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This page covers tropes found in Babylon 5. Tropes beginning with letters A-H can be found at Tropes A to H and tropes beginning with letters Q-Z can be found at Tropes Q to Z. Subjective tropes go to the YMMV page.

Babylon 5 provides examples of:

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  • I Am Legion: The Vindrizis' human hosts communicate this by Finishing Each Other's Sentences.
  • I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin!: Even small amounts of alcohol can turn a Minbari into a violent psychotic.
    • In a late season 5 episode Sheridan references the effect alcohol has on Minbari. Emperor Londo is visiting the new Alliance HQ on Minbar and asks about alcohol, but there is none, so he can't get drunk and put his Keeper to sleep.
  • Icarus Allusion: The scientific expedition that reawoke the Shadows by poking into Things Man Was Not Meant to Know was called the "Icarus expedition", after the ship on which it traveled.
  • Ice-Cream Koan: The Vorlon language seems to consist mostly of these. G'kar throws them out sometimes when disciples keep asking questions he has already explained he doesn't have an answer for and doesn't think anyone does.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: By the end of the series, you would be hard pressed to find any main character who did not end up compromising their morals for what they at least thought was the greater good.
    • Of particular note is Sheridan, Lyta, and Doctor Franklin using The Shadow-modified telepaths to disable rather than destroy a fleet of Clark-loyalist ships in orbit over the planet Mars. They used thirty innocent people, knowing the chance of their deaths were high, in order to prevent the deaths of thousands more. Nobody is particularly happy about it.
    • The point is made repeatedly throughout the series of doing what is right versus doing what is necessary. Other examples include Dr. Rosen using an alien healing device to drain the life of a serial killer who was threatening her daughter and Dr. Franklin, and Vir assassinating Emperor Cartagia.
      Londo: I cannot tell you that your pain will ever go away. I cannot tell you that you will ever forget his face. I can only tell you that it was necessary.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipe: The opening credits for series 2 transition from one actor to the next with a '5'-shaped wipe.
  • Idiot Ball: Sheridan accuses Mr. Cranston of holding this in "Hunter, Prey" for believing that someone from Downbelow had legit information on the fugitive they were tracking. Especially when he asks for 10,000 credits as a finder's fee. Turns out the guy was legit but Garibaldi and Franklin were able to save the "fugitive" before the trade could happen.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The Shadow homeworld, Z'ha'dum, roughly translates as "Death of the future".
    • It is pointed out in the fourth season that Mars takes its name from the Roman god of War, and that it was historically considered a very bad omen, although most people don't give it any thought anymore.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: Na'Toth's response when G'Kar accuses her of being an assassin sent to kill him.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: Sinclair is put in this situation in "The War Prayer" when he pretends sympathy with an earth-supremacist group so he can find out what they're up to.
  • I Gave My Word: When offered a chance to surrender or flee from the Earthforce ships advancing on the station, Sheridan refuses, having made a vow to Delenn that he would "draw a line" against the darkness.
  • Ignoring by Singing: Invoked by Sheridan in "The Coming of Shadows". Irritated by G'Kar's attitude to the Centauri Emperor's visit, which he regards as a childish tantrum, he suggests that if it troubles G'Kar so much he should go back to his quarters and do this until the Emperor leaves.
  • IKEA Weaponry: Londo has an IKEA PPG which he ends up not using to assassinate G'Kar in "Midnight On The Firing Line".
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Subverted in second-season episode "Divided Loyalties", where an appeal to the true personality fails entirely. It fails because the 'bad' personality embedded into her mind by the Psicorps deletes and completely replaces the original, 'good' personality. The Talia we knew through the entire first season, who sided with the crew of Babylon 5, is effectively destroyed when the embedded 'sleeper' personality takes control. The 'bad' Talia proceeds to take a great deal of pleasure from taunting a grief-stricken Ivanova over it.
  • I Know You're Watching Me:
    • Morden almost seems to predict the moment when Sheridan, under duress, decides to release him from custody. When Sheridan turns to face the security monitor, Morden is grinning straight at him.
      • In the blooper reel, Ed Wasser invokes this trope in Real Life by waiting for Bruce Boxleitner, with his back to the monitor Wasser is on, to say that his character should be dead, then grabbing his throat, choking, and collapsing on the table while Boxleitner, oblivious, finishes the scene in character but the crew chortles away.
    • In the fifth season of Babylon 5, the telepath Lyta Alexander can sense video surveillance. Sheridan doesn't believe it until Captain Lochley asks him to switch cameras, and Lyta shifts her gaze accordingly.
  • I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That:
    • When G'kar begins smuggling weapons through B5, Garibaldi quickly catches on. In exchange for G'Kar fessing up and promising to move his hardware off-station, Garibaldi tacitly gives him a lead on an alternate (and much safer) route.
    • When Sheridan accuses a Minbari participating in a plot to get Sheridan removed from command of Babylon 5 of lying, Delenn says that she will pretend she didn't hear that, and neither did Lennier (also present at the time), as accusations of Minbari lying were to be responded to with violence.
  • Immortal Apathy: The two Abusive Precursors, the Shadows and the Vorlons, manipulate the younger races but don't seem to care for their fates. Most of the other older races, the "First Ones", stay away from the younger races and either don't care about them or are actively hostile.
    • The Vorlon Kosh does take an interest in the main characters, but is killed for "breaking the rules" of the Vorlon-Shadow conflict. His replacement is this trope at best. He turns on the younger races along with his fellow Vorlons when they unleash their planet killers and has to be put down
    • Lorien was this trope until he met Sherridan and then decreed to help him end the Shadow war.
  • Immortals Fear Death: Kosh tells Sheridan (in a dream) that he knew his species couldn't remain on this plane forever; they either need to cross over the next plane of existence or die; but he was in denial about it, having become scared of the idea of death after living so long.
  • Immortality Immorality: Jha'Dur, a Mengele-style genocidal scientist, gets the last laugh when Earthforce grants her a pardon in exchange for her longevity serum. The Vorlons put a quick stop to that nonsense and blow up her ship. It's actually far worse than that: in order to manufacture one dose of the serum, it's necessary to murder a sapient lifeform. She's actively gloating that her "gift" will make humans into far worse genocides than her own species, right up to the point where the Vorlons blow her away before she can hand over the formula.
  • Important Haircut: JMS liked to use Sheridan's hair style to symbolize where he is in his character arc. It started short, then got longer as he loosened up and got used to his role on the station. Then, when he became President of the Alliance, he cut it short again, and grew a Van Dyke that Bruce Boxleitner absolutely hated.
    • Unintentional and downplayed with Londo's Centauri hair. It took them until about Season 3 to get it looking decent, but it coincides nicely with Londo's increasing power and prestige in the Centauri Republic, highlighting how his character changes from a buffoon no one takes seriously into a credible villain. Or Anti-Villain. Or Anti-Hero.
  • Immune to Mind Control: Late in the fifth season, Lyta Alexander demonstrates the ability to mind control an entire room when station security comes to arrest her, claiming, "you cannot stop one who has been Touched by Vorlons". Then Sheridan comes up behind her with a gun, seemingly unaffected since he, too, has been touched by Vorlons, and threatens to blow her skull off.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Unsure of whether Ivanova is hitting on him or not, Corwin turns up at her quarters with some (very pricey) synthetic roses. Quickly realizing his mistake, he claims to have found them lying outside her door. Amused, Ivanova remarks that whoever bought those roses "must be a real dope." Corwin, now deflated, is inclined to agree with her.
  • Incendiary Exponent: how Minbari decided caste dominance in the old days.
  • Incoming Ham: MEEEEESter GariBALDi!
    • G'Kar got a far share of these as well. He had a tendency to announce his presence in a scene by shouting the name of the person he wanted to speak to from across the room.
    • Also Draal, especially after bonding with the Great Machine. He liked to do a sort of reverse Cheshire Cat; making some bombastic statement a moment before appearing as a hologram.
