Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

One Chicago Franchise Moments That Made Fans Gasp

NBC's three-part "One Chicago" franchise explores the inner workings of law enforcement and emergency services. The franchise includes "Chicago Fire," "Chicago P.D.," and "Chicago Med." Each series functions as a procedural and focuses on a single close-knit team working to save lives and solve crimes. Although each series acts as a stand-alone show, the three frequently intertwine through connected cases and crossover episodes. This high level of interconnectedness between the three shows makes the franchise feel seamless. Additionally, these series share producer Dick Wolf with the long-running "Law & Order" franchise and have occasionally crossed paths with their New York-based counterparts.

Like most procedurals, the "One Chicago" shows all focus on intriguing cases that put the characters' skills to the test in every episode. However, aside from detailing their professional lives, the franchise also highlights the backstories and unique personalities of its main characters. Furthermore, as a result of their ongoing collaborations, the teams treat each other more like family than coworkers. 

This complex world breeds compelling storylines and believable relationships between characters. However, it also produces many shocking, heartbreaking moments that longtime fans can't forget. These gasp-worthy moments from the "One Chicago" franchise remain noteworthy long after they occur and never cease to surprise new audiences.

Chicago Fire: The Beating Heart (Season 4, Episode 10)

Veteran firefighter Christopher Herrmann (David Eigenberg) owns Molly's bar, a popular hangout for the Firehouse 51 crew. He is a caring but opinionated character who works tirelessly to provide for his large family. However, in a Season 4 crossover with "Chicago Med," Herrmann's ambitions nearly meet a fatal end. The episode "The Beating Heart" starts a three-part crossover that puts Herrmann in a dangerous situation. After a disagreement with a gang-affiliated young man named Freddie Clemente (Ralph Rodriguez) in the previous episode, fans are shocked to see the barkeep bleeding out on the floor of Molly's. He has endured several stab wounds and his condition deteriorates rapidly.

This surprising moment is especially tragic because Herrmann's goal is to help Freddie escape his life as a gang member. At the time of the stabbing, Freddie is working as a busboy at Molly's while he figures out the next chapter of his life. Luckily for Herrmann, fellow firefighters find him in time to rush him to the hospital. Once there, they put him in the capable hands of the "Chicago Med" team. 

Although the medical staff works tirelessly to stabilize him, "One Chicago" fans have to wait until the conclusion of the crossover event to find out if Herrmann survives his ordeal. At the conclusion of the crossover, members of Firehouse 51 are relieved by the news that their colleague will recover.

Chicago P.D.: Start Digging (Season 3, Episode 23)

Sergeant Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) is arguably the most recognizable "Chicago P.D." character, and the dedicated police officer has faced countless tragedies across the series. For example, in the Season 3 episode, "Start Digging," Voight experiences a significant turning point in his life that is heartbreaking for fans. Voight's son, Justin (Josh Segarra), is a troubled young man who often finds himself on the wrong side of the law. Although he slowly works to redeem himself, his checkered past catches up to him in this episode. To the horror of audiences (and Sergeant Voight), law enforcement finds Justin in the trunk of a car with a bullet wound to the head.

Justin is still alive when he arrives at the hospital, but it soon becomes clear that he'll never recover from his injuries. Despite tracking down and killing the man who shot Justin, Sergeant Voight can't celebrate this victory. In one of the saddest moments in the early seasons, he makes the tough decision to discontinue life support for his son. 

"Chicago P.D." fans in a Reddit thread describe Justin's untimely death as an event that completely altered the course of Sergeant Voight's life. Several users note that "Start Digging" is painful to watch but is still among the best episodes in the series.

