The Orville

Last updated on 22 November 2017

The Orville is an American science fiction comedy-drama[1][2][3] series created by and starring Seth MacFarlane that premiered on Sunday, September 10, 2017, with new episodes airing Thursdays on Fox during the 2017–18 season.[5][6] MacFarlane stars as Ed Mercer, an officer in the Planetary Union's line of exploratory space vessels whose career took a downturn following his divorce, and who is given the titular ship as his first command, only to discover that his ex-wife, Kelly Grayson (Adrianne Palicki), has been assigned to be his First Officer. Inspired by the television series Star Trek, the series tells the story of Mercer, Grayson, and the crew of the Orville as they embark on various diplomatic and exploratory missions.[7] On November 2, 2017, Fox renewed the series for a second season.[8]

The Orville
The Orville logo.svg
Created by Seth MacFarlane
Theme music composer Bruce Broughton[4]
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 10 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Running time 43 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor 20th Television
Original network Fox
Original release September 10, 2017 – present
External links


The Orville is set on the titular U.S.S. Orville (ECV-197), a mid-level exploratory space vessel in the Planetary Union, a 25th-century interstellar alliance of Earth and many other planets.

Cast and characters


  • Seth MacFarlane as Ed Mercer, the captain of the Orville.[9][10][11] Mercer was an up-and-coming officer, believed to be on the fast track to commanding his own heavy cruiser by age 40. However, a year before the pilot, he caught his wife Kelly in bed with an alien. Since then, he was cited for becoming lax in his duties, including six instances of reporting to duty while hungover, but was informed that due to the size of the fleet and the retirement of the former captain, the Orville, a mid-level exploratory ship, was in need of a new commanding officer.[10]
  • Adrianne Palicki as Commander Kelly Grayson, the first officer of the Orville and Ed Mercer's ex-wife.[9][11] The two divorced when Mercer caught Grayson in bed with an alien.[12] Unbeknownst to Mercer, Grayson personally went to Admiral Halsey to plead her case to give her ex-husband a command, stating that despite some personal setbacks, he deserved his own command. She asked Halsey to keep that from him when assigned the Orville. Mercer and Grayson decide to put their differences aside, to work together as a team and stay as friends.[10]
  • Penny Johnson Jerald[11] as Doctor Claire Finn, the Chief Medical Officer on the Orville, holding the rank of Lieutenant Commander. A physician of exceptional credentials, she has expertise in molecular surgery, DNA engineering and psychiatry, which could have afforded her the privilege of serving on the heavy cruiser of her choice. She instead chose the mid-level exploratory vessel because, as she explains to Mercer in the pilot, she prefers to request her transfers based on where she feels she is needed, as she feels more stimulated by such assignments. When she tells Mercer she felt he could use her help on his first command, he interprets this as lack of confidence on her part in his competence, though she denies this.[10] Having never found the ideal opportunity to marry, she chose to become a single mother, and her two sons, Marcus and Ty, travel aboard the Orville with her.[13] She repeatedly rebuffs Lt. Yaphit's advances,[14][15] though they become physically intimate in Episode 9 after falling victim to a Retepsian sex pheromone.[16]
  • Scott Grimes as Lieutenant Gordon Malloy, the helmsman of the Orville and Mercer's best friend.[9][11] Considered the best helmsman in the fleet, he was relegated to desk duty after an attempt to impress a girl resulted in him shearing the door off a cargo bay during a precarious shuttle docking, losing cargo in the process. He was specifically requested by Mercer despite some hesitation by Admiral Halsey, who harbors concern over Malloy's history of crude and juvenile pranks.[10]
  • Peter Macon[11] as Lieutenant Commander Bortus, the second officer aboard the U.S.S. Orville. Bortus is from Moclus, a planet whose primary industry is weapons manufacturing,[14] and whose inhabitants, the Moclans, are a single-gender species. Bortus exhibits a degree of stoic formality. For example, Bortus disapproves of the bridge crew discussing Mercer and Grayson's breakup after Mercer leaves the bridge in the pilot episode. Among the peculiarities of the Moclans are that they only urinate once a year.[10][11] Moclans reproduce through the laying of eggs, which are incubated for 21 days. Bortus and his mate, Klyden, become parents in the series' second episode, when Bortus incubates and hatches an egg.[17] When the child is revealed to be female, a rare occurrence among Moclans, Bortus and Klyden's desire to have her undergo sex reassignment surgery provides the allegorical conflict of the series' third episode.[14]
  • Halston Sage[11] as Lieutenant Alara Kitan, the Orville's 23-year-old Chief of Security. She is a member of the Xelayan race, which inhabits a high-gravity planet, giving her greater-than-human strength, allowing her to knock down doors and walls by charging against them,[10] or crush a handheld cube of solid titanium and reshape it into a sphere with her bare hands.[14]
  • J. Lee as Lieutenant John LaMarr,[11] the navigator of the Orville. He and Malloy strike up an immediate friendship in the pilot, based on their ironic view that they are both "jerks".[10]
  • Mark Jackson[11][18] as Isaac, the Orville's Science and Engineering Officer. Isaac is a member of the artificial, non-biological race from Kaylon-1 that views biological lifeforms, including humans, as inferior. Isaac explains to Mercer in the pilot that the Union's Admiralty offered a posting to any Kaylon willing to accept it, as an attempt to initiate relations between the two powers. Isaac accepted the offer because he saw it as a way to study human behavior. During the course of his time with the crew, he comes to observe and understand aspects of human behavior, such as sarcasm, slang,[7][10] and practical jokes. Isaac perceives his surroundings with his body's internal sensors, and not with the two glowing blue "eyes" on his face, which are purely aesthetic.[19]


