This page covers tropes found in Babylon 5. Tropes beginning with letters I-P can be found at Tropes I-P and tropes beginning with letters Q-Z can be found at Tropes Q-Z. Subjective tropes go to the YMMV page.
Babylon 5 provides examples of:
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2-D Space: Averted. The human Star Furies have multiple thrusters and rotate across all three axes.
2 + Torture = 5: Sheridan is subjected to this sort of torture by President Clark's forces. A rare justified example, since they need him to believe his false confession is true, so it will stand up to telepathic scans. Failed when he used their argument of "truth is fluid" against them by saying his truth is still just as right to him as long as he believes it.
The first season episode Babylon Squared features a long-thought-lost space station re-emerging from a Negative Space Wedgie just long enough for the crew of Babylon 5 to effect an evacuation. As the station is about to disappear again, the remaining crew members (and the personnel from Babylon 5 who came to retrieve them) make a hasty retreat to cram onto the remaining shuttles.note Incidentally, the Going Down with the Ship trope is discussed and dismissed: Commander Sinclair is most definitely not that station's commander, and the officer who was in charge had every intention of leaving as soon as the personnel under his command had been evacuated.
The same episode includes a Flash Forward where Babylon 5, in flames, is being evacuated as the security personnel frantically attempt to hold off the unseen attackers to give the civilians time to escape. As a matter of fact, the visual of a lone shuttle escaping the station just before it explodes gets used for a long string of Prophecy Twists. That visual does finally come true. But not the way anyone expects.
Commented upon in the episode No Surrender, No Retreat, where one of the ships defending Proxima 3 is critically damaged after another ship collides with it and Sheridan comments "My god, the crew... get to the life pods... get to the life pods—" before the ship explodes.
A Voice In The Wilderness has the planet of Epsilon 3 in danger of blowing up, and taking the orbiting space station with it. Sinclair and Garibaldi agree that if they can't stop it, Garibaldi is to force Ivanova to evacuate on the last shuttle, even if he has to knock her out and throw her on the shuttle himself. This conversation is Harsher in Hindsight three years later when an unconscious and mortally wounded Ivanova has to be carried to an escape pod after her ship is crippled during the Earth Alliance Civil War.
In the battle seen in Severed Dreams, Major Ryan tells Captain Hiroshi to get to the lifepods due to the bad state the EAS Churchill was in. Hiroshi reports she can't do it due to the decrepit state the ship was in and instead, launches a Kamikaze attack on an opposing ship. Later on in the battle, Captain Sheridan radios the EAS Roanoke to surrender due to their damaged state and that B5 will take on prisoners and give safe passage, but it's too late as the ship blows up.
Numerous examples, starting with the very first season as several actors from the Pilot Movie were unavailable.
Also worked its way into the gag reels for "Severed Dreams". Robert Foxworth had appeared in two episodes of season 2 as General Hague. He was supposed to return for "Severed Dreams" but was double-booked for a two-parter on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. His Babylon 5 character was killed off-screen. His replacement character (played by Bruce McGill) is delivering a somber report of how "General Hague was killed in our last fire-fight," and how it was so sudden there wasn't anything anyone could do. In one take, McGill instead trails off, in the same depressing tone of voice, to "General Hague... is doing Deep Space Nine. It seems he was double-booked by his agent, there was nothing to be done. So you'll have to deal with me Sir."
Actor Existence Failure: When asked about sequels, Straczynski was known to say that he didn't see how it would be possible "so long as Andreas Katsulas, (G'Kar) and Richard Biggs (Dr. Franklin) remain dead." That said, he did The Lost Tales after their passing, and now with his Hollywood success, there seem to be very early feelers out about a real movie.
Abusive Precursors: The Shadows and the Vorlons. The two elder species has been in a cold war with each other for thousands if not millions of years, and had a bad habit of using the "younger races" as pawns against each other in the same manner that the US and the Soviets would often use third-world nations as pawns against each other.
Academia Is Bad: In the commentary for the last episode of the fourth season, JMS stated that, as an academic himself, he always hated the habit of deconstructing a historical character, thus perhaps the title "The Deconstruction of Fallen Stars". He also intended the holographic operator in the third segment to be a doctor.
Accidental Marriage: The "Religions Week" in "The Parliament of Dreams" featured an extremely confusing Minbari ceremony involving eating red fruit and some intense looks between Delenn and Sinclair. Although the people attending it were told that it was a "rebirth" ceremony, Catherine Sakai informs him that it could also have doubled as a wedding. He jokes that he didn't think that Londo and G'Kar were one another's type. Also, it was a rebirth ceremony, as Delenn goes into the Chrysalis at the end of the season, to be reborn as half-human.
Acquired Poison Immunity: When Sheridan is captured and interrogated by President Clark's forces, his interrogator shares a corned beef sandwich with him to gain his trust. Both halves of the sandwich were poisoned, but the interrogator had been eating small amounts every day for several years and had built up an immunity. Sheridan had not, and the poison made him very sick.
"This is a metaphor for something...but I'm not quite sure what."
Actually Pretty Funny: When talking with Londo, Emperor Cartagia notices the Court Jester had been miming his movements in an exaggerated fashion. At first everyone fears for the jester's life as one does not mock the Emperor. Then Cartagia laughs and joins in the fun. And everyone laughs with the Emperor. Not five minutes later after Londo left the room and came back, the Emperor had the jester killed.
Earlier, in season 3 , Marcus fought a desperate Hold the Line against Neroon, famed Minbari warrior. Marcus basically got beaten within an inch of his life but managed to convince Neroon with his The Determinator attitude not to challenge Delenn. Later, he meets a recuperating Marcus and admits his psychological defeat. Marcus barely gets out the words, "The next time you want a revelation, could you possibly find a method that isn't quite so uncomfortable?" And Neroon can't help but laugh out loud.
The Aesthetics of Technology: Played mostly straight with the Minbari, Centauri, Vorlons, and several League and Independent races, but subverted with the Narns. They deliberately try to invoke this trope with their fancy looking ships, but the only thing advanced about them are the weapons they pilfered from their former Centauri overlords/oppressors. Granted, they mount a lot of those pilfered weapons, making their G'Qan heavy cruisers a match for any ship in its class short of the Minbari.
Also justified in-story, as Narn buy technology from anyone they can and just slap a coat of paint in their team colors on it.
The Centauri, on the other hand, might count as an aversion of this trope, since their ships are rather ugly. (To humans, anyway. For all we know, the Centauri like them like that.)
The Centauri ships seem to be fancy more than anything else, but then, the Centauri love ostentatious things in general.
One of the league races (the Brakiri) copied the aesthetics of the most advanced races in their ship design (anyone with organic technology), but they're only marginally more advanced than the others in the setting.
As the designs become more powerful, the human ships get gradually sleeker and meaner looking, as shown by the warships in the order they are introduced, going from the somewhat ungainly looking Hyperion to the intimidating Omegas and the imposingly angular Warlocks.
The Interrogator from "Intersections in Real Time." Carried out the task of slowly mentally breaking Captain Sheridan over the course of days, with the demeanor of a kindly and mild mannered middle aged accountant. JMS was trying to make a point there, about the evil of the common man. He was meant to be like all those Nazi war criminals who said "I was just doing my job."
Lyndisty, Vir Cotto's one-time fiancée, is a prim and proper Stepford Smiler with absolutely zero regard for Narn life. She proudly mentions how she accompanied her military father on his eugenics programs, and personally knifing hundreds of Narns to death.
Alfred Bester. There are moments in the series when you ALMOST like him.
Affectionate Pickpocket: In "Legacies", Ivanova has a heartwarming conversation with a Street Urchin that ends with the two of them clasping hands in a gesture of mutual sympathy... and the street urchin takes the opportunity to steal the commlink off Ivanova's hand, just to keep in practice.
Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Human art and cultural artifacts were the only things the humans had to offer the Centauri after first contact. Fortunately the Centauri appreciate fine arts and are more than willing to reciprocate with higher technology.
Alien Blood: The alien kickboxing champion in "TKO" bleeds white.
Some species are mentioned as having "yellow" and "green" blood cells.
Minbari blood is red like human blood but is a lot thinner, from what we saw in Soul Hunter
Alien Lunch: Spoo, heavily processed meat from one of the ugliest herd animals in the known universe. Almost everyone likes it, but no-one can agree on how it should be served. Also, Swedish Meatballs: G'Kar explains that every sentient species in the galaxy has come up with them (the Narn call them breen) and concludes that this fact is a mystery that could drive you mad trying to figure it out.
Otherwise, it is shown that various alien races do not mind handing over advanced technology to help uplift younger races, with caveats. The Centauri refuse to sell advanced weapons to less advanced races (the Narn, who stole their weapons technology from the Centauri, have no such compulsion, and have gotten in some trouble for it on the show). Meanwhile, even the Centauri declined to offer the humans Artificial Gravity at first, eventually offering it (alongside the Minbari) to the humans as an incentive for the Earth Alliance to sign on with the new Interstellar Alliance.
Aliens Speaking English: English seems to be the lingua franca of Babylon 5, but many aliens (especially Centauri nobility) have noticeable accents when speaking it. They all have their own languages, but a Translation Convention applies most of the time (Word of God has verified this, at least for when you have two or more aliens of the same race talking to each other). One alien calls English "the human trade language", meaning that other languages, human and alien, are used.
In "A Voice in the Wilderness", a previously-unknown alien race requests "language files" from the station's computers in order to be able to speak to them in English.
Canon indicates that Spanish, French, and Arabic are also encountered on the station frequently enough to be noticeable but nowhere near as commonplace as English.
When Sheridan is forced to leave in the middle of a very long Minbari meal/ceremony, Lennier mutters something presumably unflattering about Sheridan under his breath. This was left untranslated, presumably because JMS thought it would be funnier if the audience didn't know what he said.
In another episode, Delenn and a Minbari captain are being held prisoner by unfriendly humans. When they speak to each other, it is in their native tongue (with subtitles), to avoid confusion.
When Ivanova tracks down one of the First Ones, she asks them to aid the younger races. When she mentions the Vorlon, the First One responds angrily "Vorlon tavutna chog!" When asked about it, JMS said the sentence could be loosely translated as "The Vorlon can kiss my ass."
Aliens Steal Cable: In "A Voice in the Wilderness", Varn learned English from monitoring human radio communications.
According to source material, the Brakiri race picked up Earth transmissions at some point in their history and began modelling their culture after what they saw. This presents itself on the show in subtle ways, such as the Brakiri Ambassador wearing clothing that resembles a human business suit. It's stated that there is one piece of Earth pop culture that got garbled in transmission and has been a great mystery to the Brakiri for years: Who shot J.R.?
All Myths Are True: Well, more like "All Religions Are True." Every alien religious belief portrayed on the show (with the exception of the Centauri's) is shown to be at least partially based in fact, even the one about a bicentennial festival where the dead come back to life for one night.
All There in the Manual: Several details, such as Ulkesh's name (in universe, he insists on being called Kosh, supposedly to maintain appearances after Kosh's death, but quite possibly just to dick with the lesser younger races on the station.
The ship designs have lots of little features that were explained on paper, but never used in the show itself. The Earth Alliance Omega Destroyers, for instance, featured Starfury launch bays in the rotating sections, energy mine launchers in the bow section below the hangar bay, and missile tubes along the sides of the hull (all of these details are visible on the models as seen in the show).
There's tons of this. The Official Guide to Babylon 5 fleshes out the minor aliens that make up the League of Non-Aligned Worlds. Such details as the name of the Drazi currency, the political structure of the Llort, and how the Abbai reproduce; it's all in there, though next to none of it was mentioned onscreen.
The Drakh might count too. But then, they're servants of the Shadows.
Always Lawful Good: Well, Always Lawful Something when talking about the Vorlons. They're on the opposite end of the Blue and Orange Morality scale from the Shadows and similarly believe their imposition of order is best for the younger races. Part of the plot in Season 4 is learning this conflict and resolving it.
Several years later, they established that there was another Command & Control on the station, which could presumably run things when the primary was offline for some reason.
In "Midnight on the Firing Line", it's mentioned that C&C regularly goes offline for maintenance; Sinclair generally is there at that time for the quiet. It comes up again in "Points of Departure" when Sheridan gives his good-luck speech at the end of the episode to an empty room. As Ivanova said at the time, "Of all the times he could have picked!"
The Vorlons spent quite a bit of time imprinting themselves as Gods/Angels and a fear of the Shadows in all of the "Younger Races".
Except maybe the Centauri. It's never completely clear whether Londo's failure to see Kosh in "The Fall of Night" is due to a lack of indoctrination in this regard, or if his association with the Shadows has caused this.
The fear of the Shadows is directly the fault of the Shadows themselves. They seem to find it useful, and every time that they awaken go out of their way to learn what they can use to frighten and mindscrew the younger races with.
And I Must Scream: Psi Cops do not take serial killers who target telepaths lightly. They will break every rule for their own version of justice, Mind Probe anyone who might be connected. And then they don't kill him because it would be too quick. They use this trope on the man:
Lyta Alexander: Somewhere on Beta Colony there is an institution. In one room of the institution there is a man who spends his days and nights screaming at things that only he can see. Things we planted in his mind. They have to keep him in a straitjacket 24 hours a day or he'll claw his own eyes out just to make it stop.
The intro to "In the beginning" qualifies as this.
And Starring: "with Andreas Katsulas as G'Kar and Peter Jurasik as Londo Mollari" (or vice versa, depending on the season).
And Then What?: Inverted in the episode "Signs and Portents". Mr Morden asks Narn Ambassador G'Kar "What do you want?" G'Kar replies that his closest-held wish is to see all the Centauri — the former oppressors of the Narn — exterminated, to which Morden then asks, "And Then What?" G'Kar is at a loss, and responds that "as long as my homeworld is safe, I don't see that it matters". ...And this is what causes Morden to pass him over.
Angel Unaware: Subverted with Kosh, who cryptically remarks that if he open his encounter suit, he will be recognized by "everyone". When he finally does remove the suit, Kosh takes the image of a "being of light", a divine being whose appearance changes according to the different races who behold him — all save Londo Mollari, who sees nothing.
Anti-Mutiny: Attempted by Boggs, along with a handful of other Nightwatch members who eluded Sheridan's roundup ("Ceremonies of Light and Dark").
Also attempted by Captain McDougan's second in command in No Surrender, No Retreat, complete with B5's version of a Click Hello. He is dragged to the ground and restrained by the rest of the bridge crew.
Anything But That!: Garibaldi ear-pulling an officer into helping him steal a mail package.
Garibaldi: What are you so nervous about? We went up against the entire Earth Alliance and two carrier groups.
Despite this thousand year tradition, the Minbari do have a tradition of dueling to the death. This contradiction is explained in one of the books by saying that if you agree to participate in denn'Sha, you take responsibility for your death upon yourself if you lose. This technically makes all deaths by dueling acts of suicide, which don't count.
