Grace Ryder’s Shocking Departure: How 9-1-1: Lone Star Might Write Her Out


Nothing is more upsetting than when one of your favorite characters exits from a series.

Unfortunately for us, 9-1-1: Lone Star Fanatics is what we can expect when the series returns to our screens for a potentially final season this Fall on FOX.

Yes, for those who were unfamiliar, Deadline reported that the fifth season of the hit firefighter series could be its last.

Is Sierra McClain Departing Ahead of 9-1-1: Lone Star’s Final Season?

While it’s not official confirmation, many factors could contribute to this belief as the network continues to debate whether or not the series will get a renewal.

As we know, 9-1-1 was canceled by FOX and moved over to ABC, where it continues to have massive success.

Related: FOX 2024-24 Lineup: Rescue Hi-Surf Gets Post-Superbowl Slot: Accused and 9-1-1: Lone Star Return

Two series from the same franchise residing on different networks don’t bode well for Lone Star.

But another factor that serves as a colossal blow to the series is that series regular Sierra McClain will not be returning to 9-1-1: Lone Star in Season 5.

By Her Dad's Bedside- tall - 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 4 Episode 13

Deadline reported that the talented actress had departed ahead of the fifth season due to contract negotiations.

Mcclain’s departure will deeply impact the series, as Grace Ryder is truly its heart and soul.

And now, we’re left to speculate how the series can properly write off Grace Ryder ahead of the finale season, which we’ve also learned is already underway in filming.

Will Grace Ryder Meet a Tragic Fate?

The Ryders Night Out  - 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 4 Episode 10

We know the 9-1-1 franchise is no stranger to tragedies, as they come with the nature of the job and the high-stakes, high-risk situations the characters find themselves in.

For the record, if they kill off Grace Ryder, this critic will positively seethe with anger.

Related: Young Sheldon Handled An Inevitable Tragedy In the Best Possible Way, But We’re Not Ready to Say Goodbye

However, it’s not an uncommon route to take for a character who disappears offscreen in between seasons, especially a prominent character.

It’s the quickest and easiest path to take, and it would also maximize Judd’s storyline, as their love story is truly at the center of the series.

Grace has faced a couple of close calls throughout the series.

Tracking Down a SWAT-er-tall - 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 3 Episode 11

One of the series’ greatest episodes was “Saving Grace,” which saw her recovering from a near-death incident with a drunk driver and Judd losing it altogether at the prospect of potentially losing her.

We also saw Grace endanger her life by going after an organ trafficker.

The series could explore what it’s like for Judd to lose the woman he eats, sleeps, and breathes for in a tragic manner offscreen.

It would be one of the worst things imaginable, but we don’t put it past the series to use Grace’s death as a catalyst to explore Judd’s grief as he finds himself raising their child together while taking care of Wyatt, among other things.

Judd has lived for Grace for so long that it could mark an interesting character arc for him to explore life without her.

Grace's Rock -tall - 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 4 Episode 13

It’s still the absolute worst-case scenario that would devastate viewers.

Grace and Judd Have Marital Issues That Tear Them Apart

The most unrealistic prospect we can imagine is that Judd and Grace Ryder will ever reach a point in their marriage where they can’t work things out or separate.

Related: What Losers In Love Can Learn From These Successful Couples

We haven’t seen any divorces among the coveted couples of 9-1-1: Lone Star, but we have seen a lot of death.

GraceJudd Forehead Kisses - Lone Star S04E15 - Tall - 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 4 Episode 15

So, we won’t put it past the series to explore a messy divorce as a new angle they have yet to explore.

It could explain why Grace could potentially take baby Charlie and disappear offscreen.

However, again, it would also be Grace’s most unrealistic and uncharacteristic exit and a way of dissolving the Ryders.

The Ryders are the very definition of Ride or Die, and they have one of the greatest love stories in the franchise, so it would be a disservice to everything we know and love about these characters if that’s an angle the series opts to explore.

Grace Takes a Step Back to Give Judd Space to Take Care of Wyatt

Wyatt in a Cowboy Hat  - 9-1-1: Lone Star

We saw that Judd had spearheaded so much of this arc that involved Wyatt.

