Netflix's Virgin River is the equivalent of a warm hug: With small-town trappings reminiscent of Gilmore Girls and Friday Night Lights and its unforgettable cast of characters, it's the perfect cozy drama to curl up with. Fans agree: Although Netflix doesn't share viewing statistics, the show is popular enough for Netflix to have quietly renewed it for season four, even before the streaming service dropped Virgin River's third season on July 9. That's according to What's on Netflix, which reported that filming for Virgin River's fourth season began in late July, just weeks after the release of season three.
Weeks later, in late September, Netflix confirmed that it had renewed Virgin River not just for a season 4, but for a season 5, too. Stars Alexandra Breckinridge (Mel) and Martin Henderson (Jack) spoofed the series finale—in which Jack tries to propose to Mel but is thrown off by a big announcement—with an Instagram video in which Martin "proposes" they go ahead and do a season four. "Do you want to do a season five?" Alexandra responds.
It isn't exactly a surprise that Netflix renewed the hit show for more seasons, especially since there are 25 books—yes, you read that right—in the Virgin River book series by Robyn Carr that the show is based on. Season three jumped to the top of the Netflix charts almost immediately and, per Nielson, pulled in more than 1.4 million viewers in its first week—by the end of its first month on Netflix, it was the top-streamed content in the entire country—so it would certainly make sense for Netflix to have green-lit season four as early as possible.
So, with season four confirmed, what do we know about it? Will Hope, played by Annette O'Toole, survive? What's going on with Mel's baby? Will Charmaine finally have her twins? And we're finally going to find out who shot Jack—right? Let's dig in.
When will season four of Virgin River come out?
Our guess: July of 2022. Here's why: Seasons two and three of Virgin River came out just seven months apart, but unfortunately for Virgin River fans, you shouldn't expect to see the same short gap between seasons three and four. According to What's on Netflix—which, it's worth noting, was correct about season three and season two timing and frequently reports renewals and cancellations accurately before they're announced—season four began filming at the end of July 2021, with filming planned to wrap up at the end of November.
Tim Matheson, who plays Doc Mullin, confirmed to the Radio Times in July that the cast would return to work soon: "Well, Netflix is quite quiet about all that...I just hesitate to say anything that they might get upset [about]. My understanding is that it will be like any day now." This lines up with Netflix Life's report, which claimed in August that the show had begun filming.
More evidence that the show begun filming in August: What's on Netflix unearthed evidence that Virgin River would be filming its fourth season that month. "Thanks to a post from Watershed Grill on Instagram, we know that filming is taking place there on August 17th and 18th, 2021," it wrote. Watershed Grill is where Jack's Bar is filmed.
So, if everything goes according to plan, the show will likely have finished filming by the end of 2021–but that's assuming there are no COVID-19 delays, which have slowed down filming for other Netflix hits like Bridgerton and You. After that, editing and post-production will take a few months. A season four release date of July 2022 would make sense: That would be one year after the release of season three—Netflix likes to release new seasons at the same time of the year as previous ones, when possible—and would, hopefully, give the team behind Virgin River enough time to put together the season.
What's on Netflix confirms: "We’re currently predicting that Virgin River season 4 should return in 2022 with it most likely being in Q2-Q3 2022 (anywhere between April and July 2022)."
What will season four be about?
Spoilers ahead. Virgin River season three ended on cliffhangers for many of the characters—particularly Preacher, who was poisoned by a former friend of Paige's to get him out of the way as part of a plot to kidnap Christopher, and of course Mel and Jack, who are dealing with the aftermath of Mel's revelation that she's pregnant—but they don't know if the father is Jack or her late ex-husband Mark. Lizzie broke things off with Ricky and went back to her slimy LA ex-boyfriend after she discovered Ricky was enlisting; Brady was arrested as a suspect in Jack's shooting after a similar gun is found in his car; Charmaine and Todd threatened Jack with an explosive custody battle over the twins; and, of course, Hope is in hospital with a brain injury following a car accident.