Stellar Societal Disruption after the drubbing the humans suffered after the Earth-Minbari War. While there were plenty of humans who still feel the urge to project power, most of humanity learned to take alien relations much more cautiously: thus, the Babylon Project to help prevent a repeat.
Planetary Societal Disruption depicted in The Deconstruction of Falling Stars. As well as Stellar Physical Annihilation at the end of the same episode (but the inhabitants by this time have left the system).
An alien species falls victim to a Galactic Species Extinction thanks to a disease with 100% lethality. Franklin discovers a cure too late to save them.
And then there's the Vorlon and Shadow planet killers, respectively Planetary Physical Annihilation and Planetary Total Extinction.
Centauri Prime undergoes Planetary Societal Disruption twice, due to the Drakh. First one seen is in Season 3 but set nearly 20 years after the second incident in Season 5.
Arbitrary Skepticism: Particularly egregious in the first few seasons. When Delenn and Kosh warn the main characters about an ancient evil arising to threaten all intelligent life in the galaxy and how it was all foretold in the Minbari religion, they tend to be taken seriously. When G'Kar says literally the exact same thing, backed up by the fact that he personally flew to one of their worlds and saw them with his own eyes and the fact that this evil is described in detail along with illustrations in Narn religious texts that match up perfectly with the characters' own eyewitness experiences, he's typically laughed at or ignored.
Probably because it's, well, G'Kar. Up until this point, all he's done is scheme and undermine the peace. He's a known agitator - just because he happens to be telling the truth this time, presumably it doesn't mean his latest attempt to stir up trouble for the sake of his own agenda will be believed. Delenn is more trustworthy, and Kosh commands a lot of attention due to the whole mystique-of-the-Vorlons thing.
Delenn and Kosh told Sheridan to keep knowledge of the Shadows secret so they would have enough time to build up their opposition. They intentionally feigned ignorance or disinterest when G'Kar, the Markab ambassador, and Earth Force investigator David Endawi openly mentioned or inquired about them. When G'Kar was finally brought into the Conspiracy of Light, Delenn profusely apologized for not being able to support him at the time and prevent the Centauri devastation of the Narn homeworld.
In the fifth season episode "Day of the Dead", several deceased characters come Back from the Dead to converse with the living. Of these characters, Zoey doesn't believe in the afterlife, despite quite definitely remembering dying, and Dodger outright doesn't believe in ghosts or people coming back from the dead. She admits that she might be wrong, given that she herself is Back from the Dead, but prefers not to trouble herself with figuring out the implications.
Arc Number: 1000, the number of years since the last Shadow war (whose years is never mentioned)
5: The fifth Babylon station is five miles long, host to an advisory council headed by five governments, the setting for a story intended to last five seasons/years....
Arc Words: Used liberally in every arc and season.
Are We Getting This?: Invoked in "And Now For A Word", when ISN reporter Cynthia Torqueman captures rare footage of a Vorlon (Kosh).
"Who are you?" and "What do you want?" are asked by the Vorlons and the Shadows, respectively. Sheridan once asked Kosh, without knowing the signifigance, "What do you want?" and received an extremely agitated response. It's implied the Vorlons and the Shadows have missed the point since the questions are at their most armor-piercing when Sheridan turns it around and asks them of the Vorlons and the Shadows. Neither has an answer.
Lorien, being even older than the Vorlons and Shadows, asks two questions that are in a way deeper: "Why are you here?" and "Do you have anything worth living for?"
When the end of Sheridan's artificially extended life comes, Lorien asks, "Where are you going?" It puts the situation in something of a different context.
"Why am I alive?" probably rates this status too, even if it wasn't intended to be armor-piercing at the time.
Armor-Piercing Slap: Knowing that Talia won't scan a suspect's mind without his legal consent, Sheridan arranges for her and Morden to pass each other in a corridor. The result is...less than pleasant. Afterward Talia refuses to dignify Sheridan's half-baked apology with even a single word, instead whacking him in the face and leaving. (He admits he had that one coming.)
Arranged Marriage: The usual Centauri marriage is arranged for the advantage of the family, without reference to the preferences of the being-married. "The War Prayer" features a young Centauri pair who want to marry each other for love, as well as the first mention of Londo's three wives, all from arranged marriages, who he credits with his success as a diplomat (as in: the more successful his diplomatic career, the more excuse he has to spend long periods away from home). To help the young couple, he has them adopted into his second cousin's home for a "fosterage" (an old custom which the couples' families should not object to) and at the end of the fosterage they would likely be allowed to wed each other.
Vir Cotto's marriage to the beautiful, psychotic and murderous Lindisty was arranged by their families through Londo (Vir being a member of a minor cadet branch of House Mollari). That said when Vir's involvement in the Underground Railroad freeing Narns comes to Londo's attention the marriage is put on hold as Vir's standing is no longer what it was. Fridge Horror sets in as the series continues, Vir becomes more powerful again and so might still be made to wed her. And considering divorces are permitted only by the grace of the Emperor and Londo not being well-in-mind, he would be stuck with her for a long time. Fortunately, according to the Expanded Universe novels, Vir was still single when Londo died and Vir became Emperor, meaning that he would be able to release himself from this arrangement if Londo hadn't.
Artificial Gravity: Certain alien species such as the Minbari have this advanced technology. Not equipped on Earth ships, which instead rely on rotating parts to generate the force of gravity.
The Earth Alliance gains artificial gravity technology in return for endorsing the Interstellar Alliance at the end of the fourth season. We don't see any of the products of this until the TV movie A Call to Arms and the spinoff Crusade, however.
The Narn lack artificial gravity, and are shown to strap themselves in aboard their ships with five-point harnesses.
It was stated both in series and by Word of God that Artificial Gravity is a side-effect of the gravitic drives advanced races use, and the Minbari seem to be the only younger race that has gravitics on their fighters (along with Beam Spam weaponry that can cut an Earther heavy cruiser in half, making them quite the Lightning Bruiser). Of course, the Minbari were fighting interstellar wars when the humans thought the most advanced warship was the one you could fit a ''lot'' of archers on.
Centari cap ships appear to have artificial gravity, as seen by the shot of Londo standing on the deck of one as it bombs Narn back to the stone age
Artistic License: In the DVD audio-commentary for several episodes, JMS makes repeated mentions of what he terms "TV moments." These are events that he admits should not have happened, primarily when one of the command staff decides to go join the fighter squadron in combat in defiance of almost all accepted military doctrine and wisdom, but which he put into the show for dramatic or emotional purposes. He accepts that they might not make logical sense, but he does not apologize, as they made for a better show.
Awesome Moment of Crowning: (Retired) Capt. Sheridan has just been elected to the office of the President of an Interstellar Alliance. A general (who does not like / is not happy with Sheridan) goes in to confront him on the matter. Sheridan points out that he now outranks the general who used to be one of his bosses. Blends a minor CMOF with CMOH.
Sheridan: I apologize. I'm... sorry. I'm sorry we had to defend ourselves against an unwarranted attack. I'm sorry that your crew was stupid enough to fire on a station filled with a quarter million civilians, including your own people. And I'm sorry I waited as long as I did before I blew them all straight to hell! As with everything else, it's the thought that counts.
Badass Army: The Anla'Shok aka the Rangers. They're pretty damn awesome and badass, a mix between Ace Pilots and Jedi but they're so badass they don't need special powers. Of course, this was only later on when they were equipped with the White Star Fleet. Before that, they were more of a covert intellience gathering operation, and as the prequel movie In The Beginning reveals, a poorly funded one at that.
Later on, the Army of Light become this, with much of the League of Non-Aligned Worlds joining up with Babylon 5, The Remnant of the Narn Regime, and the Minbari under the banner of the Anla'Shok.
Delenn: Only one human captain has ever survived battle with a Minbari fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else.
Ivanova did one even better:
Ivanova: "Who am I? I am Susan Ivanova. Commander. Daughter of Andrei and Sophie Ivanov. I am the right hand of vengeance, and the boot that is going to kick your sorry ass all the way back to Earth, sweetheart! I am Death Incarnate, and the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me."
Ivanova: On your trip back, I'd like you to take the time to learn the Babylon 5 mantra: "Ivanova... is always right. I will listen to Ivanova. I will not ignore Ivanova's recommendations. Ivanova... is God. And, if this ever happens again, Ivanova will personally rip your lungs out!" Babylon Control out.
and from Season 1: when a reporter is bothering Sinclair, Ivanova steps in front of her and says "Don't. You're too young to experience that much pain." The reporter wisely does not test her on it.
G'Kar keeps up:
G'Kar: "No dictator, no invader, can hold an imprisoned population by the force of arms forever. There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power governments, and tyrants, and armies can not stand. The Centauri learned this lesson once. We will teach it to them again. Though it take a thousand years, we will be free."
G'Kar: [to an arms dealer] "The money to buy these weapons comes from the life savings of those Narn who were able to escape the Centauri occupation. It is a limited resource, purchased with blood. If it should be squandered or stolen... be assured that while your body might one day be found, it could never be identified from what's left."
Marcus explaining to a group of lowlifes why they should answer his questions:
Marcus: "Because if you don't, then in five minutes I'll be the only person at this table still standing. Five minutes after that, I'll be the only person in this room still standing. So, who's in?"
And Marcus is right, but leads to the unfortunate consequence of having no one awake to question. "Bugger! Now I have to wait for somebody to wake up!"
Ivanova to a Drazi ship that is making threats:
"Vakar Ashok, our gun arrays are now fixed on your ship. They will fire the instant you come into range. You will find their power most impressive…for a few seconds."
Surprisingly, the greatest of all badass boasts in the series comes from Vir of all people, in the season 2 episode "In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum":
Vir: "What do I want? I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I would look up into your lifeless eyes and wave like this." (mocking cutesy wave) "Can you and your associates arrange that for me, Mr. Morden?"
Further, it should be noted that everyone who answered Morden's question got what they wanted. Vir is the only one who got what he wanted without it being twisted into something horrible...for him at least.
"We are Rangers. We walk in the dark places no others will enter. We stand on the bridge, and no one may pass. We live for the One, we die for the One."
Badass Israeli / General Ripper: While not precisely a member of the IDF, Colonel Ari Ben-zayn from the first-season episode "Eyes" is a cold, paranoid EarthForce intelligence operative with a life story strongly reminiscent of the sort of ex-IDF troops who become Mossad agents. He also says he got the scar on his face serving in the front lines of many battles, including some place called New Jerusalem.
...who speaks with an English accent, making him also an Evil Brit.
Garibaldi calls him Ari Ben-Hitler at one point. Ben-zayn is being that unpleasant, and two, the only remotely Israeli thing about him is his name.
Badass Preacher: Aldous Gajic from the episode "Grail". The dude not only takes on a bunch of guys, wielding guns, by kicking the crap out of them with a giant stick, but also talks down a mind-raping alien monster right before he takes a bulletfor a guy he only just met. The guy is Bad Ass, to say the least. And he's played by David Warner.
Lennier starts as a lowly monk and ammanuensis to Delenn, then takes a level or two when he joins the Rangers in Season 5. His martial arts prowess, however, is shown in several earlier episodes (including rescuing Londo from a bar brawl that the Centauri had instigated).
G'Kar counts as well, being the senior representative of his religion on the station (whether this is due to age, social status, or an actual religious title is never explored although the Narns do have an elaborate social caste system). He is responsible for leading his fellow Narns on the station in worship. Later on he becomes one of his religion's most revered prophets. G'Kar is also quite capable of handling himself in a fight with anything from words to space fighters. On one occassion, he manages to bring an entire fleet of warships from mutually hostile alien races to help the heroes.
If G'Kar counts, then Delenn, the de facto leader of the Religious Caste of the Minbari Federation certainly does. She's already far more powerful than she lets on in the first season, but by the beginning of the fourth season, it's safe to say she is probably one of the single most powerful figures amongst the younger races, able to command large portions of Minbar's surprisingly fractious society through sheer unadulterated force of will, despite spending the second season as a parriah due to her decision to become a Half-Human Hybrid.
Bad Vibrations: In "Mind War", the first mindquake topples a cup of water a character has just poured.
Bald Women: Unlike Centauri males, whose hair fans are indicative of their social standing, women in their culture typically hold no status and symbolically shave their heads (save for the occasional ponytail).
Barbie Doll Anatomy: When Earthforce opens a gift shop on the station, Londo is outraged to discover that a "Londo Mollari" doll is being sold there. Not because they used his image without his permission, but because it isn't anatomically correct. He feels he's being symbolically cast— in a bad light.
Bastardly Speech: In his televised interview, Londo disputes G'Kar's claims that the Centauri are smuggling weapons through Babylon 5 to kill Narns. He goes on to dismiss allegations of Centauri's enslavement of Narn as malicious "propaganda", claiming that his people wanted to help modernize the Narn and raise their standard of living, and left the planet voluntarily when the Narn proved too attached to their savage ways ("And Now For A Word").
What happens when a horny idiot makes the mistake of approaching a drunk Ivanova and calling her "cute".
Or when Londo and Lennier go play poker but he gets caught cheating.
Or when a Starfury pilot accidentally backs into a Jerk Ass marine.
Or when an ISN report blares news of the Centauri Republic's occupation of the Narn homeworld... in a bar which is coincidentally packed with Centauri and Narns.
Or when Marcus Cole walks into one of the roughest bars on the station and announces that they're going to tell him what the Nightwatch did with the Minbari ambassador - or else.
Or when a freshly-drugged Sheridan realizes he’s fallen for Garibaldi’s trap to turn him in to EarthForce.
Bash Brothers: G'Kar is so impressed with Arthur's gallantry against a pack of lurkers, he immediately jumps down from a balcony to join the fight. The pair get drunk afterward, and Arthur promptly "knights" G'Kar with his sword.
Batman Gambit: Babylon 5 likes this trope, then again it is part political intrigue.
Sheridan sends a White Stars to do nonsensical/suicidal things to accomplish objectives that can only happen if others react the way he expects.
In the Shadow War he orders a suicide attack to plant intelligence to lure the Shadows to the site of the Final Battle. If the Shadows hadn't come the ship that was lost would be a Senseless Sacrifice.
He orders three White Stars to go to an asteroid field and attack it. He then plants the completely true story that nothing of note happened there on the Voice Of The Resistance. This makes the ambassadors to various factions paranoid that there is an invisible threat that only White Stars have sensors that are able to detect it. They then go to Sheridan and demand he assign patrol their borders to protect traders against Space Pirates. Sheridan had tried the more direct approach earlier in the episode but was refused, causing him to resort to a more complex method.
