Main Characters: A Side / Blue Universe
Tropes associated with the Fringe Division:
- The Ace: Fringe Division is largely comprised of elite FBI agents.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: The Bishops and (at times) Astrid are the exceptions.
- Secret Police: Subverted, in that Fringe Division are actually the good guys.
- Oddly Small Organization: In Season 3, the entirety of Fringe Division appears to be just three FBI agents (Olivia Dunham, Phillip Broyles, and Astrid Farnsworth), a mad scientist (Walter Bishop), a civilian with a rather varied skillset (Peter Bishop). The season three finale makes this even worse by retroactively removing Peter from the previous three seasons.
- Police are Useless: Pretty much everything that happens in the series, regular old police won't be able to handle it. Enter the Fringe Division.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Blue Oni to the other universe's Red, as illustrated by the colors used and the overall theme of our universe being more rational in contrast to the other's anger.
- "I've been trained for a lot - hostage crises, terror campaigns, suicide bombers, chemicals attacks, but, you know the things I have seen since I started working for you... If I'm gonna do this job, I need to know what it is I'm dealing with."
Portrayed by Anna Torv
Olivia Dunham is the FBI special agent who was recruited by Philip Broyles to be part of the Fringe Division, a joint task-force comprised of the FBI and Homeland Security, where she is spearheading several investigations of paranormal events related to The Pattern, alongside Peter and Walter Bishop.
Tropes associated with Olivia:
- Abusive Parents: Her step-father.
- Action Girl: Probaly the best fighter of the main cast.
- Action Mom: She becomes one after having Etta.
- Amnesiac Lover: In season 4. Kinda. She alternated between remembering Lincoln and Peter.
- Apocalypse Maiden: Season 4, where it's stated she will trigger some sort of universal merge.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Cortexiphan, which gives her her powers.
- Back from the Dead: She's been shot in the head twice now. Both times by a version of Walter Bishop, funnily enough.
- Badass Longcoat: Its part of her FBI get-up.
- Brought Down to Normal: At the end of season 4.
- Combat Stilettos: Averted. Agent Dunham wears professionally fashionable jackets and button shirts, jumps off buildings, sprints after suspects, and hikes through the woods, all wearing grannie shoes or boots. The only time she wears heels is in dress-up situations.
- Cool Big Sis: To Rachel. They remain close despite Olivia's implied Promotion to Parent when they were younger.
- The Determinator: Nothing will stop her.
- Eidetic Memory: Though generally a fairly realistic depiction. She only remembers stuff from cases she's worked or that has some importance to her. She also talks about compulsively counting cards as a child, so to an extent this seems to be a learned skill.
- 11th-Hour Superpower: Justified. Her gifts are activated by extreme fear and love.
- Friend to All Children: But especially those who are damaged. Don't, just don't threaten or harm children.
- Ghost Memory:
- She often used to mix up her own memories with John Scott's, after sharing consciousness.
- They also get mixed up with those of Fauxlivia.
- In Season 4, the Olivia from the Amber timeline gets the memories of the original Olivia Dunham.
- Good with Numbers: Shown to be skilled at math.
- Grand Theft Me: A few times, most memorably with William Bell.
- Healing Factor: Cortexiphan allows her to heal injuries, such as a shot to the head.
- Heartbroken Badass: For most of season 1, the last episodes of season 2, a large chunk in the middle of season 3, to varying degrees in season 4 and what looks like all of season 5.
- Her Heart Will Go On: Her lover, John Scott, died in the first episode.
- Hope Bringer: She's this for Colonel Broyles in Season 3 and Gale the Loyalist in Season 5.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Walternate tried to brainwash her into thinking she was Fauxlivia. It worked and she acquired her Alternate's Olympic level marksmanship. She got better but still pulled off some damn good shots in "Concentrate and Ask Again."
- Made of Iron: The amount of punishment she undergoes is no mean feat.
