‘Chicago Fire’: Dick Wolf & Andrea Newman Celebrate Eamonn Walker As He Steps Back From Series Regular Duties

SPOILER ALERT: The following reveals major plot points from NBC’s Chicago Fire’s Season 12 finale “Never Say Goodbye”

Tears were shed in tonight’s Season 12 finale of NBC’s Chicago Fire as actor Eamonn Walker makes his final appearance as Wallace Boden in a series regular capacity. Just get this out of the way, the tears were for many happy reasons and some sad because of course, change is difficult. But, there’s no other way to celebrate Boden than by honoring the character and his achievements which have earned him legions of fans both on and off screen.

More from Deadline

Producer Dick Wolf sent Deadline an exclusive statement about Walker’s change in status, below.

“Eamonn was the first actor cast on Chicago Fire, and we knew once he said yes, that we were off and running. His character Chief Wallace Boden was the undisputed leader of Firehouse 51 and, off-screen, Eamonn has filled the same role with our ensemble cast,” Wolf shared.

This episode will surely stand out as a favorite to many for various reasons. For me, I love that all involved made “Never Say Goodbye” a celebration rather than a tragedy. As with all jobs, people sometimes get new ones, they get a promotion or they seek out other opportunities. And our beloved Boden won’t be far away at all.

Now, let’s break down the episode “Never Say Goodbye.”

While Boden was unsure at various points whether or not he should run for Deputy Commissioner, the answer would reveal itself just when he needed it the most. The team heads out to a structural collapse where they find six construction workers hanging on for dear life from a detached tower. Severide (Taylor Kinney) and Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo) help multiple men to safety, leaving only 3 including Berkson, the group’s foreman, who tells Kidd to assist his crew first. Boden volunteers to focus on Berkson, but due to strong winds, the foreman is pushed away from safety before falling into a not fully inflated airbag and partially hitting the pavement.

While Boden visits Berkson in the ICU where he’s unconscious and fighting for his life, the former realizes Berkson’s bravery has inspired him and pushed him to reexamine what makes a leader. Later, he tells his team his plans to officially run for Deputy Commissioner.

(l-r) Hanako Greensmith as Violet Mikami, Jocelyn Hudon as Novak, Eamonn Walker as Chief Wallace Boden
(l-r) Hanako Greensmith as Violet Mikami, Jocelyn Hudon as Novak, Eamonn Walker as Chief Wallace Boden

Grab your tissues! There has been a lot of speculation as to who is the best person to take over for Boden—we won’t say replaced because nobody can replace him. With many votes coming in hot for Severide (Taylor Kinney), whose interim leadership is definitely something to be proud of, Boden ultimately went with the best person for the job: Christopher Herrmann (David Eigenberg).

While this new era with Herrmann at the helm is something to look forward to, I hope he doesn’t get too buttoned up to play pranks on and with Mouch (Christian Stolte). The future is also looking promising for Mouch, who revealed tonight his plans to take the lieutenant’s test. I swear, this episode felt like a high school graduation of sorts where everyone is leveling up and moving forward. They’ve all grown so much across the seasons.

Boden’s story amps up as the final moments of the episode grow closer. He’s summoned to Headquarters, where he finds a salty-looking Chief Robinson (Laura Allen) none too pleased. Talk about the day improving by the minute! In a conference room, he is met by DC Gloria Hill (J. Nicole Brooks) who reveals a visit from Kidd has inspired her to return to Chicago. She then congratulates him on becoming the CFD’s new DC. Everyone is happy about his latest success but will also miss having him steer the ship.

Elsewhere, Severide has a pretty big chat with his bride, he thinks it’s time to expand the family with a little Stellaride baby of their own. Kidd is unsure but she didn’t exactly say no either. And the surprises for Severide didn’t end there.

Mysterious newbie Damon (Michael Bradway) catches up with Severide, the man he’s been idolizing since he joined the team. Following Novak’s (Jocelyn Hudon) insistence that Damon be honest with 51 or he’ll never make it, he reveals to Severide that his father’s name was Benny Severide. Not the new baby Severide was wishing for but hey, now he has a new brother.

