This page covers tropes found in Babylon 5. Tropes beginning with letters A-H can be found at Tropes A-H and tropes beginning with letters Q-Z can be found at Tropes Q-Z. Subjective tropes go to the YMMV page.
In a late season 5 episode Sheridan references the effect alcohol has on Minbari. Emperor Londo is visiting the new Alliance HQ on Minbar and asks about alcohol, but there is none, so he can't get drunk and put his Keeper to sleep.
I Did What I Had to Do: By the end of the series, you would be hard pressed to find any main character who did not end up compromising their morals for what they at least thought was the greater good.
Of particular note is Sheridan, Lyta, and Doctor Franklin using The Shadow-modified telepaths to disable a fleet of ships in orbit over the planet Mars. They used thirty innocent people, knowing the chance of their deaths were high, in order to save thousands. Nobody is happy about it.
Idiot Ball: Sheridan accuses Mr. Cranston of holding this in "Hunter, Prey" for believing that someone from Downbelow had legit information on the fugitive they were tracking. Especially when he asks for 10,000 credits as a finder's fee. Turns out the guy was legit but Garibaldi and Franklin were able to save the "fugitive" before the trade could happen.
I Gave My Word: When offered a chance to surrender or flee from the Earthforce ships advancing on the station, Sheridan refuses, having made a vow to Delenn that he would "draw a line" against the darkness.
Ignoring By Singing: Invoked by Sheridan in "The Coming of Shadows". Irritated by G'Kar's attitude to the Centauri Emperor's visit, which he regards as a childish tantrum, he suggests that if it troubles G'Kar so much he should go back to his quarters and do this until the Emperor leaves.
IKEA Weaponry: Londo has an IKEA PPG which he ends up not using to assassinate G'Kar in "Midnight On The Firing Line".
"I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Subverted in second-season episode "Divided Loyalties", where an appeal to the true personality fails entirely. It fails because the 'bad' personality embedded into her mind by the Psicorps deletes and completely replaces the original, 'good' personality. The Talia we knew through the entire first season, who sided with the crew of Babylon 5, is effectively destroyed when the embedded 'sleeper' personality takes control. The 'bad' Talia proceeds to take a great deal of pleasure from taunting a grief-stricken Ivanova over it.
Morden almost seems to predict the moment when Sheridan, under duress, decides to release him from custody. When Sheridan turns to face the security monitor, Morden is grinning straight at him.
In the fifth season of Babylon 5, the telepath Lyta Alexander can sense video surveillance. Sheridan doesn't believe it until Captain Lochley asks him to switch cameras, and Lyta shifts her gaze accordingly.
Played for Laughs in one episode when Sheridan is about to confront the station's new political officer from Earth:
Ivanova: "Got it. Anything else you need?" Sheridan: "A glass of whiskey, a gun, and two bullets." Ivanova: "Understood."
This is actually a play on a practice of the British Army back in the imperial days, when officers (particularly those of noble birth) accused of heinous crimes would be given the option of a pistol with one shot, and a bottle of whiskey. Their subsequent "suicide" would be less damaging to their family than a trial.
And Played for Drama when Garibaldi falls off the wagon and starts drinking again.
Londo's love of wine goes from just another amusing part of his Large Ham personality to an Invoked Trope when it is revealed that after he takes on a Drakh Keeper, he drinks heavily to put it to sleep, giving him some brief periods of freedom.
Vir attempts to cope with assassinating the Emperor by getting royally drunk. He tells Londo he did it because it always seemed to work for him.
It Works Better with Bullets: Works better with the power cell, rather. Sheridan, fed up with an ongoing argument with no end in sight, puts his sidearm in the hands of the B-Plot-antagonist-of-the-week and offers to let them shoot him if they want. They back down. Sheridan later reveals to an apoplectic Ivanova that he removed the power cell before handing his weapon over note Indeed, if you are paying attention, you can see him do just that, complete with the Signature Sound Effect declining buzz-whine sound that always goes with that action..
I Warned You: Delenn's righteously indignant speech before the Grey Council ("Severed Dreams").
I Will Only Slow You Down: Zathras gets pinned by a fallen pole in "Babylon Squared", and tells Sinclair to leave him. Luckily, Future Delenn returns to save him.
When G'kar begins smuggling weapons through B5, Garibaldi quickly catches on. In exchange for G'Kar fessing up and promising to move his hardware off-station, Garibaldi tacitly gives him a lead on an alternate (and much safer) route.
When Sheridan accuses a Minbari participating in a plot to get Sheridan removed from command of Babylon 5 of lying, Delenn says that she will pretend she didn't hear that, and neither did Lennier (also present at the time), as accusations of Minbari lying were to be responded to with violence.
I'm Standing Right Here: Unsure of whether Ivanova is hitting on him or not, Corwin turns up at his quarts with some (very pricey) synthetic roses. Quickly realizing his mistake, he claims to have found them lying outside her door. Amused, Ivanova remarks that whoever bought those roses "must be a real dope." Corwin, now deflated, is inclined to agree with her.
Ice-Cream Koan: The Vorlon language seems to consist mostly of these. G'kar throws them out sometimes when disciples keep asking questions he has already explained he doesn't have an answer for and doesn't think anyone does.
If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Sinclair is put in this situation in "The War Prayer" when he pretends sympathy with an earth-supremacist group so he can find out what they're up to.
Immortality Immorality: Jha'Dur, a Mengele-style genocidal scientist, gets the last laugh when Earthforce grants her a pardon in exchange for her longevity serum. The Vorlons put a quick stop to that nonsense and blow up her ship. It's actually far worse than that: in order to manufacture one dose of the serum, it's necessary to murder a sapient lifeform. She's actively gloating that her "gift" will make humans into far worse genocides than her own species, right up to the point where the Vorlons blow her away before she can hand over the formula.
In the Hood: Delenn, whilst meeting with Marcus at his favorite tavern ("Ceremonies of Light and Dark").
She also does this before revealing the change in her appearance.
The Grey Council wears hoods that completely cover their heads (Minbari just love this trope). Oddly enough, they only really do it when in session, where presumably everyone in the room knows what they look like.
The thirteenth episode "Signs and Portents" — which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The episode's "A" plot is some fairly standard and unimportant thing involving Raiders [space pirates] and a Centauri artifact called The Eye. The "B" plot, involving the first appearance of the enigmatic Mr Morden and the question "What do you want?", turns out to be incredibly important and crucial to the rest of the series — but the episode's retrospective importance only kicks in at the first season finale.
The A plot also has something near the end which is important to the overall plot as well, being that it's the first time the viewers get to see a Shadow vessel.
Its importance was lampshaded by the fact that the entire first season was also named "Signs and Portents" (though a casual viewer wouldn't know this - the season titles only appeared on fan sites.) "Portents", of course, are hints about future events.
"Midnight on the Firing Line'': appeared rather lackluster when it first aired, but to which the show kept referring throughout many of its best moments over the rest of its run.
Inscrutable Aliens: The Vorlons. While they can be spoken to, it's debatable whether they can be communicated with.
Sinclair: Yes we have files on them, very large files. There's nothing in them, of course.
Insectoid Aliens: The Gaim. Also, the species to which n'grath belongs. The Shadows might count, too.