- Military Brat: Comes from a military family.
- Ms. Fanservice: The first season never missed an opportunity to put her in the "sensory deprivation tank", which was an excuse to show her in a sports bra and underwear.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Seems to be like this where she use a "new" power that is required for the situation mostly.
- Parental Substitute: Since reality was rewritten, Nina Sharp has become this for Olivia.
- People Puppets: A new power of hers.
- Photographic Memory: Has an eidetic memory for numbers, which has proven highly useful in several Fringe Division cases.
- Soul Jar: Uses this.
- Stepford Smiler: "Bound." She had just been kidnapped, given a spinal tap, tranquillised by the people who should have been her back up and then handcuffed to a hospital bed with a sex offender who absolutely hates her. The moment Rachel and Ella show up... she's all smiles and cuddles.
- Supernaturally Young Parent: Due to spending most of her daughter's life frozen in amber.
- Teleporters and Transporters: She has the ability to cross between universes.
- Tragic Keepsake:
- John Scott's engagement ring in Season One.
- The bullet that saved the world.
- Tyke Bomb: Grew up to merge realities. She's a bit of an aversion in that she's relatively well-adjusted.
- Unable to Cry: For both Nina and Etta. She eventually cries for Etta after watching Walter's video of her third birthday.
- Violently Protective Girlfriend:
- Threatening Peter Bishop in an attempt to activate her abilities works just splendidly.
- If you attempt to kill Peter Bishop with a crowbar, she will kick your ass using Peter Bishop even if she is on another building. By using Mind Control.
- If you beat the crap out of Peter Bishop, she will throw a car at you.
- "You may think you know what he's capable of, but you have no idea what I'm capable of."
Portrayed by Joshua Jackson
A con artist traveling the world, he was blackmailed by Olivia to act as Walter's guardian following his institution release. At first, he wanted everything to be over with as soon as possible, but quickly became involved with Fringe Division as a FBI consultant, and occasional badass.
Tropes associated with Peter:
- Action Dad: After fathering Etta.
- Almighty Janitor: Peter has a clearance level that gives him access to the highest levels of government intelligence, he can interrogate persons of interest, and occasionally assists in police raids. ...Yet he never gets a badge to show for it.
- Badass Bookworm: He's second only to Walter in intelligence and a capable fighter.
- Badass Driver: His function is often driving, which he excels at.
- Badass Longcoat: Overcoat, actually.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: With a IQ like that, he could truly be a master scientist. Instead he's a roaming conman.
- Brought Down to Normal: Much to everyone's relief.
- Clock King: Becomes the utter master of this trope after receiving the Observer implants
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder
- Con Man: What he used to before being recruited by the Fringe Division.
- Changeling Fantasy: He's not truly Walter's son, but rather "Walternate's", from the parallel universe.
- The Chessmaster: After his "upgrade".
- Creepy Monotone: After implanting Observer technology into himself.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Seems to be happening to him after he implants Observer technology into himself.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Which he refuses to talk about. As it turns out, he's actually the kidnapped son of an alternate reality brought to ours.
- Deadpan Snarker: The snarkiest of the main cast.
- Deuteragonist: Second only to Olivia.
- The Drag-Along: Initially.
- The Drifter: He can't stay in a single place before the Fringe Division finds him.
- Empowered Badass Normal: In season 5 he implanted the same tech the Observers use in the back of his neck, granting him presumably all of their superhuman abilities, from telepathy to teleportation and super-strength.
- Friend in the Black Market: Peter has many of these, seemingly in every line of profession, all over the world.
- Lampshaded occasionally. Olivia once asked if he "knows a guy" who could help their investigation, in a not-so-legal capacity? Peter is initially offended at the suggestion all his contacts are criminals... but yeah, he does!
- Friend to All Children: Loves and gets along very well with children; if you are wise, don't do anything to threaten or harm a child, especially when he's around. Oh, and don't even make the slightest implication he'd hurt a child.
