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Who's Died On One Chicago?

Created by Dick Wolf, producer and creator of the long-running "Law & Order" franchise, "One Chicago" began with the premiere of "Chicago Fire" in 2012. The series centers on the Windy City's bravest: the men and women at Firehouse 51. With soap opera levels of intense drama mixed with thrilling, cinematic action, the series was a big hit. It soon spawned several spin-offs that included cop drama "Chicago P.D." and hospital drama "Chicago Med," as well as the short-lived courtroom drama "Chicago Justice."

Like "Law & Order," the "One Chicago" franchise has become known for its rotating ensemble cast of characters that includes a wide range of recurring guest stars, with new additions and fresh exits coming almost every season. However, even more than Wolf's previous franchise, "One Chicago" could credit its rotating cast to its characters' untimely deaths, as it has rarely been afraid to kill off central personalities. When it did, it often did so in heartbreaking fashion, and the episodes in which fan-favorite characters exit often wind up among the series best-loved and highest-rated episodes

Just because a character was part of the main cast didn't make them safe from the writers' ax, which was swung hard and often. Over the past decade and across the four series, there have been plenty of tragic deaths. Here, we've compiled the "One Chicago" passings that are most likely to draw tears.

Caroline Charles

Introduced in the fourth season of "Chicago Med" is Dr. Daniel Charles' first ex-wife, Caroline "CeCe" Charles. She comes back into her ex-husband's life after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, arriving at Chicago Med in the hopes of taking part in a clinical trial for a new experimental treatment. While in the Windy City, CeCe reconnects with Dr. Charles, which quickly leads to a romantic rekindling and, ultimately, a marriage proposal. Over the course of the fourth and fifth season, she would play a bigger part in the "Chicago Med" series, with their wedding taking place in Hawaii in the fourth season finale, "With a Brave Heart."

Just as things start to look up for the newly rewedded couple, CeCe's cancer takes a turn for the worse. Though Dr. Charles vows not to let her die, he ultimately has to accept her fate. He takes her on a special farewell trip before she passes away in "I Can't Imagine the Future," an episode with a touching message for anyone who has ever lost a loved one to a long battle with a devastating disease.

Detective Holloway

She may have only appeared in a three-episode arc in "Chicago Fire," but Detective Bianca Holloway leaves a mark on the series. Her death in "The Last One for Mom" may just be one of the most devastating losses we've seen in the entire "One Chicago" franchise. Not just because she is a compelling character with a close connection to a main character, but because of the impact her death has on the little boy she leaves behind. 

Introduced as a tough undercover officer with the Chicago Police Department, Holloway asks Severide to watch her son, J.J., while she heads to court to testify in a critical case. Kelly and J.J. begin to bond, but things go bad when Holloway is killed on her way to court. Severide is tasked with breaking the news to J.J. in what becomes one of the series' most emotional moments. After Severide says a tearful goodbye, J.J. goes to live with his aunt, but tells Kelly that his mother had feelings for him, dropping another bomb on the audience with a gut punch about what might have been if tragedy had not struck. 

Dr. David Downey

If it's a big season finale on a "One Chicago" series, that probably means audiences can expect a big change coming, usually in the form of a character's untimely death or exit from the series. The "Chicago Med" first season-ender "Timing" certainly lived up to that expectation. 

To be fair, Dr. David Downey's death in the episode is not exactly a shocking or sudden loss. He is introduced as having suffered from liver cancer for years and is periodically afflicted with traumatic symptoms. However, in the first season's finale, things go from bad to worse, as the cancer is revealed to have spread to his brain, and invasive surgery appears to be the only option for him.

As a surgeon himself, Downey knows the odds are heavily stacked against him, and he opts to forgo the surgery. He asks Dr. Rhodes to assist him in suicide, but it proves needless, as he dies shortly thereafter. Downey's final words bring tears to viewers' eyes as he expresses his love for his staff and friends, saying "Thank you. For everything," before passing. After he dies, his ashes are scattered in the Hawaiian ocean. 

