‘9-1-1’: Major Premiere & Finale Emergencies, Ranked

'9-1-1' Emergencies
FOX (2); Disney/Chris Willard

9-1-1 has become known for its major emergencies to kick off or end a season (for the most part).

Now in its seventh season (on ABC, after moving from Fox), there have been ones that have put at least one member of the 118 in danger, brought back key characters in the middle of a call, and stretched across multiple episodes. Who could forget the water receding during the tsunami arc? The state of the hotel during the earthquake? All of the 118 going down when an overpass collapsed? And now, Season 7 kicked off with three episodes involving a cruise ship disaster—with Athena (Angela Bassett) and Bobby (Peter Krause) right in the middle of it!

But some of these emergencies, as a whole, ended up being more exciting than others. Below, we’re ranking the major emergencies from the premieres (including Season 7’s) and finales below, from the least to most memorable.

9-1-1, Thursdays, 8/7c, ABC

9-1-1 — Oliver Stark, Kenneth Choi, Ryan Guzman, Aisha Hinds, Peter Krause
Jack Zeman / ©Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

Blackout: "Panic," "Desperate Times," and "Desperate Measures" (Season 5 Episodes 1-3)

It begins with a reminder of the 118’s greatest hits, courtesy of text messages and ransomware, and sure, we enjoy the callbacks (and escaped zoo animals). But the blackout itself isn’t as thrilling as the others, and while Jeffery Hudson (Noah Bean) does kidnap Harry (Marcanthonee Reis) to get back at Athena, at no point does it feel like that is going to end tragically.

9-1-1 — Oliver Stark

Train derailment: "What's Next?" (Season 3 Episode 18)

Visually, the vertical train and Buck (Oliver Stark) and Eddie (Ryan Guzman), then Bobby, climbing up to rescue trapped passengers is stunning. It also reunites Buck with his ex-girlfriend Abby (Connie Britton), whose fiancé he risks his life to save. But considering how much the firefighter and former dispatcher still have to talk about (which they do near the end of the episode), we know his life’s not truly at risk doing so.

9-1-1 — Oliver Stark

Overpass collapse: "Pay It Forward" (Season 6 Episode 18)

This one could have easily been much higher on the list simply for the fact that it puts the entire 118 in danger. However, there’s not as much urgency as expected, considering Chimney’s (Kenneth Choi) impaled (again), Eddie’s in a van that can get crushed at any moment, and Bobby is briefly missing and at the bottom of the wreckage. And despite all of those and Hen’s (Aisha Hinds) seemingly serious head injury she ignores to help her fellow first responders, we barely spend any time with them in the hospital or recovering since it’s a season — that could have been a series — finale.

9-1-1 — Lilli Birdsell and Angela Bassett - 'Alone Together'
FOX / Courtesy Everett Collection

Dam break: "The New Abnormal" and "Alone Together" (Season 4 Episodes 1 and 2)

The Hollywood Reservoir dam breaking leads to the 118 having to rescue people in a bus that crashes several stories up in a building and gives us a great moment for Bobby as he helps one of the passengers. Thanks to a series of flashbacks, we also care about a cyclist (Nikki DeLoach) who’s trapped and has to help rescue herself. Plus, while we don’t, at any point, think Athena will die in a landslide, it’s great watching her fight to survive and Bobby going to find her. Bonus: While COVID is prevalent and very much part of the season, these emergencies keep it from being the full focus.

Angela Bassett and Peter Krause — '9-1-1' Season 7 Episode 2
Disney/Chris Willard

Cruise Ship Disaster: "Abandon 'Ships," "Rock the Boat," and "Capsized" (Season 7 Episodes 1-3)

No one expects Athena and Bobby to go on their honeymoon without something going horribly wrong, but an international smuggling ring, a bomb causing the cruise ship to sink (then capsize), and the couple trapped in a room, thinking they’re going to drown, is a lot, considering how it ends. Sure, we get a great scene with Athena and Bobby saying things they’ve needed to while trapped in the second episode, we love the way the 118 rides off in a helicopter to come to their aid once Hen realizes something’s wrong, and Hen and Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) finally are sharing scenes, but all in all? There are bigger emergencies. We (briefly) see Buck and Eddie come to Bobby’s aid, but we don’t see any reunions for Athena, especially with Hen (who’s the one leading the charge). More of the 118 together on the ship, maybe after Athena and Bobby get everyone most of the way, for some sort of bigger onscreen rescue? That may have landed this higher.

9-1-1 — Oliver Stark
Jack Zeman/FOX

Bomber: "Careful What You Wish For" and "This Life We Choose" (Season 2 Episodes 17 and 18)

As introduced at the end of the penultimate episode, the city deals with mail bombs, including one sent to Athena’s house. And then the 118 is targeted, with one under the ladder truck. It all connects back to “Bobby Begins Again,” and while he’s not the captain at the time, the bomber (the son of a man who went to prison for insurance fraud) demands to speak with him. Bobby, of course, steps forward, with this all happening while Buck’s leg is pinned under the truck. It takes not only all the first responders but also all the civilians on scene to lift it off him, and that injury and recovery play a major role in the following season.

9-1-1 — Ryan Guzman and Oliver Stark

Sniper: "Suspicion" and "Survivors" (Season 4 Episodes 13 and 14)

Buck and Eddie aren’t even technically on the clock when, while helping out a kid from an earlier call, they come under fire from a sniper — with the danger beginning when Eddie takes a bullet and goes down. Buck drags him to safety, and, along with the other firefighters on scene, they rush off to the hospital in the truck. (This gets extra points for Buck telling Eddie’s son, Chris, what happened, a heartbreaking scene.) Bobby, too, is shot, when the sniper lures the 118 to a call, and it’s Athena, in turnout gear, walking through fire, who rescues him (which earns this more bonus points, ranking it this high).


Earthquake: "Under Pressure," "7.1," and "Help Is Not Coming" (Season 2 Episodes 1-3)

This is the first major, multi-episode disaster, and it sets the bar high going forward. Not only does it come as the show introduces two new characters we can’t imagine it without at this point (Maddie and Eddie), but we also see how everyone experiences the beginning of the earthquake — Athena on the road, the dispatchers at the call center, and the 118 in the station. Plus, who can forget the way the hotel collapses, the man falling to his death when the window breaks, and Hen being put in danger, only to save herself and a missing little girl?

9-1-1 — Oliver Stark

Tsunami: "Kids Today," "Sink or Swim," and "The Searchers" (Season 3 Episodes 1-3)

It’s the emergency that just feels never-ending: Every time it seems like there’s a moment of calm, there’s another wave. Buck’s out at the pier with Chris, as part of Eddie’s attempt to cheer up his best friend with the injuries to his leg (from the bomber) preventing him from returning to work when the tsunami hits. And during the course of the disaster, the two are separated, with Eddie only finding out they were in the middle of it all when he sees Buck at the VA hospital … without Chris. (Father and son are reunited moments later.) The tsunami also is the cause of one of the most heartbreaking 9-1-1 calls: Maddie can only listen as a man trapped in his attic dies.