Welcome back Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez? The fourth and final season of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series saw the return of original High School Musical stars as they filmed the fourth movie in the franchise. However, Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens were noticeably absent from all eight episodes of HSMTMTS.

At one point, there’s even an acknowledgement made to them going to couple’s therapy.

Keep reading for details on Zac and Vanessa’s absence and more.

Were Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens in ‘HSMTMTS’ Season 4?

The original High School Musical stars did not make an appearance in the show alongside some of their other former co-stars, including, Corbin Bleu (Chad Danforth), Monique Coleman (Taylor McKessie) and Lucas Grabeel (Ryan Evans). Ashley Tisdale (Sharpay Evans) was also noticeably absent from the reunion.

“It was definitely discussed,” HSMTMTS showrunner Tim Federle told Entertainment Weekly in an August 2023 interview. “Here’s my fully transparent answer: First of all, Zac is busy. He has 20 movies going. Second of all, Ashley’s in L.A. launching a very successful line of products, and she’s a new mom, and she’s launching her own show at CBS. Vanessa’s super busy and so gracious.”

Are Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens in ‘HSMTMTS’ Season 4? Final Season Spoilers

Why Weren’t. Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens in ‘HSMTMTS’ Season 4?

Since a bulk of their former co-stars were in the show, it seemed fitting for the duo to return. However, Zac and Vanessa’s absence wasn’t a bad thing in the end, according to Tim.

“Ultimately, I felt like if I bring back too many of the OGs, that’s going to be the story,” he explained to EW. “And I really feel like the story of this series is Josh [Bassett] and Sofia [Wylie] and Dara [Reneé] and Frankie [Rodriguez] and all of them, that they’ve really risen to take center screen. So the short answer is Vanessa, Zac, and Ashley exist in our universe, but not on our screens.”

While filming HSMTMTS season 4, Monique gushed to J-14 exclusively about working with the “inspiring” new generation of Wildcats.

“They are so grounded, talented and they have the most beautiful energy. They’re so loving together,” she praised in October 2022. “In a way, I guess it was like watching little versions of us, I would imagine … if we had the ability to look back at ourselves at that time. It was just amazing to see people who have amassed so much success just be such lovely people. I didn’t really expect anything that differently, but it was just incredible to be around. Their work ethic is unmatched.”

Love J-14? Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for fun, exclusive videos with your favorite stars.