NBC Boss ‘Thrilled’ With #OneChicago, Remains Unfazed by Turnover: ‘Cast Comes In, Cast Goes Out’

With every confirmed cast exit at Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. or Chicago Med, there’s a chorus of people who without fail fret, “What is going on with the #OneChicago shows?!”

Jeff Bader, President of Program Planning Strategy for NBCUniversal Entertainment, however is not among those concerned voices.

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The past TV season’s wave of #OneChicago exits began in late October of last year, when it was announced that Tracy Spiridakos’ eight-season run as Hailey Upton would end after Season 11.

Weeks later, we learned that Kara Killmer would be hanging up her gear as Chicago Fire‘s Sylvie Brett after 10 seasons. Not long after, news broke that Alberto Rosende, who’d played Fire’s Blake Gallo for four seasons, would exit in that show’s Season 12 premiere.

Things simmered down for a few months, until May 2024 brought the sad news that OG Chicago Fire-fighter Eamonn Walker was stepping down as a series regular.

And most recently, we learned that Dominic Rains would not be returning as Crockett for Chicago Med Season 10.

On the plus (meaning, additions) side, Luke Mitchell joined Med for Season 9; Rome Flynn (How to Get Away With Murder) joined Fire for Season 12 (yet only lasted a half dozen episodes); Sophia Ali (Grey’s Anatomy) briefly scrubbed in at Med; Michael Bradway was cast as Fire‘s Jack Damon; P.D. quietly recruited Bojana Novakovic (Instinct) to play Jo Petrovic; and Jocelyn Hudson (who portrays Fire’s Lyla Novak) was promoted to series regular for next season.

During TVLine’s most recent check-in with NBC exec Bader, we asked what if anything to make of #OneChicago’s steady stream of ins and outs.

Sad as it may be to see longtime characters ride off into the sunset (and in doing so make way for new faces), “obviously it keeps the shows fresh,” Bader said in mid-May.

“It’s interesting,” he then observed, “because every year there are cast changes, and every year someone asks the same question” about the state of #OneChicago. “But [those shows] just keep going on.”

Indeed, out of broadcast TV’s 10 most-watched dramas last season, Fire ranked third in viewers (trailing ony CBS’ NCIS and FBI), while Med and P.D. landed at No. 5 and No. 7, respectively.

“Cast comes in, cast goes out…,” Bader noted. “We’re thrilled with how the Chicagos do on Wednesday. We have no plans on changing anything on that night.”

Bader’s POV echoes what some #OneChicago showrunners told TVLine earlier this year, when the Killmer and Spiridakos news was still fresh.

“Honestly, longevity is really just part of it,” Fire showrunner Andrea Newman said of cast changes. “[In] storytelling and in terms of real life, 12 years is a long time and things need to change, just dynamic-wise. You want new characters and you want new dynamics.”

For the actors themselves, too, “12 years is a long [time],” Newman notes. “Nobody expects in TV [that] they’re going to be anywhere for 12 years, I can say that for sure, from all sides.”

Andrew Schneider, before exiting Chicago Med as co-showrunner this spring, suggested that the turnover is indicative of not just the Chicagos but all of prolific producer Dick Wolf’s TV franchises, including CBS’ #TheFBIs.

“What the Wolf [Entertainment] company likes to do is have characters leave and bring in new characters in an effort to keep the shows fresh or find new dimensions to the show and new dynamics,” Schneider said.

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