Institutional Apparel: As seen in "The War Prayer" and "The Quality of Mercy", prisoners wear grey jumpsuits with black arrows on them. But they're futuristic arrows!
Internal Affairs: In the episode "Eyes", the title refers to the nickname of Earthforce Internal Affairs. The "Eyes" have a generally bad reputation, as usual for this trope, and the particular one in this episode proves to be bending the rules a lot in pursuit of a personal grudge.
Internal Reformist: During late stages of the arc revolving around trying to depose President Clarke, we meet one or two of these.
First is William Edgars, Garibaldi's new boss and a powerful corporate executive. Edgers feels that Sheridan's rebellion does more harm than good, since it both gives Earth an external threat to focus on and allows Clarke to consolidate his power and use Martial Law to crack down on any dissent and reform. Edgars is part of a group of powerful behind the scenes players, and his plan is to bring down Psi Corps, since it's the main base of Clarke's power, knowing that without it Clarke will soon fall.
A slightly more orthodox example is Susanna Luchenko, the head of the Russian Consortium. Like Edgars, she appears to have been part of a group that wanted to take Clarke down, only consisting of politicians instead of businessmen this time. She grudgingly admits that what Sheridan did was probably the right thing, but he "[d]id it in a way that was inconvenient" because it resulted in a Civil War that damaged much of the Earth Force Fleet, and showed instability and vulnerability to alien governments.
The above mentioned Susanna Luchenko, after she becomes President pro temp with Clark's suicide, tells Sheridan unequivocally he will do as she wants and "no" is not an answer. His choices are either resigning or a "fair trial" where he will be killed by fire squad.
Bester and Sheridan have an exchange of these in one episode with "It's an unperfect world."
When Sheridan is being forced to apologize to the Centauri for firing on their ship, he asks if the apology is being written for him. The Ministry of Peace officer replies, "No. As with everything else, it's the thought that counts." Not too much later, we see Sheridan practicing an epic Backhanded Apology in front of a mirror. After he's done, he repeats, "As with everything else, it's the thought that counts."
Irony: Delenn gives Garibaldi the "Blind and Toothless" speech when he espouses the death penalty ("Eye for an Eye"), despite she herself having ordered a genocide over the death of one man in particular. Trust Garibaldi to come up with the perfect answer; 'No, only the bad guys.'
Dramatic Irony: Delenn tells her fellow Religious Caste leaders how brutal and unpredictable the Warrior Caste is, how her Caste would never turn on their own, and how people from her Caste are all wiser and better than them. This is after these guys had, after incomplete information, attached waste exhaust to the environmental systems to kill everyone on the ship so they wouldn't surrender.
From "And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place": Londo got every feature of where Na'Toth was imprisoned right except the planet. One wonders if he was thinking about this in "A Tragedy of Telepaths". It would be interesting to know if Vir ever found out either.
ISO Standard Human Spaceship: the Novae, their successor Omegas and the Warlocks are quite boxy and ungainly, and painted in various shades of grey. The Hyperions are a bit more rounded and brightly colored, but are produced by a different military contractor than the Omegas and Novas.
Eventually lampshaded in Legend of the Rangers where a Minbari laments that if the humans got to make all the decisions, then the only colors anywhere would be grey, black, and green.
It's All Junk: In "The War Prayer", Ivanova bins the gift she received from the boyfriend she's just broken up with.
It's All My Fault: John Sheridan blames himself for his wife Anna's death, which happened on a scientific expedition she joined in place of a holiday they'd planned and then he'd postponed because of work commitments. When he eventually admits this to his sister, who was also his wife's best friend, she tells him that Anna had already decided to join the expedition, and if he hadn't asked her to postpone the holiday, she'd have asked him.
Discussed in a late fourth season episode. Ivanova is lying on an operating table, and sure she is about to die. As she's talking to Sheridan, she tells him that she knows he carries around a lot of needless guilt, and that if he blames himself for this, she'll come Back from the Dead and kick his ass.
It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: In the Documentary EpisodeAnd Now For A Word, Cynthia Torqueman consistently pronounces Commander Ivanova's name wrong. While Ivanova visibly reacts, she doesn't comment on it. Of course, Torqueman might have done it intentionally to try and get a rise out of her interviewee. Especially since in real life, reporters are usually careful to check the pronunciation of a person's name.
She does the same thing with Kosh as well, during their brief encounter. Torqueman seems to be the Ted Baxter within the B5 universe (even holding Ted Baxter's same job!): so self-important she doesn't feel the need to verify her facts.
Subverted with Garabaldi, who is really good at convincing people he's willing to resort to these. However, when his boss actually goes ahead with it, Garibaldi takes him aside and explains how if that happens again, he can find a new security chief.
Jedi Mind Trick: Alluded to by Psi-Cop Alfred Bester while he and his team are chasing a runaway Telepath.
Bester: "...spark misleading hunches..."
Jerkass Façade: Sinclair puts this on in The War Prayer to earn Malcolm Biggs' trust and to catch him and his allies off guard.
Jerkass Has a Point: Garibaldi has an argument with a post office worker who charges 100 credits to pay for a package that got delivered. Now the worker points out that the price hike is due to B5 breaking out from Earth and him having to employ alternate means to get the mail to arrive to B5, and his extra expenses have to be passed to the consumer. Yet most of the B-Plot was following Garibaldi trying to avoid paying the price, eventually resorting to extortion to get his money back. Because the guy dared to do his job (Or heck, go beyond his duty considering he's trying to maintain the service despite the consequences).
This trope is the excuse given by many Earthforce officers who obey Clark's illegal orders.
Doctor Franklin explicitly does not. During the Earth/Minbari war, he was ordered to turn over his notes on Minbari anatomy so that the military can create a biological weapon. He refuses, stating that under military law he has no duty to obey an order if it would violate his conscience. The military locks him up and tears his house and office apart looking for some remnant of those notes. He was just Genre Savvy enough to have destroyed them in advance, knowing that in times of war, the law falls silent.
Kangaroo Court: In the episode "Rising Star" President Susanna Luchenko tells Sheridan that the officers at his court-martial will be from the 'shoot him' side. He has no chance of being found innocent and the trial will be solely for the sake of reinforcing political control over the military. Of course, this arrangement was so that Sheridan would take the other choice being offered: He resigns from Earth Force, allowing the government to re-consolidate without his polarizing and destabilizing presence. Long story short, his career in Earth Force is over one way or another.note She didn't know that Sheridan already had another job opportunity lined up.
Dan Randall, the ISN news reporter from "The Illusion of Truth". Yes, Clark's administration all got snapped by Sheridan's comeback tour, but it would've been nice to see that guy crucified.
He was a minor player in the scheme of things, and probably ended up like the Iraqi Information Minister famous for his absurd proclamations of imminent Iraqi victory during the 2003 Iraqi invasion: captured, interrogated, and subsequently released to comparative obscurity.
Alfred Bester, more or less. (Much less in the novels. Directly responsible for causing the events that lead to the destruction of the Psi-Corp, chased by Garibaldi for a decade or two, mind-wipes his love, only to realize it's not necessary, and put in a prison for the rest of his life, under anti-PSI drugs, and dies when an ESPECIALLY ironic announcement is made.)
