Is Natalie Manning Coming Back to Chicago Med For Good? What We Know After Her Reunion With Will
Since she was fired from Gaffney and moved across the country to Seattle, One Chicago fans have wanted to know the chances Natalie Manning could come back to Chicago Med and why Torrey DeVitto left the series in the first place.
Chicago Med is NBC’s medical drama following the personal and professional lives of doctors and nurses in the emergency department of the fictional Gaffney Chicago Medical Center. The series — which premiered in 2015 and is created by Dick Wolf, the same mind behind the Law & Order and FBI franchises — is the third spin-off in NBC’s One Chicago franchise, which also includes Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D.
Torrey DeVitto played Dr. Natalie Manning, an emergency department pediatrician, from Seasons 1 to 7 of Chicago Med. Natalie is a widow, whose husband, Jeff Manning, was killed in action while serving in the U.S. military. In Chicago Med Season 1, she gives birth to her son, Owen.
“This is the longest role I’ve played like as a series regular,” DeVitto told The Hollywood Reporter in May 2023 about starring on Chicago Med for more than half a decade. “Being on a show as a series regular for six seasons, there are a couple feelings you get. You can’t not feel grateful — to even have [a show get ordered], it’s like the luck of the draw sometimes. And then to have a show that actually gets picked up for a second season — people’s attention spans are so short, people don’t allow things to breathe and grow. It’s like, if you don’t like it automatically, it’s out. That’s really scary as an actor, because if you look at some of the best shows from the past, some of those first seasons weren’t that great.”
She continued, “You kind of had to live with the characters and get to know it better to really appreciate it. To be on a show for six years and to love the character the way I did, and to get to know her the way I did, and to love my castmates the way I did, was really an experience I will absolutely never forget. I’m so, so, so grateful for it. It’s also very exhausting working 10 months out of the year, especially in the cold in Chicago. It can be a little tiring. But then by the time you get the hiatus, it’s like you forget all of that, and you just remember the good moments. But it can be hard sometimes, for sure. It’s a multifaceted experience.”
But after less than two year since her exit, could Natalie Manning be coming back to Chicago Med? Read on for what we know about the chances Natalie Manning could come back to Chicago Med after her surprise appearance in the Season 8 finale.
Is Dr. Natalie Manning coming back to Chicago Med for good?
Is Dr. Natalie Manning coming back to Chicago Med for good? Natalie returned for a surprise appearance in the Chicago Med Season 8 finale, “Does One Door Close and Another One Open?”. The episode sees Natalie’s ex-fiance, Dr. Will Halstead, resign from Gaffney Chicago Medical Center after his issues with O.R. 2.0. (a high-tech surgical operating room), and move from Chicago to Seattle to be with Natalie and her son, Owen, whom she shared with her late husband, Jeff Manning.
“Is that all you brought?” Natalie asks Will when he arrives at Seattle’s airport, referencing his one duffle bag. “I didn’t know how long you want me to stay,” Will responds, to which Natalie tells him, “I’m never going to let you go.”
So is Natalie Manning coming back to Chicago Med for good? The answer is no. In an interview with Variety after the Chicago Med Season 8 finale, Nick Gehlfuss, who plays Will, confirmed that Natalie’s cameo was just a one-time appearance for Will to be written out of Chicago Med with a happy ending. Gehlfuss — who called Will and Natalie’s reunion an “appropriate” end for his character — also confirmed that he’d been contact with Torrey DeVitto, who plays Natalie, since she left Chicago Med in Season 7. “I’ve kept in touch with her, so it wasn’t as if we hadn’t seen each other since she left the show. But it was great to see her,” Gehlfuss said. “We fell right back in to our work rhythm as if we didn’t have any time off. It was a beautiful moment, and one that I hope bring some closure to the fans. Because this relationship has come full circle for Will and Natalie. I think Will was seeking elements of Natalie in every relationship that followed their breakup. He never really got over her.”
Gehlfuss also told TV Line at the time why it “made sense” for Will and Natalie to reunite after he resigned from Gaffney. It made sense for the reasons he was resigning, and it made sense the way he went about it. The name William means protector or protection. That’s exactly how he handles his patients,” he said. “And so, when he took the fall for 2.0 and blowing it up at the IPO, he was protecting Grace. He was also protecting Crockett with not even allowing him to be involved in the sabotage of 2.0, and so it’s true Will fashion there.”
He continued, “Will and Natalie [have] come full circle. Will was, I think, seeking elements of Natalie in every relationship that has followed their breakup. He never really got over her, and so it made such sense to bring these two together and provide some closure for fans. It was a beautiful moment that we [were] able to do. It was so great to see Torrey. We fell right back into our work rhythm, as if we didn’t have any time off. And it was emotional to play, of course. The last scene I shot was saying goodbye to the entire ED, and it was a really emotional day, of course, but so beautiful at the same time.”
