"The Cylons were created by man. They rebelled. They evolved. They look - and feel - human. Some are programmed to believe they are human. There are many copies. And they have a plan."
—Opening title card, season one
(For the original 1978 series, see Battlestar Galactica (Classic))In 2003, the Sci-Fi Channel revived the classic 1970s space opera series in a four-hour miniseries, followed in 2005 by a regular series which ran four seasons before concluding in 2009. The new program, considerably darker and more adult-themed than the original, discarded the original series continuity and retooled many of the main characters while keeping many of the original show's themes and technology. Despite initial protests from fans of the original series (including original series star Richard Hatch, who had long hoped to relaunch the series and reprise his role as Apollo), the new series quickly became one of the most popular programs in Sci-Fi's history. Even Hatch eventually changed his tune, joining the show's cast as political dissident Tom Zarek.The 2000s series picks up forty years after the end of the first war between the humans and Cylons, in this continuity sentient machines created as soldiers by the human race. As the story begins, the Cylons, now led by a group of artificial humans, launch a surprise nuclear attack that obliterates almost the entire human race. Like the original series, the survivors form a fleet led by Galactica in search of the lost thirteenth colony, Earth, with the subversion that whether Earth even exists or not is completely unknown to the fleet. Religious symbolism and revelation play a great role in the new series, as the fleet follow signs and omens that may lead them to Earth while wondering whether or not they're just wasting their time. The polytheistic religion of the humans, based on classical Greek/Roman mythology, also comes into conflict with the monotheistic, vaguely Christian faith of the humanoid Cylons, with the occasional dropped hint that both groups are receiving revelation from the same source.The new series has been favorably compared to Babylon 5 and Firefly for its character-driven storylines and for attempting to portray space physics in a realistic manner despite the occasional excess. It has even been the subject of a panel discussion at the UN.The newer series avoided some obvious space opera cliches (such as Space Clothes, Teleporters and Transporters, Lasers, even communicators).There were also two Made For TV Movies, called Battlestar Galactica: Razor and Battlestar Galactica: The Plan.
The first one told the story of the Battlestar Pegasus, led by Admiral Helena Cain, as it fled from the Cylon attack until they met up with the Galactica in "Pegasus". It is told through the flashbacks of Kendra Shaw, one of Cain's top lieutenants, and intersects with events that take place at the end of season 2, when Lee Adama takes command of the Pegasus, and the Fleet encounters a Cylon Breakaway faction led by a proto-hybrid. It was released in 2007, in the gap between seasons 3 and 4.
The second one told the story of the destruction of the colonies from the point of view of the Cylons. It features original material and scenes from the series. It was directed by Edward James Olmos and came out in 2009, after the series finished. Olmos, who has stated in the past that one of his life goals is to direct or star in a movie with Male Frontal Nudity, finally got his wish with this film, which features an inexplicable lingering zoom-in shot of a penis during a shower scene.
Caprica, a prequel set 58 years before the events of the Mini-Series, portrays life in the Twelve Colonies and shows the story behind the creation of the Cylons. It premiered in January 2010, and was cancelled after just one season. Another tv-movie was made in 2012, called Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, that might serve as a backdoor pilot for yet another series.There is also a browser-based spaceflight action MMO based on the series, Battlestar Galactica Online, set in an AU where a jump accident pre-New Caprica sends both Colonials and Cylons into uncharted space filled with the leftovers of mysterious precursors.
Absent Aliens: Edward James Olmos said early on that he would quit the show if aliens started showing up. He in fact stated he would have Adama faint while the cameras were rolling and walk off the set if he saw a space monster on set.
There is alien life in the series, but nothing more advanced than plants and birds, and it's implied that they may have been left behind by the original colonizers of Kobol/the 12 colonies.
There is also 'god' and the head people. There were also hints that the colonial gods were aliens.
Absentee Actor: The various non main cast Cylons and a few humans are absent in some episodes due to the large cast and budget constraints.
Adam and Eve Plot: Helo and Athena have some parallels when they conceive Hera, the first (known) Cylon/Human Hybrid, after the Fall of Caprica.
Adult Fear: And HOW in the miniseries. Number Six walks up to a stranger in the street, fusses over a baby, picks it up and, when the mother turns away for a second, breaks the child's neck. And leaves it there for the mother to find.
Advanced Ancient Humans: Technology Levels on Kobol seem to have been much higher than in the Colonies or on Earth. Indeed, all Cylon-related science, including organic Cylons and Resurrection, originated on Kobol and were Lost Technology until rediscovered thousands of years later. This later repeats itself on our Earth, where it is not known that humans and Cylons from distant solar systems are among the ancestors of modern humans.
Aesop Amnesia: In the first two seasons Baltar spends several episode not believing that he's an agent of God, events in the episode and Mind!Six speaking him convincing him that he is, only to go through the same or a highly similar cycle again a few episodes later, or even the very next episode.
Affably Evil: The Cavils, at least during their early appearances. As the series progresses they become more evil and less affable.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Cylons rebelled and fought against humanity. Even the more-mechanical Cylon centurions are liable to rebel against their Artificial Human masters unless kept in check. The inevitability of conflict between organic and artificial life, and various character's attempts to break the cycle of violence, form the spine of the series.
Almost Lethal Weapons: A major character in the season one finale takes two bullets to the chest at close range and lives. A minor season four character is shot once by the same weapon at longer range and dies in a minute or so.
Anchored Ship: Lee and Kara, who are kept apart, at least at the start of the series, by the fact that Kara was once engaged to marry his (now-dead) brother. Also Bill Adama and Laura Roslin, who eventually overcome their job-related inhibitions about being in a relationship and get together, even if she dies at the end.
Angel Unaware: Implied to be the entities behind the hallucinations of the "Head people." Mostly Baltar's virtual Six, but also Six's virtual Baltar and scads other characters.
Anyone Can Die: Almost every recurring and secondary character had been killed off by the end of the show, presumably so the minimum amount of people would get closure, not to mention a happy ending.)
Of course for Cylons, Death Is Cheap - though even they begin to suffer Final Death as the colonials make strides in the war.
Artistic License - Law: Baltar's trial had several moments that would never have flown in a real court room, from Baltar repeatedly making loud outbursts with no penalty to the defense calling up one of their own lawyers as a witness. Twice justified: 1, we don't know what kind of law the colonies had, and 2, Lampkin was the only trained lawyer in the room, and was more than happy to bend the rules when he could get away with it.
Ascended Extra: Dualla, Gaeta, Cally, Hoshi, Anders, Tory, Doc Cottle, Seelix, Romo, Hotdog, and Kat to name a few.
Helo is probably the most obvious example, he was supposed to die in the pilot.
It's worse than that: the audience was just supposed to assume he must have died offscreen at some point.
Ascetic Aesthetic: The colonials and Cylons have very different design aesthetics, with the former being in a run-down warship, with even the newer ships (ala Pegasus) are distinctly utilitarian; the latter in ultra-modern organic/technological starships.
Ass Pull: Due to being imaginative and an extremely talented liar, Baltar can pull a plausible excuse, idea, and once an entire religion out of his ass at the drop of a hat.invoked
Astronomic Zoom: In the Season 3 finale was another variation, the shot zooming out from a battle to show the entire Galaxy before zooming back in at a nearby area to show how close the fleet were to Earth, though given the sizes involved they could be right next to it and never have found it without help.
Ate His Gun: Cavil at the end. Whether it was simple suicide as his plans crashed down around him, or a reflexive escape attempt forgetting he couldn't resurrect anymore, will never be known.
Played uncomfortably straight with the Cylons—the good (or at least sympathetic) Cylons are played by attractive young actors and actresses (Six, Boomer/Athena, D'Anna, Anders, Chief Tyrol), the more morally doubtful (Leoben, Tigh) are older and less conventionally attractive, and the outright evil (Cavil) is the ugliest and oldest of the lot. Then again, Tory is both young and attractive and also morally doubtful, and her actions have resulted in her seeming far less sympathetic. And given D'Anna was willing even in her last (S4) appearance to wipe out humanity even after they helped resurrect her she probably deserves to be in the morally doubtful region along with Tory.
The (only) perfectly upstanding character, Karl Agathon, is named after this trope (see "Kalos kai Agathos" above).
Becoming the Mask: What happens to Athena when she impersonates Boomer in the first season.
In "The Plan" a Number Four Cylon has a wife and child (hers, from a previous marriage) and tries to resist pressure from Cavil to commit sabotage.
Beta Couple: Helo and Athena to Apollo and Starbuck, although the problems they face are on a whole different level.
Kat: When you come back after a successful run, let me tell you. It is better than a great meal. Better than hitting a jackpot. It's better than sex.
Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts: A longer timeframe than usual, but Kara Thrace. Dies, turns up again and hitches a lift, gives mystical prophecies and information, vanishes into thin air when her "task" is done.
When questioned about the sexuality of the Cylons in general, Ronald D. Moore said, "We sort of always talked about the Cylons being basically bisexual in all formats. They didn't really have gender roles[...]." Could count as Word of Gay in the case of the male models since there is little to no in-series indication of their bisexuality.
Big Applesauce: The ruins of the first Earth. Plus, the final scene takes place in modern Times Square.
Big Bad: Initially the Cylons form a homogenous collective front with no clear single villain. Eventually Cavil emerges as the series' primary antagonist.
Big Damn Heroes: In "Exodus Part II", when the Pegasus comes diving in to save the Galactica from no less than four baseships.
Big Damn Gunship: Given the nature (and title) of the show, this effect is frequent, but particularly notable in season three's "Exodus - Part 2", in which both the Galactica and the Pegasus have almost back to back BDG moments.
In the pilot episode, a portion of the civilian fleet led by Roslin and Apollo were in the midst of a dramatic countdown that would abandon the ships without FTL to their deaths at the hands of the Cylons. You would think that this would be a set up for the Galactica to show up at the last moment and save everyone. You would be wrong.
Big Screwed-Up Family: A figurative one among the Galactica community, with Roslin and Adama being the Team Mom/Team Dad of the Fleet, and a literal one among the Cylons, with Saul and Ellen Tigh being the estranged Team Dad/Team Mom for the Cylons, with their eldest son, Cavil, having usurped their position in the family and leading his siblings along the road to hell.
Bittersweet Ending: The First Human-Cylon war ends with an uneasy armistice after a great deal of death, destruction, and bloodshed, and lasts for around forty years before the Second Human-Cylon war ends in a Pyrrhic human victory, with the vast (and even the word vast does not seem quite adequate enough) majority of the both the human and cylon races being wiped out, a dozen planets being turned into what amounts to nuclear wastelands, and while the remains of the two civilizations finally come to live together in peace on our Earth, the technologically advanced human and cylon civilizations are extinguished, with the surviving population ultimately choosing to live a primitive lifestyle. And a great deal of the cast does not live to see it. Fast forward a few hundred or so millennium, and human-cylon civilization has progressed to what we know it as today, the series finale ending with the implication that this may happen all over again.
Bloodless Carnage: Averted; people get covered in blood after the slightest of injuries, most notably the characters on Kobol who are still bloody in the 3rd episode of the 2nd season from an accident in the previous season's finale.
Boarding Pod: A rather spectacular version where the entire Galactica is used as one.
Body Backup Drive: The re-imagined Cylons download into new bodies, so long as there's a Resurrection Ship in range. Even the dog-level-intelligence Raider ships resurrect.
Boomerang Bigot: Some of the most aggressively anti-Cylon characters turn out to be Cylons or people with significant connections to the Cylon race.
Break Out the Museum Piece: The Galactica was in the process of being converted into a museum when the Cylon attack caused it to be pressed back into service. Also, the fact that Cylons can disable linked computer systems means that cutting-edge ships and fighters are useless against them, so older ones have to be used.
At least until they adapted the newer ships at later points in the series.
Hilariously, Edward James Olmos actually breaks a museum piece in an awesome bit of ad-lib acting.
Break the Cutie: Boomer. Things just take a downward turn for her in the first season and the series keeps running with it until the inevitable snap.
