So I finally watched the last episode of fringe and apart from the plotholes/paradoxes time travel always creates in any book or movie, I liked it.

One question though has always bothers me: the observers destroyed their planet. They traveled back in time and took over because the planet wasn't destroyed at that time. Aside from the inherent problems with their invasion and subsequent changing of history (so they probably could not be created in the first place in 2167), wouldn't interstellar travel be easier to achieve than traveling back through time?

Why take the risk with all the timelines? If you are at the technological level necessary to effortlessly move through time and space, shouldn't finding a new planet and settling there be incomparably easier?

What do you think?

  • 1
    Are they shown to possess interstellar travel?
    – Andres F.
    Feb 20, 2014 at 0:43
  • 1
    @AndresF. Not at all. The one "space" episode didn't even have to do with the Observers (or actually going into space).
    – Izkata
    Feb 20, 2014 at 0:59
  • @Izkata "Earthling"? Good (and creepy) stand-alone episode!
    – Andres F.
    Feb 20, 2014 at 1:02
  • @AndresF. No they didn't,overall we know very little about the observer world. But from a technological/logical standpoint interstellar travel should be easier to achieve than time travel.
    – onibubu
    Feb 20, 2014 at 11:58
  • 2
    @onibubu I don't know :) It seems like it should, but since time travel is a fictional technology, all bets are off. Maybe it's easier in the world of Fringe.
    – Andres F.
    Feb 20, 2014 at 12:26

4 Answers 4


We all like Sci-Fi and speculative fiction here and we're all willing to suspend our disbelief for a well crafted story. That, Fringe is not. As far as I can tell, Fringe does not even try to be internally consistent, I doubt you'll find an in-world answer. I've watched the damn thing from start to finish and the number of direct contradictions, completely illogical "science" and just pure bull excrement is impressive.

The example you raise is a case in point. Never mind space travel, there is no evidence that the Observers had access to space. There is plenty of evidence that they have access to a multitude (infinity in fact) of parallel universes, on many of which humanity would presumably not have evolved or have gone extinct. They could very easily relocate there rather than dick around with time. They did not because the story wouldn't work.


I think it's a question of energy. Even with the great technological advances of the Observers, they're still limited by the need to move matter around using energy. Aside from short-range, lightweight teleportation, it looks like they still have to get from place to place the hard way.

Time travel, in the Fringe universe, seems to be a cheat on this. Opening a gateway to the past seems to be cheaper, energy-wise, and furthermore, once you've opened the gateway, you have a world already structured just like you want it, minus a little minor terraforming.

It is probably much cheaper and easier to take an expeditionary team to another planet than to take that same team to the past, but the economies of scale compound when you're planning to transport a large population.


May be Observers were able to do interstellar travel(as they can create wormholes) but were unable to find habitable planet according to their living needs. So they end up using the past of planet earth


Because they aren't trying to colonize, they want to change the Earth (for themselves)

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It's not like overpopulation was the Observer's problem, the problem was that they had broken the planet:

By the year 2609, the Observers had ruined the planet. To rectify this, a plan was put into place that involved going back in time and taking the planet from modern-day humans.

From the episode Letters of Transit:

WALTER: (remembering The Purge) They weren't all bad, you know. One of them even tried to help us. He was called September. What happened to him was... well, unexpected. He told me that, in the year 2609 A.D., they finally ruined the planet. (turns of the holographic device he was studying) They poisoned it -- the air, the water. And when it was fundamentally uninhabitable, then they traveled back through time, and took our planet from us. (resolves) Yes, I can build it.

So look at it from the emotionless Observer perspective. They could:

  1. Develop completely new technology for interstellar research and exploration. This could take decades, possibly decades they don't have, and might not succeed. It does have the advantage that they don't have to dominate their past ancestors which a iron fist.
  2. Utilize the technology which was apparently either natural to them or easy to develop, dominate their ancestors and fix the problem at hand.

Since apparently time travel wasn't a big issue for them, the only really remaining issue is that pesky bit about feeling bad that you've placed you ancestors into subjugation. But of course - you're an Observers, and you don't really have access to that emotion so your next question is probably about what is for lunch and when is that invasion thing scheduled...

  • It didn't really seem like they were trying to fix anything, with (for example) the carbon monoxide generators...
    – Izkata
    Mar 23, 2014 at 17:08
  • Nobody said they are fixing it for us, they generated carbon monoxide to make the atmosphere more to what they were accustomed to in the future.
    – joshbirk
    Mar 23, 2014 at 19:23

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