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One Chicago Scenes That Really Pushed The Limits

If there was a Marvel Cinematic Universe of soap-style TV, it would undoubtedly be "One Chicago." An umbrella term used to label "Chicago Med," "Chicago Fire," and "Chicago P.D.," the links between the three make for a unique dynamic that takes in the drama and everyday strife of police, hospital, and fire departments and makes it all doubly entertaining. With casts that frequently cross over into different seasons and shows, it's easy for fans to fall in love with characters. Though tears of joy, heartfelt romances, and happy endings do have their place in each of the shows, terror and trauma are never too far behind.

With key characters often leaving and returning from the triage of shows, it's safe to say that viewers should always expect the unexpected. From a life-threatening bacteria that takes over the streets of Chicago to unexpected deaths and murders, the world of "One Chicago" isn't afraid to get its hands dirty when it needs to. Sometimes, it seems as though storylines go a step too far, prioritizing drama over the sake of quality — or the well-being of fans. Below, a few (spoiler-heavy) examples of times "One Chicago" really pushed its storytelling to the limits.

Firehouse 51 deals with a little boy's death

As part of the 25th Battalion in Chicago's 4th district, there's not much that would get Firehouse 51 riled up. Though Season 1 of "Chicago Fire" had only just gotten things started, the team hit the ground running with some pretty nasty situations. Viewers would be hard-pressed to hold back the tears when it came to Episode 9 ("A Coffin That Small"), with its first five minutes showing a little boy who had become stuck in a laundry chute while playing with his brother; ultimately, he was unable to survive his injuries.

Not only is the scene a horrific moment to open on, but it easily pulls on the heartstrings of those with young children in their lives. The plot point is noticeably difficult for Firehouse 51 to deal with as well; they line up on the sidewalk to honor the child. The boy's mother also stops by the firehouse to bring the team a photo of him dressed as a firefighter, saying that it's what her son would have wanted. It's not easy to handle children's deaths at the best of times — and it could be said that the storyline wasn't really warranted — yet "Chicago Fire" handled this with all the compassion and empathy it demanded.

Casey and Gabby's baby loss

As one of the OG characters in "Chicago Fire," former fire department captain Matthew Casey has remained a fan favorite even after his departure. The relationship between him and former firefighter Gabriela Dawson certainly had its ups and downs, but none more devastating than the loss of their baby in Season 4. By the episode "I Am The Apocalypse," fans learn that their child has been conceived by accident, leading to the two getting back together after his near-death experience in "Spartacus." The pair are overjoyed to announce it, with Gabby taking a leave of absence from her job.

At the end of the episode "I Walk Away," viewers see Gabby collapse with cramps, leading to the revelation that her pregnancy is ectopic. "Your Day Is Coming" harrowingly deals with the fallout, showing the reality of pregnancies not being an IUP (intrauterine pregnancy) in astonishing detail. While viewers expect Gabby to be heartbroken, it's a nice surprise to see Casey equally as involved in the process and emotional grief — with the only saving grace being that Gabby is able to fully recover after an intense round of surgery.

Casey and Gabby lose their foster rights

If losing their biological baby wasn't enough, Casey and Gabby go through even more grief further down the line of "Chicago Fire" Season 5. Toward the end of Season 4, Louie Thompson had been through the wringer of the foster system before Gabby saved him from a fire. Carefully building up a level of trust and bonding over the course of the season's last episodes, Gabby and Casey put in an incredible amount of effort to foster him, becoming successful as the season draws to a close. However, it doesn't take long for the tables to turn in Season 5, as Louie's biological father Andre Keyes takes him back from their care.

It's a storyline that almost verges on the operatic rather than grounded in realism — just how unlucky can one couple be? Nevertheless, watching Gabby and Casey rehashing old wounds is painful to watch, losing their foster rights completely in "The People We Meet" (Season 5, Episode 10). Seeing Louie finally let his guard down by putting his trust in the couple feels like the storyline is toying with emotions, but it is particularly cruel to land Gabby and Casey in almost the same situation they'd been in before.

The warehouse fire

When it comes to season finale cliffhangers, "Chicago Fire" doesn't hold back from ending things on a soul-destroying note. In the case of "My Miracle" (Season 5, Episode 22), all of the firehouse was at risk thanks to a callout of a warehouse fire. Fans had to grapple with the idea of losing Casey, Herrmann, and Mouch all in one go, with even more strain added to Casey and Gabby's relationship. The majority of Firehouse 51 remained trapped inside, with Mouch having a heart attack and Casey leaving Gabby an emotional goodbye over the team's radio.