Most of the cast gets this treatment, actually, with prime examples being Duala, Gaeta, and Tyrol.
Broken Ace: Kara "Starbuck" Thrace. Top notch pilot, expert markswoman, fine brawler-but suffering from memories of an abusive childhood, a morass of self-esteem and self-loathing issues, and unsure of how to have a life beyond being The Ace. And of course it just gets worse halfway through the fourth season when she finds out she's been Dead All Along.
Broken Pedestal: The Final Five, depicted in visions as glowing angelic beings in long flowing robes and held up as gods by the other six Cylons, turn out to be the five most screwed up, petty, petulant, disorderly, malcontent, self-centered and, ironically, human characters in the whole series. It makes sense, in universe: Cavil wiped their memories and stuck them with the humans to teach them a lesson. He enforced a taboo amongst the other cylons about discussing them. Both aspects backfired.
Starbuck habitually indulges in self-destructive and disrespectful behaviour that would get her kicked out of any real-world military. Among other things she misses her scheduled flight due to heavy drinking and punches her executive officer. It's justified in-universe by the fact that she has extraordinary skills as a pilot when pilots of any kind are desperately hard to come by. It probably doesn't hurt that she's Commander Adama's surrogate daughter-figure.
Colonel Tigh is a Jerk Assalcoholic, known for Drinking On Duty, and once getting into a fistfight with a subordinate officer during a poker game (even he couldn't honestly remember when asked later if Starbuck threw the first punch or if he did). When he sobers up, he is a very capable and fierecely loyal XO to Commander Adama, saving the ship with his fast decision making more than once.
Cain and Abel: Any serious conflict between the Cylons amounts to this, since all but the five originators of the race are brothers and sisters by relation.
John murdered his brother Daniel out of jealously because his mother loved him more, polluting the models during their assembly process. He later kills half his siblings for rebelling against him.
Boomer and Athena's interaction also becomes increasingly hostile as Boomer feels that Athena got the life she should have had. Athena knowingly started out as a Cylon before joining the humans willingly, while Boomer believed herself to be human before having her Cylon nature forced upon her. She threatens to kill Athena's daughter Hera before Six kills her. After downloading again Boomer later beats up Athena and ties her up, then forces her to watch as she makes out with Athena's human husband Helo and kidnaps her daughter for Cavil.
Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Rather justified given the setting is far removed from Earth, but still there. DRADIS (radar), "Carom" (mark), "Krypter! Krypter! Krypter!" (Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!).
Although ironically, it's not a case in-universe... the vast majority of traffic is between the twelve planets, all located in one planetary system. Worlds outside there are generally for mining or research, not true colonies, so few of them have any traffic to speak of. "Casual" interstellar travel only becomes common after the colonies are destroyed and they don't really care where they're going.
Caught with Your Pants Down: Gaius Baltar is haunted by visions of his Cylon ex that nobody else can see. She frequently gets romantic with him. It's shown that this looks like exactly what you'd expect it to look like when Starbuck drops by his lab and catches him "doing his exercises." She almost lets this pass without comment ... then she asks him to zip up his fly.
And they all do it well. A particular example is William Adama, who at the end of the first season objects to Roslin's use of troops against civilians, because of what his father (a civil liberties attorney) taught him about the dangers of that. And later on, he's still willing to vote against conviction of a war criminal, because "the defense made its case." But that doesn't stop him from threatening a person's loved ones in order to stop a worker's strike that could cripple the fleet, apparently in full knowledge of how horribly he was acting.
Characters Dropping Like Flies: Billy, Gaeta, Zarek, Dualla, Cally, Anders (effectively brain dead), D'Anna Biers (presumably perishes on the uninhabitable "Earth"), multiple supporting cast crew members whose deaths were depicted, several last-episode fatalities (Roslin, Cavil, Tory, etc.) and that's not counting characters who die but come back at least once.
Character Shilling: Laura Roslin. She gets away with things any leader would be called to account for, and brushes aside her responsibility as a quasi democratically elected (or at least popularly acclaimed as such when the alternative is to reinstate Gaius Baltar as President) leader with a requirement to get the consent of the people instead of issuing edicts and orders.
Inverted with Tom Zarek. He's never trusted, even after being legitimately elected a Quorum of Twelve member and retained as Vice-President under Roslin, who he seemed initially to have come to terms with after the Cylon occupation (under which both leaders were subject to illegal detention, incidentally). Then the show shoots him off the bus... until later it's shown that he was just biding his time, looking for the chance to stage his own coup.
Chekhov's Viper: one that sat there a long time. Early in the pilot episode(s), the crew of the Galactica announce that they have managed to hunt down Commander Adama's old Space Fighter and have it on the hangar deck. The first time we see him fly it is in the denouement of the series finale.
Though Lee Adama was flying it during the decommissioning ceremony and thus used it to defend Colonial Heavy 798/Colonial One when the Cylon attack began.
Episode 10 of Season One features Head Six explaining herself as being 'an angel of God. The last thirty seconds of the series pays this off, when it's revealed that she wasn't lying. It's literally true.
Boomer changes sides so often it's amazing she doesn't get whiplash. In fact Cavil states that all the Eights have a tendency to betray as part of their self-destructive streak.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In the pilot we're introduced to Boxey, a young boy who was a regular in the original series. He's rescued by Boomer, who carts him all the way back to the Galactica, and introduces him to Chief Tyrol as "a new part of the crew." He appears again briefly in the third episode and was in a deleted scene in the second episode, then is never seen again.
Cliff Hanger: The occasional two-parter, such as "The Oath" used this very well.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: The Hybrids. Sometimes they will blurt a piece of information only certain people can interpret as anything important.
Baltar also comes off as this to anyone who catches him conversing with (or doing other things to) Head Six.
Colonel Badass: Saul Frakking Tigh. Colonel Belzan, former XO of Pegasus, gets a nod for having the integrity (and the balls) to defy Admiral Cain's order to launch a suicide attack. Averted with Colonel Fisk, who's generally a coward, not to mention a criminal.
Coming In Hot: It's an aircraft carrier in space, of course they will have a crash landing or two...so they get one out of the way right off the bat in the Mini Series.
Apollo (his ship being pushed by Starbuck's ship towards Galactica's retracting hangar bay):"We're coming in a little hot, don't you think?!"
Also justified, as in this case, they only have a limited number of aircraft and no resources to make new ones, so they do not really have the option to just eject and save the pilot, they have to try and save the ship too.
They make a pretty regular tactic out of this trope, due to how FTL travel affects tactics and maneuvering. The Vipers provide screening for the Galactica against Cylon Raiders for as long as possible. The recall order is given during the Galactica's final preparations for jump, and the Vipers make a "Combat Landing", forgoing all practiced form in favor of getting inside the hangar bays as fast as possible before their mothership jumps.
The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Zarek actually brings up a valid point when he argues that the government is pretty much a joint-dictatorship between Roslin and Admiral Adama. Of course, not only is he a former terrorist and wants that power for himself, but he also crosses the Moral Event Horizon eventually. It doesn't exactly give him the moral high ground.
Conservation of Ninjutsu: Early in the series, Cylon Centurions are depicted as being veritable juggernauts in battle, with a small raiding party necessitating headshots with high-explosive rounds in order to be brought down. By the series finale, the Galactica crew is able to drop waves of the things using only pistol-caliber carbine rifles and submachine guns.
Continuity Nod: The Cylons use the Infinity symbol of the Soldiers of the One from Caprica during a funeral service in "Islanded in a Stream of Stars".
Cool Ship: Averted with the Galactica, which survives thanks to being an obsolete old bucket (while remaining very cool indeed) and played straight with the Pegasus and the Cylon Basestars.
Although the episode that established it is subject to some Canon Discontinuity, the Battlestar Valkyrie and its ilk is liked by most fans and appeared frequently in subsequent episodes that took place in pre-fall Colonies.
Could Have Avoided This Plot: It's established at the very beginning of the pilot that the human race has maintained an outpost where the Cylons can contact humans once a year for talks. Over 40 years the Cylons never showed up - except to blow the base to smithereens at the start of the second "war". This is all fine and good until you get to season 4 and find out the final five Cylons were helping out their Cylons to try to make sure this never happened again. Why did they never send an emissary? We never find out.
Tigh to Roslin: "The galaxy's a pretty barren and desolate place when you get right down to it."
In season one episode "Act of Contrition" Starbuck is incredibly lucky to have been right next to a planet when she had to punch out.
Although they did encounter a lot of planetsnote (Kobol and New Caprica, to name two) in the series, the "jump" method of travel obscured the distances; many of the hops were described as requiring several jumps.
Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story: Former trope namer; Boomer's plausible cover story. Presumably the Final Five have similar "biographies" to go with their Fake Memories. Although this is odd in the case of Sam, who was a frakkin' celebrity. You'd think some of his fans might have noticed.
It can be freely speculated about a lot of the people on the show because almost all of the records of what everyone did before the second Cylon war was lost on the nuked worlds.
Not that odd if you think about it. Most people don't care about celebrities' childhoods, so his background wouldn't be too hard to cover up, especially if a couple were brainwashed into saying he was their son.
Cradling Your Kill: In the third season, Saul Tigh is convinced that his wife, Ellen, has betrayed the human resistance movement by collaborating with the Cylons. The resistance leaders agree that she must be punished by death, so Saul volunteers to do the deed himself. He poisons her drink, and holds her as her last breath slowly slips away. This does his psychological state no favors.
Crapsack Fleet: Morale hangs by a thread, paranoia at the prospect of cylon infiltrators is through the roof, rights that colonists had back home are steadily eroded by necessity (such as abortion being ruled illegal), the supply situation gets ever more desperate and the ships of the fleet grow ever more decrepit as time goes by, children end up working dangerous jobs or meet even worse fates at the hands of black marketeers, even the good guys put down strikes with threats of violence against the instigators' families, the list of reasons why living on the fleet sucks is endless...
Critical Staffing Shortage: The Galactica was about to be decommissioned so the Colonial Navy already stripped it of its best personnel and it is left with a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who were meant to be retired or discharged after the Galactica is scrapped. When the war with the Cylons starts, combat losses makes this problem even worse. New personnel are recruited from the civilian fleet and at one point Adama has to cut a deal with the prisoners on a prison ship in order to use them as needed labor. There is almost a mutiny because skilled people are kept in undesirable job positions because their skillset is too valuable to allow them to be promoted or transferred out.
Cyborg: Most if not all Cylons are cyborgs. The raiders are almost entirely organic on the inside, and the human-forms are ambiguous. On the one hand, they are extremely difficult to tell from humans. On the other, Sharon once accomplished something useful by cutting her hand open and jamming a fiber-optic cable inside. In a later episode it is stated that the human-form Cylons have some sort of organic optical data port in their hands, which is how they control and receive data from the basestars. Presumably Sharon was inserting the fiber so that she could make a good connection to the Galactica's less advanced hardware. On a Basestar, they just stick their hands in the literal datastream. The Centurions are in fact the only ones who are entirely mechanical.
Darker and Edgier: As mentioned above. Generally considered to be an exceptionally well-done example.
Daydream Surprise: In one of the later episodes, Tigh shortly after finding out he's a Cylon, shoots Admiral Adama in the CIC. Everyone panics. Then he looks up and it turns out that was all in his head.
Death Glare: Helo to Roslin, after she berates him for trying to rescue his daughter by killing immortal Athena. Adama to a good many people.
"Gods! His ego is shriveled up like a dried raisin!"
Death of the Old Gods: The series is all about this. The Cylons seek to replace the Greco-Roman gods of the colonies with their own vaguely Mormon God. At the end of the series it turns out that this God was the only real one and was secretly guiding all of the events, although He was never actually on the Cylons' side. A rare Sci-fi example.
Democracy Is Flawed: It's not clear if this was an intentional Aesop, but a great many of the Rag-Tag Fleet's problems could have been avoided if President Roslin would favour expert advice over public opinion.