Crusade, the spin-off series, showed that at least one member of Nightwatch was one of these. It isn't directly stated, but it's the same actor, with the same name, and he states that he knows a thing or two about surviving changes in governments.
Karmic Twist Ending: Passing Through Gethsemane ends with Sheridan being introduced to Brother Edward's murderer, who has been mind-wiped and reprogrammed to be a peaceful monk, just as Edward was. But then it is revealed Brother Theo, Edward's mentor, wanted Edward's murderer near him so he could forgive him and encourages Sheridan to forgive the man his actions.
An "Underground Railroad" of rogue telepaths who seek to elude Psi Corps. A handful of doctors (including Dr. Franklin) first established the railroad in response to stories of humans rights abuses being committed on telepaths.
One of Earthforce's Joint Chiefs, William Hague, organizes a mutiny against President's Clark's regime. Ultimately, Hague's leadership over the resistance passes down to Sheridan.
The Narn resistance is organized by cells both on and off-world, smuggling weapons, food, and other resources. Ex-Ambassador G'Kar is the most prominent figure in this movement, despite continuous Centauri efforts to rub him out. Remnants of the Narn fleet eventually join the struggle against the Shadows led by John Sheridan.
The Mars Resistance, formed by people who want Mars to be independent of Earth. They are little more than a terrorist organization in the first season, but by the fourth season Babylon 5 is actively working with them to topple the Clark regime.
Babylon 5 itself becomes this, especially during the Fourth Season.
Cast commentary reveals that Londo's actor would get into character by strutting back and forth repeating that exact line.
There is no ham larger than DRAAL.
The younger version of DRAAL, at least. The older DRAAL (played by the same actor who portrayed Brother Theo) was much more subtle. Which is to say, he was still a Large Ham, just not to the epic levels he reached once he was in The Great Machine.
G'Kar was this in the first season, less so as the series went on.
G'Kar: "They've got us sitting next to the Vreeeee! Have you ever seen them eat? There's horror for you."
"King Arthur" is an expansive talker, as can be expected. Also, he's played by veteran ham Michael York.
Laser Hallway: Of the lethal variety. Encountered by Sinclair and Invanova in "A Voice In The Wilderness".
Last Words: As Emperor Turhan lies on his deathbed, Londo and Refa inform him that Centauri forces have resumed war with the Narn, and ask for his blessing. Turhan whispers something into Londo's ear, which Londo reports as: "Continue. Take my people back to the stars". Out in the hallway, a sly Refa asks Londo what the Emperor really said. It was,
"(You) are both damned."
Latex Perfection: Played for laughs in "There the Honor Lies" when Ivanova pays a visit to B5's gift shop. Suddenly, all of the human/alien customers remove their 'masks', sending her fleeing in terror.
Possibly the best example of this is when Earthforce is boarding Babylon 5 to try and get the station back from Sheridan. Garibaldi and a large percentage of his security team (augmented by recently-recuited Narn soldiers) move in to where the breaching party will enter the station. As Garibaldi and the Humans begin digging in to set up a kill zone, the Narn just rush on ahead, forcing the humans to chase after them.
Left Hanging: So...how 'bout those Human Popsicle telepaths they rescued from the Shadows? (Not the ones used as "weapons" in the return to Earth, but the ones that, like Carolyn, were not sacrificed.)
Lethally Expensive: Invoked. Sheridan orders the rangers to leak some information to the Shadows. However he is concerned that they won't believe it unless someone was:
Sheridan: "...willing to fight for it, willing to..." (he can't bring himself to say "die" in front of the very man he is ordering to his death.)
Minor example in "Survivors". The head of the Presidential security detail starts out very uptight, with a hairstyle to match. In the final scene, she's more friendly, and also wearing her hair down. (The change in hairstyle is justified by that being the first scene where she's off-duty, but it's still a trope because it coincides with her increased friendliness, which is not just because she's off-duty.)
Ivanova usually has her hair scraped back severely while working and in hard-ass executive officer mode, but wears it down when off-duty and with close friends, when her genuine friendly persona comes through.
Lampshaded in a first season episode (when she was even more hard-assed than later on), where she shows up for duty with her hair down because she was in a hurry. Garibaldi makes a snarky comment about the new look, and Ivanova basically tells him to shut the hell up.
Life Energy: The alien machine from The Quality of Mercy can transfer this from one person to another.
Like an Old Married Couple: In the commentary for "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars," JMS mentions that during the filming of the Londo/G'Kar scenes an extra actually asked "How long have they been married?" after the scene was finished. Their bickering was lampshaded throughout the series, and in "A View From the Gallery" a character within the series wondered how long they had been together after he saw them arguing.
Like Brother and Sister: John Sheridan is closer to Susan Ivanova than he is to anyone else in the series, except for Delenn — he's her captain, best friend and comrade-in-arms. In the one episode where the possibility of sexual tension between them is brought up (by Ivanova), it's also casually dismissed (by Ivanova) while she's in the middle of berating him for waking her up in the middle of the night and not even bothering to comment on her truly sexy nightclothes.
Living Relic: Lorien. He was the first living being to achieve sentience in the universe along with his race and was born immortal in a time before the universe invented things like life-cycles. All of his kind had died out or went beyond the rim of galaxy in the billions of intervening years. The one thing stopping him from being an Eldritch Abomination is that he also happens to be the kindest person you will ever meet.
Living Ship: Vorlon ships are shown to be both sentient and organic. Kosh also shares a telepathic link with his vessel.
Shadow ships also appear to be at least partly organic, and use imprisoned humanoids as their central processors
A Narn warship that escaped the destruction of its homeworld jumps into Babylon 5 space, requesting sanctuary. Unfortunately, a representative from Earthgov announces that Earth is prepared to sign a non-aggression treaty with the Centarui, something which virtually translates to appeasement. A Centauri battlecruiser arrives, demanding custody of the Narn ship. Sheridan refuses, stating that the treaty isn't finalized in the senate yet, so therefore he can grant asylum to whoever the hell he wants. The Centauri disagree, and attack the station.
Commander Sinclair solves an illegal dockworkers' strike by using his powers under the "Rush Act," which allow him to break illegal strikes by "any means necessary." Since the dockworkers wanted livable wages and safety upgrades, he decides that "any means necessary" includes giving the dockworkers everything they want. Everyone leaves happy (except, presumably, Earthgov.)
When Delenn's life was in danger from Neroon but she did not wish Sheridan to know, she forbids Lennier from telling him. He opts to ask Marcus for help. His reasoning is:
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?
The Minbari (and particularly the Religious Caste) wear this trope like a hat. Given that their religious leader (Valen, born Jeffrey Sinclair) was a legendary Rules Lawyer as a human, perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised.
Lost Tribe: The unnamed alien race of Epsilon III.
Loud of War: As punishment for trifling with Elric, the computers in Londo's quarters are reprogrammed to continually blare "Narn opera", among other things.
Love Confession: In "Ceremonies of Light and Dark", Sheridan first admits to Delenn how much he cares about her. She clearly feels the same, but unfortunately by the time she actually uses the words "I love you," he was already angry with her, making for a heartbreaking love confession. Not long afterwards, she finds a note he left for her, where he also says "I love you," but this one is even more heartbreaking than hers.
