Why did Jennifer Love Hewitt join 9-1-1 after Connie Britton’s exit?
Fans of the Fox drama series will recall that during Season 1, Connie Britton’s character, Abby, was an operator and began falling for Buck. While caregiving for her mother, she passed away. So Abby left Los Angeles to go to Dublin, Ireland for a self-discovery journey. This left Buck heartbroken. In comes his sister, Maddie. She mysteriously appears and fills the role of the operator at the call center and attempts to help her brother mend.
So why did Connie Britton leave 9-1-1?
Showrunner Tim Minear told TheWrap that they could never replace her character. He along with his fellow co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Fulchuck were already prepared with another new lead, Jennifer Love Hewitt. Britton only signed on for one season. This was planned since the show’s inception.
“That was Ryan’s preternatural casting genius sense, which really never takes any time — at all,” Minear explained. “He’ll know exactly the element that is needed for a show and when you say Connie’s replacement — not really Connie’s replacement right? You can’t replace Connie Britton. But what you need is you need certain elements on the show and we absolutely needed a face in the 9-1-1 call center.”
They wanted another great female lead to add to the show’s complexity and plots. It is kind of odd that Buck’s girlfriend is being replaced by his sister, but it worked. Buck was in a bad place and Maddie brought her own storyline.
How ‘9-1-1’ Pivoted
“When we sort of started thinking about Jennifer in that [leading] role, the idea of making her Buck’s sister felt like a wonderful nexus, a personal nexus between that corner of our world and the other corner of our world,” Minear shared. “You know, sometimes with Abby’s character, it was difficult to contrive them crossing in the show. It’s easier once you put her with Buck. But the idea that Maddie would be Buck’s sister made a lot of sense. And it has worked out quite wonderfully.”
Minear added that Abby promised to return to him which left Buck in limbo. While he was left waiting, she was nowhere to be seen at the time. As the showrunner put it, Buck was waiting for the next part of his story. He didn’t want him to go back to his old ways, but evolve.
We previously saw Buck in his “Casanova phase” before Abby really helped him grow. He began a monogamous relationship that also dealt with caregiving for her mother.
“And what does it mean for a guy like him to remain celibate — at least for a while — while he waits for his true love to come back? So that was a part of the story we wanted to honor and didn’t just want to drop it and pretend like it never happened for Season 2.”
Abby would later return in the two-part Season 3 finale when a train derailed. Abby’s new beau was on board that her ex ended up having to save. Could you imagine the circumstance?