  • Victor Garber as Admiral Halsey, Mercer's superior and an old friend of Grayson's father. He first appears in the series premiere and again in Episode 9.
  • Chad Coleman as Klyden, Bortus' mate and father of their child. He first appears at the end of the series' second episode.
  • Norm Macdonald as the voice of Lt. Yaphit, an amorphous, gelatinous, shapeshifting engineer on the Orville,[20] who repeatedly attempts to obtain a date with Dr. Finn,[14][15] frequently flirts with other females on the ship.[19] Despite telling her in Episode 9 that he is in love with her, she does not reciprocate his attraction, but they become physically intimate in that episode after falling victim to a Retepsian sex pheromone.[16]
  • Larry Joe Campbell as Lieutenant Commander[17] Steve Newton, Chief Engineer of the Orville.[19]
  • Gavin Lee as Nurse Park[16]
  • Rachael MacFarlane as the voice of the Orville computer[21][22]

Guest stars

  • Brian George as Doctor Aronov, the leader of the Epsilon II science station in the series premiere
  • Ron Canada as Admiral Tucker in Episodes 2 and 7
  • Jeffrey Tambor as Captain Mercer's father, Ben in Episode 2
  • Holland Taylor as Captain Mercer's mother, Jeannie in Episode 2
  • Jonathan Adams as the Moclan Arbitrator in Episode 3
  • Rena Owen as Heveena in Episode 3
  • Robert Knepper as Hamelac in Episode 4
  • Liam Neeson as Jahavus Dorahl, Captain of the derelict Bio Ship in Episode 4
  • Charlize Theron as Pria Lavesque, who appears in Episode 5
  • Kelly Hu as Admiral Ozawa, who appears in Episode 6
  • Michaela McManus as Teleya, a Krill teacher serving on Krill destroyer Yakar, in Episode 6
  • Brian Thompson as Drogen, a survivalist on a planet that Finn, Isaac and Finn's children crash on in Episode 8
  • Rob Lowe as Darulio, the Retepsian archeologist whose affair with Kelly in the series premiere ended her and Mercer's marriage. He appears in Episode 9 when his work proves vital to mediating a dispute between two warring alien species.
  • Mike Henry as Dann, a member of the Engineering staff that Captain Mercer and Commander Grayson repeatedly encounter in the elevator in Episode 9
  • Robert Picardo as Ildis Kitan, father of Alara Kitan, in Episode 10
  • Molly Hagan as Drenala Kitan, mother of Alara Kitan, in Episode 10


