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Is Joe Cruz Leaving 51 on Chicago Fire? Here's the Latest Update

Say it ain't so, Joe! The Firehouse 51 fan favorite recently reflected on his future in the CFD.

By Jessica White

Season 12 of Chicago Fire saw the bond between Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) and Joe Cruz (Joe Miñoso) start to wither after Severide's triumphant return to the Windy City. 

How to Watch

Watch Chicago Fire Wednesdays at 9/8c on NBC and next day on Peacock.

The tension was inevitable. After Severide left Chicago and ghosted all his coworkers, it was Cruz who stepped up to the plate to lead 51. Now that Severide is back in command, lingering resentments over his exit have emerged. 

"We'll get into how it affected Cruz and what the relationship between Cruz and Severide is now going forward," Chicago Fire showrunner Andrea Newman told NBC Insider. "[Severide] was Cruz's best man. Cruz worshiped Severide, but Severide kind of ditched out on him, too." 

RELATED: What to Know About Chicago Fire Season 12: Details

It didn't take long for Season 12 of Chicago Fire to spotlight Cruz and Severide's problem. Here's what's going on: 

Joe Cruz and Kelly Severide's power struggle

Smokey firefighters walk on a sidewalk holding tools and a scorched bike in Chicago Fire Episode 1202.

After getting a call about a civilian dangling from a building (after attempting to retrieve his drone), Cruz became frustrated with Severide. Cruz retrieved the drone without confirming the maneuver with Severide, which led to conflict.

"Cruz, I didn't order you to get that drone," Severide snapped. "No more freelancing! That ends now."

"Hold up," Cruz countered. "You leave me in charge for three months, and now I can't think for myself?"

"Cruz!" Severide shouted. "Don't let it happen again."

RELATED: How Joe Cruz Became the Beating Heart of Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire Joe Cruz Severide

Why did Joe Cruz want to leave Firehouse 51 on Chicago Fire?

It didn't take long for Severide and Cruz's fight to cause Cruz to reflect on his future in Squad Company 3. Cruz later visited Chief Boden (Eamonn Walker) with news of a jaw-dropping development. 

"I want to take the Lieutenant test," Cruz revealed. "It's time for me to leave 51 and run my own unit."

Later that night, Firehouse 51 corralled at Molly's, but Cruz sat apart from Severide. Stella (Miranda Rae Mayo) quickly picked up on the awkward vibes and encouraged Severide to talk to Cruz, to no avail. While chatting with Stella, Cruz perfectly articulated the root of the issue. 

"I'm tired of feeling disrespected when he took off to go work with those ATF guys without saying where he was going, when he was coming back," Cruz shared. "I covered for him, no questions, for three months. I acted up, leading squad, taking a hit at home. And he comes back, and he's barking orders, telling me to fall in line like nothing changed. When a lot did. He just wasn't here for it."

"I know he left you in the dark too, so you know what I'm saying," Cruz continued. "But I bet he at least apologized to you."

Joe Cruz got Chief Boden's blessing for the lieutenant exam

Cruz was later summoned to Boden's office, where he received a test schedule and study guides for the Lieutenant exam. Boden told Cruz he'd be a great fit for Firehouse 36 but encouraged him to talk to Severide before making big moves. 

"I have no doubts that you are ready if this is what you want," Boden said. "You will make a great leader, as much as it will hurt to see you go."

Severide eventually came around to Stella's request to make peace, sharing a drink with Cruz later that night.

RELATED: How Severide Broke Stella's Trust on Chicago Fire

"When I had to step away, there was zero question of who I was going to leave in charge," Severide said. "And you were right, you acted up for three months, you did good, and Boden said you really took to the role. So if I didn't seem thankful, that's on me. Because I was, and I am."

"I appreciate you saying that," Cruz replied.

"That being said, I'm back now," Severide leveled with him. "And if taking orders from me is going to be a problem, if you've had your taste of leadership and you can't shake it, I'm not going to stand in your way if you need to move on."

Cruz chewed on Severide's words but didn't respond.

Why did Joe Cruz stay at Firehouse 51 on Chicago Fire Season 12?

Ironically, Severide's passion for arson investigation pushed him and Cruz back together as friends. Severide wished to leave Chicago again to take on a new arson investigation case, but he wouldn't go unless Cruz agreed to assume his position in Squad 3.

"You're asking me?" Cruz pondered. 

"I won't go unless you're willing to step into my shoes. Take care of Squad 3 until I get back," Severide explained, offering an olive branch of sorts. "There's no one else I trust."

Later that day, Cruz approached Boden to withdraw his name from the lieutenant test after accepting Severide's offer.

“It will be nice to have you for a while longer, Joe," Boden told him, echoing the thoughts of Chi-Hards everywhere. 

Watch Chicago Fire on Wednesdays at 9/8c on NBC.