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Things You Forgot Happened On The First Episode Of Chicago Fire

When producer Dick Wolf puts his stamp on a television series, there's a good chance it will be around for a while. Exhibit A: the behemoth that is the "Law and Order" franchise. Almost as prolific is the "One Chicago" catalog of shows, which kicked off with "Chicago Fire" on October 10, 2012. Although one of its spinoffs, "Chicago Justice," lasted only one season, the other two, "Chicago P.D." and "Chicago Med," have demonstrated considerable staying power along with "Fire." 

And when a series has churned out as many episodes as "Chicago Fire," it can be fun to revisit how it all began. Main characters who can't stand each other, including one who's happy to go shirtless frequently? Check. An authority figure who is frustrated when his subordinates test boundaries but always has their back? Got that, too. Romantic complications between principal characters? Yep. Occasional silliness to break up the heavy drama? Absolutely. 

The firefighters and paramedics on the series have had plenty of curveballs thrown their way since the pilot aired. A number of storylines have come full circle, while other seemingly innocuous elements of the first episode have come to be of greater significance than viewers realized. Here are some things you might have forgotten from the inaugural episode that are still relevant years later, including several storylines involving series mainstays.

Warning: Spoilers for multiple seasons of "Chicago Fire" follow.

Andy Darden dies

"Chicago Fire" pulls no emotional — or gruesome — punches in its first episode. When the audience first meets the main characters, they're rushing to a house fire. As Lt. Matthew Casey and firefighter Andy Darden head to a second-floor window in a rescue attempt, Darden smashes it to gain access. He enters the house to search for victims, but the blaze rages through the room soon afterward, engulfing Darden and killing him. Fast-forward one month, and the characters are struggling to cope with their grief. Casey is particularly heartbroken as Darden — who is survived by his wife and two sons — was his best friend.

Darden's death all the way back in the pilot dovetails into the show's events nearly a decade later. Early in Season 10, Casey gets a visit from Darden's now-teenage son Griffin. Casey visits Griffin and his younger brother in Oregon to find they are struggling to make ends meet while their mother serves prison time. Then, in the 200th episode, Casey decides to move to Oregon and so he can be the boys' foster father, in part to honor his fallen friend. Incidentally, the audience also learns in the first episode that Casey is a good cook, a skill he is eager to teach the Darden boys all those years later. This essentially marks the end of Casey's time as a regular on "Chicago Fire."

Casey and Severide can't stand each other

By the time Season 10 rolls around, Casey and Lt. Kelly Severide have developed a strong bond. But viewers wouldn't know things were headed that way from watching the pilot.

The two leaders of their respective teams — Casey handles the truck while Severide is in charge of the rescue squad — are initially at odds about Darden's death, each aggressively blaming the other while simultaneously refusing to let themselves off the hook. Upon returning from a call during which there was confusion over what happened to a potential victim, the bad blood nearly boils over. The heated exchange is cut off by Chief Wallace Boden, who is clad in boxing gear as he prepares for an exhibition bout against a police officer in a personal rivalry of his own.

However, by the time Casey leaves for Oregon, a true bromance has blossomed. They are roommates for a while, they lean on each other in tough times, and Severide even agrees to visit Casey out West and assist with fighting forest fires. "I love you, man," Severide says as the whole team embraces Casey before sending him on his way, closing out the series' 200th episode.

Joe Cruz's best friend is introduced

Brian Zvonecek is an experienced firefighter but still somewhat low on the totem pole as of the pilot. He finds himself annoyed with the nickname "Otis," which he was stuck with because his specialty is elevators, and Otis is a well-known elevator company. More important than his nickname or even his area of expertise, however, is the fact that he and fellow firefighter Joe Cruz are best friends — a friendship with ripple effect throughout the show.

Otis becomes a fan favorite over the first seven seasons. Then, in the Season 8 premiere, he dies one of the series' most emotional deaths from injuries suffered in a mattress factory fire. As Cruz sobs at his friend's hospital bedside, he tells him, "I know you're going up to a better place, and I know when you get there, they're going to welcome you with open arms." Otis then wakes up for the last time, and his final words, in Russian, are: "Brother, I will be with you always."

In a later episode, the team dedicates a memorial to Otis that sits just off the firehouse driveway, and it often is seen in the background. Then, in the 10th season, Cruz and his wife honor Otis when the couple welcomes a son into the world, naming him Brian Leon Cruz. The baby's first name is meant to keep Otis' memory alive, while the middle name is in honor of Cruz's younger brother.

Sparks fly between Casey and Dawson

Casey's love life is a serious roller-coaster ride. About halfway through the series premiere, we learn that Casey is going through a rough patch with his fianceé, Hallie Johnson: He's just moved out, and Johnson returns her engagement ring to him. Toward the end of Season 1, the couple reconcile and are happier than ever — but their bliss is stopped cold when Johnson is killed in a fire set by a man involved in the drug trade.

In the first episode, before any of this tragedy transpired, Dawson's disappointment is noticeable when Casey tells her he can't join the crew for drinks. The flames of their relationship are lit at this moment, despite the fact that Casey is with someone else. The two end up getting married in the series' 100th episode and file to adopt a child in one fell swoop. That said, their marriage ultimately falls apart, with Dawson leaving to aid hurricane victims in her native Puerto Rico. But the sparks are there from day one.

Gun violence is front and center

The paramedic team's first solo call is in the wake of a shooting as Dawson and Leslie Shay treat a man with gunshot wound in a high-rise. When they arrive, the victim swears he shot the man who wounded him, though the police say the culprit has fled. It turns out the gunman is in the closet; he bursts out, bleeding and with his gun pointed at the other man. Dawson calmly convinces the man who emerged from the closet to put his gun down, and the police subdue him.

