Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Fringe is a sci-fi TV series created by J.J. Abrams and ongoing J.J. compatriots Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. Other J.J. coworkers from Lost and Alias are involved as well. In concept, it's like The X-Files, with the primary threat being Mad Scientist terrorists instead of an Alien Invasion. In practice, it is like The X-Files meets CSI.

Like J.J.'s other shows, it has a slowly developing Myth Arc involving an Alternate Universe, an Action Girl, and also has some crazy, off-the-wall happenings right from the get-go. It's quite a Mind Screw. The show premiered in August 2008 on FOX.

WARNING: This page contains a large number of unmarked spoilers. Tropers new to Fringe proceed at your own risk.

Tropes used in Fringe include:

Tropes A-E

  • 555: Used in "Snakehead" (Season 2 Episode 9), after Walter gets lost. He tearfully tells a woman that he knows Peter's number has "three fives" and some other numbers, but he can't remember the order.
  • 90% of Your Brain: "Ability" averted this but replaced it with a similar concept. The trope was later invoked in the commercial for "Of Human Action", though not the episode itself. Further explained that at the special abilities that characterize the Cortexiphan patients used to exist throughout humanity but faded out all a sudden. Walter suspects it was aliens who caused the loss of abilities.
  • Aborted Arc:
    • Agent Amy Jessup was brought in during the Season 2 opening and looked to be bringing in some religious interpretations to the Fringe cases. She appeared in two episodes then was dropped without a word of explanation.
  • Above Good and Evil: In the episode "Amber 31422", the other Walter Bishop, the inventor of the titular substance, says to Broyles: "Nature doesn't recognize good and evil, Philip. Nature only recognizes balance and imbalance. I intend to restore balance to our world. Whatever it takes."
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: In "Unleashed".
  • Action Girl: Olivia Dunham. "Bound" will dispel any doubts on this count.
    • Altlivia definitely qualifies.
  • Ad Bumpers: Before each commercial break, there is a brief clip of an image (a frog, flower, etc) accompanied by a speck of light. About halfway through the first season, devoted watchers figured out that the images were part of a substitution cypher and cracked it.
  • All Germans Are Nazis: "The Bishop Revival" featured a very stereotypical German (round glasses, hairstyle, clothing, accent) who is revealed to be an original Nazi. And guess what he was doing! Trying to create a virus for eugenics, of course! The same episode reveals Walter and Peter's German background, which has to be something of an aversion in that while their ancestor was a Nazi scientist, he actually worked as an Allied spy, subverting the war effort behind the lines.
  • All the Myriad Ways: Averted. People from the alternate universe aren't treated as less important than those from our universe, leading to major dilemmas when all the characters believe that only one of the two universes can survive. It's finally revealed that the reason the universes can be crossed at all is because they are linked - the destruction of one would cause the other to follow. Peter links the universes together in a way that stabilizes them, and the characters from either side need to learn to work together and trust each other.
  • All Theories Are True: The entire premise of the show.
  • Almost Kiss: Peter and Olivia have one of these in "Jacksonville" (Season 2 Episode 16).
  • Alone with the Psycho: Olivia ends up alone with the guy with the cancerous touch.
  • Alternate Universe: A huge part of the show's central mythology.
    • And if you thought that was bad, now we have an established Alternate History since the start of Season 4. In both universes.
  • Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome: Walternate.
  • Always Close: In "Enemy of My Enemy" (Season 4 Episode 9), Olivia tries to chase Jones through to the Other Side in her SUV. Peter warns her about the risk of a Portal Cut, and she barely stops her car in time because of it. The entire front of the engine is cut off, and moments later that would've included her as well.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Father: Peter visibly cringes whenever his father makes an embarrassing non-sequitur.
  • Ambiguously Human: The Observers, at first. It's eventually revealed that they are human, or at least, they once were.
  • Anachronism Stew: In "Brown Betty", Walter tells Olivia's niece a story in the style of Film Noir - with clothes, hairstyles and interior based on the 1940s - oh, and computers, mobile phones and quantum lasers. In his defense, Walter was hopped up on drugs at the time. Not to mention the fact that he's completely crazy anyway. It was just a fairy tale story for Olivia's niece, so it's probably a good thing to really just relax.
  • And I Must Scream: Happens a lot.
    • Peter's flyover of the Alternate New York includes the tidbit that people in the Madison Square Garden quarantine zone have just recently been declared legally dead. Quarantine encases a large area in an amber-like substance.
    • In "Amber 31422", Walternate mentions the likely theory that those trapped in Amber are in suspended animation. It's later revealed that this is correct - and they are stuck thinking the last thought in their heads when the amber engulfed them.
    • They guy from Season 1 Episode 2 uses a muscle paralyzer to prevent his victims from moving while he removes their pituitary glands.
    • Olivia in "Entrada". They were going to remove her organs. While she was awake and completely conscious. They even drew guidelines so she knew exactly what they were going to do.
    • Milo Stanfield in "The Plateau" becomes so intelligent his thoughts can no longer be interpreted by other human beings, and he will only be able to communicate with a machine for the rest of his life.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Sanford Harris' death.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: In "Unleashed", these guys let the monster-of-the-week out. They chose poorly.
  • Anti-Hero: The more we find out about Walter Bishop's past, the more it seems like putting him in the asylum was the right choice.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • Doctor Nayak. An addict with a Jekyll and Hyde split personality, he wasn't even fully conscious of what he was doing, and his almost constant look of horror as he becomes aware of what his darker half has been doing is truly heartbreaking.
    • Alistair Peck, a man who was willing to go to any lengths to perfect time travel to save his fiance from her tragic death.
    • Alan Ruck plays a scientist who stumbles across a possible cure for his paraplegic son, and becomes so desperate to perfect it that he kills several other crippled people that he used for test subjects.
    • Dana Gray. A woman who watched her family murdered before her eyes and normally would've been killed herself but because of bizarre events ended up in a state where she could not die and was merely seeking a way to end that.
    • Eugene from "Wallflower".
  • Apocalypse How: Class X. Entire Alternate Earth got destroyed, if not entire Alternate Universe. And Primary is also doomed. Luckily, time travel fixed it.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: What do people who've taken Cortexiphan do? What don't they do? Cortexiphan has been described as making those taking it better able to tap into their inner powers, which, being that every human is unique, is different for every person.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Peter frequently lampshades whatever weirdness is going on in the current episode (he's stopped being actively skeptical, and now just points the weirdness out). There was also Season 2 Episode 11 "Unearthed", which may qualify as an inversion or something; it had a scene where Walter argues with a priest over whether exorcisms are real or superstition. The man of science and the man of faith are on precisely the opposite sides you'd expect.
  • Arc Numbers: Like other shows by J.J. Abrams, there are numbers that often reoccur:
    • Examples of the number 47 appearing are:
      • In "Pilot" (Season 1 Episode 1), there are 147 passengers on Flight 627.
      • In "In Which We Meet Mr. Jones" (Season 1 Episode 7), Loeb mentions something on page 47 of the document he’s looking at.
      • In "Safe" (Season 1 Episode 10), the flight with the veterans on it is said to have landed 47 minutes ago.
      • In "The Transformation" (Season 1 Episode 13), there are 147 passengers on Flight 718.
      • In "Ability" (Season 1 Episode 14), the bomb is located on the 47th floor of the building. The bomb also consists of 47 lights.
      • In "Inner Child" (Season 1 Episode 15), the clue the child writes for Olivia is "547 Marlborough".
      • In "Fracture" (Season 2 Episode 3), Walter says that he "stopped counting at 47 needle-marks" when asked how many were present on a corpse.
      • In "Momentum Deferred" (Season 2 Episode 4), it is revealed that the shapeshifters' blood is 47% mercury.
      • In "Johari Window" (Season 2 Episode 12), 47 people were born in Edina between 1990 and 2000.
      • In "Jacksonville" (Season 2 Episode 15), Broyles says that the list of buildings that might disappear has been narrowed down to 147.
      • In "Brown Betty" (Season 2 Episode 20), Peter says that there are 147 pins in the map in his kitchen. Another one is that Nina Sharp's private parking space is No. 47.
      • In "Over There (Part 2)" (Season 2 Episode 23), the Alternate Universe Fringe team locates Olivia when her "Show Me" passes an auto-checkpoint in Sector 47.
      • In "6:02 AM EST" (Season 3 Episode 20), the electromagnetic spike occurs at 5:47 A.M.
      • In "The Day We Died" (Season 3 Episode 22), the Bad Future takes place when Peter is 47 years old.
      • In "Novation" (Season 4 Episode 5), the shapeshifter gets the typewriter that communicates with the Other Side out of a storage locker marked 47.
      • In "And Those We've Left Behind" (Season 4 Episode 6), the time chamber Raymond Green created can't last for more than 47 minutes each time.
      • In "Enemy of My Enemy" (Season 4 Episode 9), Mr. Jones says that he has made 47 shapeshifters so far.
      • In "Making Angels" (Season 4 Episode 11), the suspect of the week carries TSA badge 0047.
    • The number seven itself appears to have some great importance:
      • Walter was institutionalized for seventeen years.
      • Peter died when he was seven years old.
      • Peter has been arrested seven times.
      • Peter and Olivia first met when Peter was seven years old.
      • There were thirty-seven children in the Cortexiphan trials.
  • Arc Words:
    • "The Pattern".
    • "The First People".
  • Ascended Meme: In "What Lies Below", a computer model shows a projection of the virus's spread around the world. The entire world turns red except, curiously, Madagascar.
    • Even the captions refer to alternate Olivia as her Fan Nickname "Bolivia".
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: Massive Dynamic is in love with [dead link] this style [dead link]. Some quick Google-fu seems to have confirmed this Troper's eyes' suspicion that Massive Dynamic is housed in Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum.
  • Asshole Victim: The two kids who get killed by Gus at the beginning of "Alone in the World" are bullies who were planning on beating up the Woobie. A somewhat disturbing example since little to no sympathy is extended to them by any of the cast members, despite the fact that they're still just 12-year-olds.
  • Autopsy Snack Time: Walter often eats while examining corpses or other Squick-inducing things.
  • Awesome By Analysis: Used by the Villain of the Week in "The Plateau" to cause Disaster Dominoes to kill people.
  • Back for the Dead: Several of the Cortexiphan patients from season one. None of them last long in the alternate universe.
  • Backup Twin: A sort of in-universe example when Walter takes Peter from the alternate universe after his Peter dies.
  • Badass Bookworm: Peter Bishop.
  • Badass Bystander: The one security guard who takes on a shapeshifter in "Momentum Deferred", after getting shot in the gut.
  • Badass Damsel: Kidnap either of the Olivia Dunhams and suffer for it.
  • Badass Grandpa:
    • Unseen, but Peter's grandfather was a spy for the Allies during WWII.
    • Also William Bell, as about a dozen Alternate Fringe Division agents found out to their misfortune.
  • Badass Longcoat: Peter, again. Not to forget Olivia.
  • Bad Future: "The Day We Died".
    • And, judging from the leaked intro, "Letters of Transit".
  • Bald Black Leader Guy: Philip Broyles.
  • Becoming the Mask: "Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?" reveals that this can happen to shapeshifters.
  • Bed Trick: Fauxlivia does this to Peter. Well, sort of.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Poor Astrid, at least at first.

Astrid: I went to Quantico for this?

