9-1-1: Lone Star Boss Explains Why [Spoiler] Had to Die in Season 2

9-1-1: Lone Star Tommy

No members of the 126 were lost in 9-1-1: Lone Star‘s fatal finale dust storm, but a tragic death from earlier in the season still looms large — and that dust will take much longer to settle.

We’re talking, of course, about Tommy’s husband Charles, whom she found unresponsive in the final moments of Episode 212. Actor Derek Webster‘s exit from the show wasn’t entirely surprising, especially after he was cast in Lee Daniels’ straight-to-series Fox drama Our Kind of People, but his character’s death still wasn’t a foregone conclusion.

“It was not a no-brainer,” showrunner Tim Minear tells TVLine of the decision to kill off Charles. “In fact, I got a lot of pushback from different quarters. It’s not like Derek’s people told me I couldn’t have him next year.”

But tragic circumstances often yield triumphant performances, presenting Minear with an opportunity too good to pass up.

“This felt like an opportunity to give Gina Torres’ character a lot of potential story,” he says. “You know my philosophy: Why wait? My staff goes insane, because I always pull up story points and say, ‘We’re just going to go right to it.’ If you look at the serial arsonist episode, you’d normally wait until the end to reveal who it was, but I was like, ‘We’re going to reveal it in the middle.’ On one hand, killing off Derek seemed like a gamble, but was it really? I knew I’d be giving Gina Torres an acting showcase.”

And even though Charles is a relatively new addition to the show, Minear knew that his death would have an effect on the audience “because he’s earned so much good will in a very short amount of time,” a credit to Webster’s “fantastic” work in the role.

In another sense, Webster simply fell victim to the same problem faced by many first responders’ love interests in the 9-1-1 universe: “It’s very difficult to come up with great stories for characters that are not first responders on these shows,” Minear says. “What I didn’t want to do was get stuck with this thing, like, how many times can I have scenes where Derek is supportive of Tommy and cooks a great meal?”

How do you feel about the way Tommy and Charles’ tragic story unfolded? Drop a comment with your thoughts below.