The plan to capture Nightwatch before they can take over the station: Nightwatch has basically taken over station security, when they get word of a bunch of Narns coming in to replace them. In response, Nightwatch musters every able hand in security to stop this...and then they get trapped in a PPG-proof cargo bay. Bonus points: Sheridan reveals that he's hired a bunch of Narns to cover the shortfall created by the detention of the disloyal security officers, making the intercepted report true—in a sort of self-fulfilling manner.
Mr. Bester's manipulation of Garibaldi.
Morden turning Londo against Refa in order to make him come to Morden for support.
Londo manipulating G'Kar to leave the station, supposedly so he can be legally arrested by Centauri forces. It was really part of a plot, with G'Kar's knowing assistance, of entrapping Lord Refa for a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown by a group of Narn resistance fighters.
Most ships are shown to at least be capable of carrying fighters, but only a few of the biggest ones are shown to carry them in large numbers. The name the humans use for this type of ship is Destroyernote in contrast to the 20th century ship of that name, which is a type of escort ship, a name which is adopted by the Interstellar Alliance for their new class of warships.
Bavarian Fire Drill: The rescue of Sheridan from Clark's goons involved Garibaldi donning his old Earth Force uniform and walking into the prison under the pretense of being sent (off the record, of course) to interrogate Sheridan.
Belief Makes You Stupid: Franklin, the poster boy for analytical logic, is beleaguered by alien cultures who hold dim views on medicine and/or interpret illness as divine judgment.
Later on in the show, Garbaldi accuses Franklin of this when the latter explains that he's aimlessly wandering the station to "find himself," a practice his particular religion borrowed from Australian Aborigines. Even Franklin does this to himself, when he finally does find himself in a Near Death Experience.
Beneath the Mask: Amusingly but painfully when Delenn shows she has trouble with washing hair and cramps and other ills that epic heroines are not supposed to have. Lennier shows it all the time; his shyness and lack of self-confidence makes his "honorable Minbari" mask seem to fit on clumsily in his day to day life and you get the feeling he is reciting formulas to convince himself. Except when he is doing something really Badass, of course.
Delenn's cramps were mentioned to demonstrate that, post-transformation, she has a human-compatible reproductive system, thus foreshadowing that she would have a child with Sheridan. On the other hand, there's a scene in the first season where Sinclair and Garibaldi are shown coming out of the mens' room: JMS put that in as a Take That to the various comedians who pointed out that nobody on TV dramas is ever seen using such facilities. They run this on in season 2 by using having a covert discussion take place in the mens' room.
Don't talk trash about Marsies around Micheal Garibaldi, especially if there is ongoing violence happening there and he doesn't know if a former lover of his is alive or dead.
Do not invade Lennier's personal space when he's worried sick about Delenn.
Do not pull a colored sash off one Drazi and put it on another.
Delenn will go into a royal rage at times. When she does you are wise to, well, be somewhere else.
If a leader of the Minbari is killed, their button will be pressed and stuck in this position until your entire species is gone—unless they stumble across a damn good reason they need to stop.
In Crusade, every suggesting that there is a God in the presence of Galen is bound to get you hit with a fireball.
Don't try to telepathically scan Susan Ivanova, and don't talk about her mother. Just... don't, okay?
Don't bring up Jeffrey Sinclair's fight in the Battle of the Line. Ever.
Don't fire on a civilian transport carrying thousands of wounded away from their government's own bombs. John Sheridan and Susan Ivanova will quite literally go to war with you.
Don't kidnap and torture John Sheridan. Susan Ivanova will finish what he started. With extreme prejudice. "God sent me," anyone?
Plus you'll have Delenn to deal with. And this is a girlfriend with a battaltion of deadly Minbari ships at her disposal.
Beta Couple: Subverted. It looked like Susan/Marcus were being set up as one to alpha Delenn/Sheridan but Marcus died and Ivanova left Babylon 5 in devastation while Delenn and Sheridan actually got a happy ending and (relatively) smooth sailing afterwards.
"What do I want? I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price. I would look up into your lifeless eyes and wave like this. Can you and your associates arrange that for me, Mr. Morden?"
"Do not touch me in that fashion. We may sometimes look like you, but we are not ... you! Never forget that."
He was the best of us... they struck without provocation, there was no reason... animals! Brutal! They deserve no mercy. Strike them down! Follow them back to their bases and kill them, all of them. All of them! No mercy!
BFG: The Nova-class warships of Earth Alliance are armed with 18 immense twin turrets (a defunct site measured them as 41 meters wide and 85 long). Then there are two structures identical to the Omegas' mine launchers...
Big Bad: The Shadows are, directly or indirectly, responsible for pretty much all of the major bad things that happen, even after they leave- though it should definitely be noted that their rivals the Vorlons are hardly saints either, just somewhat less proactive.
Once the Shadows leave the galaxy early in season 4, President Clark pretty much steps in to fill the position.
In the season three Wham Episode "Severed Dreams": "Only one human captain has survived battle against the Minbari fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, BE SOMEWHERE ELSE!"
Again in season four's "Endgame": Sheridan orders the crippled Agamemnon to ram the defence platform, the only hope of preventing it from firing its particle cannon at Earth. Then the Apollo comes out of jump and shoots down the platform, the Agamemnon emerging triumphantly from the fireball.
According to the backstory, Humans managed to ingratiate themselves with most of the other races by moving in to help them win the Dilgar War.
Kosh seems to serve as this for the first few seasons.
The Narns (and, specifically, G'Kar) attempted to mediate an ending to the Earth/Minbari War, but a Centauri attack ordered by Londo—who merely wanted to prevent what he thought was a Narn arms deal—put an end to this, and the war continued to go badly for Earth.
Sinclair during the first season as Reasonable Authority Figure and for the entire arc, with his time travel and transformation into Valen.
In the third season episode Ceremonies of Light and Dark, Delenn and a Red Shirt Minbari captain get kidnapped and tied up. Speaking to each other in Minbari, the captain mentions to Delenn that he thinks his ropes are loose. One of the kidnappers leans forward from nowhere and says "Then I guess I'd better tighten them." He explains a moment later that he learned their language during the war.
Another Minbari example: While Ivanova is out looking for First Ones with Lorien, she attempts to give an order to her Minbari crew, despite not being able to speak the language very well. In frustration, she says "Ah Hell," which in Minbari, apparently means "Continuous Fire."
Bio-Augmentation: Two characters get gills implanted in their necks, allowing them to breathe in atmospheres where their species normally can't.
Black Dude Dies First: Ray Galus in "A Distant Star" is one of those unfortunate not-thinking-things-through examples. Casting a black dude as a character in a position of authority is good. When it's a character who only appears to be killed off so a (white) recurring character can be promoted to that position... not so good.
Said recurring character (Keffer) was an executive pet. JMS wasn't really fond of the whole idea, so the character was killed off in the season finale.
Not to mention the regular human telepaths being required to join the Psi Corps, take mind-dulling drugs, or face imprisonment. Along with the social stigma caused by being potentially able to read others thoughts, whether they want to or not.
Blood Oath: Whenever a Narn "Shon-kar" is declared, the head of the family is honor-bound to see it through. Should that relative lose their life beforehand, the responsibility passes down to the next in line.
Na'Toth's family swore a blood oath against the war criminal Jha'dur.
Lyndisty, daughter of an infamous Centauri officer, is targeted for Shon-kar by a surviving relative ("Sic Transit Vir").
Blue and Orange Morality: An almost literal example in "The Geometry of Shadows". Every five years, the rulership of the Drazi is race is determined by every Drazi in the galaxy dividing up between two factions, called "Purple" and "Green", and fighting it out. "Purple" and "Green" are not representative of any ideology, nationality, ethnicity, or religion. They're just abstract colors. And no Drazi decides which side he wants to be on. They literally pick colored scarfs out of a barrel to determine affiliation. And they are genuinely flummoxed at Ivanova's inability to grasp the logic behind this system.
To make it even more bizarre, the leader of each faction is the one who pulls a sash with a little badge on it.
The First Ones. We are to them as ants are to us. They have no interest whatsoever in the affairs of the "young races" and will often destroy their ships simply because they hadn't noticed their presence.
Except for the Vorlons and Shadows, First Ones that take entirely too much interest in the young races
Bluff The Eavesdropper: Londo discovers a listening device in a bag of groceries from a Drazi grocer. He spends a few moments saying several insulting things about the Drazi ambassador's wife under the pretense of not knowing he was being recorded, before smashing the bug. The next time he encounters the Drazi ambassador, he brings up the bluff and gets a reaction, confirming his suspicions and adding onto the insult at the same time.
Boarding Pod: During the attack on the station in "Severed Dreams" President Clark's forces attempt to board the station with breaching pods. They show up in a couple other episodes as well.
Nelson Drake being taken over by an organic virus, eventually turning into a hulking monster (he got better).
Bester's ex-girlfriend, and the other telepaths abducted by the Shadows.
Anyone unfortunate enough to come under the sway of a Keeper.
For a short while before it was realized it was just flakes easily brushed off, Delenn's skin immediately post-chrysalis was... startling to the eyes.
Book Ends: In the first season, Garibaldi is shown reading the newspaper, and says disgustedly "lousy Dodgers." He does the same thing in the very last episode.
In the first pilot, G'Kar goes to Lyta and asks her for her body to try and produce telepathic Narns. The last episodes, she decides to take up this offer with a few more details added to the deal.
Boring but Practical: The seat of Earth's government is a domed concrete-like structure called EarthDome, a rather bland looking building no different than any other industrial building in this setting (and in stark contrast to its surroundings—Geneva, Switzerland). By contrast, the Minbari Grey Council convenes aboard a warship in an undisclosed location (the Religious Caste leadership meets in an immense crystalline temple on Minbar), while the Centauri have an elaborate royal palace in which to hold their intrigues. While their specific governmental buildings may or may not be shown, the Narn and Drazi also look like they put at least a little thought into their architecture. In the Flash Forward 100 years in the future in "Deconstruction of Falling Stars" EarthDome looks to have added a large steel and glass tower, so perhaps the Interstellar Alliance is influencing Earth's architectural aesthetics.
Bottle Episode: Often used, since it was set primarily on a space station.
Technically, Smith didn't winthe match was called as a draw, but this was against their champion. Smith gained a lot of respect and renewed credibility (and possibly a revived career in the alien fight circuit) and human fighters were allowed to compete in the Mutai from that point on. To complete the Shout-Out to the first Rocky film the crowd even chants his name after the bout...at the insistence of said champion!
Break-In Threat: An assassin leaves a black flower in Ambassador G'Kar's bed, as a warning that he has been targeted by the assassins' guild.
G'Kar: And you have no idea how that [black flower] got into my bed? Na'Toth: Ambassador, it is not my place to speculate on how anything gets into your bed. Your reputed fascination with Earth women, for instance...
Break the Haughty: Both Londo and G'Kar, in their own ways, and probably leading to their Odd Friendship. At the beginning of the series, both are arrogant, uppity ambassadors, and can be quite unlikable. Then, as calamity after calamity hits G'Kar and successaftersuccess hits Londo, both come to realize what is truly important. It's quite possibly the best-managed depiction of Character Development in TV science fiction, ever.
Vir, getting his wish (Morden's head on a pike) does exactly as he said he would several seasons earlier.
At the beginning of the series when Delenn first meets Lennier, she asks him to look her in the eyes and he says it is disrespectful to do so, but she replies "I cannot have an aide who will not look up". Late in the fourth season, a flashback to many years before when Delenn was first appointed as aide to the great Minbari leader Dukhat shows them having this same exact exchange.
Garibaldi reads the first draft of the holy book G'kar has authored, but accidentally sets his coffee cup on one of the pages, leaving a ring. The ring from the coffee cup is replicated in all subsequent copies of the Book of G'kar!
In "Midnight on the Firing Line", Garibaldi mentions to Ivanova that Sinclair likes to be in C&C during a part of the day where all its consoles are offline for maintenance, for the quiet (as no one else is in there at the time). In "Points of Departure", Sheridan gives his good-luck speech to an empty C&C, implying that he'd given the speech during this mainentance period. Ivanova even says, when she hears what's happened, "Of all the times he could have picked!"
The Accidental Marriage referred to above in Season 1; then in Season 5's "A View From the Gallery", we get this line after watching Londo and G'Kar arguing:
Bo: How long do you think they've been married?
The Bridge: C&C, or Command and Control, is the station's equivalent to this. The White Star is a more traditional example.
One big example of this is Delenn. In "The Gathering," her makeup is markedly different from how it looks in the first season, making her look rather androgynous. Word of God is that originally she was meant to be male, and that her transformation at the beginning of Season 2 would include turning her female. This was dropped when it was deemed too difficult to do (for one, they couldn't figure out a way to convincingly make Mira Furlan's voice sound masculine).
Bury Your Gays: In every way that matters, Talia Winters, who was dating (and eventually sharing quarters with) Susan Ivanova, was killed when her "sleeper" personality was activated. Ivanova later confesses to Delenn that she believes she loved Talia. It should be noted that the relationship was to be explored more thoroughly if the actress playing the former hadn't left the series.
Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage: The Psi Corps arranges marriages between powerful telepaths in order to facilitate the breeding of even more powerful telepaths. If the people involved try to refuse, the Corps is perfectly willing to arrange rapes instead.
Lyta as well, though Sinclair's example was more dramatic.
Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: Garibaldi goes on a mission to the Drazi homeworld, where he meets a human friend working as a bodyguard. He tells Garibaldi that rich aliens hire human bodyguards as a status symbol.
Caligula's Horse: The Shadow Council, made up of people who objected to his move to reach out to the Shadows. Whom he had beheaded.
Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": According to G'Kar, every sentient race has a dish that, regardless of its name (the Narn call theirs Breen), is just like Swedish meatballs. He says this after another Narn visiting him, who was eating Swedish meatballs, asked how he managed to get "breen" imported from the Narn homeworld, which is under Centauri occupation. According to the guidebook, even the Vorlons have it; theirs is called "elaa" and is itself sentient. This may be a notable Shout-Out to a similar joke in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
The Cavalry: Following an intense battle against Clark's forces in which the station was badly damaged and a friendly destroyer lost, Sheridan finally breathes a sigh of relief and asks for a status report — right before a fresh wave of reinforcements appear through the jumpgate. It seems like all is lost. Then four more jump points materialize around the station, followed by three Minbari warships and the White Star, all under the command of a really really angry Delenn.
Delenn: Only one human captain has ever survived battle with a Minbari fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else!
Camera Abuse: B5's numerous, independent "Securecams" floating around the hull. We see a few of them get trashed during a skirmish between Narn and Centauri ships ("And Now For a Word").
A few of the space battles later on even show us a Starfury pilot's eye view of his impending death due to incoming fire or mid-space collisions (Fall of Night and Into the Fire)
In The Illusion of Truth, Lennier is escorting a reporter and his camera team throughout the Station. While they're all in an elevator, one of the floating hover cameras keeps bopping him on the head, more than likely on purpose. When the elevator doors open, he gestures for the newsmen to precede him out the door. Then, while no one's looking, he headbutts the camera.
