Fringe Update: Season 5 Discussions Underway, J.J. Abrams 'Hopeful' Show Will Be Back

When Fox president Kevin Reilly told journalists earlier this month that he’s essentially losing money on Fringe, he wasn’t just putting the show’s rabid fans on notice that a fifth season is far from a slam dunk, he was sending the following message to Warner Bros. Television: The ball’s in your court.

Basically, in order for Fox to justify renewing the low-rated cult fave, Warner Bros. would have to agree to drastically reduce the show’s license fee (i.e. the amount the studio charges the network for each episode).

But what’s that magic number? Sources confirm that both sides are currently trying to hash that out. “We remain hopeful that Fringe will be able to continue,” co-creator J.J. Abrams tells TVLine.

Warner Bros. no doubt remains even more hopeful. A fifth season would put Fringe at or very close to 100 episodes, a milestone that would enhance the show’s syndication prospects. (A studio rep declined to comment.)

The clock is ticking, but not as quickly as one might think. If this does turn out to be Fringe‘s final season, it wouldn’t actually impact producers’ Season 4 end game.

“Worst case scenario, if this were the last aired season of Fringe… we know what the end of this season is going to be,” EP Jeff Pinkner recently told TVLine, “and it can function as a series finale.”

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156 Comments
  1. Janet says:

    Let Fringe go to 100 episodes. We want a season 5!

  2. Michelle says:

    Please, please. I’ll accept a 13 episode fifth season to wrap things up. That’s not too much to ask, is it? (Although 22 would be better, obviously!)

  3. Matt says:

    Would be nice to have a final even shortened season, but I am thankful to have seen four years of this show.

  4. Pat says:

    13 is all i ask for

    • Ben says:

      I’ve always felt this way too, but… given the way Fringe tells narratives, I wonder if a 13 episode final season wouldn’t actually do the show justice. I want a 5th and final season, and I want the show to have a finale that doesn’t just act as a series finale, but is written knowing it will be. But – after much reflection, I hope that they manage to negotiate a 22 episode order, with the condition that it’s the final season. To be honest, I think 5 seasons is a perfectly adequate run for any show, and I would not feel short changed at all with that number (even with much better ratings).

  5. ibshafer says:

    Fringe is one of the most consistently riveting shows on TV. We are deeply vested in these characters. I hope that at the very least, they give Abrams the chance to plausibly wrap up the storlines. The show and the fans deserve that much.

  6. alexjones says:

    well it’s good to hear that the finale of this season will be acceptable as the series finale because frankly i’ll be shocked if fringe is back next year, and I say that as a fan of the show.

  7. Rebecca says:

    I would love a season five, whether 22 or 13. Haven’t the writers/actors in previous years all said that they thought the show had a five year lifespan and they already had the final episode of the show mapped out? I’d love to just see that come to fruition. I hope they can hammer out a deal.

  8. Alex says:

    Sounds like all parties involved want to make it work, which is good news. I really hope a show that’s so deeply rooted in mythology and that I’m so personally emotionally invested in gets the proper ending that it deserves.

  9. Will says:

    It’s great that there is still hope. I thought it was certainly a goner after Kevin Reilly’s statement. Even a shortened season is better than nothing.

  10. Jeff says:

    Come on, just one more season. A 13-16 episode final epic season.

  11. austen. says:

    please make a season five happen!

  12. Imzadi says:

    It’s not that I want a fifth season, but I want a proper ending. So I hope they work something out.

    • Jerry says:

      I’m 100% with you. I would like to see a “proper” ending as well. Not some rushed, leave you just stuck there in the middle” feeling that happens when so many series ends.
      [can anyway say: “Stargate Universe”?

  13. kevin says:

    Hope Kevin Reilly makes it the easy way or the hard way on Fringe renewing it for a fifth and “final season”.

