Trivia / Babylon 5

  • Actor Existence Failure:
    • When asked about sequels, Straczynski was known to say that he didn't see how it would be possible "so long as Andreas Katsulas, (G'Kar) and Richard Biggs (Dr. Franklin) remain dead." That said, he did The Lost Tales after their passing, and now with his Hollywood success, there seem to be very early feelers out about a real movie.
    • He's also noted that Ta'Lon, played by the still living Marshall Teague, is similar enough to G'Kar that he could be used for further stories.
  • Author Phobia: JMS has said that Londo's dream of standing on his homeworld and watching the sky slowly fill with the Shadow ships was based on one of his own recurring nightmares. He had been curious if other people would find it as terrifying as he did.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Numerous, but Michael O'Hare having to leave B5 due to struggles with mental illness is the biggest. Had he stayed, the "War without End" story would have been at the end of Season 5 and had a much longer burn.
    • If you stop to think about it, the Bad Future in "War Without End" doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If Valen never travels to the past, who is to say B5 (to say nothing of B4) would even exist, with all its senior staff still in place? No Valen means no Grey Council, which would upset a lot of events in B5 history. Why would the Shadows use torch cutters in order to fight hand-to-claw (so to speak) when they're just going to blow the station up with their ships anyway?

      Well, there's a reason for that. Ivanova's message from the future was supposed to be a call forward to the other 5-year series JMS wanted to do that got (mercifully) abandoned at some point: Where B5 fell after failing to bring peace and Sinclair stole B4, in order to set up a spinoff. In the original storyline, it was the Minbari attacking B5 and destroying it, not the Shadows. The Shadows were supposed to be ultimately defeated during the spin off series: Babylon Prime.

      Of course once Michael O'Hare left they very well couldn't use that ending (since it all hinged on Sinclair). Coupled with worries about even getting B5 finished, JMS merged his original plan for Babylon 5 (basically what we got in season 1 & 3.5) and Babylon Prime (seasons 3.5 & 5) to create the B5 we got. "War without End" was then used to retconn the vision as being about the Shadows attacking and not the Minbari (whose civil war story line was now moved to season 4). It also allowed the show to better tie together the show by establishing everything was a causality loop.

      Considering what JMS was dealing with it's kind of amazing how he managed to pull things off. He combined two 5-year series into a single series. Leading to at most the only complaint being about why the Shadows would bother with a "ground" attack; a minor question mark.
    • The reason why the end of season 4 seems so crowded, and the beginning of season 5 seems mostly composed of filler, is because the show was originally going to be cancelled after four seasons due to PTEN going under. Season 4 was originally intended to end with the episode "Intersections in Real Time", and the Earth Civil War would be resolved at the beginning of season 5. Instead, the events of season 4 were shortened by four episodes (removing a story arc about Londo and G'Kar returning to Centauri Prime), and the resolution to the Earth Civil War arc was crammed into three super-dense episodes followed by the grand finale.

      Then, at the last, minute the show's fifth season was picked up by cable network TNT — but now they'd already used half a season's worth of material. They filled the gap by stretching the telepath-colony arc from three episodes to eleven and re-inserting the aforementioned Londo-and-G'Kar arc, as well as including standalone filler episodes ranging in quality, from the yawner "A View from the Gallery" to Neil Gaiman's marvelous "Day Of The Dead".

      A new standalone season 4 finale was also hastily shot, with the finale "Sleeping in Light" held back to the end of season 5.
  • Dueling Shows: With Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
    • JMS had pitched Babylon 5 to Paramount (who turned it down) a year before they announced the new Star Trek series "On a space station, near a portal allowing travel across the galaxy".
    • B5 made a little dig at Deep Space Nine in its second season:
      Ivanova: "This isn't some deep-space franchise, this station is about something!"
      • The writer of that episode, of course, was Peter David, who was also a prolific writer for the Star Trek Expanded Universe, and who wasn't afraid to take a good-natured dig at B5note  while writing for Space Cases.
      • David was surprised, however, when JMS said that he intended on keeping the line in there as is. His exact words were "You people really are dangerous over there."
