Walter Bishop Ph.D. is a fictional character on the Fox television series Fringe. He is portrayed by John Noble.
Walter Bishop is a former government researcher into fringe science with a recorded I.Q. of 196. He was institutionalized after a lab accident which resulted in manslaughter charges. Having been locked up for 17 years in Saint Claire's, a mental institute, Walter often expresses wonder at modern technology, and seems to be disconnected from the world, sometimes leaving his son to decode his rantings for others. He often says things which seem so obvious that no one else wants to say (or thinks necessary) and tends to burst into song while working, as he believes it helps him think. He is also known to eat or drink while working on a body, no matter how disgusting everyone else thinks it is. He seems to derive joy from both these quirks. He is the archetypal mad scientist.
Born in Cambridge in 1946, Walter attended Harvard University as an undergraduate, conducted postgraduate study at Oxford University, and received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It was revealed on the episode "The Bishop Revival" that his father, Dr. Robert Bischoff (anglicized to Bishop in 1943), was a spy for the allies in Nazi Germany. In "The Arrival" we learn that Dr. Robert Bischoff died young for reasons yet unknown. From the 1970s until the late 1980s/early 90s, Walter operated from a basement laboratory situated under a building in Harvard University. He conducted experiments with his partner William Bell and several assistants. After an accident in 1991 which resulted in the death of at least one of these assistants, and amid accusations that he was using humans as guinea-pigs for his experiments, Walter was charged with manslaughter. He was deemed mentally unstable and admitted to a psychiatric institution. Only Walter's immediate family was permitted to visit him.
Walter would spend 17 years institutionalized before finally being released to his son Peter Bishop on behalf of Olivia Dunham, an FBI agent assigned to the "Fringe Division." The institutionalization, however, has left him socially lacking. Walter speaks in a disjointed fashion and often appears distracted. His moments of concentration are interrupted by lapses into silence and tangents into different thoughts. Being around Peter seems to stabilize him to a degree, as does being allowed to work in his old lab. One thing he is consistent about is his wish not to return to the institution where he was contained. During a temporary return visit to the institution, he appeared to see a duplicate version of himself. He also has connections to several cases which he either does not voice or is not entirely aware of.
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