The fact that Wynonna Earp has survived as long as it has is a bit of a miracle. A Canadian import airing on Syfy in the United States, the supernatural Western series has never scored particularly strong ratings (its most recent season averaged only a 0.11 Live + Same Day rating in the coveted adults 18-49 demographic, less than 500,000 viewers an episode), and TV critics have largely ignored the show since just after its launch. Yet, over the course of its first three seasons, Wynonna Earp has amassed perhaps the most dedicated fan following of any TV show on the air right now.
In fact, the arrival of the show's long-awaited fourth season this week is a direct result of the unique relationship between the show, its fans, and its creators.
Back in the summer of 2018, Syfy and IDW Entertainment, the show’s co-producers, renewed Wynonna Earp for a fourth season, much to the delight of its fans (otherwise known as “Earpers"). However, the season was delayed in 2019 when IDW struggled to cover all of the costs necessary for the production. The series, which usually films in the early Winter months, was delayed indefinitely, and its creative team was left waiting to see if IDW would officially give the go-ahead to resume filming.
The Wynonna Earp fanbase, which has built a reputation not only for its commitment to the show, but for its inclusivity and kindness, didn’t take the news lying down. Shortly after the show's behind-the-scenes troubles were made public, Earpers began rallying to show their support in unprecedented ways. Spots were rented on electronic billboards in Times Square with the hashtag “#FightForWynonna” and fans got the slogan trending globally on Twitter. Wynonna Earp had always enjoyed a vocal and passionate online fan presence, but with its future uncertain, discussion about (and support for) the series seemed to reach an all-time high. The message was clear: Fans were going to do everything they could to make sure Season 4 of Wynonna Earp was made.
Finally, in late 2019, IDW and SyFy announced production would begin on the show’s fourth season, and fans rejoiced several months later when the cast and crew celebrated the start of filming. Now, almost two years after it aired its third season finale, Wynonna Earp is finally returning to TV.
While Wynonna Earp owes its continued existence to its fanbase, it’s not hard to see how the series cultivated such a passionate and supportive fandom in the first place. The show, which is based on the comic series by Beau Smith, follows the great-granddaughter of Wyatt Earp as she battles the supernatural forces in the town of Purgatory, and it had the makings of a cult favorite from the very beginning. Not only did Wynonna Earp deliver on its promised genre thrills, but series creator Emily Andras filled the show’s world with richly layered characters that have earned positive comparisons to another beloved supernatural drama, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Earpers became attached to Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano), one the most well-drawn female leads the genre has seen in recent years. The same goes for two of the show’s other notable female characters, Waverly Earp (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) and Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell), whose relationship is a frequently cited example of how to tell queer love stories on screen without resorting to the tired cliches that have plagued film and television for years. As viewers fell in love with the show's characters, instead of using this attachment to emotionally manipulate the fans, the creative team rewarded it. Andras has even gone so far at times as to assure nervous fans that a favorite character wasn't in danger of being killed off. She and everyone involved in the series have treated fans with kindness and respect, just as they do the show’s characters.
The show's first trailer for Season 4 directly acknowledged the show’s immense fan support, with a series of title cards featuring phrases like “You fought for it. Wynonna Earp is back,” and “Fight like an Earper.” To those not in the know, such statements may sound marketing hyperbole, but in the case of Wynonna Earp, heroism cuts both ways.
Season 4 of Wynonna Earp premieres on Syfy Sunday, July 26th at 10:00 PM ET.
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Alex Welch has written about television and film for TV by the Numbers, IGN, The Berrics, Paste Magazine, Screen Rant and GeekNation. Follow him on Twitter @alexrwelch.