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Series / Chicago Med

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"Saving lives with everything they've got."

Chicago Med is a Medical Drama that debuted on NBC in 2015. It is the third installment of Dick Wolf's One Chicago franchise.

Focusing on the staff of the fictional Gaffney Chicago Medical Center's Emergency Department in the titular city, the show follows their efforts to provide comfort and care to their patients while dealing with friendships and conflicts that inevitably occur in such a high stress environment.

See also, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Justice

This program provides examples of:

  • Abuse Mistake: In one episode, Dr. Manning believed that a mom was abusing her baby. It turned out the baby had suffered trauma in utero which manifested in the symptoms which brought her to the hospital.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The ending theme for the Japanese release is "Kyoko no Hikari" by Tatsuya Ishii.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The end of season one leaves it open to interpretation whether or not Dr. Rhodes assisted Dr. Downey in ending his life on his own terms. He's questioned about it on more than one occasion during season two, but has yet to give an answer.
  • And Starring: "With S. Epatha Merkerson. And Oliver Platt."
  • Artistic License – Military: The second season episode "Win Loss" has a bit character, Petty Officer 3rd Class Torres, a Navy corpman who is job shadowing Dr. Choi prior to his deployment to Iraq as a combat medic. His uniform in the episode is all over the place: His blue and grey camouflage uniform is worn with a white t-shirt where by regs it is worn with a dark blue t-shirt. He has a rank insignia stitched on his uniform blouse above his name tape. No service wears rank tabs this way; on this uniform the rank tabs are worn on each collar. And there is the fact that he, a military member, is job shadowing at a civilian hospital. If it was thought that he needed some practical pre-deployment training, he would have been sent to any number of military hospitals, Navy, Army or otherwise, or to a specialized training course. It's implied that Dr. Choi offered his services as a reservist Navy doctor to help out but on a day to day basis, there isn't much he can do to help out as the environments in a Chicago hospital and a remote forward deployed location are far different.
  • Ass Shove: One patient was brought in after shoving a loaded .22 pistol up his rectum. Complicating matters was the fact that the hammer was cocked and it ended up going off as Dr. Choi was pulling it out, wounding both the patient and Jeff Clarke, who was assisting the procedure.
    Clarke: Tell me there wasn't any brown in there.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Many episodes end on this note, with some of the patients dying while others survive.
    Dr. Choi: "Is this a happy ending?"
    Sharon Goodwin: "Dr. Choi, this is as happy as it's going to get."
  • Benevolent Boss: Although Sharon Goodwin is no-nonsense when it comes to running the hospital, she is generally sympathetic to the various issues faced by patients and staff.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Due to the Hawaiian shirts and slightly eccentric behavior (see the Trickster Mentor entry), Dr. Rhodes admits to Sharon Goodwin that he initially assumed Dr. Downey was a pothead — he just also happens to be one of the finest transplant surgeons in the world.
  • The Bus Came Back: Jeff Clarke, formerly of Chicago Fire, returns to the Chicago franchise as a student doctor with the explanation that he hurt his back and couldn't be an active firefighter anymore and opted for a career change.
  • Cliffhanger: A recurring way each season ends.
    • In the season two finale, Jack Kellogg shoots Dr. Charles outside the hospital and then turns the gun on himself. The season ends without revealing if Dr. Charles will survive.
    • In the season 3 finale, the season ends with multiple cliffhangers, Halstead proposes to Natalie and Robert Heywood, Dr. Reese's father collapsing after being confronted by Dr Charles regarding his involvement in the murder of several girls and finally, Dr Rhodes confronted by Dr Bekkher regarding his invitation to Mayo Clinic.
    • In the season 4 finale, Natalie and Halstead are hit by a car, driven by the son of the mob whose father Will treated, Natalie is thrown out of the vehicle, suffering a major head wound.
    • Downplayed in the season 5 finale, largely as a result of Covid-19 shutting down most TV studios, the season ended on a more somber note, having been cut short two episodes.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Doctors wear maroon scrubs, nurses wear blue and surgeons wear black.
  • Cool Big Sis: April Sexton, to her brother Noah.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Averted. Sarah Reese performs CPR on a young girl but Dr. Choi tells her she's being too gentle. When Sarah objects, Choi snaps at her to go harder and viewers are treated to sounds of breaking ribs as she continues with chest compressions.
  • Crapsack World: Although the show does have a few happy endings from time to time, the majority of patients have horrible things happen to them.