  • Berserk Button: Walter gets very angry when Peter's life is put in jeopardy as a direct result of already losing him once.
    • Holding a knife to Peter Bishop in an attempt to activate Olivia's Cortexiphan enhanced abilities works spectacularly. Just be careful that she doesn't fry you like crispy bacon in the process.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • In "Welcome to Westfield" (Season 4 Episode 12). While Olivia, Peter, Walter, and the remaining survivors are able to get out safely, there is absolutely nothing left of the town (not even any other potential survivors).
    • "Letters of Transit". The Observers have taken over the world, Walter Took a Level in Jerkass, Nina is in a wheelchair, Broyles looks like he's aged a hundred years,the team have been in amber for 20 years, William Bell might need to borrow Nina's arm if he ever gets out of the amber because Walter chopped his off, Simon sacrificed himself to save Peter, Etta grew up without her parents, it looks like Olivia is dead... but Etta is reunited with her family, Olivia and the Bishops apparently bested Jones and they have a plan to stop the Observers. It's not much, but it's something.
    • "Worlds Apart". To stop Jones from ripping apart two universes, they need to close the bridge. Closing the bridge will stop the other world from healing. But there's peace between their worlds now. And Lincoln is staying in the other universe with Fauxlivia.
  • Black Bra and Panties: Agent Olivia Dunham, God bless 'er.
  • The Blank:
    • Turns lethal when a string of victims' facial features start rapidly growing over, causing death by suffocation. Even a tracheotomy can't save them, as the growing tissue quickly seals any such air holes as fast as they are made.
    • A relatively tamer version appears in a hallucination in "Dream Logic" (Season 2 Episode 5).
  • Blessed with Suck/Cursed with Awesome:
    • Joseph Meagar in Episode 5 is able to generate powerful electric fields - but not to control them, which leads to him accidentally killing his boss and shorting out his mother's pacemaker.
    • Another character is able to predict deaths - leaving his head full of almost ceaseless nightmarish visions.
      • A girl named Emily has the same ability. Only her ability eventually kills her. She sees her own death in her visions.
    • The Cortexiphan subjects. All of them.
      • Nick Lane is a reverse empathic. His feelings are projected to those around him. He has absolutely no control over this ability, and since he's suicidally depressed and extremely alienated from society, the results aren't pretty. The first time he tried to kill himself, his sister did it first.
      • The guy from "Concentrate and Ask Again" who cannot stop himself from reading other peoples minds and gets terrible headaches when he does. He's basically a hermit.
      • The guy who got nervous on a date and ended creating a magnetic field that ripped the filling out of his date's teeth.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Observers. The best understanding of their motives is that they strive towards "balance", but aside from that, they are fairly inscrutable. The episode "The Firefly" shows their interesting morals: one of them stops a robbery in order to save a shop-girl who's having an asthma attack, whose inhaler he then steals. He then steals a car in order to crash it into a police car holding the shop-girl, triggering another asthmatic attack and forcing Walter to choose between letting Peter go in order to save the shop-girl, when he has been led to believe that Peter going after the Observer will either kill him or cause him to be abducted back to the other universe. He lets Peter chase after the Observer, but all the Observer does is use a sort of air gun to knock Peter over. Later, Peter takes aspirin with some milk, not realizing that Walter had mixed in a brain mapping serum into it, which in combination with the aspirin nearly poisons him, only saved because he was young and healthy and Walter was able to direct Olivia to administering a shot that saves Peter. And Walter thinks all of this was to save his life by showing him the flaw in the brain mapping serum. However, the real reason for the Observer's actions: to test whether Walter would be willing to sacrifice his son if need be, which it turns out he is.
  • Body Horror:
    • You know how guys cross their legs in sympathy after watching someone take it to the nads? That's what the pregnancy scene is like for women.
    • "Ability" (Season 1 Episode 14) revolves around a chemical that seals your orifices shut.
    • In fact, the entire show thrives on Body Horror. Virtually all the Bodies Of The Week have to do with being killed, incapacitated, etc in weird and squicky ways.
    • The pilot leaves no doubts about it, when he see a man's jaw melt off, followed by an agent being infected with a disease that renders his skin transparent.
    • Alistair Peck... ewww.
    • "Jacksonville", anyone? Even Astrid couldn't take it.
    • "Marionette" had double doses—the first from the people having their organs removed, the second from the puppet body.
  • Body Snatcher: William Bell co-opting our Olivia's body ought to count even if it's instigated by him, not sure which of the sub-tropes fit best though. We'll just have to wait and see...
  • Bollywood Nerd: Dr Nayak.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In "Brown Betty" (Season 2 Episode 20), Story-world Walter is responsible for inventing: Hugs, Bubble Gum, Rainbows, Flannel Pajamas and... Singing Corpses.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Episode 5's Joseph Meagar. He starts off the typical, moderately repressed guy living with his nagging mother, working in a job he dislikes and has a mostly harmless little crush on a girl who won't give him the time of day. Cue the electrical superpowers and his new Walking Techbane status. He inadvertently kills half a dozen people (the girl he likes included) with an elevator, gets fired for being late (you know, right after the elevator incident), possibly kills his boss by getting a machine to malfunction and mutilate his arm, then comes home to tell his abrasive mother what happened... only to short circuit her pacemaker. All on accident. And that's before the bad guys kidnap him.
    • The entirety of the series seems to be devoted to breaking Olivia Dunham. She gets through a godawful childhood (involving illegal drug trials, a monstrous stepfather, and what sounds like a Promotion to Parent). She manages to find a job that she enjoys and falls in love with her partner. Partner is injured. She goes to incredible lengths to save said partner. She finds out that he's a traitor and he dies in her arms. In the first episode. Turns out that John Scott isn't a traitor but death is awfully permanent these days so no happy ending. She falls in love with Peter. He leaves. She goes to another universe to save him. She gets left behind. After enduring torture, Mind Rape and the prospect of a gruesome death, she barely manages to get back home. She spends the beginning of "Marionette" with the most adorable smile on her face. When she sees Peter, she does the whole shy teenager glance thing and just seems so happy to back. And then she finds about Peter and Fauxlivia. The smile is gone. She's been Strapped to An Operating Table how many times? Plus, she went through a car windshield and was temporarily declared brain-dead. And then there are the seizures she's had while in the lab. Oh... and her friend ended up being killed and replaced by a shape shifter who eventually tried to kill her. It's like watching someone dangle a bone in front of a puppy and then kick it for good measure.
  • Break the Haughty:
    • Over time, you realize this is what St. Claire's did to Walter. Then you learn that he asked for it, at least partly, because he was afraid of what he was becoming. Given what Walternate is like, this can only be a good thing.
    • Peter in the first episode... a bit of a Jerkass. Peter in Season 4... dear God, someone give the man a hug.
    • Fauxlivia. Smug, bitchy alternate in first appearance. In "The Consultant"? She gets drunk on ex-boyfriend's alcohol because her partner died.
  • Breather Episode: "Brown Betty".
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Pretty much the entire cast in "Brown Betty" puts on a noir-ish New York accent to keep with the theme of the episode. Most of them are hilarious.
  • Brown Note:
    • In Season 3's "The Box", a sound coming from a box somehow turns people catatonic, and even blows up their heads if they had something like dental ceramic crowns on teeth. Temporary or permanent deafness makes a person immune to the effect. The Suspension of Disbelief called for here may call for an unusual level of willingness.
    • "6995 kHz" in turn has an amnesia-inducing signal piggybacked onto a numbers station's broadcast.
  • Bullet Catch: The Observers can do this pretty much whenever the hell they want to.
    • Olivia in the fourth season finale.
  • California Doubling:
    • New York variant, while some of the establishing shots are filmed in Boston, the rest of it is filmed around New York City. Note how all the license plates that don't belong to characters are New York ones not Massachusetts.
    • Soon to become Boston Doubling, as production has moved to Vancouver for Season 2.
  • Call Back: In the first episode, Walter laments the quality of the butterscotch pudding at the institution. When he returns to speak with a friend there, the friend is eating said pudding.
  • Came Back Wrong: In "Marionette", the Villain of the Week cryptically says "I looked into her eyes, and it wasn't her." This is presumably because the girl that he revived appeared to be completely brain-dead.
  • Chameleon Camouflage: Eugene Bryant in the episode "Wallflower" has this ability, since he's been genetically modified to shift his pigment around like an octopus.
  • Character Development:
    • At the start of the series, Peter is a nomadic, selfish, sarcastic Con Man and something of a Jerkass. After falling for Olivia, making peace with Walter and hefty amounts of everything going to hell, he's willing to risk his own life to save the people he loves and the two universes.
    • Walter was a brilliant but arrogant scientist with no regard for ethics whatsoever. He broke a universe trying to save one person and even slipped into Omnicidal Maniac territory for a while. By Season Four, he flatly refuses to play God again and he's willing to shoot Olivia in the head if it means saving the lives of billions of people.
  • Chekhov MIA: William Bell.
  • Chekhov's Gun: It's very common to see an item mentioned/shown in passing in one episode only for it to be used as a central plot device just a few episodes later.
    • "Over There (Part 1)" demonstrates how vortexes are closed on the B-Side: a gas that generates into a rock-solid amber-like substance - the very same substance which appeared in the series' third episode ("The Ghost Network").
    • "Over There (Part 2)" has a near-textbook example. In the beginning of the episode, William Bell stalls some agents with small talk about his plans to improve the next model of their handguns. At the end of the episode, he demonstrates the new model.
    • Subverted with the tracking device Walter implants in himself at the end of "Snakehead". Frequently referred to. Never used. Instead, first time Walter is kidnapped, they find that the kidnappers removed the chip first.
    • The bell that William Bell leaves Nina in his will turns out to be the activator for the "soul magnet" he planted in Olivia, allowing his life force to possess her.
    • Walter's regenerating lemon cake in the Season Four finale.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Sam Weiss is introduced in early Season 2 as a sort of Trickster Mentor for Olivia (at least, as far as physical recovery goes). In Season 3, we discover that he's from a long line of people with knowledge of the First People and the Doomsday Machine.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Olivia's eidetic memory for numbers.
  • Chemistry Can Do Anything
  • The Chessmaster: Milo Stanfield in "The Plateau", Up to Eleven. He can perfectly calculate his.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Walter Bishop. Those 17 years at the asylum have not been good for his sanity. Especially as he is a dyed-in-the-wool Mad Scientist with a tendency to actually say They Called Me Mad. Shrinks really take stuff like that personally.
    • In one episode, Walter's thought process is shown to be so baffling that it causes a mind reader to pass out. It's later revealed that much of Walter's crazy was caused by William Bell excising giant chunks of his brain to keep Walter from ever knowing certain things.
  • Coca-Pepsi, Inc.: The alternate universe has Shexxon, presumably the result of a merger between Shell and Exxon.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The opening credits often change colors from the traditional blue to red, grey, and/or amber, depending on the episode - see Special Edition Title below.
    • Olivia wears black underwear and Fauxlivia wears white underwear (oddly subverting both Light Is Good and Dark Is Evil).
    • Although this is less clearly a subversion as you get to know Fauxlivia. Fauxlivia generally seems to be happier and more open at least up until she goes rogue at the end of Season 3. By contrast, regular Olivia has some real darkness in her past and after she got screwed over by her dead boyfriend isn't what you'd call open. Our Olivia is a damaged, beaten down person working for the good guys. Fauxlivia is a good person working for the bad guys.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Olivia.
  • Con Man: Peter.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Lovingly subverted with Olivia in "Olivia". Dressed in a hospital gown, she jumps into a cab and rants and raves to the driver about secret government conspiracies, doubles, kidnappings, and 'experiments'. We, of course, know it's all true - but think about it from Henry's perspective:

Olivia: Don't placate me because you think that I'm-
Henry: What? Crazy? And what would you think if I jacked your cab in a hospital gown with a gun, screaming a conspiracy, telling you I'm being chased by the government and folks are trying to make me believe I'm a tattooed version of myself?

  • Contamination Situation: "What Lies Below".
  • Contemplative Boss: Walternate in his office.
  • Continuity Nod: Tons and tons. The show keeps excellent track of its internal continuity.
    • Walter mentions in a few episodes that one of his favorite bands is the nonexistent Violet Sedan Chair. In the episode "Firefly", we meet Walter's musical idol - the keyboardist from Violet Sedan Chair.
    • In the first season, it's mentioned that kids treated with Cortexiphan tended to try and blend in, and wore monochrome colors. In the fourth season, Olivia tracks down a Cortexiphan test subject, and we get a shot of his wardrobe, filled with black, white, and grey outfits.
    • In the Season 2 finale, we see Fringe agent Lincoln Lee checking for dimensional instability with a combination spray and hand-light. In the fourth season, Astrid uses the same device for the same purpose, with Walter in the background bitching about how the other-universe agents who gave it to them did a poor job of writing the manual.
  • Cool Big Sis: Olivia, to Rachel. Though it's Rachel who's the one to fuss over and worry about her sister (for increasingly good reason).
  • Cosmic Retcon: The Season 4 premiere shows that much of the show's history has changed as a result of Peter's retroactive disappearance. Walter has refused to leave the lab since Olivia sprung him from St Claire's, and Lincoln Lee doesn't remember meeting the team in "Passenger". It was also implied that the John Scott arc of Season 1 didn't happen, and that the nature of Walter and Walternate's conflict is very different.
  • Crapsack World: The alternate universe is a strange case: It is much more advanced technologically and medically (they had modern cell phones in the mid-80s). The society itself is also implied to be slightly better-off, or at least less destitute financially. On the flip side, Fringe events have destroyed numerous cities. New York itself is covered with blotches of quarantine zones. In some parts, the air is actually dangerous to breathe. There are numerous epidemics in progress, some of which involve diseases that exist in our universe but hit theirs much harder and others that don't even exist in ours. Real coffee is hard to find. Wallabies and sheep are extinct alongside numerous other species. And the government is implied to be more authoritarian even without the involvement of Walternate. And there are no rainbows.
    • Becomes a World Half Full when the bridge begins to heal the damage done and lost areas start getting reclaimed.
    • The future as of "Letters of Transit". Coffee chews, anyone?
  • Crazy Consumption
  • Creepy Child: The child in "Inner Child".
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: More often than not, Walter is right.
  • Curse Cut Short:

Walter: Well, tell her what I said. Ask her why she destroyed files. Go on, ask her!
Nina: Maybe you can ask Walter if he remembers what group the boy was in. I mean, that may help.
Astrid: Of course. Walter, did you hear that?
Walter: Yes. Her voice goes right into my inner ear and rattled around like razor blades. Of course I heard it. Tell her to go-
Astrid: He said that he is not sure, but thank you for the suggestion.
Walter: I did not say that!