    • Lennier also manages to take a minor stab against Scotty, when Sheridan asks for more power to the engines: "If I were holding anything back, I would tell you." (When Scotty came back for an episode of TNG, he revealed that he would often hold back reserve power behind the captain's back, so he could turn the ship Up to Eleven when Kirk inevitably asked for more.)
    • In "Babylon Squared" Garibaldi insists upon accompanying Sinclair and company to the time distortion; Sinclair refuses, saying it is unwise to have the entire command staff away from the station at such a critical moment, an obvious dig at the Star Trek franchise's tendency to have the most or all of senior staff away from the ship on an away mission.
    • Majel Barrett guest starred in the third season as Lady Morella, the third wife to the late Centauri Emperor, as a means to quell the fan-anger between the shows. She'd previously been one of the biggest Trek-associated supporters of the show, frequently telling fans at conventions to check it out.
    • Of course, the shows shared quite a few writers and guest actors between them, with one or two of the B5 cast appearing in guest roles on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine after B5's conclusion.
    • There are even similarities and parallels between the shows in theme and naming: the Prussian-themed Centauri and the Cardassians, the deeply introspective and ascetic Minbari/Vulcans, the previously-conquered and recently-freed Narns / Bajorans (the Narn are an interesting mix of Klingon warrior cult and Bajoran religious fanatics), the black-suited and jack-booted Psi Corps / Section 31, the meddling and nearly opaque Vorlons / Prophets, and the corrupting ageless demonic Shadows / Pah-Wraiths. Of course, the most blatant parallel is the Minbari Leader Dukhat and the Cardassian leader Dukat.
      • Apart from he Dukhat-Dukat naming parallel, the two characters share next to nothing else in common. Dukat turned into an overambitious lackey for the Big Bads, like Londo. Dukhat actually has more in common with Trek's Kai Opaka.
      • The Minbari association with 3 would seem, however, to explain Deep Space Nine's titular station design. Three sections (core, habitat, docking), three sets of docking pylons, three vertical docking levels (2-pylon and 1-ring), 9 docking ports around the perimeter, three spokes...
    • The punchline: In 1998, Peter Jurasik co-wrote Diplomatic Act, a novel wherein the lead character, an actor in a science fiction show, is kidnapped by aliens who think he is genuine article. The book is identical to Galaxy Quest, which was released one year later.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • In Severed Dreams, we see an ISN Newscast get cut short when an explosion rocks the building. Debris can be seen landing on the newsdesk, with the anchors crying out in fear. The debris wasn't supposed to land that close to the actors, and their reaction to almost having it land on their heads was genuine.
    • Claudia broke her ankle during "The Geometry of Shadows" but, thanks to a hasty rewrite (Susan getting trampled by the Drazi), was able to work through it. Though she might have wished it hadn't as filming the scene aggravated the injury, generating such a blood-curdling scream that it was rumored she actually broke it during filming.
    • Lyta's eyes turn black whenever she is using her telepathic powers against the Shadows (or even just to interface with their technology), which requires quite a bit of effort and strain from her. It is worth noting that the black contacts that Patricia Tallman had to wear to get this effect were by all accounts immensely uncomfortable, so the cringing was not all faked.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • In The Gathering, Takashima's dialog is clearly looped, but no one else's is. This is because the network balked and wanted a "softer" performance from their female lead. JMS was pissed, and it was reportedly a factor in Tamlyn Tomita's exit from the show.
    • The part of Lyta was written specifically for Patricia Tallman by JMS, who is a huge geek for zombie films and loved her performance in the Night of the Living Dead remake. Tallman had (unsuccessfully) auditioned for other movie roles, including a Trek movie, and worked as a stuntwoman on numerous TNG episodes. She was obviously chomping at the bit for something bigger, so when JMS delivered Tallman the role she was ecstatic, and promoted the show around-the-clock.

      PTEN nixed the character and replaced her with Talia before the show went to air. In hindsight, it's clear few people involved in the production trusted Tallman, a stuntperson, to convincingly act. Not one to take a network note in stride, JMS called Lyta back into action the minute Andrea Thompson (Talia) was written out in season two.