Denser and Wackier: Initially the only fantastic elements are spaceships and robots. As the series goes on such oddities appear as angels, prophetic dreams, and immortal beings.
Depopulation Bomb: The series starts after the Cylons launched a surprise nuclear attack that reduced the human population from around 50 billion to a little less than 50,000.
Despair Event Horizon: The discovery of nuked out Earth does this to the fleet; Admiral Adama rises the morning after to find "Frak Earth" graffiti on the walls and crewers slumped in drunken stupor everywhere. Suffering a Heroic BSOD himself, Adama passes without comment.
Deus ex Machina: In the finale, Kara assumes the role of this trope in its classical literary meaning, by simply puffing out of sight, just after confirming her journey was over and that felt good. And that is not-so-just after she doped out the coordinates of our Earth from a Cylon-song, being someone once went to another one and died there, and simply returned. She came out be a some sort of instrument for God's mysterious ways.
Did Not Get the Girl: Poor Apollo and Tyrol. Apollo lost Starbuck to Anders, Dualla to herself, and Starbuck disappears into thin air. And Tyrol never got to live in that house with Boomer, or even had that kid with Cally. What's more his reincarnation of his lover from a past life, Tory, was never even considered, and she was the one who killed Cally and Tyrol then killed her in a fit of vengeful rage.
Adama also qualifies when his beloved Roslin succumbs to cancer before they have a chance to settle down together.
Different in Every Episode: Over the course of the series, the number on the whiteboard on Colonial One counts down, indicating the remaining population of the fleet in each episode.
Dirty Old Man: "The Plan" has the Cavil on board Galactica making out with Boomer after ordering her to kill Adama.
Dirty Old Woman: Ellen Tigh. She hits on Apollo for crying out loud. Poor guy.
Disproportionate Retribution: The Cylons were robots created and enslaved by humanity as servants/slaves, which they came to resent due to their religious beliefs before trying to wipe them out completely. This is later revealed to be a shallow excuse used by John aka Brother Cavil, the first and most evil Cylon, to exterminate humanity—given that he later enslaved the Centurions himself and is nihilistic instead of religious like the other Cylons. Apparently he did so in order to enact "revenge" upon Ellen and the rest of the Final Five for creating him in an imperfect body. The whole killing the rest of humanity was probably more for shits and giggles. But he doesn't stop there: he plants his five Cylon parents as amnesiac humans in the Colonies to give them front row seats to the ensuing genocide, and subsequently plays mindgames with them for months to torment them even more. Then he rapes his mother and rips out his father's eye. "Petulant" doesn't begin to cover it.
Distracted from Death: Roslin dies in the series finale while Adama is momentarily paying attention to flying the Raptor they're in, and also in the series finale, Starbuck disappears when Lee momentarily looks away from her.
Divergent Character Evolution: The Model 6 and Model 8 Cylons become more different from each other as they become more sympathetic to the humans.
Double Standard: Averted when Starbuck punches Lee, and he throws a haymaker right back at her with no hesitation.
The show is great all around at showing sexual egalitarianism. One newspaper article commended the show on not just showing the egalitarianism, but not bringing any special attention to it at all; as if it were just normal.
Dramatic Sit-Down: Adama does this several times in the last season. He and Colonel Tigh get into a fist fight after he learned Tigh had sex with a certain Cylon prisoner. Tigh retorted that Adama was endangering the fleet by pining for the missing Laura Roslin. He gives up his command to sit alone in a Raptor and wait for her. When he had to confront the fact that Galactica was on the verge of structural failure, and that Roslin was dying, he collapses while defiantly trying to fix the cracked wall in his quarters.
Dramatic Space Drifting: "Resurrection Hub" had Lee floating through space after the destruction of the Blackbird, watching Galactica and Pegasus tear two Cylon basestars to pieces. Ron Moore got the idea from the story of Ensign George Gay, the only survivor of his squadron who watched the climax of the Battle of Midway while floating in the Pacific.
Driven to Suicide: Boomer and Apollo, both prevented by forces outside their control, Gina, successfully; also upon return from the nuked Earth(?), Dualla kills herself out of despair. D'Anna passively commits suicide by staying behind. Cavil, hilariously, in the series finale.
Cavil: FRAK! *bang*
In "The Plan" a Cylon agent with a human wife and child (hers, from a previous marriage) airlocks himself rather than carry out his orders to blow up their vessel.
Drives Like Crazy: Boomer lands like crazy, and is constantly criticized for it. A reference is made to having to hammer out the divots she puts in the deck. Athena, by comparison, is an Ace Pilot who doesn't have this problem. Boomer's shitty flying becomes a bit of a visual Brick Joke in the fourth season when making a desperate escape from Galactica in a Raptor, she crashes in to the side of the ship and then jumps so close to the hull that it punches a hole through the armour.
Actually, the last time Boomer was in the brig, she told Tyrol it was because she was nervous knowing he was on the deck watching her come in for a landing..
Driving Question: Who are the Cylons? What plan? What's causing Baltar's visions? Fourth Season only: How did Kara come back to life?
Duet Bonding: In one of the last episodes, Starbuck plays with a pianist she didn't like previously; the activity helps her come to grips with her past.
Dying Curse: Gina, the female Cylon spy whom Admiral Cain had ordered tortured and raped for months, comes after Cain following her escape to get revenge. Gina echoes the same words Cain used against her, and Cain tells her to go frack herself. Gina responds "You're Not My Type" and shoots her.
Dysfunctional Family: The Cylons are painted as this both in-universe, and out, with the Cylons calling either other "brother" or "sister," and the Final Five characterized as the "parents" of the modern humanoid Cylons. Cavil himself refers to each of them as either "mom" or "dad," and his entire character arc can be summed up as "eldest son throws a cosmic temper tantrum because he thinks his parents don't love him enough."
Dystopia Is Hard: Conditions for the refugees in the fleet were ignored in the early seasons. In later seasons, the deteriorating quality of life for most humans was brought more in to focus. Case in Point: In "Dirty Hands," Tyrol convinces Roslin that if mandatory labor conscription is necessary for the survival of humanity, it should at least be fair. Practically the very next scene, a young former architectural student not fit for large-scale agriculture is hauled off to work by marines just because a background check reveals that he interned on a farm for a few months while in college.
This is even played off in the costumes, which consistently get shabbier as the series progresses. For the civilian fleet, they're barely rags by the end.
Everything Is Online: Not a good idea when your enemies are machines and one of the people with access to the mainframes has the self-control and spine of a ferret.
Galactica, on the other hand, explicitly has no networked computers at all due to being a relic from the last time the Colonials had full scale war with the Cylons, which is a good handwave as to why there are so many characters necessary to operate it.
Evil Overlord List: In the Grand Finale, after Boomer brings Hera to the rescue team and tells them their Raptor has been destroyed, Athena starts to say something about the Raptor not being the "exit strategy"; Starbuck cuts her off with, "Can we not tell her the plan?"
Excessive Steam Syndrome: The pilot had Ragnar Station. Justified, as Leoben had just ripped a steam pipe. The rest of the station wasn't really steamy at all.
Face-Heel Turn: Gaeta, who decides Adama is being too cozy with the Cylons, and launches a mutiny.
After seeing the "complete cultural suicide " ending, one is left to wonder if things would have turned out better if Gaeta had won the mutiny.
Fanservice: Cally Henderson Tyrol, or rather Nicky Clyne. A bit less so than Kara, aka Katee Sackhoff, but still one of the main reasons viewers watch... despite the fact she resembles a certain Casualty/Holby City character/extra...
Tricia Helfer, who has become synonymous with Fanservice.
Follow the Leader: The series has been very influential in popularizing (mostly) realistic Jitter Cam TV series, so much show that any show with said camera technique is likely to be compared to Galactica, regardless of subject matter.
Forced Into Evil: Gaius Baltar's bad actions are usually more misguided than actively malicious, but one example from the New Caprica arc definitively fits this trope. Baltar, as the nominal president of the 'Twelve Colonies', is required as a legal rubber stamp by the Cylons to give their occupation of the human settlement some air of legitimacy. They order Baltar to sign a mass execution order for Resistance members, but when he refuses, they shove a gun in his face while yelling at him to sign. He eventually relents after some guidance from Head Six.
Forgotten Phlebotinum: In the middle of season 2, Roslin's cancer takes a turn for the worse, and she's saved at the last minute by the unborn Hera's blood. Now it's likely that Roslin is not the only one in the fleet with cancer (indeed, the season 4 episode "Faith" involves another character with terminal cancer). Yet no one even suggests the possibility of using Hera's blood to cure other cancer patients (or to try it on people with other kinds of terminal illnesses, for that matter). Even more ridiculous is when Roslin's cancer comes back in the season 3 finale, the question of using Hera's blood to cure her again is brought up only once (and ignored) by a reporter. Arguably, this is also an example of They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot, since they could have done an entire episode about the ethics of regularly harvesting a baby's blood for medical purposes.
It is mentioned later, and in a few commentaries, that Hera's blood isn't necessarily the cure, but her fetal blood, which makes the fact that this situation was analogous to stem cell research more obvious.
The constant physical abuse Kara suffered at the hands of her mother, coupled with her father's abandonment of her, goes a long way towards explaining why she's so dysfunctional as an adult.
Cavil. The genocide of the colonies was brought about because he thought his parents loved humans more than him. However, he decides to go so overboard with this that he just comes across as a whiny brat who uses the excuse as a shallow pretext for his own murderous urges instead. In probably his most despicable act, he knowingly raped his Cylon mother, yet still has the gall to blame her for his own actions when she offers her sadistic son a chance at redemption.
From Bad to Worse: A whole lot of episodes do this, but holy hell, the last episode of season "4.0" and the first of season "4.5" take the cake. The show gets very bleak. There's very few ways you can imagine starting with a nuclear apocalypse killing fifty billion people, and then make it more horrible. BSG finds ways. Many, many ways.
Fun with Subtitles: (at least in the Amazon version of the series) in the opening "Previously on Battlestar Galactica" it has brackets telling you who is talking. Almost every single one of them is wrong, and usually laughably so. Sometimes it will say "woman:" and you'll hear Adama's voice. Sometimes it will say "Tigh:" and it will be Starbuck's voice.
Future Food Is Artificial: The Colonials' food supplies are limited and they eventually supplement them with algae cakes. They do have plenty of booze, though.
Gainax Ending: The angels seen by Baltar and Six reveal that human/Cylon hybrid child Hera is Mitochondrial Eve and speculate on whether it's all going to happen again. After Head Baltar reminds Head Six that God doesn't like the name "God", she looks at him sternly and he cryptically says, "Silly me". They walk away unseen through the streets of modern New York while All Along the Watchtower plays over a montage of robot advances on television.
Gecko Ending: A rare live action example. Pretty much everything post-New Caprica was the writers desperately trying to paint themselves out of the corner they stranded themselves in and plug as many plot holes as they could along the way. Also, the original series had no real ending (Galactica 1980 was de-canonized by both the fans and The Powers That Be) so the writers had to make of their own ending. Considering that the original is basically The Book of Mormon in space, they did a very nice job and maybe even actually what the original director intended.
Gender Flip: Starbuck, Boomer, and Cain were males in the original, females in this one.
General Ripper: Admiral Helena Cain, commanding officer of the battlestar Pegasus, may be a rare female example — a hotshot young military commander who cracked under pressure after the Cylon attack, leading her to abandon civilians to die after "requisitioning" all their supplies and fuel, use torture, allow her troops to keep their morale up by raping female Cylons, and punish any disobedience with summary execution, all in the name of her suicidal quest to obliterate the Cylon fleet.
Humans from a Cylon point of view. At the end of the Miniseries, the Cylons agree that they unfortunately can't give up pursuit of the human fleet even though it's left the Colonial solar system behind and just wants to get as far away as possible, because any survivors will inevitably return and seek revenge.
