Kelly Severide, Chicago Fire
Credit: NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via

As one of the last original cast members on Chicago Fire, Taylor Kinney shocked fans when he left in the middle of Season 11 without warning — or even a return date in sight. Months later, viewers are still left with questions as to what happened to Taylor Kinney and where he is now amid his mysterious exit from Chicago Fire.

Chicago Fire is NBC’s procedural drama following the personal and professional lives of firefighters, paramedics and other emergency responders at the Chicago Fire Department’s fictional Firehouse 51 in Chicago, Illinois. Kinney plays Kelly Severide, a lieutenant at Firehouse 51 and the officer in charge of Squad 3, who has been on Chicago Fire since the series premiered in 2012. Severide — who is one of the last original characters on Chicago Fire, along with Christopher Herrmann, Joe Cruz, Randall “Mouch” McHolland and Wallace Boden — started dating his now-wife, Lieutenant Stella Kidd, in Season 4 of Chicago Fire. They get engaged in Season 9 and get married in Season 10.

After more than a decade on Chicago Fire, news broke in January 2023 that Kinney was temporarily leaving the series due to “personal issues.” So what happened to Taylor Kinney and where is he now? Read on for a timeline of the mystery surrounding Kinney’s exit.

What happened to Taylor Kinney?

What happened to Taylor Kinney? Read on for where he is now and what’s happened since he left Chicago Fire Season 11.

May 2023: Taylor Kinney makes rare appearance at charity event

Taylor Kinney made a rare appearance at the Golf Give Gala with his girlfriend, Ashley Cruger, on May 23, 2023. The event — which Kinney also attended in 2021 — is an annual celebrity gala benefiting the Tim Tebow Foundation. The night of the event, Cruger shared an Instagram post with a series of photos of her and Kinney. One photo showed the two in a car as Kinney rested his hand on Cruger’s leg. “What an incredible foundation! This was so fun to be a part of. Thank you for having us,” Cruger captioned the post.

May 2023: Taylor Kinney is still missing from the Chicago Fire Season 11 finale

Chicago Fire

Taylor Kinney was missing from the Chicago Fire Season 11 finale, “Red Waterfall,” on May 24, 2023. in which his character Kelly Severide’s wife, Stella Kidd, reveals that there are issues in their relationship ever since he left for an arson investigation training program and then a job as an arson investigator. “We’re losing our connection no matter how hard I try,” says Kidd, who has been in contact with Severide since he left Firehouse 51.

April 2023: Taylor Kinney walks first red carpet since leaving Chicago Fire

Taylor Kinney

Taylor Kinney walked his first red carpet since leaving Chicago Fire at the 2023 MotoGP VIP Experience & Charity Giving event on April 15, 2023. The event — which was in support of MotoUp, a non-profit organization supporting military communities through motorsports — was held at the Circuit of The Americas racing track outside of Austin, California.

The official MotoUp Instagram account shared a photo of Kinney and his girlfriend, Ashley Cruger, on the red carpet along with other attendees. “Thanks for stopping by @taylorkinney111 to see what we’re doing to help out our #veterans,” MotoUp captioned the photo. In the photo, Kinney wore a black T-shirt, black hat, dark jeans and white shoes as he posed with Cruger, who also wore an-all black outfit, and more attendees. Two days later, Cruger shared an Instagram video of her and Kinney riding a motorcycle on a race track.

April 2023: Taylor Kinney returns to Instagram after leaving Chicago Fire

Taylor Kinney

Taylor Kinney returned to Instagram since leaving Chicago Fire in a post shared by his girlfriend, Ashley Cruger, on Easter, April 9, 2023. The post included a three of photos of Cruger and Kinney at home with matching tinted flat top shield sunglasses — including one shot of them kissing and another of them sticking their tongues out. “Happy Easter,” Cruger captioned the post.

January 2023: Taylor Kinney temporarily leaves Chicago Fire

Kelly Severide, Chicago Fire

News broke that Taylor Kinney was temporarily leaving Chicago Fire on January 20, 2023. A source close to Chicago Fire told Deadline at the time that Kinney was taking a “leave of absence” from Season 11 to “deal with a personal matter.” Deadline also reported that the cast and crew of Chicago Fire were informed of Kinney’s leave on January 20, 2023, and that episodes of Season 11 were rewritten to accommodate for his absence.

Kinney’s most most recent episode of Chicago Fire was Season 11, Episode 14, “Run like Hell,” which saw his character, Lieutenant Kelly Severide, join his wife, Lieutenant Stella Kidd, at Molly’s Pup. At Molly’s, Stella asks Severide 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. After Stella asks Severide about Van Meter, he shows her his phone. When Stella looks at 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 inform 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 was last minute and too big for Severide to pass on, which is why Severide didn’t tell Boden himself.

Kinney’s leave came came three months after Chicago Fire‘s co-creator and co-showrunner Derek Haas announced he was leaving Wolf Entertainment — the production company behind 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 came a year after Jesse Spencer — who played Captain Matthew Casey from Seasons 1 to 10 of Chicago Fire — left in the series 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.”

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

For more on the One Chicago franchise, check out our photo gallery of Chicago Fire stars and their real-life loves