Camp Straight: The Centauri nobleman appointed as Regent after Londo and Vir assassinate the Emperor. To the point that his first act in office is to begin redesigning the Imperial Palace's decor...in pastels. The Regent hints at one point that his foppish manner is an act he affected to make him seem less of a threat to the rest of the Imperial Court. Becomes Harsher in Hindsight when we see him get a Keeper and then learn the full extent of what it is; his old sillyness only drives home how broken the man's become.
The Minbari, who are turned crazy by alcohol. A bit of an Informed Ability, as it's never actually shown in the show.
Vir's intolerance for alcohol is a Running Gag in the series. In one episode he swallows Londo's drink and passes out. Londo, who is a borderline alcoholic (especially in the first season), is constantly disgusted by it.
The only way for Londo to temporarily shake free of his Drakh Keeper is to get drunk; it passes out before he does, so he can have a little time not under its terrifying control.
Can't Stop the Signal: During the end of the Shadow War with Lorien broadcasting Delenn's conversation with the Shadows and Sheridan's conversation with the Vorlons when both are giving Join or Die speeches, Sheridan and Delenn give them each a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, everyone in the coalition fighting both sides now know the truth of why the Shadows and Vorlons are at war. And if they live or run, they will tell others and so on, meaning the masquerade and authority of the Shadows and Vorlons is broken.
Captain's Log: Used occasionally, with not only the Captain's Log, but also Commander Ivanova and Dr. Franklin's personal logs.
The Cassandra: G'Kar was specifically described as such by Word of God back when the show was on. Subverted in that others (notably the Minbari and Vorlons) knew of the coming threat, but had to conceal that knowledge because they were not prepared to face the shadows yet
Cat Scare: During Lyta's hunt for the Manchurian Agent aboard B5, Lyta takes turns scanning the minds of the entire crew. When Garibaldi's turn comes up, he doubles over and grips his head in pain... then grins at everyone's stunned reactions. Very funny, Garibaldi.
While investigating Grey Sector, Sheridan's comm signal starts breaking up ("Knives").
In one episode a character loses his communicator. He finds another person's communicator, but can't use it to call for help, because the communicator will only work for its owner.
Another episode has a character trying to call security on someone else's comm link, it won't let him make the call. But it does ping Security to report the stolen comm, resulting in pretty much exactly what the character was trying to accomplish.
Centrifugal Gravity: The Earth Alliance relies on spinning for gravity on B5 and their capital ships.
The Chains of Commanding: Turhan never chose to be Emperor; he was born into the role. When he ascended the throne, the Centauri Republic was embroiled in a brutal occupation of Narn. By virtue of his position, Turhan caught heat for atrocities that were already set in motion by his family (so much so that G'Kar even tries to assassinate him). Near the end of his life, Turhan confides the irony that despite his vast power, he never really had a "choice" in much of anything. Londo gets a taste of this for himself once he allies with Morden.
Londo: Five years ago I had no power, but all the choices I could wish. Now I have all the power, but no choice.
Chair Reveal: Captain Sheridan is introduced via a meta-Chair Reveal; it's not a reveal for any character in the scene, only for the audience.
Challenging the Chief: G'kar faces several attempts to depose him as the series goes on, all by his own people.
Neither Dr Stephen Franklin nor G'Kar were ever put on a bus before their actors Richard Biggs and Andreas Katsulas passed away, but in The Lost Tales, the late actors' characters are stated to have gone exploring "beyond the rim," the in-universe euphemism for ascending to a higher plane of existence.
In the case of G'Kar, the character's death was actually seen on-screen before the actor died. Londo shakes off his Drakh controller long enough to ask G'Kar to kill him to save him and the Centauri from having a mind-controlled Emperor any longer, but as G'Kar tries to oblige the symbiont wakes up and fights back, resulting in G'Kar and Londo killing each other. This was set years after the five-year plot, though, which ended with G'Kar and Lyta going adventuring in unknown parts, so he really could have been "beyond the rim."
Doctor Franklin, meanwhile, appears in the series Distant Finale, "Sleeping In Light", so he lives at least as long as Sheridan does - 20 years after Sheridan's trip to Z'Ha'Dum.
Michael O'Hare, who played Commander, then Ambassador Sinclair, finally going into the distant past to become Valen, outlived his character by 653 years before dying of a heart attack in September, 2012.
Chekhov's Gunman: The cruiser G'Tok, which in the Season 2 finale plays the passive role of a damaged ship seeking shelter at B5 to lick their wounds, comes back in a Season 3 episode to return the favor to the heroes in a Gunship Rescue.
The Chessmaster: A lot of the characters go in for this, but the prize goes to the Vorlons and Shadows who have been playing chess for millions of years, at an infinite level above even Gary Kasporov with us as the pawns.
Chewing the Scenery: While Londo Mollari is clearly supposed to be a Large Ham, in the first season there is also a lot of bad ACTING!!! by the principals, possibly as a result of trying to overcome the limiting effect of their facial applications. They get more subtle as time goes on.
G'Kar is another big offender. He emphasizes every word so much that when actual emphasis is called for, he looks like he's having a small stroke. Again, his performance becomes far more nuanced with time.
Bruce Boxleitner said in one of the cast commentaries that it didn't matter what anyone else did in a scene if they were sharing it with Stephen Furst (Vir), since he was the only one the audience would be paying attention to.
The Mad Bomber in the episode Convictions turns in a performance that would make Nicholas Cage at his most hammy proud, yelling so much it's a wonder Sheridan wasn't covered in spit. He comes dangerously close to Narm territory. Whether he crosses the line is up for debate.
Child Marriage Veto: "The War Prayer" has this with a couple of Centauri, each arranged to marry someone else, but wanting to marry each other.
The Chosen One: Masterfully executed, even though the character they were setting up for that role got Absentee Actor'ed. This was retconned into him being one of three The Ones.
Chronic Hero Syndrome: "King Arthur". He chivalrously beats up a lurker for robbing a destitute old lady in Downbelow. Ties in nicely with him also being The Atoner.
Church Militant: In the third season the Minbari religious caste seems far more warlike then the warrior caste.
Emperor Cartagia tortured G'Kar to the brink of death several times, not for punishment, not to gain information, but simply as an amusing diversion.
Boggs's accomplice is a shell-shocked veteran of the Earth-Minbari War. Described by Garibaldi as a "real psycho", he used to enjoy ordering Minbari POWs to dig their own graves. He also claims to have once taken seven days to kill a Minbari, by systematically amputating his extremities and limbs.
Cold Sleep, Cold Future: Invoked with the surviving cryogenically-preserved crewmember of the Copernicus, a cold-sleep ship that was not recalled by Earth after hyperspace jumpgates were introduced by the Centauri:
G'Kar (to the survivor): "Go back. The future isn't what it used to be."
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The six branches of B5. Blue Sector consists of the station's entryways and command hub. Red comprises the commercial district, Green is the diplomatic area, Brown is the industrial sector, Gray the maintenance bay, and Yellow contains the station's fusion core.
The two types of Starfuries seen, the Aurora (space only, canopy like the nose of a WWII bomber) and the Thunderbolt (folding wings for atmosphere flying, two-seat jet-fighter style canopy), can be easily told apart in wide angle shots by their engines: Blue for the Aurora, Red for the Thunderbolt.
Comm Links: Earth Alliance's Hand links. Attached to the back of the users' hand via a molecular bonding material individually encoded to each user.note Though Garibaldi says he tapes his to his hand, ever since the hair on the back of his hand stopped growing back. Sounds awesome, but it can be hazardous if you're ever in danger and try calling security with someone else's commlink; of course, if you don't need to get a message through, it still gets them to your location.
Communications Officer: On the station itself, this job would typically fall to Lieutenant Corwin (in the first season, it alternated between him and an un-named Bridge Bunny.) If Sheridan or Sinclair was in Command and Control, this job would instead go to Commander Ivanova. When traveling out and about aboard one ship or another, this job would fall to whichever character was serving as The Lancer for that mission (Lennier or Marcus, usually).
Completely Missing the Point: When Vir is caught falsely registering thousands of Narn as dead, Londo heartily congratulates him on such a high body count. That is, until Vir confesses he merely smuggled the Narns out of Centauri space. Londo's warm smile is immediately replaced by a furrowed brow. They're alive? That's quite a different matter entirely!
Completely Unnecessary Translator: Correlimurzon brings along his servitor, Taq, to speak for him until he cam decide whether humans are worthy of his esteemed presence. Talking directly with a "lesser species" constitutes a loss of face in his culture.
Compressed Vice: The Minbari's extreme beliefs about honor in "There All the Honor Lies", which are never mentioned in any other episode and don't jibe with the way most Minbari characters actually behave. (That said, the bit about lying to protect another's honor originally came up in the previous season.)
Constellations: The Centauri seem to have been named after the Centaurus constellation (whose genitive term is "Centauri", as in "Alpha Centauri"). The origin of this name is unclear, but most plausibly it might have been the name humans gave them upon first contact.
Continuity Nod: The newspaper Garibaldi is seen reading in "And the Sky Full of Stars" has headlines relating to several events in recent episodes (as well as a sidebar foreshadowing a major development later in the series).
At the end of "The Long Night", Sheridan recites a poem by Tennyson, which some unknown partynote presumably Commander Sinclair, who was a big fan of Tennyson, unbeknownst to Sheridan but something the audience would be fully aware of had left a copy of on his desk before he first arrived to the station.
In the second season episode A Distant Star, Garibaldi is doing everything in his power to smuggle in the ingredients for Bagna Cauda for a birthday tradition in defiance of Doctor Franklin's instructions on his new diet. In the third season episode A Late Delivery From Avalon, Garibaldi is once again trying to get a hold of the ingredients, this time having to deal with a trade embargo with Earth and an obstructivepostal clerk.
In the second season episode Confessions and Lamentations, the entire Markab race is wiped out by a fatal disease. Two episodes later, in the council chamber there is a delegate's chair labeled "Markab" that is conspicuously empty.
It could be said that Sinclair becomes a Cool Old Guy in "War Without End", after experiencing a number of age-altering effects from the time jumps that turn him grey and wrinkly in a matter of minutes, but still leave him with the ability to take Babylon 4 back to the distant past to kick some Shadow ass as Valen.
Cosmic Plaything: Londo Mollari claims that he is this on a couple occasions. In one episode in the fifth season, he comments that he would have thought that the universe would say "Well, we've had our little fun with Londo Mollari" and moved on to torturing someone else by now. Of course, he tends to ignore the fact that many of the bad things that occur to him are the direct result of his own decisions, and a lot of things he complains about affect more people that just him.
Harlan Ellison, who is credited as a "conceptual consultant" on every episode and four of the movies, appears briefly as the Psi Cop who brainwashes Garibaldi in the episode "The Face of the Enemy". He also provides the voices for "Sparky" the computer and Zooty's talking machine.
Before JMS knew he'd be putting himself in the Finale, he was quoted as saying, "I don't make cameos, my initials do." (Jeffrey Sinclair and John Sheridan both had the same initials as Joe Straczynski.)
In addition to that, the first initials of each of the main characters are each of Joe's initials: John, Michael, Susan/Stephen.
Crucified Hero Shot: A mortally-wounded Brother Edward is strung up in this fashion somewhere in Downbelow.
Sheridan, when The Inquisitor gets his hands on him. "This is Hell, Captain, and you are its chief damned soul"
Cruelto Be Kind: Season 4 Episode 19 "Between the Darkness and the Light" Lyta puts Garibaldi through a deep scan, at Garibaldi's insistence, breaking the blocks Bester put in his mind. This chances destroying Garibaldi's mind or killing him. The alternative is that The Mars' Resistance would execute him for betraying Sheridan; naturally, Garibaldi considers it worth the risk.
Curb-Stomp Battle: The Earth/Minbari War. The Minbari absolutely trounced the Humans at every battle. Earth won exactly one battle, and that was done by seeding the Asteroid Belt with nukes. And then...the Minbari surrendered on Earth's doorstep.
"The Long Twilight Struggle" features a Narn fleet getting slaughtered by a group of Shadow warships. It is some consolation that one of the Shadow warships ends up getting caught in the crossfire of two Narn cruisers and is crippled to the point that another ship has to latch on to take it away.note This is the first time we see that the Shadows are vulnerable at all, in fact.
Alluded to by Commander Sinclair when talking about his experience at the Battle of the Line, mentioning that he managed to shoot down a single enemy fighter, while his entire squadron was wiped out in the same engagement.
Londo: Yes, and you can kiss my plump Centauri — ah! Gentlemen, this is what I've been waiting for!
All things considered, Sheridan takes the news of Earthforce charging him rent for using his quarters pretty well.
Sheridan: "They can take a flying f—!!"
Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Ivanova really dislikes telepaths. If there's any doubt on that subject, when Harriman Grey tries convincing her to go along with a mental scan, she threatens to "twist [his] head off and use it as a chamber pot."
Actually, Ivanova has nothing at all against telepaths per se, notably since her mother was one and she's a latent telepath herself. It's the Psi Corps she's got a big ol' hate boner for. It just so happens that most human telepaths are with the Corps.
Cute Kids And Robots: Subverted several times, just to hammer home the fact that J. Michael Straczynskidespised this trope. The trope name, in fact, comes from JMS's early GEnie posts about the B5 project. Also a subject of some annoyance for Straczynski, as he'd said the show would never have cute kids or robots as regulars, a la WesleyCrusher. Any time there were kids on the show at all, someone would inevitably throw this back at him. Never mind the fact that half the time, the kids died.
Cyanide Pill: In "Points of Departure", a die-hard Minbari has one of the hollow-tooth variety, which he intends to use to arrange his own death apparently at human hands and thus spark a new Earth-Minbari war.
Cyborg / Psycho Electro: Abel Horn was posthumously recruited into the "Lazarus Project", leaving him little more than a reanimated corpse with no mind of it's own, as well as grafting a electric robot hand onto him (as seen in a Robotic Reveal).
Dangerous Workplace: Between the occasional crazy person who comes into the station, government conspiracies, and the raiding parties, the station is not the safest place to live.
G'Kar's father worked as an indentured servant for a Centauri household during the Narn occupation. His mistress ordered him to be hung from a rope after he mistakenly spilled a hot beverage on her.
Aldous Gajic was originally an accountant for a major Earth corporation. At some point, he and his family took a vacation on Mars; While they were driving across the Amazonis Planitia, the ground gave way beneath them. Aldous awoke in the hospital to find that his wife and daughters had perished in the accident. He eventually returned to work, only to find that his job held no meaning for him anymore. It was then that Aldous encountered a staff-bearing monk who claimed to be the last of his kind—a seeker of the Holy Grail. When he lay dying, he passed his staff along to Aldous, who set off into space to find the Grail himself.