  14. Aria says:

    I’d love a season 5 but they need to get season 4 to engage a bit more. I am currently bored of whats happening and only watching out of love for the characters…

  15. GK says:

    JJ. Abrams trying to negotiate and make a fifth season possible for ‘Fringe’ has made me hopeful for the show’s future. Please Nielsen users, atleast now watch ‘Fringe’ live. This is one of the best shows ever and it needs one more season to go out with a bang!

  16. YES YES YES. Just even a 13 episode final season for the show to get the finale it deserves will be AWESOME.

  17. Jay says:

    They only need 88 eps to get to syndication levels . 100 sounds nice , but is Fringe really going to do well when it’s a serialized drama ? Look at the current leaders in syndication , 2 and a half men , Big bang theory , Judge Judy , Dr Phil . Shows like that are worth it . TV networks aren’t currently looking for low rated 1 hour dramas that are serialized to make them money . If Fringe gets that 5th season , good for them . But is Warner really going to want to slash the license fee to get to get to a syndication level when they are already there at the end of this season ?

  18. ggny says:

    hate to say it but the only way Fringe gest into syndication is if the science channel buys it and plays it at 1am like they do with Firefly

    • Pat says:

      Nah, SyFy would love to add it to its stable. This would be cheap. Plus, you better believe that FX, or one of the Warner netlets would add it.

      • Dasx says:

        Since why has SyFy been interested in science fiction? They gave up on that right about the time they changed their name. No way they would pick up this show unless it had ghost or wrestlers in it.

  19. Barb says:

    I love Fringe, and I usually don’t care for JJ Abrams. I’d love to get as many shows as I could. I wonder if Fox cancels it, could Warner give it a fifth season on the CW?

    • Lambsilencer says:

      Technically, yes. If FOX decides against ordering a fifth season, Warner Bros. TV can shop the show around to other network.

      But I would not consider The CW a good fit for a show like this. It’s nowhere near their target audience. And Warner Bros. TV would probably have to lower the license fee a lot for The CW to be able to afford it. This would mean a smaller regular cast, less location shoots etc. to keep costs at bay.

      Plus I think if WBTV is willing to lower the license fee, they will do so for FOX, as I think FOX will still pay more than The CW ever could.

    • Andrew says:

      It’s not out of the question, Barb, but it’s probably a long shot.

      The fact that the CW has a new network president who might want to add a broader ranger of programming aimed at a more adult crowd (instead of focusing on young women) might increase the likelihood that it might happen, IF it came to moving the show to another network.

      The problem with Fringe, as it stands now, is that it is under-performing in the 18-49 demographic, which is rather important to advertisers and sponsors who want to make sure that their commercials are seen by the biggest audience possible.

      Because it’s performing low in that demographic on Fox, chances are — if it did move to another network (like the CW), that it would perform even lower in the 18-49 demo, which is never good.

      This is why you don’t see a lot of networks saving shows, although there are exceptions.

      As a fan, I’m truly hoping for another season, though. I hope both sides can come to an agreement that will allow the show to keep going.

  20. scorpo says:

    It is interesting because I was just thinking last night as I watched Fringe on my DVR that the chances of it coming back are slim. This show is so dead in the water. It is a shadow of what it used to be and it is a shame :/

    • Mark says:

      Friday’s episode was one of the best the show has ever had.

    • Jeff says:

      Well, let me give one example – the scene between Walter and his “over there” wife. That scene alone made the episode for me. How could you not be impressed/moved by that scene?

      • WYNGATE3 says:

        John Noble’s character and his acting holds the show together.
        Yes, that scene and Walters(both) scenes with his son were very touching and realistic. He adds the human perspective of a gentle and fragile soul.