  • Cyberpunk: The series itself is not an example (barring the idea of technology run amok). However, Charlie Francis' monologue near the end of the first episode touches a lot of the themes of Cyberpunk.
    • Most of what happens in our universe is more correctly Biopunk than Cyberpunk, although they are closely related. Its more to do with doing weird crap to people and DNA and what not, rather than the more computer/machine focused themes of Cyberpunk.
    • The alternative universe is genuinely very Cyberpunk. From the human/machine hybrids, to the repressive government, the world ripping itself apart, the plague killing all the plants and the utterly crazy technologies, it pretty much does tick all the boxes. Look at the drawing of the machine to cross universes powered by Peter... it's right out of Deus Ex for gods sake.
    • The setting and mood of "Letters of Transit" is very Cyberpunk, even if it doesn't follow the usual Cyberpunk tropes.
  • Cyberpunk Is Techno: Not techno per see, but the music in the Observer Nightclub in "Letters of Transit", which is brimming with Cyberpunk elements, has an Industrial and Electronic Body Music vibe to it.
  • Damsel in Distress:
    • In most episodes, Peter is either filling this or doing something Badass. Sometimes both. This is subverted in the episode where Olivia finds herself trapped in her apartment with a killer and phones Peter for help... then proceeds to beat the killer near senseless with a heavy object, before yelling at him "You stay DOWN!", Wisely, the killer takes the advice and it's all over bar the shouting by the time Peter leads the cavalry to the rescue.
    • Olivia does need rescuing a few times but it never diminishes her Badass, Action Girl status. In Season 2 Episode 1, she (understandably) spent the entire episode completely freaked out in a hospital bed and was almost strangled by a shapeshifter. When asked if she was okay, she let's everyone know that she's back by responding with "Go get that bitch". She needs rescuing again in "Entrada" when she's completely immobilized and Strapped to An Operating Table, and in "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide" when she's trapped in her own mind.
    • Subverted in "The End of All Things" when Olivia is kidnapped by David Robert Jones, who's trying to activate her Cortexiphan superpowers as part of his evil plans. Meanwhile, Peter and rest of the team try to find a way to get her back. She ends up manipulating Jones into kidnapping Peter so he can serve as the emotional "battery" for the activation, but instead of merely turning on some light bulbs as he wants she electrocutes one of his henchmen and frees them both.
    • Played With in "Brave New World (Part 1)". David Robert Jones sneaks up on Peter, dislocates his shoulder and proceeds to beat the crap out of him with a crowbar. Olivia is on the roof of another building, watching helplessly until the Cortexiphan kicks in. She possesses Peter and then goes all Xbox kinetic on his ass.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Alternate-universe Charlie Francis.
    • And now Peter. In "Entrada" in particular, he notices that the alternate Olivia and an unknown man enter a bathroom, but Olivia exits with a female hostage. Peter realizes the hostage is a shapeshifter and shoots.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Walter crossed several ethical boundaries in the name of Science before he was admitted St. Claire's Psychiatric Institution, including experimenting on children.
    • Also, stealing a parallel universe version of his own son.
    • Don't forget Olivia! When she was just a toddler William Bell and Walter performed psychologically scarring experiments on her during their trial of Cortexiphan, and when she was 9, her stepfather would regularly beat her mother. After one such occurrence, Olivia shot her stepfather twice and almost killed him. Ever since, he has sent her a birthday card just so that she knows he's still out there, and she regrets not killing him. Then, when she was still a teenager, her mother died. Then we come to the show...
  • Darkest Hour: As of "The Day We Died", well... in 2026, at least.
  • Data Crystal
  • A Day at the Bizarro: Season 2 Episode 20 "Brown Betty". Season 3 Episode 19 "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide". No, it's not a coincidence that both are named after (and involve use of) mind-altering drugs.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "Northwest Passage" (Season 2 Episode 21) focuses mainly on Peter trying to solve a Fringe case on his own in Washington State. And "Everything in Its Right Place" (Season 4 Episode 17) revolves around our universe's Lincoln Lee assisting the other side's Fringe team.
  • Dead All Along: Peter Bishop. See Replacement Goldfish below.
  • Deadly Nosebleed: Congratulations, you're on an episode of Fringe (which does nothing for your life expectancy in the first place)! You get a nose bleed. Option 1, you're a walking radioactive bomb about to explode the heads of everyone (including yourself) in the immediate vicinity. Option 2, you're a about to turn into a giant were-porcupine and brutally rip apart everyone in the immediate vicinity. Option 3, you're infected with a thousand year old disease that wiped out the Mammoths. It will first drive you insane and then kill you. Worst case scenario, you're the harbinger of the Apocalypse. Don't get a nose bleed on Fringe.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Peter.

Peter: Yeah, 'cause bootlegging smack in the basement is the picture of normalcy.


Walter: (regretfully)You were young and I took advantage of you.

    • In the same vein, Walter being asked if he can figure out the meaning of a complex formula in "Earthling":

Walter: (excitedly) Yes! I can dominate her!

    • Walter in "Jacksonville" talking about an experiment he and William Bell performed, and Peter makes a comment:

Peter: First times are always sloppy.
Walter: It wasn't our first time.

    • In "Marionette": Olivia's slow breakdown over the course of the episode seems a lot like someone's reaction to being raped. She even describes how Fauxlivia has made her unable to live in her house, wear her clothes, or be with the man she loves.
  • Don't Tell Mama: Walter to Olivia when she sees Peter is from the other side. "Please don't tell him."
  • Doomsday Device: Walternate is developing one.
  • Double Standard: Broyles and Olivia are both The Stoic, but for some reason a lot of critics and fans figured that Broyles was supposed to be that way (which he is), but Anna Torv was just a bad actress. Then we met Alternate Olivia and everyone realized no, she's not.
    • Not to mention in Season 3 Episode 17, when we see Anna Torv doing a damn-near perfect emulation of the voice (at least as much as a woman can) and mannerisms of William Bell.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Poor, poor Charlie Francis. Also Altlee. Considering that fact he survived nearly being blown up because the writers liked him, but gets fatally shot by a shapeshifter just so that his double can take his place in the altverse. No nanite bath for that?
  • Drowning My Sorrows:
    • Becoming a pretty standard evening for Olivia.
      • When Peter and Olivia are together and things are going good they at least move from hard liquor to wine.
    • In "A New Day in the Old Town," Peter and Broyles do this when they think Olivia is brain-dead and won't make it.
    • In "The Day We Died", future Peter does this after the death and funeral of his wife Olivia.
  • Drugs Are Bad:
    • Completely averted. Various cases are solved with the assistance of narcotics, Olivia Dunham spends much of the pilot on homemade LSD in a sensory deprivation tank, Walter is constantly using psychotropics (on himself and others), and one of his former test subjects, while decidedly loopy as a result of her LSD-induced trances, is entirely happy and expresses her gratitude to Walter years later - with a kiss.
    • Which gives you Ad of Win situations when it cuts to the commercials... this show is brought to you by... The Council for a Drug Free America.
    • Oddly, the only drug that's given any sort of negative implications is marijuana. Though that's not the drug's fault, it's just the only drug Walter uses a crutch when depressed. Drowning My Sorrows would be too normal for Walter.
    • Which also leads to perhaps one of the very first scenes ever on Network television of someone using a bong—although we don't see the actual action, we hear the distinctive sound and see Walter put the bong down and exhale. In Season 3, there's also a scene in which Walter and a security guard (played by Jorge Garcia) pass a bong back and forth while discussing such important subjects as Walter's newly invented cupcake flavor, baconberry.
    • Season 3 Episode 19 is called "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide". That's LSD, kids. And as of now, Astrid is the only member of the central cast who hasn't been under the influence of drugs onscreen at some point.
  • Dysfunction Junction: There's Walter, a Mad Scientist (this isn't a hyperbole, he was previously locked up in a mental institution) with Dark and Troubled Past (he experimented on kids, okay). Then there's his estranged son Peter who despite having an IQ of 190 dropped out of high school and ended up living a nomadic life, which is still largely shrouded in mystery. And then there's Olivia whose FBI partner and lover is killed in the pilot, and to make matters worse she seems to have started to hallucinate him and even receive emails from him. And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse it turns out that she was experimented on as a child by Walter Bishop and William Bell (although she has no memory of this). Then she's trapped in an alternate universe, tortured by what seems to be light deprivation before being brainwashed into thinking she's the other Olivia, before finally making it home... only to find out that Peter has been dating the other Olivia the whole time, apparently thinking it was her. Astrid seems to be pretty normal, though some fans think she's hiding something. Broyles is still pretty mysterious, although he is known to be divorced.
    • Astrid is so non-dysfunctional that after her alternate self has her difficult to live with father die and takes an unscheduled trip to see Astrid Prime, A.P claims that her version was difficult to live with as well. She then goes home to a lovingly cooked meal from her pleasant father, exchanging hugs and "I love you".
  • Easter Egg:
    • "The Road Not Taken" (Season 1 Episode 19): Walter was seen drinking a Slusho.
    • "Momentum Deferred" (Season 2 Episode 4): the shape-changing soldier from another universe disguised as Charlie is also seen with a Slusho.
    • As are two Observers in "Peter".
    • A set of alternate universe DC Comics covers adorn Peter's apartment in "Over There (Part 2) [dead link]".
    • The eye catches of each episode are a substitution cypher.
    • Every episode includes a visual clue to the next one. It may be a bit of graffiti, a sign on a shop, or a prop. Most are not recognizable before the subsequent episode is viewed, although some reference the upcoming episode's name.
  • Eleventh-Hour Superpower
  • Empathic Healer: James Heath, though he initially used his power to transfer his illness to others.
  • Enigmatic Minion: Nina Sharp, in the first two seasons.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Alt-Brandon suggests to Walternate that they should administer Cortexiphan to children, Walternate refuses vehemently. "There are lines I simply cannot cross."
  • Everything's Better with Cows
  • Evil Makeover: For Fringe Division's alternate universe counterparts (i.e. darker hair, scars, form-fitting spandex and leather and /or suits).
  • Evilutionary Biologist: The Amber-verse ZFT cult contains many willing subjects thereof.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change:
    • Fauxlivia always wears bangs, even when she's trying to impersonate Olivia. Olivia only wears bangs when she 's been brainwashed into thinking she's Fauxlivia, which is also when she is wearing her hair brown.
      • Bangs is the common name for the hairstyle Fringe
    • Astrid and Peter in "The Day We Died". Not only is Peter's hair longer in the future, but it's exactly the same as his father's.
  • Eyecatch: They form a code, too.
  • Eye Scream: In "Marionette", the bad guy removes a man's eyes while he's awake. When the Fringe team finds the victim, he's wandering around with his eyelids pinned back so we can see the empty, gaping eye sockets.
    • Also in "Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?" where Walter spends quite a while poking around in the eye-socket of a disabled shapeshifter.