The firehouse's relationship with law enforcement is tense at first, with Dawson getting in a jab at an officer she appears to know personally on her way back to the ambulance: "Say you'll check the closet next time." The animosity between badges does not last long, however. The penultimate episode of the 1st season serves as a backdoor pilot for "Chicago P.D.," and there are countless episodes in which the shows' characters cross over.

The paramedics and firefighters deal with violent incidents throughout the show's run. Arguably the most harrowing comes in Season 5, when the team is held hostage by a gang seeking refuge from an escalating situation. And in Season 6, Otis and colleague Stella Kidd are shot while fighting a fire. This high-stakes level of armed violence is set up in the very first episode.

Severide has a secret

The series premiere establishes that Severide and Shay are good friends — so much so that she surreptitiously hands him a drug for a medical issue that's been plaguing him. Shortly after, he is pictured alone as he injects the drug into his arm after experiencing a spasm.

Over the course of Season 1, the audience learns that Severide is dealing with a shoulder injury that could relegate him to administrative duty, a prospect he does not handle well, so he attempts to self-medicate. The plotline is wrapped up about midway through the 1st season when Severide undergoes an experimental spine surgery; he's cleared for duty about a month later.

Severide is not the only member of House 51 to face a potentially serious medical condition. In Season 2, Casey is injured when a beam falls on his head. That incident is revisited in Season 9, when he is dragged by a car and suffers another head injury. He experiences gaps in his memory and other symptoms associated with head trauma, and his future as a firefighter is in doubt as he tries to treat it. Although the show teases a potentially life-altering change for Casey, he is eventually cleared for duty in anticlimactic fashion — but because of the standard set from the very beginning, its audience is well-conditioned to get emotionally invested in such struggles.

Firefighters 'take a ride'

Whenever "Chicago Fire" characters want to do something extracurricular together while they're still on duty, they "take a ride" — a euphemism for piling in the fire truck like it's a giant red tour bus. Sometimes they're investigating the cause of a blaze or questioning suspects. Other times, they're checking on a victim or performing another kind of good deed. In the pilot, several members of the group "take a ride" for the first time, setting off to see Boden climb into the boxing ring against a police officer who slept with his ex-wife. Otis even jumps on his trusty radio to provide blow-by-blow descriptions for his colleagues who couldn't make the trip.

Luckily, the team's next call is only a few blocks from where they have pulled up — and even extended the ladder — to see the bout. They are dispatched to a massive blaze toward the end of the episode, and Boden drops everything to quarterback the scene.

Now, this is one of the least realistic aspects of the show — at least, one hopes actual firefighters are not taking emergency vehicles wherever they like while on duty. But it does create variety and help move plots along by getting the characters out of the firehouse.

Children come in for a tour

Firehouses often are considered symbols of goodwill, and it's no different for House 51. In the pilot, Otis gives a tour to a group of grade-schoolers. But when Cruz brings firefighter candidate Peter Mills by while giving him the lay of the land, Otis is happy to hand the tour guide duties off to the newcomer. This scene is played for laughs; a green and timid Mills struggling to keep the kids engaged is indeed amusing.

A later storyline in which some of the firefighters set up an obstacle course in preparation for another visiting group, this time made up of seniors, hits similarly light notes. The payoff: After racking their brains for how best to entertain teenagers, the team discovers it's actually a group of senior citizens — not high school students — who are visiting for a behind-the-scenes look.

Although those scenes function primarily as comic relief, by Season 10 the firehouse's connections to the youth of Chicago have formed deeper roots: Kidd creates the Girls on Fire program, designed to guide young women interested in firefighting. Her pet project also ends up producing a new semi-regular character in Kylie Estevez, who becomes Boden's assistant.

The first prank is pulled

Spend any extended period essentially living with someone — or a bunch of someones, in the case of firefighters — and practical jokes are bound to become part of the equation. Christopher Herrmann, one of the grizzled veterans of House 51, frequently fills the prankster role. He's also the ringleader of the jokesters who con the new guy, candidate Peter Mills, into flirting with Shay in the pilot. The thing is, Shay is a lesbian, and although she doesn't keep Mills in the dark for long, the rest of the House busts out laughing while he crashes and burns. It should also not be overlooked that Shay is the show's first gay character, and is a core member of the team — from pranks to peril — right from the start.

The pranking reaches a peak in Season 9 when firefighter Randall McHolland, aka "Mouch," runs into an old nemesis on a call, reigniting a series of attempts by each to one-up the other. Their weapon of choice: doughnuts. The coup de grâce involves a helicopter raining pastries on House 51, a nearly impossible-to-top stunt.

Mayor Emanuel shows up

Chicago itself plays an important role as the show's backdrop. From the city's iconic lakefront to the river winding through its neighborhoods to skyscrapers looming majestically in the background, the metropolis' personality is omnipresent.

On several occasions, real Chicago celebrities even get screen time. In the pilot, an appearance by Mayor Rahm Emanuel is teased early on. That said, the denizens of House 51 don't seem thrilled by his scheduled visit. "I heard he stops to take a piss at every house in the city — as a sign of respect," Otis says, making no effort to hide his derision. Emanuel, who served as mayor from 2011-19, pulls up in an SUV to shake Boden's hand after the chief calls the shots during the final emergency of the episode. The mayor doesn't have any lines, but the image the scene projects is one of respect emerging between politicians and first responders. Emanuel also later appeared in the pilot of "Chicago Med."

The notable cameos don't stop there, either. Blackhawks defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook show up in Season 2, and Cubs catcher David Ross, third baseman Kris Bryant, and pitcher Jake Arrieta drop by in Season 5 — and most of them even have speaking parts.