12:30pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
AMC Renews 'Hell on Wheels' for Fourth Season
AMC is going back to the Old West.
The cable network has renewed Western drama Hell on Wheels for a fourth season, with showrunner John Wirth set to return. The series will be expanded from 10 to 13 episodes and return in summer 2014.
Wirth took over at the helm of the drama -- from Endemol, Entertainment One and Nomadic Pictures -- in season three after series creators/showrunners Joe and Tony Gayton exited. The duo's contracts were not picked up after season two.
This past season, AMC moved the Anson Mount and Common starrer to Saturdays in a bid to open up a third night of original programming, pairing it with reruns of classic Western movies.
Season three, which concluded in October, posted gains from its second season in its new home on Saturdays, averaging 3.3 million total viewers when factoring in live-plus-3 returns. The series shed 2 million total viewers in its second season after it lost ratings behemoth The Walking Dead as a lead-in in its previous home on Sundays.
"John Wirth and his team on both sides of the camera delivered a remarkable third season and Hell on Wheels fans responded. We are so proud of this show and congratulate everyone who has contributed to its success," AMC president Charlie Collier said. "AMC has served passionate Western fans for three decades, so it is particularly gratifying to see these viewers capping off their Saturdays with an original Western on what has historically been a tough night of the week for television. Our commitment to the genre is unwavering, and we look forward to continuing to super-serve this audience with an expanded fourth season of Hell on Wheels."
The renewal helps solidify AMC's 2014 drama lineup, where season four of Hell on Wheels will join freshman dramas Turn and Halt & Catch Fire as well as the recently announced fifth season of Walking Dead and the first half of Mad Men's final season.
Meanwhile, a decision on the fate of low-rated freshman drama Low Winter Sun has yet to be made.