    • The character of Warren Keffer existed purely because of this, the studio demanded a hot-shot crack pilot character. Naturally, he got killed off at the earliest possible opportunity. Actually he wasn't that bad a character all told, though some of his dialog was rather cheesy.
    • In the Babylon 5 script books, Word of God states that he had Season Five plotted out... and then his only copy of his notes were stolen while at a con. The resulting attempts to recover them led to the self-admitted awkwardness of Season Five... of course, this still wouldn't be necessary if it weren't for the potential canceling of the season. Executive & Obsessed Fan meddling?
  • Fake Nationality: Jerry Doyle? Hmm, wonder what part of Italy he's from.
    • Fun: Jerry Doyle was never an actor. He went to school for aerospace engineering. He just randomly decided to try a shot at acting and got cast in B5 (of course he was in some small things prior, most hilariously as a Bruce Willis "Wannabe" in an episode of Moonlighting.) Garibaldi is Jerry Doyle, so he's not actually acting. He's just playing himself.
  • Fake Russian:
    • American actress Claudia Christian portrays the supposedly born-and-raised Russian Susan Ivanova, but barely gives herself any accent beyond occasionally giving herself a stilted speech pattern in some early episodes. The In-Universe explanation is that she spent most of her life studying abroad so her mother could prevent the authorities from learning Susan was a latent telepath.
    • Beata Pozniak, who is Polish, plays Russian Consortium Senator Susanna Luchenko in "Rising Star". In a bit of Reality Is Unrealistic, she used an accurate Russian accent in the role but fans complained it sounded fake.
  • Line to God:
    • JMS was a frequent poster on the Usenet group during the show's run.
    • Back when nearly all of the World Wide Web could be linked to on one page, it seemed that most web sites had some sort of sci-fi series tribute somewhere. Star Trek: The Next Generation was a particularly popular choice for enshrinement (it was on at the time, see?). B5 has one up on it, though: the NCSA Mosaic browser had a semi-secret page (about:b5) where the developers expressed their love for the series and provided a few links to fan sites in case you wanted to learn more.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • Anna Sheridan (played by Beth Toussaint) first appeared in a message to her sister-in-law, recorded prior to her disappearance. Toussaint wasn't available for the episode where Anna returns as a Shadow agent; Melissa Gilbert (Bruce Boxleitner's real-life spouse at the time) was cast in her place.
    • Delenn's mentor, Draal, is played by Louis Turenne in the two-parter "A Time in the Wilderness". In all of his subsequent appearance, he is played John Schuck. This is Hand Waved by explaining that Draal has age-regressed as a result of being linked with the Great Machine.
    • Apparently they had a terrible time keeping actresses around to play G'Kar's aide. His first one, Ko'Dath, disappears under mysterious circumstances because Mary Woronov had trouble with the Narn makeup and prosthetics. The same problem drove away the original Na'Toth actress, Susan Kellerman. Julie Caitlin Brown made it through the entire first season (and was awesome) before she, too, succumbed to makeup problems and quit. Her role was given to Mary Kay Adams, who was not up to the task at all, and finally Na'Toth was written out of the story altogether. (The character is later mentioned to be presumed dead following the Narn-Centauri war, and is found by Londo and G'Kar in a prison cell on Centauri Prime in Season 5. For this appearance, she is once again played by Julie Caitlin Brown.
  • The Pete Best:
    • Michael O'Hare (Sinclair) was found to be suffering from mental illness, and replaced with Bruce Boxleitner in Season Two, though he did make guest appearances in Season 3.
    • Lt. Cmr. Laurel Takashima in The Gathering. For whatever reason, Tamlyn Tomita didn't like the direction the series was heading in, and bailed before the Season One premiere. According to JMS, he'd meant to strike up a romance between Takashima and Sinclair, and promptly replaced her with Catherine Sakai. Ivanova (another new character), replaced her as first officer, making this a twofer. She even inherited Lauren's illicit coffee planter in Hydroponics.
      • Make that three: Takashima was going to be outed as "Control" (Talia), the sleeper agent planted by Psi Corps. Crazy to think that 3 characters were originally funneled into one.