Rebecca Jones

Whether it's by fire, shooting, or disease, death in "One Chicago" can come at any time and to anyone. Whether a prominent cast member, a recurring character, or a single episode guest star, nobody is safe. In the second season of "Chicago Fire," the dark hand of fate would strike a tragic and troubled recurring character — firefighter candidate Rebecca Jones.

Introduced as a member of a long firefighting lineage, all the men in Rebecca's family have served within the department in some capacity. Her father served as a high-ranking officer, and her brothers are both lieutenants. But her family does not believe women should serve as firefighters, and Jones is driven to prove them wrong and joins the crew of Firehouse 51. 

Unfortunately, her ambition proves problematic, as she is caught cheating on the firefighter exams and eventually proves to be a toxic presence that causes issues with the team. Just as she begins to fit in, her father orders her reassigned. Distraught by the betrayal, Rebecca takes her own life in "Until Your Feet Leave the Ground."

Julia Willhite

It may have happened in the very first episode of "Chicago P.D.," but it was no less shocking than any other death on this list, as it appeared Julia Willhite was being set up to be a regular recurring character, at least. That assumption seemed justified, as Willhite had appeared once before in an episode of "Chicago Fire" and seemed like she could be on her way to becoming a main cast member and potentially the primary female lead of the new cop-centric spin-off. However, Deadline reported that actress Melissa Sagemiller, who played Willhite, would not have a starring role in the new series. Not only was she not starring on the show, the writers killed her off in the premiere.

At the climax of the episode, Willhite — along with officer Antonio Dawson — enter the apartment of Pulpo, a crime lord and drug kingpin who recurs through the rest of the first season. During their attempt to arrest Pulpo, one of the Pulpo's men surprises the police and fires a shot that hits Willhite in the neck. She dies in the ambulance on the way to hospital, sending a message to new viewers that nobody is safe in "One Chicago."

Nadia Decotis

Some of the most exciting story arcs in the "One Chicago" series occur during crossover episodes. These crossovers include cast members from other "One Chicago" shows and characters from Dick Wolf's other major franchise, "Law & Order." However, these mashups are often filled with twists and turns, and tragedy is never far behind. That's precisely what happened when "Chicago P.D.," "Chicago Fire," and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" got together for a special three-part event story. 

The crossover begins when recurring guest star Nadia Decosta is kidnapped by a convict named Greg Yates, who finds a way out of the Chicago prison he is serving time in. Yates takes Nadia across the country to New York City, where the detectives of "Law & Order" work the case in the Big Apple. Unfortunately, Benson, Finn, and the crew of "SVU" can't get to her in time, and she is murdered by the escaped serial killer.

Nadia was introduced as a troubled teen addict and sex worker who is able to turn her life around and find peace thanks to the tireless efforts of "Chicago P.D." Detective Erin Lindsay. Her abrupt departure from the series was a heartbreaking turn for a character who audiences had been rooting for.

Leslie Shay

Leslie Shay is a fan-favorite character on "Chicago Fire," and her death still stands as one of the most stunning losses of the entire "One Chicago" franchise. A stalwart mainstay of the series through its first two seasons, she serves as a paramedic assigned to the company's Ambulance 61. She is also the show's most prominent LGBTQ character, and many of the show's biggest supporters criticized the move as a possible example of Hollywood's unfortunate tendency to kill off characters from marginalized groups

Nevertheless, Shay is shockingly killed off in the finale of the second season, "Real Never Waits," when she is told to lead a team into a burning building following a devastating explosion. While inside, Shay is struck in the head by a falling pipe, causing an injury that proves fatal. Gabby tries desperately to save her, but it is in vain. Shay dies, and the audience is left dumbstruck by the sudden death of a beloved series regular.

Ava Bekker

Appearing as a recurring character in the second season before joining the main cast in the third, Dr. Ava Bekker is an attending trauma surgeon on "Chicago Med." Her disturbing death marks the departure of no less than three important characters from the series in a chain of events sparked by her own vicious behavior.

