911: Why Did Connie Britton Leave the Show?

By Richard Nebens Posted:
Connie Britton as Abby Clark, 911

Following the early seasons of 911, Hollywood star Connie Britton left the series, and many fans wondered why.

Britton was part of the main 911 cast upon its initial Fox debut in 2018. She portrayed Abby Clark, a dispatcher in the 911 call center who helped send Los Angeles' first responders across town to where they were most needed.

Abby also had a short but interesting relationship with Oliver Stark's Evan Buckley, all while caring for her mother, Patricia, who suffered and eventually died from Alzheimer's.

[ Full Cast of 911 Season 7 Show - Every Main Character & Actor Who Appears (Photos) ]

Why Did Connie Britton Leave 911?

As 911 moves further into its seventh season, fans are looking back to Connie Britton's Abby Clark from the show's early run, wondering why she left the story.

Britton starred in all 10 episodes of 2018's Season 1, but she only had a few other appearances on the series after that.

The 911 story set up Abby's departure after her mother passed away from Alzheimer's, having Abby take a one-way trip to Ireland. She wanted to travel the world and do something for herself after caring for her mother, honoring what her mother wanted, and leaving her life as a 911 dispatcher behind.

In the real world, Britton was only contracted for one season of work as Abby Clark on 911 and left the series once her contract was up.

Speaking with TVLine, 911 creator Ryan Murphy confirmed after Season 1, Episode 10's debut that the team was "in the process of renegotiating [Britton's] deal" to keep her character going:

TVLine: "Speaking of which, it’s my understanding that Connie signed on just for one year."

Murphy: "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."

Following Britton's departure (per Entertainment Weekly), Jennifer Love Hewitt was cast in 911 Season 2 to fill the role Abby left. Since then, Hewitt has played Maddie Buckley, the sister of Oliver Stark's Evan "Buck" Buckley who eventually became a 911 dispatcher.

In the two-episode Season 3 finale, Connie Britton returned to her role as Abby for one final stint, with her character being involved in a massive train crash.

Speaking with Deadline in 2020, showrunner Tim Minear discussed the process behind bringing Britton back, noting how Maddie would take a 911 call from somebody who knew exactly what she was talking about:

"We had talked about bringing Abby back, bringing Connie Britton back, for the finale, and the idea of the train derailment sort of happened simultaneously. It was almost like, well, what if a 911 call from like a train derailment came into the call center, and Maddie took a call from a woman who sounds like she knows an awful lot about the protocol. Then we reveal that it’s Connie Britton."

He would then pitch that idea to Britton the next day at a party, with Britton immediately agreeing as Minear suddenly "had where [they] wanted to go for the [Season 3] finale" with her involved:

"I thought that’s a great idea, and then literally the next day, I’m at the 100th episode party for 'American Horror Story,' and there’s Connie Britton, and I’m sort of standing there with Angela Bassett. So, I saw her, and I’m said 'I’m just going to ask her.' So, I asked her, and she said yes, and so, suddenly, I had where we wanted to go for the finale. So, did I get to where I wanted to go? Yeah, completely. Like, exactly the thing that I had hoped for, we did."

This appearance allowed the 911 team to give Abby closure, noting that if her return had happened in Season 4 it would have had Buck be "in a kind of weird stasis for way too long" after she left him:

"I think that if we had tried to do it, say, in Season 4, that would’ve meant that Buck would’ve been in a kind of weird stasis for way too long, so I think we were right at the very point in that story where it was ripe, but it was about to turn and rot." 

Although it "needed to happen," the team was careful about when it would happen, not bringing Abby back in Season 2 so that Buck could "stop attributing any growth on his part in the last year" to such a brief relationship with her:

"So, it needed to happen, and you know we were very careful in season two to honor the character of Abby, even though we knew we couldn’t have Connie back in Season 2. So, I felt Buck need to sit across from her and look at her and say what the hell happened? So, if for no other reason than that, I think it allows Buck to stop attributing any growth on his part in the last year to his, you know, brief relationship with this one person. Now, he can realize his train never came off the track. It just hasn’t reached the endpoint yet. He’s still traveling."

[ Lou Ferrigno Jr's 911 Return Explained: Why He Came Back to the Show ]

Will Connie Britton Return to 911?

With 911 now nearly looking ahead to Season 8, it seems unlikely that fans will see Connie Britton's Abby Clark back on the show unless it comes as a short guest appearance.

Only being signed for one season at the start, Abby's core story appeared to have run its course by her final episode in Season 1, leaving her journey complete by the time she exited 911.

Meanwhile, Buck moved on to a long relationship with reporter Taylor Kelly over the next few seasons before Season 7 added a new twist to his love life (read more on Buck's sexuality reveal here).

Additionally, Maddie and her team keep the call center running as smoothly as possible, facing wild new threats every week as the LAPD, LAFD, and other first responders make sure Southern California is safe.

The first six full seasons of 911 and the first five episodes of Season 7 are streaming now on Hulu. The new season will continue when Episode 6 hits ABC on Thursday, May 2 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

- About The Author: Richard Nebens
Richard Nebens joined The Direct in March 2020, now serving as the site's Senior Writer and also working as an assistant editor and content creator. He started his journalism career as a hobby in 2019 and is passionate about sharing news and stories from the entertainment industry, especially comic book movies, comedy, and sci-fi. Richard looks to expand his knowledge about movies and TV every day, and he is eager to stay locked into the latest releases and breaking news at every opportunity.