- Guile Hero: He was the man who deciphered a murder by calculating the killer's location via the victim's brain and the andrenaline in it.
- He Who Fights Monsters: After Etta's death, when he implants Observer tech into his brain.]]
- Heroic BSoD: When Walter shoots Olivia in the Season 4 finale he needs a slap to pull himself together.
- Hyper-Awareness: Has a fairly mild version of this, but is the most likely to observe his environment and notice something out of place and put together what it means.
- Living MacGuffin: At the end of season 2, it's revealed that the Doomsday Device capable of creating, healing and/or destroying universes is keyed specifically to Peter's DNA, and that the fate of two universes depended on his decisions. Really added some "oomph" to the Love Triangle.
- MacGuffin Turned Human: At the end of season 3, the Observers imply that Peter was actually this all along. After he is erased from existence, they comment that it was because he had fulfilled his purpose and was no longer needed. In "The End of All Things" it's revealed this wasn't the Observers plan along, only since Henry was born to the wrong Olivia.
- Incurable Cough of Death: When he starts coughing late in the show, it's a bad sign.
- Mr. Fanservice: The main character most likely to be shirtless.
- Not So Different: With Walter. He also has the Bishop family proclivity for mad science and chooses to look for a missing Etta rather than help Fringe Division save the world.
- "Open!" Says Me: Not an episode goes by when Peter doesn't have to kick down a door.
- Perma-Stubble: A five o'clock shadow is always on his face.
- Quizzical Tilt: It's subtle, but after he uses the Observer tech he's started to do this.
- Reformed Criminal: After joining fringe division he abandons his criminal ways.
- Ret Gone: As of "The Day We Died".
- Revenge Before Reason: After Etta's death.
- The Scully: Up until his encounter with The Observer.Peter: You realise that that's a myth, right?
- This is a man from another timeline AND another universe who has also traveled back in time, investigated the things like were-hedgehogs killing plane passengers, once used the amount of adrenalin in a woman's brain to calculated where she died and has girlfriend who can kill you with her brain.
- Supernaturally Young Parent: Due to spending most of his daughter's life frozen in amber.
- Teleporters and Transporters: Thanks to the Observer tech.
- Took a Level in Badass:
- Tranquil Fury: When he finds out about Fauxlivia he doesn't raise his voice at all but the loathing is pretty evident.
- Pretty much whenever he's really, really angry he falls into this.
- In a more enforced way, after Etta dies and implants the observer tech in his brain, he becomes completely emotionless and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Since reality was rewritten and no one remembers him this trope is taken rather literally.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
- Peter doesn't like shape shifters. At all.
- Not too fond of Observers either.
- Wife-Basher BasherPeter: If you touch her again, I'll kill you.
- "It's one of the inherent pitfalls of being a scientist - trying to maintain that distinction... between God's domain and our own. Sometimes, I forget myself."
Portrayed by John Noble
A brilliant all-knowing scientist who once worked with William Bell, Walter has spent the better part of two decades locked up in a maximum security mental institution. However, the John Scott case brought back a need for his services and has since then been working with Fringe Division.
He is now the current CEO of Massive Dynamic.
Tropes associated with Walter:
- Admiring the Abomination: A big part of his character.
- Adorkable: Quite frequently.
- A God Am I: What he felt/trying to achieve when he was working with William Bell before removing that part of his brain.Walter: There is no God in this lab but me.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Father
- Amnesiac Dissonance: Ho boy...
- Anti-Hero: Walter is a well-intentioned man, but he has done (and is ready to do) some very shady stuff in the name of science.
- The Atoner: For his more inhuman experiments back in Harvard.
- Badass Driver: "I made a skid!"
- Beware the Silly Ones: He's a goofball but make no mistake, this man can unravel the fabric of reality and laugh about it.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's more than a little nutso, but a brilliant scientist nonetheless.
