The Fringe Mistake That Ruined The Series

By Brent McKnight | Published

Not every storyline on every show is going to hit the mark. In fact, some are going to fall flat on their damn faces, even on the best shows.

For the most part, Fox’s sci-fi police procedural Fringe pulled off some bizarre, intricate narrative arcs over its five seasons. But the show wasn’t immune to the occasional failure. Fans know it, and even the people involved in the series wish they had a mulligan or two.

Back in 2013, showrunner J.H. Wyman considered the storyline from the fourth season that saw series stalwart Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson) blink out of existence as “one of our missteps.” This is an understatement to say the very least.

Fringe showrunner called the move to remove Joshua Jackson a “misstep”

While Fringe pulled off a number of outrageous plot twists and major craziness over the years, they all generally followed the internal logic established in the show. Peter’s disappearance when he was erased from the timeline by an Observer named September, never really fit with the world of the show.

No matter how they tried to justify it and explain the reasoning behind it, his absence threw the show into a down cycle. They tried to fill the space by focusing more on other characters, but Fringe relied so much on the characters and the relationships between them—especially between Peter and Walter (John Noble) and Peter and Olivia (Anna Torv)—that there was something missing.

Not only did this impact the narrative, it threatened to alienate an already woefully small (though steadfastly devoted) fan base. Wyman says, “I learned a great deal from that. It didn’t work. People didn’t like it and felt it was sort of stupid and didn’t get it. I totally agree.”

This Fringe move created the Amber Timeline essentially disrupting the overall narrative and mythology of the series. The mythology and storytelling suffered because of it.

Evaporating Peter may have been the weak link at the time, though Fringe did work to make something of a comeback in Season 5.

fringe through the looking glass

Maybe Wyman would like to have that one back, but in the grand scheme of things, it could have been much worse. Wyman concludes, “People may or may not get what we did, but it is what it is. It’s not a pizza. You don’t get to order what you want on it. [Laughs]”

Fringe viewership had already been on the decline since a very strong opening season, really hit new lows for the fifth season especially for the premiere. It made a slight comeback over the course of the year, outpacing the previous season just slightly, though that was on the back of the finale which ended up being the end for the show.

Source: SFX