After a unhappy tremor shakes a Manhattan office building to its core, leaving only one survivor who leads the Fringe Team to believe he is not from this reality. Walter surmises that what shook the building was not geologic, but rather something discovered by him and William Bell many years ago. With another catastrophe imminent, the team races to Jacksonville, the site of Walter and William's experiments, forcing Olivia to face her mysterious past in an effort to save hundreds of people from certain death.
Fringe follows the casework of the Fringe Division, a Joint Federal Task Force supported primarily by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which includes Agent Olivia Dunham; Dr. Walter Bishop, the archetypal mad scientist; and Peter Bishop, Walter's estranged son and jack-of-all-trades. They are supported by Phillip Broyles, the force's director, and Agent Astrid Farnsworth, who assists Walter in laboratory research.
The Fringe Division investigates cases relating to fringe science, ranging from transhumanist experiments gone wrong to the prospect of a destructive technological singularity to a possible collision of two parallel universes. The Fringe Division's work often intersects with advanced biotechnology developed by a company called Massive Dynamic, founded by Walter's former partner, Dr. William Bell and run by their common friend, Nina Sharp. The team is also watched silently by a group of bald, pale men who are called "Observers".