Why 'The Magicians' Season 4 Will Push the Limits of Adaptation


Since the series began in 2015, The Magicians has consistently deviated from the Lev Grossman novels it’s adapted from, but with the newly announced Season 4, the show will probably have to explore totally new territory in its magical world.

Syfy announced Wednesday that The Magicians would be getting a Season 4 due out in 2019. The show’s glancingly borrowed elements from all three novels throughout its run, reordering various elements while doing away with others entirely. Alice isn’t resurrected until late in the third and final book, for example, and that’s also when Fillory begins to die, which was a major plot point in Season 2. The quest to restore magic with Seven Golden Keys using the Muntjac does happen in the second book, but it’s vastly different from what we see in Season 3.

As The Magicians moves into its fourth season, there are still plenty of elements it can pull from the books. But the show already feels so delightfully off-the-rails and totally crazy in a fun way. Season 4 is only going to move further and further away from the books, which is totally exciting.

Eliot's High King in both the show and books.


“We keep in mind the core of the books — the characters, the values — and we keep Lev [Grossman] very involved,” Executive Producer John McNamara told Inverse at New York Comic-Con last year. “But at some point, you have to let yourself improvise because there are only three books and if we did it faithfully, it’d be a mini-series.” Going off-book has liberated the show in many ways, transforming a story largely told from Quentin’s perspective into a show that makes great use of its ensemble cast.

More simply put, McNamara said The Magicians is taking “the same journey Lev took, just with different roads.”

Penny, for instance, is barely in any of the books. He’s still a Traveler that winds up working for the library — and weird things happen to his hands — but we never really get to know him at all. Actor Arjun Gupta plays a very different Penny, one that plays a huge role on the show. Gupta told Inverse that he “feels fortunate in that regard.”

Arjun Gupta as Penny in 'The Magicians' Season 3.


Season 2 may have stumbled a bit towards the middle, but The Magicians really found its footing in Season 3 and solidified its place as some of the best — and most fun — genre television around today.

It’s hard to predict where Season 4 might go with several episodes left this season, but they’re bound to fully restore magic before long, right?

The Magicians airs Wednesdays on Syfy at 9 p.m. Eastern.