As the designated heartthrob of Firehouse 51, Lieutenant Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) has been a fan-favorite of Chicago Fire since the hit NBC drama premiered back in 2012. His charisma, charm, and emotional rollercoaster of romantic entanglements have been a driving force of the show for the majority of its run. That's why it came as such a shock to everyone when Deadline reported that the actor who plays him would be taking a "break" from filming.
Taylor Kinney's abrupt leave of absence is due to a "personal matter," that neither the show's representatives nor the actor will comment on, leaving many fans in the dark. While it's unclear when he'll return, his absence will definitely be felt as season eleven continues.
With limited information being released, the only thing viewers can do is hope for Kinney's speedy return -- and speculate on why he had to take an unexpected break in the first place.
Is Taylor Kinney Getting Married?
While there aren't any concrete answers as to why Taylor Kinney left the show, one popular fan theory has to do with his romantic entanglements IRL.
Kinney's most recent Instagram post--which was published weeks before the announcement--is flooded with comments about his untimely departure. Some fans speculated that he's taking a break to get hitched to his girlfriend, Ashley Cruger. While he's only been dating the model since March 2022, they were both spotted on social media wearing silver bands in June 2022. Neither party confirmed that they had tied the knot, but it's possible that they've already had their nuptials.
No matter what their marital status is, the couple seems to be going strong. Cruger even made a quick appearance on Chicago Fire during the season 11 premiere. "First episode of Chicago Fire aired last night and I got to sneak on," she tweeted alongside a still from the show, adding, "Ily @taylorkinney111."
Will Taylor Kinney Return to Chicago Fire?
While no one expects a full report on Kinney's hiatus from Chicago Fire, fans are wondering exactly how the show will explain his character's absence. After all, Severide is the leader of Rescue Squad 13 and a pivotal figure at Firehouse 51 -- he wouldn't just up and leave.
Of course, everyone's worst fear is that the show will kill off Severide in lieu of Kinney's absence. This would explain why the actor is leaving, but it would also be a devastating blow to fans who have been following him since the show's beginning. But don't worry; so far, there are no indications that this will actually happen.
In fact, recent promo photos for upcoming episodes show Severide looking alive and well as he interacts with Chicago Fire Department's Office of Fire Investigation Commander Tom Van Meter (Tim Hopper). So a more likely possibility is that he'll have to temporarily move out of Chicago to work with OFI.
Ultimately, only time will tell what's behind Taylor Kinney's exit -- and if he'll eventually return and reprise his role as Kelly Severide. After playing the show's staple character for nearly a decade, the actor has nothing but good things to say about Chicago Fire and its fans.
"It's never lost on me how special it is to be a part of something with the longevity this has," Kinney told Us Weekly back in July 2022. "It's a testament to [show creator] Dick Wolf and the team of people he puts together."
Later that year, he talked to Al Roker on Today about how much the city the show is centered around has changed. "Times have changed, and the city has changed, and people have grown," he said. "The city has been good to me. I love the city. I've gotten to know it through my work."
Life Outside Chicago
While Chicago Fire undoubtedly made Kinney a household name, he's also worked steadily throughout his career outside the show. He can be seen in movies like The Other Woman, Zero Dark Thirty and Rock the Kasbah, as well as shows like Shameless, Trauma and The Vampire Diaries.
He landed his first recurring role back in 2006 as Luke Gianni on Fashion House. After that, he had a number of one-episode appearances for crime dramas like Bones, CSI: NY, Castle, and Rizzoli & Isles before finding his footing as Kelly Severide. In addition to Chicago Fire, his character has appeared in other department branches, including Chicago Med and Chicago P.D.
Not Gone Yet
While Taylor Kinney is taking time away from his role on Chicago Fire, we haven't seen the last of him just yet. If the recent promo photos are any indication, we'll at least get to enjoy his presence a few more times on the show before he takes off.
New episodes of Chicago Fire will return to NBC on Feb. 13.
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