The Orville Wiki
The Orville Wiki
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"The quantum potentiality is open. Many sets of future events are possible."
This page contains information about a future product.

I am confident this will be the most surprising season yet. It is not going where you think it is going.Seth MacFarlane[1]

Season 3 is the upcoming season of The Orville on Hulu. The Orville is currently in filming, which began on October 21, 2019 with the season premiere.[2]

While little of the season's plot is known, co-producer and editor Tom Costantino hinted a marked increase in the number of two-part episodes over Season 2,[3] and promised that

Storylines will not be dropped. There will be a continuation of things we care about, characters we care about. Even some things people online have complained about.[4]

Season 3 will have 11 episodes which Hulu will release on a weekly basis,[5] despite the fact that Hulu wanted only 10.[6] Each episode will have 12 to 15 more minutes of air time than in previous seasons.[7]

Season 3 is expected to increasingly turn to dramatic storytelling and action-based narratives. After fans and critics praised Identity, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 as some of the show's finest episodes, director Jon Cassar reported that creator Seth MacFarlane "wants to make this year all like that."[5]

Before the global pandemic of Covid-19, the show had originally been projected to return in the year 2020,[8][9] probably in the autumn.[10][11] At the start of the pandemic, the crew hoped to return in time to air in late 2020, but those hopes slowly disintegrated as the pandemic dragged on.[12] Production finally restarted on December 1, 2020[13] and filming resumed on December 4,[14] but a resurgence of Covid-19 forced the studio to shut down again until January 18, 2021.[15]

While any release date is yet to be determined,[12] the crew hopes The Orville will air on October 1, 2021.[16]


Development of The Orville began only after Season 2 ended and the show was officially renewed. As a result, the show had no production schedule as late as May 2019.[17] Staff met with senior concept designer Lex Cassar on June 6 to begin pre-production for the art department.[18] "If we as an art department don't start planning ahead we could fall behind real quick," Cassar surmised the next day.[19] To meet production and filming demands, Hulu doubled Season 3's production schedule over Season 2.[5]

Each episode took on average six to seven weeks to complete, not factoring substantial delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.[20]

By August 29, staff commenced construction changes to Stage 15, which houses the majority of The Orville's set.[21] Post-production crew re-made the opening title screen to be "even more beautiful."[22]


During writing production for Season 2 in 2017 and possibly 2018, "a couple" scripts were set aside if the show were renewed for Season 3.[23] Writers initially planned for up to 13 episodes, based on the number of scripts creator Seth MacFarlane believed he could write: "Thirteen episodes in is when I start to come apart."[10] The final number was reduced to 11.[5]

Dan O'Shannon joined the writing staff in early 2019, though he quickly grew despondent over a lack of input in the creative process and left after under a year with the team.[24]

The writing staff was authoring scripts for Season 3 by early May 2019.[17] Switching to Hulu, a streaming service, gave the writers more air time over network televisions, so they enjoyed greater leeway to tell their stories.[25] Writers returned to allegorical storytelling to drive the plot. As executive producer David A. Goodman put it,

The show can't just be fun space action. Commenting on current society and social mores—we almost consider that our responsibility. The reason people watch is the characters. Those emotional stories really drive the show.[25]

Several scripts were sent to the art department by August 14,[26] and the writing team had completed five stories by August 19 and mapped out the season's story arc.[10]

More air time meant grander plots and more elaborate special effects; Goodman said Identity, Pt. 2, by far The Orville's most ambitious episode to date, "would be one of the smaller episodes this year."[25][27] Visual effects producer Brooke Noska added, "Last season, we pulled off the impossible for the [midseason] battle. Now we're trying to do that almost every single episode. And we're doing more content in less time."[25]

Individual episodes[]

Goodman stated that he would like to explore the repercussions of Isaac's decisions in Identity, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2.[28] MacFarlane later promised that Season 3 would show the fallout from Kaylon's attack on the Planetary Union and what happens to Isaac.[10]

In late July, MacFarlane stated that Alara Kitan could make an appearance on the show, but could not say more as writing had not finished. He left open the possibility of further exploring the planet Xelaya.[29] He also stated that a "revelation" about Doctor Claire Finn had been cut for time from Season 2 would appear in Season 3.[30]