  • Inconsistent Spelling: The pak'ma'ra spell the name of their species in all lower case letters. Both fans and the production crew have often unwittingly capitalized it to match the way that every other species spells their name.
    "In all of my scripts, I always spelled pak’ma’ra in all lower case letters. Our script coordinator kept changing it to Pak’ma’ra. Finally, I had to tell her to stop changing it. She wanted to know why. I said, “Because that’s how they spell it.” It’s great being able to win arguments by citing non-existent rules of punctuation created by equally non-existent species."— JMS
  • Incredibly Obvious Bomb: In "The Fall of Night", Sheridan only knew to jump from the core shuttle because the bomb was one of these.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Duncan ("Exogenesis")..
  • Inexplicable Language Fluency: Played with in "Lines of Communication"; At what is supposedly First Contact between the Minbari and Drakh, the Drakh unexpectedly demonstrate fluency in the Minbari language. Soon enough, one of the Minbari delegation reveals himself as The Mole who's been in secret contact with the Drakh all along.
  • Informed Ability: In Passing Through Gethsemane, Sheridan is shown an example of some type of sculpture Brother Edward made. He looks on it with awe, and calls it beautiful. Brother Theo comments that Brother Edward's work could earn some much-needed money for the Order, but Brother Edward insists on giving it away for free. The thing they're admiring, however, looks like small bits of glass (or transparent plastic) glued together. It's not even clear what the object is supposed to be. It's interesting to look at, but hardly the amazing work of art the characters claim it is.
  • Informed Judaism (Ivanova). In the episodes where it comes up, it's made fairly clear that she isn't exactly a practicing Jew.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: You would, too, if you had to deal with what happens on this station.
    • Played for Laughs in one episode when Sheridan is about to confront the station's new political officer from Earth:
    Ivanova: "Got it. Anything else you need?"
    Sheridan: "A glass of whiskey, a gun, and two bullets."
    Ivanova: "Understood."
    • This is actually a play on a practice of the British Army back in the imperial days, when officers (particularly those of noble birth) accused of heinous crimes would be given the option of a pistol with one shot, and a bottle of whiskey. Their subsequent "suicide" would be less damaging to their family than a trial.
    • And Played for Drama when Garibaldi falls off the wagon and starts drinking again.
    • Londo's love of wine goes from just another amusing part of his Large Ham personality to an Invoked Trope when it is revealed that after he takes on a Drakh Keeper, he drinks heavily to put it to sleep, giving him some brief periods of freedom.
    • Vir attempts to cope with assassinating the Emperor by getting royally drunk. He tells Londo he did it because it always seemed to work for him.
  • Innocuously Important Episode:
    • The thirteenth episode "Signs and Portents" — which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The episode's "A" plot is some fairly standard and unimportant thing involving Raiders [space pirates] and a Centauri artifact called The Eye. The "B" plot, involving the first appearance of the enigmatic Mr Morden and the question "What do you want?", turns out to be incredibly important and crucial to the rest of the series — but the episode's retrospective importance only kicks in at the first season finale.
      • The A plot also has something near the end which is important to the overall plot as well, being that it's the first time the viewers get to see a Shadow vessel.
    • Its importance was lampshaded by the fact that the entire first season was also named "Signs and Portents" (though a casual viewer wouldn't know this - the season titles only appeared on fan sites.) "Portents", of course, are hints about future events.
    • "Midnight on the Firing Line'': appeared rather lackluster when it first aired, but to which the show kept referring throughout many of its best moments over the rest of its run. Previously, this trope was named for this episode.
  • Inscrutable Aliens: The Vorlons. While they can be spoken to, it's debatable whether they can be communicated with.
    Sinclair: Yes we have files on them, very large files. There's nothing in them, of course.
  • Insectoid Aliens: The Gaim. Also, the species to which n'grath belongs. The Shadows might count, too.
  • Insistent Terminology: "Food plan" in the Diet Episode.
  • Institutional Apparel: As seen in "The War Prayer" and "The Quality of Mercy", prisoners wear grey jumpsuits with black arrows on them. But they're futuristic arrows!
  • Internal Affairs: In the episode "Eyes", the title refers to the nickname of Earthforce Internal Affairs. The "Eyes" have a generally bad reputation, as usual for this trope, and the particular one in this episode proves to be bending the rules a lot in pursuit of a personal grudge.
  • Internal Reformist: During late stages of the arc revolving around trying to depose President Clarke, we meet one or two of these.
    • First is William Edgars, Garibaldi's new boss and a powerful corporate executive. Edgers feels that Sheridan's rebellion does more harm than good, since it both gives Earth an external threat to focus on and allows Clarke to consolidate his power and use Martial Law to crack down on any dissent and reform. Edgars is part of a group of powerful behind the scenes players, and his plan is to bring down Psi Corps, since it's the main base of Clarke's power, knowing that without it Clarke will soon fall.
    • A slightly more orthodox example is Susanna Luchenko, the head of the Russian Consortium. Like Edgars, she appears to have been part of a group that wanted to take Clarke down, only consisting of politicians instead of businessmen this time. She grudgingly admits that what Sheridan did was probably the right thing, but he "[d]id it in a way that was inconvenient" because it resulted in a Civil War that damaged much of the Earth Force Fleet, and showed instability and vulnerability to alien governments.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Lennier takes four and a half seasons to admit that he's in love with Delenn.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Early in the fourth season, after Sheridan has seemingly died on the Shadow homeworld of Z'Ha'Dum, some of the League ambassadors try to rally a protest against Delenn's plan to attack Z'Ha'Dum full on, claiming that no one who goes to Z'Ha'Dum comes back, just as Sheridan walks up and stands right next to them. The wind promptly goes out of their sails.
  • In the Hood: Delenn, whilst meeting with Marcus at his favorite tavern ("Ceremonies of Light and Dark").
    • She also does this before revealing the change in her appearance.
    • The Grey Council wears hoods that completely cover their heads (Minbari just love this trope). Oddly enough, they only really do it when in session, where presumably everyone in the room knows what they look like.
  • Iron Lady:
    • Ivanova has touches of this.
    • The above mentioned Susanna Luchenko, after she becomes President pro temp with Clark's suicide, tells Sheridan unequivocally he will do as she wants and "no" is not an answer. His choices are either resigning or a "fair trial" where he will be killed by fire squad.
    • Delenn is terrifying when riled, and she has enough personal influence plus sheer force of personality to just make things that need to happen happen (for example getting a Minbari fleet to defend B5 from Clark's forces or the construction of the White Star Fleet)
      Delenn: Only one human has ever survived combat with a Minbari fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives, be somewhere else.
  • Ironic Echo
    • Bester and Sheridan have an exchange of these in one episode with "It's an unperfect world."
    • When Sheridan is being forced to apologize to the Centauri for firing on their ship, he asks if the apology is being written for him. The Ministry of Peace officer replies, "No. As with everything else, it's the thought that counts." Not too much later, we see Sheridan practicing an epic Backhanded Apology in front of a mirror. After he's done, he repeats, "As with everything else, it's the thought that counts."
  • Irony: Delenn gives Garibaldi the "blind and toothless" speech when he espouses the death penalty ("Eye for an Eye"), despite she herself having ordered a genocide over the death of one man in particular. (Presumably, that bitter experience is why she now believes this.) Trust Garibaldi to come up with the perfect answer; 'No, only the bad guys.'
    • Dramatic Irony: Delenn tells her fellow Religious Caste leaders how brutal and unpredictable the Warrior Caste is, how her Caste would never turn on their own, and how people from her Caste are all wiser and better than them. This is after these guys had, after incomplete information, attached waste exhaust to the environmental systems to kill everyone on the ship so they wouldn't surrender.
    • From "And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place": Londo got every feature of where Na'Toth was imprisoned right except the planet. One wonders if he was thinking about this in "A Tragedy of Telepaths". It would be interesting to know if Vir ever found out either.
    • Garibaldi is Agnostic, but ends up studying a holy book (the Book of G'Quon) to find much-needed answers, that is, direct answers to specific problems, as it turns out the Book of G'Quon is a history of the Shadows' occupation of Narn a thousand years ago, and G'Quon took very good notes.