Tropes F-P

  • Fake Memories:
    • Olivia is injected with her alternate's memories in a ploy to make her believe she is her alternate. Sadly, it works.
    • Strangely, "The Plateau" shows us that the alt-memory conditioning is breaking down.
    • And it's completely gone as of "Amber 31422" thanks to Walternate.
    • Although based on that ridiculously accurate shot Olivia makes to the middle of a bad guy's neck in "Concentrate and Ask Again", she seems to have retained Fauxlivia's shooting skills.
  • Fictional Document:
    • The manifesto "ZFT", which stands for Zerstörung durch Fortschritte der Technologie, or Destruction through the Advancement of Technology. Apparently written by William Bell and Walter Bishop, it apparently is the manifesto of the group behind The Pattern.
    • ZFT has a counterpart in the Alternate Universe, where it's published under Walter Bishop's name with a Dianetics-like cover. However the text is very different: this version of the ZFT does not mention a parallel universe (ours) or its inhabitants. Rather than a manifesto, it's a cover-up for the real reason behind "The Pattern".
  • Firefly of Doom:
    • From the episode "The Firefly": three months after Walter saved Peter and brought him home, Peter caught a firefly. Because he caught it, a little girl couldn't catch it, and stayed out later than she would have. Her father got worried, was late for work because he was looking for her. It started to rain, and he skidded through a red light on his way to work and hit someone on the crosswalk. That someone was the son of the keyboardist in Walter's favorite band, and the little girl is implied to have been the asthmatic woman from the jewelry store.
    • When Walter figures all of this out, he finally realizes exactly how much damage he's caused. He doesn't take it well. But that was the whole point: making him realize it all on a personal level, and testing whether or not he was willing to let Peter die to prevent further damage.
  • Flatline Plotline: Newton uses one.
  • Fleeting Demographic Rule: ABC aired Strange World back in 1999. It had a very similar premise and was canceled after only 3 episodes. Strange World itself suffered from the Fleeting Demographic Rule, as it aired during the run of (and shared an executive producer with) The X-Files.
  • Flowers for Algernon Syndrome: In "The Plateau", a medical group developed a treatment to make a man with an IQ of 56 into a super-genius. Eventually, he got smart enough to predict the future, and when the researchers tried to reverse the effects, he started killing people with physics and psychology. Subverted in that by the time they captured him, they couldn't reverse the treatment.
  • Foregone Conclusion: "Subject 13". It is truly heartbreaking to see Walter's earnest attempts to return Peter to his rightful universe and Walternate's frantic search for his missing son knowing that both of them are going to fail.
    • Ending to the Walter's story, suggested by Ella in "Brown Betty" at first looks like Deus Ex Machina, created by little girl who is not good in literature technique and wanted happy ending at any cost. However, it resembles the ending of Season 3 - turns out Peter doesn't have to choose who live and who die after all.
  • Foreshadowing: People from the parallel universe had a slightly different shadow in one episode (can't recall which), as seen when opening a door. This includes Peter.
    • In the Season 2 finale's alternate red title sequence, most of the Fringe science concepts that appear in the background are the same, or at least similar to the normal opening sequence. But if you look closely, you'll see that something called "First People" appears in the first few seconds.
    • Some of The Observer's lines can be interpreted as Foreshadowing.
      • "There is more than one of everything.": referring probably to the other universe and the fact that there are SEVERAL Observers.
      • "It must be difficult being a father": he said this to Peter in "The Firefly", possibly referring to Walter, but he could also mean Peter, who would later be revealed to have impregnated Fauxlivia.
    • In the fifteenth episode of Season 1 (five from the finale), Peter shows a kid one of his old G. I. Joe action figures, and comments, "You know, it's funny, I always remember his scar being on the other side." That's because Peter comes from the alternate universe, where the scar probably was on the other side.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Peter met Olivia as a kid, but seems to have amnesia about this ever happening even though he is Olivia's boyfriend now. It is heavily implied by other Cortexiphan kids that the memory loss may have in fact been intentional on Walter and Bell's parts in an effort to cover up the drug trials.
  • For the Evulz: ZFT's apparent motive. That and showing off to the rest of the Mad Scientist community.
  • For Want of a Nail: The Alternate Universe is full of very slight differences to our own. For example: Cary Grant played Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon, Martin Luther King Jr. is on the $20 and ID Cards are called "Show Me"s.
    • And the flashback episode has two of the Observers coming out of a movie theater having just seen Back to The Future, starring Eric Stoltz, the actor originally chosen for the part because Michael J. Fox was having troubles negotiating out of his television contract. Apparently in the Alternate Universe, he never successfully cleared up his schedule.
  • Freudian Slip: Walter gets a really good one in in "Grey Matters".

Walter: Our mental patients. Mr. Slater, Mrs. Crampton, and Mr. Condom.
Astrid: Gordon.

  • Gaia's Lament: The Alternate Universe was suffering from this due to reality breaking down. With the activation of the bridge, it seems to be getting better.
    • "Letters in Transit" reveals that Earth was fully and irrevocably rendered uninhabitable by the year 2607, prompting the Observers to travel back in time to look for the most suitable point in history to begin again.
  • Gambit Roulette: One episode had an FBI agent who was infected with a life-threatening parasite which was cured at the very last second. Turns out he apparently infected himself, and the entire episode was a plan to get his wife to overhear a secret discovered by other FBI agents while they were trying to save him. But if even a single thing in the episode had gone differently - including the fact that an attempt to catch a suspect had been botched - then the plan would not have worked. Note that if the heroes were even five minutes too late, the plotter would have been dead, and if they had gotten the necessary information just a few minutes prior, the wife would not have been in the room. Well, if you consider that the goal was to free David Robert Jones, who seems to have had the fanatical devotion of ZFT, there may have been some deliberate coordination going on. But it still was a rather crazy plan.
    • The Plateau opens with a man assassinating a woman by balancing a ballpoint pen on top of a mailbox. How? The pen gets knocked down by a splash from a car going through a puddle. A man notices the pen fall, and moves to pick it up. A cyclist swerves to avoid the man and ends up crashing. The crash distracts a bus driver, and he fails to notice a red light coming up. The intended victim started crossing the street when the Walk sign lit up, and she gets hit by the bus. Just as planned.
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: Peter does. Though he thinks Olivia makes a very sexy redhead.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Walter has to give Peter one of these in the final episode of Season 4. In all fairness, he had a fairly legitimate reason to Freak-Out.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: All the time.

Walter: "I want to see Agent Dunham's face when she eats my pudding."


Walter: And I have no idea how to bring our Olivia back. It's all because of that temptress. She tricked my son with her carnal manipulation and he fell right into her vagenda!
Astrid: Vagenda?


Walter: (at a subway stop) Kent Street. I frequented a massage parlor just around the corner. I used to get off right here.
Peter: I sure hope you're talking about the station, Walter.

  • The Ghost: William Bell, including on his company's website. He's played in the season one finale by Leonard Nimoy. For two minutes, he returns in "Momentum Deferred". And then again in the Season 2 finale. Now he's literally an actual ghost - sort of.
  • Hallucinations: After sharing consciousness with him shortly before he died, Olivia saw visions of John Scott for much of the first season.
    • During the third season, Olivia's subconsciousness generates visions of Peter to combat her False Memories.
  • Here There Were Dragons: Walter and Bell theorized that the abilities that developed in the children they experimented on were once a part of normal physiology until they disappeared at some point. Walter suspects aliens.
    • Further hinted at in the "First People" theory which appears among the phrases in the alt-intro and in "6995 kHz".
  • Heroes Unlimited: The alternate Fringe Division.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Walter's backup plan for stopping the hybrid monster? Poisoning himself so it would die if it ate him.
    • Nicholas Boone, who had his spinal fluid drained just to make sure his wife would be able to be cured, even though he knew it would give him a stroke.
    • While helping Olivia escape from Walternate, Colonel Broyles is killed and chopped up by his own colleagues.
    • William Bell using his unstable atoms to power Our Heroes' trip back to the prime universe.
    • Joshua Rose setting it up so that he would be trapped in Amber, getting Fringe Division to close the case so that his identical twin brother that he'd previously rescued from the Amber could go back to his life.
  • Hollywood Cyborg: Nina Sharp.
  • Hollywood Science: And deliberately so.
  • Homicide Machines: One episode involved a guy who created powerful EM fields when he was under stress. For some reason this caused a printer to turn malevolent just long enough to kill his boss.
  • Hospitality for Heroes: A bartender in the alternate universe refuses to let Agent Broyles pay for his drink. This is because he recognizes Broyles as one of the law enforcement officials who helped deal with a major disaster (a gigantic vortex) years before; he tells Broyles that his money is no good there, because the world needs more heroes like him.
  • Hostage for Macguffin: Thomas Henry Newton secures his escape in "Grey Matters" by poisoning Walter and letting Olivia choose between capturing Newton and saving Walter.
  • Hurting Hero: Walter has helped solve every case the Fringe team comes across. His son also died, causing him to go to the Other Side and kidnap that Peter. As such he is responsible for the war with the Other Side and knows it, just as he is partially responsible for his late wife's suicide. He has also spent 17 years in a mental institution with little to no outside contact, and he has had pieces of his brain removed, leaving him with severely compromised mental faculties. Though he spends most of his time munching on candy and dancing around dead bodies, it's hard to watch his scenes with Bell and think he's happy. Then we have Olivia, whose life has been described by another character as "something of a nightmare". And that's before she gets trapped in a parallel universe, tortured by light deprivation, brainwashed into thinking she's another Olivia, narrowly escapes having her brain cut out, and finally manages to get herself back home... only to find out that the other Olivia has been living her life and even dating Peter, the man she loves. Her life sucks.
  • I Choose to Stay: When the bridge between both universes is being closed, our side's Lincoln Lee chooses to stay in the alternate universe.
  • I Did What I Had to Do:
    • Appears to be William Bell's justification for experimenting on children who ended up, in some cases, exploding, becoming suicidally depressed over their condition, and having their lives ruined by a ceaseless array of nightmarish visions. As of "Over There (Part 1)", this was key to getting to the alternate universe as part of the attempt to save Peter and prevent The End of the World as We Know It.
    • Also the justification the colonel gave for detonating the subjects of Project Tin Man in "Fracture" (Season 2 Episode 3).
  • Idiot Ball: Peter, third season. He's known Olivia for over two years now, he's realized Olivia is acting differently, he's surrounded by body-double-imposters from the Other Side, and yet he doesn't realize that the woman he's now sleeping with is Fauxlivia.
    • This is made even worse by the fact that Peter was once a conman and claims to have a knack for reading people. Pull yourself together, Bishop.
    • trope Justified by Peter himself, in that he did noticed a lot of details being very off, but he kept rationalizing over them because of his love for Olivia (the one he knew).
    • Really, the fact that the Fringe group repeatedly gets tricked by alternates is just sad. Almost as bad is Charlie being replaced by his double, when they KNEW that Charlie was fighting a shapeshifter hand-to-hand no one ever bothered to check and make sure he's the correct person. The fact they repeat it with Fauxlivia is just painful. And they fell for the shapeshifter switch yet again!
      • But when it comes down to it early in the third season when Peter is pursuing Fauxlivia, and she apparently takes a hostage, Peter immediately twigs that the hostage is a shapeshifter.
      • Also, it is in no way satisfactorily explained how the Olivia/Fauxlivia switcheroo happened anyway. From what we saw on screen, there was no reason at all to think that it had happened, and it was only later that the differences started to become apparent. And of course the only person who spent any real time with her was Peter who was doinking her. Aside from anything else, original Olivia is the one who can jump universes, and got the group 'over there' anyway, and so the fact they got back at all does rather imply they had the right one with them.
        • The Olivia switch pretty clearly happens after the grenade goes off. The discrepancies in the doorstop plan can be explained by Belly not wanting to reveal his real plan: committing suicide to get the others back home.
  • If I Do Not Return: Peter to Astrid when he decides to enter the Machine.

Astrid: Are you sure you don't want me to call Olivia?
Peter: If it doesn't work, she's going to find out soon enough. Just tell her that-
Astrid: Whatever it is? You'll tell her yourself.