William Cole, the estranged brother of Marcus Cole, was recruited by Sinclair to join the Rangers in 2259. In April of that year, he returned to the mining colony where Marcus lived and tried to convince him to join, but Marcus did not believe his stories about the Shadows and was suspicious of what he saw as a Minbari cult. William later sent a warning about an imminent Shadow attack on the colony. Marcus was not on the colony at the time, and returned just in time to see his brother die. Blaming himself for the death of his brother, Marcus joined the Rangers to finish the work he had started.
Anna Sheridan was a researcher working for Interplanetary Expeditions. She signed on with an exploration mission to a newly discovered world out on the Galactic Rim. A mysterious accident destroyed the ship, killing the entire crew. Dealing with her death and learning to move on with his life is a major character arc for John Sheridan. Anna Sheridan did not die on Z'Ha'Dum. It may have been better for her if she had.
When Sheridan goes to Z'ha'dum, his only way out from being captured and controlled by the Shadows is to jump hundreds of feet down into a deep pit (or stay in the city and get vaporized by the nuke-loaded ship he called down on it per his mission plan). He jumped, and literally died, but was revived by Lorien.
And when Emperor Londo, in the flash-forward shown in "War Without End" (and detailed further in the Expanded Universe Centauri Trilogy), aids Sheridan's escape, he must "submit to his greatest fear" and have G'Kar strangle him before his Keeper awoke and forced him to stop the escape, and likely killed him anyway afterwards for going against its (or rather, the Drakh Shiv'kala's) wishes. (The Keeper did awake, and he and G'Kar ended up mutually strangling each other).
In the episode "The Quality of Mercy" a serial killer is sentenced to Death of Personality, because he's considered too dangerous to ship back to Earth and military law only allows spacing in cases of mutiny and treason.
The punishment is deconstructed in the episode "Passing Through Gethsemane" when one of an order of monks living on the station is horrified to find out he's actually a convicted serial killer who was mind wiped and reprogrammed with a personality inclined to do service. When his detention center had a fire he got lost, and eventually found his way to the monks.
Death Seeker: At 400+ years old, Sebastian has continually been put into stasis by the Vorlons, being revived only periodically to serve as their Inquisitor. During his departure from the station, he expresses the hope that the Vorlons will finally let him perish.
Londo Mollari. From the first season we know that Centauri have prophetic dreams about their own deaths, that they know where and when they are going to die. In Londo's case his dream has him as an old man, twenty years from now (2258) with his hands at G'Kar's throat and vice-versa. He is very fatalistic about it. He indeed dies in 2278, although the context is somewhat different than he'd originally expected. (see "Prophecy Twist")
There's another person in the series who fits in the trope even better: Sheridan after dying in Z'ha'dum gains limited amount of life-force from Lorien, and from then on knows exactly how long he is going to live.
Sheridan was born lucky. In "Messages From Earth", he plunges the White Star deep into Jupiter as a Shadow ship — having gone berserk as a result of the human serving as its CPU — gives chase. The White Star bolts out of the atmosphere at just the right moment whilst the insane Shadow ship is unable to do so. The ship is pulled further into Jupiter's atmosphere where it is eventually destroyed.
This is Sheridan's preferred battle tactic. On the White Star's Maiden Voyage, he encounters and is pursued by a Shadow Battle Crab. Even though the White Star has jump engines, he pretends that they don't, since ships as small as the White Star usually have to rely on Jump Gates. This allows him to set up the conditions for his defeat of the Shadow vessel.
Deliberate Values Dissonance: "The Corps Is Mother, the Corps Is Father" is made of this. Even the seemingly sweet and perky Naïve Newcomer has been conditioned to think nothing of tossing a sedated and helpless "mundane" out of an airlock and into hyperspace as punishment for killing a member of the Corps.
Designated Victim: According to Word of God: Spoo. A mealworm-like herd animal whose primary activity is sighing, a sound which causes severe depression amongst other races. Their only redeeming quality is that they are delicious, and they are considered a delicacy amongst most civilized races.
"Spoo are the only creatures of which the Interstellar Animal Rights Protection League says, simply, 'Kill 'em.'"
Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: The Vindrizi were created be living recorders, passing their knowledge on to future civilizations in the event that all records are lost and the universe descends into a new dark age. The lurkers on B5 willingly subject themselves to bonding with these aliens, believing that they have finally found a purpose.
Both Delenn and Garibaldi say this of Sinclair during the first season. Eventually, he discovers his purpose: to go back in time and become the Minbari prophet Valen.
Deus Ex Nukina: "Z'ha'dum." Sheridan placed a couple tactical nukes on the White Star when he went with his wife Anna to the eponymous planet. The episode ends with him sending the ship crashing down into the middle of the planet's capitol city.
Devil but No God: There is cosmic evil but no cosmic good unless you count Lorien. The Vorlons, at first seem to be cosmic good but reveal that they are almost as bad as the Shadows and arguably more distasteful for pretending to be good. By contrast J. R. R. Tolkien has cosmic good that is prevented from interfering directly by the nature of the setting.
During the Earth-Minbari War, the Minbari were previously held as one of the strongest forces in the galaxy. Their ships were unmatched in terms of power and speed among the Younger Races. Most every other space faring race would have surrendered against the insurmountable odds of defeating them. Humans wouldn't. Humans would rather invoke Do Not Go Gentle than lay down in fear when their husbands, wives, children, and friends were on the line. The fact humans would even ram their damaged ship into a Minbari to take them with them or mine an asteroid field if a Minbari ship came back to finish off the damaged vessel were tactics not considered either.
The clincher in the above mentioned War was Jeffery Sinclair and other humans having Minbari souls within them, and Sinclair himself has the same soul as Valen.
Bester is a schemer and long planner. He knew there is some anti-telepath groups plotting serious trouble for his telepaths. However, when Garibaldi, who he made into his Manchurian Agent to fetter out the conspiracy, revealed William Edgars planned to introduce a virus that would kill telepaths and only telepaths unless they received a biweekly injection thus making them a slave race, even Bester was shocked at how far this one group went.
In "The Coming of Shadows" G'Kar's hatred and desire for revenge against Emperor Turhan for the crimes of his familywas halted by a personal message from the Emperor, delivered by Dr. Franklin. The Emperor wanted to apologize publicly for all the crimes his people committed. When G'Kar is next seen running into Londo he orders a drink for both of them and drinks to the good health of the Emperor. Needless to say, Londo didn't see this coming either.
Garibaldi's body is suffering due to the after effects of being shot In the Back by The Mole in an earlier season. Meanwhile, Captain Sheridan is ordered to eat what he considers "Rabbit Food" because he has gained ten pounds since his previous exam. Commander Ivanova is ordered to eat more because she is suffering nutrition deficiencies because she doesn't eat enough healthy food.
"The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" is a Distant (Season) Finale, filmed to replace "Sleeping in Light" (which, as evidenced by its credits, was filmed during the fourth season) when the show was Un-Canceled.
Ditto Aliens: Sheridan, when attempting to describe a Minbari witness: "Bald, with a bone on his head".
In his defense, he only saw the Minbari for a couple seconds, and was standing several feet above him.
Documentary Episode: "And Now for a Word" details an ISN crew's time on the station as things escalate in the Narn-Centauri War.
Lampshaded by Marcus when he's describing it to G'kar after saving G'kar from a Bad Guy Bar full of people ready to turn him over to the Centauri:
"It's a Minbari fighting pike. It's hundreds of years old. You're just jealous because you don't have one. A case of pikal envy if you ask me..."
One of the characters is harboring a Dark Secret. One that she has kept even from her closest friends, and she believes they'll never forgive her when they find out. She's a Latent Telepath. The same episode also subtly reveals that she's bisexual, but that never gets addressed as an issue of concern for anyone.
P.F.C. "Dodger" comes to Garibaldi looking for a one-night stand, and becomes annoyed when he mistakes her intentions as something more. After admitting that her next deployment may very well be a suicide mission, she rebuffs Garibaldi's attempts to console her and leaves.
Delenn's captor, having grown accustomed to the screams of tortured Minbari, is unamused when Delenn instead describes in minute detail what a pitiful, sad loony he is ("Ceremonies of Light and Dark").
The Babylon Project was our last, best hope for peace. It failed.
Downer Ending: Several episodes in the show have one. In Season 2 there are four such episodes in a row: Knives, Confessions and Lamentations, Divided Loyalties and The Long, Twilight Struggle.
Also of note, the first season had a Downer Ending (indeed, They completley fail to stop, or even largely to even detectThe Conspiracy before they were able to achieve their goals.) The second and third seasons are Bitter Sweet Endings at best.
This is mainly because JMS feels even if the show ends, the story continues, so there are no real final endings, only the end of a part.
Dream Sequence: Very effectively used in "Interludes and Examinations" and "The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari"
Dreaming of Things to Come: According to Londo, all Centauri have a gift for predicting the manner of their own death. In the first episode, Londo predicts that he and G'Kar will end up strangling each other. Once Londo falls in league with Morden, the dream becomes more frequent; what's more, Londo now dreams of other things — such as his coronation as Emperor, and Shadow vessels flying over Centauri Prime. Following this, he becomes riddled with anxiety, purposely shunning opportunities to win prestige from the royal court.
Less metaphorically and more literally, the Sergeant Major in "Gropos". Slightly subverted near the end, when Dodger runs back to kiss Garibaldi; instead of hauling her off him and dressing her down viciously, the Sergeant Major just orders her back into line and gives him a knowing smile.
Sheridan:The Universe doesn't give you any points for doing things that are easy.
Captain Michael Jankowski, the man who started the Earth-Minbari War by ordering his ship to fire on the Minbari cruiser Valen'Tha, eventually blew his own head off in guilt. His corpse was found in his room with looped recordings playing of the destruction of Earth fleets and colonies and a suicide note simply stating "On my head".
Driving Question: Season 1 only: What happened to Sinclair during the Battle Of The Line?
Who are you?
What do you want?
Drinking On Duty: In Season 5, Garibaldi's drinking problem prevents him from informing Sheridan (or handling it properly) of Centauri ship movements before open warfare breaks out. A few episodes later, Sheridan discovers that Garibaldi is drunk on duty, and suspends him after a short discussion.
Duel to the Death: The "Marago", a jousting match between two honor-minded Centurai. In a last-ditch effort to save his family name, Urza challenges his former friend Londo, knowing he will not face the dishonor of refusing. Despite maintaining the upper hand, Urza allows Londo to run him through. As per Centauri custom, Urza's sacrifice results in his family being merged with House Mollari, sparing them a life of poverty and disgrace.
Den'Sha, the corresponding Minbari tradition. Traditionally the only way Minbari can kill other Minbari, as the death is ruled a suicide. Marcus Cole manages to invoke one on a Minbari and live.
The writer of that episode, of course, was Peter David, who was also a prolific writer for the Star TrekExpanded Universe, and who wasn't afraid to take a good-natured dig at B5note Or at least, take a dig at JMS while writing for Space Cases.
David was surprised, however, when JMS said that he intended on keeping the line in there as is. His exact words were "You people really are dangerous over there."
Lennier also manages to take a minor stab against Scotty, when Sheridan asks for more power to the engines: "If I were holding anything back, I would tell you." (When Scotty came back for an episode of TNG, he revealed that he would often hold back reserve power behind the captain's back, so he could turn the ship Up to Eleven when Kirk inevitably asked for more.)
In "Babylon Squared" Garibaldi insists upon accompanying Sheridan and company to the time distortion; Sheridan refuses, saying it is unwise to have the entire command staff away from the station at such a critical moment, an obvious dig at the Star Trek franchise's tendency to have the most or all of senior staff away from the ship on an away mission.
Majel Barret guest starred in the third season as Lady Morella, the third wife to the late Centauri Emperor, as a means to quell the fan-anger between the shows.
Of course, the shows shared quite a few writers and guest actors between them, with one or two of the B5 cast appearing in guest roles on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine after B5's conclusion.
There are even similarities and parallels between the shows in theme and naming: the Roman Empire based Centauri and the Romulans, the deeply introspective and ascetic Minbari/Vulcans, the previously conquered and recently freed Narns / Bajorans & Klingons (the Narn are an interesting mix of Klingon warrior cult and Bajoran religious fanatics), the meddling and nearly omniscient Vorlons / Q, and the assimilating tyrannical inhuman Shadows / Borg. Of course, the most blatant parallel is the Minbari Leader Dukhat and the Cardassian leader Dukat.
That said, while both shows share many elements, the way they use those elements are quite different, and take both shows in very different directions. The best example of that being the Dukhat-Dukat naming parallel, where the two characters share next to nothing else in common.
Dying Race: Several: the Narn, Centauri, and many of the 'First Races'. Explicitly stated by Kosh in an early episode, regarding the first two, and when asked if he means the Narn or the Centauri, Kosh gives the Mathematician's Answer ("yes").
Word of God is that the Humans and Minbari managed to evolve to First One status, while the Narn and Centauri didn't. It's implied in the show that getting to a First One level of advancement is as much due to enlightenment as evolution.
Also the Narn Security personnel starting around mid-third season.
Early-Installment Weirdness: The Pilot Movie uses different guns than the series uses, the uniforms are slightly different, and the link is a wristwatch device instead of the rectangle they use for the main series. Also, Delenn's makeup.
An odd double-example due to casting changes throughout the series: Lyta Alexander as the commercial telepath in the pilot episode, then for the first two seasons, Talia Winters as the commercial telepath (before she was replaced on the show by... Lyta Alexander).
Various elements are introduced early on that either don't fit well in as hard a sci-fi show as B5 turned out to be (the gill implants and the Changeling Net) or are much more inexplicably supernatural (Londo's prophetic dream of his death). While such elements stopped being introduced (or were outright overshadowed by Sufficiently Advanced Science and characters being Touched by Vorlons), once introduced, they were fair game, Continuity-wise.
Easy Logistics: Averted. The station is shown to be highly dependent upon shipping traveling through the area for food, supplies, and money to pay for the operation and maintenance of the station. This becomes a major plot point after they declare independence from Earth, and are placed under an embargo.
Even coffee is mentioned as being prohibitively expensive, leading more than one officer to smuggle coffee plants aboard the station and placed in the hydroponics garden, reserved for producing oxygen and food for the station's population.
All the ships of the First Ones are millions of years ahead of the ships of the younger races. They are so advanced that the younger races can't even begin to understand the technology that went into building them.
Shadow ships are alive, requiring a human telepath at their center to run them. They constantly scream into the minds of their foes.
Vorlon ships appear to be sentient artificial creatures.
In the B5 movie Thirdspace, the smaller fighters of the Thirdspace aliens look like Living Ships similar to the ones used by the Vorlons, but their larger cruisers, glimpsed just before the interdimensional portal to Thirdspace was closed, were made up of separate parts that floated in what looked like artificial gravity fields around a big glowing ball of light.
