She may be gone from High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, but fans will remember Olivia Rodrigo‘s role as Nini forever! The “Drivers License” songstress did not make a special return for the Disney+ show’s final season, which premiered in August 2023.

Keep reading for details on her departure from the show and more. 

Why Did Olivia Rodrigo Leave ‘HSMTMTS’ After Season 3?

After the show’s second season premiered, and Olivia blew up thanks to her SOUR album, fans speculated that the actress wouldn’t return to HSMTMTS. This was, in part, true. She was bumped down to a recurring guest star during season 3, after previously being a main cast member.

“Well, the reality was, she had this album that did pretty well. Not sure if you’ve heard of it, it’s called Sour. And the world was clamoring for [her] tour. From a pure logistical standpoint, the idea of Olivia doing the entire season and doing her tour was immediately looking impossible,” showrunner Tim Federle explained to Entertainment Weekly in July 2022. “But she was and is such an important part of the DNA of the show that it also didn’t feel right to not give an explanation for where the character of Nini went.”

Why Did Olivia Rodrigo Leave 'HSMTMTS'? Season 3 Departure Explained
Disney/ Fred Hayes

How Did Olivia Rodrigo Leave ‘HSMTMTS’ During Season 3?

Her character, Nini did not go to Camp Shallow Lake with her friends. Instead, she took a trip to California to write music. After being absent for most of the season, Nini made a surprise return in the season 3 finale to watch the East High Wildcats perform Frozen.

While there, Nini struggled with the decision to finish out high school in East High or make the move to California. Ultimately, after a heartfelt conversation with Miss Jenn (Kate Reinders), Nini decided to make the move.

“Miss Jenn, I didn’t want to say goodbye because goodbye means it’s over. So, I just want to say, thank you,” a card that Nini wrote, read. “After tonight’s performance, it’s clear there’s already so much talent at East. So, I’m gunna go west. Here’s to the start of something new. Forever your Wildcat, Nini.”

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