On August 9, MacFarlane said that they are "broadening" the Krill species so that it's not just about religion. I don't want to give anything away... It's an element that... [sighs] Whenever I write the Krill there's that thing in my head, Are they terrorists, are they us? I can never figure out where they land. They always seem to be a metaphor for something."[10]

On October 6, director Jon Cassar teased "there'll be space battles, there'll definitely be parties, Bortus gets up to the microphone again, half this crew is gonna get really wet- and did I say there'll be parties?"[5]

On May 2, 2021, actor Scott Grimes (Gordon Malloy) posted on Instagram a picture of himself in a sheriff's regalia with a tag "@theorville," hinting at a Western theme in one of the episodes.[31] (Gordon had been a cowboy-era marshal in an Environmental Simulator standoff against Vásquez in About a Girl.)

On May 19, director Jon Cassar revealed that actor Ted Danson (Perry) would return.[32]

Changes to the cast[]

A new regularly recurring member of the cast was announced on November 3, 2019, Anne Winters, who will play Charly Burke.[33]

On February 19, 2021, actress Eliza Taylor posted to Instagram a photo of makeup artists making a prosthetic mold of her upper torso. She wrote that MacFarlane told her, "Come play on The Orville... It will be FUN".[34]

Changes to the crew[]

Eric Hayden joined the visual effects department in August 2019 as a visual effects supervisor.[35] Brandon Fayette, digital effects supervisor in Season 2, was made visual effects supervisor.[21] Costantino was promoted from associate producer to co-producer.[36] Hillary Wills, formerly an assistant editor, was promoted to editor.[37] Doug Drexler, famous for his work as an artist in the Star Trek franchise, joined the show's art department.[38] Joe Menosky, co-executive producer and writer behind Sanctuary, left. Dan O'Shannon and Andi Bushell were added as co-executive producers.[39][40][41]


All episodes of Season 3 were directed solely by MacFarlane and Jon Cassar,[42] a change from previous seasons when outside directors joined to shoot most episodes. Cassar later said reducing the number of directors proved a lucky decision in light of the unpredicted global coronavirus pandemic that would interrupt filming; when filming finally resumed, the shooting schedule was tightly constrained. "If we had to have separate directors, it would have been a nightmare," he said. "Because there's no way you'd ever schedule that. Once Covid hit and we came back, because actors are from other countries, bringing actors from other countries became difficult."[32]

On May 13, 2019, Costantino said that while a shooting schedule had not been finished,[17] two extra days were added to each episode's schedule.[11]

The cast and crew celebrated Christmas with a party on the night of December 15, 2019, complete with a performance of The Orville's opening theme conducted by Bruce Broughton.[43]

Suspended production[]

In February 2020, coronavirus Covid-19 spread quickly through the United States and the world, creating a global pandemic. Crew began washing their hands, bumping elbows in lieu of shaking hands, and practicing social distancing.

The Orville voluntarily suspended all production for three weeks starting on March 13, 2020,[44][45] when the show was "about halfway" through filming.[46] MacFarlane broke the news to the cast by phone call, expecting the suspension to last only a week-and-a-half to two weeks.[47] Actress Jessica Szohr (Talla Keyali) recalled, "We were, like, pushing through the middle of the season, scripts were banging out, gas pedal down, and then it was like, ‘Halt!'"[48] The Orville had been one of the last television shows to suspend production.[45]

The crew had filmed the first five episodes and snippets of other episodes when the hiatus commenced.[49] MacFarlane, editors, and effects producers worked remotely through suspended production, allowing post-production to continue. However, with only five episodes filmed, Costantino speculated that, should the suspension persist, post-production employees might eventually run out of work.[49] By July 22, production had not re-started and Costantino confirmed that editing of existing material had completed.[22]

The crew had hoped to resume production in August 2020,[50] but after August came and went, the production crew began brainstorming procedures to safely apply makeup and prosthetics to actors so that shooting could restart.[48] "I’m trying to figure out how to return safely to work on ‘The Orville’ during a raging pandemic,” MacFarlane told Variety in October. “Turns out it‘s probably safer to actually shoot the thing in outer space than it is in L.A., because at least Boba Fett will wear a mask."[51]

