Created by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci, Fringe began airing on FOX on September 9, 2008. Starring Anna Torv, John Noble, and Joshua Jackson as FBI special agent Olivia Dunham, Dr. Walter Bishop, and Peter Bishop, respectively, the show followed the investigations of a special task force supported primarily by the FBI, the Fringe Division.
What started as a typical case-of-the-week procedural with a sci-fi twist turned into a show with a successful and intriguing mythology arc. In the grand total of the show's one hundred episodes, there are countless outstanding installments. We all have our favorites, but let's see what IMDb says, which episodes of Fringe are the best of the best.
10 “ENTRADA” (SEASON 3, EPISODE 8)
When season three kicked off, the writers found themselves juggling two universes, dedicating entire episodes to Over Here or Over There. The eighth episode, “Entrada,” divides its time equally between the two universes as we follow our Olivia and Fauxlivia trying to find their way back to their respective universes.
Having received Olivia’s message that she’s trapped in the parallel universe, Peter discovers that the Olivia Over Here is, in fact, an imposter from Over There. She runs, the Fringe team tracks her down, discovers a quantum entanglement device used to communicate to the other side, but Fauxlivia manages to escape. Meanwhile, Over There, our Olivia finds a surprising ally in Alt-Broyles who helps her escape Walternate’s clutches before he gets the chance to remove her brain for research purposes. “Entrada” brought an end to an arc that started in the previous season and had great ramifications for Peter and Olivia, and their relationship. The episode holds a 9.0 IMDb score and it is often listed among the show’s best.
9 “LETTERS OF TRANSIT” (SEASON 4, EPISODE 19)
Season four’s nutty number nineteen took us to a bleak future where Observers have taken over the world and are ruling with an iron fist, the Fringe team is encased in ember along with a bunch of other people, food has turned into egg sticks, and creepy bald dudes without eyebrows are standard edition. The only beacon of hope is the thinning Resistance, still fighting the good fight despite the odds.
We follow Peter and Olivia’s grown-up daughter Etta and her friend Simon as they finally manage to free the Fringe team from their ember prisons. The episode was a risk at the time since it came right before the conclusion of season four’s main arc, but it served as the foundation upon which an entire fifth season was built. “Letters of Transit” is a groundbreaking episode with a well-earned score of 9.0.
8 “ANOMALY XB-6783746” (SEASON 5, EPISODE 10)
“Anomaly XB-6783746” holds a score of 9.0 and is a pivotal season five episode in which the team finally uncovers the identity of the mysterious “Donald” they’ve been chasing after. As it turns out Donald is none other than our old Observer friend September. The titular anomaly, aka an Observer child named Michael, is the one who gives them this information.
The episode sees the Fringe team, with the help of Nina Sharp, trying to find a way to communicate with the boy to no avail. On the run from the Observers, Michael briefly touches Nina, thus finally communicating with her. When the Observers track them down, Nina protects the boy and kills herself to prevent the Observers from reading her mind. In the end, the boy shares information with Walter the same way and gives the team yet another piece of the puzzle and an advantage in their fight against the Observers.
7 “LIBERTY” (SEASON 5, EPISODE 12)
In the penultimate episode of the series "Liberty", the Fringe team must find a way to get Michael back after he surrendered himself to Windmark in the previous episode. They find that Windmark is holding the boy on Liberty Island and plans to disassemble him. The team hatches a plan to dose Olivia with Cortexhiphan, send her to Liberty Island Over There to cross back Over Here, take Michael, and re-trace her steps back.
Olivia manages to execute this crazy plan with the help of her Alt-self, Fauxlivia, and her former partner from Over Here, Lincoln Lee (who are now married and have a son). With Michael in safe hands and September’s device that will send the boy back to the future nearly finished, the stage is all but set for the epic showdown. The episode was executed perfectly and it was really cool seeing the alternate universe one more time. "Liberty" holds a rating of 9.0.
6 “THE DAY WE DIED” (SEASON 3, EPISODE 22)
In the season three finale “The Day We Died," which has a score of 9.1, Peter finds himself fifteen years in the future after entering and activating the doomsday device. In this future, the alternate universe, aka Over There, has been destroyed. Peter and Olivia are married, Broyles is a senator, Walter is in prison for activating the doomsday device, and Walternate is still alive operating under the cover of a rebel group “End of Dayers.”