Chicago Med: Hearts (Season 1, Episode 14)

The Gaffney Chicago Medical Center doctors tackle complex medical cases on "Chicago Med." One particularly eye-opening case comes to light in the Season 1 episode "Hearts." Here, a man named Levi Coleman (Shane Patrick) comes into the hospital complaining of a strange sensory disturbance — he can feel the vibrations of his own heart. Coleman is a war veteran, which makes him sympathetic to fellow veteran Dr. Choi (Brian Tee). Coleman implores the doctors for help, but they don't take him seriously. Finally, desperate for treatment, he grabs a pencil from a nearby desk and stabs himself in the ear. This shocking moment is horrifying and sad since Coleman genuinely felt it was his only option. 

Initially, Dr. Choi finds nothing amiss with Coleman's physical health and chalks the sensory disturbances up to post-traumatic stress disorder. However, audiences soon learn that Dr. Choi is all too familiar with this condition, which deepens his connection to Coleman. TV Fanatic calls this parallel an excellent example of building a bond between the doctors and patients of "Chicago Med." Eventually, Dr. Choi discovers that Coleman's sensory disturbance results from scar tissue around his heart, which amplifies the sound of its beating.

Chicago Fire: Two Hundred (Season 10, Episode 5)

It's always difficult for television fans to see characters leave their favorite series, especially if that character was part of the show for a long time. Sadly, "Chicago Fire" viewers have to say a surprising goodbye to a long-running cast member in the Season 10 episode, "Two Hundred." Fan-favorite character Captain Matt Casey (Jesse Spencer) made his debut in the series pilot and emerged as a pivotal leader of the Firehouse 51 crew. However, Season 10 allows him to pursue something equally important. He learns that the sons of deceased firefighter Andrew Darden (Corey Sorenson) are struggling with life in Portland, Oregon. Troubled by this news, Casey decides to work at a firehouse in Portland and support the two boys. 

Although Casey's exit from "Chicago Fire" was seamless and believable, fans will still miss seeing this strong, undeniably likable member of the series. According to USA Today, Jesse Spencer was sad to leave "Chicago Fire" but decided to open himself up to new opportunities. However, the actor also said that his exit from the series might not be permanent since he still lives near the franchise's filming locations in Chicago. Captain Casey explains to fellow firefighters that his move to Portland is only for three years, so Spencer and the series creators clearly left room for the character to return in later seasons. 

Chicago P.D.: Wrong Side of the Bars (Season 1, Episode 2)

Many crime procedurals feature kidnapping cases because they are some of the most high-stakes and harrowing crimes imaginable. Law enforcement must act fast to rescue victims, and it's easy for something to go wrong. In the episode "Wrong Side of the Bars," audiences watch the Intelligence Unit try to solve a kidnapping that hits close to home for one officer. This episode picks up where the Season 1 premiere left off and establishes the level of intensity fans come to expect from the series. Antonio Dawson (Jon Seda) is at the heart of the story as he tracks down the men who kidnapped his young son, Diego (Zach Garcia).

One of the most distressing moments in this episode is the showdown between law enforcement and the kidnapper, who holds Diego at gunpoint. Through a hasty partnership with Union Station bus personnel, the Intelligence Unit hatches a plan to get Diego away from his captor. Luckily, it succeeds, but fans are left holding their breath until the final moment. 

Empty Lighthouse Magazine explains that this action-packed episode has excellent cinematography and appropriate pacing, which sets a solid precedent for the rest of the series. In the end, Dawson's relief at being reunited with his son is a welcome conclusion to an episode full of nail-biter moments.

Chicago Med: I Will Come to Save You (Season 6, Episode 16)

Sometimes, the doctors of "Chicago Med" have to make difficult judgment calls to save lives. However, in the case of patient Neil Dietrich (Danny Flaherty), Dr. Archer (Steven Weber) makes the easy decision to remove his appendix and prevent a more serious medical emergency. Unfortunately for Dr. Archer and his colleague, Dr. Choi, an angry Dietrich returns to confront them in the Season 6 finale, "I Will Come to Save You." Like many season finales, this episode includes several pivotal moments for the main characters, including a shocking outcome of the doctors' showdown with Dietrich.

