‘9-1-1: Lone Star’ May Be Coming To An End; Original Cast Member Exits Fox Drama Ahead Of Season 5

EXCLUSIVE: Production is currently underway on the 12-episode fifth season of 9-1-1: Lone Star amid rampant speculation that this is the show’s final chapter and without one of the series regulars, Sierra McClain, who quietly left following some cast renegotiation drama, Deadline has learned.

“So excited to be a part of @911lonestar’s final season!! What a ride it’s been!,” Robyn Lively, who has recurred on the show as Marlene Harrism the mother of Judd’s (Jim Parrack) son, wrote on social media earlier this week before deleting the post.

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That is a sentiment we have been hearing from other Lone Star cast members too, with some series regulars actively looking for new jobs.

As Fox Entertainment CEO Rob Wade told Deadline last month, the network had been hoping to make a renewal decision after they see how Season 5 of 9-1-1: Lone Star does this fall. That likely won’t be possible.

The cast is under options until production on the new season wraps July 19, sources said. From what we hear, it is unlikely that the options would be extended, so the series’ fate will probably be determined before that. There is some hope at the network for finding a path to keep Lone Star going but most signs point to Season 5 being the final chapter. Reps for Fox and 9-1-1: Lone Star producer 20th Television declined comment.

Most of the series’ main cast have been under the assumption that the first responder drama was coming to an end since late last year, following two unsuccessful attempts at contract renegotiations.

‘9-1-1: Lone Star’: L-R: Sierra McClain and Jim Parrack; photo: Kevin Estrada/Fox
‘9-1-1: Lone Star’: L-R: Sierra McClain and Jim Parrack; photo: Kevin Estrada/Fox

Reps for the actors first approached 20th Television two years ago about securing raises via renegotiations ahead of Season 4. (Series regulars on a broadcast show sign six-year deals that have built-in marginal salary bumps. It is customary on successful series for contracts to be renegotiated during their term for substantial raises that usually come with adding an additional year to the deals.)

The effort was rebuffed, with the studio pushing renegotiations to after Season 4, we hear. However, when actors went back to try and renegotiate a year later, the studio would not do it, sources said. After the end of the strikes, which had put any talent talks on hold for months, reps for the cast were told that there would be no renegotiations, indicating that Season 5 would be the series’ last. The actors were offered some extra compensation, described to us as bonuses.

We hear this was a “take it or leave it” situation, which was disputed by other sources. After some back-and-forth, the studio and original cast member McClain, who also was offered money, parted ways, sources said. Reps for McClain did not respond to a request for comment.

9-1-1: Lone Star cast members have shared privately since late last year what Lively (briefly) said publicly this week: that they had been told Lone Star would end with Season 5, with at least some of them reading, meeting and auditioning for other projects.

The cast has not been officially released — as we noted, their options are not up until July 19 — so if they book a new series regular role, they have to ask for a release from Lone Star to take it.

9-1-1: Lone Star leading man Rob Lowe has a different relationship with 20th Television and Fox. He is an executive producer on the series and has a first-look pact with the network where he also hosts and executive produces game show The Floor. We hear that if Fox tries to bring the show back after the cast’s options expire, he would be willing to return.

‘9-1-1: Lone Star’: Rob Lowe; photo: Kevin Estrada/Fox
‘9-1-1: Lone Star’: Rob Lowe; photo: Kevin Estrada/Fox

Like 20th TV’s dealings with the cast, the studio’s relationship with Fox also has been complicated. No longer affiliated corporately following the Disney-Fox deal, it has been harder for the two sides to reach agreements on their existing drama series, including a dramatic, 11th hour renewal minutes before the 2022 Fox upfront presentation.

A year later, Fox’s top series, 9-1-1, moved to 20th TV sibling ABC and The Resident was canceled, leaving 9-1-1: Lone Star as the lone remaining 20th TV drama on Fox. (The network continues to carry 20th TV’s legacy animated comedies The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers.)

“The economics weren’t going to pan out for this show for us,” Wade said of 9-1-1 when the series jumped to ABC in May 2023. “The decision was made there that the business model wasn’t right for us, and that 20th would take the show back.”

While not as expensive as 9-1-1, spinoff Lone Star, Fox’s new flagship drama, has similar economics, so its long-term future at the network had been in question since 9-1-1‘s departure. That intensified after Deadline revealed in November that Lone Star wouldn’t be airing new episodes during the 2023-24 season.

As Deadline reported at the time, Fox had been lobbying for an 18-episode order, 6 episodes for midseason and 12 for fall, but ultimately settled for 12 episodes in fall 2024, with strike-related production delays cited as a reason.

Like the mothership 9-1-1 series, Lone Star is a big-scope, big-budget drama requiring extensive pre-production and post-production time, including substantial VFX work. Still, 9-1-1 was able to deliver 10 episodes for ABC this season, including pulling off a cruise ship disaster, so the strike argument does not really hold up (though such a quick turnaround on two dramas of this caliber would’ve been taxing for the 9-1-1 franchise team).

Furthermore, the economics of Lone Star are not great for 20th Television. As a broadcast series in Season 5, 9-1-1: Lone Star is deficit financed by the studio, with Fox, which doesn’t have ownership, paying a license fee, something the network has been willing to keep doing. That means that the Disney-owned 20th TV is covering “deficits” in making the show, likely running in the seven figures per episode given Lone Star‘s scale.

The business framework does get better if a series comes from a vertically integrated studio but in the case of 9-1-1: Lone Star, I hear that if the series does not continue on Fox, it will likely be the end of the road, with no talk of moving it to 20th TV sibling ABC to join the mothership 9-1-1 drama.

During Fox’s upfront call last month, Wade was asked by Deadline about 9-1-1: Lone Star’s future on the network and whether its upcoming 12-episode fifth season could be its last.

Lone Star was was not on the schedule this year because of the strike, and we’re really looking forward to getting it back on in the fall,” Wade said. “We are excited about the new season. We’re going to see how that goes as always, and then make decisions on that about the future of that franchise.”

That decision — whenever it may come — will have to be done jointly with 20th Television.

Produced by 20th Television in association with Ryan Murphy Television and Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision, 9-1-1: Lone Star gives a look into the lives of the police, fire and ambulance departments of Company 126 in Austin.

The series stars Lowe, Gina Torres, Ronen Rubinstein, Jim Parrack, Natacha Karam, Brian Michael Smith, Rafael Silva, Julian Works and Brianna Baker as well as Kelsey and Skyler Yates.

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