At the end of Fringe's third season, there was a significant change that you might not want to know about if you haven't viewed that far, so this is some introductory text to give you a chance to avoid reading any further. This question is composed of spoilers (for season 3 and earlier), so stop now if you wish.

The change was that the past was altered to a new timeline. As such, season four has some differences in the past from the history we'd seen played out during the first 3 seasons. One of the differences was that in the new timeline, the Fringe Division members Over Here don't know about Observers. Shouldn't this be impossible? Observers were first noticed when Walternate was working on a cure for Peter's illness. He stumbles upon the cure, but fails to realize it, as an Observer distracts him at a crucial moment. As a result, he moves on to another attempt at a cure and never finds one. This entire sequence of events was originally witnessed by Walter via his viewing device that let him see events Over There.

This prompts Walter to open a portal to Over There and bring Peter back. As such, the Observer's interaction with the moment Walternate found the cure is kind of crucial for the events of the show to have played out in both timelines. So how could the Observers still be unknown to people Over Here when we know that Walter went Over There for Peter?

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    @Tony Meyer: I wish I could upvote an edit! Nov 14, 2011 at 14:12

2 Answers 2


My guess is that they know about the Observers, they just call them something else. In the first season episode "The Arrival", Broyles tells Olivia that they have photos of him at several Pattern events. Presumably these photos have been acquired and analyzed without the aid of Walter, so the change in that part of the timeline would not affect the discovery of his presence. Broyles is the first one to call him The Observer -- with the implication that this is the FBI's code name.

(Aside: Fringepedia says the name 'September' was used in one press release to refer to him, which would match up with the other Observers we've met: August, December, and July).

  • The scene between Olivia and the Observer at the end of "Back To Where You've Never Been" certainly makes it likely that Olivia doesn't know about them in this timeline. Whether Fringe Division has records that she doesn't know about is still an open question.
    – Plutor
    Feb 1, 2012 at 14:53

In this new timeline of season 4, Walter did go "over there" to get Peter. But the observer never rescued Peter and Walter from falling through the ice. This event (the falling through the ice) was the one event starting Walter's knowledge of the Observers. When, in this new timeline, the observers never had to alter the events, there is no need for the characters we know of to know anything about the Observers. Yet...

  • Walter saw the Observer distract Walternate. That was his first exposure to them.
    – user1027
    Nov 13, 2011 at 16:26
  • Walter in the previous timeline yes, not the Walter in the season 4 timeline.
    – WizardOz
    Nov 13, 2011 at 16:46
  • That's what the question is about. If that Observer wasn't there, then Peter Over There got his cure, as Walternate wouldn't be distracted at the crucial moment. Walter saw this and it was the reason he went Over There. I've edited the question to make this clearer.
    – user1027
    Nov 13, 2011 at 17:36
  • Walter said Peter drowned in the ice in this timeline (season 4) didnt he?
    – WizardOz
    Nov 14, 2011 at 12:39
  • @Keen But the Observer distracting Walternate would have seemed relatively normal, surely? The Observer saving Walter and Peter after they fell through the ice of a remote lake where noone else had cause to be is somewhat more suspicion-inducing, though. Feb 6, 2012 at 0:49

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