Mysteries of Fringe: Green-Green-Green-Red

The green and red pattern color is one of the oldest, most intriguing mysteries of Fringe. They appeared as early as the pilot episode and have had fans guessing ever since. Their meaning is currently unknown, but their significance to the mythology of the show is not to be sniffed at. In this, our first Mysteries of Fringe post, we hope to get closer to understanding the mystery of the green and red pattern by examining their appearances within the show.

Follow us down the rabbit hole, and bring cake and coffee. Or better still, coffee cake.

The green-green-green-red color pattern has made both obvious and subtle thematic appearances throughout the history of the show. As fans of the underlying clues we know they have an overarching meaning, and the producers have also confirmed their importance. But what do they mean, exactly? This post will layout some of the commonalities of the green-green-green-red and will hopefully get us thinking about some of the things we think will lead us on the path to busting the mystery.

Let’s begin by taking a look at some of these appearances to see if we can spot a common theme:

1.01 The Pilot.

  • The green-green-green-red pattern appeared by way of a dream on the Kayak belonging to Olivia’s uncle. This is an important link as we can reasonably assume that the green and red pattern has ties to Olivia’s family.
  • Aside: Two other pieces of Fringe mythology also appear on the Kayak – the word ZENO and the Aleph symbol. The word ZENO may refer to the Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea and his set of paradoxes (perhaps as an allusion to the idea that motion, or time, in the world of the show, is an illusion). The Aleph was later seen being worn with pride by Intrepus leader, David Esterbrook – connecting him to the mythology and Olivia’s uncle.


1.04 The Arrival

  • The green-green-green-red sequence also appeared on the hat of John Mosley – a speculated “rogue” Observer who did everything he could to get his hands on the Observers beacon.
  • Using retro-fitted technology, Mosley was able to extract the location of the Beacon from Peter’s mind, even though Peter didn’t know where Walter had stashed it. Walter later explained that there are forms of communication that exist outside the scope of common means. Given that both Mosley and the Observers have ties to the green/red, and that his technology seemed less advanced than September’s organic form of mind reading, it’s possible that Mosley was a rogue Observer from a less advanced reality than the main Observers. Or, perhaps he was part of a break-away group who only have access to older Observer technology.
  • Mosley also told Peter that it’s a shame he never met his grandfather, Robert Bishop – a Nazi pioneer working for the allies. Does this tie Robert to the green/red?
  • The green and red also appears on the lower left corner of the Observer’s eyeglasses. I’m sure this is a form of (corporate) branding, but the pattern sequence has a larger significance.


1.08 The Equation

  • The episode was centered around the green-green-green-red.
  • Green/red lights were used by the villain to put people into a trance, making it seem like time had jumped, and in the case of Ben and Dashiell, distorting their reality in a bid to break the physical laws of nature and allow people to pass through solid matter. In simple terms, this seems like a nod to the confines of the system (reality) not existing quite as we perceive. Who needs Doors when you can walk through walls.
  • It is inferred that green and red have specific effects on the human design. What kind of control are we plugged into?


2.08 August

  • The Observers used the green-green-green-red calling code to communicate with their hitman, Donald.
  • Upon receiving the pattern he immediately knew that the Observers had a mission for him.
  • Did seeing the pattern trigger Donald into action mode, or did he act on his own steam?
  • The episode centered around the Observers ensuring continuity for pre-ordained outcomes. August, infected with love, just couldn’t allow fate to dictate his actions. Is the green-green-green-red connected to the course-correction, or the preservation, of realities and the actions within? What system governs cause and effect and who put the Observers in charge?


2.10 Grey Matters

  • The leader of the shape-shifter, Thomas Newton, uses green and red fluid to help reconnect Walter’s old brain pieces containing his memories of how he built the Door to the other side.


