Why This Is Us’ Melanie Liburd Never Returned As Zoe

This Is Us Zoe Baker Melanie Liburd NBC
(Image credit: NBC)

This Is Us is gearing up to start production on Season 5 soon. However, one character will not be around when things kick back up on September 24. Beth’s cousin and Kevin’s one-time love interest, Zoe, has been absent from the drama for a while now, which begs the question: why has Melanie Liburd never returned to reprise her role as Zoe?

Zoe and Kevin had been dating pretty intensely in Season 3, only to break up in the finale over their differing views on having kids. Kevin wanted to become a dad, while Zoe did not desire to have children. This Is Us did end up revealing that Kevin becomes a father (with Madison, of all people). But why has Zoe never returned to visit her cousin, Beth?

Ahead of Season 4, This Is Us announced that it would be losing Zoe, despite her being a critical character to the series. Since departing the show, Melanie Liburd has moved on, namely to the Power spinoff, Power Book II: Ghost, on which she plays the role of Carrie. Is that why she hasn't been back as Zoe on This Is Us? Asked if she has about the possibility of returning, Liburd told TVLine:

Oh, I hope so. I mean, I was going to go back for the end of Season 4, but we just couldn’t make scheduling work because I’m in New York. But I would love to go back. I miss those guys, they’re so lovely. Every time I bump into Dan Fogelman [executive producer], he’s like, “Yeah, we’ll get Zoe back at some point.

There you have it! Zoe was supposed to be back toward the end of last season, but scheduling conflicts interfered. The good news is that Melanie Liburd is still interested in returning. With Season 5 (finally) getting off the ground, is there hope for Zoe to visit her family and possibly her ex? This Is Us’ executive producer indicated to Liburd that he wanted to make it happen.

In the end, This Is Us concluded its fourth season without Zoe but with a massive fight between her ex (Kevin) and cousin-in-law (Randall). For now, fans of the tear-jerker will have to keep asking themselves, “what if?” with regards to Zoe’s return. She has more than a few reasons to return, and time will tell if This Is Us seizes the opportunity to explore said reasons.

Thankfully, This Is Us is set to begin production well ahead of past projections. It's unclear if (or when) Melanie Liburd would be able to put in another appearance on This Is Us. Liburd is located in New York, whereas the NBC drama films in Los Angeles, which would definitely make a potential return tricky.

The ratings among NBC’s dramas rose earlier this year in the wake of the coronavirus. Will This Is Us return as strong, and will Zoe ever be a part of it again? Stay tuned to see if she is. This Is Us is going to be a later fall premiere, as Season 5 is currently slated to start on Tuesday, November 10, on NBC.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.