As Chicago Fire season 11 comes to a close, it will do so without longtime leading man Taylor Kinney, who left the show unexpectedly earlier this year.
On Jan. 20, it was announced that Kinney would be taking a leave of absence from NBC’s hit firefighting drama. At the time of the report, Variety confirmed that the Fire cast and writing team were informed of Kinney’s departure shortly before the announcement was made public. In other words, his exit was not something planned in advance and was something that occurred unexpectedly.
The scripts for the episodes filmed after Kinney’s exit were tweaked to accommodate the actor’s leave of absence, which created a domino effect across the final episodes of the season with his exit factoring into several of the storylines including Cruz taking up the temporary mantle of acting Luietenant on Squad 3.
Why did Taylor Kinney leave Chicago Fire?
Taylor Kinney reportedly stepped away to deal with a matter in his personal life. A representative for the actor declined to comment on the specificity of the personal matter, which was a practice that was echoed by the Chicago Fire reps.
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Leaving a show for personal reasons is nothing new for One Chicago. Kinney’s co-star for over a decade, Jesse Spencer, decided to leave Fire during season 10 in order to spend more time with his family. Spencer has returned for a handful of cameos since, but it was clear that he wanted to prioritize his personal life after years of fighting fires onscreen.
Is Taylor Kinney coming back to Chicago Fire?
Months after his initial leave of absence was announced, no updates or additional details have been provided as to the reason behind his departure. What was made clear when the news was first announced was that Kinney’s personal matter would not lead to the actor leaving the show altogether. This was something outlets such as Variety made clear in noting he was taking a “leave of absence” instead of quitting, which means the door is open for his return.
However, given the leave of absence did prevent Kinney from returning for the final episodes of season 11 — including the season finale — there are a lot of questions about whether his leave of absence will become permanent.
With the ongoing Writer’s Guild of America Strike, production on season 12 is expected to be impacted and delayed so it’s unclear when filming on the next season will begin. It’s possible that Kinney will return at the start of the new season whenever it does arrive, but there is also a possibility his leave of absence could extend into the next season.
We should learn more about Kinney’s future on the show over the offseason.
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