9-1-1's Season 8 Needs to Fix the Unexpected Dark Turn

9-1-1's Season 8 Needs to Fix the Unexpected Dark Turn
Image credit: ABC

Why did the show make such a tonal shift?


  • 9-1-1's Season 7 started out following the show's usual formula.
  • However, suddenly the events became incredibly dramatic and even depressing.
  • The problem is the format of the last season.

Though the latest season has dipped slightly in the ratings so far, and its scores on review aggregators are slightly lower than its predecessor, 9-1-1 Season 7 proved to be a welcome addition after the protracted WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

While some arcs turned out to be rather peaceful and conflict-free, most of the storylines presented many new challenges for the characters to overcome. Overall, the events of the new season were much darker: despite the show's life-affirming to nature, there was no small amount of tragedy and reflection on past mistakes in the new season.

Although the writers always tried to balance the lighthearted and funny storylines with the drama in the lives of Los Angeles' first responders, the atmosphere of Season 7, especially in the final episodes, became a stark contrast to the overall tone of the show, and it wasn't always pleasant to watch. Let's get to the bottom of why this was the case, and why the writers should return to the old formula in 9-1-1 Season 8.

Season 7 Took a Very Dark Turn

Season 7 began in a very familiar fashion: Sure, the first few episodes saw the staff of Station 118 facing some dramatic challenges, but there was nothing extraordinary going on in the lives of the characters themselves that didn't continue the storylines of previous seasons.

However, given the abbreviated nature of the last season, the events have turned dramatically bleaker. Especially beginning with Episode 6 about Maddie and Chimney's wedding. Everything that followed the events of the bachelor party suddenly took a dark turn, including the dialogue with a dead Doug Kendall.

Then it only got worse. Bobby's arc with his attempt to deal with the tragic aftermath of the Minnesota fire and the cartel (as well as the resignation that followed). Eddie, who lost his son's trust because he could never let go of his feelings for his late wife, and triggered the child with his encounters with Shannon's doppelganger. Hen and Karen, who lost the right to adopt Mara. Unfortunately, even lighthearted scenes like Buck's soot kiss or the fact that Mara is now in the foster care of Maddie and Chimney cannot soften the tone.

9-1-1's Season 8 Needs to Fix the Unexpected Dark Turn - image 1

Why Is There So Much Drama in the Latest Season of 9-1-1?

First of all, the problem of this tonal disparity lies in the format of the last season, which was shortened due to the hiatus caused by the Hollywood labor disputes, getting only 10 episodes instead of the usual 18.

As a result, the writers had to cram all the major storylines into such a limited space, which would also set the vector for the upcoming Season 8. After all, 9-1-1 is a special procedural because it focuses on the drama of the LAFD employees rather than the LAFD operations themselves, and so the latter had to be sacrificed along with a lot of lighthearted banter.

Will the Tone Change in Season 8?

But that was the problem that undermined the Season 7 experience. All those lighthearted moments weren't just there to fill airtime, they were cohesive elements that helped define the characters further and kept the balance between the drama and the procedural.

So hopefully the writers will return to the old mix of dark and light elements in the upcoming season, and that neither the returning Captain Vincent Gerrard nor Councilwoman Ortiz will bring only drama and misery to the 118.

9-1-1 Season 8 will air on ABC and Hulu this fall.