Inside Chicago Fire’s touching tribute to DuShon Monique Brown

Hope your tissues were handy for the season 7 premiere of Chicago Fire. During the first half of the Wednesday, September 26, episode, the cast paid tribute to actress DuShon Monique Brown, who played Connie in the show and suddenly passed away from sepsis in March 2018.

However, Connie was not killed off the show. Instead, she left the firehouse after accepting a new job, Chief Boden (Eamonn Walker) explained to the group. “I am delighted to tell you that over the past four years, Connie has received her master’s degree in counseling,” he said. “Just got hired at her dream job: head of counseling at Whitney Young Magnet School. They asked her to start immediately and I couldn’t stand in her way.”

After the crews’ applaud, Hermann (David Eigenberg) emotionally stated, “We didn’t even get to say goodbye. None of us did.”

With that, Boden looked up and said, “I hear you. It’s OK, ‘cause she knows how much we love her here.”

The story line took a great deal of thought from cocreator Derek Haas and was approved by Brown’s family beforehand.

“I was nervous about it,” Haas admitted to Us Weekly at One Chicago Day, an event celebrating all three NBC shows, adding that when she passed away, season 6 was still underway but they didn’t want to rush to write her out of the show.

“I didn’t want to do anything, honestly, stupid. I didn’t want to do anything disrespectful. We were ramping up for story lines that were cliff-hangery story lines, so it just didn’t feel right,” he told Us. “So, over the summer I was talking in the writer’s room, and Andrea Newman, who’s one of our head writers, said, ‘What if we brought in her real life, like the fact that she was a guidance counselor in a high school?’ I thought that was an awesome idea.”

With that, Haas called Walker, who worked so closely with Brown through the years, to see what he thought of the idea. He loved it and Haas asked that Walker call her family for approval.

“He said, ‘I already know what their answer’s gonna be, but yes, I’ll call.’ So then, I wrote it. I wanted to have the cast say what we were thinking, which was, ‘We didn’t get to say goodbye’ I’m glad it’s in there,” Haas continued. “We have to remember that Connie is not DuShon. They don’t have to have the same endings. So in my mind, Connie lives on in Chicago Universe.”

Walker also commented on the moment, telling Us that Brown was “my work wife for six years.”

“Derek was very, very sweet, called me and told me the ideas. I said, ‘Yeah, I think it’s fantastic not to go down the same path of what happened in life to give it a positive spin.’ She’s got a master’s degree. That’s what we found out at the funeral, that this is a highly educated woman with a masters and everything else and touched many, many people’s lives and we had no idea she was a high school counselor. There were so many people at that funeral,” the actor, 56, told Us. “I was very, very grateful to him and I know the family — Mom, Dad and Zoe, her daughter, are very grateful … we continue DuShon’s life in a positive life.”

Chicago Fire airs on NBC Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET. However, for next week’s special crossover event, Fire will air in Chicago Med’s spot at 8 p.m. ET.