  • Crossthrough: Season 5's "Infection-Part 2" episode is the middle segment of a crossover arc with Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. forming parts one and three, respectively.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Downplayed. In part 2 of the Infection 2019 massive crossover event, Charlene, one of the tenants of an infected apartment complex, is a nutjob Conspiracy Theorist who thinks the CIA is behind the infection and that they spread it disguised as exterminators driving nondescript vehicles. However, the CIA is not behind the infection, but a disgruntled employee of the research laboratory, who destroys the bacteria specimens and knocks out Dr. Halstead when he gets caught.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Dr. Rhodes' mother killed herself when he was only ten years old, and he has implied that his father is at least partially responsible. There's also the (so far only hinted at) reasons that he left home later on to escape something that he feels guilty for not being around to protect his younger sister from.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dr. Abrams
  • Death of a Child: Children are just as likely to die from life-threatening injuries or illness as adults are on this show, and a woman being pregnant is no guarantee that she'll survive.
  • Defector from Decadence: Connor Rhodes comes from a prominent Chicago family (with characters remarking that he's "one of those Rhodes") but chose to become a doctor and do something meaningful rather than join the materialistic family business.
  • Department of Child Disservices: Whenever an issue comes up that involves making a call to social services, the characters are always reluctant. It is strongly implied that nothing good ever comes of it.
  • Driven to Suicide: Minor character Dr. Jason Wheeler calmly walks off Gaffney's 10th floor balcony in the Cold Open of Monday Mourning.
    • In the season 5 premiere, after Dr. Latham reveals that the insulin that overdosed and killed Dr. Rhode's father can be traced, Dr. Ava Bekkar retrieves a scalpel and slashes her own throat and dies on the operating table.
  • Dr. Jerk:
    • Dr. Sam Abrams, a neurosurgeon, bitterly complains about having to do grunt work because new rules prevent his residents from working more than 12 hours at a time. He mocks the younger generation's desire to have a better work-life balance.
    Dr. Abrams: Why am I putting in this bowl? Where's my good-for-nothing resident?
    Dr. Halstead: Put in her 12 hours. Had to knock off.
    Dr. Abrams: These new rules...ridiculous...and bad for medicine. [Mocking tone] "Oh, I'm so tired! Oh, I can't work!" Raised so damned spoiled. Whole generation.
    • Dr. Downey, a transplant surgeon, is an egotistical jerk to anyone who doesn't meet his standards. He softens up considerably towards Dr. Rhodes after the younger doctor handles a crisis with aplomb.
  • Enfant Terrible: Griffin, the ten year old Sociopath in 'Hearts' is responsible for breaking at least two bones in his younger brother's arm, and is the cause of a serious burn on his mother's hand (and that's just the stuff we know about). His declaration that he wants to be a doctor when he grows up - followed by his admission that the knives are the reason - leaves Dr. Charles looking as disturbed as we've ever seen him, and he strongly recommends that Griffin's parents remove Griffin from the home for the safety of their family. Despite clear evidence that their younger son, Beau, is terrified of his older brother, his parents refuse and it's clear that the situation is unlikely to have a happy ending.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Common for the doctors when a seemingly random comment makes them instantly realize what's wrong with a patient.
    • Charles is suspicious of a young woman who keeps changing her story and wonders if she was the victim of abduction but no reports of missing women matching her description come in. When the woman wants to leave, they hand her an iPad to sign herself out...and the woman literally has no idea what she's holding. That she doesn't understand technology around for a decade makes Charles realize she was abducted as a girl and has been held prisoner all this time.
  • Expansion Pack Past: In the first episode alone, Dr. Rhodes has revealed that he grew up in a wealthy neighborhood, went to medical school in Mexico and spent some time in Saudi Arabia (where he learned how to suture wounds like a plastic surgeon). He's later revealed that he comes from one of Chicago's most prominent families (the kind that get buildings named after them).
  • Fake Guest Star: Maggie started out as a recurring character, but since she appeared in every episode from the premiere, she was Promoted to Opening Titles in episode 14.
  • Flat Character: Joey Thomas, Sarah Reese's boyfriend during the first two seasons who was bland, forgettable, unconnected to anyone else in the hospital, and never received much development beyond being her love interest. Sarah quickly outgrew him once her character development kicked in, but Joey stuck around until their long-overdue break up late in the second season.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The newspaper that Dr. Rhodes picks up on the train during the first episode is written in Spanish, which makes the moment where he begins conversing with a patient in Spanish a bit later less unexpected.
  • Freudian Couch: Averted. Dr. Charles usually chats with patients and staff in casual settings.