        • DotDot says:

          You are wrong, Olivia Dunham holds the show together, she was and is the go bewteen but also the driving force,and will turn out to be the one where it is all about at the end.
          What Anna Torv does with all the different versions of Olivia and Altlivia is beyond awesome. All based on a few bits of information.
          Anna does not get those big scenes Noble gets, she has to show us the pain and backsground of Olivia through her eyes, the way she reacts to events.
          John Noble gets all the writing there is to play his Walter and Walternate, if you are given the words by the writers, if you get those words on a plate, any actor will get that response of being touching. I wonder why they keep giving him all that material, he should not need that, and it is not very fair either to the rest of the cast.
          And Fringe should just focus on ending, if Jeff Pinkner says that the season finale can be series finale, it will mean that S5 will have a new arc, and with 13 episodes it will feel like those encores at concerts, always less then the concert itself.

          • TL says:

            Olivia AND Walter are both awesome. I think the beauty of Fringe’s story is that it’s not about a single character who holds everything together–it’s about a family.

        • Tbone says:

          absolutely true. John Noble is the glue to the show. Olivia Dunham could be killed off, and I’d still watch as long as Walter was kicking around in the lab.

  21. Michael N says:

    I Love Fringe!!! I started watching this show last November from season four and I was lost. Being lost for about two episodes, I was hooked. I went to iTunesand DVD stores. I had to get all episodes available. Now I am watching the show on Fridays like everybody else. If the show was able to hook me, it deserves a fifth season to reach the 100 episode mark!
    Love this show!

  22. Claire says:

    I don’t like this “season-finale-that-could-be-a-series-finale”. Fringe needs a REAL end.
    The best shows have 5 seasons :D Chuck <3 Alias <3

  23. Fringie6989 says:

    I shall remain hopeful. After all, in the end, I have to believe in hope. Right?

    • S.Cutajar says:

      This news brings hope that fans loving this series. Contrary to what many think, I believe that it is possible that Fringe lasts more than 5 seasons if the producers are willing to invest their time in following the various leads emerging from this show (e.g. the 2021 timeline at the end of season 2, the concept of different timelines, the observers ‘omniverse’ perspective, Walter/Walternate character, Massive Dynamic secret agenda, the machine’s throwback/ the first people, etc.). Keep it up, as it is fascinating to see a number of deep cosmology theories testing in this science fiction series…

  24. mara says:

    This show CAN NOT end. I love it too much. It’s amazing, it’s quality, it’s the best show I have ever seen. Please give it at least a fifth season. The writers have said they still have many stories to tell. Please let them do so!

  25. mara says:

    I agree with the seasonfinale/seriesfinale thing. I want the series finale to be what the writers want to be the finale!

  26. staceycj says:

    As a Supernatural fan, I never wish the worry regarding renewal on any other fandom. I don’t watch Fringe, but I hope that TPTB work it out and get you guys at least one more year.

  27. Bletsu Fatsamatta says:

    It’s always about the money, from TV to mates to friends to government. It’s never about the art or the vested few.

    Harsh reality.

  28. laura008 says:

    Fringe is a very unique intelligent amazing show it deserves the 5th season !

  29. robinepowell says:

    I really want a fifth season, but I suggest that Fox move the show to a better timeframe. How about Mondays at 8:00 or 9:00? That timeslot works for House.

    • Jak says:

      You forget that Fringe use to be on during the week and it got horrible ratings. That’s why they moved it to Friday in the first place.

      • Emily says:

        Correction: It used to be on Thursdays and it got horrible ratings. It also used to be on Tuesdays and got great ratings.

  30. Jessica says:

    Oh, I hope these discussions go well.

  31. Mikaylah says:

    I would love for Fringe to make it to syndication! Hopefully it gets renewed. :)

  32. Bob Genghis Khan says:

    I’m just a simple Mongolian Emperor but I really need to understand this TV business better. Why would WB want to sink a programme that has a cult following and good overseas sales and DVD after sales by making it so prohibitively expensive for FOX? You’re getting promotional considerations from the likes of Apple, Nissan and Verizon to help fund production, moved it to Canada to cut costs.

    That said, the network have chosen to put it in on the Friday night death slot so you shouldn’t be surprised the numbers aren’t that great on the live viewing figures. Yet we, the people, want Fringe to continue. What’s it going to take?

