The Season 7 premiere of Chicago Fire featured a touching tribute to deceased cast member DuShon Monique Brown that helped everyone say goodbye to her character, Connie. Now we know why the show wrapped up Connie’s story the way it did. When I spoke to executive producer Derek Haas at One Chicago Day a few weeks ago, he revealed that trying to figure out what to do with Connie after Brown’s sudden death was something that he and his team had trouble with and thought hard about to get right.
When it happened, it caught us so off guard. And she was already in three more episodes past that and we were coming really close to the end of the season. I just didn’t want to do something reactionary, or, honestly, like, unfair to the character or [DuShon’s] family, you know? I didn’t want to do something exploitative for the show that didn’t work with real life. And I knew so many of our cast members were very close to her and they wanted to do something nice.
While many fans may have wondered why DuShon Monique Brown’s death wasn’t written into last season, according to Derek Haas they simply didn’t have time to figure out how to wrap up Connie’s story and fit it into the show. And, in what was a very smart move, Haas wanted to make sure that he didn’t rush into anything which may have led to the show doing something unintentionally disrespectful to the character, or (even worse) Brown’s family. Haas also noted that several cast members were very close to Brown, and they wanted to make sure whatever the show did with Connie would be something nice that would allow them, and fans, to mourn the actress in a sweet way.
In the premiere, when everyone gathers for the shift briefing, Boden tells them that Connie had actually been working on her masters degree in counseling, and, having finished the program, she’s now off to her dream job. Her new employer asked her to start immediately, and Boden didn’t have the heart to say no to her. Meaning she left without getting a chance to say her goodbyes to anyone other than Boden. Haas said that this way of writing Connie off was courtesy of one of Chicago Fire‘s head writers, who figured that it would be a good way to pay respect to Brown’s life.
Andrea Newman, one of our head writers, had this idea. She said, ‘Connie and DuShon are not the same. Connie’s a character and DuShon’s the actress, they don’t have to have the same fate.’ So, she had that idea of [us having] the tribute be toward who DuShon was in her life, which was actually, in addition to her acting, she was a counselor.
The news of Connie’s departure prompts Herrmann to say, “I didn’t get to say goodbye. None of us did,” with Boden replying, “That’s OK, ’cause she knows how much we love her here.” Obviously, this was a way to pay tribute to the no-nonsense character of Connie, but also served as a true send off for DuShon Monique Brown, with some sincere feelings from the cast and crew added for good measure. And, for Haas, this was really the ideal way to handle such a difficult situation. About the conversation between Herrmann and Boden, he said:
I think that’s what we all wanted to say.