Fans were surprised when it was announced that the actor Colin Donnell was exiting Chicago Med after four seasons as Dr. Connor Rhodes was a key staple across the show’s early seasons.
Donnell was an original cast member, although his character was not in the original pilot that aired as an episode of Chicago Fire. He made his first appearance in the series premiere in 2015, and he became an immediate fan favorite. One Chicago viewers loved Connor for his dedication to his job and his compassion for everyone around him.
He was one of the show’s leading men which is why it was so surprising when the show decided to write him off in the season 5 premiere.
Why did Colin Donnell leave Chicago Med?
Word of Colin Donnell’s departure from Chicago Med came in April 2019 ahead of that year’s season finales which immediately threw out some red flags among fans as the announcement was unexpected.
In the Deadline report which broke the news, it was announced that Donnell’s character, along with fellow Chicago Med character Ava Bekker and Chicago PD character Antonio Dawson, would be written off of the shows due to “creative reasons related to the characters’ story evolution.”
No additional reasons were ever provided for the decision to write the characters off their respective shows, but Donnell did tell Us Weekly at the time that he was thankful to the show for giving his character a proper exit.
"“I’m really very happy and thankful to [Chicago Med] that they gave me the exit that they did. He left on his own terms, which I thought was really lovely for the character and for me personally,” the actor said."
What happened to Connor on Chicago Med?
Connor was last seen in the season 5 premiere “Never Going Back to Normal,” which was used to help write the character off in the most unexpected of ways.
Following the death of his father, Cornelius Rhodes, Connor emerged as the prime suspect in the investigation of his death. Most of the episode was spent building Connor up as a potential suspect with the police questioning Connor, Connor’s motives being called into question with speculation about the inheritance he was primed to receive, and word that he was also the subject of a HR complaint at the hospital.
Then came the episode’s big reveal that it was actually Dr. Ava Bekker who had killed Connor’s father, her thought being that in doing so she and Connor could finally be together again. Once Connor discovered the truth, Ava asked him to allow her to disappear. When he refused to let her slip off into the night after murdering his father, Ava grabbed a scalpel and cut her carotid artery, later dying as a result of the injury.
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Following Ava’s death, Connor resigned from Chicago Med in order to start fresh, telling his mentor and friend Dr. Latham that he needed to “go somewhere where all I will be is just another doctor.”
The very last scene of the Chicago Med season 5 premiere was Connor walking away from the hospital and he hasn’t been seen on the show since.
Colin Donnell is open to returning to Chicago Med
The nature of Connor’s exit from Chicago Med back in season 5 left the door open for the character to return down the line thanks to the open-ended storyline used to write him off the show. In the years that have passed, we’ve yet to get a return appearance from Colin Donnell to reprise his fan-favorite role, but it seems that’s not due to the actor’s lack of interest in returning.
In the immediate fallout of his exit from the show back in 2019, Donnell told Us Weekly that he would love to return to the show, similar to how he had made cameos on Arrow following his initial departure from The CW’s superhero show:
"“I would love to go back. I would love to pop in here and there, and I sort of have a history of doing that now on shows! It probably won’t be as wild of ways as I do on Arrow, but I’m really very happy and thankful to them that they gave me the exit that they did so that the door is open for the future.”"
In 2023, Donnell seemed to again hint that he’d be open to returning when he told TV Insider that while he had not heard of any plans for Connor to return, the show and character still hold a special place in his heart.
"“I have not ever heard any news about Connor’s return, but I know that they said the door was always open and he’s somewhere at another hospital doing something. It was a great time over there and it’s been fun to keep up with the news and the comings and goings of the cast and Chicago itself and that show in particular will always hold a special place.”"
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