  • I Just Want to Be Normal: "Baby Boy Brian" AKA Eugene underwent experiments that made him invisible and also put off a fatal condition. He spent his episode stealing other people's pigment to make himself visible again, never mind the fact that it would kill him.
  • I Know You Know I Know: The bad guy in "The Plateau" can use math to predict and manipulate the future. When Charlie and Olivia realize what it means for their investigation, they call Astrid and ask her if it's possible to compute whether he'll predict between their two choices. She says it's a mathematical impossibility, an infinite loop, and basically gives this trope. He can predict what they'll do since he knows that they know that he'll know he can predict them knowing that he can predict them, etc. Olivia just says "screw it" and decides to go to the hotel. Answer Cut to the bad guy standing in front of a window with a hotel sign visible next to it.
    • Subverted in the same episode in a rather clever way - the bad guy relies on Olivia following a particular protocol to keep the dominos of his plan falling - he thinks he knows she knows he knows. She of course DOESN'T know - being from the other universe, she's unfamiliar with the protocol.
  • Impostor Exposing Test: The cyborg shapeshifters have mercury for blood. Blood screening is standard procedure when shapeshifters are at large.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Fauxlivia has an incredible knack for shooting people right between the eyes. Becomes a plot point in the Season 3 premiere, when Olivia pulls off an absolutely insane shot to a gas gauge with a handgun from a car moving at full speed. It means the brainwashing is working.
    • Olivia seems to have retained her new-found marksmanship skills even though the brainwashing isn't permanent. What this means is unclear. Later episodes have shown that she remembers all her time over there (she gives frequent guidance on how Fringe Division does things as events warrant it), she's just clear now that she's not Fauxlivia, although she remembers being her. So that's okay, then. Probably.
  • In-Series Nickname: Walternate. And now... Fauxlivia.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun:
    • The title of the episode with the melting brains? "No-Brainer".
    • The one about rapid aging? "The Same Old Story".
    • People getting turned to dust? "Earthling".
    • Walternate.
    • Fauxlivia.
    • Most titles on the soundtracks are amazingly awful.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Young Peter's mysterious terminal ailment. See also Soap Opera Disease below.
  • Informed Ability: Peter's genius-level intelligence, most of the time. It doesn't help that he's often standing next to Walter, who makes pretty much everyone else seem stupid by comparison.
  • Inn Between the Worlds: Building where the machine is stored. From one end it is our universe, from other - it is alternate. From window you see clear sky, from another - clouds and zeppelins.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Averted in Walter's case. He was much more morally dubious when he was fully sane, but after his mental breakdown he becomes a harmless old man. Further exemplified in how Walternate is sane, yet is much more willing to take violent, drastic measures.
  • Insistent Terminology: Alternate Charlie has worms arachnids under his skin. They're NOT worms.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device: Several different versions, including: Walter's portal, which causes both universes to begin collapsing; William Bell's technique by which he pulled Olivia into the AU (usually only works on hybrid Super Soldiers who are designed to survive the crossing; it worked on Olivia because of her Cortexiphan-enhanced physiology); and the natural way, which is achieved by groups of Cortexiphan Kids being guided by Walter (and of the three, is clearly the least dangerous, to dimensions and dimension-crossers, but not without its kinks).
  • Interrogating the Dead: Mentioned in the pilot. Done in "In Which We Meet Mr. Jones" (Season 1 Episode 7), and again in "Brave New World (Part 2)" (Season 4 Episode 22).
  • Intoxication Ensues: Walter (frequently).
    • Hilariously, Walter's fine during "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide". It's Peter and Broyles (!) who are as high as kites.
  • In Which a Trope Is Described: "In Which We Meet Mr. Jones" (Season 1 Episode 7).
  • Ironic Echo: Naturally, in a show about parallel universes, this trope pops up a lot. Examples include:
    • When Broyles is trying to convince Walter to help them deal with the machine in "The Box", he says that the government made similar arguments to Robert Oppenheimer (the scientist who led the Manhattan Project), and asks "how do you think he slept after his little invention had killed hundreds of thousands in a fraction of a second?" In "6:02 AM EST", just before turning on the machine, Walternate also compares himself to Oppenheimer - and talks about the nightmares he had after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: In the pilot, Peter uses a coffee mug to repeatedly smash the fingers of a suspect in order to get information.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: The pilot and "Lysergic Acid Diethylemide".
  • Karmic Death: In the first season finale, David Robert Jones repeatedly attempts to open a portal to a parallel universe, at one point resulting in a young soccer player being Portal Cut. At the end of the episode, Peter uses one of his father's gizmos to plug the dimensional hole as Jones is trying to escape through it--Splinch!
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: No one was really upset when one of the people treated with Cortexiphan roasted Sanford Harris like a Christmas ham. Or when Walter verbally castrated Olivia's stepfather. Or when Fauxlivia floored alternate Brandon during her Heel Face Turn.
  • Killer Rabbit: Killer butterflies that cut! (Cutterflies?) A different kind of Butterfly of Doom...
  • Lampshade Hanging: Amongst others:

Walter: That makes as much sense as anything else we've done.
Astrid: That makes no sense at all!
Walter: My point exactly.

  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: An apparent side-effect of surviving the memory-transfer process used by the antagonist in "One Night in October" to take people's happy memories.
  • Late Arrival Spoiler: No advertisements, reviews, or discussions of Fringe bother to hide that there's an alternate universe involved. Mostly because it'd be impossible to explain otherwise by Season 3.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Peter and Fauxlivia.
    • Sort of subverted at the end of Season 4 when Olivia is revealed to be pregnant shortly after expressing a desire for a house with a nursery.
  • Leitmotif: An ominous flute-theme usually plays when The Observers are featured.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Olivia wears almost entirely grey, white, and black. Turns out she, and others, were trained to.
  • Literal Change of Heart: In the "Brown Betty" episode.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Peter to Walter.
  • Living Memory: After Olivia enters John Scott's subconscious via a Mental Fusion. In Season 3, brainwashed Olivia has Peter show up towards the end of "The Plateau" and introduce himself as one of these.
    • This happens again in Season 4, when Walter keeps catching glimpses of Peter after he has been erased from the timeline.
  • Loss of Identity: What Walternate forces on our universe's Olivia in the third season premiere.
  • Lost Superweapon: Newton seems to be tracking down the pieces of one.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Well... Peter is in love with Olivia who liked John at first but he died and she liked Peter back but she doesn't remember him as of Season 4 and now has a thing for Lincoln who is quite smitten back but is friends with Peter who seems to ship them as well for some reason but Olivia remembered Peter again and now Lincoln is brokenhearted and in the alternate time line, Peter thought that Fauxlivia was Olivia and spent seven episodes enamored with her but she was dating Frank but Alternate Lincoln liked her too and seemed to be fond of our Olivia as well when Walternate mind raped her into thinking she was Fauxlivia but in the amber timeline Fauxlivia has broken up with Frank and Lincoln was her "shoulder to cry on" but then he died but the other Lincoln said he'd stay and help and Seth Gabel ships them and... I think that's it.
  • Love Is a Weakness: In one episode, Newton poisons Walter and when cornered by Olivia, looking to bring Newton into custody, he reveals a three-step antidote process to counteract the poison, but he'll only agree to give Olivia the correct order for administering the antidote if she lets him go. Having to choose between arresting her target or saving her colleague and friend, she chooses to save Walter. As promised, Newton upholds his end of the bargain and Walter is saved, but before he makes his break, he tells Olivia, "Now I know how weak you are."
  • Love Makes You Crazy: August's love for Christine leads to him performing some very un-Observerish behavior, namely, deciding to forgo just watching and actually interfering with the course of history by saving Christine's life.
  • Love Transcends Spacetime:
    • Peter and Olivia. They've been separated by universes. Peter has been erased from existence. Olivia has been shot in the future. They've crossed between universes, rewritten time lines and changed the future. Damn straight it transcends space-time.
    • blue!Lincoln crosses into a dying universe for Fauxlivia.
    • Most of the other examples in the series are Deconstructed, the elderly couple from "6B" who miss their alternate selves so much that they nearly break the universes, Alistair Peck and his time travel device and the man from "And Those We've Left Behind" who tries to make a bubble in time so that he can stay with his wife in the past before she can get early onset Alzheimer's and accidentally ends up creating dangerous time loops.
  • Made of Iron: Olivia takes a lot of punishment in "Bound" and keeps on fighting.
    • The Observers.
    • To a lesser extent, the shapeshifters.
  • Mad Scientist:
    • Walter Bishop, who's moved towards the 'endearingly confused and absent-minded' end of the spectrum rather than the 'really insane' side after leaving the asylum. He's also The Worm Guy and the Omnidisciplinary Scientist.

Dr. Bishop: The only thing better than a cow is a human. Unless you need milk, then you really need a cow.

    • Walter tends to shift from one end of the spectrum to another many times per episode. Rather than being inconsistent writing, this tends to make most anything involving Walter absolutely terrifying and remind you that the guy who spent 20 minutes talking about French toast is probably the most dangerous person in the whole show.
      • The audience is reminded forcibly in "Letters of Transit" where he has the excised parts of his brain restored, and promptly becomes starts outwitting Observers.
    • William Bell, his ex-partner, might be on the 'take over the world' side after he parlayed his research with Bishop into a massive company with a nebulously-defined "specialty" (a billboard for the company says "What do we do? What don't we do?"). Turns out Bell isn't really so mad after all. In fact, he's one of the good guys (as far as we know).
    • Many, many minor characters.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: An uncommon male example in Peter Bishop. While he's far from the naïf, it's an interesting play on the trope.
  • Magic From Technology: In Season 2 Episode 12 "Johari Window", wherein a whole town of mutants appear normal via a sustained electromagnetic pulse, Walter claims that an old friend once said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
  • Mass "Oh Crap": "6:02 AM EST" has a few of these casually strewn about the place. It's that kind of episode.
  • Medium Blending: When Walter and Peter go into Olivia's mind, the world switches from live action to a rotoscoped, cel-shaded cartoon as soon as they meet William Bell. Apparently, they couldn't get Leonard Nimoy to appear in person so they had to come up with something to use him in the episode. He was unwilling to go back on his retirement (announced following completion of the Fringe Season 2 finale), but he was prepared to do the voicework, hence the animation.
  • Mega Corp: Massive Dynamic: What don't we do?
  • The Men in Black: The Observer seems to play this very close to the classic understanding of the MIB image.
  • Mental Time Travel: In the third season finale, the mind of Peter's younger self is pulled into the Bad Future to prevent it by showing what will happen if he uses the machine to destroy the alternate universe.
  • Mind Over Matter: It's said that Olivia has this from being experimented on as a child.
    • And she does have telekinesis as proven in last two episodes of Season 3.
  • Mind Rape: Walternate does this to Olivia. Even Alt!Broyles has a bit of a What the Hell, Hero?.
  • Mind Screw: "Death. I saw death. All of it. And it was me. And yes, there were drugs involved.
  • Mirror Match: Olivia vs. Olivia in "Over There (Part 2)".
  • Mismatched Eyes: Joseph Feller.
  • Modesty Bedsheet
  • The Mole: John Scott, who was working with Steigman prior to the events of the pilot. And not to mention Agent Loeb. And as it turns out Sanford Harris. And now the alternate universe soldier posing as Charlie. Again with Alternate-Olivia sneaking into our universe. And then Amberverse Col. Broyles working for Amber-Jones. This show loves this trope.
  • Morality Chain: Brought up in "One Night in October", when a forensic psychologist is brought to the other universe to profile his Serial Killer Evil Twin, and it turns out that the key difference between the two is that the psychologist, as a child, had met a woman who taught him to manage his destructive urges, while his counterpart never did. After the evil twin steals his memories of the woman, there's concern as to whether he'll go evil without them. Broyles says that while they'll keep an eye on him, he believes some people make a mark on others that cannot be erased.
  • Murder by Cremation: Charlie is killed off-screen by a shape-shifter and disposed of in a hospital incinerator.
  • Mushroom Samba: "Lysergic Acid Diethylemide".
  • Musical Episode: "Brown Betty" is a detective story Walter tells Ella while Olivia is looking for a disappeared Peter. In it, Olivia is a hard-boiled pulpish detective, Walter is a Mad Scientist Marty Stu though not so much, as it is revealed and the setting is an Anachronism Stew of 30's atmosphere and modern/future technology. This trope is played with when Rachel first starts singing, and Walter's voice comes out. This doesn't happen when other characters start singing, however.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: This, followed immediately by Driven to Suicide, is the reaction of a Serial Killer after he essentially acquires empathy/conscience from his alternate universe counterpart.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood:
    • Walter can never remember Astrid's name. The things he's called her thus far include such gems as Astral, Asterisk, Australis, Asteroid, Ostrich, and Ashram.

Walter: "Astral!"
Astrid: "My name is ASTRID."
Walter: "...Projection! Astral projection!"

    • Subverted in "What Lies Below" (Season 2 Episode 12) when he says Ash, but it turns out it's his Eureka Moment.
    • It looks like he's finally about to get her name right in "Brown Betty" when he's about to name her character in the story he's telling... but at the last second he names her Esther Figglesworth. Astrid's look of pure exasperation is priceless.
    • He does get it right in "The Road Not Taken" (Season 1 Episode 19) - so naturally she wasn't there to hear it (he was alone in the lab at the time).

Walter: "Oh Astrid, I've found it."

    • He also remembers in "Snakehead" (Season 2 Episode 9) -- when he's worried sick that he got her followed by gang members. She's not around then, either.
    • And, as of "The Box", we're back:

Walter: Aspirin, we need to go to the market!

