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Fringe’s Fifth Season in Doubt as Fox Admits Series Loses Money

Joshua Jackson as Peter Bishop on "Fringe"

The future doesn’t look promising for Fringe, the Fox sci-fi drama that defied odds in March by being renewed for a fourth season. While last year producers remained optimistic as they awaited the network’s decision, this time the mood isn’t quite as buoyant.

Fringe has been a point of pride,” Fox President Kevin Reilly told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour. “I share the passion for the show that the fans have. I love the fact that Fox, after letting down some of the genre fans over the years, put one on [and stuck with it]. I love the fans – that they stuck with it and went to Friday night with us. It’s vastly improved our Friday night. We have a Friday night for the first time in a long, long time.”


“The hesitation in my voice is that it’s an expensive show. We lose a lot of money on the show,” Reilly continued. “At that rating, on that night, it’s almost impossible to make money on it. That’s been the case now over the last season. You know, we’re not in the business of losing money. So we really have to sit down and figure out, ‘Is there a number at which it makes sense?’ I do not want to drop the ball at the end and let the fans down. […] I’m not now quietly doing the soft-cancel here. I’m just telling you where it stands. We haven’t even sat down with the producers or the studio. I know they want to keep it going. So that’s another decision we’ll have to make.”

Fringe star Joshua Jackson heard Reilly’s comments loud and clear, and asked only that the writers have a chance to end the series appropriately.

“Look, I’d rather not get canceled but it we did get canceled, so long as they have enough time to properly finish the story that to me is the most important thing,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “Even though Kevin Reilly had very honest things to say about the show, I get it, it’s a money-making business and if we’re not making that money then we don’t deserve to be on the air.”

Asked for an alternate solution, the actor said he would be open to a shortened fifth season or a TV movie. “They’ve talked about doing graphic novels; whatever it is, I just want it to properly end,” he said.

Co-creator J.J. Abrams sounded a little more optimistic about Fringe‘s chances, if not at Fox then possibly at another network.

“For some sick reason, I’m hopeful, because the show … there’s some stuff coming up that’s so great,” he told the TCA press tour. “They’re doing such amazing work. Maybe it’s just that dumb optimism of hoping that when good work is done, it gets rewarded. I think that some of the work they’re doing, that Jeff [Pinkner] and Joel [Wyman] are working on now, is so good that I’m just crossing my fingers that it gets to continue. And if not, on Fox, maybe somewhere else.”


  • Jack O’Mullane

    Please God No!

  • mike payton

     If they can make the show cheaper, then it will stay on Fox. They pretty much said that. 
    Personally, I’d rather that they just wrapped the show up this year while it’s still on it’s creative top, rather than not give the show a proper ending out of some hope that another network is willing to lose money by airing it, or by crippling the story potential by halving the budget. 

  • Anonymous

    I hate to say this, but I feel that Fringe is done for. Beside, this whole storyline this season has been awkward to say the least. I think the writers have been having a lot of tension knowing that a fifth season is up in the air. This whole Peter story just hasn’t clicked in my opinion. I always thought that the show was great in storytelling despite the ratings but this year, it’s turning into Heroes Season 4.

  • Coryjameson

    I stopped watching half way through season 3. You know, when it stopped being good. The 2nd half of season 3 blew chunks. It had all these stupid standalone episodes that lead nowhere. Then, when they couldn’t get Leonard Nimoy back, they had Anna Torv do her best imitation of him. And there were more stupid red herrings that led nowhere that you could shake a stick at. 

    Fringe should end because, the stories they’re telling aren’t good any more. 

  • DB

    it’s still got lots of life in it.  this season has been a slow-burn for sure, but that’s just because the writers like to explore human stories mixed with scifi flavor, those what-if type stories.  some people think these plots are “standalone” and boring, but they’re not, if you can see what the message is.  they are very much in tune with the show’s theme.  i understand that people might not feel as engage if it’s not heavily serialized, but still, the show has always been a balance act. as a fan, i enjoy the show even more because they take the time for set up.  now i just hope there can be a proper final season, not just a season finale that happen to also work as a series finale.

  • 0bsessions

    I stopped watching half way through season 3. You know, when it stopped being good. The 2nd half of season 3 blew chunks.”

    I dare you to reconcile this.

  • David S.

    “At that rating, on that night, it’s almost impossible to make money on it.”

    Which they chose to move it to after fans warned them not to.

  • Dholley

    Can anyone see the hypocracy in the above article, not by the author, but by Kevin Reaily,
    First he starts by praising fringe saying how much a fan he is, and how it is a point of pride within the network, even saying the show actually improved the look of the Friday night lineup,
    Then he changes tack and dumps on the show saying the low rating is causing a loss of money for the network.
    How can show be seen to help the overall quality of a day’ programming, yet ironically it’s the one that’s heading for the graveyard.
    If I was in Kevin’s shoes, I’d ponder that question before a decision is made and out of loyality to those Fans whWo have stuck with the show, order at least a partial fifth season to properly finish the storyline.
    Oh well ! It was a great dream while it lasted, guess I’m not Kevin Reaily Afterall
    Only David Holley, avid Fringe Fan

  • Grynthyme

    I see FRINGE online and buy the DVDs when seasons ends.  FRINGE is outstanding!!  I want it to continue – tell me who to write or even what products to buy. Anything to save FRINGE!!

  • Jacob

    Take it to The CW. I know it doesn’t seem like an ideal fit, but Fox has to pay licensing fees on the show. CW wouldn’t. It would also be much more accepting of these kinds of ratings.

  • Jacob

    Friday’s are awful for TV. Fringe improved it, but not enough for it to be a success.

  • Jacob

    “couldn’t get Leonard Nimoy back”

    He’s retired from live-action. He did return and provide his voice, though.

  • Dholley

    Jacob, I take your point, but my point is how bad we’re the Friday night programs originally, if it was said that Fringe went on to improve the overall quality of the programs.
    If fringe didnt improve enough to be a success, then one assumes the other programs were’t successful either when they supposedly were shifted to Friday.
    But yet Fringe seems to be the only program talked about in cancellation circles.
    Or is it that in order to keep the other misfireing programs one has to take the hit for the team,
    and that one happens to be unfortunately Fringe
    Oh well all I can hope for is an partial fifth season to finish the story properly.
    But as it is at the moment, that is all my dream is, hope

  • Jacob

    The other show on Friday’s (Kitchen Nightmares) is a reality show. Those are incredibly cheap. Fringe is not cheap. And not only is FOX paying for the show to be made, they’re paying for the rights to the show. They don’t own Fringe. It’s production budget + marketing budget + licensing fees.

  • LsaQueen

    I wish they would put it back on Monday night or even Thursday. I adore the show and for it to continue they need to give it the time slot and day it deserves. I would be very sad if it was cancelled.

  • LsaQueen

    So they should end it because you didn’t like it? Gee your opinion must be of superior authority!

  • NYCEsq

    He didn’t watch the second half of Season 3.  He just listened blindfolded

  • 0bsessions

    I also would’ve accepted him being identified as Matt Murdock.