Filming resumes[]

On November 9, 2020, it was announced that shooting would resume in December 2020, hoping to air by the end of 2021.[52] Production resumed on December 1,[13] and shooting restarted on December 4.[14] However, a resurgence of Covid-19 in the United States forced the studio to shut down again until January 18, 2021.[15]

Because MacFarlane had believed the quarantine would last only several weeks, the production crew failed to film some scenes of the first five episodes. When production final restarted nearly a year later, the frustrated senior staff discovered shooting the outstanding material would be very difficult.[53] Scheduling problems forced Cassar and MacFarlane to film all of the remaining episodes at the same time. "It's unbelievably difficult," Cassar said at the time. "But we're doing it. We're holding onto the tone. He'll direct his stuff; I'll direct my stuff; we'll do stuff together."[32]

Schedules were complicated even further when three actresses - Jessica Szohr (Talla Keyali) and two others not identified - gave birth.[32]

Covid-19 restrictions required the show to film its remaining episodes with no more than 30 actors present in any scene, which posed a tremendous obstacle as The Orville had yet to film "four or five" distinct scenes that featured more than 100 characters. The producers decided to push those scenes to the very end of filming in the hope that the restrictions would be lifted in time to shoot them. If the restrictions are not lifted, the crew will digitally insert actors to simulate the numbers needed.[32]


Post-production plans for visual effects were ambitious. The show tripled the number of effects over Season 2. The first two seasons featured slightly less than one battle per episode, but Cassar promised roughly two battles in space per episode.[32]


Renewal came late in the year for The Orville, several weeks after the conclusion of Season 2. While the cast expressed their hopes for a Season 3[54] and the producers said they were "optimistic",[55] Fox declined to answer publicly whether the show was renewed or cancelled through the show's entire second season run. At the end of Season 2, ratings analysts were divided whether The Orville would be renewed.[56][57][58]

At the end of April 2019, creator and showrunner Seth MacFarlane said that he had decided before Season 1 aired that if he did not see "growth" by the end of Season 2 then he would end the show,

but it's exceeded my hopes... The audience was with us from day one. I'm reading all these great reviews of the show, which is a relatively new experience for me- these rave reviews, and it does feel good.[13]

The show's producers entered talks with Fox concerning renewal by May.[n 1] MacFarlane's ten-year contract with Fox was set to expire in June 2019, and many suspect the future of The Orville to be a part of negotiations.[59]

By early May, the show's producers possibly entered talks with Fox on renewal.[n 1] At that time, executive producer David A. Goodman commented: "I think the show has been doing well for [Fox]. The studio loves the show. It sells well in foreign sales. So, I am optimistic, but as I often say in this business it is nothing until it is something."[28]

Fox officially announced that The Orville was renewed on May 11, 2019.[60]

Two days later, Tom Costantino said that the show was never in danger of cancellation: the very late date of renewal was the result of Fox's business interests and not about the show's ratings.[17]


On December 10, 2018, the state of California approved $15.8 million in tax credits were Fox to renew The Orville for a third season.[61] The write-off was one of the highest of any network television show, and roughly $1 million more than the previous season.

Hulu increased the budget over Season 2.[12]

Move to Hulu[]

On July 20, 2019 during San Diego Comic Con, Seth MacFarlane announced the show would move to Hulu for its third season.[62] Charlie Collier, CEO of 20th Century Fox, said the decision to move the show to Hulu was due to scheduling[63] and executive producer David A. Goodman has said that Fox actively wanted to keep the show in its television lineup, but agreed to release it to Hulu.[5]

In their own study of the switch to Hulu, The Popcast found:

There was a lot of speculation that Disney's takeover of Fox was the real reason or that the show had poor ratings. But the reality was that behind the scenes, things were very friendly. Fox was happy with the show and they wanted it renewed for a third season as well.[64]

The Popcast determined that the change was most likely due to (1) advertising scheduling concerns, (2) Disney's desire for the Fox channel to focus on sports and news, and (3) the show's very large streaming audience, most of whom watched through Hulu.[64] Despite its late announcement, the move to Hulu seems to have been known to the executive producers as early as April 2019, long before a Season 3 was announced. When asked in an April 25 interview if he could make a show on streaming platforms like Netflix or Hulu, MacFarlane avoided answering the question,

