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Series / Chicago Fire

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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 Dick Wolf's One Chicago Franchise, that premiered in October 2012.

It focuses on the fictitious Firehouse 51 of the Chicago Fire Department, which houses Battalion 25, made up of Ladder Company 81, Rescue Squad 3, Ambulance 61, and Engine Company 51.

The head of the Firehouse is Chief Wallace Boden (Eamonn Walker), with Lt. Matt Casey (Jesse Spencer) heading up Company 81 and Lt. Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) in charge of Squad 3. Other members of 81 include Christopher Hermann (David Eigenberg), Brian "Otis" Zvonecek (Yuri Sardarov), Randall "Mouch" McHolland (Christian Stolte), Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo), Blake Gallo (Alberto Rosende), Darren Ritter (Daniel Kyri), and Sam Carver (Jake Lockett). Other members of Squad 3 include Joe Cruz (Joe Minoso), Harold Capp (Randy Flagler), and Tony Ferraris (Andy Ferraris). The paramedics often rotate, but are currently staffed by Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) and Violet Mikami (Hanako Greensmith).

Other firefighters and paramedics seen on the show include Gabrielle "Gabbie" Dawson (Monica Raymund), Leslie Shay (Lauren German), and Peter Mills (Charlie Barnett).

Not to be confused with the Major League Soccer club.

It quickly proved to be a solid show and, within the span of four years, had three spin-offs: Chicago P.D. (debuted in 2014), Chicago Med (debuted in 2015), and Chicago Justice (debuted and canceled in 2017).

This show provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc:
    • The show started off with Dawson studying to become an 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.
    • Another arc involved Severide lobbying for Squad 3 to receive very expensive SCBA masks with incorporated thermal imaging and augmented reality technology. Boden refuses because the CFD is experiencing budget problems but Casey uses some of his political capital as an alderman to get the equipment. Only for the masks to promptly be forgotten about without ever being used on screen.
  • 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 pay him back by 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.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: "When Tortoises Fly" averts this when a Peeping Tom is trapped in the ventilation system at a local gym. He tries to escape from the roof but is tackled by Severide.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The ending theme for the Japanese release of Season 4 is "Kibo no Mirai e" by Tatsuya Ishii.
  • Always on Duty: Averted, if only through passing references. Like real firehouses, Firehouse 51 has several different crews that man the trucks at different times. The main characters serve on House 51's Second Shift:
    • 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 keeps 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 immediate neighborhood during a blackout.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Some fans wonder if paramedic Chili Chilton might be slightly bi-polar, although we haven't seen her depressed. We find out later she is trying to deal with the death of her sister, Jelly Bean.
  • Ambition Is Evil:
    • Mills's early attempts to join the rescue squad rubbed the firefighters on Truck Company 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.
    • In the first half of Season 4, Chief Ray Riddle wants to be the next Fire Commissioner, and somehow Boden running Firehouse 51 is a problem. Captain Dallas Peterson joins 51 and his ambition turns everyone off, especially after he takes over for Boden in "Short and Fat." By the end of the episode, Peterson realizes how important Boden is to 51 and puts in a transfer to a different house. He parts on good terms with everyone in Firehouse 51.
  • Artistic License: That's a nice way of putting it. The show has so many absurdly unrealistic elements that firefighters tend to find it downright funny. Let's just go through some of the more egregious things they do:
    • The firefighters wear custom SCBA masks to allow as many of the actors' faces as possible to 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 separately with the regulator disconnected. It's also clear that they're not actually sealed or flowing any air, because the masks never fog up.
    • Actual structure fire suppression tactics are not something you will see in this show. Truck-81 is always conducting a primary search and never does ventilation, salvage, elevated master streams, or any other Truck function. Squad-3 and Truck-81 regularly show up at structure fires without an Engine (the Engine has a pump and is primarily responsible for actually putting the fire out, although they can perform Truck roles if necessary), even though Engine-51 is clearly visible in the apparatus bay right before they got the call. For that matter, Engine-51 is only occasionally mentioned and almost never seen.
    • When any kind of technical rescue comes up, realism takes a backseat to Rule of Cool. Things like stabilization struts are improperly placed, objects are lifted without cribbing or other safety measures in place, and on the rare occasion when any of this is brought up, it gets weakly handwaved with "There's no time" which would not fly in real life.
