The Orville Season 4 Gets a Disappointing Update

Star Adrianne Palicki gives us the latest on when The Orville might be coming back, and what she’d like to see happen next.

Photo: Greg Gayne | Hulu

If you’re one of the many fans waiting to hear about Season 4 of The Orville – the best Star Trek series around that’s not actually called Star Trek – star Adrianne Palicki doesn’t have good news for you right now.

“I mean, there have been talks,” says Palicki, who plays the Orville’s first officer, Kelly Grayson, opposite creator and star Seth MacFarlane’s Captain Ed Mercer. “There have been rumblings about it, but there’s nothing official.”

While Palicki doesn’t have more concrete news about when or if The Orville will follow up its acclaimed third season, she does have some specific ideas about what she’d like to see happen if in fact the title starship does continue its voyages around the galaxy.

“I would like to see Kelly take over as captain,” she says with a laugh. “I mean, she pretty much is anyway. But I don’t know, I’m sure there’ll be even more conscious conversations happening at that time period, whenever that is.” Has she voiced that desire to Mr. MacFarlane? “Oh yeah,” she adds. “He knows. He’s not completely opposed, either.”

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After premiering in 2017 on Fox with a shaky season 1 – in which MacFarlane, his writers, and his cast struggled to find the right balance between the kind of irreverent comedy he was best known for and a genuinely earnest sci-fi show in the mold of classic TrekThe Orville gradually found its footing and developed into a far more coherent and even dramatic series in season 2.

But the ratings fell during that second season as well, and the one-two punch of the COVID pandemic and the concurrent rise of streaming options led Fox to move the show to Hulu for its third season, which was titled The Orville: New Horizons and premiered in June 2022 after being delayed from 2020.

Yet The Orville not only prospered in streaming, but earned even more critical acclaim as the show found the sweet spot of character-based relationships, humor, and darker, socially conscious drama that always defined the best of Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

“It was hard because it was during COVID,” says Palicki about filming what many consider the show’s best season yet. “We were going back. I was very nervous to go back. I always knew the writing was going to be great, and the meaning behind the writing was going to be great. It was just the fear factor. So there were mixed emotions in the third season.”

Palicki cites the season’s fifth episode, “A Tale of Two Topas” – in which Kelly supports the Moclan being Topa, surgically changed at birth from female to male, when she decides to change back to being a female at the risk of estrangement from her family and physical harm by her people – as a personal high point for both her and her character, while also earning substantial fan feedback.

“Kelly’s [relationship] with Topa, I thought, was really powerful and told in a really beautiful way,” says a visibly moved Palicki. “The stories that I’ve heard of people transitioning or just trying to find themselves, and how important it is to have somebody in their corner…I’m getting emotional just talking about it. Just what people have to go through, and they have to do it themselves. They have to go against everything. To be a part of that, I was just so honored.”

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Although Palicki admits that season 3 was somewhat chaotic due to the fact that production started before the pandemic and had to pick up again when restrictions eased, she is proud of the results. “The third season was epic,” she says. “These storylines were very now and very important. I felt so proud to be a part of that…Seth does have a really great way on the show of not beating people over the head with the moral, but it’s there, and it’s said in a very strong, very honest way.”

All three seasons of The Orville are streaming on Hulu.