    • He finally gets it right, to her face, in "Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?", to her surprise. To both of their surprise, actually. Walter suggests it's because he's on a different blend of drugs at the time.
    • In response to Walter calling her Astro for the hundredth time, she calls him "Wallie" (Season 3 Episode 19). The look on Walter's face is amazingly hilarious.
    • He gets it right again in "The Last Sam Weiss" - but only after being struck by lightning twice.
    • As of Season 4 Episode 2, it looks like Lincoln is gonna join the party too.

Walter: Kennedy, help me!

  • Mysterious Past: Much of Walter's life before he was admitted St. Claire's is still shrouded in mystery. This also applies to Peter, who has a pretty sketchy background.
  • Mysterious Watcher: The Observer. Played with during his first featured episode when the camera pulls out at the end of the episode to reveal him watching, as per usual for the trope, then Peter comes out of nowhere with a hay-maker to the Observer's jaw and demands to know who he is and what's going on. He's appeared in every episode so far, doubling as an Easter Egg. He has also appeared in other Fox programs, including NFL games, NBA games, and American Idol.
  • Mythology Gag: Take a shot every time one shows up in "Brown Betty". You'll be dead in less than half an hour.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Walter. Walter, Walter, Walter. Examples include Olivia finding out about his "cooking naked on Tuesdays" habit in "6:02 AM EST" - the hilarious way.
  • Neck Snap: David Robert Jones kills his lawyer this way as part of his escape plan.
  • The Needs of the Many:
    • Much of Walter's character development is centered around this trope.
    • The justification for using Amber. Hundreds of people trapped in a continue loop of fear... but the universe won't rip itself apart.
  • Nerdgasm: Brandon has one, with a combination of Properly Paranoid when researching Observer sightings.
  • Never Recycle A Room: Walter the Mad Scientist returns to his lab in the basement of a Harvard building after 17 years and just has to just dust the place down before getting back to work; not only has the space been left unused, but all his equipment is still there. Considering what he was working on leaving it alone might be the smartest thing a university has ever done. Walternate's lab wasn't recycled either.
    • The site in Jacksonville where William Bell and Walter conducted their experiments on Olivia. Handwaved by Bell buying it and then keeping it shut down.
    • Alistair Peck's lab.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: "Brown Betty" was advertised as a quirky, lighthearted Musical Episode. It really isn't. There's also only one real musical number.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: Presumably, given several references to President Obama, it's this as opposed to Twenty Minutes Into the Future.
    • Given that the Fringe division and everything it does is kept a secret from the public, it's possible that it's happening right now and you just don't know about it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Nice job saving Other Peter's life, Walter. Too bad that now we have two universes ready to collapse.
    • Also, the Bad Future in the Season 3 finale.
    • Nice job observing Walternate, Observer. You should be fired.
      • At least he admits that he is prone to this.
    • "Subject 13" reveals that a young Olivia accidentally crossed over and alerted Walternate to the existence of the Primary Universe.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Walter gets fired up rather than horrified by the grotesqueries they confront.
    • Ella is strangely nonplussed by the weird and freaky as well, which might foreshadow her becoming a Fringe agent in the future.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: In Season 4, a girl named Emily has visions of how people die, she carries a drawing pad with her so she can quick draw them out before she forgets them.
  • No-Paper Future: The other universe is apparently like this, to the extent that the presence of a ballpoint pen at a crime scene is the most exotic thing about it. The clue leads them to a research center where mentally-handicapped patients have difficulty using computers and tend to write with pens instead.
  • Noir Episode: "Brown Betty" (Season 2 Episode 20), also doubles as a Musical Episode.
  • Noodle Implements: Astrid does not want to know what Walter intends to do with a porn magazine and a portrait of George W. Bush.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever case landed Alt!Charlie with arachnid eggs infesting his body.
    • Presumably the same case that left "our" version of the character with them, only they couldn't synthesize a cure, only a control measure.
  • No One Could Have Survived That: A woman falls from a building in Season 3 Episode 17 and walks away. Later, we find out she was murdered eighteen months ago and escaped from the morgue.
  • No, You: From "Ability".

Olivia: I was hoping you'd have one of your weird connections.
Peter: Weird connections?
Olivia: They're always a little weird.
Peter: Well, you're always a little weird.

  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging:
    • Peter to Olivia and Walter towards the end of second season.
    • Olivia to Peter at the start of "Marionette".
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Sanford Harris deliberately uses his administrative leverage to hinder Olivia's work, as revenge for a past conviction on sexual harassment charges and especially because he's The Mole. "I have lots of red tape."
  • Oh Crap:
    • Nina Sharp's expression in "Peter" after her arm starts flickering screams this trope.
    • The Observer in "Letters of Transit". Causally observing the device Walter made... and then realizing what it is.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Walter specializes in neurology, genetic manipulation, amateur surgery, and basement time/space machines. And pharmacology : Let's make some LSD!
    • In reality, more than a few fringe scientists do cross-train to that extent. At least one of the cold fusion groups has a medical doctor as a consultant. This is because in reality "fringe" science is stuff considered so laughable that almost nobody studies it (you can pick up everything currently known about, say, Phrenology from one thick book) so there's very little to actually learn, almost none of which is actually useful. It's not hard to be a fringe science Renaissance Man - what's hard is being a practical fringe scientist. This makes some promising research projects (such as cold fusion) almost impossible to staff because the nutcase-to-Worm Guy ratio is just absurd - few mainstream scientists realize what they're looking at if anomalous data appears, and most nutcases think they've cured cancer if they drop bleach on the Petri dish. Case in point, radio-astronomers spent decades enhancing and tweaking their instruments trying to eliminate what they thought was earth-based "noise" before they realized they had discovered cosmic microwave background radiation.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Observers.
  • Once an Episode:
    • The Observer, the cow.
    • Played with in "Brown Betty". Several Observers show up in that episode at the same time as generic Mooks, as well as a polka-dot cow in Bizarro!Walter's lab.
    • All episodes also contain a link to the next episode, for example the Beacon from "The Arrival" is shown on a sign in "The Ghost Network".
  • One Degree of Separation: It turns out that Olivia was one of the children that Walter Bishop and William Bell experimented on.
  • Orbital Kiss: Peter and Olivia at the end of "A Short Story About Love".
  • Orifice Evacuation: In "Bound", an immunologist is killed by a slug which escapes through his mouth.
  • Other Me Annoys Me
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They suck spinal fluid, not blood. And they go clubbing!
  • Out of Order: "Unearthed", which aired during the run of Season 2, was clearly supposed to be a Season 1 episode, as Charlie Francis is still alive.
  • Peggy Sue: In "White Tulip", the Monster of the Week is a scientist who is attempting this to bring back his fiance, who died in a car accident several months prior. A vast Deconstruction, of course.
  • People Puppets: In "Of Human Action", Tyler Carson has this power. He uses it brutally, forcing a policewoman to kill herself and her fellow officers, and has a man cut his own fingers off for trying to escape. Trying to resist causes lesions on your brain, but he can be incapacitated for a very short time with a special device that blanks his brainwaves.
  • Pensieve Flashback: Olivia going into the tank to view John Scott's memories. Played with in that John is able to interact with Olivia (even though Walter says this is not possible).
  • Perma-Stubble: Peter.
  • Pet the Dog: The ordinarily stoic and humorless Broyles has a moment at the beginning and ending of "Earthling".
    • Fauxlivia has one of these moments every time she's with her son.
  • Phone Trace Race: Done in "Stowaway" in a failed effort to track a Death Seeker on a train with a bomb.
  • Planning with Props: Walter explains to Broyles how he intends to attenuate the fringe disturbances caused by the two doomsday machines by using a glass pane, magnets and iron filings.
  • Playing with Fire:
    • "The Road Not Taken" is about a woman who has acquired pyrokinetic powers.
    • And according to Walter, at one point Olivia got scared during the experiments done to her as a child and "started a fire with her mind."
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Fauxlivia gets pregnant with Peter's child, but is found to have a genetic condition that will likely kill them both upon birth. So Walternate arranges for the pregnancy to be accelerated, beating the disease to the punch.
  • Pointless Doomsday Device: Destroying the parallel universe with the Machine actually makes things worse in the surviving universe, leading to a Bad Future.
  • Portal Cut: The manner in which Mr. Jones dies. As well, this is how Nina loses her arm.
  • Portmanteau: Since the introduction of the alternate universe, there have been many, many examples of Portmanteau, in-universe ("Walternate") and out. The winner of most portmanteaus? Easily the two Olivias. Over there Olivia? Altlivia, Nolivia, Bolivia, Fauxlivia, Holivia, Theirlivia, Otherlivia. This universe's Olivia? A-livia, Ourlivia. And then there is Bellivia, for when Bell is possessing Olivia. However, the best portmanteau of the series isn't a name, but a concept introduced by our Dr. Walter Bishop - vagenda (see Getting Crap Past the Radar).
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Time Travel, in "White Tulip". The very act of going back towards the past instantly drains all batteries and kills anything and anyone in the immediate vicinity.
    • The device that alternate universe Walter designed seems to require his son, Peter to power it in some way.
  • Power Perversion Potential: When the Cortexiphan test subjects gain control over their powers, they naturally start using them to enhance their sex lives. This overuse of their powers causes one them to start reverting back to his previous out-of-control state when they cross over into the parallel universe. And only because he's dating one of the others. So he uses his empathic abilities to enhance their sex life.
  • Precursors:
    • Walternate's Doomsday Device is described as ancient, and according to the trailer for "6955 kHz", the titular signal is millions of years old.
    • subverted in the Season 3 finale, which explained things with a Stable Time Loop. Although this only presents more questions because neither universe actually has the technology to build the machines for themselves, just put the pieces together. So while the message and the buried pieces now make sense, where did the machine come from originally?
  • Preemptive Declaration: From Season 4 Episode 9 "Enemy of My Enemy": an agent of David Robert Jones is a doctor in an Emergency Room. She calls up Fringe Division, asks them to listen closely, and walks out the ER (leaving a canister behind her):

Orderly(to the exiting Dr. Samuels): Doctor Samuels, do you want me to give that little girl with the bike injury a Tetanus?
Dr. Samuels: Not necessary. I don't think she's gonna make it. (Orderly gives her a confused look as the canister begins to release a gas that kills everyone in the ER)

  • Pretty Little Headshots
  • Product Placement: The Season 2 finale features our heroes chowing down on KFC and snacking on Twizzlers. Incidentally, Walter knows the eleven secret ingredients. And he has for over thirty years.
    • Rather blatant placement for Ford and Sprint products show up in a few episodes, but not to a level of egregiousness.
    • Season 3 takes place in both universes. The alternate universe is technologically much much more advanced than ours - yet in both universes Windows 7 is state of the art and widely used.
      • But then of course we now know that Windows 8's desktop mode looks exactly the same as Windows 7 (as do many other elements) and that it'll be the dominating OS for a good decade or so.
  • Psychic Link:
    • The pilot features a link between Agent Dunham and John Scott in order to find a missing, unidentified suspect. The drug cocktail used to "open her consciousness" involves ketamine and lysergic acid, also known as LSD. Which leads to John Scott's thoughts being uploaded into Olivia.
    • Also happens in Episode 17 "Bad Dreams". Olivia shares a mental link to her partner from Walter and William's experiments - an emotionally disturbed man who has the ability to control people by transplanting said emotions into them.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Happens to Peter as a result of the Doomsday Device activating.
    • As a general rule, nosebleed in Fringe equals really bad.
  • Psycho Strings: William Bell gets these in his introduction in Season 4 to let us know that he might not be the man he was in the other timeline.
  • Putting on the Reich: The uniforms of the non-Fringe Division police officers in "Letters of Transit" resemble Chinese and North Korean uniforms rather than that of the Nazis though.

