The Observers / The Invaders
In The End of All Things, a partial origin of the Observers was revealed at last: They are a team of scientists from a very far away future, and something akin to hyper-evolved humans who have access to technology and methods to essentially displace themselves from both time and space - this lets them view and experience everything everywhere, from the beginning of time itself to the infinite number of possible futures. That said, this sect of Observers is merely a singular, scientific cell... In "Letters of Transit", the almost full history of the Observers has been revealed. In the year 2609, Earth has become completely incapable of supporting life, and their race of hyper-evolved humans essentially traveled back in time, seeking an optimal period where they can settle down. In the year 2015, their invasion began and by 2036 they have completely occupied the world under a totalitarian rule. At this point in time, only the original Fringe team refer to them as "Observers" while everyone else only knows them as "Invaders." What they call themselves however is unknown.
In the fifth season's 11th episode, The Boy Must Live, Donald reveals the true origins of the Observers: In the year 2167, a group of scientists have perfected a method of essentially re-wiring the human brain, exchanging one function of the brain to enhance cognitive functions and intelligence. At first, it started with negative emotions such as jealousy and rage. But over time as humans became more intelligent, they started wiping out additional emotions to maximize their intelligence. Eventually, over the course of several centuries the human race ultimately evolved into the Observers/Invaders as we know them today.
Tropes associated with the Observers:
- Ambiguously Human: They're like evolved humans or some such.
- Bald of Evil/No Brows: None of them have hair on their heads. September grows both hair and eyebrows after being stripped of his Observer tech.
- Bullet Catch: Can move just fast enough to do this. Which means a faster bullet can kill them.
- Conquerors From The Future: Their ultimate agenda, as they wrecked the Earth in 2609. The Science Team was sent back in time to ensure that their colonization of the past wouldn't cause them to erase themselves from existence, thus providing the plot for most of the series.
- Creepy Monotone: All of them speak like this.
- Cyborg/Neural Implanting: They all have a cranial implant at the base of the spine that alters brain functions, exchanging emotional centers for increased intellect, and activating latent human abilities such as space/time perception and teleportation.
- Feel No Pain: None of them can feel pain.
- Fragile Speedster: They're not invulnerable. They're just too quick to kill... most of the time.
- Limited Wardrobe: They only ever wear their suits, and sometimes hats. When we see September's closet, it contains nothing else.
- Mysterious Watchers: They observe the goings-on in the series for one reason or another.
- Non-Linear Characters: Thanks to being able to Time Travel.
- Quizzical Tilt: They all do this. Though as it's revealed by Nina, they do it not out of curiosity, but out of a genetic defect that requires them to tilt their heads in order to hear properly.
- Really 700 Years Old: Most of them are centuries old.
- Ret-Gone: All of them except Michael by the end of the series.
- Sharp Dressed Men: Always in suits.
- Spock Speak: Talk overly formally.
- Temporal Theme Naming: Observers belonging to the scientific expedition are codenamed after months.
- Transhuman Aliens: The Observers are a possible future of the human species, after humanity took control of their own evolution and exchanged their emotional capacity for intellectual capability.
- Unaffected by Spice: They have very little sense of taste and Feel No Pain. September at one point dumps an entire shaker of pepper into his food without any ill effect.
- The Watchers: They observe everything.
- Wild Cards: Whose side are they on? Theirs.
- We Come in Peace Shoot to Kill: A variation of both. The vast majority of Observers are really parasitic douchebags who trashed their own world, and traveled back in time to inhabit ours. They DO come in peace - but only on their terms, which if aren't followed, turns into a shoot to kill.
Portrayed by David Haysom
One of the Observers. He was together with September in a crowd when Olivia met with Lincoln Lee for "the first time." He noted how she had forgotten him due to Peter's sacrifice.
Tropes associated with January:
- Creepy Monotone: Even more so than September.
- "It appears that September did not obey your instructions. The boy is back. Peter Bishop has returned."
Portrayed by Steven Weller
An Observer who was tracking Neil Chung's bizarre murders via a toxin from the future. At the end of the episode, he recovered the future-viewing device, and made the realization that it was the same device that September dropped in 1985 when he rescued Walter and Peter.
Tropes associated with March:
- "Do we know why he failed to carry out his instructions, why he did not erase the lingering traces of Peter Bishop from this timeline?"