    • The arson investigations depicted could be compiled into a video titled "How Not To Investigate A Fire." Hardly any documentation is made of evidence to preserve the chain of custody (something that even police are taught for fire scenes), personnel enters the scene without a warrant after the incident has been concluded and the scene is no longer under Chicago Fire Department control (that's legally considered breaking and entering, as it's now a police department matter)...
    • The less said about the show's depiction of fire, the better. Most structure fires generally don't produce much flame that is visible from the outside unless there's either a lot of flammable material inside the building, it burns through the roof or the building collapses (there's plenty of flames, just not where you can see them). They produce a lot more smoke than you see in the show, usually of the dark-black variety. That smoke also fills the inside of the building to the point that you usually can't see across the room, and zero visibility is not unusual. While the strangely-smokeless rooms on fire can be chalked up to Acceptable Breaks from Reality to show the audience what's happening, the cast standing right next to open flames without even crouching (in a real fire, firefighters crawl to stay below the heat; stand up, and you're gonna be burned to death, gear or no gearnote ), not so much.
    • Casey and Dawson would never, ever be allowed to work at the same firehouse if they were in a romantic relationship, due to the conflict of interest on hand, 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 of duty 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 $10,000, so nobody gets to take them home for personal use. They’re also colloquially called "TICs," not "thermal cameras."
    • There is no Firehouse 51 in the Chicago Fire Department, and although the trucks and ambulances used are fully functional emergency vehicles (that formerly were used by the CFD, and still used by them as reserve vehicles for the real firehouses if a regular engine has to go out of service for any reason), they are all given fictional numbers so as to avoid confusion with real CFD truck and engine companies. The firehouse used for shooting exteriors is at 1360 South Blue Island Avenue, quarters of Engine Company 18 and Ambulance 65, while interiors are filmed on a set (for obvious reasons).
    • Squad 3's rig looks nothing like an actual CFD Rescue Squad apparatus. It's actually a repainted HAZMAT rig.
    • The Springfield Fire Commissioner comes to Chicago and offers Kelly a job. The only problem, Springfield, Illinois doesn't have a Fire Commissioner. Additionally, fire departments, being low-level government agencies, don't make corporate-style headhunting salary offers. Severide would get paid the Battalion Chief's salary on the Springfield FD's pay scale.
    • Cruz's "Slamigan" tool, touted as a brilliant invention, takes a highly-versatile Halligan Bar and removes its ability to do all but a single function (prying with the adze). To make it worse, a Halligan will most often be used to pry with the forks, which Cruz's modification renders useless, rather than the adze. Not that great of an idea after all. Sure enough, when he is finally shown using it to force a door, it doesn’t work.
    • The show sometimes has a single resource handling a call that would, at minimum, require an Engine, a Truck, and a Chief Officer. The underground rescue that results in the deaths of several guys from Squad 6 is a shining example. In real life, there would've already been at least a half dozen additional rigs assigned to such a call, including paramedics and a battalion chief. An entire company also wouldn't go underground as they did without a designated Incident Commander, someone assigned to air monitoring, and other safety measures in place.
    • When Stella runs out of air and collapses during a high-rise fire, Hermann pulls his SCBA mask off in a superheated and smoke-filled environment and puts it on her face (pro tip: never, ever do that), ignoring the quick-connect buddy-breathing line prominently visible in the pouch on the belt of his SCBA harness that’s literally there for that exact situation.
    • Doors of damaged cars are often forced open with a slight twist of a Halligan bar. Any vehicle whose doors are that easy to pop open would be drastically unsafe. And if it were that easy, hydraulic extrication toolsnote  wouldn’t be worth the money.
    • In season 5's episode "Always A Catch," roughly fifteen seconds go by from the initial impact of a traffic collision to the quick-call alarm at the station being hit. Even the most streamlined 911 systems need at least two minutes to get the necessary information from a caller (who is probably less than calm), enter it into the system, and dispatch a response. The same episode has an EMS helicopter arriving within a minute of being requested. It takes roughly ten minutes to get a helicopter spooled up and off the ground.
  • Artistic License – Law:
    • Cruz's union representative not being permitted to participate in an interview that results in disciplinary action would have the following real-life result: Cruz sues the City of Chicago and becomes a millionaire by the end of the day.
    • Nobody has the authority to forbid a Battalion Chief from closing the door of his own office. Chief Boden would be entirely within his rights to tell Assistant Deputy Commissioner Gorsch to piss up a rope.
    • Unless they've got a parole officer who's a real asshole, a parolee with an ankle monitor would not receive a violation for being transported to an emergency room with a major injury.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: A complete list of medical errors, incorrectly-performed procedures, etc. by Dawson and the other paramedics would take a long page of its own.
