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What Happened to Emily Foster on Chicago Fire?

The paramedic played by Annie Ilonzeh left the show after Season 8. 

By Megan Lasher

Emily Foster (Annie Ilonzeh) joined the Chicago Fire cast at the beginning of Season 7, just after Gabby Dawson (Monica Raymund) left Firehouse 51 to become an emergency responder in Puerto Rico. Foster had big shoes to fill, but she took every obstacle handed to her in stride and left a lasting mark on the crew. 

How to Watch

Watch Chicago Fire on NBC and Peacock.

She eventually cemented herself as a talented paramedic who could perform intensive procedures even with low-quality equipment and under pressure. Sadly, it was those medical talents that took her away from Firehouse 51 in the end. 

Revisit Foster's time on Chicago Fire

Who played Emily Foster on Chicago Fire?

Emily Foster was played by Annie Ilonzeh, who had previously had roles in shows like Empire and American Horror Story. 

The actor remains close friends with many fellow One Chicago favorites, including Miranda Rae Mayo (Stella Kidd) and Daniel Kyri (Darren Ritter)

RELATED: Daniel Kyri Just Reunited with a Beloved, Departed Chicago Fire Character

Kyri and Ilonzeh in particular have continued to post photos with one another, even after Ilonzeh's 2020 departure from the show. 

Annie Ilonzeh as Emily Foster in Chicago Fire.

When did Emily Foster first appear on Chicago Fire?

Foster's very first appearance was in Season 7, Episode 1 ("A Closer Eye"). Chief Wallace Boden (Eamonn Walker) introduced her to the entire Firehouse 51 team, who was hesitant to have a paramedic join in the wake of Dawson's departure. Boden pulled Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) aside to tell her to accept her new partner. 

"Over the last few months, you have dinged every new partner you've had, Sylvie," Boden told Brett. "The paramedic that you are getting today, Emily Foster, she stays here. Unless or until Dawson returns," he warned her. Though Brett was being forced to welcome Foster, it still took her a while to warm up to the newbie.

In her first episode, Foster and Brett were at the Lakeshore hospital when a doctor said to Brett, "Is that Emily Foster? She's a paramedic now? Oh, how the mighty have fallen."

That was one of several things which led the team to distrust Foster, but they slowly warmed up to and ultimately accepted her as one of their own. 

Emily Foster's Medical School Journey

Throughout her time on the show, it became clear that Foster had serious skills as a physician. Chicago Med doctor Will Halstead (Nick Gehlfuss) even complimented her surgical work in the field at one point, saying, "You missed your calling." 

The Lakshore doctor's comment in her first episode hinted that Foster's past might be different than the average paramedic, and she opened up to Brett about it in Season 7, Episode 2 ("Going to War"). "Until last year, I was a surgical resident at Lakeshore," she said. "I cheated on my boards, and I got kicked out." 

In Season 7, Episode 9 ("Always a Catch") she received an offer to return to hospital work. An old doctor who had objected Foster's expulsion asked her to re-enroll in the program. "We need more doctors with your kind of passion. Think about it, then come see me in my office," she told Foster. Ultimately, Foster decided to stick with Firehouse 51. 

"I went to med school for all the wrong reasons, and it was every man for himself. It was cutthroat, and I was holding the knife with the rest of them," she told Boden. "Then I came here, and everybody was like, 'It's a family at 51' And I thought, 'There's a catch. There's always a catch. Except... there wasn't." 

Annie Ilonzeh as Emily Foster in Chicago Fire.

Why did Emily Foster leave Chicago Fire?

Foster's last episode of Chicago Fire was Season 8, Episode 20 ("51's Original Bell"). 

Thinking about Halstead's compliment about her calling, Foster decided to end her time as a paramedic and return to a hospital setting, where she could perform surgeries more regularly. She approached Brett — likely to tell her about her decision to leave the firehouse — but Brett began venting about how many people close to her keep leaving Chicago, so Foster avoided broaching the topic. 

Later, after they brought a patient to Med, Dr. Halstead revealed her secret. "My friend at Northwestern Admissions says you reapplied," he said to Foster in front of Brett.

"Seems like you've already made up your mind," Brett said, frustrated. 

At the end of the episode, Foster gave a passionate speech to the admissions committee about how being a paramedic for the CFD made her a better person, and Brett met her out front of the office after the meeting. "They'd be lucky to have you," Brett told her. The two walked off into the distance.

Annie Ilonzeh as Emily Foster in Chicago Fire.

Is Emily Foster returning to Chicago Fire or Chicago Med?

Fans had speculated that because of her medical background, Foster might move to Med after leaving the Fire crew. However, as of now, there are no formal plans for her to return to either of the Chicago shows. 

Since leaving the show, Annie Ilonzeh has appeared in five episode of the narrative podcast The Lower Bottoms (2021), in the Dermot Mulroney/Mel Gibson movie Agent Game (2022), in the horror film Fear (2022), and she played the lead role in the made-for-TV movie Ruined (2023).