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Why Did Yuri Sardarov Leave Chicago Fire?

His character, Brian "Otis" Zvonecek, was beloved for the show's first eight seasons. 

By Jackie Manno & Megan Lasher


How to Watch

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

Chicago Fire fans know that Brian "Otis" Zvonecek (Yuri Sardarov) was a key figure in the show, and one of the hearts of Firehouse 51. While viewers miss his presence dearly, his death and Sardarov's exit were written into the show for a very concrete reason. 

Read why — and more about what Sardarov has been up to since — below. 

Why did Otis leave Chicago Fire?

In a 2019 interview with TV Line, Chicago Fire co-showrunner Derek Haas explained his thought process behind the decision to kill off Otis and have Sardarov leave the show. 

The choice, ultimately, lay in the showrunners' desire to remind viewers there are real stakes involved in the cases that Firehouse 51 handles every day — and those stakes can sometimes lead to deaths of characters.

To illustrate this, they chose to kill off a historic character like Otis instead of someone like, say, Darren Ritter (Daniel Kyri), who was a new kid on the block during Season 8. 

RELATED: Who Was In The Chicago Fire Season 1 Cast?

​​​​​"When we decided it was going to be Otis, there was some talk about, 'Do we make it Ritter?'" Haas said. "But it felt like that was almost not as serious. It almost wouldn’t be the same situation or effect, because he was such a new character that the audience would think, 'Oh, we were just doing that intentionally from the beginning,' because it wouldn’t have had the stakes that it would have if it were a core cast member."

"And then we just decided it would be Otis because he lives with [Joe] Cruz [Joe Minoso] and [Sylvie] Brett [Kara Killmer], and he’s on Matt Casey’s [Jesse Spencer] truck, and he’s in [Chief Wallace] Boden’s [Eamonn Walker] house, and he’s best friends with [Randy] "Mouch" [McHolland] [Christian Stolte], and owns a bar with [Christopher] Herrmann [David Eigenberg]," he added. "There are a million feelings that everybody has from a guy who’s been on the show from almost the first scene." 

Haas told TV Line that Sardarov completely understood the decision. 

"From a personal standpoint, it’s really difficult as a showrunner to tell an actor, 'Hey, this is what we’re thinking,' when you not only know them as a really great actor but also as just a good person and friend," he said. "But I called Yuri and told him what we were going to do, and I’ve never had a call as professional and as gracious, and I think, in the back of my head, that I know why, which is that he’s a writer himself, and he understands that you, as a writer, have to surprise the audience and give them something that they weren’t expecting." 

Chicago Fire Otis Recap2

How did Otis die on Chicago Fire?

Season 7 left fans with a major cliffhanger when, in the finale episode ("I'm Not Leaving You"), most of the Firehouse 51 squad was inside of a mattress factory fire, attempting to rescue the workers and stay safe. "Three worst fires: Lumber yard, tire factory, and this one... mattress factory," Herrmann ominously said before entering the scene. 

RELATED: What Happened to Otis Zvonecek on Chicago Fire?

An exploding pressure valve at the end of the episode left a lot of questions about the fates of the characters unanswered.

But in the beginning of Season 8, Episode 1 ("Sacred Ground"), it was revealed that Otis had died in the fire. 

Chicago Fire Otis Recap1

What is Yuri Sardarov doing now?

In the time since his character's tragic departure from Firehouse 51, Sardarov has been quick to build up even more of his acting career. He has appeared in multiple films, including the romantic comedy Amy and Peter Are Getting Divorced (2021) and Adam (2020). 

RELATED: The Most Devastating Deaths on Chicago Fire Across All 11 Seasons

Sardarov appeared in two episodes the television show The Rookie's fourth season as the character Trevor Gurin, and was also in FBI: International Season 2, Episode 18 ("Blood Feud") as Sergi Diatchenko. 

In 2023, Sardarov starred in the film Daddy, in which his character (Mo) and three other men went to a retreat to prove that they were fit to be fathers. 

Revisit Otis's greatest Chicago Fire moments by watching the show on Peacock

Originally published Jun 8, 2023.