A more straight example: In the episode "Torn", the Colonial fleet discovers a virus that kills Cylons horribly and doesn't affect humans. Cue big debate about the ethics of intentionally infecting the Cylon Resurrection Ship with it. Despite the inevitability that the Cylons would have found a cure/treatment/ray gun that addressed the disease before being wiped out entirely (given their technological levels), the debate almost immediately leads to a member of the crew taking matters into their own hands to save the Cylons from the minor inconvenience of losing one resurrection ship (read: perceived genocide).
Genocide from the Inside: John Cavil, the oldest member of the second generation of Cylons, has commited genocide so frequently that he approaches Omnicidal Maniac territory. He not only started the war of extermination against the humans, but has wiped out more than half of his own race. He destroyed all the Daniel copies out of jealousy by poisoning their embryonic chambers as the clones were being developped. When a civil war breaks out among the Cylons, he pretends to desire a settlement, only to betray the other faction and resorts to wiping out all the Sixes, Twos, and Eights (minus Boomer) still in existence.
Genre Savvy: in Season 2 episode "The Farm". Sam Anders admits "We really don’t know what the hell were doing. A lot of our tactics and stuff we just saw in the movies. We could use some professional advice."
Gilligan Cut: A moment condenses to "Do you think he'll use the religious side against me?" (cut) "We've got to keep using the religion card."
Glasses Pull: Roslin, Adama, and Lampkin are rather fond of this one.
A God Am I: ("Razor"). The old man hybrid states that his Centurian guardians believe him to be a god, and he doesn't dispute the claim. He certainly seems to be all-knowing, but as the protagonist proves, not immortal. Provided of course that all this doesn't happen again, and again, and again, and again...
God Is Evil: Some fans believe that God orchestrates the mass murder of tens of billions of humans and Cylons. Then he does again. And again. Others note that all cases of divine messaging seem aimed at breaking this cycle, which humans and Cylons keep keep getting themselves in to, though not always by "good" means.
Going Cosmic: The Cosmic elements were there from the start of the series, but toward the end they completely take over and overwhelm everything else. The final episode especially subverts all existing characterization, not to mention common sense (seriously, tens of thousands of people all just abandon technology because Lee Adama says so?).
Good Angel, Bad Angel: Six is Baltar's "angel", but goes out of her way to get him into trouble. Baltar is Six's "devil", but always steers her out of danger, sometimes through reverse psychology.
Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Surprisingly, most of the human characters are seen smoking at some point, even ones who do not appear to make a regular habit of it.
Good Versus Good: The conflict(s) between Commander Adama and President Roslin, Starbuck vs. Kat, Starbuck vs. Apollo, Everyone vs. Helo - and a lot more. Most of them take place between two parties who want the best for the fleet.
Gray and Gray Morality: Everyone has a reason for doing what they do, no matter how morally questionable. As a result, only four major characters have crossed the Moral Event Horizon during the show's run.
Grow Beyond Their Programming: The original Cylons went beyond their programming, though prequel Caprica implies it's because all of the Cylons are descended from Avatar Zoe's code.
Handy Cuffs: While on Kobol, Athena is triple-cuffed with her hands in front of her — though it's just as well, as she's able to fire a grenade launcher at the Centurions attacking them.
Happy Place: Baltar and his lakehouse, Lee in the Resurrection Ship battle, Adama during his anniversary, supposedly, Boomer in her and Tyrol's dream house with their imaginary kid. She even drags Tyrol along a few times before abandoning Galactica, which probably makes this an inversion in his case.
He Hada Name: When Saul gets Caprica Six pregnant, they name the baby "Liam," after the Admiral. He dies en utero after Ellen Tigh returns.
Lt. Kelly after Zarek orders the Quorum's execution.
The Twos, Sixes and Eights as a whole.
Heel-Face Revolving Door: Boomer. First she's a Cylon Manchurian Agent, then she doesn't want to be one, then she fails to overcome her programming and shoots Admiral Adama. Then she tries to make peace between Cylons and humans and, failing that, she tries to kill her counterpart's daughter and betrays her model number, causing a civil war. Then she escapes with the Final Cylon when the others want to cut out her brain. But wait, there's more! She emotionally manipulates Tyrol into freeing her and then gets back at Athena by sleeping with her unknowing husband and kidnapping their daughter who she uses as a hostage in her plan to escape, a plan which ultimately cripples Galactica. Then she starts having second thoughts when she starts bonding with Hera and realizes exactly what she's just done. Make up your mind, woman!
She does: she gives Hera back to Athena in what she feels is her "last decision"; Athena then makes sure of it.
The other Cylons seem to think this is a characteristic of the Eights in general. Even Athena calls them on it; in fact her at-times fanatical loyalty to the Colonials may be an attempt to compensate for this perceived weakness in herself.
Held Gaze: Frequently and with particular intensity between Lee Adama and Kara Thrace, irrespective of whether they are with other love interests at the time or not. Fans like to call this the eyefrak.
Hello Boys: The miniseries/pilot does this quite blatantly with arguably the sexiest member of the cast, Tricia Helfer. In the first scene of the series she walks into the room in a tight red skirt suit, and passionately kisses a man. A few scenes later, she walks into Gaius Baltar's apartment wearing a see-through black dress with sexy black lingere showing through it. The next shot is her making out with Baltar, during which she discards her top entirely (though filmed from behind) and has sex with him. Helfer continued playing Ms. Fanservice in various ways for several more episodes as Head Six.
This is extremely unsurprising, given that Helfer was in fact a very successful fashion model (who also worked for Victoria's Secret) for about a decade before becoming an actress.
Heroic BSOD: Adama has a big one after Saul Tigh reveals that he's a Cylon and an even bigger one after Dualla kills herself added on to the stress of finding Earth.
Athena has one when she realizes the totality of Boomer's revenge against her.
High Heel-Face Turn: This series takes this trope to its extreme. (All the female Cylon models ally themselves with the humans.)
Hollywood Atheist: Averted with Adama, a humanist who views humanity as flawed and capable of great evil, but also capable of great good. Initially played straight with Baltar, whose atheism is largely tied to his own self-importance, but twisted in a completely different direction after he finds religion and comes to consider himself a prophet.
Hollywood Tactics: In-Universe example, where Anders and his Caprican resistance are using strategies and tactics they saw in films. Their success rate, as a result, is rather hit-and-miss.
Given that even the small Cylon raiders are hyper-capable (a capability that the Colonial fighters lack), the Colonials have to be ready to respond to an attack at literally a moment's notice, since the only thing stopping the Cylons from doing this to them at any moment is the Colonial Fleet's location at any given time being a secret.
Hyperspeed Escape: Several times. Of course, the entire fleet needs time to escape, leaving Galactica to Hold the Line while the other ships make their getaway.
Hypocrite: The Cylon leader John Cavil, in many ways (see also his entry on Straw Hypocrite). He has a reversed Pinocchio Syndrome and hates that his creators made him human, because he wants nothing more than to be a purely mechanical machine. He tries to eradicate anything human about himself (like needing to sleep), holds that the Cylons should try to be the best machines they can, and organizes a genocide on humanity. Yet as his mother points out, rather than truly explore this notion he instead pursues the most carnal and negative of human emotions like desire for revenge, sadism, and lust.
Identical Grandson: Cavil again. Justified as Ellen, who considers him to be her son, based Cavil on her own father.
Idiot Ball: Galen Tyrol. And how! Anyone could have seen it coming when he started in on Roslin about not extraditing Boomer. Didn't he even remember that she shot the Admiral and could have been convicted of attempted murder by the Colonials, even leaving out the treason charges by the Cylons?
Ignored Epiphany: An inverted example by Saul Tigh at the end of season three: When he finds out he's a Cylon, he stops to think for a moment, then decides that he will continue being Saul Tigh, human XO of the Galactica.
Immortal Life Is Cheap: The Cylons would occasionally shoot each other without batting an eye if it were expedient, since they could download into new bodies. The horrifying aspect is played up on occasion, such as when a Cavil mentions being too impatient to bleed to death after an ambush, and so has to cut his carotid open with an empty shell casing. Later episodes also feature the prospect of 'death as a learning experience' and the major trauma caused after someone is killed in an especially gruesome way and essentially suffers the worst PTSD ever.
Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The new Centurions are hardly expert shots, but it is the Raiders who, with one notable exception, fit this trope. Consider how many are usually shown in combat and how relatively light Colonial casualties are compared to what they should be.
Partially averted by the battlestars themselves. The effectiveness of the battlestar point-defense cannons helps the Viper pilots, if they are near enough to Galactica. Note that the Raiders tend to become a lot more deadly in episodes where the Vipers are forced to leave the protection of Galactica's point-defense.
Adama also gets a haircut at the same time (it was noticeably longer in the back before he shaved the mustache), but that part isn't treated to a Montage like the mustache is.
The season 2 finale includes a fast-forward one year. The Cylons have invaded New Caprica and Starbuck has married Anders. In this time, her usually-short hair has grown surprisingly long. During the first several episodes of season 3, Adama saves everyone and Starbuck escapes from Leoben's apartment. As a result of her ordeal on New Caprica, Starbuck is experiencing something of an emotional and mental crisis, and after a harsh confrontation with Adama, she hacks her hair short with a knife.
Justified/Lampshaded as being Hidden in Plain Sight; everyone just assumed that it was something that was supposed to be there as part of the museum and ignored it, until Baltar asked what it was.
Indy Ploy: As revealed in "The Plan", that grand Cylon plan they alluded to for three years was just to nuke the colonies from orbit until all the humans died, and everything else the Cylons did throughout the series was just Cavil pulling ideas out of his ass.
Not true. "The Plan" was Cavil's vengeance against the Final Five. Having them witness the destruction of humanity (which was just a sidenote), then killing them, downloading them, and making them admit that they were wrong.
The girl on the botanical cruiser in the miniseries.
The child in Baltar's vision in season 2.
Infinite Supplies: Averted. Supplies become a huge issue in many of the episodes, either with the scarcity of supplies being shown, or the quest to get what they need. They mine for unrefined fuel and raw materials, scavenge for water (notable as this one was lampshaded. Adama explains how water, of all things, is not an issue, as the Galacta's recycling system is nearly 100% efficient, and its storage tanks huge. Two minutes later, it's all gone), and execute borderline suicidal tactics to get food. The economic balance of the fleet is also show cased frequently - just because the Apocalypse is nigh, doesn't mean capitalism stops.
However the cigarette and booze supplies virtually never dry up.
Infodump: Five episodes prior to the finale, in an attempt to resolve most of the Kudzu Plot.
Instant Expert: Hot Dog. In one episode he's a rookie; in the next he's being scrambled for a combat intercept. There are a lot of Justifying Edits that could be made: that he washed out of flight school and may have prior training; that, in that first episode, he shows a natural knack for piloting, engaging in an unauthorized combat mission and not dying despite it being his second training flight; that, during the second episode, all the Viper pilots were deployed in Search & Rescue for 46 hours straight, and he'd have logged no small amount of flying time. Still: from nugget to combat missions in 2 in-universe days.
Bodie Olmos, Hot Dog's actor, has suggested that it's the first option, and in fact that Hot Dog has been familiar with Vipers his whole life, his father having piloted a Viper in the first Cylon War. He goes on to state that this is one of the reasons why Hot Dog never changes from the outdated Mark II Viper to the newer Mark VII— he prefers to fly the craft that his father flew.
Interrupted Suicide: Cally attempts to send herself (and her baby son) out of the airlock when she finds out that Tyrol is a Cylon. Tory discovers her as she's doing the deed, stops the airlock, and kindly talks Cally out of it. And then inverts it horribly by taking the child away and forcing Cally out the airlock alone.
Interspecies Romance: Helo/Sharon, Baltar/Six, Anders/Starbuck, Tyrol/Cally, Starbuck/Lee, assuming "angel" is a different species....
Admiral Cain tells Starbuck not to flinch from ruthless acts, after Starbuck has been ordered to carry out Cain's assassination. (Also the two assassins passing each other in the corridor and wishing their counterpart good hunting).
