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Yuri Sardarov in Chicago Fire© Getty

Chicago Fire: what happened to Otis? And why Yuri Sardarov was written out of the show

The fan-favorite character was killed off 

Megan Bull
TV Writer
May 8, 2024
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Yuri Sardarov made his mark on Chicago Fire, after signing on as Brian "Otis" Zvonecek in 2012. Following an impressive seven-year tenure on the show, however, the actor was brutally killed off in 2019, with Otis dying in a pressure valve explosion. 

Yuri Sardarov in Chicago Fire© Getty
Yuri Sardarov appeared on Chicago Fire from 2012 to 2019

Called to a mattress factory with the rest of Firehouse 51 in the season seven finale, the fan favorite was fatally wounded in the line of duty, and after a major cliffhanger, was confirmed dead in the series eight premiere. 

So, what happened? As it turns out, the writers had given Otis' death a great deal of thought after deciding that they needed to kill off a character. In an interview with TV Line, showrunner Derek Haas explained their reasoning. 

Yuri Sardarov as Otis© Getty
Otis was killed off in a pressure valve explosion

"I didn't know what we were going to do when I wrote the ending to the season," he began. "Then when I was [on] hiatus, I was talking to Andrea Newman and Michael Gilvary, my two head writers — we were really just catching up over the course of the break — and as we were talking, we just said, 'We gotta put some teeth back into the show, and we gotta show that the dangers are real.'

"I called Dick Wolf and I said, 'We're thinking about killing off Otis,' and I probably talked to him and [Wolf Entertainment President and executive producer] Peter Jankowski for an hour. Dick, who draws on more experience than anyone in the world, said, 'As long as you're honest with the storytelling, the audience will go with you.' So that was it." 

Yuri Sardarov as Brian "Otis" Zvonecek© NBC
The writers had planned to kill of Otis to highlight the dangers of being a firefighter

Recalling how he told Yuri Sardarov about the storyline, Derek admitted that he was nervous about the conversation. "From a personal standpoint, it's really difficult as a showrunner to tell an actor, 'Hey, this is what we're thinking,' when you not only know them as a really great actor, but also as just a good person and friend. 

"But I called Yuri and told him what we were going to do, and I've never had a call as professional and as gracious, and I think, in the back of my head, that I know why, which is that he's a writer himself, and he understands that you, as a writer, have to surprise the audience and give them something that they weren't expecting. Plus, he's at the beginning of his career, and this isn't his swan song by any stretch."

Yuri Sardarov at a One Chicago press junket © Getty
Following his departure from Chicago Fire, Yuri has appeared in episodes of The Rookie and FBI: International

As Derek has attested, Chicago Fire was by no means the end for Yuri, and the actor has bagged a number of roles since leaving the show. Among them, the 36-year-old has appeared in episodes of The Rookie (2022) and FBI: International (2023).

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