'American Idol' Announces Original Series Judge to Return Amid Luke Bryan's COVID-19 Absence

Paula Abdul is making her return to American Idol Monday night. After current judge Luke Bryan announced he would be missing the first live audience show after testing positive for the coronavirus, the ABC singing competition confirmed Abdul, a former judge of the series, would be stepping in as guest judge.

The exciting announcement was made Monday afternoon via the official American Idol Instagram account. Sharing Bryan's announcement that he would be missing tonight's show, the post said, "Luke will be missed at our first [American Idol] LIVE show tonight." It went on to share the exciting news of Abdul's returning, the post sharing, "we're so excited to announce [Paula Abdul] will be stepping in as a guest judge." Abdul will join hosts Lionel Richie and Katy Perry.

Along with plenty of wishes for a speedy recovery for Bryan, who is said to be "in quarantine at home," the announcement generated plenty of excitement among fans eager to see Abdul return to the judge's table. Taking to the comments section, one person wrote that they "can't wait to see Paula," with another person adding, "excited to see Paula Abdul." A third person commented, "Aw no!! But I am excited to see Paula back at the judge's table!" Somebody else added, "Glad to see Paula, an Idol OG."

News of Abdul's return to the competition series comes just three months after she opened up about whether or not she would ever return. Abdul had served as one of the three original American Idol judges, alongside Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, when the series; first premiered in 2002. She remained a judge until American Idol's run on Fox came to an end in 2016, the series being revived with Bryan, Richie, and Perry as hosts on ABC in 2018. During a January appearance on former Idol winner Kelly Clarkson's talk show, Abdul said "if we all came back together that would be the only way to come back," joking that Cowell would be there to bug "the crap" out of her, Similarly, Jackson said he "would only do it if Paula and Simon and Seacrest were still there."

Since her time on Idol came to an end, Abdul has moved on to serve as a panelist on The Masked Dancer, a spinoff of the hit series The Masked Singer. Fans can catch her back on Idol when a new episode airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET. American Idol can be watched for free on FuboTV or on Hulu With Live TV with a free trial.