Hailing from Cape Town, South Africa, Ava has a contentious rivalry with Dr. Connor Rhodes at first, but that eventually becomes a romantic relationship. When Dr. Rhodes' father Cornelius alleges that Bekker slept with him in an effort to extract a favor, Connor ends the relationship. 

Jilted, Bekker's dark side surfaces, and she overdoses the elder Rhodes on insulin as revenge. Though she attempts to cover up the murder, she is ultimately found out. Rather than face the consequences, Bekker commits suicide. Though it was enough of a painful loss on its face, it is the aftermath that added to the sorrow, as Rhodes is never the same after losing his father and his lover. He eventually leaves Chicago for good after the dual tragedies. 

Justin Voight

Appearing in a handful of episodes across the first three seasons of "Chicago P.D.," Justin Voight was the adult son of veteran Chicago police officer Hank Voight. The elder Voight may be a controversial figure as a cop unafraid to break the rules to do what he feels is right — even if it isn't legal — but his love for his son is straight and true. Despite years of estrangement after the death of his mother, Justin — who has problems of his own — eventually forms an unshakable bond with his father, who is willing to do just about anything for him. So it is all the more heart-wrenching when the younger Voight loses his life in the jaw-dropping third season finale.

Murdered in a random attack on the streets of the Windy City in "Start Digging," the incident is an example of the senseless violence that the officers of "Chicago P.D." sometimes face. However, this is one murder that hits too close to home and sets Hank Voight out on a mission of revenge, leading him to his son's killer, setting in motion a cascade of events that lead to another devastating loss.

Hallie Thomas

In the first season of "Chicago Fire," Hallie Thomas seems like a physician with a bright future on the show. She's the former fiancée of fire captain Matt Casey and the pair have an on-again-off-again relationship that adds some soapy drama and makes them one of the more interesting couples on the series. 

However, her job as a resident physician at the Lakeshore clinic creates trouble for her at the tail end of the first season when she unwittingly discovers a drug-trafficking scheme being run out of the back of the facility. A man named Timothy Campbell realizes she's on to it and kills her to keep her quiet before setting the clinic on fire in an attempt to cover the evidence.

Though it's initially thought to be an accidental fire, the arson investigation quickly reveals the truth of her death. It is the series' first major loss, and it hit audiences hard, but they'd eventually get justice when Campbell gets tracked down and fatally shot by "Chicago P.D." star Hank Voight.

Cornelius Rhodes

In his first appearance on "Chicago Med," Cornelius Rhodes is introduced as the wealthy but estranged father of Dr. Connor Rhodes, who has never forgiven his son for not going into the family business with him. Connor, meanwhile, harbors a long-held belief that his mother's suicide was the result of years of spousal abuse. Eventually, Cornelius uses his tremendous wealth to get a seat on the hospital's board as a way of getting back into his son's life, which at first upsets the younger Rhodes. However, the two begin to form a renewed relationship over time.

Death comes for Cornelius after he sleeps with his son's girlfriend Ava Bekker, who is using him to get funding for Connor's new project at the hospital and hoping to keep the affair a secret. But when Cornelius confesses, it drives Ava to seek revenge, and she poisons Cornelius with an overdose of insulin. It's an astonishing turn of events for the series and one that few saw coming. 

Brian Otis Zvonecek

There are few more unexpected, and emotionally powerful deaths than the loss of Brian "Otis" Zvonecek in the "Chicago Fire" episode "Sacred Ground." It's a true television shocker, coming in the eighth season premiere, rather than a season-ender where viewers expect major losses, life-threatening events, and big cast shake-ups. 

A true fan-favorite, Otis was perhaps one of the most lovable characters in "Chicago Fire" and was a main series cast member for the entirety of its run ... until his death. However, with the crew throwing themselves into deadly fires week after week, someone was bound to meet their end in a blaze, and in this episode, Otis draws the short end of the stick.