Portrayed by Amos Stern
An Observer. His only known action thus far was to have been reporting on August's misconduct.
Tropes associated with July:
- Flat Character: We know nothing about him.
- "You have changed the future. You have created a new set of probabilities."
Portrayed by Peter Woodward
The first known Observer to be referred to by a name, he is also the one who made Fringe Division aware of the fact that there were more than one of them. August foresees a plane crash and abducts Christine Hollis, whom he cares for because he saw her reaction to the death of her parents when she was young, to keep her from getting on the flight that will kill her. This is not something he was supposed to do, as Observers are forbidden to interfere, so he is then forced to prove Christine's importance to the universe before the other Observers kill her to correct his mistake,
Tropes associated with August:
- Bullet Catch: Can catch bullets.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: As seen in Bullet Catch.
- First Time Feeling: He realizes his own emotions and feelings for Christine Hollis for the first time at the moment of his death.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Dies to protect his love.
- Mysterious Watcher: Observes his loved one from afar.
- Nice Hat: Has a snazzy fedora.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He goes to some lenghts to protect Christine.
September / Donald
- ""Olivia... I came to tell you... I have looked at all possible futures... and in every one, the result is the same. You have to die."
Portrayed by Michael Cerveris
The first known Observer to be identified, his presence has been linked to virtually almost every Pattern case recorded - simply being there and observing. Furthermore, evidence has suggested that he has appeared in events far pre-dating the Pattern - some dating back several hundred years. Who, or what the Observer really is is unknown, nor are his overall goals.
Tropes associated with September:
- Big Eater: Among all the Observers, he's frequently seen eating the most (when he's not cryptically appearing for half-a-second in every other episode). And unlike the other Observers, his palate isn't limited to inhumanly spicy sandwiches.
- Big Good: He's so far the only fundamentally good Observer, genuinely looking out for Peter and the rest of Fringe division.
- Bullet Catch: Can catch bullets.
- Brought Down to Normal: By the Observers as a punishment. He considers it a blessing.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: See Bullet Catch.
- Cool Shades: The only Observer seen wearing sunglasses.
- Defector from Decadence: According to Walter, in 2036.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: In the final minutes of the series finale, he is shot on the back by a random grunt and dies. Arguably a well-done example, as it illustrated how human September became.
- My God, What Have I Done?: September is apparently quite guilt-ridden - As an Observer, he isn't supposed to intervene directly with important events. One such event classified as "important" is when Walternate created the cure for Peter. The only way to witness the event however was to see it in person at his lab, but doing so distracted Walternate, and as a result he failed to perfect the cure. That moment alone completely changed everything, and since then he's been doing all he can to fix that (and self-admittedly, made things even worse), regardless of December's orders.
- My Species Doth Protest Too Much: He's a lot more benign and emotional than other Observers.
- Nice Hat: A cool fedora.
- Not So Stoic: He gives Peter a very slight smile when telling him that Olivia from the amber timeline is the same Olivia he fell in love with.
- Once an Episode: The Observer is so far the only character to have appeared in every single episode of the series.
- Papa Wolf: Towards Michael.
- Quizzical Tilt: Like the other Observers.
- Sixth Ranger: He directly aids the Fringe team in the fifth season against the Observer occupation, after the others remove his device and turn him into a normal human which is something he considers a blessing]].
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Has traces of this. As December noted, Peter should have died well before becoming a man (back when he almost drowned, to be more specific). When September dove in to save them, he consequently altered the timeline, but believed Peter's life was vital enough to be saved (he was right). Despite all of that, the altered timeline still falls on him. In the Season 4 premiere, December ordered him to permanently erase Peter from time, but he opted out of it at the very last second. It's possible that, like August, his experiences with the Bishops have formed an attachment to him. Eventually, he ends up 100% going rogue against his fellow Observers, from continually aiding Peter (as opposed to erasing him), to making discreet movements behind their backs, to downright having Peter bust him out of some prison.
- In "Letters of Transit", Walter notes that it was in fact September who ultimately betrayed his people to help Fringe Division, and that he is partly responsible for the mysterious device that will drive them away.
- Shipper on Deck: Finally sees that the reason why Peter was able to return at all was because of the bonds he shared with all the people he cared about, especially Olivia. And it looks like his priorities have changed to... getting the two of them back together!
