How 'Chicago Fire' Addressed Taylor Kinney's Absence

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Chicago Fire is addressing Taylor Kinney's absence.

On Wednesday's season 11 episode, titled "Damage Control," while Kinney's character, Lieutenant Kelly Severide, was not seen, his absence was definitely felt by his wife, Stella. At the top of the episode, Stella is seen in their empty apartment, while Severide is off at an arson investigation program in Alabama.

As OFI boss Van Meter explained to Boden, who was visibly upset that he lost one of his best firefighters with one day’s notice, the last-minute opportunity was just too good for Severide to pass up. Van Meter also tried to smooth things over by reminding Boden that Severide joining the program doesn't mean he's going to transfer to OFI and leave the firehouse altogether.

While the rest of the crew was happy for Severide, Brett did note that she doesn’t envy Stella's situation, because she knows how difficult it is to maintain a long-distance relationship.

The events of the episode come after last week's Chicago Fire installment, where Severide seemingly received a concerning message on his phone about his Office of Fire Investigation boss, Van Meter. As Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo) inquired about the matter, he showed her his screen, prompting her to ask him what he was going to do.

Kinney's surprise departure from Chicago Fire surfaced Jan. 20 when a source close to production confirmed to ET that the longtime star, who has led the NBC firefighter drama since its debut in 2012, would be taking a leave of absence to deal with a personal matter.

While details of the circumstances surrounding his exit were not provided, the news came as a shock. Cast and crew were reportedly informed of Kinney's surprising departure earlier that day, Deadline reported, with scripts being tweaked and rewritten in order to account for his absence.

It remains unclear whether Kinney's time away from the show will become permanent.

The uncertainty around Kinney's future with Chicago Fire comes amid major changes in recent years for the OneChicago universe, following Brian Tee's Chicago Med send-off last year, Jesse Lee Soffer's Chicago P.D. departure in 2022 and Jesse Spencer's Chicago Fire exit in 2021. 

Chicago Fire airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

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