By Dan Snierson
June 05, 2019 at 11:30 AM EDT
Elizabeth Morris/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images (2)
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Where there’s smoke, there’s not always fire; sometimes it’s just Derek Haas messing with you. The Chicago Fire co-creator playfully peppers his Twitter feed with (code) red herrings to foil increasingly savvy fans (many with ill-gotten spoilers) and keep them guessing. And second-guessing. “To me, the only defense is to go on the offense,” says Haas. “I try to be honest on the feed, but my honesty is also going to mislead you… If I can add any piece of doubt into whatever is the pervading theory, that’s a victory.”

Here are three of his favorite Fire fakeouts over the years.

Never look back
Katie (Brittany Curran), half-sister of Kelly (Taylor Kinney), had been in a relationship with Otis (Yuri Sardarov) in season 2 before leaving town. Fans had been asking if Katie might return, so in season 6, when Haas cast Ariane Rinehart as Lily, Otis’ new love interest, he noticed that she resembled Curran from behind. “I took a picture on set from the back and her looking at Yuri and posted, ‘Love for Otis,’” he recalls. “Everybody was like, ‘Oh, my God! It’s the return of Katie!’ And then it wasn’t.“

Derek Haas

Board to death
Rumors were circulating in season 5 that Jesse Spencer (Casey) was exiting the series, so when Casey was trapped in a warehouse blaze in the finale and made a desperate “I love you” phone call to his wife, fans feared the worst. Haas immediately got to work, fanning the flames by cryptically thanking Spencer on Twitter. Then, over the summer, when the show resumed production, he tweeted a seemingly innocuous photo from the writers’ room, where in the background, one could see all characters’ names on the whiteboard — minus Casey’s. “It took all of 30 seconds before people were like, ‘Oh my god! Ghost face emoji. Casey is not on there! Derek screwed up!’ I was just like, “Perfect.” Surprise: Casey lived.

Derek Haas

The Shay double play
Shay (Lauren German) died in a building collapse in season 2’s finale, but the cliffhanger left her fate up in the smoky air. The producers secretly secured German for the season 3 premiere for open-casket duty. When speculation that she wasn’t returning spiked —her name wasn’t on a call sheet that leaked out — Haas tweeted a slightly fuzzy set photo of German and costar Monica Raymund in the distance. “People were like, ‘Okay, wait. Lauren’s back! So, who’s leaving the show?,’” says Haas. “And then we actually did kill Lauren, so it was a double fake-out.”

Derek Haas

A version of this story appears in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now, or buy your choice of two different Game of Thrones covers — Daenerys or the Starks. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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