Fringe fans got a really early Christmas present last month when Fox announced that the series would be returning for a fifth and final season of 13 episodes. This will allow the show’s writers plenty of room to tie off any loose ends that might need tying, not to mention cover whatever remaining storylines they were itching to tell (and from the looks of things, it’s a pretty safe bet those storylines will involve the Observers becoming the show’s final Big Bad). But while most of the main cast will be returning for the fifth season, not everybody will be there to cross that finish line. TVLine is reporting that actor Seth Gabel, who played (both versions of) Agent Lincoln Lee, will not be returning as a regular for Fringe‘s final season. (Minor spoilers below for Fringe‘s final season-four episodes.)
The news came out first during TVLine’s interview with series star Anna Torv (Olivia), who said, “I don’t think [we’ll see Lincoln again] … Unless we go to the other side, no.” The site’s sources have since confirmed that Gabel won’t be back, at least not as a regular.
That being said, this news is neither surprising nor even particularly upsetting. Even if you’re a die-hard Lincoln fan, the events this season’s final episodes have brought Lincoln’s arc to a conclusion and left him in a satisfactory place. He’s found a place he feels like he belongs, and he’s trying to make a life there (in a storyline that might give Farscape fans a bit of pleasant déjà vu). There’s really no reason to bring him back unless the writers hit upon a really compelling reason to put him back on the stage. That seems to be the writers’ thinking as well, because TVLine’s sources also say they can’t rule out a guest appearance or two by Lincoln if the storyline calls for it. But even if he doesn’t return, he still gets a happy ending…and the far more fun version of Olivia.