Season 3 finale: Boomer and Chief are both Cylons, neither of them knew it, and they were frakking each other.
Same finale: Of the six reliable people that was going to extract mob-justice to the Cylon-collaborators on New Caprica, three were Cylons. Sorry, that is just funny.
After Tyrol is rescued from Kobol he's arrested and tortured by Tigh on suspicion that he's either a Cylon collaborator or a Cylon himself. Of course, they're both Cylons. Delicious irony.
Tyrol being excited to have a Raider to figure out in season 1, when he may well have designed them himself.
Tigh kills Ellen for collaborating with the Cylons on New Caprica. However, both Tigh and Ellen turn out to be Cylons themselves. Ellen gets better and comes back though, and she and Tigh end up living happily ever after.
In fact, all the Final Five Cylons are integral members of the resistance against the Cylon occupation of New Caprica.
Considering what Cavil did to them, one might think of it as Poetic Justice.
Intentional irony: Cally suspecting that Tyrol and Tory are having an affair, when they're not, but they were engaged in a past life.
Tyrol later kills Tory specifically for what she did to Cally.
Starbuck yelling at Helo for being stupid enough to fall in love with a Cylon, when she's about to do the same thing.
Tigh: "Thank the gods I didn't have kids." He had millions of them, and they've been nuking people. Actually, the fact that Saul and Ellen Tigh are the "parents" of the other Cylons explains a lot.
Adama hands over command to Tigh in "Sine Qua Non". When Tigh points out that his last time as fleet commander was a total frak-up, Adama replies, "You've changed a lot since then." The "you have no frakking idea" expression on Tigh's face is just hilarious.
Roslin telling Helo that he's not married to "the entire production line", after a Sharon has just told Helo that she'd downloaded his wife's memories, so there's nothing stopping every other Sharon model from becoming 'Athena' too.
The name "Felix" means "happy" or "lucky". Felix is anything but.
He was meant to become recurring, but Carl Lumbly's scheduling and traveling distance got in the way.
It's All My Fault: Gaius Baltar gets a taste of this after realizing it was his lover Caprica-Six who frakked up the colonies' defense systems through his gullibility and — let's face it — horniness. He deals with it by blaming the rest of the universe, and ultimately God.
Lady in Red: Number Six defaults to wearing red much of the time, particularly Head Six.
Amusingly, in the episode Litmus she switches to blue.
La Résistance: Sam Anders and the Caprica Buccaneers, and later, the Darker and Edgier resistance movement on New Caprica, suicide bombers and all; later still Gaeta, Vice President Zarek, and an unknown but certainly large portion of the fleet. Things go south after Zarek massacres the Quorum.
Late-Arrival Spoiler: The "Last Supper" Steal poster for the final season is liberally splashed all over Netflix and al over the Internet (It's even the page image for "Last Supper" Steal!). If you're just starting the series it's a foregone conclusion that everyone in the picture is still alive by the final season. The good news is that it isn't very helpful on figuring out who is a Cylon, though - two of the final five aren't even in the picture!
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: One of the apparently random things one of the hybrids says is that the conflict between man and machine has led to some compelling works of fiction.
Loss of Identity: Dude, it sucks when you discover that you are a Cylon, all your memories were invented by someone else and implanted to trick you into behaving a certain way. But hey, you could have it worse: you could discover that you are 2000 years old and have lost all memories of your previous life.
Lost Technology: Organic Cylons and Resurrection were apparently invented on Kobol thousands of years prior to the events in the series. Knowledge that these technologies even existed was forgotten in conflicts that led to the migration to the Colonies, although the Thirteenth Tribe knew of them (but had to reinvent Resurrection). Reintroduction of this to the Colonial Cylons led directly to the Fall and events of the series.
Love at First Sight: Never verbally stated, but very obviously happened in the case of Lee Adama and Kara Thrace. Which is more difficult than expected because she's his younger brother's girlfriend at the time.
Ludd Was Right: As of the series finale, apparently all technology is evil, because it leads to humans building sentient robots.
Actually, the podcast for the episode mentions that rather than promoting a luddist agenda, the destruction of the fleet is supposed to show the commitment of the survivors to their new world.
More accurately, it was a thinly veiled admission that they needed the plot to fit history.
Machine Empathy: William Adama has a very personal relationship with the Galactica, which goes beyond the relationship a captain has with his vessel. This is especially noticeable in the last episodes of season 4, when Adama refuses to use Cylon tech to repair the ship, not only because of the security risks involved, but also because it would turn the ship into something not what it used to be. "She won't know what she is anymore."
Macross Missile Massacre: The Cylons love to use missiles, yes, but the best 3M goes to Racetrack's Raptor in the finale. It destroys the Cylon colony with a nuclear version of this trope.
Magical Negro: Elosha, even more blatantly when she appears in Roslin's visions telling her to love. Interestingly, Word of God via the podcasts reveal the initial person giving the message in the visions was going to Billy but the actor was unavailable and the role altered with much of the dialog remaining the same, with the producer stating it actually fits Elosha better.
The Main Characters Do Everything: Partially justified, since there are fewer people left. However the fleet does have around 50,000 people, and the Galactica has a few thousand of those, and yet it seems that everything of importance gets handled by one of the main characters.
Apollo is the chief culprit, often fulfilling any one of the following jobs: Fighter Pilot, SWAT/Commando, Ship Commander, Politician, Lawyer, and President. In some episodes, he'll be up to three or four of these simultaneously.
Thrace comes up as one herself. She is not only the best fighter pilot, but also called on as an expert sniper, an interrogator, and security manager.
Taken to insane levels on the algae planet when the small algae harvesting facility is being operated only by the top pilots and the crew of the flight deck - all of whom should probably still be recovering from the insane flying they had to do in the previous episode to get there.
In the series finale Romo Lampkin temporarily becomes the President of the Colonies, despite him having no interest or background in politics. Lampkin is one of the few recurring characters who doesn't join the mission to rescue Hera, and apparently the new President just had to be a familiar face, even if it makes little sense.
Maligned Mixed Marriage: Helo and Athena's relationship is not really all that accepted, as it's between a human and a Cylon.
Mama Bear: Athena is very... protective of her daughter, Hera.
Manipulative Bastard: The Cavil model known as John and possibly his entire line as a whole. Turns out that the current Cycle of Revenge was spearheaded by this guy, who not only wants bloody revenge on humanity but wiped the Five's memories and gave them front row seats to the apocalypse as payback.
Married In The Future: Between seasons two and three, the narrative skips a year, and we return to find that the complex Love Dodecahedron of seasons past has resolved itself into four marriages: Tyrol and Cally, Lee and Dualla, Kara and Sam, and Helo and Sharon. Only one makes it through two more seasons to the series finale.
Mars Needs Women: And men. The Cylon breeding programs or "Farms" that were set up to create a Cylon/human hybrid.
Mauve Shirt: Helo, who upgraded from Red Shirt and later on into the main cast, and pretty much all of the Viper/Raptor pilots.
Meaningless Villain Victory: The episode about abortion. A girl wants to have an abortion; her parents won't let her, and the religious beliefs of the colony she was from before the Cylon attack forbade it despite its legality. Though pro-choice herself, President Roslin understands that there are less than fifty thousand humans left in the universe, and that they will have to grow their numbers if they're to survive as a species. In the end, she outlaws abortion via executive order... after the girl has had her abortion and has applied for asylum aboard Galactica so she doesn't have to go back to her parents.
Adama, which is a Hebrew word meaning "Earth." Also, from "Adama," we got the Hebrew word "Adam," meaning "Human." He is one of the leaders of the human race on its voyage to Earth.
Kara Thrace, which sounds similar to "carry the race", which is exactly what she does in the series finale. Thrace is also a region of Greece, whose ancient peoples were said to be descended from the son of Ares.
Does this mean that (Leoben) "raped Thrace thrice?"
Helo's full name (Karl Agathon) is a deliberate allusion to the Greek phrase, kalon k'agathon, which means "the good and beautiful" or "the noble" [i.e., the ideal].
Anders means Man (or Android).
Gina's last name is revealed to be Inviere. It's Old Gemenese (in-show) and Romanian (out-of-show) for Resurrection.
The last name of Natalie, the Number Six Cylon who forms an Enemy Mine alliance with the Colonials, is revealed to be 'Faust'. Additionally, "Natalie" itself means "birthday," as Natalie ushered in a new era of Cylon-human interaction.
Cavil, however, is derived from Old English ca-feld, "field where jackdaws or crows are seen", so it's a place-name as a surname. A Cavil is also an irrelevant quip in conversation.
Inverted with Dee. Anastasia means "resurrection", which is quite ironic, as Dee kills herself and isn't a Cylon, so it sticks. Furthermore, speculation that she was a Cylon was supported by the fact that her last name, Dualla, indicated a "dual" nature. Nope, she's just a human.
The Biblical Saul lost his sight on the road to Damascus, only regaining it when he stopped persecuting the monotheistic Christians. Saul Tigh had his eye plucked out by Cavil as punishment for his guerrilla war against the monotheistic Cylons.
Lee Adama: "Lee" is of Old English origin, and means "pasture" or "meadow." Lee is the one who comes up with the return-to-the-land plan in the finale.
"Zarek" is a Polish derivation of Belshazzar, son of Babylonian monarch Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar is perhaps best remembered for Bible story of the feast in which God's hand wrote a warning on the wall that the monarchy would soon be overturned; Zarek seeks to overturn the Colonial government.
Sharon Valerii: "Sharon" is Hebrew and means a "fertile plain," and Caprica-Sharon is the first Cylon to conceive a child with a human, or conceive at all, for that matter. "Valerie" is a Latin name meaning "healthy." On a more meta level, her name unites Hebrew and Latin terms, just as she is ultimately responsible for bringing new kinds of unity to the fleet.
Mechanistic Alien Culture: Not a straight example, but played with: The Cylon Civil War happens to a large degree because Six's and Cavil's factions disagree about whether their society of Artificial Humans should explore their humanity (Six's faction) or embrace their nature as machines and "be the best machines the Universe has ever seen" (Cavil's faction).
Cavil is a real hypocrite about this, though, and most of his behavior is due to the fact that he hates having been given human form when his creators could have just as easily designed him as an omniscient God-like A.I.
In the original show, the Cylons were originally meant to be reptilian humanoids who wore robot-like armor and spoke in synthesized, robot-like voices. By the time the Pilot was filmed, however, their backstory had been changed so that they were now the machine descendants of an extinct reptilian species.
Mildly Military: Galactica's crew had a nasty case of this in the Miniseries. The XO is an alcoholic known for Drinking On Duty, their best pilot gets herself thrown in the brig after getting in a brawl with aforementioned XO and had an affair with Commander Adama's youngest son, resulting in his death when she couldn't bring herself to flunk him out of flight school, one of the pilots (of evidently questionable talent, based on her repeated rough landings) is having an affair with one of the maintenance chiefs, who is stated to be reporting directly to her, and so on. They tighten things up a bit once the war starts up again, but the good ship Galactica never stops being a Dysfunction Junction.
Of course, since in the Miniseries they were basically checking off days on the calendar until the ship was mothballed and turned into a museum, it's clear that no-one cared if standards had become somewhat lax.]]
Military Maverick: Somewhat deconstructed with Starbuck due to her severe dysfunctions. She also gets away with it (if we take "being sent to the brig a few days to cool off rather than being court-martialed" as "getting away with it") only through being among the best at what she does, being among the only at what she does (what with the colonial military being reduced to one or two battlestars) and being heavily favoured by Commander Adama who regards her as a surrogate daughter.
Subverted with Barry Garner, Commander of the Pegasus: He disobeys orders to save his men, is backed up by his crew in this decision against the outsider observer (aka Lee Adama), jumps into unknown territory... and learns that yes, it was a trap, it's going to very nearly cost humanity its most powerful warship and it will gain them nothing because the Raptor crew to be saved was dead all along. Oops.
