The season premieres of the Chicago franchise on September 25 left us with trust issues, with dramatically heartbreaking exits for some of our favorite characters. The back-to-back season premieres set up the exits of Antonio from Chicago P.D., Otis from Chicago Fire, and Connor and Ava from Chicago Med, and we’re still reeling! Connor and Ava’s final episode was a lot to take in for many viewers. But the doors are still open for Connor’s return. Which makes us wonder, why is Connor leaving Chicago Med? The showrunners at Chicago Med and Colin Donnell, who plays Connor, have responded to that dramatic premiere twist.
What Happened to Dr. Connor Rhodes on Chicago Med?
Chicago Med season 5 premiered on Wednesday night and it was a doozy of an opener! ICYMI, Connor’s dad, Cornelius, died last season of a supposed insulin overdose. In the new episode, titled “Never Going Back to Normal,” Kevin Atwater crosses over from Chicago P.D. to investigate Cornelius’ death.
Connor grows suspicious of his emotionally unstable ex-girlfriend, Dr. Ava Bekker, as he’s being viewed as a potential suspect for the murder. However, Dr. Latham reveals that the insulin given to Cornelius was contaminated, making it traceable to the person who administered it.
A distressed Ava runs away at the news, making Connor suspicious of her. So when Connor confronts her, she confesses that she gave his father the insulin that killed him.
Admitting that in her twisted mind, she thought that killing his father would win back his affection, Ava grabs a scalpel and slits her own throat. Despite Connor’s best efforts to save her, Ava dies.
In the aftermath of Cornelius’ and Ava’s deaths, Connor comes to the conclusion that too much has happened for him to continue working there. So he leaves, unable to bid a proper goodbye to his friends because he’s too caught up in his emotions.
So that was the exit for Connor and Ava!
Why Did Colin Donnell Leave Chicago Med?
Ahead of the Chicago Med season 4 finale, it was announced that two series regulars, Colin Donnell and Norma Kuhling, who play Connor and Ava, respectively, would be leaving the show. Predictably, a lot of questions and speculation followed.
Besides wondering why they were leaving, fans wondered how the show would write off the characters and if there would be room for their return. There isn’t, however, a negative reason for Donnell and Kuhling’s departure.
Their exit was purely for creative purposes. As showrunner Andrew Schneider explained, “Dick Wolf [Chicago franchise creator] likes to inject new characters and sort of keep the show alive in that sense. So that was kind of what was driving the decision.”
The season 5 premiere marked the end of Ava in a shocking twist. In the season 4 finale, it was revealed that she had a personality disorder that would lead her to commit murder, thereby setting the stage for her exit. There’s obviously no scope for Ava’s return to the show in the future.
However, Connor had an emotional exit that gave his character closure and left room for his return. It’s understandable that Connor might not be able to work in the hospital where his father was murdered by Ava, who then killed herself in front of him.
But his exit also implies that he hasn’t gone far. Perhaps he’s taken another job close by and could occasionally drop in to visit his old friends. However, it’s unlikely he’ll have a continuing story on the show.
As Schneider said, “There was a general feeling that Connor’s story was really coming to a conclusion. It was hard to extend the story any further.”
Donnell said he was surprised when he found out about his character’s fate but doesn’t have any hard feelings, either. Nonetheless, saying goodbye to the show he has been on since season 1 was understandably emotional for him.
“I can’t say anything negative. They let me know that they were going to move in a new direction and I went, ‘Thanks for an awesome four years,’” said Donnell.
He’s grateful for his time on Chicago Med and hopeful about Connor’s return, too. “I would love to go back. I would love to pop in here and there, and I sort of have a history of doing that now on shows! It probably won’t be as wild of ways as I do on Arrow, but I’m really very happy and thankful to them that they gave me the exit that they did so that the door is open for the future.”
As Donnell noted, this isn’t the last we’ll see of him on TV. He will reprise his role as Tommy Merlyn in the final season of Arrow, which premieres on October 15 on The CW. He’s also starring in the stage adaptation of the Kate Hudson-starrer, Almost Famous.