The project dictates what the platform is. ... The Orville is very different from Family Guy in that it doesn't require - I think we have like one broadcast standards note for all of Season 2 [for the episode Primal Urges[65]]. It's just not that kind of show; it goes for something different. The project, and the story, and the tone tell you where it wants to be.[13]

However, the acting cast have said that they did not learn of the move to Hulu until just before walking onto the stage of the 2019 San Diego Comic-Con cast panel.[5]

Preparing to air[]

2019 San Diego Comic-Con and The Orville Experience[]


SDCC 2019 The Orville panel

San Diego Comic-Con 2019

The Orville made its third appearance at the San Diego Comic-Con. The event featured a cast panel, "exclusive ... never-before-seen moments of season 2," and a sneak peak at Season 3.[66]

Perhaps the most surprising addition was a museum exhibition titled The Orville Experience, which was free to the general public. The Orville Experience was designed by Seth MacFarlane, Tom Costantino, visual effects producer Brooke Noska, and senior concept designer Lex Cassar.[67] MacFarlane and Fuzzy Door Productions paid for the Experience largely out-of-pocket.[68] MacFarlane said shortly before opening:

After completing two seasons of The Orville and witnessing the wonderfully gratifying audience response, I decided I wanted to bring something directly to the fans this year — and there’s no better place to do it than San Diego Comic-Con. ... We figured our fans would love to see all of it firsthand, so we pulled together an extensive collection directly from the set....[69]

The exhibition featured the show's original props and artwork, costumes, pieces of the set (such as the infamous hallway of the Orville where an unnamed ensign is ejected from an airlock[70]), and a unique model of the Orville.[71]

San Diego Comic-Con voted The Orville Experience as the best offsite attraction of the year.[72]

2019 New York Comic-Con[]

The Orville made its second appearance at the New York Comic-Con on October 6, 2019.[5] (The team first attended in Season 1.) Executive producer David A. Goodman held a panel interview with the main cast and director Jon Cassar, joking about past seasons and teasing Season 3.

Science fiction alumni[]

Between September and October 2019, fan media account Orville Nation organized a number of actors of science-fiction television shows to publicly express interest in roles on The Orville, including Connor Trinneer (Trip Tucker in Star Trek: Enterprise),[73] Corbin Bernsen (Q2 in Star Trek: The Next Generation),[74] Jonathan Frakes,[75] Corin Nemec (Jonas Quinn on Stargate SG-1),[76] and Garrett Wang (Ensign Harry Kim in Star Trek: Voyager).[77]

Frakes, who already directed two episodes of The Orville by that point, said he wished to appear "perhaps in full alien regalia."[75] Wang joked that while he had not yet been asked to perform on the show, if they asked him to play a captain, a "phaser," or a shuttle, "I would be there in a second." (Wang had visited the set in Season 2.)[77] Meanwhile, Nemec already auditioned for a role on the show and was waiting to hear back.[76]

2020 GalaxyCon[]

In July 2020, Scott Grimes (Gordon Malloy), Peter Macon (Bortus), Mark Jackson (Isaac), J. Lee (John LaMarr), and Kelly Hu (Ozawa) attended GalaxyCon, which was held by video conference due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.[78]


  • Covid-19 restrictions required the show to film its remaining episodes with no more than 30 actors present in any scene, which posed a tremendous obstacle as The Orville had yet to film "four or five" distinct scenes that featured more than 100 characters. The producers decided to push those scenes to the very end of filming in the hope that the restrictions would be lifted in time to shoot them.[32]

List of episodes[]

List of episodes
Count Season Episode ID Code Title Airdate Ratings Notes
027 03 01 S03E01 3LAB01 Electric Sheep
028 03 02 S03E03 3LAB02 Shadow Realms
029 03 03 S03E03 3LAB03 Mortality Paradox
030 03 04 S03E04 3LAB04 Gently Falling Rain
031 03 05 S03E05 3LAB05 A Tale of Two Topas
032 03 06 S03E06 306
033 03 07 S03E07 307
034 03 08 S03E08 308
035 03 09 S03E09 309
036 03 10 S03E10 310
037 03 11 S03E11 311


  1. 1.0 1.1 Initially, executive producer David A. Goodman said the show was "beginning talks" with Fox on renewal. Pascale, Anthony. "Interview: David A. Goodman On How ‘The Orville’ Wrapped Up Season Two And Where It Could Go Next". TrekMovie. May 3, 2019. Associate producer Tom Costantino later clarified that communications were not "beginning" per se. /u/tqgibtngo. "David Goodman interview". Reddit. May 4, 2019.