Season four will see a boatload of new storylines, but this past season set up a number of arcs: We'll no doubt see Ricky make a decision about enlisting, and potentially see him leave Virgin River—and Lizzie—behind. Mel and Jack will deal with the unknowns of her pregnancy and decide whether they can make it work (for your peace of mind, the actors who play them have been clear that they definitely will). We're likely to see Paige again after her absence for the whole of the third season, and hopefully she'll be reunited with Christopher. Charmaine will give birth to the twins, and we'll probably see a showdown between her and Todd, and Jack, the biological father of her children. And speaking of Jack—we will finally, find out who shot him.
Season four is going to be a roller coaster from the very first minute, Tenney shared with TV Insider. "There’s a big reveal when we open Season 4 that puts certain people in jeopardy," she revealed.
Will Hope be in season four of Virgin River?
Oddly absent from the whole of season three was Annette O'Toole, who plays the town's mayor, Hope, who was (and will be again) married to the local doctor, Doc Mullins. Hope's absence in season three, aside from video chat, was due to COVID-19 filming restrictions—she couldn't get to Vancouver to film with the rest of the cast. But don't worry—both O'Toole and Hope will be likely back for the fourth season of Virgin River (phew).
Tenney told EW that Hope will survive her car accident at the end of season three. "We do move ahead. To us, it's [about] the recovery and what she's dealing with—a traumatic brain injury." She also confirmed to TV Insider: "If we have a Season 4, Annette is very excited to rejoin the Virgin River troop.”
But Hope and Muriel may also become friends in season four, if you can believe it—Tenney told EW: "The more fun relationship is the one between Muriel and Hope. It starts as very antagonistic...In the slow burn category, you'll see moments coming up that are going to open up that relationship." (Maybe Muriel will show up to take care of Hope as Hope recovers?)
What has the cast and crew said about season four?
Like I said, we'll find out who shot Jack in season four...right? Um...probably. Showrunner Sue Tenney told Entertainment Weekly: "I always wanted it to be a slow burn. I liked the idea of putting Jack in a vulnerable situation, which is he can't remember something simple." She added to TV Guide: "[The culmination]...will involve a tremendous amount of nefarious characters, and some characters that will be surprising." And to TV Insider, she shared: "The person who pulled the trigger and wanted him dead are the same person, but Calvin and Jimmy and the failed raid in Season 2 and him getting shot all intersect with all the rest of it." Alexandra Breckenridge, who plays Mel, laughed to TV Insider: "Well, I know who shot Jack!"
Outside of the shooting mystery, we know that Jack will get help with his custody battle from Brie in season four. Confirmed Tenney to Digital Spy: "We will utilize the fact that Brie is an attorney in the show going forward." Tenney also noted in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that Charmaine will have more to deal with in season four than just the twins' birth, her new marriage, and the upcoming custody fight: "We have a pretty big bombshell for [Charmaine] coming in the following season, if we have a season 4, that's going to blow everybody away."
But it's likely to be a rocky journey for Jack...well, another one. (Poor Jack has been through a lot.) Even on top of the fatherhood situation—his prospective custody battle over the twins, not to mention Mel's ex-husband potentially being the father of her baby—Henderson hinted to TV Line that his ex-wife of three months, Mandy, might just make a return. "Mandy showing up in Virgin River would complicate things even more. It's possible with this show," he said.
Not to mention, Henderson has a possible cameo on Grey's Anatomy to contend with. You'll remember that Henderson played the rough-but-raw Australian Dr. Nathan Riggs, whose character left the show engaged to Megan Hunt (played by Abigail Spencer). A recent Grey's Anatomy promo confirmed that Megan Hunt would be returning to Grey's—which begs the question: Will she bring her husband-to-be, played by Henderson, with her? Could Henderson have filmed a cameo between Virgin River seasons? Only time will tell.
As for Doc's grandson, who showed up in Virgin River at the end of season three: "It's going to complicate, and it's going to bring insight into Doc and into Doc's beginnings," noted Tenney to EW. "The father of the grandson that shows up and the woman that he has a child with and all of these things are pieces that will all be dealt with in the coming season."