  • Friendship Moment: When Dr. Halstead is about to do something that might cost him his career, Dr. Rhodes literally tackles him to keep him from getting into the elevator.
  • Hero Insurance: Averted. When Dr. Halstead ignores a cancer patient's order not to resuscitate, the family sues him and the hospital. And, as a result of the lawsuit, his malpractice insurance premiums rocket up to the stratosphere.
  • Hospital Gurney Scene: But of course.
  • Hospital Hottie: Chicago Med's staff is, for the most part, astoundingly good looking.
  • The Intern: Sarah Reese is the med student version in the first season. She begins to grow out of it as the show progresses.
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: Dr. Charles utters this trope to Sarah Reese, when she comes to him for advice about how to tell the parents of her eight-year-old patient that their son has a terminal disease.
  • It's All About Me: Mr. Kellogg from "Cold Front" repeatedly demands to get his medication refilled even though a mass casualty event has occurred requiring all hands on deck. As a result, he ends up clashing with Dr. Charles repeatedly. He even goes so far as to call the hospital while posing as his brother and tell them he killed himself.
    • He returns in the season two finale and, if anything, he's actually gotten worse. He spends the entire episode complaining that Dr. Charles is refusing to see him, despite being told that Dr. Charles is unavailable due to a family emergency. In the final scene, he accosts Dr. Charles outside the hospital and shoots him before finally turning the gun on himself.
  • It's All My Fault: At the end of the episode where a man takes shots at a few of the nurses outside of the hospital, hitting April in the process, Monique Lawson has a guilt-ridden breakdown, apologizing to April and blaming herself for it all. Why? Because the man was an internet-fueled Straw Misogynist who shot at them solely because Monique declined a date, and she thinks that if she had just accepted one date with him, it wouldn't have happened. Thankfully, April and Maggie calm her down.
  • Just Train Wrong: The 'L' train derailment in the pilot, "Derailed," gets this once you know the filming location (Clinton Street and Milwaukee Avenue). The train cars are correct, and railroad tracks do run through that area. However, the viaduct is not used by the 'L', but by Metra's Union Pacific-operated lines out of Ogilvie Transportation Center.
  • Local Hangout: Molly's, along with the folks from Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D..
  • Mama Bear: Dr. Manning - not only with her own son, but any child patient she perceives is in danger or otherwise being mistreated.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Dr. Rhodes and Dr. Zanetti share one during their bedroom scene in 'Intervention'.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Dr. Rhodes, both in-universe and out. His good looks were commented on several times in the first episode, and he had a shirtless scene which a couple of the nurses clearly enjoyed. He has since gotten a few more shirtless scenes.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Dr. Reese has this reaction after pepper-spraying a patient.
  • New Meat: Sarah, the intern, feels out of her depth and wants a quiet career in a lab. Maggie eventually takes Sarah under her wing and helps the intern get over a lot of her confidence issues.
  • New Media Are Evil: The show takes a firm stance against social media. A prankster attempting to gain an online following decides to fake a mass shooting and causes a lethal stampede. The civilian who takes action and shoots the prankster is originally hailed as a hero but is then driven to despair and ultimately suicide when social media turns against him when the true nature of the "shooting" comes to light.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In Season 8, a board meeting threatens to turn the hospital into a for-profit operation. Sharon has board member Vernon ready to vote against it only for Vernon to collapse from a brain tumor. Eager to make the meeting, Sharon and Will push for a surgery to take out the tumor and let Vernon attend the meeting...where he votes for the takeover because the surgery convinced him the "2.0" OR worked and wanted more technology like that.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. So far there's a Dr. Sam Zanetti and a Dr. Sam Abrams.
  • Patient of the Week: Each episode usually has one for each doctor.
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot: The pilot was an "event" episode on Fire that involved the hospital's ER being blown up by a madman. Prior to, and after, this, however, both Fire and PD started laying the groundwork for Med.
    • Both Fire and PD would regularly mention "Chicago Med" whenever their plots required a hospital.
    • Dr. Will Halstead was introduced early in Chicago P.D.'s second season as Jay Halstead's brother and made occasional appearances on the existing Chicago shows. He became the go-to doctor whenever Ambulance 61's crew made a drop-off at Med.
    • Dr. Charles started making appearances on PD in the run-up to this show's debut.
  • Put on a Bus: Dr. Zanetti tells Dr. Rhodes that she's accepted another job near the end of 'Intervention' and hasn't been mentioned since.