(l-r) Christian Stolte as Randy “Mouch” McHolland, Michael Bradway as Damon, Jake Lockett as Sam Carver, Miranda Rae Mayo as Stella Kidd
(l-r) Christian Stolte as Randy “Mouch” McHolland, Michael Bradway as Damon, Jake Lockett as Sam Carver, Miranda Rae Mayo as Stella Kidd

Below is my e-mail Q&A with showrunner Andrea Newman which gives further insight into the episode and what the future holds as the series pushes forward into a new era. I had not seen the finale when I sent questions, so don’t be upset with me for not asking about the Severides.

DEADLINE: Andrea, what can you share about the person chosen to take over Boden’s duties? Those are some pretty big shoes to fill.

ANDREA NEWMAN: There is some talk in the finale about who would take over for Boden if he were to leave, and Boden’s thoughts surprise everyone, most especially the person he chooses. Like you say, those are some very big shoes to fill, and I think whoever might come into that role would have to lead in a very different way than Boden did. There’s no replacing Chief Boden, or Eamonn Walker.

DEADLINE: Eamonn missed a few episodes this season, so I imagine the reunion for the finale was a celebration. What insight can you share about what it was like on set?

AN: Eamonn is the most big-hearted, passionate, hard-working and dedicated actor (and human) I know, and he is like a father to every cast member and crew member of this team. He is loved like no other. Any change in his position on Fire is going to be like an earthquake coming through. The vibe on set for the finale was just, hold onto Eamonn as tight as you can. Every minute with him is a gift.

DEADLINE: Having been with the show since day one, are there any moments working with him that stand out for you?

AN: Eamonn is an incredibly thoughtful actor, and he likes to discuss his scenes in depth, even if the scenes are smaller in weight. I often think of a conversation we were having once about why Boden was saying a particular phrase, and we were having it in a tiny location and had to get some privacy, so we ended up in a 2×2 bathroom in this tiny apartment, and Eamonn took up 99 percent of it so I was standing on the toilet trying to come up with a better word to please him. We were there a while to get it right, that’s how much I respected him. You always wanted to get it perfect for Eamonn. His passion knows no bounds, but that’s on a personal level too. He found out I was in Chicago alone on my birthday once and the next thing I know I’m at Shaw’s Crab House with chocolate cake and a candle and Eamonn and Chik (Steve Chikerotis, our ex-CFD Deputy Chief and producer on the show) singing to me.

DEADLINE: The best way to celebrate Boden is by having Robinson get what’s coming to her. What say you?

AN: Robinson is a slayer! But in some legit ways, which makes her even more formidable! She’s got views that are on point, about accountability and oversight and making sure first responders follow the rules. And about female leadership being important in the CFD. She’s just missing that element of caring about her people, she sees that as coddling. Whatever happens in her battle with Boden, I don’t see her slinking away quietly.

DEADLINE: Even though he is expected to come back in a recurring role in the future, this is a whole new era for Chicago Fire. How will things change and how will people be challenged in his absence?

AN: Those are great questions, but only time can tell — it all depends on exactly where Boden ends up, and exactly who sits in that Chief’s chair.  Whatever the plan is initially, Fire fans can rest assured it will be a lot more complicated, bumpier and emotional than anyone expects. And it will cause a lot of firehouse chaos!

DEADLINE: How are you approaching writing a new season without Boden at the helm? Is it a new challenge for you to pivot?

AN: The whole theme of Season 12 was change, and how change affects a firehouse and family as close as 51. Boden’s message about that was, that once you’re a part of 51, you will always be a part of it. So Boden will always have a presence. But how everyone responds to any changes at the top is a fun challenge to write, and to watch. And there are some big twists at the end of the finale that throw even more chaos into the gang at 51, so a whole lot is coming their way.

DEADLINE: Lastly, fans are really so sad about Boden’s change in frequency on the show. Do you have a message for them?

AN: As we all said to Eamonn, we are not really letting you go, ever. You will always be stuck with us because we love you too much to say goodbye.

This interview was edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Eamonn Walker as Chief Wallace Boden
Eamonn Walker as Chief Wallace Boden

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.