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Did ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’ Include Olivia Rodrigo Easter Egg in Finale?

Did 'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series' Include Olivia Rodrigo Easter Egg in Finale?
Sofia Wylie as Gina and Joshua Bassett as Ricky in ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.’ Disney/Fred Hayes

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series bid farewell to the East High wildcats in its season 4 finale, but not without seemingly honoring former costar Olivia Rodrigo.

In the series finale, which dropped on Disney+ earlier this week, Ricky (Joshua Bassett) gets a sweet compliment that relates to Rodrigo IRL.

“That took guts — what you did back there,” Gina’s mom, Terri (played by Napiera Groves), said after Ricky professed his love for Sofia Wylie’s character in song. “Guts are good [and] maybe you were worth the wait.”

While having “guts” is good for sharing feelings, it is also the name of Rodrigo’s second album. Rodrigo, 20, starred as Nini — Ricky’s first girlfriend — on the first two seasons of HSMTMTS, ultimately exiting in the middle of season 3 as her budding singer-songwriter career started to take off in real life.

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Rodrigo — who dropped her debut LP, Sour, in 2021 — is slated to release Guts on September 8. “For me, this album is about growing pains and trying to figure out who I am at this point in my life,” she said in a press release in June about her musical inspiration. “I feel like I grew 10 years between the ages of 18 and 20 — it was such an intense period of awkwardness and change. I think that’s all just a natural part of growth, and hopefully, the album reflects that.”

Did 'High School Musical: The Musical: The Series' Include Olivia Rodrigo Easter Egg in Finale?
Olivia Rodrigo as Nini, Joshua Bassett as Ricky, Matt Cornett as E.J. and Sofia Wylie as Gina in ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.’ Walt Disney Pictures/Kobal/Shutterstock

While it has not been addressed if the “guts” line was a specific nod to Rodrigo, many fans immediately picked up on its potential allusion. “OK, BUT I WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO NOTICED???? ‘GUTS are good.’ Gosh Olivia its everyere [sic], even she is not on the show anymore, wow,” one social media user tweeted on Wednesday, August 9. “HSMTMTS cast is a Guts stan and we knoww about that!!!!”

Rodrigo did not appear in the fourth and final season of HSMTMTS, though her character was mentioned quite a bit. In the penultimate episode, Ricky even noted that he was following Nina’s tradition of handing out personalized cards to everyone in the drama club in advance of the school musical’s opening night. Show creator Tim Federle, however, did not plan to write an additional storyline for Nini after the character moved from Salt Lake City to California to pursue a career as a songwriter.

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“I felt really confident about that ending and Olivia is so busy with her songwriting career. At this point, we are introducing so many new people, the OG characters and we wanted to bring back other really important characters,” Federle, 43, told Variety on Wednesday, August 9. “I kind of felt like, with only eight episodes, it just becomes cameos as opposed to real stories. The offer was extended to her insomuch as Olivia knowing from me that she can always come back. But it was never really seriously discussed because there were new relationships we had to write for.”

HSMTMTS instead primarily focused on Ricky and Gina’s relationship. “My evolving thought is that Ricky and Gina are really in love for the first time together because they’ve experienced some of the world,” Federle exclusively told Us Weekly earlier this month. “They’ve gotten a little pushed down. So much happens and it’s beautiful to be able to write this relationship — no holds barred.”

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