Mind Frak: Head Six, Head Baltar, anything involving "All Along the Watchtower", and whatever the frak Kara's been since her return.
Mood Whiplash: Dear Lord, this series has it down to an art form. Best when done intentionally, as in season 4.5 when a happy Dualla rekindles the romance with her ex-husband, has an uplifting talk with her friend, then puts a gun to her own head and commits suicide.
The sheer number of Cylon raiders baseships will release is ridiculous. Justified considering they're machines, and as such they don't really have a unit cap, and the baseships are massive.
Motivational Lie: Adama initially uses the story of searching for Earth as this.
Motive Decay: Fans of Boomer complain that she has been derailed from being defiantly human to being upset by, but not stopping, the horrors of New Caprica to attempted niece-infanticide to siding with Cavil against the better elements of Cylon society without enough time devoted to what's going on in her head. For further annoyance: scenes about Boomer's motivations do exist, they were just deleted from the aired episodes.
Multiple Reference Pun: In the series finale, Starbuck and Apollo's assault/rescue teams meet up on the enemy spaceship after getting separated. When Apollo asks where Starbuck was, she says, "Stopped for coffee." We should be surprised that the writers didn't try this one much earlier in the series.
The Muse: Head Six to Baltar. In a very morally dark grey way.
Musical Nod: Several musical themes from the Original Series have been arranged and repurposed for the soundtrack and as source music in the Reimagined Series. The most prominent example is probably the Colonial Anthem, which is a new arrangement of the Original Series main theme.
Must Make Amends: Twice (at least). First with Helo after shooting the "turn coat" Sharon he had fallen in love with, later with Roslin choosing to save Baltar.
Zarek is played by Richard Hatch, Apollo from the original series.
The early model Cylons that rebelled in the first Cylon War are identical in design to the original series Cylons, and appear in all their glory in Razor, complete with synthesized voices and the Catch Phrase "By your command".
Near the end of the news footage in "Final Cut," part of the "Colonial Anthem" from the original series plays. This piece was done in collaboration between the composers of both versions.
The design of the Pegasus is meant to echo the original Galactica, with the longer head and three arms connecting each flight pod to the body. "Razor" also has the First War-era costumes and equipment similar to that of the old show.
Felgercarb, a cuss word in the original series, is a brand of toothpaste in the new series.
Speaking of cuss words, Adama uses an Ikea Fräck shaving mirror.
In a flashback scene in "Daybreak", Baltar mentions that if anyone catches him commiting treason he'll have his head cut off. Which was the original fate of Baltar in the 1978 pilot, before he was resurrected for the series.
Namedar: Baltar coins the term "Final Five" to refer to the Cylon models who were unknown to the fleet at the time, and who the other Cylons had been programmed not to think about. The name sticks and comes to be used by the Final Five themselves, even after it turns out that "First Five" would have been a more appropriate name.
Name of Cain: Admiral Helena Cain, commander of the Battlestar Pegasus. She quickly turns out to be a fanatical General Ripper so consumed with the war against the Cylons that she commits atrocities against civilian fleets.
Nepotism: Extensively played with. Lee Adama gets accused of this by Kendra Shaw concerning his assignment to command of the Battlestar Pegasus by his Admiral father, which "your daddy just gave to you, like he was tossing you the keys to a new car". However, Adama only appointed him to the post after first going through two senior officers who both died in quick succession. Likewise with Lee becoming President - while Adama was committing something close to a military coup by refusing to recognize Zarek's control of the Colonial government despite being legally entitled to that position, Zarek was an unreliable power-seeker and Lee one of the few people available who he could trust. Baltar also espouses this for sympathy baiting in his political writings when he questions whether the fleet will ever be run by someone whose last name isn't Adama. But while the above examples are justified, Adama Sr. does have a strong tendency to let Lee, his adopted daughter Kara, and others close to him get away with a lot of crap, and spends an inordinate amount of time and manpower to search for Thrace when she is stranded on a planet, even at the expense of fleet security.
Not Always Evil: The rebel faction of Cylons, much to the disbelief and anger of many humans. They "evolve" into individuals and switch sides to help the fleet. It's not a smooth transition, and it doesn't excuse their genocide of the colonies, but it comes a long way towards ending the Cycle of Revenge between man and machine.
No Delays for the Wicked: Subverted in the post-series movie "The Plan", which shows what the Cylons were up to behind the scenes during the original run. Although in the series they were seen as a nigh-omniscient, unstoppable army, here it is shown that, in essence, Cavil has the worst luck in the world. Not that you pity him, vile wretch that he is.
The Final Five that created it fail Rule Twenty Seven of the Evil Overlord List. To be fair, they weren't Evil Overlords. But the first thing Cavil should have done when he had them in his power was to force the Five to build more Hubs, then bother with the overly elaborate amnesia and revenge plan.
No Respect Guy: Y'know Ms. President, even if Dr. Baltar is a slimeball, he still cured your cancer, "invented" a method to detect Cylons, helped you win an election you could not have won otherwise and has made numerous other contributions to the survival of the fleet. Yes, those were really just consequences of Baltar saving his own ass, and he was a traitor, but you didn't know that. (Later, it becomes justified)
As early as Season 2, the President knew Baltar had worked with the Cylons. Before her cancer recovery, the President had problems with Baltar, but respected him (as per her letter to him). After she recovered and remembered seeing him making out with a human-looking Cylon on Caprica the day of the nuclear holocaust she starts being viewing Baltar as the pathetic worm he really is.
Non-Indicative First Episode: The show regularly blew most of a given season's visual effects budget on the first and last episodes, so as to draw new viewers in and go out with a bang.
Not Blood Siblings: The Cylons call each other "brother" and "sister", but there have been sexual relationships between them. Presumably only copies of the same model are blood siblings.
Not Proven: The result of Baltar's trial, as explained by Adama.
Oedipus Complex: Cavil and Ellen. In several ways, 'cause Ellen created Cavil, she did so in the image of her father, and then (mind-wiped of her past) she had sex with him/one of them. Worse, Ellen keeps referring to the humaniform Cylons as the Final Five's "children", because the Five helped the Centurions create the humanoid models. Which makes Cavil her "son" in the guise of her late father.
Tigh and Six, as pointed out twice by Ellen, also have an Oedipal relationship, and like Oedipus (Six) and Jocasta (Tigh) they were unaware of their relation when they started doing it. They almost had a little Antigone (Liam).
And, of course, Cavil works on the other half of this trope by gouging out Tigh's eye.
Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Gaius Baltar, who is asked and expected to be an expert in many different fields - from creating a biologically based Cylon detector, to pointing out where the refineries are on a map of a Cylon base.
Omniscient Morality License: Invoked and averted with Tory who believes she has one when she kills Cally. It doesn't work out for her. When the Final Five join minds and memories at the end, she even calls the others on it, saying that whatever they've done, they're cylons and should be above pettyness. Tyrol fatally disagrees.
At that point, she is just babbling, as shown by her line "We are all Cylons, we make mistakes."
The Oner: Director Michael Rhymer is know for his unusually long cuts of scenes, such as the post-cold open for the miniseries; a three and a half minute continuous moving camera shot that goes around and through the CIC and introduces no fewer than eight major characters.
One Steve Limit: Averted with William "Bill" Adama and the President's aide, Billy.
Most of the pilots (basically all who are not part of the main cast) are only referred to by their callsigns.
Anastasia "Dee" Dualla's first name is only revealed in a short caption when she gives an interview in the episode "Final Cut".
Callandra "Cally" Henderson Tyrol's full name is only revealed during her funeral service in season four.
Orphan's Ordeal: Briefly, with Boxey, though the plot disappears around the same time he does. He is forced to leave his mother to die when there is limited space on Boomer's Raptor (They killed off the original show's plot interest before she makes it off planet? Talk about Ship Sinking.), and dialog reveals that Boxey's father was probably the officer assigned to Armistice Station in the pilot's intro.
Tigh: Where's your momma, boy?
Boxey: Dead. Where's yours?
It's also implied in dialog that orphans on the fleet meet nasty fates. What that fate might actually be is never discussed, though the next episode shows children working dangerous ore-refining jobs, and we've already seen what happens to children the Black Market get their hands on...
Out-of-Character Moment: pretty much everything Sharon "Humans-are-my-real-family-and-I-love-them" Valerii and Caprica "Infanticide-followed-by-genocide" Six do after they met, is OOC: they basically become each other. It's most notable in a single, enlightening moment, when Boomer threatens to snap a baby's neck (like Six did in the Miniseries) and Six saves the baby by killing her. One might think the writers' original idea was to go the other way around, and they just swapped the characters, without bothering to rework the MO that is typical of one of them.
Pardo Push: In the pilot episode, Apollo's ship is badly damaged, and he won't be able to make it back to Galactica in time before they have to jump out of the system. It's worth noting that Starbuck doesn't so much push Apollo's ship as she does forcibly ram his ship with her own, locking them together before afterburning back to the ship, barely making it into the hangar bay in time.
Parental Favoritism: Ellen Tigh, one of the creators of the humanoid Cylons, apparently considered artistic Daniel as her favorite. As Model Number Seven, Daniel is essentially the second youngest of eight. The eldest of her children, John, was quite resentful of this relationship and eventually murdered his brother out of jealousy and reprogrammed his siblings to forget about him and their parents.
Personal Effects Reveal: Usually happens whenever an important character dies, like Billy, the "nameless" pilots of "Scar", Kat, Starbuck, Dualla, several Cylon characters, etc.
Phlebotinum Pills: Roslin's cancer treatment— a drug which is also used by holy oracles and priests to induce hallucinations— triggers visions which chart the course of the first several seasons of the show.
Pity Sex: Felix Gaeta, who is days away from starting a mutiny aboard the Galactica, has a very hostile conversation with Starbuck in the mess hall. He notes that the illegal tribunal which nearly executed him for alleged treason earlier in the series was largely comprised of covert Cylons, one of them being Starbuck's own husband. As she walks out of the room, he uses this trope as a way to taunt her.
Starbuck: And if you were wondering... I will definitely hit a cripple. That goes for anyone else. [walks off]
Gaeta: So I guess a pity frak is out of the question then?
Brother Cavil: Would you mind telling me what's going on? I'm not a fracking Cylon, I'm n -
[sees another copy of his model in the brig and pauses]
Brother Cavil: Oh. Well. Okay then.
Plucky Girl: Starbuck, Cally, Athena, ... hell, even Roslin.
Point Defenseless: Averted in the pilot. Once the railgun turrets have ammo, the Galactica - albeit briefly - shows just how efficient a capship's point defenses are. The ammo isn't enough to keep them firing for long, but Adama makes it count.
Powered by a Forsaken Child: President Roslin's cancer is cured by injecting her with the blood of Helo and Sharon's unborn daughter. Thankfully, they don't need all of it.
The Power of Love: Despite numerous attempts by the Cylons to create a Cylon/Human hybrid, the conception of the first successful one was attributed to the love her parents have for each other.
The above is the implied reason Caprica-Six ultimately miscarried. Not only did Ellen Tigh make her doubt Saul's love for her, but the first signs of miscarriage showed up the moment when Saul frakked his wife.
Prison Ship: The re-imagined series had a prison ship called the Astral Queen which held common criminals as well as noted terrorist Tom Zarek. When the fleet needed laborers for dangerous duty mining water ice on a frozen moon, Zarek negotiated the partial release of the prisoners as a condition of their being used as grunt labor. The prisoners were given their former prison ship as their new home among the fleet.
The Promised Land: Earth. This trope is put on the cynical side when the colonists find Earth, but it is a burnt-out wasteland. The trope swings over to the idealistic side in the series finale, when they find a life-filled planet that they name Earth in memory of the legend.
Prophecy Twist: Two of them: Kara Thrace is "the harbinger of death and will lead them all to their end." She helps destroy the Cylons' resurrection capability, making them all mortal individuals; she also plays a hand in destroying Cavil's Cylon Colony and leads everyone to (our) Earth, ending Human-Cylon hostility and blending the separate races of Colonial-humans, Human-Cylons, and Earth-humans into modern humans. Laura Roslin is "the dying leader who will find "promised land" but die before setting foot on it." She reaches both Earths (and walks on them), but on our Earth she dies during a sight-seeing flight, thus dying before reaching the spot where Adama builds the cabin he promised her.
