Why “9-1-1” boss 'wasn't really interested' in Buck dating death doula Natalia — and what's to come in season 7

"It was time for Buck to start living and stop dwelling on death," co-creator and showrunner Tim Minear tells EW.

Sometimes there’s just too much story to tell in one hour.

When 9-1-1 co-creator Tim Minear began mapping out the season 7 premiere, he wanted to provide closure on a major storyline that arose in the final episodes of the previous season: Buck’s (Oliver Stark) burgeoning romance with death doula Natalia (Annelise Cepero).

"I only had so much real estate in this first episode, and I wasn't really interested in going down the road with Natalia,” says Minear, who took over solo showrunner duties in season 7 from Kristen Reidel (who remains on as an executive producer). “Buck sort of mentions [in the premiere] that all this talk of death was kind of boring to him, and I think that may have been me talking a little bit. I felt like it was time for Buck to start living and stop dwelling on death.”

“Buck is finding this side of himself that just pursues joy,” Stark adds of his character. “He's just looking for his happiness. He's willing to put himself out there again and be open to feeling things. He just wants to be happy.”

<p>Chris Willard/Disney</p>

Chris Willard/Disney

But it wasn’t just creative reasons that led Minear to write Natalia out of the picture in a passing mention between Buck and his best friend Eddie (Ryan Guzman).

“I thought that [Oliver and Annelise] were great together,” says Minear. “But, I think after the long strike and after the pandemic… [Annelise] is based in New York, and it was partially her decision to not return for this premiere. I originally had a big story in there with that character. But, to be honest, I'm not sure I could have fit it all in. You can see how quickly that real estate goes. And I just kind of wanted to explore other avenues with Buck this year.”

So Buck is single again — but Eddie seems to be going steady with hardware store flirtation Marisol (Edy Ganem).

“Eddie's finding out who Marisol is,” Guzman teased to EW ahead of the premiere. It seems viewers will be finding out too.

9-1-1 airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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