago Fire was the result of creative decisions.

As revealed by the show’s executive producer at the time, Matt Olmstead, the writers felt writing Mills off of the show would allow them to add some new blood to the show in the form of a new character while also providing them the opportunity for some “invigorating” storytelling in exploring how his exit affected other people.

“It was time to shake things up. It came solely from a storytelling standpoint. He’s an amazing individual and a fantastic actor and gave us so many different things, but it was just this going to give us, hopefully, some new blood in terms of a new character and the departure of [Mills] is going to affect other people. So it’s invigorating storytelling-wise,” Olmstead told TVLine at the time.

What’s surprising is that the door was left open for Mills to return, yet the character has yet to return to the Windy City following his exit in Season 3. Still, we can always hope for a possible reunion thanks to the fact that Mills is still alive and well within the One Chicago universe.

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