  • ISO Standard Human Spaceship: the Novae, their successor Omegas and the Warlocks are quite boxy and ungainly, and painted in various shades of grey. The Hyperions are a bit more rounded and brightly colored, but are produced by a different military contractor than the Omegas and Novas.
    • Eventually lampshaded in Legend of the Rangers where a Minbari laments that if the humans got to make all the decisions, then the only colors anywhere would be grey, black, and green.
    • In The Lost Tales, the Centauri Prince Vintari has a rather different opinion, singing praises of the elegance of human starship design. Of course, Centauri starship design is all dramatic bird-like curves, painted in hues of red and gold, so the heavily-armed utilitarian human ships must have seemed downright exotic in comparison.
  • It's All Junk: In "The War Prayer", Ivanova bins the gift she received from the boyfriend she's just broken up with.
  • It's All My Fault: John Sheridan blames himself for his wife Anna's death, which happened on a scientific expedition she joined in place of a holiday they'd planned and then he'd postponed because of work commitments. When he eventually admits this to his sister, who was also his wife's best friend, she tells him that Anna had already decided to join the expedition, and if he hadn't asked her to postpone the holiday, she'd have asked him.
    • Discussed in a late fourth season episode. Ivanova is lying on an operating table, and sure she is about to die. As she's talking to Sheridan, she tells him that she knows he carries around a lot of needless guilt, and that if he blames himself for this, she'll come Back from the Dead and kick his ass.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: After finding out how Morden, the Mouth of Sauron for the Shadows played him, Londo is furious and arranges a personal punishment for Morden that is implied to have included torture before Morden's eventual execution.
    • Morden seems to inspire this reaction in quite a few people. When Sheridan found out that he was a survivor of the same ship his wife died on he goes completely off the deep end, abandons all pretence of morals and due process, and gets dangerously close to crossing a line he really shouldn't cross until Delenn and Kosh eventually get through to him. Hell, he even manages to drive Garibaldi into a temporary resignation with his behaviour.
  • It Will Never Catch On: A meta-example. When it became clear that Warner Brothers wasn't going to fund a fifth season, Jerry Doyle put together a plan to finance the show through private investment using connections from his days as a stock-broker. He later noted that almost all of the backers came from Silicon Valley. Yes, Jerry Doyle crowdfunded a season of a TV show in 1997! Straczynski didn't take the offer seriously, and settled for an agreement with TNT, who had already bought the reruns, to finance the fifth season (albeit at a reduced rate, causing a money crunch). That agreement ended up causing significant grief, and lead to the spin-off being canceled before a single episode aired.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: Works better with the power cell, rather. Sheridan, fed up with an ongoing argument with no end in sight, puts his sidearm in the hands of the B-Plot-antagonist-of-the-week and offers to let them shoot him if they want. They back down. Sheridan later reveals to an apoplectic Ivanova that he removed the power cell before handing his weapon over note .
  • I Warned You: Delenn's righteously indignant speech before the Grey Council ("Severed Dreams").
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: Zathras gets pinned by a fallen pole in "Babylon Squared", and tells Sinclair to leave him. Luckily, Future Delenn returns to save him.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Following the re-enslavement of the Narn homeworld by the Centarui, the decree is passed that any attack on a Centauri citizen will be met with the deaths of 500 Narns, including the perpetrator's own family.

  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique:
    • Just another day at the office for Alfred Bester.
    • Subverted with Garabaldi, who is really good at convincing people he's willing to resort to these. However, when his boss actually goes ahead with it, Garibaldi takes him aside and explains how if that happens again, he can find a new security chief.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Alluded to by Psi-Cop Alfred Bester while he and his team are chasing a runaway Telepath.
    Bester: "...spark misleading hunches..."
    • Telepaths can also induce agony in a victim by simply concentrating and saying the word "pain". Typically used in life-or-death situations.
    • Groups of telepaths, working in sync with eachother, can overwhelm stronger telepaths to similar effects. On one occasion, this went so far as to give Bester the false impression that they had tried to do this, but failed due to the interference of Talia Winters.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Garibaldi has an argument with a post office worker who charges 100 credits to pay for a package that got delivered. Now the worker points out that the price hike is due to B5 breaking out from Earth and him having to employ alternate means to get the mail to arrive to B5, and his extra expenses have to be passed to the consumer. Yet most of the B-Plot was following Garibaldi trying to avoid paying the price, eventually resorting to extortion to get his money back. Because the guy dared to do his job (Or heck, go beyond his duty considering he's trying to maintain the service despite the consequences). Regimes come and go, empires rise and fall but the Post Office is forever...
    • William Edgars' attitude towards telepaths is deeply laced with Fantastic Racism and his solution to the "telepath problem" involves biological warfare on a species-wide scale. He is right, however, "normal" humans are never going to be completely at ease around telepaths, telepaths do have an evolutionary advantage over mundanes which could only realistically be overcome by cheating, the psi-corps does give Clark his power base and his government would collapse if it was kicked out from under him, and the "telepath war" he mentions as a major existential threat really does happen a short time after the events of season 4
    • In 'Gropos' Sheridan is reluctant to accept an enhanced weapons package from General Franklin as he does not wish to turn the station into a military fortress rather than a bastion of neutrality, commerce and diplomacy. This more powerful defence grid will end up saving Babylon 5 from destruction on countless occasions.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: One of the classics.
  • Just Following Orders:
    • This trope is the excuse given by many Earthforce officers who obey Clark's illegal orders.
    • Doctor Franklin explicitly does not. During the Earth/Minbari war, he was ordered to turn over his notes on Minbari anatomy so that the military can create a biological weapon. He refuses, stating that under military law he has no duty to obey an order if it would violate his conscience. The military locks him up and tears his house and office apart looking for some remnant of those notes. He destroyed them in advance, knowing that in times of war, the law falls silent.
    • The whole Earth Civil War arc plays with this trope, with the divides not being as clear-cut as they seem. Some EarthForce captains and crews did indeed carry out orders they knew to be illegal, but they were still orders and we don't really get into their point of view. Many others knew what was going on, but weren't put in the exact position of having to follow an illegal or immoral order or go against their government, but opposed Sheridan because he was leading a military coup or because they bought the propaganda that he was killing humans and replacing them alien crews on EarthForce ships. Many others defected to Sheridan's forces not because they were told to follow illegal orders, but because they knew it was only matter of time before they would be. It even applies to Sheridan's forces; not every EarthForce member on Babylon 5 stayed with him when he declared independence, and not every EarthForce soldier who defected to his side was sincere.

  • Kangaroo Court: In the episode "Rising Star" President Susanna Luchenko tells Sheridan that the officers at his court-martial will be from the 'shoot him' side. He has no chance of being found innocent and the trial will be solely for the sake of reinforcing political control over the military. Of course, this arrangement was so that Sheridan would take the other choice being offered: He resigns from Earth Force, allowing the government to re-consolidate without his polarizing and destabilizing presence. Long story short, his career in Earth Force is over one way or another.note 
    • The Clerk regime was a big fan of these, they'd engineer "confessions given by one's own free will" by torturing the subject to breaking point and have them say whatever the regime wished on public news feeds (usually naming a few "accomplices" as part of the confession to make removing a few additional opponents easier later on). They would then be sent for "re-education" and never heard from again... it's basically a pretty much perfect recreation of a Stalinist purge. In the rare occasions where they can't break a subject they can still just get rid of them and then engineer a confession with careful editing of previous recordings of the subject (though this is considered a last resort on the grounds that the subject can't be questioned by the "free press").
    • Londo and Emperor Cartagia plan a show-trial and very messy execution for G'Kar once he's captured. Cartagia would have carried it off had the trial not actually been part of Londo's plot to do the emperor in.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Dan Randall, the ISN news reporter from "The Illusion of Truth". Yes, Clark's administration all got snapped by Sheridan's comeback tour, but it would've been nice to see that guy crucified.