Shadow vessels "phase" into hyperspace instead of opening a portal like other ships. The effect looks much like a cloaking device, but is in fact their method of FTL travel.
Embarrassing Nickname: In "A Distant Star", Sheridan's first commanding officer, Captain Maynard, visits the station and we learn that his nickname for Sheridan is "Swamp Rat". Sheridan takes it well, because they're friends, and perhaps also because his nickname for Maynard is "Stinky".
Emergency Presidential Address: In the film In The Beginning, the president of Earth gives a sobering Do Not Go Gentle speech in which she pleads for combat-worthy ships to sacrifice themselves by holding the line in face of an imminent Minbari invasion, while the evacuation of civilians is underway.
And in Severed Dreams, Sheridan also addresses the station's population when Babylon 5 declares independence from the Earth Alliance.
Invoked by Londo when he's stuck in an elevator with G'Kar. Unfortunately for him, G'kar would rather watch him die than survive himself.
"As the Humans say, Up Yours!"
The Rangers literally wear this trope on their badges. It is an illustration of a human and Minbari, their arms intertwining around "the darkness" - their common enemy.
Played straight many other times, as various people and groups teamed up on different occasions to deal with more powerful common enemies, most notably Londo and G'Kar again in later seasons. Perhaps one of the best examples is "And The Rock Cried Out, 'No Hiding Place'" when Londo, G'Kar, and the Narn resistance collectively deliver Lord Refa's Laser-Guided Karma.
Sheridan found out, however, getting the League working together against the Shadows was incredibly difficult, namely because half were still at war with the others and the overall distrust that had developed made it hard to organize. It took a solid victory by the Vorlons curb stomping the Shadows to make them agree.
Energy Weapons: PPG (Phased Plasma Gun) weapons. According to Word of God, PPGs fire bolts of energized, super-heated helium sheathed in an electromagnetic field and propelled by an opposed magnetic field. On impact, the projectile discharges its thermal and kinetic energy. They are primarily used because while they can be fatal to humanoids, they will not damage a bulkhead and cause an air leak.
Interestingly, the original ending as scripted was somewhat...different. Instead, Delenn simply told Ashan to explain things. And brought out her old gravity rings...
Enforced Cold War: Kosh's role is to prevent Sheridan from making a move against the Shadows too quickly, as they are still marshaling their forces. If the Shadows' existence was suddenly made known, they would swarm the galaxy before the Army of Light was prepared to face them.
Enforced Method Acting: In Severed Dreams, we see an ISN Newscast get cut short when an explosion rocks the building. Debris can be seen landing on the newsdesk, with the anchors crying out in fear. The debris wasn't supposed to land that close to the actors, and their reaction to almost having it land on their heads was genuine.
In In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum, Sheridan tricks Talia into walking past Morden in the hopes that she'll pick up something. She does, and the event is so traumatic she ends up in Medbay. When Sheridan comes in to apologize, she slaps him and storms off. Andrea Thompson, the actress who played Talia, got herself so worked up for the scene that she didn't pull her punch, and really slapped Bruce Boxleitner as hard as she could, hard enough that it would have left a mark if she hadn't been wearing leather gloves. His reaction to the slap was genuine. And in every reshoot, she still didn't hold back.
Everyone Knows Morse: In "All Alone in the Night" Sheridan knows at least enough to do the classic "S-O-S" And Ivanova can recognize it. He used it while escaping in an enemy escape pod to prove he wasn't an enemy inside.
Evil Evolves: The Lumati believe in a strict adherence to natural selection, to the point of frowning upon medical treatment performed on "lesser races". Their ambassador, Correlimurzon, reasons that the purpose of Downbelow is to isolate the "inferior" lurkers from humanity's genetic line, and says that the Lumati will implement the idea on their own homeworld as soon as possible.
Evil Laugh: Jha'Dur. When your military rank is War Master and your enemies have nicknamed you "Deathwalker", it's safe to say you didn't earn it through your sweet personality.
Evolving Credits: Each season has its own, unique opening sequence proportionate to the events that have or will occur. The fifth season's opening compiles the four years (seasons) past, prior to an upbeat and very optimistic tune previewing scenes taking place in that season.
Worth noting, the second season has the first season's mysterious-sounding theme song, and gives it a darker, more militaristic tone. The third season mixes two songs associated in earlier seasons with crushing defeats that the heroes suffered, to match the desperate situation the characters are finding themselves in, and the fourth season was the original theme again, now as a victorious reprise.
Evolutionary Levels: The final level is an amorphous energy form, still physical, but also able to go through walls.
In the season one episode "By Any Means Necessary" Sinclair watches as the dock workers strike over bad pay and unsafe conditions. The EarthGov forces Sinclair to invoke the Rush Act, which would permit him to use military force to stop the strike as it stipulates he can use by any means necessary.Sinclair invokes it and then cuts through the beuracratic red tape keeping the pay raise and better work conditions from being implemented to end the strike.
Also for Sinclair in the same episode, G'Kar needed to do a ceremonial ritual at the same time when the light of his world's sun strikes a mountain. Due to certain troubles, he couldn't get the flower he needed until it was too late. Sinclair notes two things. First, the conditions for the ritual predate space travel. Second, that the same light used in a ritual decades ago would soon strike the station in a few hours. G'Kar could use that light to complete the ritual. G'Kar is thankful for this.
In "The Geometry of Shadows" the Drazi population is going through their political season. They randomly divide up into two factions: Green and Purple. They then beat each other up and who ever has the most wins decides the rule of the government. And it lasts several months. Near the end of the episode Ivanova pulls Green Drazi Leader's sash off of him, making her the new leader of Green Drazi as the exact words of the tradition predate contact with non-Drazi. So Ivanova orders every Green Drazi to dye their sash Purple.
In "All Alone In The Night" when Delenn was confronting the Streib and ordered them to release all their captured prisoners seeing the powerful ships Delenn, namely remembering the last time they pissed off the Minbari, spaced their captives. Delenn and Ivanova was not happy with this. Not at all.
Marcus pulls this stunt twice in "Exogenesis". When Marcus alerts Garibaldi that his friend is acting strangely, the Security Chief blows him off, telling him to go bother Dr. Franklin instead. At an impasse, Marcus asks, "Can I quote you?" In the next scene, Marcus is down in Medlab, claiming that Garibaldi believes the situation to be very urgent and asked for Franklin's help specifically. Leading to an Oh Crap moment when the pair are captured, with Franklin putting absolute faith in Garibaldi coming to rescue them. —oh, wait. He doesn't even know they're done there, does he?
Marcus:(beat) Not as such, no.
Once they arrive at the quarters belonging to Marcus' friend, Franklin declares that his medical oath prevents him from going any further. Marcus, nodding, waltzes through the door.
"You can't go in. I don't have that problem."
From "Grey 17 Is Missing" Lennier proves himself to be very good at this, plus some Loophole Abuse, as Neroon has threatened to kill Delenn if she becomes the leader of the Rangers. Delenn told Lennier to to not inform the Captain or others about it. His response:
Lennier: I'm trying to keep a promise. By breaking a promise. I was told not to mention this to anyone in the chain of command. You were not mentioned by name but that is implicit. However, by telling you, the captain need not find out about it and I will not have broken the promise. Marcus: I'm in awe, Lennier. The way you can take a simple proposition and turn it inside out so that it says what you want it to say rather than what it actually says. Does this come naturally or did you attend some sort of…martial arts class for the philosophically inclined?
Sheridan's interrogator pulls this on him a few times. For example, he offers Sheridan a corned beef sandwich. Sheridan starts to eat it, then pauses, suspicious. The interrogator points out that no one's going to try to kill him, since they want a confession out of him. Sheridan eats the sandwich, and they continue their discussion. As the interrogator leaves, he informs Sheridan that the sandwich contained a poison that will make him throw up the entire contents of his stomach. After all, he just said the sandwich wouldn't kill him. He never said it wasn't poisoned.
In the matter of Lady Adira Tyree, Emperor Cartagia had her death investigated, as she was close to Londo. Upon his head of intelligence discovering it was not Lord Refa but Mr. Morden who killed her, the Emperor told him to not speak of this while he was alive. True to the order, the Head of Intelligence waited until after Cartagia's demise and then told Londo.
Special mention should be made to the head of intelligence who understands this trope very well. So he always uses precise and exact wording for the situation, avoiding any From a Certain Point of View ideas.
In "Messages from Earth" there comes an order for Nightwatch to take over the station. They were very clear where they came from as they came not from President Clark but one of the civilian political offices he created. The Exact Words bit comes from the long standing military fact: Civilians cannot order military personal. Nightwatch on the station, by virtue of being there, are also military police. Following these orders constitutes an attempt at mutiny.
The character of Warran Keffer existed purely because of this, the studio demanded a hot-shot crack pilot character. Naturally, he got killed off at the earliest possible opportunity. Actually he wasn't that bad a character all told, though some of his dialog was rather cheesy.
The reason Season 4 seemed so crowded, and the reason Season 5 seemed to be mostly composed of filler, is because the studio execs planned to cut the show short. That meant that in order to tie the loose ends up quickly, the Earth Civil War arc, originally meant for Season 5 was shoehorned into Season 4 alongside the Shadow War. After the work was done the decision was reversed and they got their 5th season after all - but had no material for it. The neccesary filler episodes made the season rather uneven, ranging from the yawner "A View from the Gallery", to Neil Gaiman's marvelous "Day Of The Dead".
Actually, the Earth Civil War arc was meant largely for Season 4. The Shadow War would have ended more or less at the same time, followed by a mini-arc that would've explored the events of "In The Beginning", something that was touched on with the episode "Atonement." The season would've then progressed to the Civil War and ended with Sheridan's capture, so it was really only a difference of four or five episodes.
In the Babylon 5 script books, Word of God states that he had Season Five plotted out... and then his only copy of his notes were stolen while at a con. The resulting attempts to recover them led to the self-admitted awkwardness of Season Five... of course, this still wouldn't be necessary if it weren't for the potential canceling of the season. Executive & Obsessed Fan meddling?
Explosions in Space: Frequent. Lampshaded and justified in the episode "A View from the Gallery," which explains that the explosions are the atmospheres in the destroyed ships briefly igniting before being extinguished by the vacuum. This is also why the explosions are different colors: different races use different atmospheres.
Exposition of Immortality: Kosh, Lorien, Morden for the Shadows - all pull very similar "we have been here for longer than you" speeches. Sebastien, the Vorlon interrogator also engages in some reminiscing about his life in Victorian London.
Brother Edward in "Passing Through Gethsemane" discussed this topic with Delenn when speaking of Jesus' choice in Gethsemane to wait for the coming dawn and the eventual pain and death. Later, it was revealed to be a murderer who had his mind wiped and given this gentle personality where he wanted to just serve people. However, the families of his victims wanted his blood and hunted him down. He waited patiently and met them with a calm demeanor. He let the only one who was still hateful enough to want him harmed beat him to death. Even as he lay dying, all he wonders is if there was enough forgiveness for even a monster like him, never crying, never whimpering in pain. A stoic attitude about his whole affair.
The Regent in "The Fall of Centauri Prime":
Milo Virini: "I have been many things in my life, Mollari. I have been silly. I have been quiet when I should have spoken. I have been foolish. And I have wasted far too much time. But I am still Centauri. And I am not afraid."
Both the Face-Heel Turn and the Heel-Face Turn, at many points. particularly the Vorlons, who turn out to be Knights Templar, and the main cast, who break away from the Earth Alliance in the third season episode "Severed Dreams".
Faction Calculus: A non-video game example, in which the Vorlons are considered the Powerhouse, the Shadows the Balanced, and the Army of Light as the subversives.
Fake Kill Scare: One of the psychological tortures used against Sheridan when he was a prisoner of the Clark regime was to stage a mock execution of a fellow prisoner (who was actually working for the interrogators).
Sheridan himself was subjected to a fake execution shortly after.
Fake Memories: With capital punishment reserved for crimes like treason, psychopaths and murderers are instead sentenced to Death of Personality; they have their memories erased and altered by telepaths and their personality restructured to become pacifists and useful members of society ("The Quality of Mercy", "Passing Through Gethsemane").
Interestingly, while many characters voice their opinion on Death of Personality, the show itself makes no judgement call on whether it's a humane punishment or not. JMS was of the opinion that the viewers should make their own decisions on such matters.
One character subjected to it, upon learning of his history, pointed out the moral dilemma this presented him with: To get into Heaven, he has to genuinely seek (and receive) forgiveness for his sins. Just how was he expected to do that if he himself had no way of knowing what his (considerable) sins were? Ironically enough, had he never been subjected to the procedure, he quite possibly wouldn't have cared about seeking forgiveness for his actions.
Fake Russian: American actress Claudia Christian portrays the supposedly born-and-raised Russian Susan Ivanova, but barely gives herself any accent beyond occasionally giving herself a stilted speech pattern in some early episodes.
Fake Static: Londo's phone call in "The Fall of Night".
Family Honor: Both the Minbari and the Centauri have this in spades, and the Narn to an extent.
Famous, Famous, Fictional: In "Infection", it's mentioned that Dr Franklin aspires to become one of the great names of medicine, alongside Fleming, Salk, Jenner, and Takahashi.
Fan of the Past: Garibaldi's hobbies include watching old Warner Brothers cartoons and restoring vintage (manufactured in the distant past year of 1992) motorcycles.
Fantastic Racism: There are a lot of tensions between the various races, some of it expressed in the form of xenophobic attacks on one species by another. It wasn't just humans who were guilty of or fell prey to such behaviour either.
There's also racism against Human telepaths by nontelepathic Humans. The Psi Corps seems to indicate that telepaths in turn are indoctrinated to see themselves as superior to non-telepaths. A lot of them even refer to nontelepaths as "mundanes".
On top of that, there's even discrimation by Earth-born humans against Mars-born humans, with the ongoing resistance movement on Mars being an ongoing background plot point for the first four seasons of the show. The fallout from this continues forth into Crusade.
The Centauri's Fantastic Racism can seem pretty arbitrary at times. When the Centauri met the primitive, backward, simple Humans, they established trade with them and sold them some pretty damn nifty high technology, including jump gates, enabling their meteoric rise as a major galactic power. When they met the primitive, backward, simple Narn... they enslaved them and nearly wiped them out. Yeah. Perhaps the Centari liked Humans more than Narn because Centari look more like Humans than Narn?
Or possibly even they were already having problems with the Narn, and could not afford to conquer another race while trying to maintain their dominance over the Narn.
