Saying goodbye to a character on television is never easy, for both the viewers and the other characters. But, as Chicago Fire co-creator Michael Brandt reminds us following the departure of Steven R. McQueen’s Jimmy Borelli on Tuesday night, the show must go on.
And that’s exactly what the men and women of Firehouse 51 will do in next week’s episode, he tells EW.
“We reference it — it’s not like [Jimmy] just disappears into thin air,” Brandt says. “There’s definitely some sadness and there are feelings about Jimmy not being there anymore, but, you know, people in these jobs have to move forward and the show has to move forward, and so that’s something that we’ll do.”
Before making the brash decision that burned him nearly to death, Jimmy was at odds with the station’s Chief Boden (Eamonn Walker) and filed a formal complaint about a call his boss made that ended in his brother’s death. However, with Jimmy’s departure comes the dissolution of that official complaint.
“This wraps that up,” Brandt says. “I think it was Jimmy’s pushing that was the impetus for that, and now that Jimmy’s no longer a firefighter, and that he and Boden have reconciled at the end of the episode, that’s the end of that story.”
Brandt also promises the choice to let this character go was purely a creative one. “I think Steven has an incredibly bright future and deserves to be a bigger part on a show than probably we can give him,” he says. “We were, as writers, finding it hard to feed all the mouths that we have on the show. There’s a lot of characters and there’s a lot of storylines and sometimes we see characters kind of falling through the cracks — not that that was happening to Jimmy’s character, but we wanted to get a little leaner and meaner in terms of our storytelling and what characters we were focusing on. So Jimmy leaving was a byproduct of that.”
While the show previously said there are no plans to bring McQueen back at this time, all hope is not lost, especially since his character is still alive.
“We managed to bring Shay back after she had died, so never say never,” Brandt laughs.
Chicago Fire airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.