Abbott Elementary left several characters at a crossroads ahead of season 3 — and behind the scenes obstacles have since created more challenges for the show.
The season 2 finale, which aired in April 2023, focused on Janine (Quinta Brunson) and Gregory (Tyler James Williams) finally addressing their feelings for each other. While fans hoped to see them officially get together, the duo instead chose to remain friends after Janine admitted she needed time to prioritize herself instead of her dating life.
The surprising decision left viewers on the edge of their seats waiting for the next chapter of the story. That same month, coshowrunner Justin Halpern hinted at the idea that the writers room mapped out for season 3.
“The second season ended up talking about charter schools and the push and pull of those, and the first season was sort of about the challenges of being woefully underfunded,” Halpern told Decider. “And so I think we have an idea, we’ve talked with Quinta, and I think there’s a larger overarching idea that we’ve sort of landed on for season 3 that I think is really interesting and I’ve never seen it on TV before.”
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One month later, the WGA initiated a strike after failing to reach an agreement in its contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). SAG-AFTRA joined writers on the picket line in July 2023 after their own labor dispute with the AMPTP reached a standstill.
The WGA and AMPTP subsequently reached an agreement in September on a three-year contract. While season 3 production resumed in the Abbott Elementary writers room, the actors’ union have yet to agree on a new deal and negotiations stalled in October 2023.
Scroll down for everything to know about season 3 of Abbott Elementary — including how the dual strikes affected the episodes:
Has ‘Abbott Elementary’ Been Renewed for Season 3?
ABC renewed Abbott Elementary for a third season in January 2023. Production and writing was originally expected to commence four months later but the WGA strike — and the subsequent SAG strike — put plans on hold.
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Who Is Returning for Season 3?
Brunson, who serves as the creator and star of Abbott Elementary, is set to return alongside Williams, Janelle James, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Chris Perfetti, Lisa Ann Walters and William Stanford Davis. Guest stars have yet to be announced but the previous seasons introduced Janine’s sister Ayesha (Ayo Edebiri), Janine’s mother Venetta (Taraji P. Henson), Jacob’s boyfriend Zach (Larry Owens) and Melissa’s sister Kristin Marie (Lauren Weedman)
When Would ‘Abbott Elementary’ Return With New Episodes?
In October 2023, Brunson confirmed to Deadline that the AMPTP’s delayed response to the WGA’s request for fair pay played a role in a smaller episode count.
“How do we justify losing half a season, half a year? Our season will still be on the school calendar. [But] last year, we started airing in September, when school started. We’re not doing that this year,” she explained. “It’s not like coming back to a family show where you can pop in on that family on any sitcom-y thing. It’s really like, what’s going on in the school?”
Brunson added: “We did 22 last season, and that’s a lot of TV, in particular for me because I’m writing and producing and starring in it. So for me, I welcomed a shorter season because it was tiring, exhausting work.”
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Where Did the Story Leave Off — and Will There Be a Time Jump?
Season 2 ended with Janine preparing for her summer break after choosing not to pursue a relationship with Gregory. The timeline, however, will seemingly change since the show won’t be able to return in September 2023 as planned, which would no longer make it the beginning of the school year.
What Is the Vision for Season 3?
“[We are] talking about [the plan for season 3]. It helps us start to put together episodes. So we talk about our arc, talk about the stories we want to tell, the special, unique, funny stories that can fall within that arc,” Brunson teased to Deadline. “That felt inspiring… to build something that was both grounded, and for this premiere, splashy enough to bring people back at the same time.”
Where Is Janine’s Story Heading?
Before production on season 3 was delayed, Brunson shared her original hopes for Janine.
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Will ‘Abbott Elementary’ Continue to Focus on Janine and Gregory’s Love Story?
“Our show isn’t about dating. It’s about this school, it’s about the kids, etc,” Brunson shared with TV Line. “So Janine and Gregory are not the No. 1 storyline of Abbott. It’s the school and the kids. So it feels good to kind of have them be a mess in the background, because it’s very often how dating goes.”