Judd was determined to take care of his injured son and devoted to pouring his all into doing whatever it took to look after him.

Related: 911: Lone Star Review: Celebrations, Tragedies, and Life Changes

Part of it is because he still finds himself trying to make up for all the years he missed, but also because Judd has quickly become a great father.

With Wyatt moving into the Ryder home after his shocking accident, Grace may choose to give Judd space to focus on his son without the additional stress of looking after their toddler as well.

Ryder Girls with their Boys  - 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 3 Episode 16

Perhaps she and the baby will go elsewhere to give Judd and Wyatt a bit of space.

The downside to this option is that the Ryders have always been a united front and #GOALS, and it would be frustrating if Grace and their child got phased out as we focus more exclusively on Judd and Wyatt alone.

Grace Takes Time Away to Look After Her Parents or Sisters

Grace is a very devoted family woman and a natural nurturer as well.

Judd and the Girls -tall - 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 4 Episode 13

We know her father often has health issues and that she’s previously had to look after him before.

The series could revisit something like that with her offscreen helping her mother take care of her father or even looking after her mother if something happens to her.

It would also be on brand for Grace if she had to disappear for the tenure of the season to look after her sister because of something health-related.

Related: Brillant Minds Season 1: Everything We Know

With this option, we could be treated to some references about Grace and even treated to a one-sided phone call between Judd and Grace or even Tommy and Grace.

Grace Pursues a Career Opportunity

Gracie's Wisdom -tall  - 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 4 Episode 2

One of the most puzzling aspects of Grace’s departure is that she represents the dispatcher angle of the series.

As our primary dispatcher, this means the series will likely have to use guest stars for the role.

But Grace, one of the best dispatchers we’ve seen, may find a career opportunity elsewhere.

She could be requested elsewhere, perhaps going for some training or something else.

A job opportunity away could be a great way to write Grace out because we know how capable she is as a dispatcher.

It would be a lovely way of recognizing her invaluable skills and greatness.

Riding in Cars with Billy -tall  - 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 3 Episode 3

It would also give a more reasonable explanation for why she’s gone without severely impacting the Ryder marriage or destroying what we know and love about the character.

Related: Georgie & Mandy’s First Marriage: Everything We Know So Far

It also would mean that we’d still witness Judd struggling to adapt to life without Grace in his immediate presence.

Grace Returns to School

We saw that Grace gave up attending Georgetown and pursuing a career in social policy to stay in Texas and become a dispatcher.

She hasn’t regretted that decision once.

Lil' Slow Dancin' - Tall - 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 2 Episode 9

But it also won’t be surprising if, after starting a family, she is interested in shifting gears in her career or pursuing something else that she’s passionate about.

Maybe she doesn’t go to Georgetown specifically, but she could consider returning to school to get a degree in something else she’s passionate about.

Grace has repeatedly expressed interest in counseling others, and it would suit her well to obtain a degree in Counseling or Psychology to pursue a career in that area.

We can also have her busy attending school while juggling a job, which could justify her presence and explain why things are mostly happening offscreen.

Grace Exists Offscreen in Normal Fashion

Jace at the Wedding -tall - 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 4 Episode 18

One of the simplest ways to address Grace’s absence would be to pretend that it doesn’t exist.

Sure, it would be weird not to see Grace in person, but it’s simple enough to have the characters reference her here and there and explain away her presence with minor things like her being at work or running out to the store.

Related: The Hunting Party Season 1: Cast & Character Guide

Grace could still exist in the 9-1-1: Lone Star universe without being visibly seen, and that may be sufficient for diehard fans and viewers who don’t want to see something terrible happen to her character or the Ryder relationship.

Now that Sierra McClain has exited the series, the possibilities are endless as to how they could write Grace out.

A Moment of Grace -tall - 9-1-1: Lone Star Season 4 Episode 7

We’ll have to see their best avenue when 9-1-1: Lonestar returns Mondays this Fall on FOX.

Over to you, Lone Star Fanatics.

How do you want them to write Grace out? Let’s hear your theories below!

You can stream 9-1-1: Lone Star on Hulu.

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You’ll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on X.

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