The Alternate Universe is a universe very similar to the Prime Universe. It is a world in which slightly different choices were made. As explained by Walter Bishop, each day, people are presented with choices. A new universe is created with each choice made. The theory of Alternate Universes is called "Multiverse" because it provides that there are an infinite amount of universes existing simultaneously.
After Walter crossed over to save Peter, the cracks between the universes were breached. The negative effects of Walter's actions have much more severe consequences in the Alternate Universe, compared to the Prime Universe.
The Alternate Universe Discovered
The Alternate Universe refers to one alternate universe in particular. This universe was discovered by Walter Bishop and William Bell. They were able to create a "window" that allowed them to physically see the Other Side. The two also experimented on children, administering a drug called Cortexiphan, hoping to discover a method by which they could cross over to the Other Side.
After the death of his son, Peter, Walter wanted to make sure that the other Walter (Walternate) was able to save his son. While looking through the window, Walter realized that Walternate was distracted and missed the color change in the chemical that signaled a cure had been found for Peter. Knowing that Walternate would not go back to discover what he missed, Walter took it upon himself to duplicate the compound and bring it over to the Other Side. He set up a machine similar to the window, yet which allowed him to be able to physically cross over. Doing so set into motion the biggest cataclysm to ever be unleashed on mankind. Walter bent the rules of reality, and as a result, tore an irreparable hole into the fabric of both universes. The two universes began to slowly merge together, an act that will eventually lead to the destruction of one, if not both, worlds.
Olivia Dunham was a test subject in the Cortexiphan trials. As a child fleeing her abusive stepfather, her fear activated a chemical that momentarily transported her into a field on the Other Side. She witnessed a blimp flying in the sky before quickly being transported back. She transported again a few days later. Again, this was a result of her fear. She had a brief conversation with Walternate about Peter, not knowing that the man she was speaking to was not the doctor she had known for so long. Moments later, she disappeared, but Walternate was given enough information. He finally understood where his son had been taken.
The Multi-Dimensional Conflict Escalates
The effects on the Alternate Universe were much more severe than the effects on the Prime Universe. The Blight is the name for the widespread death of trees and vegetation. Furthermore, vortexes, or holes in the universe, began opening up all across the world. Walternate developed a chemical substance known as Amber to contain the tears.
At an unknown point in time, William Bell crossed over into the Alternate Universe. From here, he gathered information to prepare for a coming war. By now, due to the publication of the ZFT Manifesto in the Prime Universe, it came to be accepted that only one universe would survive. ZFT believed a war would need to take place, and as such, began experimenting with weapons and Fringe Technology in the Prime Universe to gain the upper hand.
ZFT leader, David Robert Jones began looking for a way to cross over and speak to William Bell. He fashioned a portal in the Prime Universe. A truck from the Other Side attempted to drive through it, but it shut violently - bisecting the vehicle. Frustrated, but not discouraged, Jones moved the device to Reiden Lake, where the first tear in the universes had been formed, thus being the area where the fabric was most malleable. He was able to successfully keep the portal open long enough to attempt stepping through, but the machine was shut off by Peter Bishop. As a consequence, Jones did not make it through completely - his body was split in two.
The Alternate Universe Prepares For War
William Bell, growing increasingly worried about the Prime Universe's preparedness in the war, transported Olivia over to visit in the Alternate Universe. He explained that the first wave of Walternate's soldiers had already infiltrated the Prime Universe. These shapeshifters were gathering information, paving the way for a full-scale invasion.
Later on, after Peter learned that he was actually from the Alternate Universe, Walternate crossed over to fetch him. Peter began working on the Vacuum, the machine that would end the war once in for all, destroying one universe or the other. The Prime Universe's Fringe Team crossed over in pursuit of Peter. After they retrieved him, Walternate swapped Fauxlivia for Olivia. He kept Olivia hostage on Liberty Island and sent Fauxlivia to infiltrate the Other Side, gather intelligence, and find the missing pieces of the machine.
After Fauxlivia's mission was completed, the two Olivias were switched back. Walternate obtained a blood sample from Henry Dunham and activated The Vacuum. However, Peter stepped into the machine in the Prime Universe. While inside the machine, Peter saw a future in which he destroyed the Alternate Universe, as was his intention. The effects only wore heavier on the Prime Universe, bringing Peter to the conclusion that the universes were inextricable. As a result of this, Peter tore holes in both universes, bringing them to a bridge on Liberty Island. This allowed for easy access by members of both universes so that they could begin to work out their problems together.