Is it just me, or are these clues telling us something REALLY BIG? The seeds that have been planted so far – dreams, memories, mind control –  all lean heavily on perception. This may sound crazy, and my perception might be in error, but I get the feeling that there’s another layer to this alternate universe concept – one which suggests that one, or both, of the realities in the show are technically not ‘real’. As we’ve been told, reality is subjective – but what if there’s a system which governs what the characters see, feel and think? What if such a system is linked to the green and the red?

Anyway, the purpose of this post isn’t to provide the answers – we don’t have enough information, just yet. But hopefully it can set us on the path to those answers, and if you know anything about mythology shows, you’ll know that the journey is everything.

Feel free to bookmark this post, we’ll be updating it (or adding sequels) as we go along. The idea is to gather as many ideas and theories – no matter how far out they may seem at this stage, in a bid to get a better hold on the green-green-green-red and interconnected themes. So feel free to share any thoughts that you may have, whenever you have them.

Perception Photo Credit: Alasis


  1. Elaine says

    Ah, bravo, Roco! I didn’t know exactly what idea I had in mind when I suggested we (and again, when I say we, I really mean you 😉 ) go back and take a look at what themes we’ve been presented with in S2, and how they connect to S1. The green, green, green–red sequence is perfect.

    That said, I’ll have to give some thought on what I believe the lights mean.

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    • says

      Cheers Elaine – I’ve been meaning to cover the basics of the green/red so I thought now would be a good time to get a post out, in light of your suggestions. Hopefully we can build on it over time. We should also have a few more ‘retrospective’ posts (I guess you can call them that) posted before the show returns. 😉

      Thanks again!

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  2. says

    I repost this because CSS doesn’t work here (sorry for that). So Roco you can delete the other one…

    I’ve pointed out before, that in ‘Jacksonville’ we saw the pattern r,r,r,g on a Rubik’s Cube.
    You are right that all the appearences of g,g,g,r go back to perception, but they also go back to the subconscious. So I think I gotta gather the evidence for that one:
    – In the ‘Pilot’ we saw g,g,g,r during the mind melt of John and Olivia, so both had access to each other subconscious (also reases the question which mind it was which brought in g,g,g,r.
    – In ‘The Arrival’ John Mosley read Peter’s mind, probably his sobconcsious as Peter could tell by himself.
    – In ‘The Equation’ the boy is caught up in an illusion – now I’m not a psychologist nor a neuroligist, but I think such illusion requires an entering into the subconscious. Also all the people abducted subconsciously knew that they had to finish the equation.
    – As you pointed out, in ‘August’ Donald could have been subconsciously triggered to do his ‘job’.
    – ‘Grey Matters’: The colors are shown second before Walter’s full mind is restored, which automatically involves a restoratian of the subconscious.
    So to conclude my thoughts on this topic: If g,g,g,r stands for subconscious, could r,r,r,g stand for the conscious? Again there is evidenece for such thought:
    – ‘Jacksonville’: r,r,r,g appears on the Rubik’s Cube (represents multi-universal element of Fringe) seconds before it is revealed to Olivia that Peter is from the other side.

    I don’t wanna poo-poo any stuff you wrote before but I think you might take such in consideration.

    By the way: Great idea to do such posting (This also goes out to Elaine)! 😉

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    • says

      No worries Stefan, the allowed code can be confusing at times. I’ve deleted your other post as requested.

      Good point – the subconscious is another possible theme related to “gggr”. I also like the idea that the reverse (“rrrg”) represents the conscious or awakened state – nicely tied in with the rubik’s cube. Interesting stuff, we’ll have to keep an eye out for more connections.

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  3. FringeFan2009 says

    Great post Roco! I’m pretty clueless about the rrrg stuff, but here is a stab in the dark. The colors may represent something else from the other side. I find it very hard to believe that a sequence of 2 colors can actually control, or alter the reality of someone’s mind. But of course, what if you have a color like white that encompasses all the colors of the spectrum. Maybe these, colors are only perceived as red and green, by people that see them here, but in reality they are a completely different spectrum of colors. Meaning, these colors are only interpreted by our eyes in this universe at rrrg, disguised as these colors but contain information that means something completely different. That would mean everytime they “program” a message or an action, we can only see them as rrrg. A theory such as this would open up using these colors to communicate different messages.