Tropes R-Z

  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The animated segments inside Olivia's mind in "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide" were necessary because Leonard Nimoy was only willing to provide his voice, rather than a full performance.
  • Red Shirt: Police officers and non-Fringe division FBI agents are frequently killed off by the Monster of the Week.
  • Replacement Goldfish: After Peter died at seven, Walter stole the Peter from the alternate universe. Walter had originally planned to cross over to cure the other Peter of the genetic disease that previously killed his own Peter. When the vial of medicine broke, he took Peter back to his dimension, fully intending to return him once he was cured. After his wife saw the other Peter, Walter realized he couldn't bring himself to let go of him a second time.
    • After Olivia gets her prime timeline memories restored and falls in love with Peter (again), and the alternate universe Lincoln is killed in the line of duty, Fauxlivia and the prime universe Lincoln become Replacement Goldfish to each other.
  • Ret-Gone: Peter, as of "The Day We Died". The jury's out as to whether or not it'll stick.
    • Peter got better as of "Subject 9". His son didn't.
  • Retraux:
    • The opening of "Peter" is made to look as if it was made in the 80's. As well, the floating text from flashbacks to 1985 is in a different font.
    • They compare 80's fringe science to modern fringe science - all of it seemed absurd, but some of it actually came to pass, while the rest just turned out to be bunk. The implication is pretty obvious: yeah, a lot of it is crazy, but the good stuff will change everything!
  • Retro Universe: Walter's fairy tale world in "Brown Betty". The cars are old, men wear fedoras, and yet everyone still carries a cell phone.
  • Return to Shooter: Olivia does this to Jessica when she tries to kill September.
  • The Reveal:
    • Last bit of the Season 1 finale, when the camera pulls around to reveal that it's Peter Bishop's grave. The dates? 1978-1985.
    • Closing shot of the Season 1 finale, when the camera pulls around to reveal that Olivia and William Bell are meeting in the still-standing Twin Towers.
    • The last part of "A New Day in the Old Town", when we learn that Charlie has been killed and replaced by the shape-changing soldier from another universe.
    • As of "Over There (Part 1)", we now know that Walternate is the parallel universe's Secretary of Defense.
    • The ending scene of the Season 2 finale, where we see Olivia going to communicate with her superiors via typewriter, and the real Olivia being held captive on the other side.
    • End of "The Last Sam Weiss", where we see that Peter is at a 9/11 memorial - installed 10 years in the future.
    • End of "The Day We Died", where the Observers casually inform us that Peter no long exists.
  • Reverse Polarity: In Season 3 Episode 6:

Walter: Dammit! Why can't I get a current?
Astrid: Maybe you reversed the poles?

  • Room Full of Crazy: Seen on several occasions. Walter's lab may also qualify.
  • Rule of Cool: Are half the things that occur on Fringe even remotely plausibly? Not by a long-shot. Are they awesome? Hell yes.
  • Running Gag: Peter "maybe knowing a guy" who can do this or that faster than the FBI could.
    • Also, Walter getting Astrid's name wrong.
    • Charlante: "THEY'RE NOT WORMS!"
    • The image cutting to a pan of the Massive Dynamic HQ after someone says that they need information, technology, or that they've found a link to someone important. It might as well be a recurring gag given how often it happens.
  • Save Both Worlds
  • Sacrificial Lion:
  • Schizo-Tech: The alternate universe has modern cell phones by 1985, but still uses zeppelins. Tablet computers are so widespread that paper is obsolete, but they haven't cured smallpox.
    • "Brown Betty" cranks this Up to Eleven. It's supposed to come off as an old-school 1950's Film Noir musical, but alas, we have laser pens, cellphones, and laptops... the cellphones are touch-pad PDA's which are absurdly huge and look like giant slabs of metal, and the laptops are built out of wood.
  • Science Is Bad: Sort of. According to the creators, the entire ethos of the show is that scientists haven't had any sense of their own purpose since the space race ended and that's bound to cause all kinds of problems.
  • Secret Test: The Observer's ultimate goal in "The Firefly". Нe wanted to know if Walter is ready to sacrifice Peter.
  • Serial Escalation: Part of the second season premiere.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong:
    • In Season 2 Episode 16 "Peter", one of the Observers wanders through Walternate's lab and distracts him so he doesn't notice that the cure for Peter's disease is actually workable. Oops. He gets a polite dressing-down from his fellow Observers, and makes up for screwing the pooch by saving Peter's life (and Walter's) when they fall through the ice.
    • "White Tulip". Pretty much the entire plot.
    • The Season 3 finale.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Olivia puts on a cocktail dress to infiltrate a black-tie fundraiser.
  • She Fu: Impressively averted with Olivia. While she usually favors taking the bad guys down with a few well-placed bullets, the times she does get into a fistfight she both takes and dishes out pretty convincing punches. Of course, she is a former Marine and fancy back-flips would not be in her combat repertoire.
  • Shipper on Deck: Walter, for Peter and Olivia: "Do you two want to use the room?" Lately, he's wondered aloud if his son and Olivia got married she would call him "Dad".
    • Oh, Walter is just a giant ball of mischief when it comes to shipping Peter and Olivia. "Of course, condoms are never 100 per cent effective. *pause* You two should be aware of that." And shortly, after Olivia has been temporarily abducted, we have:

'Walter: Peter was really worried about you when you were gone.
Peter: Walter...
Walter: You were.
Peter: Well, of course I was worried.
Walter: He was *really* worried.

    • ...later, in the same episode...

Walter: I was worried, too, when you were taken.
Olivia: Thank you, Walter. (she walks away)
Walter: (after a pause) Not as much as him, of course.
Peter: Walter....
Walter: It's true.

    • Nina Sharp is a pretty avid Peter and Olivia shipper. For good reason. Shipping is really Serious Business where those two are concerned.
    • September also ships Peter and Olivia. To the point of defying the other Observers.
    • Astrid tries to set up Olivia and Lincoln in Season 4.
    • In a really weird turn of events, Peter seems to ship Lincoln and Olivia from the amber timeline. He even buys Lincoln a pair of hip glasses to woo her with. And then Peter realizes that amber!Olivia is his Olivia and the shipping stops dead. Alternate universes, altered time lines, and upcoming apocalypses sure make hysterical Love Triangles.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: Anyone else remember Amy Jessup? Nope, well you're not alone. For the star of Season 2, there was an announcement of a new member joining Fringe Division who saw a possible religious/supernatural connection to the Pattern. She ended up being in only two episodes.
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: Olivia does this in the Season 3 premier. From a moving taxi. Henry Higgins, the taxi driver, is suitably impressed.
  • Shout-Out: There are a lot of shout-outs to famous scientists and science fiction authors.
  • Shown Their Work: In "Everything in Its Right Place", alternate-universe Fringe Division uses textbook military suppression tactics. Which makes sense, as they have more of a military bent than the standard version.
  • Sinister Geometry: Massive Dynamic's interior decorator must be an interesting guy. [dead link]
    • That's the interior of the Royal Ontario Museum's Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, the inside actually do look like that.
  • Smug Snake: Sanford Harris.
  • Special Edition Title: Fringe loves to change its opening sequence; for starters, the list of "fringe topics" that appear changes every season as well as for certain special episodes, all listed on the Quotes page. The style also changes depending on the episode:
    • First and most dramatically, episodes "Peter" and "Subject 13" were set in the 80s. The opening replaced some of the modern "fringe" science subjects with now-commonplace sciences such as DNA profiling and in vitro fertilisation. It was also set to an 80s-sounding version of the theme and similarly retro graphics, and a slightly grainy effect as if recorded on VHS tape.
    • A red color scheme is used for opening credits of episodes taking place in the parallel universe, instead of the usual blue. The Season 2 fringe topic "parallel universes" was replaced by "first people" in those episodes.
    • The opening of Season 3 episode "Entrada" alternates between red and blue, since it shares time about equally in both universes.
    • A grey color scheme was used for the Season 3 episode "The Day We Died" (set in 2026) and featured even more advanced fringe sciences, such as dual maternity and thought extraction. Ominously, "water" and "hope" are also listed as fringe topics.
    • An amber color scheme is used for Season 4 episodes taking place after the two universes have partly joined, and the timeline in both has been altered by Peter's death as a child.
    • The Season 4 episode "Letters of Transit" (set in 2036) goes a different route with its code-words. None of them are science-related but instead cover concepts like "community", "joy", and "free will".
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion:
    • A Season One episode explored this. People who were used in experiments involving Pyrokinesis would burst into flames and explode if they couldn't focus their attention on other things around them when their power builds up inside of them.
    • Later in Season Four, a fringe incident is initially believed to involve several people spontaneously combusting after their bodies exerted too much energy (with others in the affected area needing to stand perfectly still to avoid meeting the same fate), but it is revealed to have been spurned by nanotechnology entering the affected persons' bloodstream.
  • Spy Speak: Where does the Gentleman live? Little Hill.
  • Stable Time Loop: This is how the third season finale explains the First People and the origin of the Machine.
    • Not exactly a "stable" time loop, since it changes every iteration.
    • Implied in "White Tulip". Arlette would have safely driven to safety if she had not been so shocked by the presence of Future!Alistair.
  • Stalker with a Crush: One of the Observers.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: How one of the Australian promos described Peter and Olivia. If the trope is subverted or not remains to be seen.
  • Staring Kid: So very much. You could actually make a drinking game out of this if you watched only the teasers.
  • Start of Darkness: Walternate's crusade to take back his son begins when Young Olivia accidentally crosses over into his office and tells him where Peter is.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Spoken word for word by William Bell, in reference to the prospect of a potentially cataclysmic collision of the two universes.
  • Strapped to An Operating Table: Olivia is abducted and strapped down by the ZFT in Season 1; she is later strapped down again in Season 3 and almost de-brainified by Alt-Brandon once the Secretary decided she Had Outlived Her Usefulness.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Walter's father worked for the Nazis while spying for Americans. One of those Nazis is still young and using that science in 2010.
  • Stylistic Suck: "Subject 13" took the Whole-Episode Flashback concept further than normal and made even the HD broadcast look like it was shot on mid-80s hardware.
  • Sweet Tooth: Walter.
  • Synchronization: In the episode, where a boy will die if they kill the alien fungus that has synchronized with him.
    • In the fourth season episode "The Consultant", David Robert Jones is experimenting with a device that causes accidents in one universe and kills the counterparts of any victims in the other world in the exact same way. Ever see someone die in a plane crash while in the middle of a business meeting? Not pretty.
  • Team Mom: Blue!Astrid has taken this role to the team.
  • Team Pet: Gene, the cow.
  • Technology Marches On: Invoked:
    • After 17 years locked up in a mental institution, Walter is a bit behind the times. "Don't forget to check out his floppy disks!"
    • Even before being committed, he apparently preferred to use dated technology in his everyday life, all the more surprising for a cutting-edge scientist. He has a typewriter (which the ZFT manifesto was typed on) and his record collection is pre-CD.
  • Tele Frag: Happens in "Jacksonville" (Season 2 Episode 15) to an entire building when it(and the people inside) are merged with their Alternate Universe counterparts.
  • Terror at Make-Out Point: The episode "The Man from the Other Side" begins with two teens getting stoned in a car (presumably before or after making out) who quickly have their identities stolen by interdimensional shapeshifters.
  • Trapped in Another World:
    • Olivia at the end of Season 2.
    • Peter thinks this happened to him at the end of Season 3.
  • Themed Aliases: Though Peter hasn't used many aliases during the run of the show, he still knows enough to lampshade this trope.

Peter: The best lie, the one that's easiest to remember with consistency, is the one that's based on the truth. Whenever I would do this, I would base it on my own last name. Bishop. So Peter King. Peter Knight.