No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date Prod.
U.S. viewers
1 "Old Wounds" Jon Favreau Seth MacFarlane September 10, 2017 1LAB01 8.56[23]
25th-century Union command officer Ed Mercer divorces his wife, Kelly Grayson, after catching her cheating on him. A year later, he accepts a position as Captain of the U.S.S. Orville, a mid-level research vessel, and learns to his dismay that his ex-wife as been assigned as his First Officer. During the Orville's first mission, the hostile alien Krill captain (Joel Swetow) attempts to steal a device that accelerates time, which has both beneficial and dangerous applications. Mercer and Grayson rig the device to destroy itself and the Krill vessel.
2 "Command Performance" Robert Duncan McNeill Seth MacFarlane September 17, 2017 1LAB03 6.63[24]
The technologically advanced Calivon imprison Mercer and Grayson in a replica of their former home as a zoo exhibit. Alara is left in command of the Orville, as Bortus has laid an egg and must incubate it. Alara is unsure of herself, but gains confidence with the help of Claire's mentorship. Mercer and Grayson wonder if they could have made their relationship work, but finally conclude that they were never compatible for a long-term romantic relationship, despite their strong camaraderie. Admiral Tucker orders Alara to return to Earth instead of approaching the powerful Calivon; Alara violates these orders and rescues Mercer and Grayson, along with an alien child, by trading an archive of Earth's reality television for them. Ed presents Alara with a medal of honor and believes he and Grayson can prevent her from being punished for insubordination. A female offspring hatches from Bortus' egg, stunning him and Klyden, as Moclan females are extremely rare.
3 "About a Girl" Brannon Braga Seth MacFarlane September 21, 2017 1LAB04 4.05[25]
When Doctor Finn refuses Bortus and Klyden's request to have their daughter undergo sex reassignment surgery, which is standard practice for Moclans on the very rare occasions when a female is born, the parents petition Mercer to order the procedure. Mercer refuses, as he (and the rest of the crew) object to performing such a procedure on a healthy infant, so Bortus and Klyden arrange to have the procedure performed on a Moclan vessel. Gordon and John change Bortus' mind by showing him Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but Klyden still wants to proceed, revealing that he was born female. The case is arbitrated on the Moclan planet, Moclus, where Grayson represents Bortus; she casts doubt on the idea of male superiority by demonstrating that Alara is physically strong and Gordon is stupid. Ed locates a female Moclan of advanced years, Heveena, who testifies that she lived a happy and fulfilling life in seclusion, and reveals that under the pseudonym "Gondus Elden," she has become an esteemed novelist on Moclus. But Klyden and the tribunal are unconvinced, and the baby undergoes the surgery. Despite their disagreement, Bortus and Klyden are committed to one another and to giving their son, Topa, a good life.
4 "If the Stars Should Appear" James L. Conway Seth MacFarlane September 28, 2017 1LAB02 3.70[26]
The Orville encounters a huge, 2000-year-old derelict ship drifting into a star. Mercer, Grayson, Kitan, Finn, and Isaac enter, discovering an artificial biosphere and a civilization of 3 million who worship an entity called Dorahl, and do not know they are on a ship. Grayson is held prisoner by their theocratic dictator Hamelac, who imposes a death penalty on "Reformers" who believe anything exists beyond the known world. While Bortus takes the Orville to save a colony ship from a Krill attack, Grayson's crewmates rescue her and lead a group of Reformers to the alien ship's bridge. An ancient recording from Captain Jahavus Dorahl (played by Liam Neeson) reveals that it was a generation ship disabled by an ion storm. Isaac initiates repairs and opens the hull's window, enabling the populace to see stars for the first time, moving even Hamelac. Mercer makes arrangements for the Union to train the people to operate their ship. Meanwhile, Klyden is frustrated that Bortus' duties leave him little time for family.
5 "Pria" Jonathan Frakes Seth MacFarlane October 5, 2017 1LAB05 3.43[27]
The Orville comes to the rescue of a mining ship. Grayson is suspicious of their new guest, Pria Lavesque (Charlize Theron), to whom Mercer is clearly attracted. Grayson's concerns are shown to have merit when Pria is discovered to be a time-traveling artifact dealer from the 29th Century. Pria claims to have rescued the Orville from a dark matter storm that would have killed them all, mainly so she could sell the ship to an artifact buyer in her own time. Meanwhile, Malloy's attempt to teach Isaac the concept of practical jokess backfires when Isaac anesthetizes Malloy and amputates Malloy's leg.
6 "Krill" Jon Cassar David A. Goodman October 12, 2017 1LAB06 3.37[28]