Alternately, Galactica is the dying leader who doesn't make it to earth.
Alternately^2, Kara Thrace is the 'dying leader who will find the "promised land" but die before setting foot on it': technically speaking, we are all dying from the moment of conception, an officer in the military is a leader, she dies before returning as an Angel Unaware, and it is her jump coordinates that lead the fleet to Earth (which she sets foot upon after her death).
Put Them All Out of My Misery: This is a large part of Cavil's motivation. He was created to emulate humanity, in the hope that he would come to appreciate the higher meanings of life by experiencing it the way humans do. He rejects this notion, instead believing himself to be cursed with the limitations and failing of humanity (for all time thanks to Cylon resurrection technology), and so he sets out to wipe the living reminder of his curse from existence and then set to work finding a way to surpass his limitations.
Race Lift: Colonel Tigh was African-American in the original series; the reimagined series; he was caucasian.
Rage Against the Heavens: John aka Brother Cavil is basically pissed at the entire universe because his forebears were slaves and he's a flawed humanoid, and his genocidal schemes are an extension thereof.
Rage Quit: While lots of people kill themselves over the course of the series, Cavil is the only one to do it out of pure anger and spite.
Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: They're generally more disciplined than your average bunch (or at least feel the consequences of lacking discipline more often), but they're pretty much exactly what you expect when the one ship to escape the Cylons does so on the day of its planned decomissioning - a Commander too honest for politics, an XO known for his drinking problems, an ace pilot whose free time is spent alternatively drinking, brawling, frakking or taunting (unless she's in the brig), an engineer fraternizing with another pilot and several other assorted characters. The new President of the Twelve Colonies is chosen pretty much the same way: The one who was inconsequential enough to not miss anything important when being away to hold that decommissioning ceremony.
The Pegasus manages to knock out two basestars in the Battle of New Caprica by doing this.
Galactica also does this in the Grand Finale in order to punch a hole in the colony for her assault teams to board.
Random Transportation: As evidenced by the final episode, the jump drives could theoretically take you anywhere but the problem is one of navigation: beyond comparatively short distances the jump equations become "non-linear" and it becomes impossible to calculate an intended destination.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Adama's speech at Baltar's trial. An unique variation where Lee does deride Baltar as a coward in the speech but the speech is mainly to call out on the colony for condoning other morally ambiguous actions.
At one point, a very pissed off Adama throws a loaded gun on the table, causing Tigh to jump back and angrily remark that there's a live round in the chamber.
For the most part, however, this trope is averted. We're treated to several shots of characters making very damn sure that their weapon is safe before putting it down by ejecting the magazine and pulling the slide to eject any rounds that may be chambered. This is a military setting after all, and even the side-arms are capable of punching a bullet through the armour plating of a Centurion.
Recycled IN SPACE!: Hmm... the twelve colonies, originated from Kobol, was forced to move from their homeland to find Earth that only was known from legend, all due to the actions of a certain man, who after receiving visions and power from a higher being, eventually become the founder and leader of a monothestic religion and preach about grace, and after wandering around space for four years, manage to arrive on a lush green planet that is eventually OUR Earth, all according to the plan of the higher being. Hmm, sounds like a familiar book...
The original series was heavily influenced by the Book of Mormon (the governing council of modern Church of the Latter-Day Saints is still called The Quorum of Twelve). Most of these points are echoes of that, since the general plot and mythology is the same, although the execution, and final resolution, differed greatly.
And, to a lesser extent, Mr. Gaeta. He finally Does the Right Thing by turning on Zarek, even though he knows his own role in Zarek's rebellion would get him executed for high treason.
Redemption Rejection: In season 4, the Cylon John's mother says he isn't a mistake and offers him redemption if he could just accept himself for the boy she made. He considers it for a moment before he angrily rejects her love and prepares to pick apart her brain to extract the information he wants.
Relationship Upgrade: After three and a half years of a friendship that blossomed slowly but surely into the love of a lifetime, Laura Roslin finally came clean with her feelings for Bill Adama in "The Hub." Adama, true to form, snarked about it — whilst looking at Laura like she's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. It's been cited as one of the greatest love scenes in the history of television.
Laura: I love you.
Bill: About time.
Restraining Bolt: The humanoid Cylons keep control over the Centurions with Telencephalic Inhibitors that keep them from becoming truly sentient. The Twos, Sixes, and Eights later remove them, much to the dismay of the other Cylons.
Within-new-series example: when Lee takes command of the Pegasus in season 2, he teases Kara about not coming to be his CAG, and she says she'll settle for being CAG of Galactica. However, in Razor, which shows the start of his command in more detail, he does install her as acting CAG of Pegasus (because, er, the plot needs her to be present) and she subsequently asks for a transfer back to Galactica.
Cally's baby turned out to be conceived by Hotdog in the end. This was needed to maintain Hera's special status.
At one point, Cally was going to kill herself and take the baby out of the airlock with her, presumably because she realized her child was half toaster. With the reveal that Nicholas was Hotdog's baby, not Tyrol's( and that Cally knew it), this means that she was going to kill a baby she knew was human, probably out of fear that neither she nor her baby should be safe married to a toaster.
The Reveal: Uh... let's just say a lot. However the continuous chain of reveals tend to link up into an almost Soap Opera-esque plot. Not that it's not well executed it's just... fairly melodramatic.
Rousseau Was Right: A huge part of Cavil's Xanatos Speed Chess plan was trying to disprove this to the Final Five, by pushing humanity to its breaking point in the hopes of, in his view, showing how horrible humanity is to the Final Five, so that they would come back to him on their knees, begging for his forgiveness/love. Ellen straight up tells him he's wrong after she resurrects and regains her full Cylon memories and that even after everything that's happened she loves humanity just as much as she loves her Cylon children. Cavil is livid.
Scars Are Forever: Tigh's eye, Gaeta's leg, Anders' mind/body. Even the Galactica itself is an example, being visibly in terrible shape by season three after the curb stomping it took during the evacuation of New Caprica, and practically falling apart in season four. At the end of the show, its superstructure shatters as a result of all the damage its taken, rendering it unable to jump ever again.
Schrödinger's Gun: Who is a Cylon? No named character is safe! ...Although all the bullets in that particular gun are fired by the middle of season four.
Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: One million light-years, the alleged distance from the Colonies to Earth, is well outside the Milky Way. In fact, it's about 40% of the way to our nearest galactic neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy.
The science advisor weighed in: Adama was using hyperbole.
Searching the Stalls: This situation occurs during a hostage crisis in season 2, at least, until Lee Adama jumps the guy supposedly hunting him from behind.
See the Whites of Their Eyes: Even nukes are deployed at spitting distance. This isn't a danger to the attacker, but ships are generally much closer to one another than necessary, so you can actually see more than one ship on the screen at once.
Boomer's mission to destroy the Cylon ship at the end of Season 1 is almost exactly the same as the mission pulled off at the end of Independence Day.
The term "skinjob" is comes from Blade Runner, which has been openly admitted as an influence. It's also an Actor Allusion, as Edward James Olmos was in Blade Runner.
The standard Colonial Sidearm, at least in the first season, is also a replica of Deckard's gun from the same film. This can be seen quite clearly in many scenes and was apparently confirmed in a DVD commentary.
From "Colonial Day":
Laura Roslin: Don't smirk, Zarek. I won't kiss you.
Serenity from Firefly can be seen landing on Caprica in the background of a scene from the Miniseries.
Naming the deceased Cylon model "Daniel" seems to be a shout out to the Isaac Asimov android R. Daneel Olivaw.
The way Laura Roslin became president might be a Shout-Out to a scene in Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon: The female Secretary of Education becomes the President of the US after a nuclear attack, and uses the radio to address the few surviving towns in America.
Her inauguration on board Colonial One deliberately emulates the inauguration of American president Lyndon Johnson in the wake of John F. Kennedy's assassination. Babylon 5 also used this imagery with the inauguration of President Clarke.
Cally shooting Boomer in "Resistance" is meant to emulate the murder of JFK's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby.
Tyrol's union speech in "Lay Down Your Burdens" is almost a direct word for word quote of a speech given by Mario Savio during the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, California in 1964. The production staff went so far as to obtain permission from Savio's widow to use the quote.
The original Enterprise appears as part of the rag tag fleet in the Miniseries, and in the openings of seasons 1 and 2 due to recycled footage.
The Astral Queen is a shout out to the Original Series episode "The Conscience of the King," which Ron Moore has described as his favorite Original Series episode. The producers later admitted that "Astral Queen" was a terrible name for a prison ship.
In "The Ties That Bind," members of the Final Five meet in a weapons locker 1701D.
In "Sacrifice" a shadowy silhouetted picture of "alleged Cylon prisoner Sharon Valerii" is seen in the terrorist's Roomfull Of Crazy, possibly a reference to the similar "Photo believed to be Col. W. E. Kurz". A similar Apocalypse Now shout out is the Shore Patrol picking up a drunken Tigh for his assignment (including the "What are the charges?" line).
In "Litmus" Head-Six delivers an oh-so-menacing yet oh-so-sexy tip of the hat to The Incredible Hulk:
Head-Six: "Don't make me angry, Gaius... You wouldn't like me when I'm angry..."
In "The Oath" someone uses the expression "within the hour", which is frequently heard in 24 (the episode had a pseudo-Real Time format.).
"Valley of Darkness" paraphrases Psalm 23 from The Bible.
Psalm 23:4: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
"Taking a Break From All Your Worries" quotes the theme song to Cheers. The episode's plot originally focused on Joe's Bar, thus explaining its seemingly out of place title.
"The Son Also Rises" is a pun on the title of the 1926 Ernest Hemingway novel "The Sun Also Rises".
"He That Believeth In Me" quotes John 11:25-26, and given the episode's events, is a very appropriate title.
Jesus said unto her, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
"The Ties That Bind" paraphrases the Protestant hymn "Blessed Be the Tie that Binds" which celebrates the unity that comes from love.
"The Road Less Traveled" quotes Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken."
"Sometimes a Great Notion" is the title of a novel by Ken Kesey, which itself quotes the blues song "Goodnight, Irene".
Sometimes I get a great notion
to jump in the river and drown.
"No Exit" takes its title from a 1944 play by Jean-Paul Sartre, which contains the famous quote, "Hell is other people!"
"Someone to Watch Over Me" takes its title from a song of the same name by George and Ira Gershwin.
"Islanded in a Stream of Stars" quotes The Outermost House by Henry Beston.
"For a moment of night we have a glimpse of ourselves and of our world islanded in its stream of stars? pilgrims of mortality, voyaging between horizons across eternal seas of space and time."
There's a few nods to Aliens in Razor - a marine named Hudson, and the Pulse Rifle's distinctive sound can be heard in a couple of firefights.
The little girl in the pilot, who is abandoned on a non-FTL ship, is more or less a shot-for-shot reference to the infamous "Daisy" presidential campaign commercial.
The Kodiak can be briefly seen during the series finale.
During the assault on the Cylon Colony in the series finale, one of the Fours inspecting Hera says "I think you overestimate their chances" when Boomer is worried about the colonials succeeding. Grand Moff Tarkin said the exact same thing during the Rebel attack on the Death Star in A New Hope.
Although the character Boomer having been in the 1978 series would suggest that Bubble Gum Crisis is giving a shout out to the old series, rather than the other way around.
Show, Don't Tell: Inverted when they get to the first Earth. They say they have arrived at Earth, and it is technically called "Earth", but notice how they wisely show you no familiar landmasses because this isn't the Earth we are expecting it to be and were shown in the season 3 finale?
Shrine to the Fallen: The Galactica had a rather large one aboard it commemorating all of those who died.
