Rick, Bobby, and I have been in a Fringe marathon the last month, rewatching the first three seasons and watching the fourth and fifth for the first time (well, mostly the first time--Rick cheated and watched the fourth season ahead of us and rewatched with us).
I love the characters of Fringe, the humanity, compassion, forgiveness they were able to show over and over, the opportunities to seek redemption that were offered, and the lack of judgment for the main characters.
Walter was flawed, broken, and responsible for almost all the events he and the Fringe team investigated. Each of the characters in some way was clearly a member of the walking wounded club, and yet they kept walking, kept trying, kept going. Think, if you will, of Xena Warrior Princess. She and Walter both had done tremendous harm, were responsible for so many deaths, and both needed a companion, or two or three, to help them make amends.
And both sacrificed themselves at the end to make final amends for the harm they caused.
Love, the love for others, conquered all, allowed them to be softened, humbled, and to willingly give all.
In the end, both Fringe and Xena came down to that message: that while we can't undo the damage we wreak, we can make amends, and that sacrifice for love is what makes life meaningful and worthwhile. Their messages, told through fantasy/science fiction, are incredibly similar to Christ's message, which is after all, a pretty good one to live by: love one another, forgive one another, be kind, be compassionate.
The shows had a really high death count to relate those messages, and it's certainly a convoluted way to get that message out there, but when I think back to Xena, a show I haven't watched in more than a decade, that is what I remember--redemption, love, empathy--and kick-ass leather outfits and cool swords. Fringe had its share of leather, too, though not as revealing. And the same message.
Hey, guess what? So did Battlestar Galactica: redemption, love, empathy.
How many of the shows, the books, the movies that live on in us, come to mind in unexpected moments, that changed us in some small but fundamental way have the same message? Most, I suspect. It is the hero journey that Joseph Campbell spent a lifetime talking and writing about, and it's one we all walk, albeit without the leather, the swords, or the spaceships.