‘Chicago Fire’: Here’s Why Otis Had to Die

by Shelby Scott

Over 10 seasons, we’ve seen several crucial “Chicago Fire” characters depart. A few met sadly tragic ends before concluding their time on the show. Now, “Chicago Fire” continues to reflect on the death of fireman Brian “Otis” Zvonecek after his heroic save during season eight. Zvonecek was previously played by actor Yuri Sardarov.

Otis’s death broke fans‘ hearts, but showrunners had their reasons for killing off the “Chicago Fire” character. However, it doesn’t make his loss any less significant. We continue to see references to the character throughout season 10.

Always a reliable source, “Chicago Fire” showrunner Derek Haas revealed it was his decision to kill off Otis, despite how well-liked the character was. According to the One Chicago Center, Haas stated Otis’s death served as a capstone to previous close calls other members of House 51 had endured. In this way, Haas utilized the character’s death to remind viewers just how dangerous a fireman’s work can be.

Belying the character’s onscreen death, however, the outlet revealed two interesting aspects about the showrunner’s decision.

Showrunners Make a Difficult Decision

First, Haas had his eyes set on killing off another “Chicago Fire” character–a much newer cast member, Darren Ritter. However, ultimately, the showrunner decided against it. He felt fans needed to have a real bond with the character that made the heroic save. In this way, he pulled at the audience’s heartstrings in a much more powerful and meaningful way. At this point, Ritter had only been on “Chicago Fire” for a single season.

Alongside creative decisions, other factors made the death of Sardarov’s character even more shocking. Apparently, “Chicago Fire” showrunners killed off Otis before the actor even announced his departure from the NBC hit. Now, we continue to miss Otis during new episodes of “Chicago Fire.” Nevertheless, Haas revealed Sardarov took the news of the character’s demise professionally.

He said, “[Sardarov] has a mind that understands creative choices and he agreed to come back and do the season’s first episode.”

Otis Continues to Contribute to ‘Chicago Fire’ Storylines

Meanwhile, Saradarov’s absence continues to impact “Chicago Fire.” We often find our Firehouse 51 crew referencing his character two seasons later.

Christopher Herrmann actor David Eigenberg previously spoke about Otis’s continued role in “Chicago Fire.”

Eigenberg referenced a season nine episode–in it, he and Joe Cruz become trapped in a freight elevator during a fire. The cords begin to snap one at a time. Throughout their ordeal, Cruz and Herrmann are reliant on Otis’s memory. They use his talents to safely get them out.

However, much more recently, we saw references to Otis pop up again. The most recent came during the “Chicago Fire” episodes throughout season 10. The most prominent came as Joe Cruz and his wife Chloe literally named their newborn son after Otis.

Meanwhile, “Chicago Fire’s” latest episode saw young fireman Blake Gallo reflecting on his position at House 51, remembering how the crew used to remind him how he replaced Otis, making him feel as though he wasn’t his own person. As a result, Gallo and new addition Pelham come to some kind of truce, although that’s a story for another time.