After a massive explosion at a Chicago factory, Otis valiantly attempts an evacuation against all odds, and it doesn't go well. While Otis is suffering severe injuries, his crew is able to drag him from the smoldering rubble and get him to a hospital with a slim hope of saving him. With his friend Cruz at his bedside, however, Otis succumbs to his injuries in a tear-inducing loss that remains shocking today.

Benny Severide

A former Chicago firefighter and the father of Kelly Severide, Benny often helps his son during cases, as he was also once the head of the Office of Fire Investigations. He is a well-respected member of the department and revered for his decades of service to the city. 

Benny is a complicated man, however, with a less-than-ideal family life. He had been a famous womanizer and had a troubled relationship with his children, including a daughter he hadn't met for 20 years. Despite being just a recurring guest star on "Chicago Fire," Benny would play an important role across the first seven seasons of the series. It all ends in the seventh season episode, "All The Proof" when he suffers a sudden and fatal stroke.

Tragic for more reasons than the abrupt loss, the audience's hearts broke for Kelly, the son who is haunted by unresolved issues with his father. Thankfully, in the aftermath of his father's death, Kelly is able to come to terms by securing Benny a proper department funeral, something usually reserved only for those officers who die in the line of duty.

Alvin Olinsky

Played by Hollywood veteran Elias Koteas (who played Casey Jones in 1990's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"), Alvin Olinsky is a central figure of "Chicago P.D." before his horrifying death in the fifth season finale. Olinsky is a former soldier who returns home and joins the Chicago P.D., serving alongside Hank Voight for over a decade. His job sees him going on tough undercover assignments that often put him in dangerous situations, and he survives several shootouts before meeting his end. Despite all the narrow escapes in his life, from the army to the police department, Olinsky doesn't lose his life in the line of duty as he deserves, as he dies in prison.

After his partner Hank Voight catches up with the man who killed his son, he takes his revenge. Unfortunately, Olinsky takes the fall, as he is unwilling to point the finger at his old partner to save himself. Voight struggles to dig up evidence that would clear Olinsky, but just as he is able to strike a deal to get them both off the hook, Olinsky is stabbed by another inmate. Olinsky dies in the prison infirmary while awaiting trial for a crime he didn't commit. 

Dr. Jason Wheeler

The "Chicago Med" Season 2 episode "Soul Care" includes a cameo from "Chicago Fire" star Alex Weisman as Allen Chout, but it's more notable for the first appearance of recurring regular Jürgen Hooper as Dr. Jason Wheeler. A resident in Emergency Medicine, Wheeler doesn't have it easy and uses drugs and alcohol to cope with his increasing problems. As a result, the young doctor becomes sloppy and prone to mistakes, leading to the deaths of at least three patients under his care. In a particularly troubling incident, he had to be physically removed when he showed up intoxicated.

Though Wheeler attempts to get help, his questions about therapy and medication aren't recognized for the cry for help that they are. In a tragic ending to his story, Wheeler ultimately loses his battle with his mental health and shocks the staff of Gaffney Medical Center when he takes his own life. Even worse, the conclusion to his story seemed somewhat easy to see coming; the show is not subtle when it tells us he's ill-equipped to get the help he needs. And his final appearance — that begins with a smiling Wheeler strolling through the halls — is bittersweet.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Pat Halstead

The "One Chicago" franchise doesn't just feature crossovers and cameos between its characters — it also features members of a single family spread across multiple shows. "Chicago Med" stars Nick Gehlfuss as attending physician Dr. Will Halstead, while "Chicago P.D." stars Jesse Lee Soffer as Will's brother Jay Halstead of the CPD Intelligence Unit. As a result, their father Pat Halstead recurs on both shows.

The elder Halstead shows up first in a 2017 episode of "Chicago Med" when he resists getting treatment for some serious medical issues. It becomes clear that the two Halstead boys don't have the best relationship with their father who feels let down by the way they live their lives. But when his situation becomes critical, Pat finally gets the surgery he needs and admits he may have been wrong about his two sons. Unfortunately, just a couple of years later, a devastating high-rise fire lands Pat back in the hospital, and this time his prognosis isn't as good. 

