Series: Chicago Fire

This family burns deep
Otis: Hey, Lieutenant, why do we have a goat on our truck?
Casey: Years ago, Truck 81's first fire was at a goat farm in Little Italy.
Otis: Really?
Casey: Mm-hmm.
Mouch: They used to have a goat at the station so they didn't have to mow the grass.
Otis: Huh. I thought that's what candidates are for.

Chicago Fire is an NBC drama series, and the first show of the Chicago Trilogy, that premiered in October 2012. It focuses on Firehouse 51 of the Chicago Fire Department, which houses a Ladder Company (headed by Lt. Casey), a Rescue Squad (headed by Lt. Severide), and paramedics.

Not to be confused with the Major League Soccer club.

It quickly proved to be a solid show and now has two spin offs: Chicago PD (debuted in 2014) and Chicago Med (debuted in 2015).

This show provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc:
    • The show started off with Dawson studying to become a MD. Dawson later gives up the idea of medical school and switches to wanting to become a firefighter (in part because she has a better chance of achieving the latter).
    • Shay spent much of the first season wanting to have a baby and eventually reached an agreement with Kelly that he'd donate sperm and that they'd raise the baby together. It hasn't been touched since the first season finale, and permanently aborted by Shay's death.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • In "Leaving The Station" Otis does a prank against two visiting Canadian firefighters. Boden chews him out for it, but the Canadians just pays him back with just repeating the prank back on him.
    • Most of the station is amused by Jones' "cake penis" in "A Rocket Blasting Off", although they're not so sure about how Hermann's wife would react. She finds it hilariously appropriate.
  • Adult Fear: Severide's sister (who he'd recently discovered and had become something more akin to a surrogate father to) is kidnapped and his overwhelming worry spreads across several episodes as well as Chicago PD.
  • Always on Duty: Averted, if only through passing references. The main characters serve on one out of several watches that work out of Firehouse 51.
    • Casey explains to his sister how his shifts rotate to make sure everyone works days and nights. Severide later tells his wife he works on a "one day on, two days off" schedule.
    • There is a separate ready area, just off the side of the garage, where the firefighters store their personal bunker gear and SCBA masks when they're not on duty. The duty watch keep their gear next to the trucks while on call so they can respond faster.
    • A constant reminder that Firehouse 51 has many other firefighters working out of it is the pantries in the ready room that are kept under lock and key so that the watches only have access to their own food. Casey admonishes Mouch for stealing marshmallows through the cracks of another watch's pantry, and Cruz and Otis break into all the pantries so that they can help feed the neighborhood during a blackout.
  • Ambition Is Evil:
    • Mills early attempts to join the rescue squad rubbed the firefighters on Truck 81 the wrong way as he was still a candidate and hadn't even passed his probation period to becoming a fully-qualified firefighter yet.
    • Jones has two chips on her shoulder: being a woman in a male-dominated field and being the daughter and sister of prominent members of the Chicago Fire Department. Her attempts at showing that she has what it takes to stand out on her terms only serve to annoy the more senior members of Firehouse 51, who only expect her to keep her head down and do as she's told.
  • All Lesbians Want Kids: A recurring subplot throughout Chicago Fire's first season is paramedic Leslie Shay's quest for a child of her own. At one point, unable to afford artificial insemination, she's desperate enough to ask her best friend Kelly Severide to impregnate her the natural way.
  • Artistic License: That's a nice way of putting it. Oh my God, where to start?
    • The firefighters wear custom SCBA masks to allow as much of the actors' faces as possible be visible. The orientation of the air delivery system would actually hinder mobility if used in a real-world situation. They don and doff them like scuba gear, always leaving the regulator connected to the mask, which is put on and taken off seperately with the regulator disconnected. It's also clear that they're not actually sealed or flowing any air, because the masks never fog up.
    • The paramedics frequently do things that would at least get them fired and their medic certifications revoked. Basic C-spine immobilization for trauma patients never happens. A medic has committed gross insubordination (the only thing that can and will get you fired on the spot) at least twice so far. Anyone with any kind of emergency medical certification faces jail time if they perform a procedure outside of their legal Scope of Practice, regardless of whether they know how to do it or not (sorry, Dawson).