As for if he always knew Will and Natalie would end up together, Gehlfuss told TV Line that he knew Natalie would come back into Will’s life eventually if he left Chicago Med, though he thought their reunion would be much more dramatic. “I thought maybe Natalie would come in in dire need, her life was at stake, and Will was not supposed to be on the case because he’s too emotionally close, and he went and did something that got him fired or something,” he said. “Will can be counted on for going against the grain and shaking things up with the best intentions. It’s funny, I actually did see Natalie in his exit.” He continued, “What I think was great is that Natalie is the cherry on top of the way they decided to write it, because it’s still a lot of Will’s decision, without Natalie being the center of it, I would say. It was great for Will to make this decision on his own and have this experience of seeing the direction of the hospital.”
Gehlfuss also explained why he thought Natalie was The One for Will despite him dating Dr. Grace Song and Hannah Asher in his last season. “It’s so funny because when I hear you say that, I almost think about, just as actors, what it was to play opposite Torrey,” he said. “We had a chemistry and, undoubtedly, that then seeped its way into the story, and I believe the writers wrote off of that story.” He continued, “So there was something about Torrey and I working together that actually helped Natalie and Will on the page and probably informed the writers about that. We just had a great way of working with one another. I think Will is, at heart, a family man. He’s a good guy, and he’s never one to necessarily sleep around or have one-night stands too much. I mean, he explored, but he was always a good guy, and I think he could always see himself being a part of a family with Natalie and Owen, really.”
Why did Natalie Manning leave Chicago Med?
Why did Natalie Manning leave Chicago Med? Natalie left Chicago Med in Season 7, Episode 1, “You Can’t Always Trust What You See” after she was fired from Gaffney Chicago Medical Center for stealing pharmaceutical drugs for her mother, Carol Conte, in Season 6, and leaves Chicago to move to her hometown of Seattle with her son, Owen.
In an Instagram post in May 2021, Torrey DeVitto, who plays Natalie, hinted that she left Chicago Med to explore other opportunities. “Well, looks like the cat is out of the bag…All good things must come to an end. It has been such an honor and pure joy to bring Dr. Natalie Manning to life for all of you on Chicago Med for the past 6 seasons,” she captioned a series of photos on the show. “But it is now time for her and me to bow out and say goodbye. Thank you to all you loyal watchers who adored her as much as I did. I can’t wait to share what’s to come with all of you. New adventures await! With love and gratitude, Torrey.”
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter after the Chicago Med Season 8 finale, which saw Natalie reunite with her ex-fiance, Will Halstead, in Seattle, DeVitto explained why she wanted to return to Chicago Med for her surprise cameo in the episode. “I feel like I left the show on such a good note — it was just time to move on and time to go and time to grow, really. But it was always one of those things where I knew that if they asked me back, I would enjoy going back,” she said. “Because, I mean, I love my cast so much. And especially, you know, Nick Gehlfuss and I had such an intense storyline together for six years. I wasn’t expecting this call at all, but when they did call me and told me what the premise of the storyline was going to be, and that I would be coming back to support Nick and his journey on his way out, it was just a no-brainer for me.”
She continued, “I do feel like the fans never got what they wanted with Natalie and Will, and to be honest with you, Nick and I never even got the ending that we felt we deserved for our two characters. To be able to come back and give that to not just the viewers that love the show so much and really rooted for these characters, but also to give it to me and Nick, who really wanted this ending for our characters was really so beautiful. He’s like a brother to me, so to be able to come back and support him in this way was just so much fun.”
DeVitto also told The Hollywood Reporter about how natural it was to play Natalie again after almost two years away from the character. “She’s a character that is more like me than any other character I’ve ever played,” she said. “And because Nick and I have such great chemistry as actors together, and we have such a friendship, it honestly felt like stepping into a pair of shoes that still fit perfectly. It was so great seeing the crew.”
She continued, “When I got out of the van [after arriving on set], everybody started clapping, which I got a little flushed about [Laughs.], but it felt like coming home. It felt like coming home to somewhere I lived for so long. And it was really beautiful. It was short and sweet, and then I was out and on my way again.”
She also explained where she thought Natalie was in her life after she left Chicago Med. “I’m sure she’s been through a bit of ups and downs because she didn’t leave the hospital on good terms. She was behaving quite unethically, trying to get those trial meds for her mom and her mom’s heart condition, and she got fired from a hospital,” DeVitto said. “I’m sure she took some downtime and really reassessed her life and what she wanted to do. Now, I’m sure she’s kind of settled into Seattle and just living her life with her son, working at another hospital out there. Now having Halstead out there, it’s probably the icing on top of the cake for her.”
As for if Natalie and Will could ever return again, DeVitto told The Hollywood Reporter, “I feel like there’s always, like, a chance — they can make whatever happen on this show. But from my point of view right now, it was the perfect closure that I felt like I never got with the character and that Nick and I never got with our characters together. It’s a really special closure.”
Chicago Med is available to stream on Peacock.
For more on the One Chicago franchise, check out our photo gallery on the most shocking exits on Chicago Med.