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  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 @KITST7LEN. "2, back on-board.". Twitter. Dec. 2, 2020. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name ":0" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name ":0" defined multiple times with different content
  14. 14.0 14.1 @Delaneleahy. "Day 1!". Twitter. Dec. 4, 2020.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Andreeva, Nellie. "‘Grey’s Anatomy, ‘This Is Us’, ‘The Orville’, ‘911’, ‘LMS’ & ‘AHS’ Among 16 Disney TV Studios LA Series To Extend Hiatus Amid Covid-19 Surge". Deadline. Dec. 31, 2020.
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  18. @GoodNaturedVLLN. "I apologize for a lack of a stream yesterday.  The good news is I was busy in an official #TheOrville preproduction meeting.  All I can say is we have some big things coming for season 3. It’s going to be quite the adventure!". Twitter. June 7, 2019.
  19. @GoodNaturedVLLN. "No deal yet but as you know Tom, if we as an art department don’t start planning ahead we could fall behind real quick. Always good to stay ahead of the curve. 👍👍😊". Twitter. June 7, 2019.
  20. INTERVIEW - Tom Costantino: THE ORVILLE, editing and the lockdown. TREK on the TUBE. Dec. 4, 2020.
  21. 21.0 21.1 The Orville Season 3 - ...On The Move To Hulu Interview | TOM COSTANTINO & BROOKE NOSKA. Egotastic Funtime. Aug. 29, 2019.
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  24. 097 - Dan O'Shannon (Modern Family, Frasier, Cheers). TV Writer Podcast. May 4, 2020.
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  27. Mainframe Comic Con | Sunday | Part 2. Chuck Load of Comics. April 26, 2020.
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  29. Pascale, Anthony. "SDCC19: ‘The Orville’ Panel Promises Season 3 Will Be Most Surprising + Watch Season 2 Deleted Scenes". TrekMovie. July 24, 2019.
  30. @SethMacFarlane. "That’s the magic balance, yes. I think anything over an hour is too long in any case. But sometimes a difference of minutes can mean keeping or trimming a nugget of character. For example, there’s a Claire revelation that was cut for time in season 2– you’ll find out in season 3!". Twitter. July 22, 2019.
  31. Lovett, Jamie. "The Orville: Scott Grimes Teases Western Episode in Season 3". ComicBook. May 2, 2021.
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  33. Petski, Denise. "‘The Orville’: Anne Winters Joins As New Series Regular For Season 3". Deadline. Nov. 4, 2019.
  34. @elizajaneface. "@macfarlaneseth "Come play on The Orville" he said, "It will be FUN" he said... #TheOrville #Season3". Instagram. Feb. 19, 2021.
  35. @brooki_eh. "[ Hey #TheOrville family!! ]@megamanex [ and I are excited to let you guys know that our super vfx team just got a little added touch of awesome for Season 3! Please help us in welcoming ] @EricHayden1 to the crew! #TeamSuperSupesinSpace !!!!!". Twitter. Aug. 19, 2019.
  36. INTERVIEW - Tom Costantino: THE ORVILLE, editing and the lockdown. TREK on the TUBE. Dec. 4, 2020.
  37. @ChillyKillary. "Whoops my insta isn’t public - here is the pic!". Twitter. Nov. 12, 2019.
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  43. @Brooki_eh. "When the composer stops by to play a little #TheOrville tune at the Christmas party!!! 🤯". Twitter. Dec. 15, 2019.
  44. @GDNaturedVLLN. "Downside to the Corona virus is having to shutdown production for a few weeks. Upside is I'll be returning to daily streaming on Monday. See you then.". Twitter. March 13, 2020.
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