Dietrich confronts Dr. Archer and Dr. Choi, insisting that his recent medical procedure was detrimental. Dr. Archer tries to explain, but the gun-wielding patient's anger grows. Soon, the heated argument becomes a life-changing moment for all three men. Dr. Choi tries to disarm Dietrich but instead suffers a gunshot wound to the abdomen. 

The struggle happens quickly and takes audiences by surprise. It's initially unclear if the talented physician will survive the ordeal, but Dr. Archer makes a series of risky decisions in the operating room that keep Dr. Choi alive. In a review of the episode, Tell-Tale TV notes that Season 6 includes many twists and turns for Dr. Choi, and the shooting brings this challenging season to a harrowing end for him.

Chicago Fire: Until Your Feet Leave the Ground (Season 2, Episode 18)

Although "Chicago Fire" often focuses on the heroic aspects of firefighting, the series also highlights the problematic parts of this profession. Fire cadet Rebecca Jones (Daisy Betts) joins the cast for just a short time in Season 2, but her story is poignant and heartbreaking. Throughout her tenure, Jones struggles to fit in with her fellow firefighters, but the issues in her personal life are even more troubling. Her father, Deputy District Chief Lionel Jones (Gene Weygandt), doesn't support the idea of women becoming firefighters, which causes Jones undue stress that eventually becomes intolerable. 

The episode "Until Your Feet Leave the Ground" ends with Dawson receiving shocking news — law enforcement officers have found Rebecca Jones' body after she dies from suicide. In an interview with TV Guide, executive producer Matt Olmstead explains that the creative team wanted Jones' departure to have a significant impact and felt this episode was a tragically fitting end to her storyline. 

In subsequent episodes, the Firehouse 51 crew struggles to accept the fire cadet's suicide, wondering if they could have helped. "Chicago Fire" fans in a Reddit thread believe Jones' storyline is sadly believable, but many think the series could have spent more time addressing her backstory and mental health before her death.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Chicago P.D.: Blood Relation (Season 9, Episode 14)

Officer Kim Burgess (Marina Squerciati) is one of the most compassionate members of the CPD Intelligence Unit. Throughout Seasons 8 and 9, she slowly takes over custody of Makayla (Ramona Edith Williams), a young girl orphaned after her father murders her mother and goes to prison. Burgess builds a relationship with Makayla after solving her mother's murder case and decides to pursue adoption. In the Season 9 episode, "Blood Relation," Burgess faces her last hurdle to finalizing Makayla's adoption when the girl's uncle, Theo (Derek Webster), fights to become her legal guardian. Luckily for Burgess, the courts decide that the best place for Makayla is with her. 

However, before Burgess can celebrate finalizing the adoption, she finds herself in a dire situation. A TV Fanatic review describes this episode's cliffhanger ending as a complete shock after such a happy outcome to the adoption case. Fans likely expect a peaceful conclusion to this episode, but the final scenes throw Makayla's storyline into chaos. Burgess arrives home and finds Makayla's babysitter, Gabby Serrano (Gloria Chavez), fatally wounded. Burgess' panic is palpable, but it quickly escalates when she discovers that someone has kidnapped Makayla. This ending leaves viewers with more questions than answers, and the little girl's fate remains unknown until the next episode. 

Chicago Med: Never Going Back to Normal (Season 5, Episode 1)

Dr. Connor Rhodes (Colin Donnell) is a talented trauma surgeon at Gaffney Chicago Medical Center who joins the team in the first season of "Chicago Med." Unfortunately, Dr. Rhodes' father, Cornelius (D.W. Moffett), never approved of his son's choice to pursue a medical career. This conflict creates plenty of tension in the physician's personal life. Nevertheless, Cornelius' death at the end of Season 4 leads Dr. Rhodes to make a surprising decision in the Season 5 premiere, "Never Going Back to Normal." In this emotional episode, Dr. Rhodes learns that his ex-girlfriend, Ava (Norma Kuhling), murdered his father. Immediately after this admission, Ava dies by suicide despite Dr. Rhodes' attempts to save her.