    • The paramedics frequently do things that would at least get them terminated 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 would lose both their certification and their job and would face malpractice lawsuits and possibly 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).
    • As of the 2017 season, they are finally attempting (poorly) to put patients who need it in C-spine stabilization.
    • Numerous scenes feature patients being intubated, but the endotracheal tubes are very clearly not inserted past the patient's teeth. This one is obviously justified from a production standpoint: a conscious individual will not be able to tolerate a plastic pipe being inserted through their vocal cords (gag reflex). Yet it would be more practical to just snip an ET tube short so that it would appear to be properly placed.
    • Paramedics do not have the authority to commandeer a vehicle under any circumstances. They can ask for a ride, but kicking someone out of their vehicle is Grand Theft Auto and will get you a prison sentence.
  • 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 disturbing 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.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In "A Chicago Welcome," an old rival of Battalion Chief Wallace Boden, Jerry Gorsch, returns and offers new equipment for the unit as a peace offering, starting with a fancy new firetruck. Boden is more than willing to let bygones be bygones, especially when Gorsch offers to get new turnout gear for everyone so the crew can change out their gear on duty so they can work in healthier conditions such as reducing their exposure to carcinogenic material while on calls since they can have their gear cleaned sooner and more often. However, a comrade is suspicious when he learns that their usual supplier has not received any new orders while learning that Gorsch has contacted a new supplier who is offering the same equipment for 25% cheaper. He has a friend investigate, and they find that not only has the new supplier's product never been tested for safety performance, but Gorsch has known the seller of it for years. They alert Boden, and then they tell the city government of their suspicions, which leads to uncovering that Gorsch arranged big money kickbacks for the seller for the equipment they can't trust to properly protect them. As such, Gorsch is promptly fired and Boden and company get the thanks of the Mayor's office for avoiding a serious corruption scandal that could have jeopardized Fire Department personnel.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: The cast comes out of every fire looking none the worse for wear, not even sweating. Their hair is still perfect, despite having been under a helmet. Even their gear is clean. Dawson has to be the worst offender, her hair & makeup are never blemished.
    • Horribly averted with Jimmy in "A Real Wake-Up Call", who leaves the show, with half his handsome face severely and permanently disfigured, and losing an eye, when it's literally burnt off in a car explosion.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In "Under the Knife" Dawson and victim Rosa have unsubtitled conversations in Spanish.
  • 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.
    • Season 10's "Count Your Breaths" has flashbacks to the pilot episode and Darden's death from nine years prior. Casey and Griffin (Darden's son) are outside the same house used in the pilot episode. The show's crew added soot stains and a tarp to the house to make it seems like it had been through a fire. Which causes some Headscratchers about why the house has not been repaired or torn down in nine years.
  • The Chains of Commanding: During his temporary demotion, Severide remarks that he's actually starting to prefer being a smoke eater without the added pressures of command.
  • 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.
    • The near-constant rotation of guest stars playing members of Squad 3 ends up forming an arc for Season 4, with Severide's ability to command being brought into question and his being demoted due to his seeming inability to keep the empty slot filled.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Vargas gets put on long-term disability in "It Ain't Easy".
    • Jimmy Borrelli gets horribly disfigured and loses his left eye in "A Real Wake-Up Call", and it's clearly stated that his time at the house is over.
  • Commander Contrarian: In Season 4, both Captain Dallas Patterson and Chief Ray Riddle are this. Patterson repeatedly clashes with Severide, to the point that his genuine attempt to back Chief Boden against Riddle is regarded as shameless politicking on Patterson's part. 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.
  • Cousin Oliver: Louie, an orphaned boy Dawson falls in love with and wishes to adopt. The kid is used as a plot device to add some conflict into the Casey-Dawson relationship and the writers quickly brought in Louie's father, a soldier who didn't know he had a son, and a large and loving extended family when it became clear that having a kid around didn't actually do much for the show. Through it all, the boy playing Louie just stood in the middle of scenes involving him just staring at everything with puppy dog eyes.
  • Crapsack World: Similar to how Chicago P.D. isn't unwilling to show the grittier parts of the city, Fire seems to take place in some kind of an alternate reality Chicago, where the Chicago Fire Department deals 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 Chicago franchise's characters regularly make crossover appearances, characters from its various shows have entered into relationships.
    • Severide from Fire and Lindsey from PD were in a friends with benefits relationship. He also hooked up with April Sexton from Chicago Med.
