How 'Chicago Fire' Dealt With Taylor Kinney's Leave of Absence

Firehouse 51 was down a member when NBC's Chicago Fire returned for a new episode Wednesday night. Titled "Damage Control," Season 11, Episode 15 addressed the absence of Lt. Kelly Severide as actor Taylor Kinney takes a leave of absence from the hit drama. Warning: This post contains spoilers for Chicago Fire Season 11.

Kinney did not appear in Wednesday's new episode as it was revealed that his onscreen counterpart left town to go to "the best arson investigation training program in the world." According to Capt. Tom Van Meter, the program was a last-minute opportunity that was too good for Severide to pass up. His absence was heavily felt not only by fans but also by the other characters. At the top of the episode, Severide's wife Stella Kidd was greeted by an empty apartment, and Wallace Boden was visibly upset. Van Meter calmed some worries, though, by ensuring the team and viewers that Severide joining the program doesn't mean he will leave the firehouse altogether.

Severide's absence from the episode came just a little more than a month after Deadline confirmed Kinney would be taking a leave of absence. A source close to production told several outlets that Kinney "is on a leave of absence to deal with a personal matter," though no further information was shared regarding his absence, which seemed to have come as a bit of a shock to Chicago Fire's cast and crew, who were reportedly informed of the matter just hours before the news broke. At the time, Deadline suggested that "it is likely that future scripts will have to be rewritten to accommodate Kinney's absence." It is unclear when Kinney is set to return to the beloved program.

Kinney has starred as Kelly Severide, a firefighter and the company officer for the second shift of Rescue Squad 3, since the show's debut back in 2012 and has gone on to appear on Chicago Med, Chicago P.D., and also the short-lived Chicago Justice. He marked the 10-year anniversary of the series back in October, just before taking a leave of absence. Opening up about the special celebration, Kinney told Today that he has since come to view the city of Chicago as his "home," adding, "I've been here over a decade, and the city has been good to me. I've gotten to know it through my work: southside, north, westside. We've done scenes on the lake. The city has been good to me. I love this city."

Kinney's absence from Chicago Fire comes amid other shakeups for the OneChicago universe. Brian Tee exited Chicago Med last year, followed by Jesse Lee Soffer's exit from Chicago P.D. In November, it was announced that co-creator and co-showrunner Derek Haas would be leaving Chicago Fire at the end of the season. New episodes of Chicago Fire air Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.