A Newbie's Guide to Watching the One Chicago Franchise

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Procedurals are seemingly taking over television, and for a good reason.

There are plenty of shows out there that depict the lives of everyday heroes and have lasted for years. One franchise that won't stop is NBC's One Chicago, including the current series Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Chicago Med, and Chicago Justice.

Thanks to streaming, more and more people are getting introduced to Firehouse 51, the 21st District, and the Chicago Med staff.

Tough Decisions - Chicago Med Season 4 Episode 2

As someone who just recently started watching the franchise, which has been on since 2012, trying to figure out how to watch the series without any spoilers has been pretty hard, but it's also been manageable.

For the most part, the Chicago shows are easy to watch on their own, despite the crossovers that do happen and the reoccurrence of regular guest appearances.

Chicago PD Season 2 Premiere

To help with One Chicago first-timers, we are including everything there is to know about the franchise, like where to watch, how to watch, and how to avoid spoilers after a decade.

Where to Watch

While Fire, PD, and Med air every Wednesday night on NBC and in reruns on multiple channels, there is one place where all three are available to stream.

NBCUniversal's Peacock is where you'll be able to find the three shows in full and new episodes. The first five seasons of Chicago Med are also on Netflix, though Peacock will be the main site you can watch it.

Meanwhile, the one-season series Chicago Justice is not on Peacock but can be bought on sites such as Prime Video, Apple TV, and YouTube.

An Undocumented Patient - Chicago Med Season 7 Episode 18

How to Watch

This can be where things start to get tricky.

Chicago Fire has ten seasons, Chicago PD has nine seasons, and Chicago Med has seven. For the most part, you're probably good at watching the shows on their own, aside from the big crossovers we will get to.

Since the shows are pretty connected, especially with Molly's, characters from one show tend to appear in another, which we'll get into below.

For the most part, if Antonio from Chicago PD shows up on Chicago Fire, we wouldn't know much about what's going on in the former.

Setting a Recruit Straight -tall - Chicago PD Season 9 Episode 18

Chicago Med also has fewer crossovers than the other two series, so it also works pretty well on its own.

While it may not always work that way, the One Chicago franchise doesn't necessarily need to be watched interchangeably every episode, especially if you don't mind knowing something before watching a certain series due to another storyline.

The Main Connectors

The One Chicago franchise has a few key elements that connect all the shows or one show to another show, and this doesn't include romantic relationships.

The biggest is Molly's, a bar frequented by characters across the franchise.

Kidd behind the bar - Chicago Fire Season 9 Episode 11

Owned by members of Firehouse 51, the bar has turned into a hangout that is seen a lot on Chicago Fire and usually towards the end of a Chicago PD or Chicago Med episode.

There are also a few families planted around the universe.

You have the Dawson siblings; Gabby from Chicago Fire and Antonio from Chicago PD and Chicago Justice. You also have the Halstead brothers; Jay from Chicago PD and Will from Chicago Med.

It makes for great storylines and excuses for a sibling to visit the other.

The Key Crossovers

Natalie Visits Haley - Chicago Med Season 5 Episode 4

The best part about the Chicago franchise is seeing everyone get together every once in a while to work a case together.

With so many episodes, this guide will include all the key crossovers and backdoor pilots within the franchise, excluding Law & Order and FBI.

  • Chicago PD backdoor pilot

A tragic event forces Lieutenant Matt Casey to team up with the Chicago PD Intelligence Unit, run by Sergeant Hank Voight, who hasn't changed much after his stint in prison.

Chicago Fire Season 1 Episode 23

Voight Returns - Tall - Chicago Fire Season 1 Episode 23
  • Fire and PD two-part crossover

A major explosion occurs at a charity-run event at Chicago Med, where Casey and Dawson are volunteering. Firehouse 51 and Intelligence team up to track down the culprits and save their own.

Chicago Fire Season 2 Episode 20 and Chicago PD Season 1 Episode 12

  • Fire and PD two-part crossover
New Information - Tall - Chicago Fire Season 3 Episode 13

More clues about a recent death surface, so Firehouse 51 works with Intelligence to catch the arsonist suspected of the killing.

Chicago Fire Season 3 Episode 13 and Chicago PD Season 2 Episode 13

  • Chicago Med backdoor pilot

Firehouse 51 transports victims of a chemical leak to Chicago Med, but things take a dire turn after a man causes an explosion in the E.D. with a grenade, and Chicago Med is put on lockdown.