- Tin Man: Says he's dull to human emotion, but he apparently can.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Victim of this trope. Jessica shoots him without remorse because apparently he can't feel pain or emotion. While it is true that Observers don't feel pain, August and some of the more aggressive Observers from "Letters of Transit" show that they're not completely devoid of emotion.
- "He will surface again. And when he does, he will have to face the consequences."
Portrayed by Eugene Lipinski
The oldest of the Observers, he is the leader of the time-traversing science expedition.
Tropes associated with December:
- Back for the Finale: Shows up in the final season one last time.
- Comically Missing the Point: His conversation with August after watching Back to the Future (with Eric Stoltz!):December: "Their theories are fascinating."
August: "They are not theories. They are... entertainment."
- Cool Old Guy: As we learn in the finale, he spent quite a bit of time protecting the members of his science expedition from fledgling emotions, knowing it would mean a world of trouble once Windmark found out. He even feels genuinely guilty he wasn't able to completely protect September.
- Driven to Suicide: Averted. It was staged by the Loyalists, but Peter and Astrid caught them in the act.
- First Time Feeling: He knew for some time that being around humans would spark emotions in their kind. He kept it to himself largely to protect the science team.
- Grumpy Old Man: He's usually frowny.
- Killed Off for Real: By the Occupation's kill squads.
- Nice Hat: A fedora.
- Not So Stoic: Is capable of feelings.
- Spock Speak: Even more so than the other Observers.
- "We chose this time of history for a reason: a 99.9999% probability that we will succeed."
Portrayed by James Kidnie
The individual Windmark answers to, and the apparent leader of the entire Observer nation in 2603.
Tropes associated with The Commander:
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Seems pretty much a given. He's a fairly big guy. He also shuts Windmark up with two words about traveling back in time to kill the fugitives.
- Bigger Bad: He was the mastermind behind the entire Observer invasion, and thus, the cause of the entire conflict.
- The Chessmaster: Seems to be calculating the variables to his favor.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He is puzzled as to why September would have protected Michael. He also seems to think something is wrong with Windmark given his obsession (read: hatred) of the original Fringe team.
- Evil Overlord: Commander of the Observer nation.
- Large and in Charge: He is considerably taller and larger than most Observers (Windmark in specific).
- Ludicrous Precision: As noted in his quote, he identifies probability of success at 99.9999%
- The Man Behind the Man: The man behind Windmark.
- Non-Action Big Bad: Never fights.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Only "Commander" thus far.
- The Strategist: The tactician for the Observers.
- "Your Division is in charge of Native crime. Or would you rather I was in charge of native crime? I don't think you'd like my methods."
Portrayed by Michael Kopsa
The fifth season's Big Bad. He is the Observer overseeing the "native occupation" in the year 2036. Philip Broyles and the rest of Fringe Division are under his direct and callous command. He considers humans as nothing more than "animals" and will do anything to maintain control and order.
Tropes associated with Windmark:
- Aborted Arc: In the episode "Letters of Transit", he and Broyles were searching for a mysterious serial killer causing trouble for both the Observers and the Resistance. Following that episode, nothing was seen or heard regarding this plot point again.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: The leader of all Invasion-Observers, and by far the most competent in combat.
- Ax-Crazy: It's hard to tell because he's, well...you know, an Observer, but beneath the surface the guy is utterly unhinged and vicious. Even he admits as much at the end that he's become consumed with thoughts of killing and death.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: His fine suit.
- Badass Longcoat: He is often seen with a green overcoat. It seems to symbolize his rank.
- Bald of Evil: The evilest there is.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: Like all Observers, he sounds quiet, talks in a monotone and is overall a very reserved and unremarkable man. Don't let that fool you.
- Big Bad: Of the fifth and final season.
- Brain Wash: Is evidently a big fan of it.
- Break Them by Talking: Fond of this.
- The Chessmaster: To quote the man himself: "Everything has taken place as I intended". To elaborate: He is the only Observer with enough planning skill to not only outgambit Peter's multiple attempts on his life, but to also twist the variables against Peter himself, allowing Windmark to get a (almost fatal) drop on him.
- Creepy Monotone: In spades.
- Death Glare: Literal case.
- The Dreaded: His arrival almost always triggers a mass Oh, Crap! on all the individuals present (even when he actually isn't seeking to do harm to anyone for a change).
