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Kelly Severide (Taylor Kinney) has come a long way since his womanizing, devil-may-care days in Chicago Fire’s earlier seasons. Recent years have seen Rescue Squad 3’s dashing lieutenant settle into a healthy and stable relationship with fellow firefighter Stella Kidd (Miranda Rae Mayo) while also becoming a stronger mentor through his budding friendship with newcomer Blake Gallow (Alberto Rosende). This more level-headed and thoughtful person is the result of serious personal growth over the years, much of it rooted in the tragic loss of his best friend Leslie Shay (Lauren German), and father Benny (Treat Williams).
It’s a far cry from the hot-headed firefighter in Season 1 who refused to look inward and really deal with his emotions. For example, unresolved anger over the death of their fellow firefighter Andy sparked numerous heated spats with Casey (Jesse Spencer) in the show’s first few seasons. His love life was even more tumultuous, with Severide earning a notorious rep for burning through woman after woman at the speed of light. In honor of Kelly’s stellar growth, we highlighting some key moments that illustrate just why this reformed bad boy owns our hearts. Here are eight moments that really made us appreciate Kelly Severide.
1. When he stood up to Chief Riddle
If there’s one thing you can say about Severide, it’s that he’s no pushover. He’s a man who will stick to his principles, even if that means losing out on a promotion. Case in point: Chief Riddle (Fredrick Lehne) tried to get Severide to revoke his support of Boden’s (Eamonn Walker) firehouse wedding and Severide stuck to his guns. Upset, Riddle denied Severide’s promotion to lieutenant despite Severide passing his exams and demonstrating that he can, indeed, take on the new role. It all worked out in the end because Boden married Donna (Melissa Ponzio) at the firehouse, Severide eventually got his promotion, and Chief Riddle was eventually booted to airport duty.
2. That time he proved he’ll make a good father
Severide may not have had the best relationship with his father Benny, but this moment proves he’ll make a good father of his own someday. While working a side job, Severide met Riley, a curious boy in need of some serious guidance thanks to an emotionally abusive father. Severide easily fell into the role of a mentor, teaching Riley everything he knows about boats including putting away the rags in order to prevent a fire. So when Riley’s father’s boat catches fire one day, he immediately realizes it probably wasn’t an accident. But rather than grill Riley, who’d already been having a rough time, Severide chose to level with the kid and get to the bottom of why he started that fire. In listening and offering advice rather than just yelling at the poor kid, Severide set Riley on the right path and got him to own up to his wrongdoing.
3. His contract with Leslie Shay
One of the highlights of Chicago FIre’s first two seasons was Severide’s honest and open friendship with paramedic Leslie Shay. They were friends and roommates who respected each other and kept it real. We’re still not over Shay’s tragic death at the end of Season 2, which left Severide — and all of us — brokenhearted. Nothing speaks to their irreplaceable bond like their video contract which really boiled down to being there for one another through the good and the bad.
4. That time he MacGyvered his way out of an overturned construction truck
This gnarly scenario, in which he and a young boy were trapped in an overturned frontloader thanks to a dead engine, proves Severide can finagle his way out of any situation. With no handy tools in sight, he had to get creative in order to save the boy’s life before it was too late. With nothing but his quick wit and a textbook’s metal spine, Severide somehow managed to jumpstart the engine and get the machine upright so they could escape in time for Lesley to give the boy some much-needed medical attention. Talk about a clutch moment!
5. Literally every moment with Stella Kidd
As we’ve seen over the last two seasons, every moment between Stella and Severide is a moment worth capturing. Sure, they’ve been through some rough spots — We’ll never forget Stella’s ultimatum to do better while confronting him about his emotional unavailability— but they’ve also brought out the best in each other. From their flirtatious friendship when Stella first bunked with him to that steamy bartop hookup at Molly’s, to those quiet in-between moments where they’re just enjoying each other’s company, there’s nothing that makes us happier than seeing this pair thrive.
6. That time he repelled off the side of a skyscraper with a kid in tow
Nobody does a dramatic rescue like Severide. And while he’s had plenty of exciting rescues over the years, this one sticks out for the sheer scale of it all. When an out-of-control fire forces Severide to consider a window exit, he grabs the boy and makes a break for it down the side of a massive skyscraper. Although they didn’t repel all the way down to the ground floor, Severide did manage to kick open the glass window of an apartment several floors below, capping off a super cool rescue. This definitely got the blood pumping and left us with one incredible memory.
7. The way he opened up with Anna
Who could have foreseen the sweet romance that developed when Severide donated bone marrow to Anna, a patient being treated for leukemia. Though it ended in tragedy, their relationship proved to be formative for Severide, who learned to open up more than he ever had before. In contrast to his tenacious firefighter persona, we got to see a softer, more vulnerable side which is why this relationship holds a special place in our hearts. They didn’t get nearly enough time together — Anna died toward the end of Season 5 — their relationship remains one of Severide’s best moments on Chicago Fire.
8. That time he and Casey leapt from a building to escape an explosion
This was a true ride or die moment for Casey and Severide. With the building clear and a valve seconds away from exploding, Casey decides that their only option to escape is leaping off the building and into the water. There’s not much time left so all Severide can do is mumble, “Dammit, Casey” and follow suit. It’s a good thing he did because they not only survived, but both men also delivered one of the coolest action sequences of the season. Now, where is their action spin-off?
Chicago Fire returns Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 9/7c on NBC.