For years, actor Charlie Barnett found a home on Chicago Fire as Peter Mills. But in 2015, the producers wrote him off to keep the story “fresh,” and it “broke” him.
Barnett’s character was a beloved paramedic with Ambulance 61 who had also spent some time as a firefighter with the 51. He starred in the One Chicago universe for three years and appeared for the last time shortly before the Season 3 finale.
According to Executive Producer Matt Olmstead, the choice to dismiss Barnett was purely plot-driven. The decision had nothing to do with the star’s acting chops.
“In the writers’ room… we’re pretty vigilant here about making sure that storytelling is fresh,” Olmstead told TVLine. “Especially with a relationship-based show. You never want to get stagnant, and you have to be tough-minded sometimes… It was time to shake things up. It came solely from a storytelling standpoint.”
But despite the fact that the dismissal was professional, Barnett still took the news hard. And he spent a long time wallowing in the situation.
“I really was sad to be let go,” the actor admitted to Digital Spy. “It broke me for quite a long time.”
Losing His Place on ‘Chicago Fire’ Ended up Being Charlie Barnett’s ‘Blessing in Disguise’
Chicago Fire was Charlie Barnett’s first long-term job in Hollywood. In fact, before joining the NBC drama, he had only held eight other gigs. And all of them were small, one-time roles. So losing consistent work him like a brick.
However, as he looks back, he realizes that being fired led to an illustrious career that he never would have enjoyed otherwise. Since leaving the drama, he’s worked on hits like Arrow, Ordinary Joe, and YOU. And he’s currently a star on Netflix’s Russian Doll, which just went into its second season.
“It was a blessing in disguise,” he continued. “You never really see that in life, in general. You never see the bad moments becoming the good. It wouldn’t be what it was, I think, if you did recognize it for what it is in the moment.”
And even though Charlie Barnett is no longer with Chicago Fire, he was a respected and cherished member of the team while there.
As Olmstead continued to say during his TVLine interview, Barnett was incredibly talented and gave fans countless storylines. But in the world of TV, losing gigs is simply commonplace.
“[Charlie] is an amazing individual and a fantastic actor and gave us so many different things,” Olmstead added. “But… the departure of [Mills] is going to affect other people. So it’s invigorating storytelling-wise.”