    • Starting in Fire's third season, Mouch and Platt from PD began a relationship and have since gotten married.
    • In the third season finale, Brett is shown hooking up with Roman from Chicago PD and later entered into a relationship with Antonio Dawson of PD and later Chicago Justice.
  • Crossthrough: Infection-Part 1 (Season 8, Episode 4) kicks off a 3-parter continued in Chicago Med and concluded in Chicago P.D..
  • Curse Cut Short: When Casey is told Voight called for him, he replies, "Tell him to go f..." as the alarm goes off.
  • Death of a Child:
    • Ernie. In A Coffin That Small.
    • Hermann nearly dies while saving a baby, but the kid eventually dies from having been exposed to the fire too long.
  • 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 5: Subverted. Herrmann'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.
    Herrmann: 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.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Done in "Short and Fat," twice humorously and once seriously. When Chili and Jimmy are a minute late to a meeting, Peterson puts them on garbage duty for a week. When Peterson catches them coming out of the same shower stall, Peterson ups that to a month. At the end of the episode, when Hermann compares new hire Freddy to Molly's "short and fat" highball glasses, Freddy stabs him in the side and leaves him bleeding out in the kitchen.
  • 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.
    • Duffy, 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 jumps into the river after him and saves him.
    • The owner of the warehouse that's destroyed with numerous fatalities in "Deathtrap." He had no malicious or irresponsible intent and wasn’t fully aware of what was going on in the building. While being questioned at the firehouse, he shoots himself in the bathroom. Everyone is stunned.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: 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.
  • Dysfunction Junction: A lot of the people in House 51 have traumatic backgrounds. But in "Sixty Days," Severide dislikes the idea of troubled firefighter Jason Kannell joining House 51.
    Severide: This is a firehouse. It's not group therapy.
  • 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 an MRSA infection waiting to happen.
  • Enhance Button: Averted in "This Isn't Charity" regarding a photo of two suspects.
    Cruz: Can't they zoom and enhance?
    Otis: Sure, if you want it to be blurrier.
  • 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.
  • Firefighter Arsonist: Season 2 features the team dealing with as serial arsonist starting fires in buildings considered dangerous for firefighters or having links to the firefighters at Firehouse 51. This inside knowledge leads Kevin Severide to conclude their dealing with a firefighter turned arsonist with a vendetta against the rest of the team. Its eventually to be Kevin Hadley, who was previously a member of Firehouse 51, until believing he was being passed up for a promotion in favour of the rookie Peter Mills, led Hadley to pulling a series of pranks on Mills, each one crueller than the last until they escalated into full blown dangerous and disruptive behaviour forcing Chief Boden to transfer Hadley out. Furious he vowed revenge on the others, engaging in a series of mind games and attacks until he's eventually caught by Severide.
  • Firehouse Dalmatian: Tuesday, who is a Dalmatian belonging to Ritter. She was then brought to the firehouse when she developed separation anxiety.
  • First-Name Basis: Done by Isabella to Gail McLeod. Twice.

  • 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.
  • Go-Getter Girl: Rebecca Jones is a walking deconstruction of this trope. Driven to prove her Deputy Chief father that a woman can cut it as a firefighter, she treats the job like a competition. She is cocky, impudent, and willing to cheat to get ahead.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Freddie Clemente, a kid from Cruz neighborhood. He is too sensitive and, having grown up around gangs, has learned to meet aggression with more aggression. These factors bubble over when he stabs Herrmann for a goodnatured barb about his looks.
  • Happily Married: Stella and Severide after nearly 7 seasons of Will They Wont They in the Season 10 finale.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: So far, such situations include Severide.
    • In What Happened to Courtney, Severide follows up on an unsolved search and rescue where they Never Found the Body when a call takes them to a chimney with a charred skeleton next to a unique necklace. Said necklace belonged to the titular Courtney, whose body was later confirmed through dental records. When Courtney's uncle David visits, he accuses his sister of neglect and snapping her neck, a detail that was never publicized. A fight between Severide and David ensues, and the latter is hauled away in cuffs.
    • Inverted in Ignite on Contact, when Severide accuses a student, Mateo, of lighting a chemistry lab on fire, leaving a teacher with third-degree burns, since Mateo had been previously expelled from several schools for setting trash bins on fire. Mateo confesses to throwing a match in the lab despite Fire Investigators' findings to be caused by chemical combustion. The fire was started by a bullying victim of Mateo's to frame up and have him expelled so he won't be bullied by him again.