Chicago Fire Season 3 Episode 19

Bad News - Tall  - Chicago Fire Season 3 Episode 19
  • Fire, Med, and PD three-part crossover

Firefighter Christopher Hermann is treated for stab wounds at Chicago Med, and Intelligence gets to the bottom of a doctor suspected of giving unnecessary chemotherapy to patients, including Voight's late wife.

Chicago Fire Season 4 Episode 10, Chicago Med Season 1 Episode 5, and Chicago PD Season 3 Episode 10

  • Chicago Justice backdoor pilot
Chicago PD - Justice - Tall Season 3 Episode 21

After Officer Kim Burgess shoots an unarmed African American teenager accused of shooting her partner, Assistant States Attorney Peter Stone is assigned to the case to help defend her and conduct his own investigation.

Chicago PD Season 3 Episode 21

  • Fire and PD two-part crossover

Lieutenant Kelly Severide's car is found at the scene of a deadly hit and run, and the CPD track down a group of carjackers who may be the key to Severide's innocence.

Chicago Fire Season 5 Episode 9 and Chicago PD Season 4 Episode 9

Looking On - Tall - Chicago Fire Season 5 Episode 9
  • Fire, PD, and Justice three-part crossover

Firehouse 51 responds to a warehouse fire that leaves 39 dead, including Detective Alvin Olinsky's daughter. The Intelligence Unit tries to track down the arsonist while the prime suspect's attorney tries to get his client acquitted as ASA Peter Stone works hard to find a way to get justice for the victims.

Chicago Fire Season 5 Episode 15, Chicago PD Season 4 Episode 16, and Chicago Justice Season 1 Episode 1

  • PD and Fire two-part crossover
A New Lead - Tall - Chicago Fire Season 6 Episode 13

Intelligence and Firehouse 51 pursue a serial bomber targeting the media, leaving one of District 21's own injured.

Chicago PD Season 5 Episode 16 and Chicago Fire Season 6 Episode 13

  • Fire, Med, and PD three-part crossover

Firehouse 51 responds to a 25-story apartment complex fire that sends the residents to Chicago Med. While Intelligence discovers the cause of the fire, the case gets personal for brothers Detective Jay Halstead and Doctor Will Halstead.

Chicago Fire Season 7 Episode 2, Chicago Med Season 4 Episode 2, and Chicago PD Season 6 Episode 2

An Apartment Complex Fire - Tall - Chicago Med Season 4 Episode 2
  • Fire and PD two-part crossover

A series of robberies come to light after a firehouse lockbox key goes missing.

Chicago Fire Season 7 Episode 15 and Chicago PD Season 6 Episode 15

  • Fire, Med, and PD three-part crossover
A Deadly Infection - Chicago Med Season 5 Episode 4

A deadly rare bacteria takes its toll on victims around Chicago, leaving the city's finest to work together alongside the CDC to resolve the dangerous situation.

Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 4, Chicago Med Season 5 Episode 4, and Chicago PD Season 7 Episode 4

  • Fire and PD two-part crossover

Former Chicago Police Officer Sean Roman returns to the city to assist with a case of bad overdoses where Fire and PD team up.

Chicago Fire Season 8 Episode 15 and Chicago PD Season 7 Episode 15

Reunited at Last - Chicago PD Season 7 Episode 15

How to Avoid Spoilers

With over 500 episodes combined in the One Chicago universe, it's hard to avoid certain storylines/character exits/major life changes across the shows.

It's not impossible to avoid all spoilers, but it is tricky.

The biggest thing would be not to follow the One Chicago social media or any star from any of the series until the full completion of the franchise.

Another big thing would be not to search for interviews until one has finished catching up.

Casey & Severide - Tall  - Chicago Fire Season 10 Episode 5

One interview from early on in a series could lead to a recent one or clips from recent episodes; it's hard not to click away when it's so close in our grasp, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Be sure to watch Chicago Fire online to get started with your binge-watch. Once you get to Chicago Fire Season 2, you can watch Chicago PD online.

Just a couple of seasons later, watch Chicago Med online. And last but not least, watch Chicago Justice online, all via TV Fanatic.

Got any other tips and tricks to navigating the One Chicago franchise?

Comment below with your thoughts and advice.

Megan Behnke is a staff writer for TV Fanatic, who you can follow on Twitter.

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Chicago PD Quotes

Platt: Congratulations. You're on gun buy-back duty at the grocery store over on Ash.
Sean: What does that entail?
Platt: People turn in guns, you give them a grocery gift card. No questions asked. And bring your galoshes. You're going to get soaked in that parking lot.

Halstead: Ruzek and Burgess...and Roman. That sounds like a horror movie right there.
Lindsay: It'll probably be a PG-13 deal.