Walternate shoots and kills Olivia, leaving Peter heartbroken, and Walter becomes the mythos of the “First People” when he sends pieces of the machine back to the past. Walter and Peter decide to let the Peter from the past experience this future in hopes that he would choose not to destroy the alternate universe when he enters the machine. Peter then wakes up in the present, merges the two machines into a bridge between the two universes, and vanishes. Everyone agrees to bury the hatchet, apparently unaware of Peter’s disappearance. The Observers then note that Peter has been forgotten by everyone since his purpose has been served and it’s as if he never even existed. Talk about a cliffhanger.
5 “THERE’S MORE THAN ONE OF EVERYTHING” (SEASON 1, EPISODE 20)
The season two episode “Peter” is often credited for landing Fringe among the greatest sci-fi shows of all time, however, the season one finale “There’s More than One of Everything” is where the show’s true potential started to show. The episode finally introduces the elusive William Bell, portrayed by Leonard Nimoy. Walter’s darkest secret comes to light when it’s revealed that his legitimate son had died, and the Peter that is here now was taken probably from the other universe, dubbed Over There.
We also get our first look at Over There with the final shot of the episode revealing that William Bell and Oliva, who had been transported Over There, are standing in the South Tower of the World Trade Center. This episode finally answered some big questions we’ve been asking ourselves throughout the first season. It opened up a whole new world of possibilities, which the show went on to explore in future seasons. It’s not surprising that this season one finale is a fan-favorite with a 9.2 rating.
4 “WHITE TULIP” (SEASON 2, EPISODE 18)
“White Tulip” is one of the most popular, talked-about, and critically-acclaimed episodes of Fringe. It is the fourth-highest-rated episode with a 9.3 score. The episode masterfully blends mythology elements with a compelling standalone storyline. On the one hand, we have Walter, a father who’s struggling to tell his son the truth about how he risked the fate of two whole universes just to save him. On the other hand, we have the Fringe team investigating the consequences of a man traveling back in time on a desperate quest to save his fiancée.
Walter’s guilt and grief are mirrored in a man stuck in a similar position. The scene in which Walter bears his heart and soul, trying to get the other man to understand that there will be repercussions for his actions is heartbreaking no matter how many times you watch it. That final shot of Walter holding the drawing of a white tulip is poignant and unforgettable.
3 “OVER THERE: PART 2” (SEASON 2, EPISODE 23)
“Over There: Part 2” picks up where the first part left off. Olivia, William Bell, and Walter must find a way to get back to their own universe and get Peter to come with them. Meanwhile, Walternate doesn’t want Peter to know the true purpose of the machine he’s building. Though Peter does figure out that the machine is symbiotic and requires a specific person to control it – him.
Luckily, after a fight with her doppelganger, Olivia manages to reach Peter by taking Fauxlivia's place. She convinces Peter that he needs to go back home because he belongs with her and the two share their first kiss. Thanks to William Bell’s sacrifice, the Fringe team manages to get back to Our Side, but little did they know that the Olivia that came back wasn’t their Olivia, but Fauxlivia. Meanwhile, our Olivia was locked up Over There. This shocking season finale, with a 9.3 rating, set up the show’s most-highly-praised third season.
2 “AN ENEMY OF FATE” (SEASON 5, EPISODE 13)
Fringe is one of those shows that you can truly say without reservations managed to stick the landing. It wasn’t without a few bumps in the road, but when it all came together in those final moments, it just worked so well that we gladly forgave any and all previous bumpiness.
The fifth season was, to use Walter’s words, ‘stolen time’ that managed to give us more of our favorite thing and deliver an emotionally satisfying conclusion that allowed us to say goodbye to the characters we came to love. Several moments made us tear up, like Walter and Peter’s father-son moment. Others made us laugh, like Walter’s gleeful “That is cool!” as he watches an Observer float away. On that level, Fringe succeeds like few other shows out there by giving the fans what they want and giving the show a worthy conclusion at the same time. “An Enemy of Fate” is a celebration of everything Fringe has always been: the mystery, the journey, and, above all, love. According to IMDb, it's the second-best Fringe episode with a 9.3 rating.
1 “PETER” (SEASON 2, EPISODE 16)
Numerous critics and fans will agree that “Peter” is the best episode Fringe has ever done, as evidenced by the episode’s 9.4 IMDb rating. John Noble is so good in this episode that we still can’t believe he wasn’t even nominated for an Emmy. But snubbing aside, “Peter” is as perfect as it gets when it comes to TV.
From the writing, the acting, the emotional stakes, the mythology, to the little details like the 80s-style opening sequence, everything is executed to a fault and everything works. The episode is a flashback to the time when Walter committed the original sin and took Peter from the other universe. It ties up the mythology up to that point, showing us what happened to Peter, what role September played in all of it, and how Walter’s actions set this whole thing into motion. Simply put, "Peter" is Fringe at its best.