As Chicago Fire Is Set To Lose A 'Larger Than Life' Series Regular, Did The Latest Episode Already Hint How It Could Happen?

 Stella Kidd talking to Wallace Boden in Chicago Fire Season 12x03.
Stella Kidd talking to Wallace Boden in Chicago Fire Season 12x03.

Not many TV shows have hung onto original series regular cast members for as long as NBC's Chicago Fire, but the founding series of One Chicago is now set to lose a regular before the end of the 2024 TV schedule. He'll mark the third star to depart full-time in Season 12, and his absence should shake the show's foundation. Fire fans, prepare to say goodbye to Eamonn Walker as Wallace Boden, who the showrunner described to CinemaBlend ahead of the May 8 episode as "larger than life."

Eamonn Walker Is Leaving Chicago Fire

Eamonn Walker has been playing Wallace Boden on Chicago Fire from the very beginning, and has arguably been the most pivotal character of the series aside from Casey and Severide. Deadline reports that Walker decided to step back from One Chicago after the end of the current twelfth season, with the door open for him to recur as the show continues. Fire has already been renewed for Season 13.

Season 12 previously said goodbye to Alberto Rosende as Gallo and Kara Killmer as Brett, with the former departing in the premiere and the latter getting a final arc of episodes culminating in the Brettsey wedding. With only three episodes left at the time of writing, details about what leads to Boden's departure will hopefully arrive sooner rather than later.

The character has already been absent this season after taking a break from Chicago to help his stepson, with Severide stepping up at Firehouse 51 in the interim. I recently spoke with Chicago Fire showrunner Andrea Newman about the final episodes of Season 12, and she weighed in on what Boden's absence has meant for Severide and Firehouse 51 just to that point. Newman shared:

Boden's presence is so immense emotionally, psychologically, physically obviously, too. And I think everybody is having to step up in ways or step out in ways that they're not totally comfortable with. I think even the Cruz story, he would have gone to Boden and Boden would have probably managed it some. But Cruz handled the Javi story totally on his own. With Severide's support, but he really kind of went out there on his own and set up the whole sting and everything, so I think everybody is having to step up a bit in interesting ways. Maybe Severide is dealing with it the most, but you can be sure that everybody misses Boden's presence when he's not there. He's just larger than life.

In light of Newman's comments, I think fans can all be relieved that Eamonn Walker is reportedly still going to recur on the show following the end of Season 12. Boden is the man who the 51 heroes turn to in times of crisis as well as times of joy. After all, who did Brett and Casey ask to officiate their fishy wedding?

How Chicago Fire May Be Hinting At What Happens Already

Severide stepped up in Boden's absence in the most recent episode, as the ranking officer at Firehouse 51. He clearly didn't relish the role or feel as comfortable as he does when leading Squad 3 or playing fire cop with OFI, but he did it. In this week's episode, called "Inside Man," Severide will end up on the ride of his life when he's on board Truck 81 when it's seemingly stolen. Fans will have to tune in to see what happens – including what the Squad lieutenant was doing on Truck – for him, but could it lead to him taking on more administrative duties?

If so, hopefully it's not because something bad happens to him in the May 8 episode! Severide hypothetically taking on Boden's day-to-day role at 51 could also address a problem that has been on my mind for the better part of a year: Cruz pursuing the rank of officer. During Taylor Kinney's leave of absence, Cruz stepped up as acting lieutenant of Squad 3, seemingly setting up an arc that would culminate in him becoming an officer.

That was all well and good for as long as the lieutenant's spot was vacant on Squad, but Severide's return meant Cruz had to step down from his leadership role. Just like how Stella couldn't become Truck 81's officer when Casey was around, it seemed impossible for Cruz to become Squad 3's officer with Severide around. If Severide takes on more of Boden's role in Season 13, could Cruz make lieutenant and take on more of Severide's role on Squad?

Of course, it's too soon to say with any certainty or do much more than speculate, not least because it's not yet clear how Chicago Fire is going to write out Eamonn Walker as a series regular. Boden is currently in the running for a promotion to Deputy Commissioner of the CFD; although Paramedic Chief Robinson seems to have made it her mission to stop Boden from getting the job, the character getting a promotion could be a great way to keep Boden in the mix without needing him to appear every week. He could be around, just not based out of Firehouse 51.

For now, we can only wait and see. Regardless of when new details drop about Boden's future beyond Season 12, the new episode on May 8 – which showrunner Andrea Newman described as "Severide's Die Hard episode" – looks like a must-see installment of Chicago Fire. Tune in to NBC on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET to see how it goes down for him, and check back with CinemaBlend for more from the showrunner as Season 12 continues. Also, check out previous seasons streaming with a Peacock Premium subscription.