- Cloudcuckoolander: 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.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Every episode, particularly early on, seems to involve a perfected version of some evil device he tried to develop in the past.
- Erudite Stoner: A big fan of pot and LSD, all the while being a softspoken philosophizing scientist.
- Fan Boy: Is a huge fan of Violet Sedan Chair and Manfred Mann
- The Fettered: His moral standards are very hard to cross.
- Friend to All Children: Walter, being One of the Kids, naturally gets on quite well with children.
- While he was responsible for experimenting on children with Cortexiphan, footage of the tests show Walter was far more concerned with their well-being than William was, wanting to keep them safe even if it meant sacrificing promising results.
- Best shown when Young Olivia first saw the other side and started a fire with her mind. William's immediate reaction was to see how she did it, while Walter's reaction was to make sure she wasn't frightened.
- Double Subverted in a flashback in season 3. Walter was willing to send young Olivia back to her stepfather, knowing he abuses her, because her fear of him triggers her Cortexiphan abilities, but later threatens him not to hurt her any more and resolves to find a different way to activate her abilities.
- Genius Cripple: Drug addict, clinically insane, parts of his brain were surgically removed. In episode Brown Betty, he tells a fairy tale to a child and Walter's counterpart in the story has a heart condition and moves in wheelchair.
- Guinea Pig Family: Did experiments on Peter when Peter was a child.
- Humans Are Special: "The mind is God! There are no limits except for those we impose upon ourselves."
- Intoxication Ensues: Frequently toting on his own homemade concoctions.
- The Knights Who Say "Squee!": When he meets Roscoe Joyce, the keyboardist of Velvet Sedan Chair.
- Large Ham: His Cloud Cuckoo Lander antics go far in Ham territory.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Had this done to him by Bell at his own request, because he was afraid of what he would become if allowed to keep the memories.
- The Mad Hatter: Sometimes he's proud to be crazy, other times feels cursed by it.
- Mad Scientist: A classic example, though he's also The Atoner.
- Malicious Misnaming: There are hints that Walter occasionally flubs Astrid's name on purpose rather than because his brain is fried. He clearly does it for laughs during "Brown Betty", enjoying Astrid's obvious annoyance.
- Mysterious Past: Just what his experiments fully entailed, what's the deal with his son...
- Not So Different: He's starting to feel that he and Walternate are more similar than he originally thought, as he's beginning to understand why Walternate's done some of the things he's done.
- Also, to Dr. Penrose from the first season and Alistair Peck from the second season, on how they're willing to risk innocent lives in order to save and be with their loved ones.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Walter is very thrilled at getting to witness all these monstrous and horrifying things.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: He's an expert surgeon, chemist, zoologist, mathematician and physicist. Just for starters.
- Papa Wolf: He is very protective of Peter but "Subject 13" shows us that he was protective of young Olivia as well. When little Olivia tells him that her abusive stepfather is hitting her, Walter makes it clear that if he does it again he'll seriously regret it. The bastard looked terrified. It was awesome.
- Pre-Insanity Reveal: Dr Walter Bishop gets a few flashback episodes showing him to have been a much calmer and much darker character before the personal tragedy that laid the way for the series. It turns out he deliberately had part of his brain removed because he didn't like what he was becoming.
- Professor Guinea Pig: Has often tried various experiments on himself.
- Running Gag: Anything involving Walter and food.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: When he's describing a case, he tends to lapse in scientific lingo.
- Shipper on Deck: Ships Peter and Olivia.
- Sniff Sniff Nom: Not an infrequent way he initially tests a substance.
- Sweet Tooth: Loves candy.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: In both time lines, whenever his brain is rejuvenated, he's a bit of a dick.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Red Vines.