After recovering a Krill shuttle intact, Mercer and Malloy are ordered to pose as Krill soldiers in order to board one of their vessels and get a copy of the Ankhana, a sacred religious text. They are forced to change priorities when they learn that the Krill plan to detonate a powerful bomb over a remote Union colony. Rather than destroy the bomb, and therefore the ship, they exploit the Krill's natural weakness to sunlight to eliminate all the crew members, with the exception of a classroom full of children and their teacher Teleya, who warns Mercer that his actions will only reinforce the Krill's hatred for the Union.
7 "Majority Rule" Tucker Gates Seth MacFarlane October 26, 2017 1LAB07 4.18[29]
An undercover team led by Grayson lands on Sargas 4, an Earth-like planet with a culture similar to that of 21st-century human civilization, to locate two missing anthropologists. There, LaMarr is arrested after a video of him dancing with a beloved statue receives more than a million "down" votes, and must convince the public to pardon him or be subjected to "treatment" for his actions. Alara and Claire locate one of the missing, but find him in an irreversible lobotomized state. With LaMarr facing a final vote to determine his guilt, Mercer brings one of the planet's inhabitants, Lysella, aboard the Orville and learns about the "Master Feed", which Isaac is able to hack and upload doctored images of John, narrowly swinging the vote in his favor. Now free, John and the others return to the ship and depart. The next day, Lysella decides against taking part in a public vote.
8 "Into the Fold" Brannon Braga Brannon Braga & Andre Bormanis November 2, 2017 1LAB08 3.83[30]
While traveling to a recreational planet in a shuttle, Isaac, Finn, and her sons Marcus and Ty fall into a spatial fold, and crash on a planet devastated by famine and disease, and populated by cannibals. Finn is separated from the other three and captured by a survivalist named Drogen. While she works to escape, Isaac, who is unfamiliar with the care of human children, is forced to protect her sons while he tries to fix the shuttle's communication systems in order to send a distress signal. Ty becomes ill with the planet's indigenous disease. After Finn kills Drogen and reunites with the others, Isaac and Marcus hold off a large attack by the cannibals long enough for the Orville to rescue them. After Finn cures Ty's infection, Isaac tells her that, for all the faults he sees in the children, he still thinks of them fondly.
9 "Cupid's Dagger" Jamie Babbit Liz Heldens November 9, 2017 1LAB09 3.69[31]
Two alien species, the Navarians and the Bruidians, have been at a centuries-old stalemate over which race lays proper claim over the planet Lapovius. The Orville is dispatched to mediate talks between the two, hosting representatives from both species, as well as a forensic archaeologist who will scan an ancient artifact recently discovered on the planet for DNA that may reveal which species was the original inhabitant. The archaeologist turns out to be Darulio (Rob Lowe), the Retepsian whose affair Grayson a year prior ended her marriage to Mercer. Unbeknownst to the crew, the sex pheromone Darulio secretes as part of his mating cycle affect the crew, resulting in trysts between Darulio and Grayson, Darulio and Mercer, and Finn and Yaphit. This incapacitates the affected officers, resulting in the Navarian and Bruidian delegates canceling the mediation, and a full-scale battle in orbit around the planet. The crisis is resolved when Darulio and Alara expose the ambassadors to a modified version of the pheromone, resulting in a temporary infatuation that prompts a ceasefire. DNA test results from the artifact reveal that the planet's inhabitants were common ancestors to both the Navarians and Bruidians, legitimizing a mutual claim to the planet. When Grayson asks Darulio if he was in heat a year ago, he only answers "maybe".
10 "Firestorm" Brannon Braga Cherry Chevapravatdumrong November 16, 2017 1LAB10 3.32[32]
During a plasma storm, Lt. Payne becomes trapped under heavy debris from an explosion in Engineering. Alara attempts a rescue but becomes petrified of the fire standing in her way and fails to reach him in time. Alara is overcome with guilt and attempts to resign. Ed denies her request, suggesting instead that Alara attempt to discover the cause of her fear. Alara contacts her parents (Robert Picardo and Molly Hagan), who reveal that, when she was a baby, her mother fell asleep cradling her when a fire broke out in the kitchen. Alara's cries woke her up just in time to save them both. Soon, the Orville encounters strange phenomena, including a scary clown, a giant tarantula that eats Gordon, and both Dr. Finn and Isaac turning evil. It's later revealed that Alara asked Isaac to create a program to simulate any other potential fears she may have. Although she faces a court martial for invoking Directive 38 (allowing the Chief of Security to override the captain's clearance) so that no one could abort the simulation early, Ed decides to let Alara off easy, saying he was impressed by her ability to overcome every obstacle. With renewed confidence, Alara enjoys a peaceful night's sleep for the first time since the accident in Engineering.
11 "New Dimensions"[33] Kelly Cronin[34] TBA November 30, 2017 1LAB11 TBD
12 "Mad Idolatry"[35] Seth MacFarlane[36] TBA December 7, 2017[37] 1LAB13 TBD