Love Confessor: Happens twice in "Ceremonies of Light and Dark". Since part of the plot centers around a Minbari "rebirth ceremony" which requires participants to admit something they have never told anyone before, three people take it as a chance to admit love. Two are Love Confessors: when Lennier tells Marcus that he loves Delenn (but wishes not to tell her because he knows he is a Hopeless Suitor), and when Ivanova tells Delenn that she thinks she loved Talia. The third was a Love Confession, from Sheridan to Delenn.
It also occurs later, when Ivanova is reacting to Marcus's Heroic Sacrifice to save her life. She tells Franklin that she did love Marcus, but was afraid to do anything about it because love had always ended badly for her in the past.
Lower Deck Episode: "A View from the Gallery", which centers around two maintenance workers.
It's unclear whether they did it intentionally, but Franklin (a rather gregarious guy normally) comes off as a real asshole in the Documentary EpisodeAnd Now For a Word... Granted, he was having a rough day (and secretly battling a drug addiction), and the reporters seemed to like catching him while he was busy saving lives, but anyone who only saw the news report would think he's a total Jerkass.
Maintain The Lie: Averted; "The War Prayer" has the set-up — Vir has been telling his relatives that he's the Centauri ambassador on Babylon 5, and then one of them comes to visit — but instead of trying to Maintain The Lie, Vir admits the truth straight away, accepts a bit of ribbing, and they move on to spending the rest of the episode trying to sort out the problem the relative came to ask his help with.
Mama Bear: Laura Rosen, already dying from Lake's Syndrome, donates her life force to patients who visit her clinic in Downbelow. When Karl Mueller threatens her daughter, Rosen kills him by sapping away his life, instead. Though cleared of all charges, Rosen is deeply shaken by the experience, having violating her oath as a doctor.
Man Hug: Exchanged between Keffer and his newfound Marine Corps buddies, shortly before their doomed mission on Aknor.
Sheridan:"How do I know you're the same Vorlon? Inside that encounter suit, you could be anyone." Kosh:"I have always been here." Sheridan:"Oh yeah? You said that about me, too." Kosh:"Yes." Sheridan:"I really hate it when you do that." Kosh:"Good."
Sheridan even lampshades this.
Sheridan: Well, as answers go, short, to the point, utterly useless and totally consistent with what I've come to expect from a Vorlon. Kosh: Good.
The Drakh do the same in season 4: "Drakh? Is that your name or your species?" "Yes."
Mayfly-December Romance: Sheridan and Delenn. In this case, however, it's only partially because of a difference in their species' natural lifespans, and more because of the Heroic Sacrifice that left him with a lifespan shortened by at least forty years.
Sheridan, Sinclair and Delenn, all in their own ways.
G'kar after his spiritual enlightenment.
Microts: Time is measured by "cycles", or rotations of the station; the obvious reason being that Earth, Narn, and Minbar have varying day-to-night clocks. Many worlds also use the term to refer to their solar years. The actual definition of a "cycle" varies Depending on the Writer. In "TKO", three cycles is something like three days; in "Grail" (the very next episode), three hundred cycles is something like three days. By Season Three, there is a notable changeover to "standard hours", presumably because it's less confusing.
A few mentions were made in show of there being 36 hours in a (presumably Babylon 5) day (maintain a 36 hour watch, we're open 36 hours a day, etc).
Subverted with years, 1000 of which have passed since the last Shadow war. Which planet's years are never mentioned.
In one episode, this causes some confusion, when it turns out that while a Cycle on B5 is a relatively short period of time, a "Cycle" on the Drazi homeworld is a whole year. Presumably due to something being Lost in Translation.
Mid-Season Upgrade: About midway through the second season, Babylon 5's defense grid is given substantial upgrades, in response to increasing tensions in the region. The General overseeing the upgrades even goes on to speculate that the station could now take on a starship in a fight.
At the start of the third season, the White Star is introduced. Towards the last third of the season, it is revealed that the White Star was merely a prototype, and that there is now an entire fleet of them at the heroes' disposal.
The power granted by the telepathic drug "Dust" is specifically described as Mind Rape in the episode (season three's "Dust to Dust") in which it's a major plot element. G'Kar does it to Londo, finding out about his role in the bombing of the Narn homeworld.
And it was inverted in the same episode. A Dust user mind rapes the first person he runs into. And ends up reliving a severe trauma experienced previously by his victim: They got caught in a landslide, causing him to scream over and over again that the mountain fell on him.
Happens to Sheridan and Delenn, more or less by design, somewhat by consent, during the final battle with the Shadows and Vorlons.
Actully Bester, while quite willing to mind probe, wasn't one to mind rape unless there were telepath lives at stake. The man did have some standards.
Pretty much the only way to fight the Shadows on anything like even ground involves using telepaths to project Psychic Static into the Shadows' Wetware CPU controls. The Shadows' defense against this, going from Lyta's reaction the first time this was attempted in combat, is pretty much defensive Mind Rape.
Mind Over Manners: The less evil telepaths, most of the time, follow the rule about not scanning someone against their will. Mostly.
Emperor Turhan. An elderly, ill man near the end of his life, he was more or less bald human-ish with no hair fan to speak of. He owned a rather impressive wig, but refused to take it with him during his official visit to Babylon 5, saying that the trappings of status were no longer important to him.
His successor Cartagia, for all his insanity, has a distinctly subdued sense of taste for a Centauri. He even chooses to wear his hair short even though traditionally, the size of a male Centauri's hair fan indicated his status. Only a quasi-example, since Cartagia explains to Londo that the reason he worse his hair shorter was so that he could go among the "lower classes" quite easily, and implied that it enabled him to indulge in... less savoury pleasures.
The Mole: Jack, Garibaldi's trusted aide. After the latter uncovers a plot to kill President Santiago, Jack repays his trust by shooting him In the Back.
The Narn in the first season are presented as themselves being ruthless imperialists, as well as being willing to do arms deals with anyone including pirates and war criminals. Their chief complaint about the Centauri seems to boil down to the fact that it happened to them.
Sheridan nuking the Shadow capital on Zha'Ha'Dum with two five hundred megaton warheads seems a little jarring when you consider that it was probably filled with non-combatants.
Mordor: Z'ha'dum. It even has a Great Eye, which Ivanova sees when she's plugged into the Palantir Great Machine, and later when she visits the planet itself.
Morality Pet: Vir fills this role for Londo on quite a regular basis. Indeed he's stayed Londo's hand on more than one occasion, and Londo is at his worst when Vir is absent.
Multi Boobage: In "TKO", Garibaldi and Walker Smith reminisce about a place they used to frequent where the waitresses had three [meaningful hand gesture].
Mundane Made Awesome: In one episode, Londo discovers insects in his quarters, and treats it as though it's a full-blown invasion by marauding barbarians. He even goes so far as to impale one with a sword and scream something along the lines of "That's what you get for messing with a Centauri!" at its corpse.
Murder By Inaction: Out of jealousy, Lennier's final act on the show was to leave Sheridan behind locked door, flooding with toxic gas. Subverted, in that, A.) he has a change of heart and goes back to correct the mistake, and B.) he returns to find others have arrived to save the day, and is forced to go on the run.
