"That's a case where you have things running on two parallel tracks," Dungey told reporters Thursday at ABC's Television Critics Association fall previews. "We were always up front with the studio and the producers about the possibility that we might not be bringing the show back for Season 9. But the studio has to do what they need to do in order to prepare for a possibility of a Season 9."
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That, unfortunately, meant dropping two female characters, including the female lead. Dungey did not specify if the thought of a Beckett-less Season 9 was one of the reasons ABC decided not to go forward with a renewal. "Ultimately, for us at the network, we did not feel that it was the right thing to do to order another season," she said.
Dungey also addressed ABC's other big cancellation in the spring: Nashville, which has since been saved by CMT. Dungey, who replaced Paul Lee as ABC's president in February, emphasized that she was a huge fan of the show and there were "a lot of things to consider" for the show.
"To not to have it back was truly a heartbreak for me," she said. "We had a lot of conversations with Lionsgate and ABC Studios. At the end of the day, it just didn't feel like it was going to be something that we could work out. But I'm thrilled that the show has found a new home on CMT, because now I can keep watching it."
Here are other highlights from the panel:
Bachelor Nation diversity: In January, Lee said the next Bachelorette likely wouldn't be white, but the gig ultimately went to a white woman, JoJo Fletcher. Dungey said she believes the key to fixing the franchise's diversity problem is in casting. "I would very much like to see some changes there. I think one of the biggest changes we need to do is we need to increase the pool of diverse candidates from the beginning," Dungey said. "Part of what ends up happening when we go along is there aren't as many candidates to ultimately take the role of the next Bachelor or Bachelorette."
UnREAL: Raise your hand if you believe Dungey that ABC executives have never discussed UnREAL, as she claims. "I don't think we've had a full network conversation about UnREAL. I enjoy watching it as a viewer. I think those two women are incredibly compelling."
A Star Wars series: Dungey confirmed that the network has had "conversations" with Lucasfilms about a Star Wars series. "We will continue to have conversations with them. I think it will be wonderful if we could find a way to extend that brand into our programming," she said."
A TGIT delay: Dungey also confirmed that ABC will 86 its "TGIT" marketing label until Scandal returns midseason. (New drama Notoriouswill air in Scandal's slot in the fall.) "[TGIT] has become very closely identified with Shonda [Rhimes]'s shows, I think Scandal in particular," she said. "So it feel it [would be best] to wait to bring TGIT back until Scandal comes back in January."
Marvel's Most Wanted back on Agents of SHIELD?: Since ABC didn't pick up Marvel's Most Wanted to series again, Dungey did not rule out Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki) and Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) returning to SHIELD in Season 4. "The characters were disavowed in the show, but I never underestimate Marvel's ability to bring people back," she said.
Cancellation regrets, she has one: Dungey admitted that ABC executives have "oft-lamented" axing Dana Delany's solid performer Body of Proof in 2013. "I'm not going to lie. That was a good show for us and it was sad to see it go."