Eamonn Walker Leaves Chicago Fire With a Boden-Sized Hole

Spoilers

The thought of losing any of our favorite Chicago Fire characters is painful, but this one cuts extra deep.

Eamonn Walker, who has portrayed Wallace Boden for the series’ entire run, has announced his plans to step back from the show.

We’re told that he intends to stay involved on some level, but 51 as we know it won’t be the same.

Boden’s absence has already been felt in the recent episodes, during which the chief was dealing with personal family issues and taking time off work.

Losing this character is a huge hit for the series. Chicago Fire is currently in its 12th season, and Chief Boden has been a staple for every single season so far.

What does this mean for 51? There’s a lot we don’t know, but here’s what’s been announced so far:

Walker plans to stay on with Chicago Fire as a recurring character, stepping down from his current series regular status.

The writers don’t plan to kill off Boden, but his role on the show is likely going to change significantly.

The decision to step back was Walker’s — he is not being forced out in any way.

All of that is somewhat comforting. At least we’re not losing one of OneChicago’s most prominent anchor characters for good.

The relationship he was building with Jimmy was really special, and I was hoping to see more of that play out, so it would be nice if the writers include that somehow in their plans for Boden.

Chicago Fire and the entire OneChicago universe has had plenty of major cast shakeups, but this one feels extra hard to swallow.

Boden is the glue of 51. The tough-but-fair, firm-but-gentle, wise, and steadfast leader of the station has outlasted many other original characters,

He has been part of the growth of virtually every character remaining on the show. Boden stepped up and became the father figure that Kelly Severide needed after losing Benny. Who will Severide go to now?

After everything we’ve been through with the character, it’s hard to imagine Boden not being a major part of Chicago Fire anymore.

But as we’ve said before, the show has never relied on a single character to hold itself up, so there’s no reason to think the writers can’t work around this loss.

So, what might Chicago Fire look like without its patriarch?

For starters, 51 is probably going to need a new chief. Whether someone will be promoted from within or another new face will join the cast, the team needs a leader.

Severide seems the obvious choice since he’s been filling in during Boden’s leave of absence, but that seems unlikely for a few reasons.

First of all, lieutenants don’t generally get promoted directly to chief. Second, no one really gets the impression that Severide enjoys flying a desk. He’s been overwhelmed and stressed by the job.

In the past, when Eamonn Walker took breaks from the show, a guest star was brought in to temporarily fill the role of chief.

This move is probably the most probable, given that there aren’t any great candidates in-house, and the opportunity to develop new drama with a new character is hard to pass up.

It’s not just about the job, though. Chief Boden has, for all intents and purposes, acted as a father for several characters over the past 12 seasons.

In particular, Boden’s exit will have a huge impact on Severide, who has leaned on the chief countless times and is still often in need of that support.

It’s possible that a different character will take that on. We’ve recently seen Hermann show a great deal of wisdom and fatherly instincts toward other characters, so maybe he’ll step up for folks like Severide when they need support.

Anchor characters can leave a show (while still making appearances) without making a massive difference to the heart of the series.

Meredith Grey has done it, showing up occasionally on Grey’s Anatomy while mostly keeping her distance. Ellen Pompeo’s absence is noticed but not catastrophic to the show.

And again, we’ve seen proof that Chicago Fire can keep the fires lit even in the wake of major character departures. So, as far as the show is concerned, we’re not worried about its continued success.

But I’d be lying if I said Eamonn Walker won’t be leaving a huge gap in the OneChicago universe. His presence has been a staple for over a decade, and it’s hard to imagine 51 without him.

After rumors that Taylor Kinney could be leaving Chicago Fire for good (don’t worry; those rumors are unsubstantiated), fans have been on edge about the growing list of former cast members.

We expect the news of Walker’s exit to stir up some big feelings with fans. As it stands, some loyal viewers are already calling for Chicago Fire to call it quits altogether.

While that seems unlikely, given the show’s outstanding success at NBC, we’ll see if Boden’s disappearing act has any impact on viewership.

We certainly wish Eamonn Walker the best and look forward to seeing as much of Boden as we can in the coming episodes.

Rumor has it that the season 12 finale will answer some big questions about the character’s future, so stay tuned, and we’ll be ready to dive into that in a few weeks!

Haley Whitmire White is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.

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