- Dystopia Justifies the Means: Of the "It's Utopia Justifies the Means in the villain's demented head" variation: The Observers are creating a "perfect world"... according to THEIR needs and morals. Which means they ruin the air quality of the planet (our air is too clean for their lungs), destroy the world's eco-system for similar reasons of "not fitting their biology", commit genocide and drop the human lifespan back to the middle ages.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Describes the poison used by the Fringe Team (the same one from the first season, which would close every hole in the human body) as "barbaric" and acts with visible disgust towards it. He additionally calls Nina (and all humans at that) an "animal" when he witnesses the Observer corpses she had conducted experiments on.
- While he deems humans no more than animals, he still seems to value order above all else: "Native-on-native killing cannot stand. Not on my watch."
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He can't understand the appeal of music, doesn't seem to be particularly familiar with the idea of "hope" and is perplexed by the loyalty shown by Nina to the rest of the Fringe team.
- Evil Counterpart: Could be seen as one for September: Both are among the most important Observers in history, both are Not So Stoic, extremely cunning, soft-spoken and badass observers determined to follow a single goal no matter what, but both find themselves at opposite ends of the moral spectrum, and follow exactly opposite paths.
- Evil Genius: He's highly intelligent in both science and tactics.
- Evil Old Folks: The evilest Observer and the oldest-looking.
- Face Death with Dignity: It's hard to tell if he expected to die or not, but regardless, his last actions are just to tilt his head and stare at Olivia menacingly while she shuts down the city power grid and launches a car at him.
- Fantastic Racism: Needless to say, he doesn't really see himself and humans on the same level.Broyles: What did you up there, in the future, to get yourself such a crap detail?Windmark: *smiles* ... I like animals.
- Faux Affably Evil: He gives Michael what is easily the creepiest and most foreboding "Hello." on network television to date.
- First Time Feeling: When he meets with the Commander, Windmark is puzzled as to what is happening to him when he reveals that he is consumed with eradicating the Resistance and the original Fringe team. Unlike August, whose first emotion was love, Windmark's first feelings are overwhelming hatred and rage.
- Four-Star Badass: Despite his seemingly low rank, he is one of the highest ranking Observers we've seen.
- Grumpy Old Man: Perpetual frowner and all.
- Hero Killer: When he arrives, people despair. He also kills Etta.
- I Control My Minions Through...: Authority and Fanatical Loyalty for his fellow Observers, Fear and Fanatical Loyalty for the Loyalists.
- Implacable Man: He could give the Terminator a run for his money.
- Jerkass: Highly abrasive.
- Killed Off for Real: He gets a face full of car. Flung by a cortexiphan powered Olivia.
- Knight of Cerebus: Considering his first appearance brings with him a dystopian hellhole ruled by Observers, he qualifies.
- Lack of Empathy: Feels no emotion to anyone except hatred.
- Lightning Bruiser: He can punch people through walls and lift a fully grown person with one hand, but can teleport faster than Nightcrawler.
- Mind Rape: One of his abilities. Used full-force with Walter.
- Completely backfires on him when attempted on Michael. To the point where he outright starts avoiding him.
- Mobile Menace: Man can teleport.
- Moral Myopia: He is completely fine (sometimes positively thrilled) at the prospect of humans dying the most horrible of deaths, but when an Observer is killed in a cruel manner, Windmark will suddenly act horrified.
- Mysterious Past: We don't know what Windmark did to land himself, as Broyles put it, "such a crap detail."
- Nice Hat: Like most Observers, he wears one. And whenever he takes off his hat, it's usually a sign that he is about to mind-interrogate you...
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
- A brief one to Henrietta.
- Hands both Olivia and Peter their asses in the finale. Until Olivia throws a car at him.
- No-Nonsense Nemesis: He never "toys" with the main characters. He just shoots them as Etta found out.
- When his emotions get better of him, he decides to beat up Peter and Olivia rather than just shoot them. This proves unwise.
- Not So Stoic:
- Unlike the other Observers, Windmark smiles. Not that kind of smile... that kind of smile.
- He's also been visibly pissed off with Hastings when he insists on being called "Doctor", with Peter after he lands a few blows on him and Nina after she calls him out on his bullshit.
- He outright admits that he feels hatred in the finale.
- The Power of Hate: His only emotion, and what motivates him.
- Psychic Powers: He can both read minds as well as use some form of telekinesis, when he nearly bleeds a guy to death by just staring at him.