The episode is an assault on the senses, throwing all current storylines and narrative arcs into jeopardy at the drop of a hat. The fact that life-or-death drama is happening to the whole team rather than a few individuals only heightens the stakes, with Casey's line of "You're my miracle, Gabby" the unexpected punch to the gut that fans don't need. What's even worse is that Season 6 aired four months after the warehouse fire, meaning viewers had to wait on tenterhooks to find out the full extent of the damage.

Antonio relapses

When you consider that he was appointed by Hank Voight himself, former second-in-command to the CPD Intelligence Unit Antonio Dawson should have been destined for big things. Both Season 4 and Season 5 of "Chicago P.D." saw him embrace his natural skillset and leadership, taking on the job of lead investigator for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. But by Season 6 things had begun to slide, with Antonio falling victim to a dangerous drug habit that quickly took over his life. Taking on the stress of being in charge of the unit after Voight is put under investigation, Antonio's addiction takes a turn when his daughter is kidnapped in "Descent."

It's not until the season finale "Reckoning" (Season 6, Episode 22) that viewers realize just how badly things have progressed for him. Against all the odds, Antonio relapses by taking painkillers when the OID investigation is reopened, stumbling towards an Icarus-level fall from grace. Given the long-running stature of his character and his links to the wider world of "One Chicago," it's excruciating to see Antonio fall at the final hurdle. He resigns off-screen and is taken to rehab before moving to Puerto Rico — which arguably pushes the limits by not giving Antonio credit or a chance for redemption.

Roman finds his sister

Before Season 7 of "Chicago P.D." had even hit screens, viewers had already said their goodbyes to patrol officer Sean Roman. After initially checking out in Season 3 thanks to a gunshot injury that effectively ended his career, his return in "Burden Of Truth" (Season 7, Episode 15) was something of a bittersweet reunion. Considering Roman had been gone for the better part of four years, common sense would dictate that the reason to bring him back would be monumentally fulfilling — a change of heart, a new role, or patching things up with people left behind. Instead, Roman's return put him on the hunt for his missing sister.

Though it seems like a particularly cruel reason to bring Roman back, things go from bad to worse when he finds her frozen to death in the snow. Roman's face immediately crumbles beyond repair the instant he finds her, leading to a painstaking eulogy given before he leaves for good. Taking into account the fact that some fans had always wanted him to return, making him retreat on such a sour note feels cruel. Though none of the "One Chicago" series has ever shied away from a crossover, this particular return seemed like drama for drama's sake.

Lexi dies

When more than one "One Chicago" series merge, the drama is about to hit an entirely new level. So, when the "Chicago P.D." episode "Emotional Proximity" (Season 4, Episode 16) overlapped with the "Chicago Fire" entry "Deathtrap" (Season 5, Episode 15) and told the tale of Detective Alvin Olinsky's journey with the Chicago fire department and his daughter Lexi, who got caught up in a dangerous warehouse fire, it was a real whirlwind of emotion. While she was trapped inside, Alvin arrived on scene, begging Deputy District Chief Boden to try and save her as the rest of the P.D. team tries to track down who's responsible.

Sadly, Lexi dies from her injuries, leaving Alvin distraught. The "Chicago Fire" team is clearly exhausted by the ordeal, and watching Alvin try to say goodbye to his daughter doesn't make things any easier to watch. It's possibly one of the cruelest deaths the "One Chicago" franchise has ever engineered, with 19-year-old Lexi set up to suffer from the moment she is introduced in Season 1 of "Chicago P.D." Always feeling the brunt of her parents' divorce, her final moments failed to bring her the peace of mind she deserved.

Jay's shootout

Another character fully sewn into the wider web of "One Chicago" is former CPD Intelligence Unit member Jay Halstead, a widely beloved fan favorite. Known for his kind and gentle spirit, Jay works through his childhood PTSD at the same time as tackling some of the team's toughest interrogations. 

In the premiere episode of the fifth season of "Chicago P.D.: entitled "Reform," Jay is put through the wringer once again, pushing his mental and emotional strength to the limits. He becomes embroiled in a brutal shootout, with innocent people caught in the crossfire.