    • The arson investigations depicted could be compiled into a video titled "How Not To Investigate A Fire." Hardly any documentation is made of evidence, personnel enter the scene without a warrant after the incident has been concluded and the scene is no longer under Fire Department control (that's considered B&E)...
    • The less said about the show's depiction of fire, the better.
    • Casey and Dawson would never, ever be allowed to work at the same station if they were in a relationship, and the concept of Casey being allowed to continue as her company officer is especially ludicrous. If that happened in real life, he would be relieved and demoted, same for the Chief who allowed it to happen.
    • Thermal imaging cameras do not work that way. Period. They don't make noise. They don't see through walls. In fact, they can't see through a transparent glass window. They measure differences in heat to form an image, so a hot spot in a wall, for instance, will show up brighter. They do have a limited ability to see through smoke, provided the room isn't too hot. Oh, and the cheap ones cost about ten grand, so nobody gets to take them home for personal use.
    • Though generally well-written and entertaining, half of the show's entertainment value for real firefighters is pointing out and laughing at all of its ridiculous errors.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...:
    • In "Two Families" when Severide is worried about his pain-killers showing up on a drug test
    Severide: Will it show up on the test?
    Shay: Will these narcotics show up on a drug test?
    • Done more seriously when a box of Nightmare Fuel photographs is found in "Nobody Touches Anything."
    Voight: So you didn't touch the box or its contents?
    Severide: No.
    Voight: Didn't open it?
    Severide: Pretty hard to do without touching it.
    Lindsay: We have to ask these questions for chain of evidence, Kelly.
    Severide: I didn't open the box.
  • Back for the Dead: Lauren German makes one final appearance, credited as a guest star, as Shay in the Season 3 premiere.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Severide briefly grows one after Shay's death. He shaves it off when he returns to work at 51.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In "Under the Knife" Dawson and victim Rosa have unsubtitled conversations in Spanish.
  • Blood on These Hands: Severide, see Mercy Kill below.
  • Call Back:
    • The show went so far as to bring back Darden (killed off in the first five minutes of the show's first episode), Vargas (written out in Season 1), and Hadley (goes crazy and is locked away in Season 2) to briefly appear in flashbacks set before the show began in the Season 3 premiere.
    • Hermann finds out that his attempts to advance his career are being torpedoed by a single chief in headquarters. Upon investigation, it turns out that Hermann convinced the chief to invest in Energy Water, the Ponzi Scheme that Hermann barely escaped in Season 1.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The alarm in the pilot.
    • The organ transport cooler in "A Dark Day." And then subverted horribly...
    • Late in Season 1, it's revealed that Mouch was once a sperm donor. This is revisited in Season 3, when his donor info is leaked and his biological child comes looking for him.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Vargas gets put on long term disability in "It Ain't Easy".
  • Commander Contrarian: In Season 4, both Captain Dallas Patterson and Chief Ray Riddle are this. Patterson repeatedly clashes with Severide, and Riddle seems to have it out for Boden and House 51. Riddle wanting to be the next Fire Commissioner is part of this Conflict Ball.
  • Convulsive Seizures: Casey has one in the ambulance after suffering a head injury in "Not Like This."
  • Crapsack World: Similar to how Chicago PD isn't unwilling to show the grittier part of Chicago, Fire seems to take place in some kind of alternate reality Chicago, where the Chicago Fire Department is dealing with big disasters on a semi-regular basis. Between these disasters, basically every main character has gone through horrible emotional and/or physical trauma.
  • Crossover Ship: In-Universe. Thanks to Dick Wolf's decision to have the characters of Chicago Fire and Chicago PD regularly make crossover appearances, characters from both shows have entered into relationships.
    • Severide from Fire and Lindsey from PD were in a friends with benefits relationship.
    • Starting in Fire's third season, Mouch and Platt from the two shows are in a relationship.
    • In the third season finale, Brett is shown hooking up with Roman from Chicago PD
  • Curse Cut Short: When Casey is told Voight called for him, he replies, "Tell him to go f..." as the alarm goes off.
