As writers' rooms are prepping new seasons of TV, one of the big questions for anything medical or first responder-related is simple: Will there be a coronavirus storyline?
As Season 3 of 9-1-1 came to a close — one of the shows that had filmed all its planned episodes — showrunner Tim Minear told TV Insider that they were already discussing what to do on it and its spinoff, Lone Star. "What I don't want to do is ignore it, but I also don't want the show to become about that," he said.
From possible career changes to personal revelations, the finale left the first responders and loved ones in interesting places.
"Probably what you'll find is when we come back, our characters will have been through what our audience has been through. They will have been through this period of quarantine," he continued. "They will have learned what the protocols are to get by in day-to-day life," including those for first responders. That will impact the way they go about answering calls.
The new season — not set to air until the midseason — will still have to address the ongoing storylines from the past season, but plans for those may have changed depending on where these characters are in the pandemic. Scroll down to see which storylines, from 9-1-1 dispatcher Maddie Kendall (Jennifer Love Hewitt) and firefighter Howie "Chimney" Han's (Kenneth Choi) growing family to possible career changes to a potential crossover, could be affected by any type of coronavirus storyline.
9-1-1, Season 4, 2021, Fox
Season 3 ended with happy news for Maddie and Chimney: they’re having a baby! But now they’ll especially want to ensure she doesn’t get COVID-19, and considering he’s (likely) going to be answering calls that could put him at risk all day, we may see a change in their day-to-day lives, including once the baby is born.
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Hen's medical school future
As Season 3 ended, firefighter and paramedic Henrietta “Hen” Wilson (Aisha Hinds) was excited about her future in medical school. But might she change her mind about that career path, given the state of the world and the time she’ll presumably be spending continuing to respond to calls with the 118?
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Athena's future as a cop
As Season 3 ended, Sergeant Athena Grant (Angela Bassett) was struggling with her future on the force after she was attacked by a serial killer. Will seeing what’s going on in the world and seeing those around her in the middle of it as first responders add to that or make the decision easier?
Michael's relationship with the doctor
Athena’s ex-husband Michael (Rockmond Dunbar) ended Season 3 in a good place: his tumor had shrunk and he was going on dates with a doctor he met. But Michael would be considered high-risk, which could put a damper on a budding romance. Still, it’s possible we could see the two have connected emotionally in the time that’s passed.
May's plan for the future
Athena and Michael’s daughter May (Corinne Massiah) is thinking about her future after graduation and wanted to speak with Maddie about something at her party. Minear wouldn’t reveal if that had anything to do with a career as a nurse, but that plan may change, given the pandemic — and her parents’ thoughts on the subject.
9-1-1: Lone Star crossovers
While Minear has said “there will definitely be crossovers” next season, the nature of those may have to change, simply due to any travel restrictions in place in the 9-1-1 world. After all, it’s not as simple as people from Los Angeles traveling to Austin or vice versa anymore. But there could also be a first responder from one city volunteering in the other for a crossover that’s smaller in scope.