Chicago Fire, Kelly Severide
Credit: NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

With him missing from a majority of episodes this season, fans may have concerns over if Kelly Severide is leaving Chicago Fire and what happened to Taylor Kinney’s character.

Chicago Fire is NBC’s drama series following the professional and personal lives of firefighters, rescue personnel and paramedics of the Chicago Fire Department’s fictional Firehouse 51. Kinney made his debut as Kelly Severide, a lieutenant at Firehouse 51 and an officer in charge of Squad 3, in season 1 of Chicago Fire in 2012. Severide started dating his now-wife, Stella Kidd, another firefighter at Firehouse 51, in season 4. They become engaged in season 9 and married in season 10.

Severide has been a fan favorite on Chicago Fire since his debut with the rest of Firehouse 51 more than a decade ago. But with him missing from several episodes in season 11, there are a lot of questions about if Kelly Severide is leaving Chicago Fire and what happened to Taylor Kinney’s character. Read on for what we know about if Kelly Severide is leaving Chicago Fire.

Chicago Fire, Kelly Severide

Is Kelly Severide leaving Chicago Fire?

Is Kelly Severide leaving Chicago Fire? Severide’s most recent episode of Chicago Fire was season 11, episode 14, “Run like Hell,” in which he joined his wife, Stella Kidd, at Molly’s Pub, where she asks him about Captain Tom Van Meter, a commander and arson investigator for the Chicago Fire Department’s Office of Fire Investigation, who Severide has worked with. When Kidd asks Severide about Van Meter, Severide shows her his phone. When Kidd reads Severide’s phone, she looks surprised and asks him, “Wow. What are you going to do.”

The next episode — season 11, episode 15, “Damage Control” — sees Van Meter tell Deputy District Chief Wallace Boden Jr. that Severide has left Chicago to train at “the best arson investigation training program in the world.” He explained that the opportunity, which was too big for Severide to pass on, was at the last minute, which is why Severide wasn’t there to tell Boden himself. While Boden is disappointed, he tells Van Meter that the training will be a positive for Firehouse 51 when Severide returns.

So is Kelly Severide leaving Chicago Fire? The answer is no. Deadline reported in January 2023 that Taylor Kinney — who has played Severide on Chicago Fire since season 1 — was taking a “leave of absence” from the series to deal with a “personal matter.” Deadline — which reported that the cast and crew of Chicago Fire were informed of Kinney’s leave on January 20, 2023 — confirmed that Kinney’s leave is temporary and that he’s expected to be back on Chicago Fire. Given that the finales of most Chicago Fire seasons air between mid-April to late-May, it’s possible that Severide could be out for the rest of season 11.

Kinney is one of Chicago Fire‘s few remaining original cast members. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the series’ season 5 finale in 2019, Kinney looked back on his half-decade on the series. “It’s tough to see the forest through the trees. Maybe over hiatus I can take a good step back and take it all in,” he said. “But to think that we started that long ago, and especially network shows, most of these don’t even see the light of day from the pilot.”

He continued, “So getting that to go, and then getting a pickup for 13 episodes and then you get a little bit of rhythm and then you start airing and then we were finding our sea legs trying to figure out what worked and what didn’t. There’s no guarantees so we didn’t know if we were getting a back-nine pickup. And then we got that. I remember when John Roman, who was our line producer seasons one, two and three, got off the phone and gathered cast and crew and said, ‘You guys, we got picked up for season two,’ and that was one of the prouder moments in my career. It felt like validation that people liked the show and watched it.

Kinney also explained what it was like to see Chicago Fire — which was the first show in the Chicago franchise — expand into Chicago P.D., Chicago Med and Chicago Justice, most of which he’s made appearances as Severide on. “Going forward with these spinoffs, they get a little hectic but I was looking at a poster the other day on our stages and one of them is the entire cast of Fire, P.D. and Med,” he said. “You see it grow little by little but there’s like 50 characters and it says, ‘One Chicago.’ To see that—and now we have Justice—it’s a lot to take in. I’m really proud and humbled.”

Chicago Fire, Kelly Severide

Kinney’s leave came came three months after Chicago Fire‘s co-creator and co-showrunner Derek Haas announced he was leaving Wolf Entertainment — which produces the Chicago, FBI and Law & Order franchises — at the end of Chicago Fire season 11.  “Although I am leaving Wolf Entertainment next year to focus on creating new shows, I’m entirely committed to delivering amazing episodes of ‘Chicago Fire’ and ‘FBI: International’ through the end of the current seasons,” Haas said in a statement at the time. “I learned everything I know about storytelling, pace, characters, production values, and hiring the best cast, crews, and staffs from Dick Wolf and Peter Jankowski, and as hard as it is to leave a place you love and have called home for over a decade, including incredible support from Universal Television, NBC and CBS, I look forward to building my own brand in entertainment.”

Kinney’s leave also comes a little over a year after Jesse Spencer — who played Captain Matthew Casey on Chicago Fire from seasons 1 to 10 — also left the series in its 200th episode in October 2021. “I added it up, and this year is my 18th year of network TV, straight — I went straight from House into Chicago Fire,” Spencer said on a press call at the time. “Coming up to the 200th, I called [showrunner Derek Haas] and broke him the news that I thought it was time to leave the show. He agreed we should at least get Casey to 200 episodes. “It was a difficult decision because I’ve loved this show from the start, but there’s other things that I would love to do in the future and there’s some family that I need to take care of. 18 years is a long time. That’s a long stretch.” He continued, “It was a difficult decision, and I hate to leave the show because I do love it, but when the time comes, the time comes.”

Spencer’s last episode as a series regular on Chicago Fire was season 10, episode 5 “Two Hundred,” which was also the show’s 200th episode overall. The episode sees Spencer leave Firehouse 51 and move to Oregon after he’s contacted by Griffin Darden, the son of a firefighter killed in Chicago Fire‘s pilot to asks for help for him and his brother. Casey, who had become a father figure to the brothers after their dad’s death, decides to move to Oregon to become the boys’ legal guardian to prevent them from being separated and sent to foster care. The episode also sees Casey and his love interest, paramedic Sylvie Brett (played by Kara Kilmer), agree to try to make their relationship work long distance. “We’ve been establishing this relationship for three years and we finally just got there. Casey’s leaving and going to Oregon for the right reasons,” Spencer said on the press call in 2021. “There is the chance that I will come back. We’re toying with, ‘Will Casey come back?’ … That’s a possibility for me too.”

Chicago Fire airs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.

For more about Severide, check out our photo gallery of Chicago Fire stars and their real-life loves