Why Charlie Barnett Isn't On Chicago Fire Anymore

Working on "Chicago Fire" had an impact on Charlie Barnett not only as an actor, but as a person overall. For three seasons, Barnett played firefighter Peter Mills on the hit NBC series, where the cast spent a lot of time with actual fighters which offered perspective for the actor. "Going back to just meeting with the real men and women ... like understand that this is above you and keep you humble and honest," he told Starry Mag in 2014 while still a member of the show. During a 2013 interview with Cult Box, Barnett likened his castmates to surrogate family members. "I can relate to that because of how we as a cast came from all these different places and were put in Chicago together as a unit," he said.

Unfortunately, Barnett's time on the series came to an end in 2015 when his character Mills left the fire station to work at the family restaurant in North Carolina. Mills wanted to honor his father — a former firefighter who died on the job — and believed he had done so. "I can't keep chasing his ghost. I want to be with my family," Barnett's character Mills said on the show before leaving, per TV Guide.

That exit was different than Barnett had hoped, as the actor wanted Mills to "go out in a blaze of glory and be blown into a million pieces," per the Herald-Tribune. Keep reading to find out his reason for departing the hit series.

Charlie Barnett's character got written off

The choice to leave "Chicago Fire" was not one that Charlie Barnett made himself. One day during filming, producers took Barnett aside and broke the bad news to him. "I hadn't heard anything about it and then they pulled me into a room, sat me down and apologized," he told the Herald-Tribune in 2015. The decision had nothing to do with on-set drama, or with Barnett's performance, as the showrunners felt Peter Mills' story arc had reached its natural conclusion. "They felt that Peter had reached a plateau and the writers didn't know where to take him," Barnett added.

"Chicago Fire" executive producer Matt Olmstead confirmed the reason for Barnett's exit was simply character-based. "It came solely from a storytelling standpoint," he told several outlets at the time, per the Herald. The show's writers had created new characters, and believed they needed to make space to develop them. "It was solely based on bringing in new people for new stories. Otherwise it turns into a clown car," Olmstead told TV Guide in 2015.

When Barnett was informed he was being written off the show, he asked the producers if he could be the one to break the news to the crew. "They took it hard, but it's part of the business," he told the Herald. In the end, Barnett took his departure in stride. "I wasn't mad. I got so much from the show," he said.

A possible spinoff?

During a 2019 interview with TVLine, the outlet told Charlie Barnett that a "Chicago Fire" showrunner mentioned how they wanted to eventually bring the Peter Mills character back on the show. "Tell him to call me! [Laughs] I should give him a call," Barnett responded. "They're doing great over there, the numbers are sticking up there," he added. Barnett also joked about a possible spinoff with Mills reconnecting with Monica Raymund's Dawson in another city. "'Chicago Puerto Rico!' I would be more than happy to return," Barnett replied. He was effusive about his time on the NBC series, and all the opportunities it afforded him.

After departing "Chicago Fire," Barnett found roles on the popular Netflix series "Russian Doll," and "You." Plus he appeared on "Arrow," "Red Frontier," "Ordinary Joe," and more, per IMDb. Speaking to E! News in 2019, Barnett mentioned how he used to marvel at other actors who picked up seemingly countless gigs. Eventually, he became one of those tireless performers. "I have, knock on wood, had a lot of time and I hope that I'm using it correctly, but I want all the other actors to know like, I'm sorry, and I'm not trying to take up your job," he told E! News.