      • He was a minor player in the scheme of things, and probably ended up like the Iraqi Information Minister famous for his absurd proclamations of imminent Iraqi victory during the 2003 Iraqi invasion: captured, interrogated, and subsequently released to comparative obscurity.
    • Alfred Bester, more or less. (Much less in the novels. Directly responsible for causing the events that lead to the destruction of the Psi-Corp, chased by Garibaldi for a decade or two, mind-wipes his love only to realize after the fact that it wasn't necessary, and put in a prison for the rest of his life, under anti-PSI drugs, and dies when an ESPECIALLY ironic announcement is made.)
      • And unproduced script for Crusade would have shown Bester in hiding on a fringe planet, now a wanted war criminal in the aftermath of the Telepath War.
    • Crusade, the spin-off series, showed that at least one member of Nightwatch was one of these. It isn't directly stated, but it's the same actor, with the same name, and he states that he knows a thing or two about surviving changes in governments.
    • In the first segment of "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars", one of the ISA's detractors during the ISN discussion panel is an unapologetic speech-writer for the late President Clark. He gets a sound intellectual beat-down, but he's still a free man. Propaganda is normally considered a war crime (albeit one of the lesser ones), so it seems odd that he didn't serve any prison time for his part in the Clark regime.
    • This of course might just be because of how divisive the war turned out to be. President Luchenko mentions having to balance the various bitter factions of Earth's government and society after Sheridan's war. She doesn't have the political capital to round up all or even most of the supporters of Clark's old regime without risking a fresh conflict, or further weakening Earth to the point of risking an alien attack. Indeed, the Bad Future in Lost Tales is potentially due in part to this, with a resurgent Centauri Republic descending upon a declining Earth Alliance like they did the Narn Regime before.
  • Karmic Twist Ending: Passing Through Gethsemane ends with Sheridan being introduced to Brother Edward's murderer, who has been mind-wiped and reprogrammed to be a peaceful monk, just as Edward was. But then it is revealed Brother Theo, Edward's mentor, wanted Edward's murderer near him so he could forgive him and encourages Sheridan to forgive the man his actions.
  • Keeping the Enemy Close: G'Kar alludes to this trope and then says that humans probably stole it from the Narn.
  • Keeping the Handicap: In the first season, the Minbari poet Shaal Mayan attacked by an Earth terrorist group refused to let the scar branded onto her forehead to be removed, insisting she should keep it as a reminder.
  • Kill the Lights: When Commander Sinclair awakens to find the station completely abandoned, save one other, he goes to find out what's going on, only to have the lights start shutting off right before he's confronted by the one responsible.
  • King in the Mountain: Played with in "A Late Delivery From Avalon".
    • After Sheridan's disappearance at the end of the Grand Finale, some of the Minbari expect him to return someday.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Marcus Cole. Garibaldi even more so.
    Garibaldi: Like you said, I never start a conversation unless I know where it's going, but I always leave a little room for someone to disappoint me.
  • Knight Templar:
    • Byron's followers.
    • William Edgars sets himself up as this, though he imagines himself a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
    • Almost every side has at least a few.
    • The Vorlons

  • Land of One City: Babylon 5 is this for much of the show.
  • Lampshade Hanging: In season five, the show introduced two background characters, Mack and Bo, essentially station handymen. In an early scene, one of the characters is operating a device that looks like a metal detector, and they lampshade how characters in the background of sci-fi series are often using odd gadgets that have no known purpose.
    Bo: Hey Mack, can I ask you a question?
    Mack: Shoot.
    Bo: What the hell are these things for?
    Mack: What do you mean?
    Bo: I mean what do they do?
    Mack: Well what do you mean, what do they do? You run them along the floor, like this.
    Bo: Ok, so what does it do? It's not any cleaner.
    Mack: (sighs) I dunno. Maybe it looks for cracks, or does something to the metal, makes it stronger? I dunno.
    Bo: So you don't know what it does either.
    Mack: No.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre:
    • Franklin to Ivanova, after the latter balks at her newly-prescribed diet.
    Ivanova: All my life I've fought against imperialism. Now, suddenly I'm the expanding Russian frontier!
    Franklin: But with very nice borders.
    • Marcus notices that the leader of the Martian resistance movement has taken an interest in Dr. Franklin.
    Franklin: Look, I was just helping her out of a difficult situation, that's all.
    Marcus: Fifty credits says that's not all she wants you to help her out of.
  • La Résistance:
    • An "Underground Railroad" of rogue telepaths who seek to elude Psi Corps. A handful of doctors (including Dr. Franklin) first established the railroad in response to stories of humans rights abuses being committed on telepaths.
    • One of Earthforce's Joint Chiefs, William Hague, organizes a mutiny against President's Clark's regime. Ultimately, Hague's leadership over the resistance passes down to Sheridan.
    • The Narn resistance is organized by cells both on and off-world, smuggling weapons, food, and other resources. Ex-Ambassador G'Kar is the most prominent figure in this movement, despite continuous Centauri efforts to rub him out. Remnants of the Narn fleet eventually join the struggle against the Shadows led by John Sheridan.
    • The Mars Resistance, formed by people who want Mars to be independent of Earth. They are little more than a terrorist organization in the first season, but by the fourth season Babylon 5 is actively working with them to topple the Clark regime.
    • Babylon 5 itself becomes this, especially during the Fourth Season.
  • Large Ham:
    • "My deeeaarr... MEEEEESTAH Garibaldi!" Cast commentary reveals that Londo's actor would get into character by strutting back and forth repeating that exact line.
    • Maj. Lewis Krantz, reporting in! You can't miss him; he's the auxiliary commander of Babylon 4 when it becomes unstuck in time. Oh, boy. You thought the acting was dodgy in The Gathering?
    • There is no ham larger than DRAAL.
      • The younger version of DRAAL, at least. The older DRAAL (played by the same actor who portrayed Brother Theo) was much more subtle. Which is to say, he was still a Large Ham, just not to the epic levels he reached once he was in The Great Machine.
    • G'Kar was this in the first season, less so as the series went on.
      G'Kar: "They've got us sitting next to the Vreeeee! Have you ever seen them eat? There's horror for you."
    • "King Arthur" is an expansive talker, as can be expected. Also, he's played by veteran ham Michael York. Naturally, he gets on famously with Citizen G'Kar.
  • Laser Hallway: Of the lethal variety. Encountered by Sinclair and Invanova in "A Voice In The Wilderness".
  • Last-Minute Reprieve: Used a few times throughout the series.
  • Last of Her Kind: Deathwalker. Her stated goal was to give away her final discovery as penance for what she and her people did during the Dilgar War. The key to her immortality serum is a substance that can only be extracted by killing another living being. For one to live forever, another must die. She plans to incite a bloodbath amongst the other races as a final "Screw you" to the galaxy. The Vorlons put a sudden and violent end to her gambit.
    • It turns out that it was averted for the Dilgar, expanded universe material reveals that they have a single colony world that no one else knows about that they never leave. Given that most of the race is dead and everyone in known space hates them... a lot... this is pretty sensible.
    • Lorien claims to be the last of his kind still residing in the Galaxy (the others having either died or left to explore beyond the rim). Ironically, he also happens to be the First Of His Kind as he claims to be the first individual in the whole of the universe to ever attain sentience (which would make him also the first of any kind). As he's the only one remaining in the galaxy he's also a Single-Specimen Species.
  • Last Words: As Emperor Turhan lies on his deathbed, Londo and Refa inform him that Centauri forces have resumed war with the Narn, and ask for his blessing. Turhan whispers something into Londo's ear, which Londo reports as: "Continue. Take my people back to the stars". Out in the hallway, a sly Refa asks Londo what the Emperor really said. It was,
    "(You) are both damned."
  • Latex Perfection: Played for laughs in "There the Honor Lies" when Ivanova pays a visit to B5's gift shop. Suddenly, all of the human/alien customers remove their 'masks', sending her fleeing in terror.
    Drazi customer: Can you gift-wrap this for me?
