As avid bingers of the show already know, Netflix's Virgin River is exactly the type of low-key (yet highly soapy) romantic drama that will offer just enough gentle escapism to keep your mind occupied through the long winter ahead. The first season of the show saw Mel Monroe (Alexandra Breckenridge) running away from her painful past in Los Angeles to become a midwife and nurse practitioner in the tiny (and fictional) northern California town of Virgin River—only to discover that not only was she unable to escape her past, but also that small town living comes with more than its fair share of major drama.
Against all odds, the second season, which was released Nov. 27, somehow outdid the first in terms of breakups, makeups, and unbelievable reveals, ultimately ending in a cliffhanger so shocking that it should be a federal crime to end a season that way. Obviously, a third season is crucial—and the sooner, the better. Here's everything we know so far about the next installment of Virgin River, from potential release date to what the cast and crew have said about its subject matter.
Has Virgin River been renewed for season three?
Yes! On Friday, December 18, Netflix announced that it would be renewing Virgin River for season 3, with every major characters of season two returning.
The series is based on Robyn Carr's book series of the same name, which comprises a casual 21 installments, so there's plenty of subject material to mine for future seasons. Showrunner Sue Tenney said as much in a recent interview with TVLine, noting that even if the series strays from its source material from time to time, it'll always end up where Carr intended. "Ultimately, the way I look at the show is that we're going to get as many seasons as we get. And when we get to that last season, we want them to be where [Carr] has them," she said—and let's just say that season two didn't exactly end the way the books did, so there must be more episodes in store.
What's on Netflix also uncovered a production listing back in July that indicated that the third season of the show was slated to begin filming sometime between August and December of 2020, implying that the showrunners had privately been given the go-ahead by the powers that be at Netflix long before it was announced to the public. That's exactly what happened with the second season—filming began in September 2019, before the first season had even aired, and ended in mid-December, a few days before the show was officially renewed.
When will a third season of Virgin River be released?
The series' showrunners have set a precedent of starting production on each season almost immediately after the one before, resulting in the release of Virgin River's second season less than a year after the first.
If this pattern continues, and if production on the third season really did start back in August—barring any COVID-related slowdowns—then we can expect to see the third season arrive on Netflix in late November 2021, if not a few weeks earlier.
What will happen in the third season?
Season three of Virgin River already has its work cut out for it, since season two ended with at least one cliffhanger for almost every character. The next batch of episodes will need to address—spoiler alert!—whether Mel and Jack are back together for good, the medical news Doc Mullins was about to share with Hope before they were interrupted by a surprise re-engagement party, how Preacher decides between staying in Virgin River or taking that new chef job in San Francisco, and, most urgently, who shot Jack (and, of course, if he even survives).
If this seems like a tall order, fear not: Tenney, the showrunner, has all but guaranteed that every unanswered question will be addressed in a third season that will also, in true rom-dram fashion, open up many new cans of worms for the residents of Virgin River. In an interview with TVLine, she noted that the question of who shot Jack will be explored throughout season three, with the mystery potentially continuing into future seasons. Tenney also hinted that the next season won't pick up right where season two left off, immediately after Mel discovered Jack bleeding from a gunshot on the floor of the bar, warning viewers to expect "a larger time jump than we had between seasons one and two."
In an interview with Huffington Post, Breckenridge joked that she was surprised by the runaway success of the series. “I just kept telling Martin [Henderson], ‘Nobody’s gonna watch this!'...And to this day, he just quotes me: ‘Nobody’s watching, right, Alex? Nope. Nobody’s watching.’”
What about everyone else?
Season three won't be all about Mel and Jack—Tenney told TVLine that another couple will likely get plenty of screen time in the next installment of Virgin River: Ricky and Lizzie, who got very close in season two, much to the frustration of Lizzie's aunt Connie. "Ricky has a fantastic arc in the books that I plan to explore," Tenney said. "We get into a little bit of it in season two, but we'll definitely explore it more in further seasons."
As for Doc, Tenney said he'll have to deal with "some stuff" that will challenge both himself and his relationship with Hope in the next season. "He's going to rise to the challenge, but it is a real complication for him, especially for him practicing medicine going forward. Will he be able to continue to do that? The clinic and town are his life, so we will seriously explore that," she said.
Sarah Dugdale, who plays Lizzie, told TV Line of her role in season 3: "Connie is such a part of their relationship, not by Lizzie’s choice. In Season 3, we’ll hopefully get to explore her presence, even when she isn’t there; the complications that brings up for [Ricky and Lizzie]; and their ability to stay present together when there’s all this other stuff going on.”
Preacher, meanwhile, will have to make a decision between accepting a new opportunity outside of his small town or accepting Paige-slash-Michelle's son Christopher's plea for help, all while dealing with the ominous message of revenge he received from Wes' twin brother (surprise!). All Tenney would say about Preacher's very tangly situation was, "If you watch the show, you know how that character is going to respond to a call to duty."
Charmaine, too, may see her own storyline finally diverge from Jack's—at least, if Lauren Hammersley, the actor who plays her, has anything to say about it. Hammersley recently opened up to TVLine about what it's like to play a character who is almost universally hated by viewers. "There are two sides to the story," she said, explaining, "What Charmaine wants is pretty simple. She wants love, she wants a family and she wants to be connected—not just to Jack, but also to Hope. She feels like she belongs at the salon, but she really wants to belong in Virgin River. She's got these shattered relationships, and I don't think a lot of them are her fault, so I feel compassion for Charmaine. And now she's pregnant, and the guy who did that to her is off with another woman. So that sucks."
In the end, Hammersley said, "I just hope that Charmaine ends up happy."
Will there be any new characters?
If you thought Virgin River already had enough on its plate with the individual storylines of its many existing characters, you might want to buckle up. When Netflix announced the series' official season three renewal, the streaming service also confirmed that Zibby Allen and Stacey Farber would be joining the cast. Allen, who's appeared on The Flash and Grey's Anatomy, will have a main role as Jack's lawyer sister Brie, while Saving Hope alum Farber will have a recurring role as Lilly's daughter Tara.
Since then, at least one more character has been added to the cast: According to What's on Netflix, Jasmine Vega, who played Lizzie on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, will play a character named Stella in the new episodes of Virgin River.