  • Improbable Infant Survival:
    • 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 P.D. concludes it Imogene dies, but her liver is then given to Zoe saving her life.
  • 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 Cliffhanger resulted in the death of Shay and much of the first episode deals with the impact it has on Firehouse 51.
    • Otis is badly injured in the Season 8 premiere and dies of his injuries later in the hospital.
  • Last-Name Basis: While their full names are used with varying degrees of frequency, the people manning Firehouse 51 generally refer to each other by surnames, nicknames, or, in the case of people like Casey, Severide, and Boden, their rank.
    • Otis and Mouch share the lowest end of the "frequency" scale; the former being both a reference to an elevator company (reflecting his most common duty on the truck) and a way for his colleagues to avoid mispronouncing his Russian surname (Zvonecek), while the latter is a nickname (part man, part couch) that its owner (Randall McHolland) is unable to shake, despite his best efforts.
    • 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.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to Dick Wolf's other show. There is angst and drama, and lots of intense action, as expected in a show about firefighters, but comedic subplots and Running Gags are frequent, unlike Law & Order.
  • 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.
    • Late in Season 3, Cruz moves from Truck 81 to Squad 3 to fill the near-constantly empty slot most recently vacated by Peter Mills.
  • Local Hangout: Molly's, for both this group and Chicago P.D..
  • Manly Tears: In "The People We Meet," Severide donates his bone marrow without the proper anesthetic.. He toughs it out, but sobs when he is alone in his hospital room.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Murder by Inaction: Cruz in season 1, leaves a victim to die in a fire, the "victim" being the boss of his brother's gang. Justified as Cruz was only trying to protect his brother.
  • My Greatest Failure: Boden traveled to the World Trade Center right after 9/11 to search for survivors, as told in "That Day." His inability to do so, as well as the brutality and despair of those days, deeply troubled him.
    Boden: Through all the digging and death, we never found a single soul. It felt like I failed. Firefighters don’t fail people. A hole formed inside of me.
  • 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.
    • Slightly inverted in "Where the Collapse Started." Antonio tells Casey that he (Casey) has been stringing Gabriela along for three years, and needs to either make a serious commitment or let her go.
    • Cruz to Gallo regarding new paramedic Gianna in "Rattle Second City." Cruz isn't Gianna's brother, but they did grow up on the same block. Gallo was just being friendly but Cruz doesn't care.
  • The Neidermeyer: Deputy Commissioner Gorsch in Season 7. When Gorsch was a candidate, Chief Boden gave him a bad performance review, recognizing rightly that this guy was a desk jockey, not a smoke eater. Gorsch then slimed his way up the ranks to a position where he could hover around the firehouse and try to drive Boden to quit — and make everyone's life miserable in the effort.
  • 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 firefighter 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.
  • No OSHA Compliance: One episode as an Amazon-like distribution warehouse floor manager banning bathroom breaks when the staff is apparently being too slow in their quotas compared to the new robots. Of course, nature called for one worker, and he was so desperate and angry that he urinated on one of the robots. That damaged the robot, which went haywire and rammed into the shelving and caused a major collapse on some workers. The firefighters come to the rescue and then investigate what happened. When they discover the manager is at fault (and trying to keep a low profile at that moment), they firmly order him to stay where he is since he is going to have a long talk with OSHA about this blatant workplace reg violation.
  • Noodle Incident: When Truck 81 brings a ping-pong table to the house, Chief Boden asks the crew to not repeat the "Foosball Incident of 2009". Kidd tries asking what happened that year but everyone else is tight-lipped about it.
    • In season nine the Firehouse conducts their annual garage sale and Boden tells Mouch not to have a repeat incident like the one in 2017. We do find out that Mouch apparently snatched a popcorn maker from the hands of an old lady. However, we do not find out what he said about the incident in small claims court.
  • Number Two:
    • Casey and Severide command their own coempanies but are subordinate to Boden within the battalion. Casey very occasionally takes command if Boden is absent on short notice, but a relief chief is a preferred route. 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.
  • 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.
    • And, in one occasion, when a street full of residents have used their cars to blockade all access to a burning building, Casey hops into a pick-up and, thanks to the owner of the vehicle foolishly leaving the keys in the ignition, proceeds to ram the cars out of the way one by one in order to clear a path.
  • 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.
  • 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 P.D., 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.
    • Paramedic Emily Foster is written out at the start of season 9. Brett explains how Emily returned to medical school.
  • Rank Up:
    • Casey is promoted to Captain in Season 5.
