Fans of Chicago Fire had their tissues ready for the Season 7 premiere this week. During the first half of the episode, the cast paid tribute to DuShon Monique Brown, the actress who played Connie on the show. Brown suddenly passed away in March from sepsis.
But, they did not kill Connie off of the show. Instead, she left the firehouse because she accepted a new job.
“I am delighted to tell you that over the past four years, Connie has received her master’s degree in counseling, Just got hired at her dream job: head of counseling at Whitney Young Magnet School. They asked her to start immediately, and I couldn’t stand in her way,” Chief Boden (Eamonn Walker) explained to the group.
— Christine Jones (@flyroagirl) September 27, 2018
After everyone applauded, Hermann (David Eigenberg) emotionally said that nobody had the chance to say goodbye. Then Boden replied that it was OK because she knows how much they love her.
The storyline came from show co-creator Derek Haas, and he got Brown’s family to approve it beforehand. He says he was nervous about it, but they didn’t want to rush Connie out of the show, even though Brown passed away during Season 6.
Haas added that he honestly “didn’t want to do anything disrespectful,” and it didn’t feel right to do anything at the end of last season because of all the cliffhanger storylines. But, over the summer he talked to the writers, and head writer Andrea Newman suggested they bring in something from Brown’s real life. And, he liked the idea that she was once a high school guidance counselor.
So, Haas called Walker — who had worked closely with Brown over the years — to ask him his thoughts on the idea, and he loved it. Then, Haas asked Walker to call Brown’s family for approval. Walker told him that he knew the answer would be yes, but he made the call anyway.
— Us Weekly (@usweekly) September 27, 2018
After that, Haas wrote the script, and his goal was to have the cast say what they were thinking, which was concern about not being able to say goodbye. Haas says he is glad that was in there, and they have to remember that Connie is not Brown. They do not have the same endings, and in his mind, Connie still lives in the Chicago Universe.
Walker says that Brown was his “work wife” for six years, and it was sweet that Haas called him and shared his idea. He said he thought it was fantastic to go down a different path and put a positive spin on it. Instead of killing off her character, she got a master’s degree and is working at a job she loves.
Walker revealed that they found out about Brown’s education and previous career at her funeral, and he and the rest of the cast had no idea how many lives she had touched.
New episodes of Chicago Fire air Wednesday nights on NBC.