What happened to Joe Cruz's promotion on Chicago Fire?

The character has been surprisingly sidelined in season 12.
CHICAGO FIRE -- "Trapped" Episode 12003 -- Pictured: (l-r) Joe Minoso as Joe Cruz, Eamonn Walker as Chief Wallace Boden-- (Photo by: Adrian S Burrows Sr/NBC)
CHICAGO FIRE -- "Trapped" Episode 12003 -- Pictured: (l-r) Joe Minoso as Joe Cruz, Eamonn Walker as Chief Wallace Boden-- (Photo by: Adrian S Burrows Sr/NBC) /

Joe Cruz (Joe Minoso) had quite a lot to do at the beginning of Chicago Fire season 12. He was holding down Firehouse 51 prior to the return of Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney), and his frustration with Severide culminated in his decision to leave the firehouse for greener pastures.

Cruz ultimately changed his mind, and patched things up with his old buddy, Severide, but the character has been effectively pushed to the margins ever since. Sure, there was a cute mishap between him and Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) leading up to her wedding with Casey (he wasn't sure if their past was going to keep him from being invited), but other than that, he's been effectively MIA from the main season 12 storylines.

Joe Cruz has been sidelined in season 12

Chicago Fire - Season 12
CHICAGO FIRE -- "On The Hook" Episode 12005 -- Pictured: (l-r) Randy Flagler as Capp, Joe Minoso as Joe Cruz -- (Photo by: Adrian S Burrows Sr/NBC) /

What gives? Chicago Fire showrunner Andrea Newman posited, rightfully so, that Joe Cruz would be a big part of the season's first couple episodes, but there's been no mention of his ambitions or his previously stated desire to move up in the firefighting ranks. Sure, he squashed his beef with Severide, but we assumed there would be more of a follow up than we got!

There are a couple reasons why things have moved away from Cruz. For one, the show is dealing with a shortened season, so characters who would otherwise be getting more screen time have to be cut down in order to prioritize the main story beats of each episode. Another thing is that Fire is dealing with a lot of cast turnover, which requires lots of exposition and character backstory.

Chicago Fire has focused on newcomers

Chicago Fire - Season 12
CHICAGO FIRE -- "Port in the Storm" Episode 12006 -- Pictured: (l-r) Rome Flynn as Gibson, Jesse Spencer as Matt Casey -- (Photo by: Adrian S Burrows Sr/NBC) /

As we previously broke down here, there have been a handful of major Chicago Fire characters who have been introduced in season 12. Some of them have come and gone, like Derrick Gibson (Rome Flynn), while others, like Lyla Novak (Jocelyn Hudon), are poised to become main cast members and stick around for season 13.

Either way, the emphasis on these characters, and how they fit into Firehouse 51, mean there's been no time to spend on people like Cruz or even Herrmann (David Eigenberg) after his season premiere injury. Hopefully we get to see more of these guys as season 12 winds down (promotion or not)!

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