Warning! Spoilers for The Orville Season 3Penny Johnson Jerald from The Orville reacts to the death of a main character in the third season’s penultimate episode, talking about how hard it was to say goodbye. The Orville recently concluded its third season on Hulu, having moved from Fox. Along with Jerald, the series stars Seth MacFarlane, Adrianne Palicki, Scott Grimes, Peter Macon, J. Lee, and Mark Jackson.
The Orville follows the crew of the titular spaceship as they explore the far reaches of space, heavily inspired by early Star Trek. Season 3 saw the introduction of Charly Burke (Anne Winters), the ship’s new navigator, who is killed off in the season’s next to last episode, sacrificing herself to destroy a deadly weapon. Despite The Orville‘s comedic tone, season 3 leaned into more ambitious narratives due to a higher budget, and as a result, Charly’s death lent a lot of weight to the show’s story.
In an exclusive interview with Screen Rant, Jerald talks about how she didn’t want to know the death would happen, having not read the scripts in advance. However, she says that Winters claimed she’d only be around for the season. Jerald goes on to say how difficult it was to shoot the funeral scene and how it was a challenge to separate personal feelings from acting in the scene. Read her quote below:
Because I don’t read the episodes beforehand, I didn’t know, because I didn’t want to know. However, Anne kind of told everybody, “Well, I’m only here for 10 episodes,” so I’m thinking, “Who does that? Why? Oh, okay. Well, all right.” So I knew something was gonna happen, I didn’t know what it was, but I was telling her the other day that one of the saddest moments for me was the funeral and how each character, you’re really up close and personal through the lens. You got to see truly how that character effected the ship. When you’re doing a scene like that, at least with me, you cannot separate the personal feelings as the actor drawing from, “Oh, wow, so, okay, baby doll won’t be around.” So you have something to draw from, so it’s kind of sad.
It’s always a struggle for actors to say goodbye to a colleague, with performance having a deeper sense of camaraderie than most professions. Jerald’s quote indicates how even though Winters was on The Orville for a short time, her departure left an impact on her fellow cast members. The Orville‘s long production cycle due to heavy special effects and COVID delays also allowed the cast to bond over a longer period than other shows.
Though character deaths are never fun or easy, they’re necessary for storytelling to remind audiences of the weight of story circumstances, and that even science fiction can’t escape the cold reality of mortality. Feelings of loss are often the ones that stay with audiences the longest, rather than cool effects or funny jokes, striking a chord with the universal truth that death can come at any time. As difficult as it was for Jerald and the rest of the cast, The Orville will forever be impacted by the life and death of Charly Burke, a legacy that will hopefully continue should the series be renewed for a fourth season.