Murder the Hypotenuse: Lennier leaves Sheridan to die instead of saving him, because he's married to Delenn.
The trope is then subverted moments later, as he regrets his decision and goes back.
My Future Self and Me: In "Babylon Squared", Sinclair glimpses his future self, but does not recognize himself due to his counterpart's hazard suit. Revealed to be subverted in "War Without End"; it was Delenn in the suit, not Sinclair.
Londo starts off this way. Though he has his doubts here and there during the war with the Narn, he still remains loyal to his people. By the end of the war, he's realized what a big mistake it was to enlist the help of Morden and his "associates," but by this point he's so firmly entrenched in everything that happened that he goes along with it mostly to preserve his own skin.
A truly heartbreaking example in "The Coming of Shadows" when G'kar, after making his peace with the Centauri emperor, finally extends a tentative hand of friendship to Londo and buys him a drink — unaware that Londo has just ordered the annihilation of a Narn colony.
Another being during the Earth-Minbari War when Delenn receives Dukhat's last message.
Londo again, watching the bombing of the Narn homeworld from orbit.
Peter Jurasik should have gotten an award for that scene. He doesn't speak a word, and you only see him on screen for a few moments, but the look on his face says it all.
Commander Sinclair's rule fu is strong. Probably his most triumphant moment is in the episode "By Any Means Necessary".When faced with a dock worker strike, he is ordered by an Obstructive Bureaucrat to invoke the Rush Act which permits Sinclair to end the strike by any means needed, including using military force to break the strike. Sinclair, instead, uses the power to rewrite the budget to give the workers their demands and repairs they wanted in the first place. The Obstructive Bureaucrat was not amused.
Unfortunately, there was one antagonist with stronger rule fu: Colonel Ari Ben Zayn of Internal Investigations (or "Eyes"). Sinclair managed to blunt the investigation temporarily, but the colonel eventually turned the rules in his own favor. Sinclair had to use different tactics to stop the colonel.
Sheridan gets a chance to exercise this as well. In one episode Earthforce attempts to charge him rent on his quarters. He refuses to back down, even after they change the locks. Eventually, he resolves the situation by charging his new rent against the station's military budget, on the grounds that he won't be in any condition to fight unless he's had a good night's sleep in his own bed.
Sheridan had an even more powerful Rule-fu moment when he put the smackdown on the Night Watch. He pointed out that his orders to comply with the Night Watch came from the Political Office, which wasn't part of his chain of command, and since he hadn't given them the go-ahead to do... anything on the station, they were breaking the law in God alone knows how many ways. It didn't last. All the Political Office had to do was ask the President and Commander-in-Chief to give the order instead. Of course, the very next episode, Babylon 5 seceded from the Earth Alliance, and threw out all the Night Watch members in that episode and the next.
Deathwalker (a moniker given to Warmaster Jha'dur of the Dilgar).
Napoleon Delusion: In "A Late Delivery from Avalon", we meet a nutty swordsman who is convinced that he is King Arthur. It turns out that he is in fact the Earthforce Gunnery Sergeant who fired the first shot of the Earth-Minbari War and is suffering from a serious case of Survivors Guilt. He is healed when "The Lady of the Lake" (Delenn) retrieves his "Excalibur" (an antique sword), symbolizing that she, along with the Minbari race, forgives him.
Neglectful Precursors: An ongoing theme of the later seasons of the show, as well as many of the spinoffs, was the younger races stumbling across various nasty things left behind by The Vorlons and the Shadows.note A very jarring example, considering that the Precursors in question had just left.
John Sheridan has a monologue where he laments the fact that he was rushed the day of the last phone call with his wife Anna, and forgot to say "I love you" before she headed out on the expedition that claimed her life.
Ivanova has similar regrets regarding Marcus. Marcus however did get to say "I love you" to a dying Ivanova, leading to the touching yet funny line, "I thought: God really does have an English accent, just like in those old movies."
New Neo City: Numerous references to New Vegas, a Mars-based resort. When Babylon 5 first came online, New Vegas oddsmakers put the odds of Babylon 5 surviving at 200 to 1 against.
Ivanova's old boyfriend, Malcolm Biggs, in "The War Prayer". By the end of the episode, he's been revealed as part of an earth-supremacist group, and Ivanova has had to arrest him.
Talia's got two of them: Jason Ironheart ("Mind War"; ascends to a higher plane of existence) and Matthew Stoner ("Soul Mates").
Nice Hat: The Inquisitor's dapper-looking top hat.
Garibaldi puts one on as part of his "excellent disguise" when doing some investigating with Franklin in Downbelow. G'Kar is shown wearing it in a later episode as part of an attempt to better understand Garibaldi while searching for him.
Marcus spends the entirety of "Exogenesis" investigating the disappearance of his friend, Duncan, who has been taken over by a Puppeteer Parasite. It later turns out that Duncan was on death's door, and that the parasites, or rather, the symbiotes, cure their hosts of all disease. Marcus realizes his error, but too late for Duncan; the symbiote leaves his body to prove its intentions are benign. Duncan can never be recoupled with one again. Somewhat bittersweet example, though: Before being bonded, Duncan was content to spend his twilight years running a kiosk in the Zocalo and making very little money. After briefly sharing the memories of the symbiote, he has decided to spend his last years exploring the galaxy and seeing new things.
When Londo bombed the Shadow Vessels on Centauri Prime, the allies of the Shadows remembered and eventually came for revenge.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: After Sheridan nuked Za'ha'dum and the Shadows moved some forces to make bases on other planets. When they come to Centauri Prime, they have Morden make Londo into their liaison to the Royal Court. This action allowed Londo access to a chance to not only kill Emperor Cartagia, but bomb every Shadow ship on Centauri Prime.
Marcus: "You know, I used to think that it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought: Wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them. So now, I take great comfort in the hostility and unfairness of the universe."
Nobody Ever Complained Before: The Minbari Warrior Caste's traditional method of greeting in interstellar dealings is to approach the ship with gunports open but uncharged, as a sign of respect to the other race. Unfortunately, Minbari tech dwarfs human tech, so when they approached the human ship and scanned them, they didn't think to turn off their stealth tech, and likely didn't know their sensors would shut down the Earth ships jump drives. When the human captain saw a fleet of advanced ships coming at them, somehow knocking out their jump drives, stealth tech preventing them from getting any reading beyond their gunports are open, and no means of effectively communicating, he panicked, resulting in a genocidal war.
No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: In "Soul Mates", Londo is laid low by a poisoning, and one of his wives has a blood type which can save him. Though she actually doesn't like him and wouldn't entirely mind seeing him die, she donates her blood to save him anyway because she doesn't want to win her battles in such a one-sided way.
No Hero to His Valet: Played straight with Vir who is very loyal but is also very much aware of Londo's faults. Subverted with Lennier. Delenn is always a heroine to her valet and remains so even after Lennier learns of her darker side in Atonement, despite Delenn's fear's of his reaction.
Nom de Guerre: The leader of the Mars Resistance is known through the entire fourth season only as Number One. It isn't until near the end of the series that we finally learn her real name.