  • Layout of a Season: Although it's the ninth episode instead of the fifteenth, "The Coming of Shadows" elevates the classical mid-season shift to the point that it won a Hugo Award.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: When Earthforce is boarding Babylon 5 to try and get the station back from Sheridan. Garibaldi and a large percentage of his security team (augmented by recently-recuited Narn soldiers) move in to where the breaching party will enter the station. As Garibaldi and the Humans begin digging in to set up a kill zone, the Narn just rush on ahead, forcing the humans to chase after them.
  • Left Hanging: 'bout those Human Popsicle telepaths they rescued from the Shadows? (Not the ones used as "weapons" in the return to Earth, but the ones that, like Carolyn, were not sacrificed.)
    • Probably intended to be resolved in the never-made Telepath Wars movie. Expanded Universe material indicates the ones not used in the Mars assault were eventually killed when the Resistance attacked the facility they were kept in.
  • Lethally Expensive: Invoked. Sheridan orders the rangers to leak some information to the Shadows. However he is concerned that they won't believe it unless someone was:
    Sheridan: "...willing to fight for it, willing to..." (he can't bring himself to say "die" in front of the very man he is ordering to his death.)
  • Letter Motif
  • Letting Her Hair Down:
    • Minor example in "Survivors". The head of the Presidential security detail starts out very uptight, with a hairstyle to match. In the final scene, she's more friendly, and also wearing her hair down. (The change in hairstyle is justified by that being the first scene where she's off-duty, but it's still a trope because it coincides with her increased friendliness, which is not just because she's off-duty.)
    • Ivanova usually has her hair scraped back severely while working and in hard-ass executive officer mode, but wears it down when off-duty and with close friends, when her genuine friendly persona comes through.
      • Lampshaded in a first season episode (when she was even more hard-assed than later on), where she shows up for duty with her hair down because she was in a hurry. Garibaldi makes a snarky comment about the new look, and Ivanova basically tells him to shut the hell up.
  • Life Energy: The alien machine from The Quality of Mercy can transfer this from one person to another.
  • Life Isn't Fair: Ivanova expects it. Marcus, meanwhile, embraces it.
    Marcus: I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, "wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?" So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.
  • Light/Darkness Juxtaposition: The Vorlons and Shadows appear at first to embody this trope, before getting a little bit more complicated, eventually falling into a combination of Light Is Not Good and Jerkass Has a Point.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: In the commentary for "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars," JMS mentions that during the filming of the Londo/G'Kar scenes an extra actually asked "How long have they been married?" after the scene was finished. Their bickering was lampshaded throughout the series, and in "A View From the Gallery" a character within the series wondered how long they had been together after he saw them arguing.
  • Like Brother and Sister: John Sheridan is closer to Susan Ivanova than he is to anyone else in the series, except for Delenn — he's her captain, best friend and comrade-in-arms. In the one episode where the possibility of sexual tension between them is brought up (by Ivanova), it's also casually dismissed (by Ivanova) while she's in the middle of berating him for waking her up in the middle of the night and not even bothering to comment on her truly sexy nightclothes.
  • Literary Allusion Title
    • The Bible
      • Movie "In The Beginning" (Genesis 1:1)
      • "A Voice in the Wilderness"
      • "Revelations"
      • "Passing Through Gethsemane"
    • William Shakespeare
    • Mark Twain
      • "The War Prayer", after the essay of the same name
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: Subverted twice. See Anyone Can Die.
  • Living Relic: Lorien. He was the first living being to achieve sentience in the universe along with his race and was born immortal in a time before the universe invented things like life-cycles. All of his kind had died out or went beyond the rim of galaxy in the billions of intervening years. The one thing stopping him from being an Eldritch Abomination is that he also happens to be the kindest person you will ever meet.
  • Living Ship: Vorlon ships are shown to be both sentient and organic. Kosh also shares a telepathic link with his vessel.
    • Shadow ships also appear to be at least partly organic, and use imprisoned humanoids as their central processors
  • Loan Shark: Desmond "Deuce" Modichenko ("Grail").
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Babylon 5's defense grid.
  • Locked in a Room: Subverted in "Convictions".
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • A Narn warship that escaped the destruction of its homeworld jumps into Babylon 5 space, requesting sanctuary. Unfortunately, a representative from Earthgov announces that Earth is prepared to sign a non-aggression treaty with the Centarui, something which virtually translates to appeasement. A Centauri battlecruiser arrives, demanding custody of the Narn ship. Sheridan refuses, stating that the treaty isn't finalized in the senate yet, so therefore he can grant asylum to whoever the hell he wants. The Centauri disagree, and attack the station.
    • Commander Sinclair solves an illegal dockworkers' strike by using his powers under the "Rush Act," which allow him to break illegal strikes by "any means necessary." Since the dockworkers wanted livable wages and safety upgrades, he decides that "any means necessary" includes giving the dockworkers everything they want. Everyone leaves happy except, presumably, Earthgov. (By presumably, we mean they nearly fired everyone.)
    • When Delenn's life was in danger from Neroon but she did not wish Sheridan to know, she forbids Lennier from telling him. He opts to ask Marcus for help. His reasoning is:
      Lennier: I'm trying to keep a promise. By breaking a promise. I was told not to mention this to anyone in the chain of command. You were not mentioned by name but that is implicit. However, by telling you, the captain need not find out about it and I will not have broken the promise.
      Marcus: I'm in awe, Lennier. The way you can take a simple proposition and turn it inside out so that it says what you want it to say rather than what it actually says. Does this come naturally or did you attend some sort of ... martial arts class for the philosophically inclined?
    • The Minbari (and particularly the Religious Caste) wear this trope like a hat. Given that their religious leader (Valen, born Jeffrey Sinclair) was a legendary Rules Lawyer as a human, perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised.
    • Sheridan was a big fan of this, aside from the G'Tok incident mentioned above, he also arranged for Earth Gov to charge itself rent when he was ordered to pay for the privilege of bigger quartersnote 
    • Sheridan also managed to avert Nightwatch taking over security duties on B5 on the grounds that the order came from the Political Office, a (supposedly) civilian organisation which therefore had no jurisdiction over the military chain of command.
    • Sheridan's acceptance of the role of President of the ISA after securing amnesty in writing for the B5 crew in exchange for his resignation as captain must also count
  • Loss of Identity: Death Of Personality.
  • Lost Tribe: The unnamed alien race of Epsilon III.
    • Subverted with the Centauri, who initially claimed that the human race was a lost Centauri tribe. It wasn't until human scientists finally managed to get their hands on some Centauri DNA and other biological data that it became obvious that, superficial similarities aside, there was no commonality between Centauri and Humans. The Centauri passed this off as a "clerical error". The Psi Corps Trilogy of novels make it clear that the humans never put much credit to the claim, but went along with it anyways to be polite to the powerful and advanced aliens and see what Earth could get out of it.
  • Loud of War: As punishment for trifling with Elric, the computers in Londo's quarters are reprogrammed to continually blare "Narn opera", among other things.
  • Love Confession: In "Ceremonies of Light and Dark", Sheridan first admits to Delenn how much he cares about her. She clearly feels the same, but unfortunately by the time she actually uses the words "I love you," he was already angry with her, making for a heartbreaking love confession. Not long afterwards, she finds a note he left for her, where he also says "I love you," but this one is even more heartbreaking than hers.
  • Love Confessor: Happens twice in "Ceremonies of Light and Dark". Since part of the plot centers around a Minbari "rebirth ceremony" which requires participants to admit something they have never told anyone before, three people take it as a chance to admit love. Two are Love Confessors: when Lennier tells Marcus that he loves Delenn (but wishes not to tell her because he knows he is a Hopeless Suitor), and when Ivanova tells Delenn that she thinks she loved Talia. The third was a Love Confession, from Sheridan to Delenn.
    • It also occurs later, when Ivanova is reacting to Marcus's Heroic Sacrifice to save her life. She tells Franklin that she did love Marcus, but was afraid to do anything about it because love had always ended badly for her in the past.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: "A View from the Gallery", which centers around two maintenance workers.

