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Will there be an Orville Season 4? How the sci-fi show could return

Seth MacFarlane's scrappy sci-fi show could be finished... but maybe not.

After three seasons spread over five years, the underdog sci-fi series The Orville is at a crossroads. With the airing of The Orville: New Horizons episode 10, "Future Unknown," the actual future of Captain Mercer and the gang is in flux. Here's why the Season 3 finale of The Orville could very well be the last episode... and why there's still some hope for more.

As critics and fans have pointed out, the majority of The Orville's third season, subtitled New Horizons, has taken itself slightly more seriously than the previous two. Even though the Season 3 finale has some jokes, New Horizons was essentially a soft reboot of the entire show. While Season 1 sold The Orville as a network TV Star Trek tribute with a humorous approach, at this point The Orville is spiritually just another Star Trek show, albeit one taking place in an alternate universe.

This is both good and bad. While The Orville has cultivated a huge following of crossover Trek fans, it's hard to imagine a viewer who isn't already invested in the Star Trek format getting into The Orville. Unlike a true underdog sci-fi show (like, say, Pandora), The Orville is content to exist as a Star Trek parody that basically isn't a parody anymore.

But that could change, and soon.

Seth MacFarlane, creator and star of The Orville.Hulu/Disney

While the first two seasons of The Orville aired on Fox, Season 3 was a Hulu exclusive. Now, starting August 10, all three seasons of The Orville will stream on Disney+.

As series creator Seth MacFarlane made clear at San Diego Comic-Con, the existence of Season 4 depends on how many people watch the show on Hulu and Disney+. "We don't know [if Season 4 will happen], and I don't think we will know until this season finishes," MacFarlane said. "All we can say is, if as many people as possible watch the show, tell your friends, then like anything else, we have a shot."

For The Orville to return after Season 3, it seems like the show has to get popular in "reruns" on Disney+. Fittingly, that's somewhat analogous to what happened with Star Trek: The Original Series in the 1970s. It was canceled after three seasons on NBC, but syndicated reruns gave Star Trek new life, which led to the franchise's resurgence with The Animated Series in 1973 and Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979.

That said, the sci-fi landscape in the 1970s was much different than today. In 2022, countless sci-fi shows are battling for eyeballs. Could Disney+ be the boost The Orville needs to jump into the mainstream? The future is unknown, but if you want to see more episodes it wouldn't hurt to spread the word.

All three seasons of The Orville hit Disney+ on August 10, 2022.

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