Non Answer: After being released from prison, G'Kar tells Ta'Lon that he had a major revelation just before being imprisioned. When Ta'Lon asks what kind of revelation it was, G'Kar responds by telling him how big a revelation it was, and how it changed his entire outlook on the Universe, rather than what the revelation actually was. Ta'Lon, being nobody's fool, calls him out on it.
Ta'Lon: That was a stirring reply, G'Kar. Unfortunately, while all answers are replies, not all replies are answers, so I will ask again.
A truly epic example courtesy of a drunken Londo in "Parliament of Dreams".
Londo: Everybody's cute. Except me. But in purple, I'm stunning!
"And he made a very satisfying thump when he hit the ground."
Noodle Incident: In "A Distant Star", an old friend of Sheridan's visits the station. During dinner with the officers, Sheridan starts to tell an embarrassing story about him, and he retaliates with three words: "July 12th, 2253". Sheridan admits defeat, and neither story gets told.
Also, it seems that Ivanova and a smuggler did something that Ivanova is convinced lead to Garibaldi losing all his hair.
No Paper Future: Lampshaded and Subverted. A character in one season three episode complains that every time she's told they're entering a paper-free society, she gets three more forms to fill out.
Earlier in Season 2, an episode had a Green Aesop where newspapers are immediately recycled. (Done reading yesterday's edition? Drop it in the hopper and it comes out with today's news on it.)
No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted with the White Star. While they spend most of the third season using the ship as a very powerful one-of-a-kind starship, it is later revealed that the Minbari had been secretly mass producing the design, having an entire fleet of them ready for battle once the Shadow War kicks off in earnest.
Nose Art: Many of the Starfuries have custom paint jobs on the wing just above the cockpits, including those flown by Mauve Shirts or Red Shirts. Ivanova has a black double-headed eagle with a red star superimposed (symbolizing her Russian heritage and past fondness for Neo-Communist philosophy), Garibaldi has a yellow and orange tigerstripe pattern (later Daffy Duck), and Sheridan has the entire top wing of his fighter decorated in a tiger motif, complete with face and claw marks. Lochley has a phoenix on hers, which presumably symbolizes the way she turned her life around after spending her teens as a substance abuser.
Sheridan takes it a step farther. When he launches his military campaign to throw President Clark out of power, he has the Babylon 5 crest painted on the hull of his flagship.
No Such Agency: Bureau 13. So secret it's very name isn't even known. The one guy that told Captain Sheridan the Bureau's name ended up dead shortly afterwards.
No Such Thing as Alien Pop Culture: very, very much used throughout the series, to the point where when G'Kar, a Narn, asks the human Zack if the poster of Daffy Duck in Garibaldi's quarters is one of the human security chief's household Gods, Zack starts to explain, realizes it'll be more trouble than it's worth, and continues, "You could say that," and calls Daffy "the Egyptian god of frustration." Though by the way G'Kar laughs at the explanation, it's clear he realizes that Zack's being facetious.
In Midnight on the Firing Line, the episode ends with Delenn sitting in Garibaldi's quarters with him watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. She seems faintly amused by it, but also very confused, apparently unsure what she should be doing. When Garibaldi offers her popcorn, she stares at the bowl for a moment before taking some, then turning back to the cartoon, asks Garibaldi to explain part of it to her.
In one episode, Vir and Lennier meet up at a bar. Lennier asks Vir what he's drinking, and Vir says it's a ShirleyTemple. Lennier thinks about this for a second, and then says that while he's studied Earth's religions, he can't say he's ever heard of the Shirley Temple.
Delenn introduces her old mentor, Draal, to Londo. Londo meanwhile is ranting at length about a song that humans all teach their children, the Hokey Pokey. He has studied it extensively, had it analyzed by every specialist he could find, and discovers that it means nothing at all.
Draal: I rather enjoyed the song. Delenn: Don't tell him.
Not Distracted by the Sexy: In "Lines of Communication" Sheridan walks in on Ivanova in her nightgown and just starts talking, ignoring her dress. She even has to note she needs to get dressed before they leave and he reacts with as much interest as someone saying "Okay, just let me turn off this light." Ivanova is perturbed by this.
Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Despite numerous episodes making it clear that Ivanova was born and raised Russian, you could be forgiven for believing that she was raised in America, since Claudia Christian makes no effort to hide her American accent. She does give herself a slightly stilted way of speaking here and there in early episodes, but any trace that she may have once been Russian is gone by Season Two.
Not Hyperbole: After Marcus makes his Badass Boast to some thugs ("...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."), they force Marcus to follow through on it.
Marcus:Bugger! Now I have to wait for someone to wake up!
Later in the series, Marcus Cole realizes that Ivanova isn't paying attention to his report: "There's always the threat of an attack by say, a giant space dragon, the kind that eats the sun once every thirty days. It's a nuisance, but what can you expect from reptiles? Did I mention that my nose is on fire, and that I have fifteen wild badgers living in my trousers?" (Ivanova finally looks at him, witheringly.) "I'm sorry, would you prefer ferrets?"
Londo and G'Kar realize this about halfway through the fourth season.
Sheridan and Delenn.
As is revealed to the characters and audience in the third and fourth seasons, the Vorlons and the Shadows really aren't all that different.
The meeting between Delenn and "King Arthur" in "A Late Delivery from Avalon". Both had idealistic/mystical personalities. But their real similarity as that both bore heavily the knowledge that they had helped to start the Earth-Minbari war. Indeed "King Arthur" might actually have fired the shot that killed Delenn's beloved mentor. A very well done reconciliation scene. (Sadly, Delenn's side wasn't fully explained when the episode first aired; it wasn't until "Atonement" that her part in starting the war was made clear.)
Bester points out the similarities between himself and Garibaldi, though mainly just because it amused him to do so.
When Lochley is trying to help Garibaldi over his drink problem, he snaps at her that she hardly ever drinks herself so how would she know what it's like? Turns out there's a very simple reason she hardly ever drinks.
Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: Upon learning that Lennier is a "master adept" at the laws of probability, Londo wrestles him into joining a card game. Unfortunately, the subtler points of playing Poker (like bluffing) are lost on Lennier. Londo then resorts to using his....erm, "appendage" to re-shuffle the deck, getting busted in the process.
Nuclear Option: Despite actor Bruce Boxlightener's personal nickname for his character, John "Nuke 'Em" Sheridan, the commander of Babylon 5 uses nuclear weaponry several times in his career but with judicious, tactical considerations, not flippancy.
Artistic License - Nuclear Physics: In "A Voice in the Wilderness", Ivanova speaks of a nuclear reactor "approaching critical mass", meaning that it's about to blow up. See the trope page for an explanation for why this is incorrect for nuclear fission reactors — and then add to that the fact that Ivanova was talking about a nuclear fusion reactor, where the concept of "critical mass" doesn't apply at all.
Many trappings of President Clark's government are copied directly from George Orwell's 1984, right down to the names.
Similarly, Daniel, the instigator of the anti-Alliance rebellion in Deconstruction of the Falling Stars uses terms imitating Orwellian Newspeak, and wears a uniform with a nearly-unmodified SS logo. He obviously never read point 21 of the Evil Overlord List.