    • Brooke says:

      They don’t make it prohibitively expensive. We got a season 4 specifically because WB made it cheap enough. The question is, how cheap can they make it? There’s a line somewhere where no one is profiting any longer, and in a business, that just doesn’t fly.

    • Grimes says:

      Cult followings and Oversees sales do not rake in the big bucks like advertising dollars. Why would WB and Fox want to waste even more time on a show that has always had low ratings and is losing them money when they can take a chance on another show that might do well.

    • Captiosus says:

      “Yet we, the people, want Fringe to continue.”

      Yet the numbers say otherwise. Even after adjusted for DVR and OnDemand viewing, Fringe can’t get past a 1.2 on a GOOD week.

      CSI:NY repeats get double the viewers, ABC Primetime gets double the viewers. The only thing Fringe beats, in terms of viewers watching, is Supernatural.

      So where are all these people who want Fringe to continue? A couple hundred posts on the internet doesn’t count when people would rather tune into an old CSI:NY or a News program every Friday.

  33. PJM says:

    On the good side for Fringe, at least Warner Brothers just went through this with Chuck, so they have an idea what sort of negotiations they’ll have to go through to make it happen. I can’t speak to how expensive an episode of Fringe is to produce (it doesn’t look cheap), but I would imagine they’d be willing to eat the costs if they know they can get a network to pick it up in syndication, like SyFy or Cloo or of the like.

    I’m hoping TNT or USA Network picks up Chuck repeats. Actually, given the first-run shows USA Network has (Royal Pains, White Collar, etc.), Chuck would be a good lead-in for those nights. Fringe just needs to find that same sort of match.

  34. Carrie Ann says:

    Five seasons and I’ll be happy. The show deserves a solid run and a chance at syndication. It’s just too good!

  35. Too Late Kev says:

    I’m hoping for another season (even 13 episodes) that would be known to be the last season, a la Chuck, so we can have a real ending.

    As to the season finale which could act as a series finale, they think *last* year’s season finale could’ve been a series finale, too, so I have no faith in their ability to do this.

  36. Bill says:

    Fringe HAS to have at least one more season! I look forward to “Fringe Friday” all week. I know ratings are the name of the game, but the quality of this show cannot be overlooked!

  37. Jamie says:

    Is anyone even interested in syndicating this show? I mean, it gets pretty crappy ratings now.

    • Don J says:

      International sales of American TV show is how alot of these studios make money off these shows. I’ve traveled internationally to Asia alot and there are alot of older American TV shows like Fringe or House getting played from previous seasons.

  38. Don J says:

    I think Warner Brothers should just take a hit and eat most of the production costs/lower the licensing fee to get a 5th season made. It will be advantagious for them in the long run for syndication (domestic and international) for 5 seasons of the show and of course DVD/BD sales for a 5th season set and even a complete series set. I know the show isn’t cheap to make and FOX isn’t making money off it, but WB will be making a crap load of money in the long run, if they are willing to take a hit for now.

  39. Jay says:

    At the end of this season FRINGE WILL ALREADY BE AT SYNDICATION LEVELS !!! They’ll be at 88 eps which is the desired minimum . CHUCK only got a 5th season because at the end of the 4th season they only had 78 episodes . They got a 5th to get to 88 which with the 13 they will have 91 . So tell me again why would WB invest more money into this show when they no longer need to ?

    • Anon says:

      Because the people who run the studios/divisions know more than you and figure that this property has life left in it? Just because it doesn’t do what you consider good, doesn’t mean it’s not making a profit. And if you keep the intellectual property going, you keep all ancillary merchandise going as well. Even with all the talk of cancellation, Warner Bros is already releasing Fringe trading cards in April and the printed/hard copy of the digital comics that came out this past fall in March. There’s more than just airing a program that is factored into making all of these deals.