  • MacGuffin Escort Mission: The Mars Resistance agent handing his parcel down to Lyta ("Divided Loyalties").
  • Made Out to Be a Jerkass:
    • Sheridan defends the station from a Centauri attack only to be forced to give an Ordered Apology to them. What makes it worse was that he was denied his epic Backhanded Apology.
    • It's unclear whether they did it intentionally, but Franklin (a rather gregarious guy normally) comes off as a real asshole in the Documentary Episode And Now For a Word... Granted, he was having a rough day (and secretly battling a drug addiction), and the reporters seemed to like catching him while he was busy saving lives, but anyone who only saw the news report would think he's a total Jerkass. It doesn't help that, being a generally friendly guy personally, Franklin's professional behavior leans heavily towards being a Dr. Jerk.
  • Magic or Psychic?: Telepaths get their powers from a gene that is found in a small percentage of many species' populations (and seemingly all of the First Ones) and which was installed by the Vorlons so they could be used as weapons in the Vorlon-Shadow Wars. While technomages have cybernetic implants that allow them to manipulate energy and employ other magic-like abilities and were devised by the Shadows.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything:
    • During the ISA-Centauri War, Lochley boasts that half the Starfuries are on patrol and the other half were on high alert and the defense grid was on standby. Did anyone ever think that would be enough to defend the station against even four Vorchan-class Centauri cruisers?
      • It's mentioned in Season 2 that the station's weapon systems were powerful enough to destroy a cruiser, and presumably they were improved later.
    • Likewise, when the White Star fleet went to assist the Enfili, the Station was left completely undefended. Why weren't the member worlds contributing to the defense of B5? Then the place gets attacked by that random race and they are lucky to survive. Why weren't even two White Stars left behind?
    • In S4, Sheridan took arms against his own government, then dodged a court martial by resigning from EarthForce. But in S5 he is the Earth Alliance ambassador to B5 and the EA rep to the Interstellar Alliance! (Probably a move by JMS to avoid having too many characters).
  • Maintain the Lie: Averted; "The War Prayer" has the set-up — Vir has been telling his relatives that he's the Centauri ambassador on Babylon 5, and then one of them comes to visit — but instead of trying to Maintain The Lie, Vir admits the truth straight away, accepts a bit of ribbing, and they move on to spending the rest of the episode trying to sort out the problem the relative came to ask his help with.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Clark ascends to the Presidency after his predecessor dies in a pretty suspicious explosion.
  • Malaproper: Delenn lacks intimate knowledge of a few select human phrases.
  • Mama Bear: Laura Rosen, already dying from Lake's Syndrome, donates her life force to patients who visit her clinic in Downbelow. When Karl Mueller threatens her daughter, Rosen kills him by sapping away his life, instead. Though cleared of all charges, Rosen is deeply shaken by the experience, having violated her oath as a doctor.
  • Man Hug: Exchanged between Keffer and his newfound Marine Corps buddies, shortly before their doomed mission on Aknor.
  • Man in the Machine:
    • Varn, a mysterious alien who governs the "Great Machine" of Epsilon III. When Varn's life starts to fade, Delenn's mentor Draal agrees to take over his duties.
    • Shadow ships require living being at their core; the two merge, becoming one entity. If the pilot isn't properly prepared (i.e., a moronic Earthgov test monkey), the result is a confused, insane ship.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Lord Antono Refa, Londo Mollari, Morden, Bester, and even Delenn, Sinclair and Sheridan when required.
  • Master Poisoner: Centauri
    Londo: As we are returning to the old ways, Refa, and poison was always the instrument of choice in the old Republic, being something of a sentimentalist, I got here first
  • Mathematician's Answer:
    • Everything that Kosh says is not exactly helpful:
    Sheridan: "How do I know you're the same Vorlon? Inside that encounter suit, you could be anyone."
    Kosh: "I have always been here."
    Sheridan: "Oh yeah? You said that about me, too."
    Kosh: "Yes."
    Sheridan: "I really hate it when you do that."
    Kosh: "Good."
    • Sheridan even lampshades this.
    Sheridan: Well, as answers go, short, to the point, utterly useless and totally consistent with what I've come to expect from a Vorlon.
    Kosh: Good.
    • The Drakh do the same in season 4: "Drakh? Is that your name or your species?" "Yes."
    • Even J. Michael Straczynski himself can't resist this trope. (warning: link contains spoilers) "Was Kosh's line about Sheridan going to Z'ha'dum a warning or a threat?" "Yes." GAH!!
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Clarke's Third Law is alive and well, as most every "supernatural" event has a possible explanation in high technology. Franklin posits a technological explanation for the Minbari and Soul Hunters' seemingly-verified belief in souls. The Minbari believe in reincarnation and have devices (the triluminaries) which give off a special reaction when around humans who have Minbari souls, but it's just as probable that the triluminaries are reacting to Valen's DNA, which Sinclair has because he IS Valen and which humans obviously share with him, and which some Minbari have as Valen's distant descendants. Leaving it ambiguous was the point, but the preponderance of high-tech explanations for strange phenomena lean everything toward the "science we don't understand" view.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Sheridan and Delenn. In this case, however, it's only partially because of a difference in their species' natural lifespans, and more because of the Heroic Sacrifice that left him with a lifespan shortened by at least forty years.
  • May It Never Happen Again: Zigzagged. The eponymous Space Station was built to host a Fictional United Nations to prevent a repeat of the apocalyptic Earth-Minbari War by providing a setting for the nations of The 'Verse to hash out disputes peacefully. It ultimately is agreed to have failed by the end of season 2, with the reconquest of the Narn Regime by the Centauri Republic, but The Alliance against the Shadows and the growing authoritarianism in the Earth Alliance allows the protagonists to reforge the Babylon 5 Advisory Council into the more effective Interstellar Alliance, which isn't able to completely end war but is able to police it. This trope figures heavily into the resolution of the Shadow War arc. By refusing to choose a side in the millennia-long conflicts between two races of Abusive Precursors, and evicting both races from the galaxy for their bad cosmic parenting, a future flare-up of these Precursors' tensions is prevented once and for all.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • "Hold the line."
    • King Arthur's line about resurfacing in the 23rd century "because I am most needed here and now" is analogous to Delenn and Sheridan being "the right people, in the right place, at the right time".
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Delenn means "Gray Traveler" which doubles as a Shout-Out to The Lord of the Rings, given that Gandalf's Elven name is Mithrandir, which means "Gray Wanderer"
    • Timov Mollari, Londo's wife, represents Famine; she constantly says what's on her mind, and it's generally not pleasant. Mariel has an angelic sound and represents Death as she tried to kill Londo before he could divorce her.
    • Cynthia Torqueman hints at Torquemada. Given the way she treats Delenn in her interview, the comparison is more than justified.
  • Melting Pot Sci-Fi Setting: Takes place during a time of transition between Single-Species Nations and this trope. At the start of the series, most polities have one dominant species and small, if any, populations of other species. But the titular Space Station was built to serve as a neutral meeting ground for diplomacy and trade and has a diverse population of many different species, and by the end of the series has become the capital of an Interstellar Alliance.
  • Metaphorically True: Sheridan's Interrogator in Intersections in Real Time lives and breathes this trope. He describes the truth as fluid, as being whatever people agree that it is. He combines this trope with Exact Words to tell outright lies to Sheridan while at the same time claiming that he's being honest.
    • And then, Sheridan acknowledges the man might be right, that truth is fluid. But that means Sheridan's views are just as right as what the man wants him to confess to and Sheridan proves he is right every time he refuses to be broken.
  • Memory Jar: The episode "Deathwalker" had Talia Winters meeting with Kosh and a strange cybernetic man who apparently was recording her thoughts and saving them on a data crystal. Word of God is that it would be used to restore her personality after she was taken over by the Psi Corps personality, but Andrea Thompson left the show, so that never came to fruition.