At first, Doc will think he's being scammed, Tim Matheson (who plays Doc) told Entertainment Weekly. "It's just such drama, such conflict, such interesting stuff to get into. Especially for a couple that never had children. He really wasn't ever a father, so now to have a grandchild—that's pretty radical."
It's going to be an emotional season for Doc in several ways. He and Hope will finally get married, a storyline that was meant to be in season three. "We had a very lovely, two long episodes about [Doc and Hope's wedding]...Two episodes of plot on that. When we get to that point, which is a re-commitment ceremony, we definitely are going to want to see that," Tenney told EW. She also said to TV Insider: "There’s a different emotional story that will play out in Season 4 between the two characters.”
Preacher and Paige
You probably guessed this from the season three build-up, but speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Tenney confirmed that Paige, Preacher, and Christopher's story will reach a conclusion next season. "We're going to bring everything together with Paige and Preacher, and it's going to come to a very dramatic end at the end of season 4," she shared. Which suggests that much of the forthcoming season will be just as dramatic as the season finale—perhaps kicking off with Christopher being kidnapped by Paige's vengeful ex-husband, just as Paige and Preacher always feared.
We'll also see Lilly again, despite her tragic passing from pancreatic cancer at the end of season three. Speaking to the Radio Times, Lynda Boyd shared that producers told her that "the plan was to bring me back in flashbacks—like Mel’s husband, her dead husband.” Tenney, meanwhile, told TV Line of Lilly's demise: "[It] affects everybody, and it will continue to affect everybody...That’s really special, to have one character that leaves a lasting imprint on the audience and on the characters at large in our show."
And speaking of Virgin River characters who saw a tragic early death...
Yes, as in Mark, Mel's late husband. In season four, we may see more of Mark, in spite of his being, well, dead. Basically, we may get much more backstory about their marriage. "Here’s what I’ll say, somewhat enigmatically: the good news about being the dead husband is that you can appear at any time. I’ll leave it at that," said Daniel Gillies, who plays Mark, to Mr. WarBurton Magazine.
As for Lilly's daughter Tara, who announced she'd be staying at the end of season three thanks to an "anonymous financial donation" from Mel, actress Stacey Farber told TV Insider: " I think she’d still be grieving her mom and figuring out what her life is without her. Her mom played a hugely important role in her day-to-day life and they live together and she has her baby sister who she would now have to be responsible for."
Ricky and Lizzie
And as for Ricky and Lizzie? Well, Tenney hinted that Ricky was serious about enlisting. "It seems impulsive, but it’s not. It’s something he’s wanted since he was 13," she told TV Line. "Ricky and Lizzie are growing and maturing at different rates, but we hope they’ll get to the same place at a certain point."
But they may not—at least according to actor Grayson Gurnsey, who plays Ricky. In an interview with TV Line, he said: "When it's your first love, you might not necessarily love that person for the right reasons, but you can still learn something very valuable and become a better person from that relationship." Sob.
We left season three with Brady under arrest for the attempted murder of Jack—but Hollingsworth shared with TV Insider: "I think Brady witnessed something that I don’t even know if Jack knows." He added: "We saw a softer side of him, someone who’s compassionate, understanding, empathetic, someone who is worthy of love, capable of love, all of those things don’t lend themselves to a cold-blooded killer, especially of one of his close friends." And he joked in an interview with Hollywood Life: "I have also been told who supposedly shot Jack. I think the punishment is they cut off your tongue if you say it, so I can’t tell you."
It's not likely to be a fun season for Brady. Mike, Jack's cop friend, may become romantically entwined with Brie, who dated Brady throughout season three—in the Virgin River books, Mike and Brie are endgame. Said Tenney: "I think that we’re possibly setting up a bit of a love triangle there.”
And perhaps the biggest question—spoiler alert—who is the father of Mel's baby? Will she and Jack find out immediately, or will they have to wait? Will they decide it doesn't even matter? No matter what, we will find out the father of Mel's baby in season four, Tenney told TV Line. "You’ll find out by the end of the fourth season,” she promised.
So that you can sleep at night, just remember that even if things get rocky, they'll work out in the end. Tenney told TV Insider: "In the series, eventually, they are going to get married."