  • Quirky Curls: Sarah Reese's curls are usually rather unkempt and frizzy. The effect is doubled if she wears them in a top-knot.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The entirety of season six is built around the hospital and its staff dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. As filming took place during the pre-vaccine heights of the illness, many allowances had to be made in terms of actors wearing masks and social distancing and it would have been impossible to ignore without severely curtailing in-person interactions where the Walk and Talk interactions are one of the main appeals of the show, so the show leans into it with a dedicated Covid ward in the hospital and storylines of how many of the staff deal with the outbreak and its stresses.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: A man whose wife was trampled to death in a movie theater "shooting" donates her liver to the prankster responsible and tells the kid that he did so because it means that the kid will have a constant reminder of the cost of his stupidity.
  • Redheads Are Uncool: Mostly averted with Dr. Halstead, who is a solid doctor with a number of women interested. However, one episode brings a former childhood bully to the ED. Despite now being in his thirties (and literally on his deathbed) the guy still mocks Halstead for being a redhead.
  • The Reveal: Dr. Rhodes wasn't hired simply to be Chicago Med's Trauma Fellow. He was hired because Dr. Downey, a renowned transplant surgeon, was looking for a talented surgeon to train before he dies of terminal cancer. It's revealed that most of the first season was actually a Secret Test of Character that Rhodes' unknowingly passed.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Dr. Zanetti, for Dr. Rhodes in season one. The only things we ever really knew about her is that she's a surgeon, she's an alcoholic, and that they were hooking up during their downtime. She was never shown interacting with any of the other characters, and her departure from the show in 'Intervention' impacted absolutely no one.
  • Screaming Birth: The birth of Dr. Manning's son in "Bound".
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Averted. Dr. Rhodes just wants to be like all the other doctors. He actually becomes rather uncomfortable when references are made to his prominent family or their wealth.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Sharon Goodwin puts her job on the line for a young patient when she orders a doctor to carry out the bone marrow transplant necessary to save her life, despite the hospital brass denying the transplant for legal reasons. The hospital decides not to do anything because going after her would be a PR nightmare.
  • Self-Surgery: A scene in the pilot episode has Dr. Rhodes stitching up a long cut on his left bicep. Additionally, he’s left handed, so he was using his non-dominant hand to sew it up. It's like they really wanted to establish him as a badass.
  • Sergeant Rock: Maggie, the charge nurse, without whom nothing would probably get done in the ED.
  • Series Continuity Error: Jeff Clarke was introduced in Chicago Fire as a former Force Recon Marine. However on Med, he refers to himself as a former Army Ranger.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: As revealed in "Choices", Dr. Choi is haunted by the memory of a mother in Afghanistan who brought her already dead three year old daughter to him to be treated — to the point that he's unable to sleep and he can't stop seeing the child's face. He ends up seeking help from Dr. Charles, and is shown making some real progress by the end of the first season.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Dr. Manning's husband was a soldier who died several months before the start of the show. She gives birth to their son in the sixth episode.
  • So Proud of You: Averted. Despite having sons that became successful at a relatively young age, the fathers of both Halstead and Rhodes constantly criticize their life choices.
  • Surgeons Can Do Autopsies If They Want: Averted. Halstead observes an autopsy because he's certain that Manning made a mistake that killed his patient and wants to be the first to know if he's right or wrong. It's abundantly clear that he has no idea what signs to look for and the pathologist has to spell out what happened inside the patient's body at the time of death.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Dr. Halstead goes against a patient's Do-Not-Resuscitate order and is subsequently hit with a lawsuit. The very very long and complicated legal proceedings form a recurring subplot for several episodes and Sharon Goodwin makes clear that she's willing to throw Halstead to the wolves if it means saving the hospital's reputation.
  • Trickster Mentor: Dr. Downey for Dr. Rhodes. So far, he's had Rhodes make him tea, verify that he can speak Arabic before asking him to join him for a meeting with an Arabic patient who speaks perfect English, and played up his illness during a surgery so Rhodes would be forced to step up to the plate.
  • Two First Names: Dr. Daniel Charles. Don't feel bad if you didn't realize everyone was using his last name.
  • The 'Verse: All Chicago shows' characters casually make crossover appearances.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We're only given a glimpse into the lives of the patients they treat. Once the episode ends, we never see or hear from them again, leaving you to wonder what happened to some of them afterwards.
    • A notable aversion was Danny, a male sex slave who Sarah Reese tried to help in season two. His story seemed like it would be this trope, with him initially refusing help and leaving the hospital with his pimp at the end of the episode, but he returned only a few episodes later and helping him became the focus of Sarah's story arc for several episodes.