  • Mentor Archetype:
    • Aldous Gajic to "Jinxo" in the first season episode "Grail". As well as several other characters.
    • Kosh Naranek
    • G'kar becomes this to the entire Narn race in season 5. Although he soon becomes frustrated that most of the Narn who come to the station to listen to him end up missing the point.
    • Byron to his followers.
  • The Merch: invokedLampshaded when Sheridan is forced by EarthDome to open a gift shop on-board the station. Doubles as a thinly-veiled Take That! toward the Trek franchise (see "Dueling Shows").
    Ivanova: Babylon 5, our last best hope to make a quick buck!
  • Messianic Archetype:
    • Byron.
    • Sheridan, Sinclair and Delenn, all in their own ways.
    • G'kar after his spiritual enlightenment.
  • Microts: Time is measured by "cycles", or rotations of the station; the obvious reason being that Earth, Narn, and Minbar have varying day-to-night clocks. Many worlds also use the term to refer to their solar years. The actual definition of a "cycle" varies Depending on the Writer. In "TKO", three cycles is something like three days; in "Grail" (the very next episode), three hundred cycles is something like three days. By Season Three, there is a notable changeover to "standard hours", presumably because it's less confusing.
    • A few mentions were made in show of there being 36 hours in a (presumably Babylon 5) day (maintain a 36 hour watch, we're open 36 hours a day, etc).
    • Subverted with years, 1000 of which have passed since the last Shadow war. Which planet's years are never mentioned.
    • In one episode, this causes some confusion, when it turns out that while a Cycle on B5 is a relatively short period of time, a "Cycle" on the Drazi homeworld is a whole year. Presumably due to something being Lost in Translation.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: About midway through the second season, Babylon 5's defense grid is given substantial upgrades, in response to increasing tensions in the region. The General overseeing the upgrades even goes on to speculate that the station could now take on a starship in a fight.
    • At the start of the third season, the White Star is introduced. Towards the last third of the season, it is revealed that the White Star was merely a prototype, and that there is now an entire fleet of them at the heroes' disposal.
    • Late in the second season, it's mentioned that Alpha Squadron, having the oldest and most beat-up Starfuries assigned to the station, is rumored to be in line to get the new Thunderbolt Starfuries. These finally appear in the middle of the third season, with Babylon 5 taking on a load of the new fighters after their mothership is destroyed defending the station.
    • In the fifth season, they begin discussing the need for newer, more advanced Destroyers to backstop the White Stars, which have been pressed into major combatant roles they were never intended to fill by themselves. We see two such designs in A Call to Arms: the Victory-class destroyer (a Destroyer built with White Star technology) and the Warlock-class destroyer (a more conventional, and more numerous, heavily upgraded follow-up to the Omega)
  • Military Maverick: A series of Strawman Political characters visit the station to browbeat Sheridan for not taking the ramifications for Earth's citizens into account. Considering that he is effectively Earth's ambassador on Babylon 5 in addition to being a military commander in a key region of space, he really should be answerable to his government. He decides that EarthGov is illegitimate once he uncovers proof that Vice-President Clark had his running mate murdered.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Pretty much every teep.
  • Mind Manipulation, such as Mind Probe and Mind Rape:
    • Something PsiCop Mr. Bester was very fond of.
    • The power granted by the telepathic drug "Dust" is specifically described as Mind Rape in the episode (season three's "Dust to Dust") in which it's a major plot element. G'Kar does it to Londo, finding out about his role in the bombing of the Narn homeworld.
      • And it was inverted in the same episode. A Dust user mind rapes the first person he runs into. And ends up reliving a severe trauma experienced previously by his victim: They got caught in a landslide, causing him to scream over and over again that the mountain fell on him.
    • Happens to Sheridan and Delenn, more or less by design, somewhat by consent, during the final battle with the Shadows and Vorlons.
    • Actully Bester, while quite willing to mind probe, wasn't one to mind rape unless there were telepath lives at stake. The man did have some standards.
    • Even the heroes used it on one noteworthy occasion, attempting to prevent a murder.
    • Pretty much the only way to fight the Shadows on anything like even ground involves using telepaths to project Psychic Static into the Shadows' Wetware CPU controls. The Shadows' defense against this, going from Lyta's reaction the first time this was attempted in combat, is pretty much defensive Mind Rape.
  • Mind over Manners: The less evil telepaths, most of the time, follow the rule about not scanning someone against their will. Mostly.
  • Mirth to Power: Subverted: One episode shows a Court Jester in Cartagia's court mocking him behind his back. Cartagia turns around to see this, and laughs it off. He then has the jester killed.
  • Mistress and Servant Boy: Delenn and Lennier
  • Modest Royalty:
    • Emperor Turhan. An elderly, ill man near the end of his life, he was more or less bald human-ish with no hair fan to speak of. He owned a rather impressive wig, but refused to take it with him during his official visit to Babylon 5, saying that the trappings of status were no longer important to him.
    • His successor Cartagia, for all his insanity, has a distinctly subdued sense of taste for a Centauri. He even chooses to wear his hair short even though traditionally, the size of a male Centauri's hair fan indicated his status. Only a quasi-example, since Cartagia explains to Londo that the reason he worse his hair shorter was so that he could go among the "lower classes" quite easily, and implied that it enabled him to indulge in... less savoury pleasures.
  • The Mole: Jack, Garibaldi's trusted aide. After the latter uncovers a plot to kill President Santiago, Jack repays his trust by shooting him In the Back.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Why Legend Of The Rangers was made.
  • Moral Myopia:
    • Minbari were all pissy over Sheridan's nuking of the Blackstar despite their own policy of taking no prisoners and leaving no combatant survivors [that they know of].
    • Vir's arranged wife feels Narns are a brutal race that needs culling and has participated in multiple atrocities.
    • Bester feels absolutely no remorse about killing mundanes and is less than sympathetic toward teeps that are not Corps.
      Bester: It takes generations to breed a telepath. Mundanes breed like rabbits. Supply and demand. Nothing more, nothing less.
    • The Narn in the first season are presented as themselves being ruthless imperialists, as well as being willing to do arms deals with anyone including pirates and war criminals. Their chief complaint about the Centauri seems to boil down to the fact that it happened to them.
    • Sheridan nuking the Shadow capital on Zha'Ha'Dum with two five hundred megaton warheads seems a little jarring when you consider that it was probably filled with non-combatants.
  • Mordor: Z'ha'dum. It even has a Great Eye, which Ivanova sees when she's plugged into the Palantir Great Machine, and later when she visits the planet itself.
  • Morality Pet: Vir fills this role for Londo on quite a regular basis. Indeed he's stayed Londo's hand on more than one occasion, and Londo is at his worst when Vir is absent.
  • Ms. Fanservice: averted until the last season until the gorgeous Traci Scoggins comes aboard as Captain Elizabeth Lochley and suddenly we have her in fancy lingerie in a holo-brothel.
  • Mugging the Monster: The Streib. "Their last expedition was into Minbari space. We tracked them back to their homeworld. And made sure they understood the depth of their mistake." Given the final fate of the Streib vessel one might argue that venturing into human space was not necessarily one of their best ideas either.
  • Multi Boobage: In "TKO", Garibaldi and Walker Smith reminisce about a place they used to frequent where the waitresses had three [meaningful hand gesture].
  • Multinational Team: Susan Ivanova is the stand-out since she originally hails from Russia. Sinclair is from Mars, though it's not mentioned as frequently as Ivanova's origin. Marcus has an unexplained Estuary English accent (to the degree that he momentarily fools "King Arthur" into thinking they're both from Camelot), but he comes from a mining colony which was destroyed by the Shadows while he was away.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: In one episode, Londo discovers insects in his quarters, and treats it as though it's a full-blown invasion by marauding barbarians. He even goes so far as to impale one with a sword and scream something along the lines of "That's what you get for messing with a Centauri!" at its corpse.
    Londo: I swear, they are evolving before my very eyes. If you see anything this big, with eight legs, let me know. I have to kill it before it develops language skills.