Odd Friendship: Londo and G'kar, representing two races which had long been bitter enemies, grew into an Odd Friendship by the end of the series.
Oh Crap: The look on Refa's face when holographic Londo reveals his endgame to him — which then leads to a pack of angry Narns beating the absolute bajeezus out of him. The following scene, as the Narns pummel him with upbeat Gospel music playing in the background, is almost eerily beautiful.
Ominous Message from the Future: In "War Without End", the station receives a distress call from Sector 14. It turns out to be Ivanova from eight days in the future, sending a mayday about the station being under attack by the Shadows. The message ends right as the future station explodes. This message would signal the end of Babylon 5 in real-time if Jeffrey Sinclair did not steal Babylon 4 and travel back in time, using it as a base to fight the Shadows as Valen. Else, the Shadow forces would return far too powerful in Babylon 5's day.
One-Federation Limit: The Earth Alliance, the Minbari Federation, the Centauri Republic (which is actually a monarchy like the late Roman republic), the Narn Regime and the Vorlon Empire. Some races (like the Dilgar, Shadows, and Drakh) have no stated governmental body, while the others have ones only stated offhand or in the background material (Drazi Freehold, Brakiri Syndicracy, Abbai Matriarchate, Grome Autocracy, etc)
And all those miscellaneous governments could conveniently be lumped into the League of Nonaligned Worlds.
One-Gender Race: The pak'ma'ra ... sort of. The "hump" they have on their back is actually their mate, permanently bonded to them. Whether the hump is the male or the female is up for debate. In an online post, JMS stated that the hump is the female, but the official Babylon 5 Role Playing Game says that the hump is the male.
One Last Job: Refa pressuring Londo to enlist the Shadows in wiping out the Narn fleet. Londo, however, has grown fearful of his "associates" and warns Refa that that this is the last time he will call upon Morden.
One World Order: Earthgov, for all intents and purposes. Under Clark, the government institutes giving Psi Corps increased judicial powers, as well as creating a trio of agencies (The Ministries of Peace, Truth, and Information) to tilt the balance of power in his favor. Clark later dissolves the Earth senate, which he re-forms with many of his own people in place.
Earthgov is actually an alliance of most of the world's major powers, including Europe, America, Russia, Japan and others. It's also implied that many countries resisted the formation of Earthgov and that many of them are not equal members of the Earth Alliance, and yet the EA posits itself to be the unified representative of Humanity.
This holds true for the Minbari Federation and Centauri Republic, as well.
Anna Sheridan (played by Beth Toussaint) first appeared in a message to her sister-in-law, recorded prior to her disappearance. Toussaint wasn't available for the episode where Anna returns as a Shadow agent; Melissa Gilbert (Bruce Boxleitner's real-life spouse) was cast in her place.
Delenn's mentor, Draal, is played by Louis Turenne in the two-parter "A Time in the Wilderness". In all of his subsequent appearance, he is played John Schuck. This is Hand Waved by explaining that Draal has age-regressed as a result of being linked with the Great Machine.
Apparently they had a terrible time keeping actresses around to play G'Kar's aide. His first one, Ko'Dath, disappears under mysterious circumstances because Mary Woronov had trouble with the Narn makeup and prosthetics. The same problem drove away the first Na'Toth actress, Susan Kellerman. Julie Caitlin Brown made it through the entire first season (and was awesome) before she, too, succumbed to makeup problems and quit. Her role was given to Mary Kay Adams, who was not up to the task at all, and finally Na'Toth was written out of the story altogether. (However, she is later mentioned as having been captured by the Centauri during the war, and is found by Londo and G'Kar in a prison cell on Centauri Prime in Season 5. For this appearance, she is once again played by Julie Caitlin Brown.
Our Doors Are Different: The doors on the station are mostly automatic-opening, slide open sideways, and are a sort of lopsided pentagon shape instead of rectangular. Elevator doors are rectangular, but split open on a diagonal.
In "The Gathering", the pentagonal doors actually opened on corner hinge, flipping up into the wall butterfly-style. The impracticality of this mechanism on a weekly show likely led to the more conventional side-slide method used thereafter.
Our Elves Are Better: The Minbari, who are elegant, refined and more technologically advanced than nearly any other race. With a link to The Fair Folk, they are also quite willing to wipe out an entire species if provoked.
Water conservation is important on the station so only the executive suites and command quarters get showers with running water; everybody else has to make do with "vibe showers".
Earth's space ships don't have water showers even in the command quarters; when Captain Sheridan is transferred to Babylon 5, he is seriously happy when he learns his quarters include "a real live honest-to-god shower with running water".
The Minbari use a chemical that removes the outermost layer of skin. It does terrible things to hair, as Delenn finds out.
Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Totally and utterly averted. Every race is religious, although humanity surprises everyone by having so many different faiths (the only other species explicitly stated to have multiple religions is the Narns, and it's implied that they have many, many fewer than Earth).
USENET: (on Passing Through Gethsemane) "The themes of faith and forgiveness were worthy of a theologian. Are you sure there isn't something you'd like to tell us?" JMS: Never shoot pool at a place called Pop's. Never eat food at a place called Mom's. The difference between horses and humans is that they're too smart to bet on what we'll do. And I have lost people. Too many people. Lost them to chance, violence, brutality beyond belief; I've seen all the senseless, ignoble acts of "god's noblest creature." And I am incapable of forgiving. My feelings are with G'Kar, hand sliced open, saying of the drops of blood flowing from that open wound, "How do you apologize to them?" "I can't." "Then I cannot forgive." As an atheist, I believe that all life is unspeakably precious, because it's only here for a brief moment, a flare against the dark, and then it's gone forever. No afterlives, no second chances, no backsies. So there can be nothing crueler than the abuse, destruction or wanton taking of a life. It is a crime no less than burning the Mona Lisa, for there is always just one of each. So I cannot forgive. Which makes the notion of writing a character who CAN forgive momentarily attractive...because it allows me to explore in great detail something of which I am utterly incapable. I cannot fly, so I would write of birds and starships and kites; I cannot play an instrument, so I would write of composers and dancers; and I cannot forgive, so I would write of priests and monks and Minbari....
Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: In "Rumors, Bargains and Lies", Delenn and Neroon are in private conference onboard a ship discussing how to resolve the Minbari Civil War. Delenn says that neither the Warrior Caste nor the Religious Caste should be allowed to win the war because it would unbalance society—but a Religious Caste member walks by the room and hears only the part that the Religious caste should not win the war. He thus concludes that Delenn is betraying her caste and surrendering the war to Neroon's Warrior Caste, which leads to the Religious Caste members (who crew the ship they are travelling on) to plot to sabotage the ship's life support so that it doesn't reach Minbar.
Londo does this as well, though in his case it's more like "Dive sideways into an elevator to avoid the fireball."
The White Star has to use every ounce of power it has to outrun the exploding Jump Gate after opening a jump point within it to destroy a persuing Shadow warship. Due to most ships capable of opening jump points being too slow to escape such an explosion, this maneuver (a desperate but abandoned tactic to destroy Minbari ships during the war) is referred to by humans as "The Bonehead Maneuver"note "No offense." says Sheridan. "None taken," answers Lennier.