  • Da Chief: Chief Boden obviously.
  • Death Seeker: Cruz was this for a while. It started when he left a gangbanger to die in a fire, a gangbanger that was grooming Cruz's brother to join his gang. Fortunately, an intervention by Hermann and Casey sets him straight.
  • Dedication: One July 2013 episode was dedicated to the 19 firefighters killed while fighting an Arizona wildfire (one of them happened to be a Chicago native as well).
  • Defcon Five: Subverted. Hermann's bar is in trouble due to a rival bar opening up nearby and stealing the customers. He mentions that they are now "at Defcon 5".
    Otis: (quietly) Defcon 5 is actually the lowest level.
    Hermann: Shut up Otis.
  • Dirty Cop: Voight, who continues to threaten and harm Lt. Casey because Casey refuses to take back his (true) statement about Voight's son being drunk when causing an accident.
  • Dr. Jerk:
    • David Arata in "No Regrets" is a borderline case. He barks orders and seems callous, but given that he's helping run a triage he's also practical. He also refuses to evacuate when people still need help, and has nothing but praise for the actions of Shay and Dawson.
    • Arata's second appearance shows that he really is a bit of a jerk even when not dealing with an emergency. A partial explanation is given when he describes how one of his instructors taught him the hard way that, as a surgeon, he has to focus on the job at hand and do all he can to help his patients, even if it's at a personal cost. In the story he tells, Arata had to stay and deal with a mountain of trauma cases while his father suffered a fatal heart attack and passed away at another hospital.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Vargas is distraught after being put on disability and tries to jump off a roof. Casey and Severide manage to talk him down.
    • Jones, who is already a bundle of issues, commits suicide after learning that her father will use his influence to prevent her from being a firefighter.
    • Duff, a friend of Severide and Gabby's boss in the arson department, jumps off a bridge with a weight attached. He felt guilty over helping a real estate mogul cover up his connection to a string of arson. Severide jumped in the river after him and saved him.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Of the prescription variety - Severide was self-medicating to cover up a bad shoulder injury.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe case. In "Leaving The Station" Chief Boden tells Otis that while other pranks he's pulled were funny, the one he just pulled on the Canadian firefighters was not.
  • The Eeyore: McAuley, a paramedic who briefly partners with Dawson in season 2, delights in seeing the downside of everything, including speculating that a guy hanging from a roof will wind up splattered on the pavement, and a guy rescued from a trash compactor is a MRSA infection waiting to happen.
  • Exact Words: When the food truck Molly II gets two parking tickets, Mouch says he will "take care" of the tickets. Mouch goes to Platt and flirtatiously asks for help "taking care" of the tickets. Platt, equally flirtatious, tells him how to get to the cashier to "take care" of the tickets (meaning pay the fine). Back at the firehouse, Mouch confidently says he "took care" of the tickets, and is handed three more tickets to "take care" of.
  • Faceless Masses: The show focuses on the crews of Truck 81, Rescue Squad 3, and Ambulance 61. But Firehouse 51 also houses Engine 51, the unit that carries the hoses and the pumps that actually put out the fire. You hear it being called out to fires and see it in action, but no one from that crew is seen in the foreground, let alone interacting with the main characters.
  • A Father to His Men: Chief Boden, the Benevolent Boss.
  • First Name Basis: Done awesomely by Isabella to Gail McLeod. Twice.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Severide gets married to a woman named Britney during a weekend trip to Las Vegas. They're genuinely in love and agree that they've helped each other through painful losses (Shay for him and her sister for her), but ultimately decide to end things because she has to go back home and confront her issues head on rather than stay in Chicago and avoid them.
  • Freudian Excuse: Severide's inability to commit to a relationship seems to stem from walking in on his father cheating on his mother with one of his teachers. His parents all but abandoned him in the aftermath and he'd have ended up on the street if a classmate's parents hadn't taken him in. Also, he was engaged to a fellow firefighter's sister some years before the pilot. His bride-to-be cheated on him days before the wedding.