Moments after the universes were bridged, an Alternate Timeline was created, seemingly by the Observers. The universes began working together to repair both worlds, just as Peter intended. In fact, the bridge began healing the Alternate Universe. In this timeline, however, Jones, not deterred by Peter, was able to successfully cross over. He set up a lab and create the Organic Shapeshifters. He enlisted the aid of the Alternate Broyles. His true goals are not yet understood. Although the specifics of the history have been changed, most major events remained the same in the Alternate Timeline.
After the team began uncovering Jones's plot, it became obvious that he was exploiting the bridge in an attempt to collapse both universes. It was with great hesitation that both Fringe Divisions decided to shut off the machine, sealing both universes off from each other forever. ("Worlds Apart")
Differences Between the Alternate Universe and the Prime Universe
- Andrew Jackson was never President and does not appear on the 20 dollar bill. Instead, Martin Luther King Jr. is on the 20 dollar bill.
- US Department of Defense Headquarters is located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor.
- Three major political parties exist in the United States.
- The FBI does not exist, although it did exist in the past.
- A map in the Secretary of Defense's office is labelled Department of Defense. It is not evident that the map is a complete representation of United States internal and external borders, or simply a map of Department of Defense jurisdictional boundaries.
- Texas is divided into two states, North Texas and South Texas.
- North Dakota and South Dakota are combined into one state, Dakota.
- Oklahoma and Kansas are combined into one state, Midland.
- North and South Carolina are combined into one state, Carolina.
- Washington is known as Southern British Columbia.
- Michigan is smaller, missing its northern portion, the Upper Peninsula.
- Virginia and West Virginia are not states. They are combined into a district, the District of Virginia.
- Louisiana is a territory and not a state. It is known as Louisiana Territory.
- The State of Nevada does not exist. Independent Nevada replaces it.
- A large portion of California on the Pacific Coast appears to be missing. Possibly because of a gargantuan earthquake.
Differences in Transportation
- Zeppelin airships are used for transportation, either alongside jet aircraft or replacing them entirely.
- Government-issued identification cards ("Show Me") are required to use public transportation in New York City.
- People are still riding huge-front-wheeled "penny farthings," as bicycles.
- Helicopters flown by autopilot carry passengers.
- Aeroplanes in the alternate universe do not carry black boxes. Instead, satellites record all in-flight communications.
- Daily flights to the moon are available to the public.
- Double-decker cars exist, though are uncommon.
Differences in Technology
- Burn victims can be healed with nanotechnology.
- Human-machine hybrids can morph into any human shape.
- Scanners can detect inter-dimensional breaches.
- Medical equipment can control individual temporal acclimation.
- Accelerated healing techniques are available in hospitals.
- Accelerated gestation technology for pregnancy can grow a first trimester (human) fetus to a full-term baby in less than a day.
- Adrenaline activated B-cell lymphocytes were used to implant false memories.
- Digital technology has eliminated the need for the majority of writing utensils. ("The Plateau")
- There are effective nootropics (smart drugs). ("The Plateau")
- Compact cellular phones existed as early as 1985.
- Mobile communication is possible via a small, clip-on device known as an ear cuff.
- The US space program (circa 1986) had deployed a strategic defense network and has a presence near Jacksonville, Florida. This network shares its nickname with the Star Wars program of the Prime Universe but is referred to as such without derision.
Differences in Environment
- Due to changes in atmospheric conditions, a rainbow hasn't been seen in twenty years.
- A blight has significantly damaged vegetation.
- Coffee is subject to rationing. ("Making Angels")
- Avocados are expensive and seem difficult to acquire.
- The smallpox virus has not been eliminated and still spreads among human society.
- The western boundary of California is significantly farther south and east.
- The missing coastal region may belong to another nation, be sunken underwater after a gargantuan earthquake, or plate tectonics failed to develop the area in the first place.
- Sheep went extinct in 2001.
- According to the map in Secretary Bishop's office, many large areas of the United States have been quarantined, including South New Jersey, Coastal Maine, Northwest New Mexico, Western New York, and the Boston Metropolitan Area. Smaller areas are quarantined throughout the US, many along/near the East Coast.
- Madison Square Garden was quarantined in 1999 by Fringe Division after an unstable wormhole in the area would not close. The 10,000 people trapped inside have been declared legally dead.
- Manhatan, Brooklyn and Southern Long Island faced additional quarantine after Walter and Olivia arrived to recover Peter.
- Secretary Bishop's Lab in the Kresge Building, on the Longwood Campus of Harvard University, is affected by the Boston quarantine and is partially covered in Amber aerosol to neutralize the impact. A warning sign outside of the building indicates that particular campus was relocated to Medford. Medford is 7 miles NW of the Longwood Campus and clear of the quarantine zone.