This traumatic event precipitates some serious soul-searching, and Dr. Rhodes decides it's time to move on from Gaffney. After four seasons on "Chicago Med," the beloved character says goodbye to his fellow doctors and makes a bittersweet exit at the end of the episode. Some Reddit users were so upset by this shocking departure that they couldn't enjoy "Chicago Med" as much as they once did. Many fans have remained hopeful that he would return to the series, but it seems unlikely. In an interview with TVLine, Donnell explains that he could be open to a return at some point but is more excited to explore other projects instead.

Chicago Fire: Always (Season 3, Episode 1)

Season 3 of "Chicago Fire" begins with a genuinely heartbreaking episode for fans of the series. Paramedic Leslie Shay (Lauren German) was a popular fixture on the show for the first two seasons, but the Season 3 premiere, "Always," brings her tenure to a devastating end when fans must come to terms with the shocking reality of Shay's accidental death. Many viewers in a Reddit thread mourned this fan-favorite character's loss and were shocked by her death. Several thought that Shay should have remained on the series for longer and wished the show's writers had made a different decision. 

Fittingly, "Always" includes some of the saddest moments of the series and serves as a eulogy for Shay. The episode features multiple flashbacks of Shay's time at Firehouse 51, including her first day on the job. These moments are bittersweet for fans and emphasize how deeply Shay's death will affect her team. In an interview with TVLine, executive producer Matt Olmstead explains that the creative team chose to write Shay out of the series because her death would significantly impact fans. He also notes that actress Lauren German was very gracious about the news of her character's impending death. 

Although the character appears in flashbacks for a handful of Season 3 episodes, her departure from the series is now permanent.

Chicago P.D.: The Number of Rats (Season 2, Episode 20)

Over the years, "One Chicago" has featured multiple crossover events with "Law & Order: SVU." These crossovers tackle cases that span multiple states and often feature some of the most dangerous criminals either team has to face. In Season 2 of "Chicago P.D.," the SVU team assists in apprehending a serial killer named Dr. Greg Yates (Dallas Roberts). ScreenSpy calls Yates one of the most chilling criminals of the series, and fans will likely agree. The cunning killer enjoys playing psychological games with law enforcement, claiming victims in New York and Chicago.

The worst of his most notorious and alarming crimes occurs in the episode "The Number of Rats." This episode is the second of this three-part crossover and brings the Intelligence Unit face-to-face with Yates for the first time. As the team struggles to find a way to charge him with multiple murders, Yates selects his next victim: CPD administrative assistant Nadia Decotis (Stella Maeve). Yates sneaks up behind Decotis and knocks her unconscious, throwing her in the back of his car. 

ScreenSpy notes that her encounter with Yates at the end of this episode is a harbinger of Decotis' eventual tragic fate and leaves fans reeling. Unfortunately, this popular character dies a brutal death in the final episode of the crossover.

Chicago Med: Never Let You Go (Season 4, Episode 19)

Tensions naturally run high in emergency room settings, but the "Chicago Med" Season 4 episode "Never Let You Go" takes things to another level. When a young man named David (Dalton Harrod) learns that his pregnant girlfriend, Lily (Anna Wren Fry), plans to give their baby up for adoption, he begs her to reconsider. He comes to the hospital uninvited and accosts Lily while she is in labor. Although David knows he's the baby's father, Lily doesn't include him on the birth certificate and thus robs him of his parental rights. This information makes David even angrier, and the hospital staff has to remove him from the ER.

However, the desperate father doesn't stay away for long. He soon returns with a gun and starts threatening patients and staff members. This surprising moment quickly spirals into a full-blown hostage situation, and the hospital goes into lock-down mode. As if this event wasn't stressful enough, David shoots Lily's father and refuses to allow doctors to treat him. Later, David even tries to abduct his newborn child, but SWAT team officers shoot him before he can do so successfully. "Never Let You Go" is dramatic from start to finish and is one of the most intense early episodes of the series.