Don't expect to see Connie Britton's Abby Clark during 9-1-1's second season, but there will always be a place for her on the hit Fox drama.
The actress played the fan-favorite 9-1-1 call center operator during the first-responder series' first season under a one-year deal and left the show during the season finale. Despite early talks that Britton might return as a guest star sometime in season 2, Fox chairman Gary Newman told reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour that there are no current plans for Britton's return.
"We love Connie Britton, [but] it was always envisioned to be a one-year role," Newman told reporters, as first reported by TVLine. "So it wasn't a surprise [that she left]. If Connie expressed interest and had time in the future, I know [executive producer] Ryan [Murphy] would be thrilled to bring her back to the show."
Britton's exit was first announced in March following the season finale, when it was revealed her 9-1-1 contract only included one season of the series. At the time, however, Murphy teased that the Nashville alum might return to the series, even if just for a guest appearance.
"Connie and I are talking about her coming back. Connie had just come off Nashville, and she didn’t want to do another show right away," Murphy told Deadline. "I said, 'Well, why don’t you just do a one year deal,' so Connie has a one-year deal, and we all knew that going in. But the show has become such a success, successes are good, and Connie and I both realize that, so we’re talking about her coming back in some capacity to season two if we can make her deal work."
To fill the hole left by Britton's exit, the series cast Jennifer Love-Hewitt as new 9-1-1 operator Maddie, who is also sister of firefighter Evan "Buck" Buckley (Oliver Stark). She will make her 9-1-1 debut during the season 2 premiere.
The series will also introduce Ryan Guzman in season 2 as a new firefighter.
9-1-1 was a surprise hit for Fox after its midseason debut in January. The show averaged 14.9 million total viewers across different platforms and was among the top three new shows for the network. Thanks to its early success, the show was picked up for a second season less than a week after its premiere.
9-1-1 will return for its second season with a two-night premiere starting Sunday, Sept. 23 immediately after an NFL on Fox Doubleheader — around 8 p.m. ET — on Fox.