Differences in Society
- Government-issued identification cards are referred to as a "Show Me".
- Doctors running human drug trials are required to return the subjects to their previous state when testing is completed. ("The Plateau")
- New York City is different in several ways:
- The city's downtown borough is spelled "Manhatan", with only one "t".
- The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were not destroyed on 9/11.
- The "Grand Hotel", by Antoni Gaudi, sits on the site for which it was designed over a hundred years ago.
- The Transamerica Pyramid is located or duplicated, in the city.
- The musical Dogs is advertised (as opposed to Cats).
- The Statue of Liberty is its original copper color; in our universe, it was allowed to oxidize, turning green in the early 20th century.
- The United States uses the Metric system, at least in the realm of road transportation and speed measurement. ("Bloodline")
- The Auburn Diamond states the area has compromised air quality. People must use an air filter and/or oxygen supply to avoid breathing problems. ("The Plateau")
- Cabbage Patch Dolls are popular.
- Len Bias is alive and has won an NBA Most Valuable Player Award.
- Eric Stoltz is the star of Back to the Future instead of Michael J. Fox.
- Cary Grant is known for saying "the stuff dreams made of" instead of Humphrey Bogart, also meaning Grant stared in The Maltese Falcon.
- Casablanca stars Ronald Reagan and ends happily with the two running away together.
- Taxi Driver was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, instead of Martin Scorsese.
- Tom Cruise works mostly on television.
- The comic book character "Batman" is instead known as "Mantis"
- The comic book character "Green Lantern" is instead known as "Red Lantern"
- The comic book character "Green Arrow" is instead known as "Red Arrow"
- The Bloom County comic book character, Opus, is a peahen instead of a penguin.
- Sherlock Holmes does not exist in the alternate universe.
- Bono and the band U2 do not exist, or at least is not well-known.
- The television show The West Wing continued into a twelveth season.
- Richard Nixon is on the 1983 dollar coin, which has the same reverse design as an Eisenhower dollar although no U.S. dollar coins were minted in 1983.
- Martin Luther King Jr. is on the 20 dollar bill rather than Andrew Jackson, and are referred to as "Juniors".
- Badgers are kept as domesticated household pets.
- Red Vines are a new product, instead of decades old. ("The Abducted")
- The Dodgers baseball team never left Brooklyn for Los Angeles.
- Nurse's outfits maintain the traditional white dress and cap, which fell out of favor in the 1990s in the Prime Universe.
- Traditional prams are still used to transport young children.
- Ambulance sirens are reminiscent of European sirens in the Prime Universe.
- A gas station named Shexxon appears, presumably a merger of Shell and Exxon as opposed to ExxonMobil of the Prime Universe.
Differences in History
- The Soviet Union still exists in the 21st century.
- The kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby either never happened or never became a public incident.
- John F. Kennedy was never assassinated and is still alive. He became an ambassador to the U.N. sometime after his presidential term ended. A news article states that he is planning to resign his ambassador position in order to lead a new agency aimed at slowing ecological breakdown.
- Eldridge Cleaver was involved with Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech that's called "We have a Dream."
- The White House and the Pentagon were both destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. (Hence why the original World Trade Center towers are still standing) The Department of Defense headquarters were relocated to Liberty Island, while the White House was rebuilt at the same location and now has a glass roof. ("There's More Than One of Everything")
- A homeless man's sign indicates that he's a veteran of the "Aruba War". ("The Plateau")
Communicating With the Alternate Universe
The first form of communication between universes was the use of a quantum-entangled IBM Selectric 251 typewriter hidden in the back room of a shop in the Bronx. Once a typist began typing a message, the response would be delivered from the other side. The typewriter would appear to be typing by itself. This device was used by the shape-shifters and Fauxlivia.
- Episodes taking place in the Alternate Universe are signaled by a red opening sequence, as opposed to the traditional blue opening sequence.
- The daily flights to the moon, JFK not being assassinated and the Soviet Union still existing on this universe could be related. In 1963, John F. Kennedy made a speech inviting the Soviet Union to join forces with the U.S. to get to the moon together, Originally Nikita Khrushchev rejected the proposal but his son claims he was reconsidering it shortly before JFK's assassination. After Kennedy died, Nikita didn't trust Lyndon B. Johnson. In the alternate universe, as John F. Kennedy wasn't assassinated, the deal could have been made, the space industry could have advanced so much that daily flights to the moon are open for the public and the Soviet Union benefited so much from this, that it still exists.