  • Playing Against Type: Walter Koenig is best known for playing Butt Monkey Chekov in Star Trek: The Original Series. Here he plays the ruthless Magnificent Bastard Alfred Bester with intimidating charisma.
  • Promoted Fangirl: Tracy Scoggins is a science fiction fan and had been watching the show from the start.
  • Prop Recycling: In "Babylon Squared", and again in "War Without End", space suits from 2010: The Year We Make Contact were used. They changed their appearance as much as they could, but some people still recognized them, and assumed it was meant as a Shout-Out.
  • Romance on the Set: Jerry Dolye and Andrea Thompson got hitched in Season One, though they later divorced.
  • Science Marches On: In Believers Doctor Franklin wants to perform a surgery to remove a blockage in the lung of a sick alien boy. His parents object to cutting him open because it's against their religion. Nowadays, this surgery could be done without any cutting at allnote , by use of an endoscope.
  • Technology Marches On:
    • The thick digital tablets used by the station personnel might have looked futuristic in the mid 90's when the show was produced. Also, the snowy static shown on a screen whenever a camera is taken out is jarring if you are used to modern screens that simply switch to a blank black or blue screen when their signal is lost.
    • Then there are the computer interfaces; the buttons look like colorful candy, and the interfaces look like a child's computer game...from the 80's.
    • The operation that Franklin performs on the alien child in the first season can now be done non-invasively, requiring no cutting of the body. This probably would have kept the kid's parents from helping him perform ritual suicide afterwards due to their belief that the soul leaves the body if it is cut open.
  • Throw It In:
    • The Centauri hairstyle resulted from an attempted practical joke by Peter Jurrasik about his idea for their hair (turning his wig upside-down), which JMS went along with because he wanted the actors to feel like he valued their input, and by the time the situation became clear it was too late to go back. It did end up working pretty well by making the Centauri visibly different from humans.
    • Claudia and Andrea were making out on set one day, as a joke, and Joe spotted them and decided to write it into the show. You never know when the muse will strike!
      Thompson: And Joe always said it was about embracing his inner teenager, as well.
      Christian: [deflated] So, all of that politically correct, diplomatic shit I was talkin' about, you can just forget about that.
    • Averted for the most part. JMS was very much against ad-libbed lines, since he was careful about how every line was written in order to avoid screwing up the Myth Arc. In the few cases where it did happen, he had very serious talks with the actor involved (such as when Bill Mumy/Lennier hummed a mantra that turned out to be the title of the album his band made)
    • One notable case where an addition was allowed is in The Fall of Night, the Season 2 finale. The Earth Ambassador tells Ivanova that his pen was a gift from his wife. After mentioning this, he kisses the pen. JMS states in that episode's commentary that when he asked the actor why he did that, the actor responded "Well, my wife isn't here, so I can't kiss her, so I kiss the pen instead." JMS then chuckles and says "Ah, actors. Someday they'll all be replaced with CG. I'm kidding. No I'm not. Yes I am."
    • One very notable ad-lib that got kept: in the broken elevator scene of the episode "Convictions", G'kar was originally supposed to sound grim and unyielding. G'Kar's actor, Andreas Katsulas, instead chose to speak the words almost maniacally. After the take, JMS realized that the acting resulted in a one of the funniest moments of the show.
      • Funniest?! If by "funny" you mean "unsettling" verging on "horrifying", then, sure, funny.
  • Trope Namer:
  • Troubled Production:
    • A lot of the cast was dealing with deep personal issues during the show, more so than usual for the entertainment industry. Michael O'Hare was a schizophrenic, which led to his replacement, Claudia Christian was a rape survivor who later became a severe alcoholic (she's doing well now), and Jeff Conaway had serious drug problems (which contributed to the pneumonia that ultimately killed him). Yet the cast had amazing chemistry together. It's really amazing how they've all stuck together despite what they've been through, and it makes the story arcs where the characters deal with personal issues even more meaningful. Most of the B5 core cast is still tight-knit to this day, particularly Claudia Christian, Bruce Boxleitner, and Mira Furlan. (Furlan even says that Boxleitner is still their "Captain.") Andreas Katulas and Peter Jurasik were best friends up until Katulas' death from terminal lung cancer.