Though initially resuscitated by Jay, Pat is declared brain dead, and while efforts are made to keep his body alive, Jay and Will both reluctantly agree to let their father die in peace. The Season 4 episode "Heavy is the Head" features a funeral for Pat, with both his friends and family memorializing him in a touching tribute.

Sarah Roman

The "One Chicago" shows seem to find pleasure in torturing its main cast members and running their lives through the wringer. And one of the easiest ways for the writers to bring pain into their lives is to kill off a beloved family member, whether it be a parent or a partner. In the case of "Chicago P.D." patrol officer Sean Roman, though, the show's target was his sister Sarah, who oddly enough never appears in the series. Because in the episode "Burden of Truth," a crossover event that ties in with "Chicago Fire," Sean receives a frantic call from his sister and returns to the Windy City after a lengthy absence to discover her dead body.

Sarah doesn't hang in there long enough to say goodbye to her brother. But in a stunning twist, Sarah's drug dealer and boyfriend Logan is found murdered, frozen in the icy snow. To make matters worse, Officer Burgess realizes that Sean is the man responsible — an apparent revenge killing for the death of his sister. And while Burgess and Voight consider having him charged in the killing, they ultimately decide that he's suffered enough and let him off the hook.

Though we never got to know her, Sarah Roman's death proved a pivotal point in "Chicago P.D.," forever altering the life of her brother Sean, and demonstrating to audiences that an off-screen killing can be just as powerful and consequential as any.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Sheldon Jin

Season 1 of "Chicago P.D." had a very different cast than its later incarnations, as many of its earliest actors left the series. And one of the biggest who left the show early on was Archie Kao, who played Detective Sheldon Jin. An expert in surveillance, Jin is the Intelligence Unit's communications specialist. He also gets into a bit of trouble when he's blackmailed by Edwin Stillwell for information on his boss, Sergeant Hank Voight.

Stillwell, a sergeant himself with the city's Internal Affairs division, was on a mission to take down Voight for corruption. But in his quest for retribution, Stillwell crosses the line himself, using knowledge of Jin's sick father to enlist him in his scheme. In a jaw-dropping turn of events, Stillwell — crazed with frustration that Voight continually slips through his grasp — murders Jin for not getting him what he needs. One of the most dramatic twists early in "Chicago P.D.," the death of Jin was a wake-up call to audiences who may not have expected the series to kill off a series regular.

Perhaps disappointingly, though, series showrunner Matt Olmstead explained after the fact that Jin's death was written as a simple way to elicit shock among the audience. If that was the aim, though, it certainly achieved the desired effect, as Jin's early exit was a message loud and clear to fans that anyone could be next.

Anna Turner

When it comes to making life hell for the folks of "One Chicago," no one is easier to knock off than the various girlfriends, boyfriends, and other lovers of the franchise's biggest characters. So being the girlfriend of "Chicago Fire" star Kelly Severide put a big target on the back of Anna Turner. The character has a large role in the show's fifth season, and for some fans, she's Severide's one true love, which made it all the more heartbreaking when the series decided her time was up.

Of course, Turner's passing wasn't entirely out of left field. Though she's already a pediatric nurse at the hospital, Turner has long been diagnosed with leukemia and it's Severide who comes to her life-saving aid when she desperately needs a bone marrow transplant to survive. Now a couple, Turner's condition sadly doesn't improve as expected and when she takes a turn for the worse, Severide stays by her side, watching helplessly as she loses her life to the disease.

Lexi Olinsky

The death of Alvin Olinsky (Elias Koteas) may have been among the saddest deaths on "Chicago P.D." but it wasn't the first to rock the Olinsky clan. A year before Alvin is gunned down, his daughter Lexi (Alina Jenine Taber) meets a similarly tear-jerking fate in an episode that changes the series forever. She's introduced back in the show's first season, and it's Lexi who gives Alvin something to hold on to while his marriage is on the rocks. He tries his best to be there for his daughter when she needs it, but things aren't always cozy between them.