  • Full-Name Basis: Peter Mills.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: That's quite obviously a drawing of a penis on the cake in "A Rocket Blasting Off." The things said about it don't help:
    Shay: First time I've ever had that in my mouth.
    Dawson: Oh yeah? How is it?
    Shay: Eh.
  • Get Rich Quick Scheme: Hermann spends the first season going through a number of them to try and make enough money to buy his family a house after they were evicted in the series premiere. None of them work out and his wife eventually talks him out of pursuing more of them. He eventually finds a steady side business in running Molly's a neighborhood bar that quickly becomes a firefighter/cop hangout.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Casey and Dawson after the trying events of "I Am the Apocalypse." And that's the only reason.
    Dawson: This is... This is just the reaction to the stress of the day.
    Casey: Absolutely.
  • Hot-Blooded: Dawson, and it gets her into trouble quite a bit.
  • Infant Immortality: Both averted and played straight as the plot demands.
    • Very horribly averted with Ernie. Averted in A Coffin That Small.
    • Played straight in "Not Like This," when Casey rescues a baby from a fiery, smoky room, then falls on top of it when the building collapses. Somehow, the baby is fine.
    • Two little girls appear in "A Dark Day", Zoe is Burgess' niece, Imogene is the younger sister of the new pediatrician. The episode ends with both of them looking about to die. Chicago PD concludes it Imogene dies, but her liver is then given to Zoe saving her life.
    • Hermann nearly dies while saving a baby, but the kid eventually dies from having been exposed to the fire too long.
  • In the Blood: Peter Mills' father was a firefighter who died when Peter was a kid.
    • Severide's father was a firefighter too. He was even a member of the same house and the same rescue squad.
    • Jones also comes from a line of firefighters.
  • It's Personal: The fire that killed Shay is revealed to be the work of an arsonist. When the arsonist sends a clue to Hadley in prison, the return address is a vacant lot. A vacant lot that, years ago, was the site of the fire that killed Peter Mills' father and burned Chief Boden.
    Boden: I will not rest until justice is served. I will serve it myself if I have to.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Critics weren't particularly enthused about the show before it aired, criticizing the pilot's soap opera elements and how being on a broadcast network would never let the show explore the deep dark depths of an emergency worker's psyche a la Rescue Me. To be fair, the pilot previews available online before Chicago Fire debuted made it seem overwrought and hackneyed. But once it began broadcasting, the show quickly developed strong story arcs and a fun ensemble cast. It also garnered ratings strong enough for NBC to order additional episodes, renew it for a second season, AND start development on a spin-off. Not bad for a show that many were expecting to die a quick death.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • In Season 1. Darden is killed before the pilot episode's title card. Hallie dies later in the season when someone takes an ax to her head and burns her clinic.
    • In Season 2, Jones commits suicide after realizing her father won't let her be a firefighter. Hadley seemingly dies but is actually horrifically burned and imprisoned.
    • In Season 3, it's revealed the Season 2 finale's Cliff Hanger resulted in the death of Shay and much of the first episode deals with the impact it has on Firehouse 51.
  • Last Name Basis:
    • Casey, Shay, Herrmann, Severide, Dawson, Cruz, Vargas, Hadley.
      • Basically everyone that isn't known by a nickname (Otis, Mouch) or a title (Chief) is called by their last name.
    • Severide even calls his girlfriend Renee by her last name, which she accurately deduces is because he had a bad breakup with a girl named Renee.
  • Lethal Chef:
    • Few of the firefighters have any real talent at cooking and the crews aren't shy about expressing their displeasure at the efforts of whoever has to work the kitchen. In fact, cooking for the firehouse is usually one of the many jobs dumped on candidates. Mills is the only one with any real knowledge of cooking, because his family runs a restaurant, and is stuck with the job longer than usual because no one wants to go back to what they used to eat.
    • Casey is an aversion. He's shown making corned beef that is happily gobbled up by the firehouse.
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: A frequent plot point in the show. Characters like Mills, Hermann, and Dawson, who want to advance their careers, have found themselves stuck in their current positions because too many people are competing for a limited number of slots.