    • The only two who don't get along are Claudia Christan and JMS himself; they're still sniping at each other through tell-all books and interviews.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: "Incoming message for you Captain; it's Ambassador Mollari." "Londo? [snorts] Probably calling Collect." Still funny, though.
  • Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things:
    • The creators of B5 are very tight with the fandom, but the relationship is double-edged. Scoggins used to scan the B5 forums and "cry every night" at the anti-Lochley jihad.
    • After O'hare left the show under the cloud, one unfortunate rumor floated around the internet. Supposedly, the "real" reason was not because Michael O'Hare was sick, but because "he has a bad cocaine habit" and therefore "never has any money." Apparently JMS supported this particular abuse by raising money to help him out! The tempestuous producer, who must've lost his cool at the fans dozens of times over the years, went nuclear when he heard about this.
  • Word of Gay: Well, Word Of Bi. For both Lochley (according to Neil Gaiman) and Cartagia (according to Wertham Krimmer). Although in both cases there was definite innuendo on-screen.
    • JMS once asked actor Wortham Krimmer to tone down Emperor Cartagia's fey behavior, to which Krimmer responded, "Well, Joe, he's bisexual, don't you know." When JMS gave an "oh really" sort of reply, Krimmer said, "Absolutely. He's the emperor. He can f—- anyone he wants."
    • Ivanova and Talia would have become an explicitly romantic couple if Andrea Thompson hadn't quit the show, though JMS still took it as far as he could in the limited time with the shot of Talia reaching out for an absent Ivanova while sleeping in her bed. After replacing her with the returned Lyta, he elected not to transplant the romance as it would feel too forced.
  • Word of God: JMS remained active on USENET throughout the show's run, and would often answer questions about the B5 'verse posted to Numerous comments have long since been collected and preserved on the Lurker's Guide fan site, in the "jms speaks" sections under each episode's entry on the episode list.
  • Written-In Infirmity:
    • It was revealed after Michael O'Hare's death that the real reason for Sinclair's departure was that O'Hare had schizophrenia. JMS actually offered to put the show on hold for a year so he could get treatment, but O'Hare refused to be the reason so many people lost their jobs, especially since there was no guarantee the show would come BACK. The wrap-up with Sinclair filmed after he managed to get his schizophrenia under control.
    • Claudia Christian broke her ankle between shoots and phoned the studio to inform them, certain that her character was going to be written out. Instead, JMS simply wrote her accident into the script and production continued.
    • Oddly for Garibaldi, he never crossed paths with his "old friend" in Season 3, instead communicating over an old video recording. This is because Doyle and O'Hare got into a fight when the latter became schizophrenic. Eventually, Doyle gave an ultimatum saying he'd quit if O'Hare remained on the show. Clearly, this ultimatum was still in effect for season 3 (according to Doyle, they'd promised to kick each other's asses) which is why Doyle doesn't share any screen time with him.
    • Jerry Doyle suffered a broken wrist during the filming of the battle sequence in "Severed Dreams". The (very) visible effects were naturally explained as the character suffering the same injury.
  • You Look Familiar:
    • Wayne Alexander is a recurring actor on B5 usually playing characters behind heavy makeup (like Lorien), though he went sans fards for his best-remembered role: the Inquisitor a.k.a. Sebastian.
    • Robin Atkin Downes played Byron Gordon in season 5 and Morann, a Minbari, in In the Beginning.
    • Caitlin Brown made a return appearance as Corey, the lawyer assigned to represent Sheridan in a murder case ("There the Honor Lies"). Zig-zagged: Na'toth appeared one last time in Season 5's "A Tragedy of Telepaths".
    • Carrie Dobro appeared as Harrison (a doctor in "Exogenenis") and a Brakiri (in "Racing Mars") before netting the role of Dureena in A Call to Arms/Crusade.

  • Hugo Award: The Hugo award the show won, for either "The Coming of Shadows" (1996) or "Severed Dreams" (1997) appeared in on Ivanova's desk in "Sleeping in Light".