  40. Chris says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t it be in the best interest of Warner Bros to not renew their deal with FOX and air it on the CW – since it’s part Warner Bros? They can use the Supernatural business model that has kept it going for years only this time on Fringe. And a 1.1 on a Friday night is better than anything (almost) that the CW gets now a days. If they put it on Friday with Supernatural or another night like a Monday or something, it would grow the CW audience for that network.

    • Andrew says:

      And a 1.1 on a Friday night is better than anything (almost) that the CW gets now a days. If they put it on Friday with Supernatural or another night like a Monday or something, it would grow the CW audience for that network.

      Just because it got a 1.1 last week doesn’t automatically mean it would get a 1.1 on the CW if it was moved there. In fact, the demo rating would likely go down since it’s already averaging lower on Fox as it is.

  41. John A says:

    JJ Abrams doesnt run fringe. JH Whyman and jeff pinker do. Why people always make that mistake. JJ hasnt written a show since season 2.

  42. Kiki says:

    Please bring Fringe back & let them get there 100 episodes … please dont do what NBC did to Chuck :(

    • Ummm…although the way they’re burning through episodes right now isn’t great, NBC has been incredibly generous to CHUCK over the years. The fact that the show has made it to season five considering it’s ratings is amazing. This is not a good example of a network mistreating a show

      • matt says:

        Seriously, horrible example! Chuck is probably the best example of the exact opposite… The ratings were horrible and the show was on the fence every year, and they renewed it every year, AND gave it a final season order in advance pretty much as a thank you. With the way shows are unceremoniously dumped now that’s a glaring rarity, not a slap in the face.

      • doug says:

        I don’t really understand why Chuck fans have an objection to NBC burning through the episodes. The show is ENDING. It’s not like higher ratings are going to help Chuck any more.

  43. Mindy says:

    I really hope there is a 5th season. I hope Fringe gets a chance to write a series finale. I’ll even take a 13 episode 5th season. Please, please, please, please!

  44. suzanne says:

    Please please please!!!

  45. Angel says:

    Come on Warner Bros . . . MAKE IT HAPPEN !!!

  46. Donna says:

    I would like to see a shortened Season 5 (100 eps), but if that is not possible, I have full faith that the writers can wrap up THIS season in an inspiring way that can be a credible series finale. So, I’m not terribly worried.

    Leaving some questions unanswered is not the worst thing in the world – furthermore, unanswered questions leave the door open for future Fringe related ventures. In years to come, Fringe’s audience will only grow as more people discover it on DVD. There’s SO much mythology and backstory left to explore. I really, truly believe this show has crossed the line into true cult status, the kind that keeps fans hungry for more over the years.

  47. matt says:

    I don’t know, personally I’ve never felt satisfied by a season finale that “could be” a series finale if the show’s not renewed. There is absolutely no way it’s the same. If you know that’s the last episode of the show ever, you will make much bigger moves and hit on much bigger story points than you would if you weren’t sure. A season finale HAS to leave a bunch of stuff open for the show to continue, but a series finale can make much bigger strides towards the “end game”. Doesn’t mean every single story thread has to be resolved by the time the credits roll, but there’s a big difference between how you end a season and how end a series.

  48. Mena says:

    I would be over the moon with joy if FRINGE got a season five!

  49. Mike says:

    Ok heres my idea. Greenlight a season five, then all summer long show(from the beginning) two episodes a night like LOST did on SYFY, and see if you can’t bring in some new viewers! don’t let the best show on TV get cancelled please!!!

  50. David says:

    Rebecca, you are absolutely right, The actors ( John Noble , Anna Torv ) have hinted in their own way that 5 seasons would most likely be enough. Now I’m not saying that Actors opinions will influence whatever decisions the network and producers come up with.
    But what I am saying that if the show did indeed get even a shortened 5th season, that it would not come to much of a surprise to anyone (Producers, Cast, Crew, Fans).
    Look at the advantages, the story would have a proper ending, all parties would be satisfied, and Fox enhances its reputation amongst the Fans as a Network who has learned from past mistakes, and has finally allowed one sci – fi series to play out to its ultimate conclusion.

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