MacFarlane originally wrote The Orville as a spec script, which was given a 13-episode order by Fox on May 4, 2016, making it the first live-action television series created by MacFarlane, as well as his first live-action starring role on television.[38]

Following the project's greenlight, MacFarlane stated, “I've wanted to do something like this show ever since I was a kid, and the timing finally feels right. [...] I think this is gonna be something special.”[5]

According to MacFarlane, The Orville was inspired by The Twilight Zone and Star Trek.[39] He was also encouraged to sell the series due to the success of Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool.[40]


On July 29, 2016, MacFarlane's role was revealed to be Ed Mercer, the captain of the Orville, while Adrianne Palicki had been cast as Kelly Grayson, Ed's ex-wife and the newly appointed first officer of the Orville, and Scott Grimes, who voices Steve Smith on American Dad! (another show created by MacFarlane), was cast as Gordon Malloy, Ed's best friend whom he hires to pilot the Orville.[9] On August 19, Peter Macon and J Lee were cast as series regulars.[41][42] On October 31, Halston Sage and Penny Johnson Jerald joined the cast.[43] On December 8, Mark Jackson was cast.[18] On April 3, 2017, Chad L. Coleman was added as a series regular and Larry Joe Campbell was cast in a recurring role.[44]

At San Diego Comic Con, MacFarlane said that Charlize Theron would guest-star in an episode.[45] The two had previously co-starred in A Million Ways to Die in the West.


On August 24, 2016, Jon Favreau signed on to direct the pilot.[46] Production on the pilot episode began in late 2016, and the rest of the episodes began filming on March 27, 2017.[38] Production wrapped on August 23, 2017.[36]

Jonathan Frakes and Robert Duncan McNeill also direct episodes of the show; both Star Trek actors, the two have also directed Star Trek episodes in the past.[47]

On 15 November 2017, it was reported that episode thirteen of season one would be held back and instead air during the second season.[48]


The show uses a 75-piece orchestra for the music in each episode, alongside several different composers. MacFarlane said "We score it like a movie" and "We really put as much into that as we do into the effects."[49]


Critical response

The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 21% approval rating, with an average rating of 4.61/10 based on 39 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "An odd jumble of campiness and sincerity, homage and satire, The Orville never quite achieves liftoff."[50] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 36 out of 100, based on 21 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[51]

Liz Miller writing for IndieWire compared the series to Star Trek, calling it a rip-off and "Creatively, Morally, and Ethically Bankrupt". She criticized the lack of creativity, the blatant imitation, and was surprised that the show is "uninterested in being a comedy".[47]

Erik Kain of Forbes gave a positive review of the show with the observation that "All the optimism and sincerity and lightheartedness of Star Trek is here, and in many ways it's kind of wonderful. I'm honestly surprised something like this exists." He says the critics were wrong and suggests their opinions are based on disliking MacFarlane and his type of humor.[52]


The Orville has performed well in ratings. After its Sunday premiere on September 10, the show moved to Thursday nights at 9 pm. In its first broadcast in the new time slot, The Orville became Fox's highest rated Thursday 9pm broadcast in two years.[53]

After taking into account DVR and VOD, The Orville was Fox's most-viewed drama debut since the premiere of Empire in 2015.

No. Title Air date Rating/share
DVR viewers
Total viewers
1 "Old Wounds" September 10, 2017 2.7/9 8.56[23] N/A N/A N/A N/A
2 "Command Performance" September 17, 2017 2.2/8 6.63[24] 0.9 2.42 3.1 9.05[54]
3 "About a Girl" September 21, 2017 1.1/4 4.05[25] N/A N/A N/A N/A
4 "If the Stars Should Appear" September 28, 2017 1.1/4 3.70[26] 1.0 3.11 2.1 6.81[55]
5 "Pria" October 5, 2017 0.9/3 3.43[27] 1.2 3.35 2.1 6.79[56]
6 "Krill" October 12, 2017 1.0/4 3.37[28] 1.1 3.32 2.1 6.69[57]
7 "Majority Rule" October 26, 2017 1.2/5 4.18[29] 1.1 3.11 2.3 7.29[58]
8 "Into the Fold" November 2, 2017 1.0/4 3.83[30] 1.0 2.89 2.0 6.72[59]
9 "Cupid's Dagger" November 9, 2017 1.0/4 3.69[31] TBD TBD TBD TBD
10 "Firestorm" November 16, 2017 0.9/3 3.32[32] TBD TBD TBD TBD
11 "New Dimensions" November 30, 2017 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD
12 "Mad Idolatry" December 7, 2017 TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD TBD


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