  • Local Hangout: Molly's, for both this group and Chicago PD.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: In "No Regrets" an Army Medic is forced to use a corkscrew to drill a hole into a woman's head (she had an epidermal hemorrhage).
  • Mercy Kill: Severide is heavily implied to have given one in episode 2.
  • Moment Killer: The firehouse's alarm is programmed to go off every time one of the characters wants to avoid a serious conversation, or have one. Or is in the process of making out with someone. Or is trying to eat Thanksgiving dinner (twice!)...
  • Mood Whiplash: The last fifteen minutes of "Not Like This" go from a celebration that House 51 is not going to be shut down after all, to a huge fire. The episode ends with Casey horribly injured and Clarke getting arrested.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: In "Out With A Bang", Shay is actually the one to tell Otis to stay away from Severide's sister. Otis later does ask permission to date her, and Severide revs a chainsaw in response. Subverted in that when Otis persists and asks again, Severide gives him his blessing.
  • Nepotism: Jones' father is a high ranking member of the CFD, and used some leverage to make sure she got through the academy. Played with, in that one she's had some experience as a fire fighter he's now trying to use his leverage to get her assigned to a desk job out of danger. It backfires horribly.
  • New Meat: Whenever the house receives a new candidate, the candidate is saddled with all the unwanted jobs and is also the target of continuous pranking.
    • Mills joined the house in the premiere episode and generally worked hard, but annoyed Truck 81 with his obvious desire to join Rescue Squad.
    • Jones joined the house in Season 2 and immediately angered Truck 81 by attempting to be one of the guys from the get go without having earned the right to do so. She is also a terrible cook which does nothing to help her. She begins loosening up and Hermann, at least, starts to warm up to her, but the revelation that her father is using his influence to end her career before it starts drives her to suicide.
    • Dawson goes from being a paramedic to House 51's newest candidate in Season 3. She's easing into being a firefighter and, having served at 51 for several years, is experienced enough to know how to avoid the more obvious pranks. More importantly: she knows how to cook.
    • Jimmy Borrelli joins House 51 in Season 4 and starts off on the wrong foot after his brother dumps him in front of the house dressed only his underwear, wrapped in vinyl, and soaked in beer. He begs Boden for a second chance and begins putting in the work to earn a permanent position in the CFD.
  • Number Two:
    • Casey and Severide command their own companies but are subordinate to Boden within the battalion. Neither ever step up to take Boden's place in his absence though. The season 2 finale explicitly shows another chief coming in to take temporary command because Boden has the day off. Another relief chief arrives when Boden takes time off to take care of his infant son in Season 3.
    • Hermann acts as Casey's Number Two, taking charge of Truck 81 when Casey isn't around. This becomes more set in stone when Hermann passes the lieutenant's exam and becomes the relief commander of the company.
    • Severide doesn't really have a Number Two because the firefighters on Squad 3 are mostly recurring extras with occasional lines. Capp, however, is seen taking charge of the Rescue Squad when Severide is off dealing with Shay's death.
    • Hermann also acts as Boden's confidant. Their dialogue, and the fact that Hermann is Boden's best man, reveals that they started together as Firefighter Candidates and that they'd been friends long before Boden became Hermann's superior.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Although he's gotten better as the show progresses, Jesse Spencer's natural Australian accent is always threatening to break through. He completely loses the American sometimes, such as when Casey tells Hallie that he wants to have a 'bye-bee'.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: As noted above, Otis and Mouch. Both of them have at separate points asked to be called by their real names, only to be refused.
  • Parking Payback: We occasionally see the firefighters of House 51 smashing car windows to get to hydrants.
  • Plucky Comic Relief:
    • Otis. Hermann and Mouch also occasionally fill this role, but they've had their own dramatic storylines as well. Otis tends to be on the periphery of dramatic storylines, and is often one of the few funny points to an increasingly bleak show.
    • Cruz, once his more dramatic storylines were played out, becomes one half of Those Two Guys with Otis. They even have an in universe Portmanteau Couple Name.
