‘Chicago Fire’ Had a Short-Lived Spin-Off: Why It Failed

by John Jamison

Dick Wolf shows typically work out. As a creator, he has had such a knack for network franchises over the years that they’re even bringing back shows like the original Law & Order—it’s been off the air for more than a decade. So why did Chicago Justice meet such a short-lived fate?

Fans of Chicago Fire should be aware of the One Chicago umbrella that also covers Chicago Med and Chicago P.D. They may not be aware of the fourth series intended to continue alongside them. Ambitious as that sounds at first, keep in mind that it’s Dick Wolf we’re talking about here. He already had more successful TV shows than he could count on one hand when Chicago Justice premiered in 2017.

The show lasted for a single 13 episode season. Jon Seda, Phillip Winchester, Joelle Carter, and Carl Weathers led the series through its short run before NBC failed to renew it for a second season.

So what was wrong with the show? Well, it wasn’t Chicago Justice as much as it was Dick Wolf’s other properties. The ratings weren’t stellar by any means, but the bigger problem was how similar it was to Law & Order.

NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt explained the network’s mindset regarding the cancellation of Chicago Fire‘s sister show.

“It just became somewhat of a real estate issue, and just looking at how many of these Chicago shows we can sustain, we thought they are all good, but it seemed like Justice was the most conventional, it was the closest to a Law and Order show, so we thought maybe this is the one we should sacrifice. But it wasn’t because the show wasn’t good. It was really because a lot of other factors,” Greenblatt told Deadline in 2017.

‘Chicago Fire’ Executive Producer Dick Wolf Could Smash All of His Shows Together, in Theory

One of the benefits of creating a franchise with a shared universe is the ability to send characters back and forth between them. Chicago Fire fans are well-versed in the art of the crossover, as are Law & Order devotees. The technique has been used to great effect on the current seasons of Law & Order: SVU and Organized Crime to provide a bridge between Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler.

But what if we’re thinking too small? What if they could take the crossover to another level? Rest assured, Dick Wolf has given at least a passing thought to the prospect of jamming every single one of his franchises together in one massive crossover. It would be an eight-series situation, and it’s blowing our minds just thinking about it.

FBI showrunner Derek Haas “can’t even think about it.” But he admitted that it was possible. “Knowing Dick Wolf, where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Haas told TV Line in September.