Monica Raymund plays Gabby Dawson in Chicago Fire
Credit: Getty Images

Let’s be real: We weren’t ready to say goodbye to Gabby Dawson. Fans are still upset about her unexpected departure from the popular TV series in 2018. You might be wondering why Gabby Dawson left Chicago Fire after appearing in six seasons—and we’ve got the answer.

Chicago Fire is the fictional NBC drama that tells the story of firefighters, rescue personnel and paramedics of Chicago Fire Department’s Firehouse 51. Dawson is played by actress Monica Raymund, who’s been a mainstay since the show premiered in October 2012. Dawson is an experienced, fast-thinking paramedic and head of Ambulance 61, and later becomes a firefighter on Truck 81. She marries fellow firefighter and captain Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer), earning the beloved couple the nickname “Dawsey” by fans.

Raymund told My Entertainment World in 2015 that she was so excited when she got cast in the Chicago-based drama. “The audition process was pretty standard – I tested and then got the role. I was so excited to be on an action show and one where I knew I could stretch my drama chops,” she explained. “As the show was just beginning, something miraculous happened: I met my other family. My fellow brothers and sisters on this show became my blood and we fell in love. We fell in love HARD and the chemistry permeated the screen I believe. I met some of the most wonderful humans in the world who I will stay friends with until I die.”

So, what made Gabby Dawson leave Chicago Fire after a successful six-year run? Keep reading for the inside scoop on why Raymund chose to exit when her contract was up.

Why Did Gabby Dawson Leave Chicago Fire?

Monica Raymund plays Gabby Dawson in Chicago Fire

Why did Gabby Dawson leave Chicago Fire? In an interview with the Chicago Tribune in 2018, Raymund said she was leaving to explore new creative opportunities and move back to California. “I mean, I’ve given six years of my life to that show and created a family there, so it was a bit like a dismemberment, if you will. I miss them terribly, of course. But I have the opportunity to start the next chapter of my life and I’m very much looking forward to that.”

Raymund continued: “I’m not sure the exact moment when it happened, but I knew that my six-year contract was coming to an end and I felt like I was hungry to explore a different role, a different story. I wanted to explore a different world. I had been in Chicago for five years and just personally where I was in my life, I was ready to create my home and kind of plant some roots in Los Angeles.”

When Raymund told Chicago Fire showrunner Derek Haas that she was not renewing for season 7, he didn’t believe her at first. “I was like, ‘Hey, I’m leaving, I’m giving my notice.’ And he was like, ‘No you’re not!’ And I said, ‘No Derek, I am.’ And he just couldn’t believe it! I mean, I didn’t quite know how to take that except to just … leave. I thought it was hilarious,” Raymund told the Chicago Tribune. When the season wrapped up, Hass called Raymund to confirm whether she was really leaving. “I was like, ‘Derek, honey. I love you, but I gotta go,’” she added.

The actress said that she will always cherish her time playing a first responder. “I don’t have anyone in my family that’s a first responder and I didn’t really know the different trials and tribulations that they face every day. So that was the greatest part about playing Gabby, that I got to get to know the paramedics, I got to know the firefighters in Chicago, and hopefully to the best of my ability, represent them honorably,” she said in the same interview.

What happened to Gabby Dawson on Chicago Fire?

Gabby Dawson and Matthew Casey embracing eachother in Chicago Fire

What happened to Gabby Dawson on Chicago Fire? When does the character leave for good? To execute Raymund’s wishes of leaving the show, the writers thankfully didn’t kill Gabby off as they have done with other characters (cue: the horrible death of her best friend, Leslie Shay, in the season 3 premiere). During the season 6 finale, “The Grand Gesture,” Dawson announced that she would be moving to Puerto Rico permanently to aid in hurricane relief and a have fresh start.

Thankfully, her exit wasn’t completely permanent. Dawson returned in the season 7 premiere episode, “A Closer Eye,” after receiving a call from Casey asking about the status of their relationship. Ultimately, it was decided that “Dawsey” was officially over, and Casey later filed for divorce from Dawson. But that’s not all—Raymund reprised her a second time in season 8, episode 9, when Dawson returned from Puerto Rico to tell Casey that she still has feelings for him.

Raymund told Entertainment Weekly in 2019 that fans will see sparks fly during the reunion episode. “Dawson and Casey will always have an unbreakable bond, and their love is a special love that I think will forever stay alive,” she said. “The fans don’t want to miss this episode—we get to see Dawson and Casey’s love in a new light.” Although the couple tried to make things work, they both determined that it would be best to continue their separate ways. Dawson has not appeared on Chicago Fire since.

The actress has been busy starring as the lead in Starz’s crime drama, Hightown, which was renewed for a third season in March 2022. She’s also directed multiple TV episodes from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, FBI, The Sinner, The Endgame and more.

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

Check out our photo gallery of Chicago Fire stars and their real-life loves