    • Herrmann is promoted to Lieutenant in Season 6.
  • Real Person Cameo: In "Virgin Skin" we get Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook
    • The 9/11 memorial episode featured WTC survivor FDNY Battalion Chief John Salka as himself.
    • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel appears in "I'm Not Leaving You."
    • Tony could count as a regular example of this, seeing as Anthony Ferraris is an actual Firefighter for Squad 2 in real life.
    • Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson cameo in the episode “2112” in which Mouch gets passes to a Rush concert.
  • Red Herring Mole: Clarke is initially suspected to be The Mole in season 2. Obviously, he isn't.
  • Retired Badass: Clarke was a Force Recon Marine.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Season 5's "Deathtrap" has a fire very similar to the Ghost Ship Fire in Oakland, CA.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Kevin Hadley became an arsonist and set fires targeting Severide and Mills following his termination from Firehouse 51.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: New Meat Gianna Mackey has a gun pointed at her on her first call on Ambulance 61. She then is on the ambulance when it is knocked off a bridge by the same man who had pointed the gun. She ponders leaving House 51. "Some people are made for that kind of heat," Mackey says. "Maybe I’m just not one of them." Cruz talks her into staying.
  • Sensitivity Training: In "Retaliation Hit." As per usual for this trope, the squad treats 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.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Poor Clarke did not have an easy time of it after coming home from Iraq.
  • She's All Grown Up: Gianna Mackey, introduced in "Rattle Second City," and Joe Cruz were friends growing up. It is implied she was a tomboy when she was younger.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Backdraft with occasional references to Firehouse 17.
    • The series focuses on Firehouse 51 and the pumper truck is Engine 51, both unmistakable references to Station 51 from the original paramedic/rescue series Emergency!.
  • The Squadette: Jones was this during Season 2, being the only female firefighter on Truck 81. Dawson slips into this role during Season 3.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: It is strongly implied that Benny Severide killed Vince Keller for abducting and assaulting Katie.
  • Tempting Fate: In season one episode three 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?
    Herrmann: He did not just say that...
    (alarms go off)
    • Mills is then chewed out by the crew for jinxing them.
  • Thought They Knew Already: In a Season 8 episode, former cop Roman comes to ask for the team's help in finding his missing sister, claiming to have been working the case with the Intelligence Unit. Severide goes to meet Voight and his team to off-hand remark about Roman...only to find none of them had any idea Roman was even in Chicago, let alone working a case.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Let's be honest, nearly every character seems to be on a carousel of pain throughout the series, but certain characters never seem to have anything go right for them, at least for long.
    • Notably: Casey's mother murdered his abusive father when he was 15, leaving him with no parents and a sister across the country. At the beginning of the series he loses one best friend to a fire, and his other best friend to the wedge said death drives between them; his fiancee initially leaves him, only to later rekindle their relationship; he is continually harassed and even beaten for refusing to take back a report; he has to deal with the parole of his mother, which brings its own host of familial problems; and then he responds to the call in which his fiancee dies in a fire he blames himself for. All that before the season one finale. He goes on to face constant injuries and near-death experiences, the death of more friends and colleagues, more relationship ups and downs (to put it mildly), accidental involvement in a trafficking ring, witnessing of a murder in his own home and subsequent kidnapping, and the miscarriage of his potential child.
  • 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.
  • Unintentional Final Message: The squad responds to an accident between a street racer and a postal vehicle. Afterward, Mouch checks his gear to discover a letter from the postal vehicle that got stuck to his boot and sets out to deliver it. After the post office declines to help him, Ritter finds a way to determine the address. Mouch delivers it and discovers it was sent by a soldier to his wife shortly before he was killed in action. (Thus making the post office's ambivalence worse.)
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In "The F Is For", Herrmann is recruited to become a life coach after being seen in action as a compassionate bartender. But of course, he royally screws it up twice in the same episode: He gives advice to a young man nervous about his girlfriend moving in with him, which later blows up in his face when the guy angrily storms in and tells Herrmann that the two have broken up. Meanwhile, he unwittingly encourages Lily to speak to her sister and move to Hawaii, which Otis isn't exactly thrilled about either.
  • 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.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Otis is called by his first name, Brian, when he is injured in "Looking for a Lifeline" and "The Chance to Forgive."
    Cruz: I'm glad to hear your voice, Brian. You really scared me.
    Otis: Brian?
    Cruz: Yeah, feels weird to say, but hell, I'll call you whatever you want.