'Fringe' Renewed for Season 4

Fringe - Cast - 2011
Courtesy of FOX

Fox’s cult drama Fringe has been renewed for a fourth season.

From J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the mindbender -- which follows the adventures of a group of government agents investigating the supernatural side of science -- has been bounced around Fox’s schedule for years. It launched on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008, moving to Thursdays at 9 p.m. the following season. 

In mid-January, Fox moved Fringe from the ultra-competitive Thursday night time period to the otherwise-dead Friday slot, with Kitchen Nightmares as its lead-in.

The 22-episode order comes after the show garnered a series low 1.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic in its most recent episode"Stowaway," down 13 percent from the previous week, in which Fringe reached a low in viewership with 3.6 million tuning in.

Season to date Fringe, which stars Anna Torv, John Noble and Joshua Jackson, has averaged 3.3 million viewers in the ad-favored demo including its Thursday run, according to Nielsen. So far, it has averaged 6.3 million total viewers.

Since premiering on Fridays, the series has averaged 4.1 million viewers.

Though ratings have slid since the first season, the show tacks on significant DVR numbers. Through Feb. 20, Fringe has seen a 44 percent increase in its key demo rating, rising to a 2.6 (vs. a 1.4) when live-plus-7 numbers are factored in.

Fox entertainment chief Kevin Reilly made his case for the series' survival at the Television Critics Assn.'s semi-annual press tour earlier this year. "It's a fantastic show," he said, "and honestly I'd be heartbroken if it went away."

Executive producer J.H. Wyman tweeted the news Friday evening, saying, "Fringe was picked up!!!! Thanks Fringedom!"

UPDATE: Fox sent out a release Friday morning, and this is what Reilly, a big Fringe supporter, had to say about the renewal.

Fringe has truly hit a creative stride and has distinguished itself as one of television’s most original programs. The series’ ingenious producers, amazingly talented cast and crew, as well as some of the most passionate and loyal fans on the planet, made this fourth-season pickup possible,” said Reilly. “When we moved the show to Fridays, we asked the fans to follow and they did. We’re thrilled to bring it back for another full season and keep it part of the Fox family."

Co-creator Abrams said in a statement: “We could not be happier that the fans of Fringe (and our most excellent partners at Fox) have allowed us to continue telling stories from the fringe for another season!”

Showrunners Jeff Pinkner and Wyman issued a joint statement, saying, "This early pickup comes at a perfect time as we start production on the Season 3 finale. We join the cast and crew in thanking our loyal fans and Fox for allowing us to have this much fun telling stories we love."