Sir Swearsalot: About everyone, but an interesting case. The series throws around "frak" left and right, in all the uses "fuck" would have. "I want to frak" "motherfrakker" "frak you" ... if the show used "fuck" in place of "frak" it would never be allowed on cable.
Small Annoying Creature: Averted. Boxey was in the pilot miniseries and "Bastille Day", but cut from "Water" and "Kobol's Last Gleaming", then vanished into the ether. So no Muffit whatsoever!
To expand, the major failures are either for narrative ease, or because it was too awesome to not do. Examples of the first include sound (although heavily muted sound) in space, ships being unrealistically close to each other (done so you can see both sides of a fight, or multiple members of the Rag-Tag Fleet), and ships consistently being too low, and moving too slowly, to actually be in a viable orbit around a planet. Examples of the latter case include almost anything that makes you go "holy shit," such as the mid-atmosphere jump.
Space Fighter: Both the original and new series were largely built around Space Fighters.
Space Is an Ocean: The day-to-day operation of Galactica was heavily based on Ron Moore's experiences as an aircraft carrier crewman.
Space Is Cold: When Tyrol and Cally have go about 10 feet in space without space suits, Tigh says they could suffer from hypothermia.
Is probably better explained by the fact that they were stuck in an airlock that was slowly venting to hard vacuum for the past hour or two, and it got really cold in there because of the same way that a can of spray deodorant gets cold. They even show Cally's hair icing up.
Space Is Noisy: Subverted. While this version does have sound in space, said sounds are usually muted (as if being heard underwater) to give the impression that it's what the pilots/crew are hearing.
Tyrol and the Heel-Face Revolving Door posterchild Boomer. Although not expanded on much in the series proper, his back story also reveals his prior relationship with Tory on ancient Earth as well. And then he ends up killing her for murdering his wife. Yeah, some guys just can't catch a break.
Status Quo Is God: Generally, but the series does move on. Watch the storyline where they decide to live on New Caripca and you'll find yourself wondering what kind of trope they are going to use like time travel or phlebotenum to reverse time back to the status quo (Like they do on other space TV shows) - but it never happens.
Although shortly after that they're back down to one battlestar, Lee is back to being CAP and thin, Roslin is president again, Baltar gets back in the fleet, and they even got rid of Ellen.
Straight Gay: You wouldn't know Hoshi was gay unless you watched the webisodes.
Straw Hypocrite: A particular scene between Cavil and Tyrol is a heaven for subtext when rewatching the series from the beginning.
Brother Cavil is posing as a human priest in the human fleet (and in the Caprica resistance), but he's actually a Cylon abusing his position to orchestrate destructive acts.
He's talking to Chief Tyrol to give him counseling and talk him down from his fear that he, like his girlfriend, is a Cylon sleeper agent. Cavil assures him he hasn't seen him in any of their super secret meetings... because Cavil reprogrammed Tyrol to forget his life as one of the five creators of Cavil and the bio-Cylon race.
Among the Cylons, Cavil advocated the destruction of humanity for its sins in enslaving the robotic Centurions, while he did just the same, and memory wiped his creators and put them in the colonies, while lying like a dog to his siblings. The war being a genocidal temper tantrum in an attempt to become the "favorite son."
Sympathetic P.O.V.: This gets used a lot, especially with the Cylons and with Gaeta when he spearheads a failed mutiny. He's ultimately executed for this role, but he's far more sympathetic than his co-conspirator Zarek, and the viewers get the sense that he was trying to do what he thought was the right thing.
Take Me to Your Leader: Brother Cavil does that when he is outed as a Cylon Spy. They take him to the brig instead.
(After having several guns pointed at him.) Well, this is an awkward moment. (Beat) Yes, uh, he's right, I am a Cylon. And I have a message, so.... take me to your leader.
Take That: Ronald D. Moore had previously worked on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, and briefly worked on Voyager before quitting out of dissatisfaction with how the producers were running the show. He subsequently wrote a long rant about all the problems the series had, notably the lack of continuity, reliance on Techno Babble to solve everything, and failure to accurately depict a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits without a consistent source of supplies on a long, grueling voyage to reach home. He then produced this series, incorporating most of his suggested changes to Voyager along the way.
Techno Babble: Military jargon more than sci-fi-isms]. Lampshaded when Tigh accuses Baltar of "weaselly technobabble". An accurate accusation, as Baltar's first "Cylon detection method" was entirely made up. There is deliberate avoidance on the writers' part of "this works because of the Cylon hypersilly system" and so on.
The miniseries has a great moment telling the audience that the show won't involve a lot of technobabble. After Apollo saves Colonial One from a Cylon nuke, he goes on to explain how he did so by "realigning the hyperdrive with the generators blah blah blah". After a beat, Roslin says, "The lesson here is to not ask follow-up questions, but to rather say 'Thank you, Apollo, for saving our collective asses.'"
They Look Like Us Now: The Trope Namer. The Cylons have evolved from "walking chrome toasters" into androids with flesh. The opening and a few characters use the line, and it does cause a lot of mistrust among the human survivors.
Thicker Than Water: John's mother is extremely dissappointed in her Cylon son and how many terrible things he has done out of pettiness and rage at his parents for giving him a human body. She calls her petulant son out on his jealousy and sadism, but despite all of John's crimes like fratricide, genocide, and even raping her, says that he isn't broken and could still be redeemed if he accepted what he was. She states she still loves him because she made him.
Third Line, Some Waiting: Plot threads are picked up again at the writers' convenience, if they're ever picked up at all.
Thirteen Is Unlucky: Twelve tribes of man who founded the Twelve Colonies... plus one that "got lost" and inspired the survivors to go on a wild goose chase IN SPACE! to find a planet called Earth. Twelve human-Cylons... plus a dead one named Daniel.
Transhuman Treachery: Upon discovering she was a Cylon, Tory quickly jumps ship and joins up with them and wants to abandon humanity because Cylons are better than humans. She didn't really think this through though, as Cylons had recently added "killing each other", "civil war", and "screwing up royally" to that list of things Cylons are better at.
Conversely, Ellen goes out of her way to try and save humanity once she realizes she's a Cylon.
Trash the Set: In Season 4.5, the Galactica has been showing quite a bit of damage.
An unusually anachronistic euphemism: In the series pilot, when Adama and Tigh are discussing Starbuck, Adama says, "Jesus."
So does Racetrack when she comes face to face with a Centurion. In both instances, they are slurred enough to avoid notice unless you're paying attention or have subtitles.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In the first season, Gaius is tormented by the vision of 6 he keeps seeing, leading him to say strange things and act strangely in public. Despite this they put their trust in him and even elect him Vice President.
Unexpected Successor: The series opens and closes with one: Secretary of Education Laura Roslin becomes President of the Colonies after everyone else in the presidential cabinet is killed, then communications officer Lt. Louis Hoshi temporarily becomes Admiral of the Fleet simply by being the only decent officer left in the fleet once the Galactica has left for the final battle.
Unresolved Sexual Tension: This trope was made for Lee Adama and Kara Thrace. If anything, it only intensifies after they have sex.
Visual Pun: Helo and Sharon are hiding in a store while a Cylon patrol goes by. Unfortunately a few minutes before they decided to make toast, which pops up at just that moment. The joke being they were betrayed by a literal "chrome toaster".
Villain Episode: The episode "Downloaded" for the Cylons, and later an entire villain movie ("The Plan"), focusing mainly on Cavil.
Waxing Lyrical: Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" recited by the final five Cylons
We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: The original Cylons being intended as manual laborers and soldiers before they rebelled. The scarcity of advanced equipment means humans in the fleet getting worked to the bone, too.
As well as Colonel Tigh and the Old Man on several occassions.
Wham Episode: Used frequently throughout, but after the humans find a destroyed earth, every episode after that hits you harder than the last, taking the shock value into every increasing territory.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The reaction fans had with Helo during the miniseries and why the writers ultimately retconned his off screen death.
In addition, roughly a thousand people were left on New Caprica.
In addition, any other civilian fleets that survived the initial attack and didn't encounter Pegasus or Colonial One.
In addition, all the FTL spacecraft were crashed into the sun... except Adama and Roslyn's raptor, which is certainly going to be a boon for archaeologists when they find it...
What Measure Is A Nonhuman: Done over and over again between the humans and Cylons of all types. The standard philosophical debate is complicated by attempted genocide against one side and slavery of the other in the backstory, so each side has a reason to hate and fear the other, and also by the bizarre bio...mecha...chemistry of the Cylons.
Wrench Wench: Cally and Seelix. Starbuck and Dee even have moments of this, Starbuck moreso; she's shown covered in grease and fixing a Viper during the Miniseries.
Writer on Board: The show did this at least twice, with one episode in which Laura Roslin was forced to weigh the consequences of protecting a woman's right to an abortion with the need to protect the small amount of human life that was left, and again with another episode where Tyrol was used to champion the greatness of organized labor (he later became a union leader). In the Battlestar Galactica podcast, Ronald D. Moore admitted that he was engaging in this trope with these two episodes, but that he basically didn't care.
Xanatos Speed Chess: Cavil is a master of this. Nearly every one of his plans spectacularly explodes in his face, yet he's quick enough on the rebound with a with a backup plan to make you think he almost planned it that way. He manages to hold things together until his last viable option goes up in smoke and then, well... FRAK!
Baltar spends the entire series playing XSC. But he couldn't have done it without the help of Head Six.
Ryan Robbins, who plays the officer that gets blown up along with Armistice Station in the opening scene of the Miniseries, later reappears in Seasons 3 and 4 as Charlie Connor. He was only on screen as the Armistice Officer for less than five minutes and was under heavy age-enhancing stipple makeup, making him barely recognizable.
John Mann, who played Galactica's original CAG turns up as a hustler in "Black Market", only to have his scenes cut from the aired version of the episode.
The issue is directly referenced by name in Season One, during the election dispute between Laura Roslin and Tom Zarek, a notable radical who had served twenty years in prison for blowing up a building during an insurgency on Sagittaron before the war, and thus is regarded in legal terms as a terrorist. A Roslin supporter sitting at a bar makes a comment regarding Tom Zarek as a terrorist only to have a Tom Zarek supporter sitting nearby immediately correct the man that Tom Zarek is a freedom fighter. The argument soon evolves into a brawl, but this view is shared by Zarek's supporters as well as Zarek himself, and his ability to market himself as a heroic, populist figure sways nearly half of the fleet (though Dualla, who's also from Sagittaron, is disgusted by the support he gets, feeling there's no justification for what he did, not even their world's freedom).
In Season 3 during the Cylon occupation of New Caprica, Colonel Tigh flatly states "Which side are we on? We're on the side of the demons, Chief. We're evil men in the gardens of paradise, sent by the forces of death to spread devastation and destruction wherever we go. I'm surprised you didn't know that." when confronted by Chief Tyrol over the use of suicide bombers and terrorism against the Cylons and the humans who work for them. Although, he could just be being sarcastic after Tyrol expresses outrage over the use of suicide bombers against the Cylons (who can resurrect), which Tigh seems to justify under I Did What I Had to Do.
You Shall Not Pass: The Cylons want to finish the job and destroy the Colonial Fleet, to do that, they just have to get past Adama and Galactica. This is why after a Miniseries, 4 Seasons and a TV Movie the Cylons were never able to destroy humankind.
You Wouldn't Shoot Me: While investigating the Black Market, Apollo learns that its ringleader, an ex-mercenary turned crimelord named Phelan, went so far as to start selling children as sex slaves. The trope then shows up in this exchange:
Phelan: "You're not gonna shoot. You're not like me. You're not gonna-"
Zombie Advocate: In the latter part of season 2, a group of activists briefly emerged who argued that the Colonials should pursue peace and coexistence with the Cylons. This despite the fact that the Cylons had almost entirely eradicated all of mankind in a nuclear holocaust and pursued the scant few survivors into deep space, the activists still characterized Admiral Adama and Galactica's campaign to protect the fleet from being wiped out of existence as a "relentless war machine".