- Tranquil Fury: In a season two episode, we have a creepy Nazi who's genetically tailoring a design toxin that will cause fatal asphyxiation to anyone who isn't blond and blue-eyed. Walter displays his hatred of Nazis by coldly re-designing the same toxic gas to only kill the creepy Nazi guy. At a crowded peace summit no less. Walter does not like Nazis.
- It also had a lot to do with the fact that said Nazi was using Walter's father's genetic research to carry out his plans. Walter took this as a personal insult.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: His shady actions were all in the name of science.
- Wham Line: (smile) "...How are things on your side?"
- Gives a good idea on what sort of person he was (and was becoming).
- "Yes, Senator, I have a job. The same job I have had in three administrations and six wars. To defend our national security. And I assure you we are not secure. Yes, sometimes a threat is familiar. But I have come to learn that sometimes it is far worse — and when it is worse, when the threat is unimaginable, that is when we are at the door. And you should thank God for that."
Portrayed by Lance Reddick
A Homeland Security agent whose primary objective is to crack the mystery of the pattern, he's the direct head of the Fringe Division and heads up all of their investigations.
Tropes associated with Broyles:
- Ambiguously Evil: In the first series at least, as he frequently holds back key information from the team.
- However, it's likely because he's constantly trying to justify the Fringe division to his superiors. A task made much more difficult now he's got to explain why he's got a former con-man and a former mental patient working for him.
- Averted by the end of Series One, where he's become A Father to His Men.
- Amicably Divorced: Is on reasonably good terms with Diane and her husband.
- His wife is more or less the same way. She was genuinely happy and proud of him when he closed the case that killed their marriage, and she even invites him in for dinner.
- Bald, Black Leader Guy: He's bald. He's black. He's a leader.
- Benevolent Boss: He's remarkably tolerant of Walter's dementia and is willing to put a lot on the line to protect the Fringe division.
- Colonel Badass: His official title is Colonel Broyles and he's a badass.
- The Comically Serious: Particularly around Walter.
- Cool Old Guy: He isn't exactly old per say (at least not yet), but he fits this trope to a T.Walter: Perhaps....first I need a piece of special equipment - my turntable.Broyles: Is that some kind of lab equipment?Walter: Oh no no! A turntable. Record player! ...You enjoy music, don't you Mr. Broyles? Imagine the agony of having an extensive record collection and having no means to play it.Peter: The agony.Broyles: (deadpan) I'll have someone get right on that.
- And he DOES! Walter's record-player is something of a key item in Inner Child.
- Da Chief: His basic function as overseer of the Fringe Division.
- Death Glare: To thee point of being his default expression.
- Double Agent: In 2036, he appears to have complied with the Observer occupation, relocating Fringe Division as a "Native police." In truth however, he is "Dove", the real mastermind behind the Resistance.
- Evil Former Friend: He has the tendency to get these. Mitchell Loeb and Sanford Harris were both moles for ZFT, and Senator Van Horn was replaced by a Shapeshifter at some point, likely for a few years.
- A Father to His Men: Towards Olivia and the Bishops especially.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Everyone introduced as a close, personal friend of Broyles turns out to be a bad guy. And then there's Nina Sharp...
- Jerkass: At first. Turned out to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- La Résistance: The true leader of the Resistance, known only as "Dove."
- Married to the Job: His marriage ended due to him being too obsessed with a previous case. He now refers to Olivia and the Bishops as being like his family.
- Mysterious Past: Mentions a previous ill-fated Fringe Team in passing, knows much more than he lets on and has a... something... with Nina Sharp. John Scott implied that he may have had an ulterior motive for hiring Olivia.
- Not So Above It All: Despite his extremely professional and no-nonsense demeanor, he lets off a few quips now and then. ...And then there was one one time he accidentally took acid and was tripping the whole episode.
- Only Sane Man: In contrast to Olivia, Peter and Walter, he never quite gets used to all the madness of Fringe events.