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    • says

      That was my second theory on the gggr-rrrg stuff! 😉

      “A theory such as this would open up using these colors to communicate different messages.” Ehm, do you mean to the viewer or inside the Fringe Multiverse? Or both?

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      • FringeFan2009 says

        I mean inside the Fringe Multiverse. I’m saying it could be a communication tool in which the characters who are using it can understand. Our characters, and us, only see the rrrg.

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    • says

      FringeFan09 – that’s pretty deep..but I like it! The idea that the character (and even us, the audience) are perceiving one thing, when in fact it’s another, is the type of twist the writers could well pull. Of course, they’d have to attach it with an overriding purpose and make work in relation to the mythology, but like I said, I really like the thinking behind this. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. mlj102 says

    Okay, I could be wrong, but I never considered the “brain containers” in Grey Matters to be part of the “GGGR” appearances. I just thought it was a way of indicating whether or not the connection had been made between Walter and the brain pieces: when the containers were red, it showed that the connection wasn’t there (red = stop, hasn’t worked, can’t proceed, etc.) but once the containers changed color to green, that indicated that the connection had successfully been achieved (green = go, open, okay to proceed, etc.). I didn’t see it as anything more than that, though I suppose it could have been intended as a GGGR occurrence.

    As for theories, I really have no ideas of what the significance is of the GGGR pattern, though it has been neat to read some of the other theories people have mentioned here. I’m still not completely convinced about any of them, however, but I do like the general idea that it is somehow connected to Perception. I also think that it can’t be any coincidence that the same color sequence that the Observers use and have on their equipment and such just happens to also be the exact color sequence that makes it possible to put people in a trance for an extended period of time. There’s got to be some connection. I’m just not sure what that connection would be… I look forward to getting more insight into this specific pattern and its significance as the show progresses.

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    • says

      True, the “brain containers” might not be associated with the gggr mythology as they work on the level you explained. However, it does seem to fit in with the supporting evidence involving perception. I think it’s one of those that could really go either way.

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      • says

        I just went through the episode in fastforward mode and noticed that we saw the the red in 3 scenes before they turned green. So it could mean rrrg in a rather abstract way.

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  5. says

    I don’t know about you, but I think of “Star Trek:TNG” and “ST:Voyager”, when I see the gggr. I also knew that JJ Abrams spent a lot of time on his big screen “Star Trek”. So, my mind drew a connection between the “dots” and “Star Trek”, even though there might be no correlation at all.

    That speaks to me about perception.

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  6. Elaine says

    Funny. In considering what the g,g,g,r lights might mean over the past couple of days, I realized that much like the smoke monster on Lost, I don’t/didn’t really need/desire an explaination for either. With the smoke monster, I was content with Rousseau description, “It’s a security system.” With the lights, I guess I’ve accepted that they play in to or perhaps tracks every concept the show has delved in to.

    Like others have mentioned, perhaps they’re purpose is to foster another means of communicating, perceiving (minds eye and time) and recalling memory…or perhaps translating memory or consciousness into an image the mind can recognize. In other words, they’re just a tool for the consciousness.

    I always found Walter’s insistance that Peter open his mind and suggesting that he reconsider his idea of communication in ‘The Arrival’ interesting. Out of so many key elements about that episode, that’s always stood out as the writers way of sort of challenging the audiences perception of the show and who these characters are. I don’t know, I’m rambling.