  • Those Wacky Nazis: "The Bishop Revival".
  • Time Travel: "White Tulip" and the final moments of "The Last Sam Weiss".
    • The Observers are able to move through and outside of time. For a long time, their abilities, origins, and motives are a total mystery. They are eventually revealed to be a scientific observation team of posthumans from one possible future. Why? As of "Letters in Transit", it's revealed that future earth has been destroyed, and they're looking to the past to find a better one.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: "White Tulip", again.
  • Title Drop: By Walter in "The Day We Died".
  • Title In: Played with.
    • Titles are presented as big, 3D letters hovering in the air during establishing shots.
    • One establishing shot of a location in Iraq had the letters more or less aligned with the city's grid as US choppers flew over it. Then the angle changed so the camera was on the ground, and the letters are actually reversed, with the choppers in the air on the other side.
    • Other times, they are reflected in nearby bodies of water.
    • Raindrops have been seen splattering on contact with them.
    • They cast shadows on occaision.
    • When they title in action that occur in the '80s, they turn into the stereotypical old fashioned computer font.
    • When titles are shown for the alternate universe Fringe team, they're the normal plain-text-on-screen style.
    • In another episode, the big floating letters that spelled "Manhatan" with only one "T" were a clue that a scene was, as later revealed, set in the Alternate Universe.
  • Tonight Someone Dies: "The Day We Died". The producers hinted on that and also announced that they will introduce a rookie FBI agent. The promo for the episode featured a coffin. And it's also named "The Day We Died". In the middle of the episode, Olivia got shot by Walternate, but that's okay, because it was in the Bad Future. What really counts is that Peter apparently got entirely erased from reality and only the Observers know that he existed at all. The rookie FBI agent turns out to be Future!Ella.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Pretty much the entire plot of "Johari Window".
  • Tranquil Fury: David Robert Jones threatens Peter in an attempt to activate Olivia's abilities. She disapproves. Violently.
  • Transhuman: Many examples, including the Cortexiphan kids, subjects of other experiments in human augmentation, and the Observers.
  • Traveling At the Speed of Plot: The team can navigate the Boston-New York-Washington megapolis in a matter of moments.
    • In "The Consultant", Colonel Broyles gets his "Show Me" card scanned at Liberty Island. After they get an alert about this, Bolivia and Agent Lee make it from Fringe HQ in Manhatan to Liberty Island in the time it takes Broyles to walk down the hallway.
  • Triumphant Reprise:
    • "Funeral Pyre Straits" is played in Season 3 during the Bad Future when Olivia is killed by Walternate. It's basically the worst case scenario. A louder, triumphant version is played in Season 4 when Olivia saves Peter in a particularly creative way.
    • Fauxlivia's theme was played as a dark string piece when Fauxlivia was up to no good and as a sad piano piece when Lincoln Lee died. More upbeat versions are also played when Henry is born in "Bloodline" and when Olivia and Fauxlivia part on good terms in "Worlds Apart".
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: The look and feel of the Alternate Universe has shades of this but, as mentioned above, the show is more of a Next Sunday A.D. setting.
    • At the end of "The Last Sam Weiss", Peter finds himself in a devastated New York City street and comes across a memorial plaque dated 2021 out the front of Freedom Tower.
    • "Letters in Transit" takes place in 2036, in a world conquered by Observers.
  • Tyke Bomb: Walter and William Bell experimented on several children. One of which was Olivia.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: The episode "Midnight" had such a combo with the revelation that the defected scientist from ZFT's wife has been infected by ZFT and is the Monster of the Week. A twist that many won't see coming due to the scientist being a short balding middle aged man and his wife, seen earlier in the episode being rather gorgeous with a real Femme Fatale look.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Peter and Olivia. In the beginning, it was simple, and it was obvious that there was some attraction.
    • Then came Altlivia, with whom Peter thought it was resolved.
    • As of "6B": RESOLVED!
  • Vehicle Vanish: The Observer does this.
  • Viking Funeral: Olivia in "The Day We Died".
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: Peter disapproves of this trope.
  • The Virus: "What Lies Below"(Season 2 Episode 13).
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot:
    • Flight 627. What happened to the passengers and John Scott is not pretty.
    • The shot of Charlie Francis's belly crawling with maggots under the skin.
    • David Robert Jones getting cut in half due to Peter abruptly closing the dimensional portal.
  • Wacky Parent, Serious Child: Walter and Peter, the latter being more the snarky type rather than the responsible one.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The cure for malevolent hell Ebola from 75,000 years ago... is HORSERADISH?
  • We Didn't Start the Billy Joel Parodies: The episode "The Road Not Taken" got one (lyrics). ("Susan Pratt started the fire / It wasn't God nor Jesus / It was pyrokinesis")
  • Weirdness Magnet: Lampshaded: when pressed by Olivia about Massive Dynamics' suspicious tendency to be involved in Pattern cases, Nina counters by noting the oddity that the cases also seem to be clustered in the taskforce's backyard. Explained in the Season One finale as being caused by "soft spots", which cause weird events to radiate out from them. These soft spots are apparently caused by the advancement of science and technology.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Alternate Fringe Division sees the deaths of at least 10,000 people (themselves included) acceptable losses in order to quarantine the dimensional tears. Furthermore, it's believed that only one of the two dimensions can survive the upcoming cataclysm, so unless someone figures out a way to Save Both Worlds, pretty much any atrocity inflicted on the opposing side is arguably justifiable.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Turns out Jones saw Bell as a mentor, and is doing all the crazy stuff to impress him.
  • Western Terrorists: ZFT.
  • We Wait: Said in the first episode when Olivia is in the isolation tank.
  • Wham! Episode:
    • "There's More Than One of Everything" (Season 1 Episode 20): William Bell lives in an alternate universe where the Twin Towers never fell, Jones sees Bell as a father figure, and, oh yes, Peter died before he turned ten and the one we know was kidnapped by Walter from an alternate universe.
    • "Momentum Deferred" (Season 2 Episode 4) follows up with more revelations from Bell along with setting up the rest of the season including the introduction of a new villain.
    • For a while, Fringe lacked a true wham episode since the plot attempting to travel to the other universe built slowly. Then we got the Season Two finale "Over There" where the Fringe team finally crosses over to rescue Peter, who we find out is linked to a very evil looking machine. Oh, and there was an Olivia switcheroo.
    • This was quickly followed by "Olivia" (Season 3 Episode 1) where Ourlivia became brainwashed into thinking she was Fauxlivia, while Fauxlivia is now in a relationship with Peter.
    • "Entrada" (Season 3 Episode 8) wrapped up what felt like a season's worth of plot in one action-packed episode.
    • "Lysergic Acid Diethylamide" (Season 3 Episode 19) has an ending that shoves it very firmly into Wham territory.
    • "6:02 AM EST": Walternate turns on the Doomsday Device. Sam Weiss understands exactly what's going on and is gonna do something about it. Fringe events are starting to rip the prime universe apart in earnest. Peter can't use the machine. Fauxlivia betrays Walternate and gets thrown in solitary. Walter cooks naked on Tuesday mornings. It doesn't get much whammier than this... [1]
    • "The Last Sam Weiss" (Season 3 Episode 21): Olivia is critical to getting Peter in the doomsday machine. Peter wakes up 15 years into an apocalyptic future.
    • "The Day We Died" (Season 3 Episode 22): Peter fuses part of Earth-1 and Earth-2. Walter, Olivia, Walternate and Fauxlivia decide to work together to keep the world from ending. Peter never existed. For those of you keeping track, the final four Season 3 episodes are all listed here.
    • "Back to Where You've Never Been": Walternate isn't responsible for the new shapeshifters. David Robert Jones is. Alternate Broyles is most likely a shapeshifter and is working for them. Oh... and September was shot and informed Olivia that in every one of the possible futures, she will die. The promo said that the episode would explain everything. THEY LIED.
    • "Brave New World (Part 1): Olivia can now use mind control. William Bell is behind everything. David Robert Jones is dead. Astrid has been shot and Walter is at Bell's mercy.
  • Wham! Line: A strange one since it is not spoken but written on a plaque: Dedicated to their memory - September 11, 2021.
    • Similar example: Peter Bishop, 1978-1985.
    • "The FBI ceased to exist over a decade ago."
    • Also, "I don't know, but I think he's the man who's going to kill me", spoken almost cheerfully by Olivia with regards to the man with the X T-shirt.
    • "They don't remember him." "Of course not. He never existed."
    • "It is the same-" *collapses*
    • An early one from the Pilot, when Olivia is listening to a tape of her suspect being threatened:

Richard: You're threatening me? After seeing what I'm willing to do to my own brother?
John Scott: Well let me assure you, we'd be happy to treat you as family too.

  • What Could Have Been: In-universe examples with the parallel universe, glimpsed in backgrounds and the like. Including:
    • Back to The Future starring Eric Stotlz (in a Shout-Out to the circumstances of The Other Marty).
    • The West Wing Season 11, complete with an Obama lookalike on the poster and a slightly different logo ("the" is on the right hand side, not in the middle).
    • Comic books such as The Red Lantern and The Death of Batman - see them here.
    • Dogs, now enjoying its 18th year on Broadway.
    • Queen Diana is visiting the States apparently. Depressing both IRL and in-universe, since it suggests an early death for Queen Elizabeth II.
    • Len Bias apparently having more than 20 great years with the Boston Celtics, and still being good enough to win the NBA MVP award in his 40s.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: The Eye Catches show a peculiarly changed item, such as a cross-section of an apple with fetuses (feti?) as the seeds, or a frog with the Greek letter Phi, or Φ, printed on it, along with a point of light. The Other Wiki says Phi is used as a symbol for several interesting subjects, such as electric or magnetic flux in physics, a shorthand representation for an aromatic functional group in organic chemistry (which relates directly to the pilot episode), and a sentence in first-order logic.
    • Not to mention the number (1.618...) represented by Phi, and, by extension, the Golden Ratio, although the Golden Ratio is usually denoted by the lowercase version of Phi (φ). Still, it's relation to science and nature fits right in with the theme of the show.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Season 1 hinted at Peter's connections to the Boston mob several times. After a mobster had been informed about Peter being back in town at the end of "The Dreamscape", the sub-plot has apparently been dropped entirely.
    • Agent Amy Jessup, after appearing in two episodes of Season 2 and investigating a possible connection between The Pattern and biblical prophecies, disappeared from the show without an explanation. Maybe the producers realized that the general fan reaction was not favorable. Putting her storyline into the Aborted Arc pile.
    • Season 1's main bad guy organization, ZFT, appears to have vanished entirely after the death of its high-profile member David Robert Jones in the Season 1 finale.
      • Although it is arguable that the whole point of ZFT was to activate Olivia and have her realise her talents so that she could eventually defend the universe. And having done that they could get back to regular crazy science instead of murdering people with science.
    • Although ZFT the book resurfaces in the Season 2 finale. In the other universe it's apparently a propaganda book written by Secretary of Defense Walternate.
    • Peter's deal with Nina Sharp in "The Cure" seems to have been forgotten.
      • Although this of course may yet show back up...
    • What happened to Tyler?
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love?: Played straight with September's line "I believe you call it love."
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Raised in "Reciprocity" when Walter finds out that Peter has been hunting and killing shapeshifters to get their memory storage devices.
    • "Do Shapeshifters Dream of Electric Sheep?".
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Walter gets a lot of this. Particularly during Season 2. And usually for good reason.
    • "Marionette" has Olivia chewing out Peter for not being able to recognize Fauxlivia was a fake. She even acknowledges that what she's feeling is emotional, not logical.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Whether unintentional or a deliberate reference, the episode "White Tulip" (Season 2 Episode 18) borrows heavily from the plot of The Broken Bride by the band Ludo: a scientist creates a time travel device to go back in time to the day in May when his fiance/bride was killed in a car accident with the intention of saving her life. Minus about 14 years, pterodactyls, a dragon and a zombie apocalypse. It even ends with the time traveler realizing he cannot save his bride and getting in the car to die alongside her.
  • Who You Gonna Call?:
    • Well, yeah... it's a section of the FBI geared specifically towards the (un)conventionally inexplicable. Actually spoken by Walter Bishop in the episode "The Road Not Taken":

Peter: Well, if there's something strange in your neighborhood...
Walter: Who You Gonna Call?

    • The alternate-universe Fringe Division even moreso, as it operates openly, has a larger budget, more personnel, and reports directly to the Secretary of Defense.
  • Why Am I Ticking?:
    • The pyrokinetic twins.
    • The Bellini's Lymphocymia sufferers in "The Cure".
    • Project Tin Man in "Fracture".
    • The victims of Bell's nanites in "Brave New World".
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?:

Peter: You know, there are easier ways to kill people.

    • "Earthling", in which Broyles deals with a corrosive alien shadow by shooting the body of the comatose cosmonaut the organism is possessing.
  • Wild Child: Seen in "Inner Child".
  • Wild Mass Guessing: It's as though Abrams is reading Fringe's WMG page and saying Sure, why not?
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • Walternate.
    • Eugene.
  • Worm Sign: The burrowing mutant in "The Night of Desirable Objects" (Season 2 Episode 2)has this in one scene.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Frequently. Especially to Olivia. The most Egregious of which... "This is my favourite time of day. So full of promise." Cue apocalypse.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Walternate's eventual plan for Olivia.
    • Also, the Observers' attitude towards Peter at the end of Season 3.
  • Your Head Asplode: "The Cure". And "The Box".
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The effect of a hallucinogenic. Beyond the "standard" die-in-a-dream-die-for-real effect, due to Mind Over Matter phlebotinum you'd die in the exact same manner. So a guy who hallucinates an attack by glass-winged butterflies has his body manifest cuts. In the presence of a nurse, somebody else hallucinates their throat being slit open...
  • Zeerust: Walter's old lab stuff.
  • Zeppelins from Another World:
    • The Alternate Universe's Empire State Building's dirigible docking station is active unlike in our world where it was only used once. Also, this is played so straight it's basically an Invoked Trope.
    • In "Over There (Part 1)", zeppelins are used twice to tell the viewers (and sometimes, the characters), "Hey, we're in the other universe." Again, played so straight that the producers must be tropers themselves.
    • In "Subject 13", Walter realizes young Olivia's crossed over when he sees she's drawn a picture of a zeppelin.
  1. Unless George Michael showed up...