In the made-for-tv movie Thirdspace, Sheridan ends up having to do this in a space suit with a thruster backpack. He ends up using all of his fuel in his escape and is left drifting in space, asking Delenn to come pick him up (prompting her to tease that she'll do just that... eventually.)
Overly Long Name: The actual species name for the Shadows is over one thousand syllables long.
First averted by Garibaldi, who selects a password "peekaboo" purely on the grounds that nobody would have ever guessed he would use it. And because it would get a big laugh.
Later justified, by Sinclair, when he needs to leave a password-protected message behind for Garibaldi. In this case the password had to be something that wouldn't be easily guessable in general, but would be easily guessable by Garibaldi. He settles on "Hello, old friend".
A strange example occurs in Passing Through Gethsemane. A Centauri bumps into Brother Edward as the latter is leaving an elevator. The viewer discovers later that the Centauri was a telepath, and bumped into Brother Edward so he could break the monk's mind block.
Percussive Therapy: In frustration, Garibaldi shoots out an elevator's intercom just so he won't have to listen to Sparky yap any more.
Perfect Pacifist People: Subverted by the Minbari, who are pacifists only among themselves. And later not even that. Minbari Civil War, anyone?
Pet the Dog: Londo Mollari has so many of these that it makes people cry.
Londo: My shoes are now too tight, and I have forgotten how to dance. Vir: I don't understand. Londo: Nor should you. [Later, when he helps the two young Centauri and they ask why] Londo: Because you are young, and young people should be allowed to dance!
Pillars of Moral Character: Noted repeatedly is the concept that death is easy, obligations are hard. The Minbari Warrior caste states that they do not fear death, only failure to complete their appointed tasks. Lorien points out that Heroic Sacrifice is easy compared to living in pursuit of a cause. G'Kar defends David Martel's decision to retreat from a hopeless battle because death is a release from obligations. Pretty much every Big Good in the series holds to this.
Police Brutality: Michael Garibaldi has many friends from Mars, including an ex-lover of his. When there is fighting ongoing on Mars, it is probably best to take the hint when he asks you to stop talking trash about Marsies. He doesn't lose his temper often, but when he does, it isn't pretty.
Otherwise completely averted by Garibaldi, who calls Sheridan out on holding Morden indefinitely without formal charges:
Garibaldi: "Look, out there I may play things fast and loose but in here I play things by the book."
Political Officer: One gets assigned to babysit Captain Sheridan. She has a rather direct technique for trying to secure his loyalty. She ends up returning to Earth to do damage control after someonenote Commander Ivanova finds and leaks evidence that President Clarke may have had something to do with his predecessor's death.
Powder Keg Crowd: Following a recurrence of the Drafa virus, all of the Markab aboard B5 explode into a panic. According to Markab lore, Drafa only targets the sinful, resulting in their elders accusing everyone in sight (including Sheridan and co.) of being "unclean".
Narn and Centauri crowds during the Narn Centauri War in the second season, and after the end of the war, the frustrated Narn population as a whole, who G'Kar has to work to keep under control.
Human crowds aboard the station in the third season, around when everything begins to go completely off the rails due to internal tensions in the Earth Alliance.
The dockworkers' guild in "By Any Means Necessary" erupts into one during their strike. Sinclair is ordered to use the Rush Act to end the strike, with the expectation that he will use the station's military assets to do so ("by any means necessary"). Instead, Sinclair, being Sinclair takes a third option and indeed uses the station's military assets—namely, the military budget—and meets the guild's demands, ending the strike.
The Drazi form two separate powder kegs during their purple/green fight.
Power Fist: Trakis's taser glove in "Born to the Purple".
The Power of Love: Sheridan's love for Delenn is what gives him the anchor needed for Lorien to bring him back to life, and in fact may be responsible for winning both the Shadow War and the Earth Civil War. A station worker in the 5th season sums it up quite nicely:
Pretext for War: Kalain, alone in his cell, commits suicide using a false tooth filled with poison. Kalain hopes that the station will attack and destroy his ship, the Trigati, allowing his disgraced crew to reclaim their honor and restart the Earth-Minbari war in a single stroke.
Previously On: Used in part two of the two-parter "A Voice in the Wilderness", in certain major arc episodes to remind the audience of previous events that are referenced, as well as the entire fifth season narration (see below).
Product Placement: In some season 1 episodes, neon signs can be seen in the background of the local bar. One of them is an ad for Zima, which was a newly launched product at the time.
Word of God is that they weren't paid for the Zima sign at all; it was added purely as a joke.
Prophecy Twist: Londo's chronic dreams of himself and G'Kar choking each other to death. Twenty years later ("War Without End, Pt. 2"), Londo allows Sheridan and Delenn (along with their son) to escape from his palace. Londo then confides to G'Kar that he Cannot Self Terminate, and must be killed before the Drakh Keeper inside him alerts the guards. As G'Kar reluctantly grabs him by the throat, Londo's Keeper re-takes control and kills him too.
Especially if you recall what happened to the Black Star.
Played with in "Grail". Jinxo stays on Babylon 5 because he believes he carries a curse that will cause the station to blow up the moment he leaves it. At the end of the episode he finally gets up the courage to leave... on a ship called the Marie Celeste.
Telepaths in general are trained to use this to cloud their own abilities while not actively working.
Used by Garibaldi while on the run from several Telepaths.
One guy tries to block Lyta by solving math equations in his head. She's been Touched by Vorlons by this point, and points out that he made an error in his last calculation while still breaking the guy down.
Psychic Strangle: Discussed in "Mind War", where Talia's former mentor talks about using a gentler form than usual to assassinate without a trace. Simply close off both carotid arteries to cut off oxygen to the brain, then release the pressure once the target dies. That's assuming it was possible to get a relatively stable telekinetic who wouldn't have qualms about that sort of thing....
Puny Earthlings: Played straight with regards to a few races' raw physical strength (Minbari, Narn...) compared to humans; but averted in other cases. Minbari come from a planet that is colder than Earth, and temperatures high enough that a human would merely find enormously uncomfortable will kill a Minbari rapidly; also, they become violently deranged when they consume alcohol. The Drazi have the opposite problem; they are far more intolerant of COLD weather than humans are.
Used straight with the "keepers", creatures that possess the Centauri Regent and Londo.
Subverted in "Exogenesis" by the Vindrizi who purposely seek out the downtrodden, such as Lurkers or the terminally-ill, and take possession of their bodies under consent only. In return for carrying the parasites, the hosts get to share the memories of thousands of lifetimes of the Vindrizi's travel throughout the universe.
PsiCop Bester subtly controllingGaribaldi by enhancing the paranoid tendencies of his mind and planting post-hypnotic suggestions; and the PsiCorps being able to plant a second "sleeper" personality into people, something which happened to Talia Winters.
Put on a Bus: Commander Sinclair is reassigned abruptly between seasons. Officially, JMS claimed it was due to his having written the character into a corner, combined with the suits at the network not being overly fond of Michael O’Hare, the actor who played him. A few months after O'Hare's death, JMS revealed that the actual cause had been the actor's struggle with schizophrenia. Writing him out and replacing him on the show allowed Michael O'Hare to dedicate his time to getting proper treatment without hurting the show.