How The Orville Is Different From Other Sci-Fi Explained By MacFarlane

Exclusive: Seth MacFarlane reveals his original vision for The Orville and explains how it separates itself from other popular sci-fi content.

Seth MacFarlane explains what he initially envisioned for The Orville and what makes it different from other genre films and television shows. The science-fiction comedy series premiered on Fox back in 2017, where it aired for two seasons before transitioning to Hulu. The Orville follows the adventures of a crew on board the titular space vessel in the Planetary Union, 400 years in the future. In addition to being the first live-action series created by MacFarlane, the star leads the cast as Captain Ed Mercer and is joined by Adrianne Palicki, Penny Johnson Jerald, Scott Grimes, Anne Winters, Peter Macon, and Jessica Szohr.

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The Orville, at first glance, is inspired by the long-running Star Trek franchise, simultaneously parodying and honoring a number of its series. However, it also incorporates elements from other popular science-fiction content, including Star Wars and The Twilight Zone. MacFarlane has long been open about his influences and appreciation for classic sci-fi shows, and that reverence is clear in The Orville. In its transition to Hulu, The Orville has been able to up the ante creatively in many ways, and that includes with its sci-fi elements.

Related: The Orville Can Now Perfectly Copy The Star Trek: TOS Crew’s Return


In an exclusive interview with Screen Rant, MacFarlane further details what he aspired to do with The Orville, saying that he wanted it to be able to stand on its own. As he explains, he had a number of goals when setting out to make The Orville, and that includes finding a unique way to set it apart from other sci-fi shows. Read MacFarlane’s full quote regarding what makes The Orville different below:

“From a scope standpoint, we wanted to sit up there with our competitors in a true way and really show what we could do with the budget that everyone else seems to be getting. [Chuckles] I think we were able to do that, we really wanted to prove ourselves as a legitimate sci-fi franchise. I think it still remains to be seen whether we’ve done that, I think it’s too early to tell, but my goal was really to craft stories that could stand up to repeat viewing, that had real moments where that would affect the audience and elicit some kind of feeling. One of my favorite sci-fi movies is Contact, which I think does that so wonderfully. There’s always big ideas and thoughtful elements of speculative science fiction and yet, there’s these fantastically emotional moments as well that leaves you misty-eyed and the best sci-fi, to me, does that. I really wanted to have people walk away from these shows really being affected, whether that’s in a positive way at the end of, say, the end of ‘A Tale of Two Topas,’ a more longing sense like ‘Twice in a Lifetime’ or just making them laugh, as hopefully we did in ‘Future Unknown.’ It’s really about surprising people, writing story terms that are unexpected and keep them guessing, at the same time, never losing sight of the fact that this is a show about people. I think, to me, the thing that I hope separates The Orville from a lot of what else is out there is that we can put our characters in little rooms with no visual effects and no explosions and construct a story that still works and it still keeps you engaged. The soul of the show still is its characters, and in many ways, that’s why the finale was the way it was, was to prove to ourselves and to our audience that, ‘Look, things may be bigger and scope-ier and more epic in a visual sense, but never forget, this show is still about the people.’ I think it’s always good to keep that in mind.”


Seth MacFarlane in The Orville Season 3

MacFarlane also discusses the future of The Orville, sharing that a potential season 4 may be reliant on viewership numbers from Disney+. The move to Hulu, where the show was rebranded as The Orville: New Horizons, supported some of the creator’s more ambitious goals and as he stated, the season 3 finale served as a perfect example of what he wanted the series to be. The Orville was allowed to stretch its creative limits while also exploring its characters on a deeper level. The added production value and blending of styles and tones has helped The Orville reach new heights.

With season 3 having recently wrapped up, it will be interesting to see how the show performs on Disney+ and where The Orville goes next if renewed. It seems like MacFarlane still has ideas in mind, and his love for the genre suggests that the series could go on for as long as viewers remain attached. His character-first mentality is what can sustain the show for many years to come. Fans will have to wait for any further news surrounding a season 4, and those not yet caught up can be sure to watch The Orville on Hulu now.

More: If Star Trek Wasn’t Enough, The Orville Is Copying Star Wars Now Too!


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