- Papa Wolf: Has chewed out William Bell, Nina Sharp and Sanford Harris for their treatment of Olivia.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: Came off as more than a little bit sexist in the pilot but has mellowed down since.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Repeatedly asks Walter if he found the machine that would expose a community of good natured but deformed people to the world. When Walter protested immediately, his response was "Mister Bishop, you misunderstand. If you did NOT find the machine...then we have nothing to report."
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Frequently ignores protocol if it allows his men to do their jobs.
- Shipper on Deck: He keeps a photograph of Olivia and Peter for 21 years after they disappear.
- The Stoic: Broyles rarely expresses emotions.
- "I am not brushing a cow's teeth Walter, you know I have real work to do... right?"
Portrayed by Jasika Nicole
A young FBI Junior Grade agent, she works as Walter's lab assistant within Fringe Division.
Tropes associated with Astrid:
- Accidental Misnaming: A Running Gag for all five seasons. Walter has called her Astral, Astro, Asterisk, Australia, Asteroid, Astringent, Aspirin, Esther, Ostrich, Afro, Alex, Athos, Agnes and Claire.
- Beleaguered Assistant: She's Walter's primary lab assistant, and is generally the one who has to fulfill whatever bizarre request Walter makes for his experiments, typically at the expense of any real work she could be doing otherwise.
- The Chew Toy: Everyone practically enjoys seeing Walter mispronouncing her name.
- The Chick: The meek to Olivia's Action Girl.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Walter's assistant, so the one that looks after him most of the time.
- The Igor: Again, she's Walter's lab assistant.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: In 4x21, when defending Walter. It's easy to forget she's an FBI agent.
- Mission Control: She tends to hang around in the lab while the Team go out. Inverted in the fourth season: She goes out while Walter stays.
- Nerds Are Sexy: She's quite attractive.
- Nice Girl: Extraordinarily sweet, and always goes out of her way to help others.
- Omni Glot: Said to speak a truly unlimited number of tongues.
- Team Mom: Cares for Walter like a doting parent.
- The Watson: Even called such by Walter in 3x06.
- "Job isn't what it was ten years ago. We're supposed to protect the world, where one breath of the wrong air can incinerate you from the inside out. I mean, how do we protect people, when corporations have higher security clearances than we do? When we're not fully briefed on half the things that we're investigating."
Portrayed by Kirk Acevedo
A long time FBI agent and close friend of Olivia's, Charlie has been kept out of the loop for some time following the John Scott incident. Recently, however he was made second-in-command of Fringe Division.
Was killed and replaced by one of the Shape Shifters.
Tropes associated with Charlie:
- Ambiguously Brown: He seems to be Latino, but it's never cleared up.
- Deadpan Snarker: Very sardonic.
- Happily Married: His wife and he have a very good relationship.
- Killed Off for Real: Killed and replaced by a Shape Shifter.
- Only Sane Man: Charlie is also one of the down-to-earth, unlike the cosmic insanity of Walter, Peter and Olivia.
- Sacrificial Lion: His death at the hands of a shapeshifter.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Willing to cross lines to do what's right.
- Spot the Imposter: Recognizing he's a shapeshifter.
- The Stoic: Rarely expresses emotions.
- Undying Loyalty: He doesn't always understand what's going on with the cases, but he always has Olivia's back.
Portrayed by Cow
A cow requested by Walter upon reopening of his Harvard lab. Peter explains that since cows are genetically similar to humans, they are the next best thing for experiments. To date, however, not a single experiment was actually conducted on Gene, making her more of a team mascot instead of guinea pig.
Tropes associated with Gene:
- Everything's Better with Cows: Walter certainly thinks so.
- Once an Episode: She'll be seen at least once.
- Team Pet: The team's pet.
- Technicolor Science: In "Brown Betty" , Gene's coat is made of multi-color polka dots.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Averted, as we see in the 2036 lab shots, she's simply encased in the ambered part of the lab. She also appears in Walter's Monty Python-esque drugged-induced trip.