(Season 2 spoilers ahead)

In season 2 of Fringe,

Charlie Francis finds himself alone in a hospital boiler room with a shapeshifter in the form of a nurse. The shapeshifter kills Francis and takes his form. When the other agents arrive, he is standing over the body of the shapeshifter/nurse. This body's blood is later analyzed and found to be human.

Yet later on Francis burns a third, identical body. Am I missing something about the mechanics of shapeshifting? If not, where did this third body come from?

I cannot quite follow the explanation given in the wikia article:

...hid his body in the dumpster, substituting his body for the body of the nurse that it had killed earlier, thus seemingly killing itself.

It couldn't be the original (real) nurse's body -- there was not enough time to retrieve it.

2 Answers 2


Just watched this episode, and I don't think DavRob60's answer makes complete sense, even though it's probably what the writers meant.

Why doesn't it make sense? Because of two problems:

  • One issue is timing: even if the shapeshifter had prepared this ambush beforehand, and hid the nurse's corpse in the right place, correctly guessing one FBI agent would follow him there... it still doesn't give him enough time. From the time Peter Bishop and agent Jessup hear the gunshots to when they arrive to the murder scene, only a few on-screen minutes pass. In this time, the shape-shifter must overpower and kill Charlie, shape-shift into Charlie (a process previously seen to take a few minutes), hide his body, take the nurse's body out of concealment, and fire gunshots into her corpse (because the nurse wasn't killed by firearm, but fake-Charlie's story depends on this). Quite a lot to happen in just a few minutes.

  • The second problem is that the FBI is aware at this point that the shape-shifter is leaving a trail of bodies behind. But if they believe he transformed into the nurse from the hospital in order to kill Olivia Dunham, then how come there is no apparent corpse for the real nurse? Of course, we -- and fake-Charlie -- know the corpse they find is the real nurse, but the FBI agents don't. Because they believe the corpse they found is the shape-shifter, they must expect to find another corpse for the nurse somewhere on the premises, otherwise they cannot consider the case closed.

Given the above two points, I call... Big Fat Glaring Plot-hole :)

  • 2
    I turned this question in my head over and over, and unfortunately I came to the same conclusion than you :(
    – Kalissar
    Jul 11, 2013 at 8:40
  • 1
    When I wrote this answer I was about half-way season 2. I'm now about to start season 4 and I gotta say I fell in love with this show, regardless of its many inconsistencies and plot holes. I'm sure the lovely Olivia Dunham helped in this ;)
    – Andres F.
    Aug 5, 2013 at 15:59
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    "take the nurse's body out of concealment, and fire gunshots into her corpse" ... only one set of gunshots were heard, ergo the shapeshifter had plenty of time.
    – Erics
    Jan 22, 2014 at 11:24
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    @AndresF. it's not the number of shots, but rather the number of bursts - we only hear one burst, while the camera is on Olive & Peter, they ruah in, and then we see SS-Charlie with the dead "SS-nurse". We didn't hear any gunshots when SS-Nurse attacked the real Charlie (perhaps he got the drop on him), giving the SS some leisurely time to arrange bodies into a scene and the fired a burst of shots into the dead Nurse.
    – Erics
    Jan 23, 2014 at 0:18
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    @Erics: That's not what happens though. I just watched the episode: When the SS-nurse drops down from the ceiling, Charlie turns around and actually fires two shots. We are shown this on screen. On the next scene, we see Peter who hears two (more?) muffled shots in the distance. Judging by the delay between the two shots in two bursts, we could conclude that there were four total shots and Peter only heard the last two, but "Francis was already gone when the first shots were fired" simply is not true. (Sorry for the necro, BTW.)
    – Ishmaeel
    Mar 26, 2016 at 2:43

Yes, it was the (real) nurse's body, the shapeshifter had enough time to retrieve it because it' where he hid it in the first place.

So, the shapeshifter killed the real Charlie Francis, took his appearance and switched his body for the nurse's body that was conveniently stored in the dumpster.

Out of universe, it's probably a member of the show's crew that placed the body of the nurse's twin in the dumpster, or they got the same actress play the body and the shape-shifted nurse, so she just had to lie on the floor between the two cuts.

  • 2
    Is your third paragraph a joke? :P I don't understand it.
    – Andres F.
    Jul 11, 2013 at 3:14

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