The Narn may have been less advanced than Humans when the Centauri first conquered them. Also, the Centauri may have learned their lesson from the Narn occupation, and sought to take a different strategy with Earth. The Centauri originally tried to convince Earth's leadership that humanity was a lost Centauri colony and held a monopoly on Earth's interstellar trade for a century or more. It seems likely that Earth would have fallen into the Centauri sphere of influence had the Humans not provoked the Minbari and forced the Centauri to cut their losses.
If you pay attention, you'll notice that every time a ship is shown coming out of hyperspace, the jumpgate looks blue, while every time a ship is shown entering hyperspace, the jumpgate looks yellow. Straczynski said that this was a nod to the Doppler Shift — hyperspace "stuff" coming toward you out of the jump gate is blue-shifted, while material receding away from you into hyperspace is red-shifted.
Fee Fi Faux Pas: Sheridan's dinner with Delenn and Lennier. The poor guy should have just ordered take-out.
G'Kar commits one on purpose in "Soul Mates." All guests at he celebration of Londo's ascendancy are required to be barefoot. G'Kar shows up wearing his customary boots, knowing full well what a grave insult it is. Unfortunately, this backfires on him: Londo is in such a good mood that he doesn't care. Plus, he loves messing with G'Kar's head.
Felony Misdemeanor: Earth Gov trying to make Sheridan pay fifty credits a month rent for his spacious quarters, which appear to be larger than many apartments on Earth.
Sheridan claims that it's not the money, it's the principle of the thing. If he lets the bureaucrats back on Earth get a toe in the door, then they'll start micromanaging his job until he can't wipe his nose without a countersigned order.
Fictional Currency: Thanks to approved tie-in material, we know the currency for many of the alien nations: Abbai use Gy, Nori and Chuk, Brakiri use Grull or credits, Drazi use Tok, Grome use Vorl, Hurr use Fla, Llort use Yat, Heek and Molat, Markab used Galot and Yolu use Ogo. Hyach and pak'ma'ra use a barter system instead. The Centauri use ducats and the Humans use credits. No word on the Narn or Minbari.
The later two are particularly odd, as the backstory shows Earth's banking system tied closely to both Narn and Minbari economies: The Narn sold weapons to Earth in the Earth-Minbari War (at immense prices, as Earth was losing and extermination was expected, devaluing human currency), and the Minbari paid for Babylon 5.
Fictional Geneva Conventions: Interstellar law prohibbits the use of Mass Driver weapons for planetary bombardment. However when the Centauri break this rule, no one does anything to reprimand the Republic.
The eponymous station served as a UN of sorts, with ambassadors from the League of Non-Aligned Worlds, the Narn Regime, the Centauri Republic, the Minbari, the Earth Alliance, and the Vorlon Empire each having a vote on various diplomatic resolutions. Often (as with the Real Life UN) this council proved ineffective in some crucial matters, ultimately (by admission of Ivanova in the Season 3 opening monologue) failing in its mission for peace as the Shadow War expanded.
The Interstellar Alliance which formed toward the end of the series after the Earth Civil War was probably a more effective version, as each member was mutually protected from aggression by the treaty binding all members, which was enforced by the organization's military force, the Rangers.
By the time the show itself takes place, Earth Force seems to have a very cautious and thought-out approach to dealing with potential First Contact situations, even going so far as to justify Sinclair and Ivanova going down to Epsilon 3 to investigate a newfound installation rather than sending Red Shirts.
First Day From Hell: Delenn's first day as a full-member of the Minbari Grey Council was the day the Minbari encountered the Earth ship Prometheus. An encounter that resulted in the botched first contact-turned-battle that killed Delenn's mentor, Dukhat, and sparked the Earth/Minbari War.
First Girl After All: We go the entire series believing Lennier came first in the Sheridan-Delenn-Lennier Love Triangle, as Lennier appeared in the first season, while Sheridan was not introduced until season two. The Prequel movie though has a scene where Sheridan and Delenn actually did meet, very briefly and without introduction (or seeing each other, but they did exchange a few lines), during the Earth-Minbari War, ten years before Delenn met Lennier.
He has a last name, but to friend, foe, and stranger alike, it's just Marcus. note It's Cole, by the way.
Awed by Delenn's sacrifice in lending aid to the Drafa Plague victims, Sherdian asks that should they meet again, she call him "John" from then on.
Played with in "Objects At Rest", the penultimate episode. As G'Kar and Sheridan are bidding each other a fond farewell, G'Kar calls Sheridan "John". Sheridan starts in surprise, and says that's the first time he's ever called him John.
Flash Forward: "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" consisted almost entirely of four flash-forwards.
Babylon Squared and War Without End also. In the former, Sinclair gets a vision of Babylon 5 being boarded by the Shadows. In the latter, Sheridan sees himself on Centauri Prime 17 years in the future.
Flaunting Your Fleets: Right after Sheridan liberates Earth from the Clarke regime. After Delenn announces the formation of the Interstellar Alliance, the Rangers fly their White Stars in formation over Earth Dome, pounding the point home.
Flower from the Mountaintop: Ranger instructor Turval uses a hypothetical mission along these lines as an example of the sort of seemingly-trivial mission that might be worth dying to complete, whether you realise it at the time or not.
His situation is not helped any when he is later aprehended and is carrying Centauri Ducats on his person, in this case because Londo decided on a whim to give him some cash to help him out since Garibaldi had helped him in the past.
In one episode of Babylon 5, resident telepath Talia Winters is explaining to someone that telepaths sometimes cannot avoid picking up particularly strong emotions and thoughts before entering a lift with Security Chief Garibaldi. After she explains this, Garibaldi, standing behind her, gives her the once over. Talia elbows Garibaldi in the gut before getting off.
In another episode, Garibaldi is having an argument with the Psi Cop Bester, and as Garibaldi glares at him, Bester says, "Anatomically impossible, Mr. Garibaldi, but you're welcome to try, any time, any place."
Played with in one episode. Bester has been forced to take a drug which dulls his telepathic abilities. He and Garibaldi are interrogating an informant, and Bester at one point blurts out "he's lying." This causes the informant to break and tell them what they need to know. Garibaldi confronts Bester on this after the interview. Bester explains that he couldn't hear any of the man's thoughts, but the other guy didn't know that. And chances were good he was lying about something, so Bester merely played on the guy's guilty conscience.
Forgotten Friend, New Foe: Urza becomes this to Londo, after a resolution is drafted by way of Lord Refa whichs declares Urza and his entire House traitors to the Republic. Urza arrives on Babylon 5 to ask for Londo's help, but when he hears of his connection with Refa, the old friends fall out with a crash.
Subverted; Urza set up the whole situation as part of a Batman Gambit to ensure that his family would be under Londo's protection against Refa, as under the rules of Centauri duels to the death, the loser's family is absorbed by the winner's. The two children to whom Londo is telling the story in In The Beginning are members of Urza's former house.
Foreshadowing was frequently used—since the series was so intricately plotted in advance, it could be. Similarly prophecies (You Can't Fight Fate), and a particularly well-crafted example of a Stable Time Loop. It was actually built in to such an extent that actors were forbidden from ad-libbing, for fear of it screwing up the foreshadowing.
Keffer's last appearance, "The Fall of Night", opens with Starfury pilots goofing off during target practice. Ivannova jibes, "You're dead, Zeta leader!" It's less funny once the episode's over.
Fortune Teller: Lady Morella ("Point of No Return"). She was the third wife of the late Emperor Turhan and a powerful seer. That said, she has no control over what or when she will see. Londo seeks her counsel to try and avoid his dreaded future.
Frameup: Outraged at "Starkiller" Sheridan's promotion to station commander, a pair of Minbari (Lavell and Ashan) arrange for a lurker to steal Sheridan's commlink, knowing he will chase after him. Lavell then attacks Sheridan with Ashan as the only witness, planting a PPG nearby for Sheridan to find. Sheridan reluctantly shoots and kills Lavell while Ashan looks on. Lavell's intention was to sacrifice himself as a "martyr" to ruin Sheridan.
G'kar does this to his would-be assassin in "Parliament of Dreams"
Garibaldi really gets it good with this trope. He's also manipulated by the Psi-Corp into turning against his own friends so they can use him as a tool to overturn a conspiracy against telepaths and as an added bonus get their hands on Sheridan. While it's technically true that he did do the things of which he was accused, it's still a frameup as it was against his will
Functional Addict: Doctor Franklin starts using stims in the second season, and becomes addicted to them going into the third season. While he does eventually have a burnout, he goes nearly an entire season with no major problems.
In the fourth season, Ivanova appears to have become an alcoholic, doing double-shots of vodka to try and sleep at night, though she doesn't have the same issues with the stuff that Garibaldi has from time to time.
Funny Background Event: In the episode "The Parliament of Dreams", during the Minbari rebirth ceremony, the various characters are handed out ceremonial fruits. When the camera focuses on Delenn again after this is done, G'Kar surreptitiously switches his fruit with Ivanova's. Doubles as a Meaningful Background Event; G'Kar's been targeted by an assassin, and he's on edge because his bodyguard did not show up at the ceremony.
Same episode: While Londo crawls along the table raving about the Centauri gods, Garibaldi surreptitiously sneaks nearby plates off the table before Londo can mess them up (or them him, perhaps).
Game Changer: The results of Sheridan's visit to Z'ha'dum ( mainly the nuking of the Shadows' center of power) "opened an unexpected door" (in the words of Kosh II/Ulkesh), which emboldened the Vorlons to unleash their planet killers and go all out destroying any worlds "touched" by Shadows—and the Shadows to reciprocate in this escalation. This turn of events showed the younger races just how dysfunctional and dangerous the Vorlons' and Shadows' guardianship had become. Sheridan gathers a massive fleet of the younger races to confront both the Shadow and Vorlon fleets near a targeted planet of six billion sentient beings, and calls them out on their unfitness as guardians, and persuades them to leave the galaxy as their moral exposure becomes apparent to all. Thus had the events of "Z'ha'dum" not happened, the current war would arguably end up being just one more of a millennial cycle of wars orchestrated by the Shadows and Vorlons, rather than the last of them.
When the discovery of a 1000-year-old Shadow ship is followed by an immediate quarantine and unmarked shuttles flying in and out of the area, Garibaldi knows something's up.
ISN's report that an unremarkable, benign, totally non-suspicious base on Ganymede was destroyed by an "alien ship" (the Whitestar) which the Agamemnon pursued all the way to Jupiter and then destroyed ("Messages From Earth").
Ivanova:(to Sheridan) You look pretty good for a dead man.
George Lucas Altered Version: The pilot movie was reworked (new effects added, new soundtrack, various editing and pacing issues fixed, etc.) and rereleased as Babylon 5: The Gathering when the show was Un-Cancelled and moved to TNT for a fifth season.
The Vorlons pull this off with the creation of telepaths. More specifically, Lyta Alexander's alteration by the Vorlons is hinted at to be the equivalent of a last-ditch nuclear weapon.
The Narns are attempting this by soliciting genetic material from alien telepaths in an effort to recreate Narn telepaths—the last of whom had been killed and/or assimilated by the Shadows during the previous Shadow War. Ultimately Lyta Alexander agrees to supply G'Kar with the genetic profiles of underground human telepaths in exchange for covert Narn assistance in the Telepath War of Season 5.
Genetic Memory: Fear of the Shadows and reverence for the Vorlons are explained as a combination of several species retaining race memories of the last Shadow War and the Vorlons using genetic and mental manipulation on the young species...
It should be noted that the fear of the Shadow was purposely put there by the Shadows themselves.
Ghostly Glide: Kosh (and other Vorlons in contact with younger races) wore an "encounter suit" to conceal his true form, and moved in a silent, gliding motion. He could have moved pretty much any way he wanted to in his true form (even through bulkheads), but chose to present himself in this way. He could seem to suddenly appear to a character due to this silent movement—not necessarily to scare but to make a dramatic impression.
Giant Enemy Crab: Shadow vessels are commonly referred to as "Battlecrabs." They'll cut through just about any fleet like it was made of soft cheese.
Go Mad from the Revelation: Franklin tries to help "King Arthur" overcome his denial by confronting him with his real identity (against Marcus' warnings). The resultant trauma is so severe, he falls into a catatonic state. Recalling the deaths of 250,000 soldiers will do that.
G'Kar speculates that the reason why every race in existence seems to have one type of food in common (Swedish meatballs, the Narn call their version Breen) is something that will either never be known, or would drive you mad if you did know.
Played for Laughs by Londo when he attempts to determine the significance of the "Hokey Pokey":
A God Am I: Subverted in Jason Ironheart, who while gaining immense godlike powers, was trying to suppress and control them long enough to get away and finish "becoming". Lyta gets like this near the end of the series before she leaves forever with G'Kar. Cartagia is like this, but then he is Ax-Crazy.
Delenn and Sinclair each go native biologically in opposite directions. In a slight subversion Delenn remains culturally Minbari while being biologically human. By contrast Sinclair takes this Up to Eleven, making himself the Minbari equivalent of Moses and Delenn's ancestor to boot, which would also make him a Mighty Whitey.
Played to all kinds of hell by Sinclair. In War Without End, Marcus mentions off-hand that "Ranger One" (Sinclair) could be mistaken for a Minbari given his oft-convoluted logic and responses to questions. This makes sense when you get to the end of the episode: Sinclair is Valen, and as Valen became the basis for Minbari life and culture for the next thousand years.
Marcus Cole is a human who lives like Minbari.
Gold Digger: Daggair and Mariel (Londo's first and third wives, respectively).
You do get the impression that most Centari women are like this. Then again, the main source of data we have on Centari women is Londo, who may not exactly be totally reliable.
Good Costume Switch: The entire staff gets new uniforms courtesy of Delenn, officially christening them as the Army of Light after giving up their EarthGov Uniforms because they are rebelling against their own government. Ironically, these uniforms are black. ("Ceremonies of Light and Dark")
When Garibaldi retires, Zack receives the a new uniform, though he complains it itches.
Good Guy Bar: Quite a few on the station. Perhaps the most notable ones are the Eclipse Cafe (itself an extension of the Zócalo, easily identified by its blue neon sign), Earhart's (an establishment reserved for EarthForce personnel and their guests), and the high-class restaurant Fresh Air.
The first emperor we meet is a very kind and noble man, seeking to apologize to the Narn for what his people did to them. After his death, however, Emperor Cartagia arrives on the scene to make up for that.
The heroes do various morally questionable things as well, throughout the series, but usually with good reason. This ranges from relatively minor things like Loophole Abuse to using outright Mind Rape to find where a murder was about to take place, and of course, the whole launching a rebellion against the government of Earth.
Great Offscreen War: Many: during the run of the show we have various wars between the Centauri and smaller races and at least one conflict involving the Earth Alliance, and the backstory has the previous Shadow Wars (of which we only see a flashback with a couple Minbari warship of the previous one) and the Dilgar War, in which the Dilgar massacred their way into the League on Non-Aligned Worlds until Earth Alliance got involved and reversed the odds (we only see one of the Dilgar warmasters resurfacing after being believed dead for years, and that the war was so scarring for the collective psyche of the galaxy that Na'toth's reaction to seeing her was to try and murder said warmaster, and the whole League demands the warmaster's death).