Nevertheless, by Season 4 the father-daughter relationship has solidified following several unexpected developments in their family life. Alvin even turns to his daughter when he becomes emotionally invested in a disturbing case. But that just makes it all the more devastating when in the episode "Emotional Proximity" an out-of-control blaze at a warehouse leaves Lexi fighting for her life. Unfortunately, even the care of Dr. Halstead isn't enough to save her, and Lexi dies from her injuries, leaving her father beside himself with grief — even briefly considering violent revenge against the arsonist responsible. 

Anna Avalos

Across so many seasons, the "One Chicago" franchise has had its share of important recurring guest stars. Season 9 of "Chicago P.D." features a new one, with actor Carmela Zumbado of the hit series "You" joining the show for seven episodes as police informant Anna Avalos. A struggling young woman whose family has connections to the Los Temidos gang, Anna is enlisted by Hank Voight to help police take them down as part of an elaborate sting. To that end, Avalos is sent undercover into Los Temidos in an operation that puts her in serious danger, and eventually, she comes to have second thoughts about her assignment.

Unfortunately, getting out of the confidential informant game is no easy task. To escape the job, Avalos kills crime boss Javiar Escano and goes on the run. Chased down by Voight, intelligence officer Hailey Upton, and Detective Halstead, Anna is forced to make a terrifying choice under the pressure of the moment. And in a tense confrontation, Avalos fires a gun at Voight, and Upton responds in kind, killing Avalos with a pair of shots to the chest. It's a sad end to the life of a troubled young woman, and it forces Voight to question his decision to bring her into the case, as he now must deal with the fallout of getting an informant killed while on the job.

Chief Evan Hawkins

The cast of characters on "Chicago Fire" aren't all frontline firefighters, with paramedics also serving at the firehouse. But there are also the crew's senior officers and administrators like Battalion Chief Boden and Secretary Connie. In 2021, actor Jimmy Nicholas joined the cast as Chief Evan Hawkins, who becomes the paramedic field chief for the department after serving in EMS District 7. Over time, Hawkins becomes close to his team, but particularly close with his subordinate Violet Mikami, and the two eventually became an item.

Being Violet's boss, Hawkins is often concerned about how their relationship might look, and it causes problems with the crew on a few occasions — particularly with Violet's ex-boyfriend and colleague Blake Gallo (Alberto Rosende), who hasn't gotten over her. Troubles in their relationship continue to plague Hawkins and Violet when a major fire breaks out and Hawkins runs triage. The situation quickly deteriorates, though, and the entire building collapses, killing Hawkins in spite of Violet's desperate attempts to save his life. His death is a noble one, however, as he dies saving the life of Gabriel Hammond.

As emotional as Hawkins' death is, though, it might have hit actor Jimmy Nicholas the hardest. "Oh my gosh, I cried a lot," the actor told NBC Insider regarding his last day of shooting. "I wasn't expecting [the cast and crew] to bring me a cake and have me say a word, but I held it together for that, and then in the car ride after I was crying."

Katya Antov

Polish dancer and actor Izabella Miko's biggest TV role was a three-episode stint on the HBO Western "Deadwood," but she outdid it when she joined "Chicago Fire" in a recurring role. There she played a pole dancer named Katya Antov who works at the nightclub called Stiletto's owned by former firefighter Jack Nesbitt (Eric Mabius). But after leaving the firehouse, Nesbitt does more than just run a club — he also operates a human trafficking ring in cahoots with Bulgarian mobsters. 

The trafficking ring and Nesbitt's involvement is all discovered thanks to fire captain Matthew Casey, who goes undercover as a contractor at the club. But Casey isn't working alone, because he has help from Katya to get inside intelligence on Nesbitt's activities, and it's Katya who listens in on various conversations and feeds the info to Casey. 

Tragically, while Casey is able to get the goods on the traffickers and take Nesbitt down, Katya becomes a casualty in their sting. After Casey finds her notebook of evidence and information on the club's dirty dealings, the villain goes down, but the gangsters exact their lethal revenge on Katya.