The third season of USA’s crime drama The Sinner comes to a close Thursday, March 26 with a conclusion to the mystery surrounding the fatal car accident involving Jamie Burns’ (Matt Bomer), his bizarre friend Nick Haas (Chris Messina) and his obsession with Det. Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman). Viewers are probably wondering if the show will be renewed for a fourth season. Here is what we know so far.
USA Hasn’t Made a Decision Yet
As of the airing of the finale, the USA Network had not decided one way or another to renew or cancel The Sinner. Overall, the show has done well for the network, with the first season averaging over 4 million viewers in the Live+7 ratings, which take DVR viewings into account.
The second season dropped a bit but still averaged just under 3 million viewers per episode, which is not bad for USA. Those numbers are definitely what earned the show a third season.
But Things Don’t Look Great for The Sinner’s Renewal Chances
However, the fourth season’s ratings have dropped quite a bit from the second season, earning 1.8 viewers per episode in Live+7. That’s under half of what the first season was getting each week. The first season also earned a couple of Golden Globe nominations and an Emmy nomination; the second season did not. So the critical acclaim has also dropped off a bit. There are no award nominations for the third season because those haven’t been announced yet for this year, so that could be one of the reasons USA is waiting. Perhaps if the third season earns some awards attention, it would tip the scales back in favor of renewal.
That being said, The Sinner does have the advantage of being an anthology format with only Ambrose as the connecting link between seasons. That means they could bring back the show with a new storyline and cast and possibly see an uptick in viewers in a way that most serialized shows do not ever see.
There is also the chance that people find The Sinner through a streaming platform. The public is not generally privy to streaming numbers, but finding a second audience on streaming is how a show like You went from being a middling series on Lifetime to a big success on Netflix.
That doesn’t necessarily mean The Sinner is jumping ship to a streaming platform, simply that it may drum up enough interest that way to make a fourth season more likely.
With the state of TV production being what it currently is due to the shutdowns over the COVID-19 pandemic, USA also has the luxury of adopting a “wait and see” attitude here. There’s not as much pressure to pull the trigger and make way for new shows right now, so it seems likely USA will keep Sinner fans in the dark for a while.
The Sinner season three finale airs Thursday, March 26 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on USA.