  • Ponzi: Herrmann falls victim to one of these until Otis fakes being a lawyer and gets him out of it.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot:
    • The next-to-last episode of the first season heavily featured a group of police officers from the same region as the fire department. Could this coincidentally be related to Chicago PD, recently announced for NBC's fall lineup? Could it? Could it? Yes.
    • The show's third season features increased mentions of a fictional hospital called Chicago Med and industry news started reporting that actors have been cast as doctors and nurses with contracts that include series options. Hmmm...
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: In "Let Her Go", Hermann and Dawson are unimpressed with Otis' cousin as an employee and he laments that they have Yakov Smirnoff tending bar. Dawson doesn't get it.
  • Precious Puppy: Pouch, the pup that's abandoned at the firehouse and quickly adopted by everyone.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Completely averted in "A Nuisance Call". A man commits suicide in front of Shay and Dawson, and they are both sprayed with blood. Shay later finds what might be a piece of brain on her belt.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Clarke transferred out of the house with little fanfare, which offended Hermann because he was the only one who got remotely close to the man. The bus briefly comes back to show that Clarke had been promoted to lieutenant of another company.
    • Newhouse is said to have taken some time off to go on a trip with his daughter, but never came back for some reason.
    • Peter Mills is given a proper send off in Season 3. He decides that being near his family is worth more than the thrill of being a firefighter so he moves to North Carolina.
  • Real Person Cameo: In "Virgin Skin" we get Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook
  • Retired Badass: Clarke was a Force Recon Marine.
  • Scary Black Man: Boden genuinely cares for his men and is a very friendly person, but he can be this when it suits him.
  • Sensitivity Training: In "Retaliation Hit." As per usual for this trope, the squad treat it with annoyance. Somewhat unusually the one giving the presentation is aware of the tedium of it, and comes as someone merely doing his job. He also decides not to report Hadley's actions, leaving Boden to handle it.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Early episodes and promotional material tended to highlight Jesse Spencer's and Taylor Kinney's physiques.
    • Hermann rips off his shirt in triumph (and reveals he's in excellent shape) when Casey complains that the older man has a lower body fat percentage than him.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: In season four, Hermann has this with a family from Portland who moves in across the street from Molly's.
  • Spanish Prisoner: In one episode, Mouch tells a story about falling for the Russian Bride variant. He's still angry about it.
  • The Squadette: Jones was this during Season 2, being the only female firefighter on Truck 81. Dawson slips into this role during Season 3.
  • Stuffed In A Fridge: Shay's seems to exist only to cause Severide and Dawson pain. Nothing in her own story lead up to it.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: It is strongly implied that Benny Severide killed Vince Keller for abducting and assaulting Katie.
  • Tempting Fate: In episode 3 Mills comes in near the end of the shift and sees Herrman and Mouch hanging out on the couch:
    Mills: Two hours left on the shift and no calls. That ever happen?
    Herrman: He did not just say that...
    (alarms go off)
    • Mills is then chewed out by the crew for jinxing them.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: McAuley, to the shock of Truck 81, has a much younger and incredibly beautiful wife. Cruz can't wrap his head around how someone like McAuley, who is middle-aged, plain looking, and gloomy, could attract someone so hot.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Sylvie Brett is rather graphically splattered with a crack addict's stomach contents and it takes her a few scenes before she can get cleaned up.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Darden dies in the first two minutes of the pilot.
  • We Named the Monkey Jack: The crew always name their Thanksgiving turkey after someone, usually an ex.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: There's little or no follow-up on the victims beyond the rest of the episode, although the firefighters might occasionally check in on a child they rescued. In the pilot, Shay comments on this and says the only way to deal with the job is to move onto the next accident, and not reflect or look back. Slightly averted with Casey and the teen who was crippled by Voight's son.
    • Also averted in season 4, when Brett and Chili have to treat a pregnant woman and only manage to save the baby boy. Brett is warned against getting fixated on the kid, but she saves him from the foster system by finding out the baby's (unknowing) father and telling him.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In "A Dark Day", a little girl needs a new liver transplant. Dr. Arata remembers an organ transplant cooler he saw earlier, it's the right blood type and is a liver, but the liver is damaged and unusable. The episode ends with the implication the girl will die.