Queer 9-1-1 fans are in celebration mode after the 100th episode of the first responder drama saw fan-favourite character Buck (finally!) explore his sexuality.

In the fourth episode of the show’s seventh season (‘Buck, Bothered and Bewildered’), Evan “Buck” Buckley (Oliver Stark) shares an (unexpected) intimate moment with former firefighter and LAFD Air Operations pilot Tommy (Lou Ferrigno Jr.).

After Buck tells Tommy that he’s been trying to “get his attention” (the sexual chemistry was, undeniably, off the goddamn charts), Tommy leans in for a kiss, leaving Buck stunned. The two then plan a beer date, which is lovely.

Although fans have fervently shipped Buck with his best friend and fellow firefighter Edmundo “Eddie” Diaz (Ryan Guzman) – affectionally referring to them as “Buddie” – introducing a queer arc for the former was hailed by viewers as a “long time coming”.

“I CANT BREATHE. I will be watching this over and over. No it’s not Eddie, but it’s a GOOD FUCKING SIGN,” tweeted one enthusiastic fan, while another wrote: “Screaming, squealing, rolling. 911 BUDDIE fans been waiting for this!” 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Stark celebrated Buck’s transformation from a womanizer slash sex addict to a man exploring and healthily coming to terms his queerness.

“I do feel like there have been moments in the show that have led up to this for a long time. For a long, long time, in fact. I think it’s been seasons and seasons in the making, so it’s really nice to see it officially come to fruition,” he said.

“There was obviously something that wasn’t clicking in Buck’s personality and his openness with himself and his acceptance of himself. It felt to me like there was something beneath the surface, right?”

Stark has been a main cast member on 9-1-1 since its inaugural season and, until now, his character has only embarked on relationships with women. The actor says he feels a “responsibility to tell the story the right way”.

“And for me, it’s a balancing act between telling a queer love story but also just telling a love story, and not always needing to focus on the fact that it is a queer story,” he continued.

“It’s about finding that balance between wanting to highlight it but also not wanting to differentiate it from what media in the past may have seen as “normal,” and just telling it as a story that is one of happiness and joy — and just focusing on the emotions and the human beings at the center of it.”

Stark described Buck’s new arc as a “really nice gift: the opportunity to delve into this storyline, to be involved in telling it. I feel very proud of the work and just to be a part of it.”

Tim Minear, showrunner and executive producer, told The Wrap that he has been “thinking” about Buck’s potential queerness “for a long time” because he “was kind of bored with the hamster wheel of the relationships [Buck] had been in. His story needed a slap. It needed some something fresh.

“This felt like it could be important to some people, and it felt like it was right for the character.”

Refreshingly, Minear was determined for the storyline to be void of queer trauma elements, from internalised homophobia to “soul-searching tropes” or Buck “questioning his masculinity”.

“It’s 2024. I didn’t want to make it the bravest episode of 1983. That didn’t interest me. But I also want to be honest about it,” he said. “It’s more Buck thinking, ‘Well, I’m such a progressive ally. Why am I having trouble being honest with the people around me?’ He’s questioning himself. He feels like a fraud.

“But it’s got nothing to do with sex shame or something like that. He opens up conversations and interactions with the people in his life. That’s what I like about this. He’s not siloed off into some love interest story with a character who has nothing to do with the main characters.”

As for a potential romance between Buck and Eddie, Minear said it will – sorry Buddie stans – not happen “right now”.

“I don’t really plan out endgame so much. I let the story organically take me where it wants to go. Also, there are real-world considerations. I don’t do this in a vacuum,” he said.

Stark also weighed in: “It’s difficult, right? When I say that there have been signs of this coming throughout the years, obviously some of those moments have involved Eddie. Does that mean I think Buck is in love with or has a crush on Eddie? Not necessarily. We’ll see him start to question things about himself as we go on.”

9-1-1 airs every Thursday in the US on ABC.

Check out the best fan responses to Buck and Tommy’s kiss below.