- Psychotic Smirk: Usually smiles with a very subtle version of this. When the situation requires, he upgrades the smirk to a...
- Sharp-Dressed Man: As with most Observers, but his case in particular since he manages to stay that way even when torturing Walter to a bloody pulp.
- The Sociopath: The worst sociopath the show has to offer.
- Soft-Spoken Sadist: Which is further enhanced by his monotone.
- Species Loyalty: Curiously, Windmark is always loyal to the Observer agenda and very patriotic regarding his race.
- Straight Edge Evil: He doesn't drink alcohol.
- Tin Man: Says he can't feel, but apparently he can.
- Torture Technician: As the season 5 premiere shows, he is chillingly able to break a subject with his mind alone.
- Villains Never Lie: Windmark himself never seems to lie.
- Villain Takes an Interest: In the Fringe group.Windmark: Ending their existence consumes me.
- Villain Teleportation: While all Observers can teleport, he seems to be the best at doing so, as shown when Etta activates the anti-matter bomb, he's the only observer to teleport fast enough to get out of the blast radius.
- Would Hurt a Child: "Destroy" actually. Although, he doesn't consider Michael to be a child at all.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Master practitioner of it.
Captain Windmark's Lieutenants
- "You have a meeting. You can't be late."
Mueller Portrayed by Michael Rogers
Royce Portrayed by Marco Soriano
Windmark's highest ranking officers; for security, they usually work separately to carry out his orders. During a rare meeting when the two met, Peter took advantage of it and killed them using the original ZFT's flesh-eating toxin.
Tropes associated with Mueller & Royce:
The Captured Observer
- "You saw what you wanted to see. You believed what you wanted to believe, because that's what your emotions do. They ascribe meaning to something that is not there. They fool your perception as to what is real."
Portrayed by John Prosky
An Observer that was successfully captured by Anil's team. Anil didn't have much luck getting any information out of him despite keeping him relatively confined, so he called in Peter to interrogate and torture him. Peter didn't get any information out of him either. However, he did kill him and strip him of the tech that gives Observers super-human senses and abilities and used it on himself.
Tropes associated with the Prisoner:
- Character Death: By Peter.
- The Chessmaster: Peter is very good at reading people, yet this guy managed to fool even him.
- Creepy Icy Blue Eyes
- Cruel and Unusual Death: A revenge-poisoned Peter finally decides to cut him up and rip out the tech from his spinal cord. Even an Observer didn't deserve a death like that.
- Cryptic Conversation: So far the most cryptic of them all.
- Hannibal Lecture: While captured and interrogated he resisted attempts to probe for information and instead poisons Peter with revenge thoughts. This backfires because Peter cuts him up.
- Insult Backfire:Peter:If I kill you now, no one will remember you! No one will miss you!Observer:... miss me?
- Strapped to an Operating Table: Peter conducts experiments on him.
The Child / Anomaly XB-6783746
Portrayed by: Spencer List (pictured right), Rowan Longworth
A mysterious bald child found in deep beneath a building structure in New York. He displayed unexplained empathic abilities that attracted the attention of the Fringe Division and helped them catch a serial killer. In the process he made a strong bond with Olivia, despite not speaking. Throughout the case, he was apparently being pursued by a CIA agent, and managed to catch September's attention as well.
He is September's genetic son, and the ultimate key for the plan to destroy the Observers. An anomaly in their kind's genetic chain of consistency, his brain developed differently in that he is an empath capable of both retaining high intelligence and emotional function - in a way, he makes Observer technology and established order obsolete. By being sent into the year 2167 and showing the team of scientists that are the ultimate progenitors of the Observers that intelligence and emotion can coincide, he can reset the future so the Observers and ultimately the Occupation never happens.
Tropes associated with the child:
- Creepy Child: Though a benign one.
- Chekhov's Gunman: To the surprise of many, he returned to the series four seasons after his debut.
- The Empath: This exact term is used to describe him.
- Living Macguffin: Without him, the plan to defeat the Observers is useless
- No-Sell: Windmark tries to Mind Rape him. Windmark's nose starts to bleed and he bursts a vessel in his eye.
- Not So Stoic: See Single Tear below. He's also shown fear when threatened, smiled at Walter's antics and seems genuinely fond of Olivia.
- Single Tear: When Nina dies.
- The Voiceless: Never says a word in all his appearances.