The punch to the gut is when Jay learns that a stray bullet from his gun has hit a little girl. Immediately caught between his grief and guilt, Jay's apology to the mother offers little consolation, as the girl eventually dies. It's a tough opener for any season of "Chicago P.D.," made more controversial by the fact the storyline actively examines gun culture. Personal issues aside, Jay has a lot that he needs to deal with — and when it comes down to it, taking trauma in its stride is a part of the P.D.'s everyday reality.

Santa has a heart attack

Traumatizing little children was a unique way to start an episode of "Chicago Med," but hopefully they were all in bed with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads when "Naughty or Nice" (Season 3, Episode 4) hit the airwaves. Santa Claus suffers a heart attack in the Christmas-themed storyline, forcing Dr. Ethan Choi to step in and try to save the man's life; naturally, a worried little boy catches sight of the action, asking the doctors whether he'll survive. Consider the heartstrings effectively tugged.

Sharon Goodwin is on hand to try and calm the little boy down, but the scene after the opening credits reveals that Santa no longer has a pulse. Devastating deaths in the "One Chicago" franchise aren't uncommon, yet the nature of Santa's demise just might take the cake. The scene becomes particularly devastating when the child's wellbeing is taken into account — after all, he did just watch Santa die. Festive cheer has left the building, with tears and terrifying trauma taking their place.

The hospital is under siege

Though "One Chicago" shows my sometimes be viewed as far-fetched, they have a tendency to become soberingly devastating when touching on real life. Nowhere has this been more true than in the "Chicago Med" episode "Never Let You Go" (Season 4, Episode 1), which kicked off the show's fourth season with high drama. 

As the hospital finds itself at the mercy of an active teenage shooter (the gunman has recently learned that his girlfriend is pregnant with plans to put the baby up for adoption), the teen wants to take his baby with him. Dr. Choi is unable to perform the surgery, instead talking April through how to do it.

It's a tension-filled episode, and the stakes have perhaps never been higher for the "Chicago Med" team. A sense of impending doom is apparent, with everyone in the hospital effectively at risk. Tackling active shooters head-on is never an easy task for any series, nor does it make for comfortable watching. "Never Let You Go" ranks among the most brutally gripping "Chicago One" episodes of all time, as each step of the way feels like it could signal the end for anyone in the series cast.

A flesh-eating infection breaks out

After its first several seasons, it felt like the only way "Chicago Med" could possibly outdo itself would be to take its threats to human life to a broader potential range of victims. Sure enough, a triple-dipped crossover with "Chicago Fire" and "Chicago P.D." did exactly that. 

Each of the "One Chicago" programs' casts stood to lose everything when it came to "Infection, Part II," the fourth Season 5 "Med" episode, in which the city of Chicago found itself suffering greatly at the hands of a contagious flesh-eating bacteria, later suspected to be a possible bioterrorist attack. Forced into quarantine, Halsted and Goodwin veer dangerously close to succumbing to the unknown virus.

Even without the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic (the episode aired in 2019), the thought that bioterrorism could happen on such a scale was terrifying enough. The action is feature film in length, spread out across three episodes that extended the suspense and horror — "Part 1" aired on "Chicago Fire," "Part II" on "Med" and "Part III" on "Chicago P.D.," but it's the "Med" episode that really pushed the limits of the series. Overall, there was a particularly unique feel to the fact that the entirety of "One Chicago" could be in trouble, making this miniseries so compelling.

Maggie breaks the law

When the "One Chicago" doctors and nurses spiral, they really lose it. No more so than in "Too Close to the Sun," the Season 5, Episode 8 of "Med" that took Nurse Maggie Lockwood to the point of no return.

Tasked with triaging patients in the ED as they arrive, Maggie's dedication and no-nonsense attitude are what typically come to the fore of her work. For Maggie, things went downhill as she began chemotherapy for her cancer diagnosis.

If that wasn't enough to deal with, her boyfriend Ben is soon admitted to the ED with full-blown pneumonia. Believing the situation is her fault, she forges colleague Dr. Natalie Manning's signature to sign him out, taking care of him at home in his final hours. It's a careless decision on the basis that his primary measles outbreak could potentially infect their children, but Maggie's also breaking the law and risks serious jail time. 

A complete 180 move from the professionalism that previously put her among the most level-headed of the series, Maggie's thinking could be chalked up to a reckless reaction or a lack of competency given her own cancer treatment. Some Reddit users consider Maggie to be one of the more annoying characters on the show; they were likely the only ones thrilled when her actions took her a step too far.