One of the great things about television is that, unlike movies, you’re presented with a new addition to the story every week – sometimes every day. The various twists and turns of any given show can stretch on for years, even decades. And while part of the appeal is not knowing what’s going to happen next, you always have a rough idea of what to expect from your favorite series.
Watching a sitcom like Friends or Seinfeld, for example, will always result in a half hour of light-hearted fun. Nothing too dramatic is going to happen, nor should it. No one wants to be at the edge of their seat when they’re just looking for a laugh or two.
With a drama like Law & Order or Chicago Fire, on the other hand, you know you’re in for a wild ride. The stakes are high, the villains infuriating, and the heroes’ lives are constantly hanging in the balance.
When it comes to TV dramas, heartbreak comes with the territory. Viewers understand that their favorite characters can and will suffer horrifying ordeals at the very least and die tragically at worst. After all, what better way to create a nail-biting series finale or premiere than by killing off a beloved character?
Unfortunately, Chicago Fire‘s Leslie Shay (Lauren German) found herself in this exact situation after just two seasons with the show.
‘Chicago Fire’ Writers Killed Off Lauren German’s Character for Dramatic Effect
In a 2014 interview with TV Line, Chicago Fire Executive Producer Matt Olmstead detailed the exact reasoning behind the death of Leslie Shay in the Season 2 finale. Shay was a central character in the series and beloved by fans, making her death all the more shocking. According to the EP, that was the point.
“Going into it, we knew if we were going to do it, it had to be someone who was going to give us a big impact,” Olmstead explained. “As opposed to going for a lesser-known character, which would equate to a pulled punch. So, as opposed to approaching it with timidity, we thought we’d go for it.”
Though the Chicago Fire writers pulled no punches with the dramatic death, Leslie Shay wasn’t their immediate choice. On the contrary, took a great deal of deliberation in the writer’s room to come to the difficult decision to write her off.
“We went down, one by one,” the Chicago Fire EP recalled. “It’s like a roster of a sports team when you’re having to make a cut. You’re having to weigh the pros and cons of each one. Some we moved off in two seconds, said that wasn’t going to happen. Others we debated, but we gave everybody a day in court. We came back to Shay because it affected the most people.”