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Ryan Murphy debuted yet another new show in the beginning of 2018 with 9-1-1 on Fox, and the first-responder drama has been a big hit for the network. In fact, 9-1-1 marks Fox's biggest hit since Empire and scores solid ratings that regularly get a significant boost from delayed viewing. Part of why the show has been so successful undoubtedly is that Murphy landed a cast of pretty big TV names to star, including Connie Britton of Nashville and Friday Night Lights fame. The bad news is that Britton only signed on for a single season, and Murphy has revealed how 9-1-1 is dealing with her looming departure:
We're in the process of renegotiating her deal so she can come in and do a couple of episodes to keep her character alive. She really loves the cast and crew and she's very hopeful that that can happen. And, in the interim, we will be casting other parts in that call center. We're going after big names.
Well, we don't have to worry that 9-1-1 will be killing Abby off as a crazy Season 1 finale cliffhanger! Ryan Murphy is clearly on board with signing Connie Britton on for more in the second season. He revealed to TVLine that Britton signed on in the first place as a favor to him, so it's not like she was planning on staying for years and changed her mind. It does sound like nothing is set in stone yet and we shouldn't start imagining arcs for Abby in Season 2 just yet, but we can probably look forward to seeing Britton reprise the role in the next batch of episodes.
It's worth noting that Abby is arguably the main character that could most easily lift in and out of 9-1-1 without altering the course of the series too drastically. Unlike the characters played by Angela Bassett and Peter Krause, Connie Britton's Abby works as a phone operator in the call center that responds to 911 emergencies. She's not in the thick of the action, and the show wouldn't necessarily even need to write her off. She could simply just not be on screen for a while.
Ryan Murphy is evidently quite positive about bringing Connie Britton back, saying this about why her decision to sign on for only a single season wasn't really a problem:
Connie and I are talking and she's optimistic [that Abby will be back] in some capacity. I think the days of actors signing seven-year contracts and then not being able to do anything but that one particular show are over. Sarah Paulson was a regular on two shows of mine at once, and she went and did two movies in between. Actors have much more power and maneuverability than they had before. And I think that's a good thing.
Shows created and/or run by Ryan Murphy are known for recycling actors (and Connie Britton herself starred in the first season of American Horror Story), and Sarah Paulson has turned up in a lot of his shows. If he can find ways to bring her back over and over again in different capacities, surely he can work out a way with Britton!
We'll have to wait and see. The Season 1 finale of 9-1-1 airs on March 21 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox. For what you can watch once the show is done for the season, be sure to swing by our midseason TV premiere guide. If streaming is more your style, our 2018 Netflix premiere guide and our 2018 Amazon Prime rundown can help you out. Our rundown of renewals and cancellations can keep you up to date on the shows that have gotten the axe so far in the 2017-2018 TV season.