In celebration of talented actor Oliver Stark’s birthday today, we’re here to bring you a review of some of the best, the most memorable, and the most touching moments from his character Evan “Buck” Buckley from FOX’s 9-1-1.
Note: This article contains spoilers for seasons 1-3 of 9-1-1!
Evan Buckley, who almost exclusively goes by the nickname Buck, is a young, strong-willed, and dedicated firefighter for Station 118 of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Over the course of three seasons, Buck has grown and matured from a rookie borrowing firetrucks to get laid (and almost getting himself fired time and time again), to an integral and irreplaceable pillar of the 118 team.
Buck may still lack maturity in some areas, and he still has a lot to learn, but there is not a single doubt that being a firefighter is one of the most important things in his life; his role as a firefighter has come to define and encompass who he is as a person. Whether he’s on or off the clock, Buck has a heart of gold to the core and nothing but love for those that he cares about. And not to mention a smile that can light up a room.
Stark’s skillful portrayal of Buck is a key part of the magic that makes 9-1-1 such an excellent, gripping, and heartwarming series; it wouldn’t be the same without him and we’re incredibly thankful to have him on the show. Stark brought Evan Buckley to life in a way that nobody else could.
Now join us in looking back on some of Buck’s best moments over the years.
1. Buck’s Determination to Save Christopher During the Tsunami (“Sink or Swim” Season 3, Episode 2 & “The Searchers” Season 3, Episode 3)
Buck’s fun, relaxing day out with Christopher at the pier quickly turned into a nightmare as a devastating tsunami hit. He fought tooth and nail to keep Christopher safe in the midst of the disaster, but eventually the raging waters won out and the two were separated. Rather than give up, though, Buck kicked and swam and drug himself across the city until he was dead on his feet, determined to find his best friend’s son. Though a stranger ultimately ended up having Christopher in her care, Buck’s sheer selflessness and commitment to the boy’s well-being speaks volumes to his character.
2. … And All of the Other People He Saved During the Tsunami, Too (“Sink or Swim” Season 3, Episode 2)
Buck took a beating in the time between the first wave crashing down upon him and Christopher, to the moment they finally found momentary salvation on top of a firetruck. And yet, in true Evan Buckley style, as soon as he realized that there were people in need of saving in his vicinity, he sprung right back into action, fighting the raging flood waters with the brilliant help of a fire hose in order to usher countless terrified people to the safety of the truck’s roof.
3. Buck’s Relationship with Christopher in General
One of the most heartwarming, touching, and overall beautiful parts of Buck’s growth as a character is the relationship that he has developed with Christopher, his best friend’s son. Even when Buck was at one of his lowest points, angry and doubting himself after the events of the tsunami, Eddie said it best, “There’s nobody in this world I trust with my son more than you.” This moment was a wonderful testament to Buck’s trustworthiness and dependability.
4. It’s Not About the Money (“Rage” Season 3, Episode 5)
The entire lawsuit situation after Buck’s leg injury was messy and uncomfortable for all that were involved, and when the lawyer finally ended up handing him a generous settlement check in the amount of millions of dollars, Buck swiftly turned it down without a second thought. “The city offered him a huge settlement. He could be jumping out of planes or swimming somewhere with sharks if he were looking for a game. But he made his choice, he chose this job.” In this moment, there was no doubt that Evan Buckley’s true calling is to be a firefighter and he will never accept a future where that isn’t a reality for him.
5. When All Hope Seems Lost, Buck’s Quick Thinking Saves the Day (“What’s Next?” Season 3, Episode 18)
The season 3 finale involved a huge train derailment, leaving people’s lives literally hanging in the balance. One of those lives was none other than Sam, the fiancé of Abby, Buck’s former love. When it came down to saving Sam or another person, Buck was determined to save them both after making a promise to Abby. He convinced Bobby to let him (dangerously) scale the outside of the train car, and they were successful. Buck risked his life yet again to save not only one person, but two people.
6. Always Trust Your Gut (“The Taking of Dispatch 9-1-1” Season 3, Episode 14)
When the call center was taken hostage, Buck and Chim teamed up with Athena to find out what really happened when they agreed that something felt off. Being the brother that he is, he tried driving down there himself, but was pulled over by Athena (and Chim). So the three of them, along with the LAFD and LAPD, set up camp near the call center. Even though he was worried about Maddie, Buck knew that she was capable of taking care of herself. And when the dispatchers were safe once again and released, he stood off to the side as Maddie and Chim reunited. He recognized that was all she needed in that moment, and he was just glad that his sister was safe.
7. The Mission Impossible Moments (“Seize the Day” Season 3, Episode 11 and “The One That Got Away” Season 3, Episode 16)
Buck has been known for being the reckless one in the 118, and although that has changed throughout the series, he’ll still do anything to save someone. In season 3, episode 11, when a man was dangling from a plane, Buck and Eddie harnessed up on top of the (moving!) firetruck to save him. In season 3, episode 16, he made a daring rescue in a blazing apartment building fire to save a deaf woman who was trapped. When the two were lowering back down to the ground from the window, the rope snapped just as Buck dropped himself and the woman down on the giant airbag. To Buck, he’s just doing his job, not thinking about the personal consequences. He does these things selflessly, and he doesn’t care what it takes to make that happen.
8. The Rookie Beginning (“Pilot” Season 1, Episode 1 and “Let Go” Season 1, Episode 2)
When Buck began his journey with the 118, he had to prove that be belonged with them, that he’s wasn’t just some reckless firefighter. In the pilot episode, a baby was stuck in a pipe and after they successfully free it, Buck volunteered to run down the several flights of stairs to the ambulance. In the next episode, a roller coaster car was stuck and Buck made the nerve-wracking climb to try to free the riders. Some of the decisions he made while on those calls may not have been the best (same for the ones in following episodes and still now even), but his sole goal is always to save and help people, even if some of those methods are a bit unorthodox.
9. Helping a Firefighter in Need (“The One That Got Away” Season 3, Episode 16)
After the blazing apartment building fire, Buck celebrated his big save alone at a bar and met Red, a veteran firefighter. Buck listened to Red’s firefighting tales, helped him reconnect with his lost love (although that did not end well), and was there to pick him up at the hospital when he had nobody else to call. Buck arranged for firefighters to line the halls and the parking lot when Red was discharged, and the old man was able to ride in the captain’s seat one more time before he passed away. Whether that be physically or mentally, and even if he’s just met them, Buck lives to help others. His determination in what he does and how passionate he is makes him not only a great firefighter but an even greater human being.
10. Support is Everything (“This Life We Choose” Season 2, Episode 18)
In the season 2 finale, both the 118 and viewers alike were in for a heartbreaking episode when the crew was on their way to a call and the ladder truck that Buck was in exploded, leaving him on the ground, one of his legs crushed. This moment left people in tears, wondering if Buck would be okay and finally crying with relief when the truck was lifted (with the help of bystanders) and he was transported to the hospital. Although it would then be unknown what Buck’s status with the 118 would be, he had the support of Maddie and the crew. It was an emotional end to an insane season but even further proves the incredible range of Oliver Stark, and also how important and irreplaceable Evan Buckley is to the show.
Can’t get enough of Oliver Stark? Take a look back at his previous role as Ryder in AMC’s Into the Badlands, a martial arts-based drama. Meanwhile, 9-1-1 has been renewed for a fourth season and Stark will reprise his role as Buck, but as of right now the procedural drama isn’t expected to make its return until 2021.
Happy Birthday Oliver!