Groin Attack: Garibaldi uses one in a fight scene in "Survivors".
Half Truth: Sheridan's Interrogator in Intersections in Real Time lives and breathes this trope. He describes the truth as fluid, as being whatever people agree that it is. He combines this trope with Exact Words to tell outright lies to Sheridan while at the same time claiming that he's being honest.
And then, Sheridan acknowledges the man might be right, that truth is fluid. But that means Sheridan's views are just as right as what the man wants him to confess to and Sheridan proves he is right every time he refuses to be broken.
Ham-to-Ham Combat: Delenn vs. Neroon vs. Shakiri in the climax of "Moments of Transition."
Handy Cuffs: "Quality of Mercy". The crack security staff cuffed the murderer Mueller with his hands in front of him, while escorting him to be executed and he therefore had nothing to lose. He ended up holding an old woman at gunpoint.
Hangover Sensitivity: In "Born to the Purple", Londo suffers from it. (The knockout drug in his last drink probably had as much to do with it as the alcohol on this occasion.)
Vice President Clark disembarks from Earthforce One 24 hours before it explodes, claiming to have caught a flu. His personal physician, Dr. Everett Jacobs, is forced to go on the lam after discovering that Clark was in perfect health at the time.
Mary Kirkish, Xenoarcheologist and one of the last surviving witnesses of the excavation of a Shadow Vessel on Mars.
Heroic Neutral: When G'kar asks for Minbari aid, Delenn, not unreasonably, points out that the Narn record isn't so good either, they were not totally without responsibility for their fate, and if the Narn won they would treat the Centauri the same way and they would be the ones asking for aid. Not to mention the fact that Minbar had had more then enough of war, thank you very much.
In the Earth-Minbari War, most every battle was a lose for the humans, but they gave themselves willingly to try and stop the advance of the Minbari fleet. Humans would do anything from just standing up against a stronger Minbari beating him down to ramming their ships into the Minbari vessels.
Almost all the human ships at the Battle of the Line.
Urza Jaddo, deliberately losing a duel with Londo to save his family from disgrace.
In "Severed Dreams" the ISN News director Rick in Geneva openly states that Proxima 3 and Orion 7 have broken away from the Earth Alliance to protest Clark ordering bombing of civilian targets on Mars. He does this because Clark is also sending military forces in a move to put ISN fully under its control and turn it into a propaganda machine.
Also in "Severed Dreams" the Churchillis already blowing up from damage taken, so it rams another Earth Alliance Ship to take it out as well.
Kosh arranges for some Vorlon ships to attack the Shadows to help Sheridan build his alliance. He gets torn to shreds for his interference.
A number of ships take one for the team as part of their collective "screw you" to the Vorlons and Shadows at the final battle.
Delenn tries to do this, but Neroon takes her place.
Marcus Cole saving Ivanova
Marcus showed himself willing to do this for Delenn in "Grey 17 Is Missing" when he engaged Neroon in a Duel to the Death in order to defuse a brewing conflict between the Warrior and Religious castes over control of the Rangers. The conflict ends up happening anyway during Season 4, but the outcome of the duel—a draw, forcing Neroon to recognize Delenn's moral authority and respect human combat prowess—is the beginning of Neroon's Heel-Face Turn.
Newly-crowned Emperor Londo taking on the Drakh Keeper to avoid massive destruction of his homeworld. And later on, telling G'Kar to kill him so Sheridan could escape Centauri Prime—also a Heroic Sacrifice on G'Kar's part, as it's at least implied that he knows Londo's Keeper will awake during the strangling and make Londo kill him as well; they both die together.
Garibaldi surprises Matthew Stoner in a corridor with this greeting.
During a one-on-one fight between G'Kar and a Narn insurrectionist, another Narn who is overlooking the fight draws his gun, preparing to shoot the ambassador in the back. N'Toth politely taps him on the shoulder, then wallops him.
Hidden Purpose Test: The Inquisitor's interrogation of Delenn in Downbelow, which consists of only one, inscrutable question: "Who are you?" When hours of torturous questioning fail to produce results, Sheridan breaks up the test and attempts to release her. Instead, the Inquisitor seizes Sheridan and starts torturing him, having anticipated his meddling and incorporated into the test. Delenn then begs the Inquisitor to turn his attentions back to her; He asks her if she is willing to die for Sheridan, and she replies that "life is her cause" — that one life or a billion is all the same. The Inquisitor is pleased, allowing them both to leave and telling him that they are indeed "the right people."
Hidden Villain: The Shadows aren't introduced till mid season 1, and it isn't until mid season 2 that we learn anything about them.
Zack Allan: Oh yeah, I should listen to a Minbari about fashion. I mean, robes? Hoods? No offense, but I've seen Vorlons with more fashion sense. [The Minbari tailor stabs Zack with the needle.] Zack: She did that on purpose. Lennier: Yes, I believe she did. I will deal with this. Lennier:[in Minbari] Good work. Give me a moment with the Human, and next time…use a bigger needle. Zack: Yeah, and don't you forget it!
His Name Is...: In "Chrysalis", a severely wounded man manages to spit out "They're going to kill him! They're going to kill —" before dying. During the investigation, Security Chief Michael Garibaldi is severely wounded; he makes a visible point of finishing the sentence before the medical staff cart him away.
Hobos: Lurkers are a future equivalent of this. Sheridan is quick to point out that transients still exist on Earth, too, but the Ministry of Labor got around this problem by re-categorizing those people as underachievers.
Hollywood Accounting: This was how JMS got cheated out of a large part of his shares of the show's profits.
JMS: The show, all in, cost about $110 million to make. Each year of its original run, we know it showed a profit because they TOLD us so. And in one case, they actually showed us the figures. It's now been on the air worldwide for ten years. There's been merchandise, syndication, cable, books, you name it. The DVDs grossed roughly half a BILLION dollars (and that was just after they put out S5, without all of the S5 sales in). So what does my last profit statement say? We're $80 million in the red. Basically, by the terms of my contract, if a set on a WB movie burns down in Botswana, they can charge it against B5's profits.
Seen in the Legend of the Rangers pilot. "We do not retreat, whatever the reason." A rather stupid tactic for a group known as "Rangers", whose job often involves bringing back information on mysterious aliens of terrifying technological superiority. But then, it's Legend of the Rangers: The Search For More Money, you don't expect much from it anyway.
Hold Your Hippogriffs: Ivanova to Sheridan in "Lines of Communication": "What am I, chopped liver flarn?"
In "Survivors", we hear about a friend Michael Garibaldi used have, whose daughter called him "Uncle Mike".
Rabbi Koslov, Ivanova's Uncle Yossel, in "TKO".
In Sleeping in Light Garibaldi's daughter calls Dr. Franklin "Uncle Stephen".
Honor Before Reason/Proud Warrior Race Guy: Deconstructed several times over with the Minbari warrior caste, whose rigid determination to uphold honor and tradition results in a great deal of pain and pointless death.
In Gray 17 is missing Delenn is warned that a fellow Minbari might try to assassinate her, and forbids Lennier to ask for Captain Sheridan's help rather then air the Minbari's internal dirty laundry in front of aliens.
In Atonement Delenn submits her right to marry Sheridan to her clan elders even though she was the most powerful woman in Minbar and could do whatever the heck she wanted. She obtains her desire not by simply defying convention but by manipulating traditional precedent. This episode shows what a society that really does think in terms of Honor Before Reason is like and is thus while not quite a CMOA, certainly a Crowning Piece Of Good Writing.
The Narn/Centari war , as the Centari had Shadow backing
Hospital Gurney Scene: In Shadow Dancing, when Dr. Franklin is stabbed trying to stop a mugging, he is wheeled into Medlab, complete with a POV shot of the rest of the Command Crew pushing his gurney. Of course, that's a hallucination, as the staff still hadn't returned from the A-plot's space battle.
The Minbari worker caste, who get no lines, no characters important enough to even warrant the title of Red Shirt, and come to power only because a religious caste leader put them there. They're also only seen a few times in the background, and even then you'll only notice them if they're pointed out to you. note They wear blue and yellow sort of coveralls, and the men shape their bone ridges like Religious Caste women do.
Several of the lesser alien races get this treatment too. Several members of the League of Non-Aligned Worlds (e.g. Vree, Abbai, Yolu, Grome) are reduced to background characters after the first season. They're mentioned in dialogue every now and then or are seen sitting in council sessions (and in the case of the Vree their ships show up as part of the allied fleet) but other than that they're unimportant. The most extreme example is the Llort, who never get a speaking part or any focus at all.
Hugo Award (Best Dramatic Presentation) — "The Gathering" nominated 1994; "The Coming of Shadows" won 1996; "Severed Dreams" won 1997; "Sleeping in Light" nominated 1999
Humans Are Special: Used rather often, and to occasionally obnoxious effect. Straczynski seems to hold this trope close to his heart. Alien customs are generally portrayed as bizarre and just so gosh darn wacky — see the Centauri contribution to "religion week" in season one, Sheridan's dinner with Delenn and Lennier in season two, the Drazi pilgrims' reaction to an apparent visitation by an angel in season three, et cetera. If an episode features alien customs, expect them to be used as lazy comic relief. Human customs and ceremonies, on the other hand, are treated with the utmost respect — silly or not.
This is not always the case. G'Kar's religion is only made fun of once, and that's by Londo, who's just thumbing his nose at G'Kar. Also, the Minbari ritual in the "religion week" episode is presented with respect. Same with the Brakiri "Day of the Dead" in the episode by the same name. On the other hand, one human tradition, the "Hokey Pokey" song, is shown to be so bizarre and wacky that it makes Londo apoplectic.
Humanity Is Superior: Humans are said to be really good at community building to the point where no one else would have even attempted anything like the Babylon Project, and they have quickly risen to a major power on the galactic scene despite their technology seriously lacking compared to three of the other major powers and a number of League races.
A large reason for this was a political move made by the humans before the start of the series. The League of Non-Aligned Worlds was on the losing side of a war with the Dilgar. Humanity decided to sweep in and help the Non-Aligned Worlds win the war while the Big Three; Centauri, Narn, and Minbari, either ignored the war or secretly aided the Dilgar.
Human Outside, Alien Inside: several examples, such as the Centauri, who have two hearts and radically different sex organs: males have six two-meter-long prehensile genitalia located on either side of the back, and which curl up under the arms when not in use, while females have six corresponding orifices.
Second season, we learn that a few human sleeper ships were sent out before the Centauri sold jumpgate technology to Earth. Medlab also has a few units to store and transport patients who need more help than the station can provide. And then there are the Shadow-altered telepaths that turn up later.
Marcus Cole, notably because of Straczynski taking his sweet time to decide if he was this or Killed Off for Real after using the alien healing machine to keep Ivanova alive. If the fifth season hadn't been allowed to air, then Straczynski would have said he was dead instead of being this for about 300 years.
Humans Need Aliens: The Shadows and Vorlons both saw themselves as guardians of the younger races (including humans), guiding their development and evolution. They had conflicting philosophies as to how these younger races should develop, and ended up fighting periodic wars over this using younger races they've manipulated (often secretly) as proxies, to supposedly prove the superiority of their respective philosophies. This pattern is finally exposed to the younger races through the maneuverings of Sheridan, who then shames them into leaving the galaxy to allow the younger races room to determine their own ways.
Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: An alternate dimension which allows for speedy travel. The entire dimension appears as a stormy environment with a blood red hue. A set of beacons is placed between jumpgates to prevent ships from getting lost; ships that go off-track are generally lost forever, since a rescue effort becomes near-impossible once the vessel goes adrift. One exception is the EAS Cortez, which is saved by a squad of Zeta Wings acting as a fishing line and using lock-on signals to keep track of each other.
It's mentioned several times that there are rumors to the effect that hyperspace contains living things. In Crusade, we found out the rumors were true, and the living things encountered might only have been at the bottom of the hyperspace food chain.
Trying to pass through a jumpgate that's under cannon fire isn't such a hot idea, either.
Hyperspeed Ambush: A common strategy in this setting, with ships in various episodes both being destroyed by enemies coming out of Hyperspace and being ambushed themselves by waiting ships upon exiting themselves. The latter variety usually happening when using a Jumpgate
The Minbari are particularly good at this. On one occasion during the Earth-Minbari War, a scout ship lured an EarthForce fleet into a pre-planned position so that a Minbari warcruiser could exit hyperspace in the middle of them. The jump-point, basically being a hole in space itself, took out half the human ships even before the warcruiser existed Hyperspace.
Opening a jumpgate inside another jumpgate has very nasty consequences and is referred to in-universe as the "Bonehead Maneuver". The tactic is used to take out a Shadow vessel during the early stages of the war.
Hyperspace Lanes: Most ships traveling in Hyperspace make sure to closely follow the navigational beacons transmitted between the Jump Gates. They could go in any direction they want, and try to take shortcuts, but then they run the very real risk of joining the ranks of ships that have gone off the beacon never to be seen or heard from again. Larger ships, which can create their own jump points, have more sophisticated navigational equipment which allow them to travel more freely.
Hyperspeed Escape: Played straight but only sometimes. Bigger ships can produce jump points to escape, but there is often little preventing their enemies from pursuing them if they want to. Many smaller ships cannot exit to Hyperspace without use of a Jumpgate, and thus end up having to flee for some distance in normal space with their enemy chasing after them. They can piggyback in and out of Hyperspace if a friendly warship is nearby to open a jump point for them, but then they also lack the navigational equipment to safely navigate alone without having a beacon to follow, so this tactic is rarely used unless their escorting warship can follow them. Additionally, forming jump points requires a lot of energy, so if a ship jumps out of hyperspace via jump point, it can't escape to hyperspace until the jump engines have recharged.
Subverted in And Now For A Word when a Narn and a Centauri cruiser get into a fight near the station. The Centauri ship is destroyed outright, but when the Narn ship attempts to jump to hyperspace (to avoid detainment by B5 security for violating neutral space), its damaged jump drive malfunctions and explodes.
Also in The Coming Of Shadows, when a large fleet of Narn warships are trying to beat a hasty retreat from a Shadow ambush, the Shadow ships fire a weapon that disrupts their Jump Points right as they're passing into them, and all of the Narn ships are disintegrated as a result.
Hypocrite: The Minbari complain that Sheridan lured the Black Star to it's death b sending a Distress Signal after setting up a trap to destroy the Minbari flagship. Their complaint ignores the fact that, not only was the Black Star moving to destroy a ship that was obviously damaged and out of the fight, but was crewed by a race that was fighting for it's very survival in a genocidal war that the Minbari were winning.