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  7. Xochitl says

    Don’t know if this is a good idea, do we have someone with red and green eye problem around here? I’m guessing, since I don’t know how it works, that for people with this problem it would look like red,red,red,green, is that right? again, perception, or do they see it different on the other side? just a random thought. :)

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  8. MERLIN says



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  9. TomC says

    It may mean nothing, but does the RGB Primary Colour system have a part in the mythology.
    Red = Dots and Memories of the other universe.
    Green = Dots
    Blue = The blue flash things.
    Also, YELLOW is created by mixing red and green together which is the colour olivia is scared of.
    Sending my thoughts wild now…. could it be possibly, Red is the alt-universe’s colour (where bell is) and Green is our universe which is why olivia sees yellow when things invole the other universe or could also put it as the mixing of the colours?!?!
    Could blue be another universe? Or what ‘appears’ when there’s anomalies or things that shouldn’t be in the universes?

    Probably waaaay off, but had a thought and you never know.

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    • Caity says

      It is a good theory, but red+green=a brownish colour… (I really don’t mean to be blunt or rude) Although, Red for the Otherverse, and green for us is a great idea! Maybe because of the “greeness” of the reality? As in, they’re suffering from the Blight, so they don’t have much plantlife??

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  10. says

    I just had a freaky idea. Morse code Anyone?
    − · · · is B
    · − − − is J
    · · · − is V
    − − − · is Ö (used in German), written oe in English – always pronounced wrong.
    So native anagram lovers, a word with the letters b, j, v, o, e please.

    For ZFT the code goes: − − · · / · · − · / −
    For 8: — — — · ·

    Interestingly SOS means · · · − − − · · ·, in which we have all 4 forms possible: · · · − − − · · · (B) | · · · − − − · · · (J) | · · · − − − · · · (Ö, OE) | · · · − − − · · · (V) – now I’m not a mathematician but really what are the odds for that?

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    • Alison says

      Interesting that you say that, because I’ve wondered the exact same thing before! I even looked up Morse code on Wikipedia to see if I could come up with some ideas for the “green-green-red patterns”. Knowing this show, I wouldn’t be quick to dismiss the theory. It COULD be a possibility. 😉

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  11. karslow says

    I always thought this sequence is a rule to decode something else in the show, maybe the glyphs: as anyone tried to take every fourth glyph ? maybe it makes a word or sentence.

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  12. says

    Okay, here’s my two bits:
    in ST TNG, there was an episode where the entire crew was caught in a temporal loop. The number ‘3’ however became more and more important and visible. In the end it meant an action by the person who wore 3 pips on his collar: Will Riker.

    The green-green-green-red may be a hint to reality-hoppers, how many times it is safe to cross over, before it gets deadly (Observers excluded).
    I think we;re heading for a discovery that our beloved characters can only cross the line between realities three times, before they will die of the consequenses.

    Don’t forget: everything is a bit different in the AU, and your atoms wíll be scrambled with such a jump! If they get too messed up; you die.

    We’ve seen problems with the shape-shifters, they appear to ‘leak’ mercury when they are ‘over here’. So the inversed ‘red-green-green-green’ coúld mean for the AU characters that crossing over the first time (staying on our side too long) can be deadly, but if they go back and cross over agian, then every time it gets better for them. This theory gets confirmed by the fact that Walternate doesn’t have the technology to cross over, but Bell hád. (Remember Altlivia send?). She has to go back soon to the AU, if i’m right…

    I think it is a subconsious reminder (put there by the Observer) that in any way, 4 times is the limit, and then it’s over, no matter what.

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  13. WaySeeker says

    This may mean nothiing, but it has green adn red so I thought i would add it for posterity sake.

    I am reading a story collection from Philip K. Dick which includes the story for the basis for the “Screamers” movie (starring Robo-Cop/Buckaroo Banzai/Allister Peck) called “Second Variety” which has clever killer robots who end up looking and acting human in a war.
    Anyways …

    At one point one of the characters tells another the code to get into a Moon Base is by a series of colored flares: red, green, red-red.

    That is a mixed around “negative” of Fringes’s pattern. as in 3 reds and a green instead.

    Probably means nothing, but when I read it just now i had to remind myself what FRINGE’s pattern was.

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