Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.

Fox bid farewell to its never-quite-a-hit cult drama Fringe late this afternoon with a panel featuring exec producer J.H. Wyman and cast members Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson and Lance Reddick (who nearly teared up near the end). The network already has announced that the coming fifth season will be its last. But creator J.J. Abrams, in prerecorded comments, was more than appreciative to have been granted five seasons of a series marked by both its creative vision and tiny audience. Introduced by Wyman, the recorded Abrams credited the media for Fringe’s having been granted such a lengthy stay of execution. Said Abrams: “I wish I could be there to thank every one of you personally for your unbelievable support of the series. Fringe is a show that I’m enormously proud to be associated with. The work that the cast and crew have done has been amazing. But your support is really the thing that has kept it alive. And Fox has been unbelievable…It’s a very great thing in this day and age that a network would support a show that isn’t a massive hit. And Fringe has always been, true to its name, more an outside-the-box series. The good thing about that for us is we can have these parties, these mixers, with every single viewer”. Ouch. Earlier today, Fox programming chief Kevin Reilly said of the series, “I don’t like to sort of pull the plug on any show. But Fringe has a very particular fan base. This is a hard genre. Most of the fans are there, but they’re there on their DVR’s”.

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