  • Murder by Inaction: Out of jealousy, Lennier's final act on the show was to leave Sheridan behind a locked door, in a room being flooded with toxic gas. Subverted, in that, A.) he has a change of heart and goes back to correct the mistake, and B.) he returns to find others have arrived to save the day, and is forced to go on the run.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Lennier leaves Sheridan to die instead of saving him, because he's married to Delenn.
    • The trope is then subverted moments later, as he regrets his decision and goes back.
  • My Future Self and Me: In "Babylon Squared", Sinclair glimpses his future self, but does not recognize himself due to his counterpart's hazard suit. Revealed to be subverted in "War Without End"; it was Delenn in the suit, not Sinclair.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: General Lefcourt and Captain Lochley, both of whom consider it immoral for the military to dictate government policy, whether they like President Clark's decisions or not. As soon as Clark relinquishes the office of President, General Lefcourt immediately comes to the rescue of Captain Sheridan and the ''Agamemnon''.
    • Londo starts off this way. Though he has his doubts here and there during the war with the Narn, he still remains loyal to his people. By the end of the war, he's realized what a big mistake it was to enlist the help of Morden and his "associates," but by this point he's so firmly entrenched in everything that happened that he goes along with it mostly to preserve his own skin.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • A truly heartbreaking example in "The Coming of Shadows" when G'kar, after making his peace with the Centauri emperor, finally extends a tentative hand of friendship to Londo and buys him a drink — unaware that Londo has just ordered the annihilation of a Narn colony.
    • Another being during the Earth-Minbari War when Delenn receives Dukhat's last message.
    • Londo again, watching the bombing of the Narn homeworld from orbit.
      • Peter Jurasik should have gotten an award for that scene. He doesn't speak a word, and you only see him on screen for a few moments, but the look on his face says it all.
  • My God, You Are Serious!: When Londo asks Morden about what sort of favors Morden's "associates" can provide for the Centauri. As above, Londo doesn't respond verbally, but the look on his face is this trope.
    Londo: (laughing) Why don't you eliminate the entire Narn homeworld while you're at it?
    Morden: (deadpan) One thing at a time, ambassador. One thing at a time.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Ivanova speaking Minbari:
    Ivanova: (in Minbari) Engines at full... high power. Hatrack ratcatcher to port weapons... brickbat lingerie.
    • Later, Ivanova screams "Ah, hell..." and the White Star starts shooting at nothing.
    Lorien: "Ahel" mean "continuous fire" in Minbari...
    • That one is even funnier if you remember that Sinclair went back in time, was changed into a Minbari and fought a war. It is possible he said "Ah hell" and when asked what it means, he gave the answer "continuous fire."
  • My Rule Fu Is Stronger than Yours:
    • Commander Sinclair's rule fu is strong. Probably his most triumphant moment is in the episode "By Any Means Necessary". When faced with a dock worker strike, he is ordered by an Obstructive Bureaucrat to invoke the Rush Act which permits Sinclair to end the strike by any means needed, including using military force to break the strike. Sinclair, instead, uses the power to rewrite the budget to give the workers their demands and repairs they wanted in the first place. The Obstructive Bureaucrat was not amused.
      • Unfortunately, there was one antagonist with stronger rule fu: Colonel Ari Ben Zayn of Internal Investigations (or "Eyes"). Sinclair managed to blunt the investigation temporarily, but the colonel eventually turned the rules in his own favor. Sinclair had to use different tactics to stop the colonel.
    • Sheridan gets a chance to exercise this as well. In one episode Earthforce attempts to charge him rent on his quarters. He refuses to back down, even after they change the locks. Eventually, he resolves the situation by charging his new rent against the station's military budget, on the grounds that he won't be in any condition to fight unless he's had a good night's sleep in his own bed.
      • Sheridan had an even more powerful Rule-fu moment when he put the smackdown on the Night Watch. He pointed out that his orders to comply with the Night Watch came from the Political Office, which wasn't part of his chain of command, and since he hadn't given them the go-ahead to do... anything on the station, they were breaking the law in God alone knows how many ways. It didn't last. All the Political Office had to do was ask the President and Commander-in-Chief to give the order instead. Of course, the very next episode, Babylon 5 seceded from the Earth Alliance, and threw out all the Night Watch members in that episode and the next.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: There are exceptions to every hat race. In the RPG, even the Dilgar had a small, hidden colony who did not partake in their species' predilection for crimes against sapience.
  • Mysterious Backer: The orderly Vorlons are nominally on the side of the protagonists, but they're far from trustworthy saints.
  • Myth Arc: Trope Codifier.

  • Named in the Sequel: In "The Coming of the Shadows", the Centauri emperor and prime minister are known, and credited, only by their titles. Subsequent episodes referred to them as Emperor Turhan and Prime Minister Malachi, respectively.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • Mr. Morden, at least to German speakers (from "(er)morden" = "to murder"). Or Swedish speakers ("morden" = "the murders").
    • Deathwalker (a moniker given to Warmaster Jha'dur of the Dilgar).
  • Napoleon Delusion: In "A Late Delivery from Avalon", we meet a nutty swordsman who is convinced that he is King Arthur. It turns out that he is in fact the Earthforce Gunnery Sergeant who fired the first shot of the Earth-Minbari War and is suffering from a serious case of Survivor's Guilt. He is healed when "The Lady of the Lake" (Delenn) retrieves his "Excalibur" (an antique sword), symbolizing that she, along with the Minbari race, forgives him.
  • National Weapon:
    • The Minbari Denn'bok, a fighting staff that can collapse into a small tube).
    • The Narn have a sword which, once drawn, cannot be sheathed until it has drawn blood.
    • At one point, Londo lampshades how every species has one of these- the Minbari have the Denn'bok, the Centauri have the coutari (a Spatha-like sword), and humans apparently have nuclear weapons.
    • When it comes to space warfare, according to supplementary sources, each race tends to like a class of weapon, mount mostly that kind on their ships, and have one (or more) proprietary weapons of that type:
      • The Centauri like lasers and particle beams, and have advanced versions of both, including Battle Lasers, particle beam Twin Arrays (shared with some others), and a particle beam Heavy Array.
      • The Narn like lasers and Energy Mines.
      • The Earth Alliance likes lasers and pulse cannons, and combine the two in Laser/Pulse Arrays. They also have their proprietary interceptor technology, which provides a defensive edge against everyone who doesn't have access to First One levels of technology.
      • Minbari weapons are the same basic laser, particle, and pulse weapons the other races use, but more advanced.
      • The Drazi like particle beams, the bigger the better.
      • The Pak'ma'ra like plasma weapons.
      • The Vree like antimatter weapons. One of their most effective weapons in this category is the Antimatter Shredder.
      • The Shadows have their very advanced weapons, including their Molecular Slicer Beam.
      • The Vorlons also have their very advanced weapons, famously their Lightning Cannons.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name
    • The bioweapon in "Infection" is explicitly likened to the Nazis' T4 program.
    • The titular "Deathwalker" is still wanted by the LONAW for her illegal experiments. She's a Mengele type: Jha'dur admits that she advanced her science one body at a time. Also, dig the Prussian military gear.
    • The Ikarrans in "Infection", who programmed their machines to "protect" their world by killing anything that wasn't "pure Ikarran," and defining "pure" using a set of religious and political standards no one could hope to match. Didn't end well for them.
    • Frederick Lantz, co-director of the Ministry of Peace, applauds a bum deal his government made with the Centauri. "We will, at last, know peace in our time."
      • Londo had his moments, too. Witness his hysterics at the end of "The Fall of Night".
        Sheridan: You call it a "buffer zone", the Drazi call it an invasion!
      • Psi Corps and Nightwatch are stand-ins for the SS. When Bester is getting briefed in "Epiphanies", he meets with another G-man in a tower overlooking Earthdome which is adorned with Reichsalder eagles.
      • "Between the Darkness and the Light". Marcus wonders aloud why Ivanova wants to take her time scooping up escape pods from the captured Earthforce destroyers. She explains they have to be thorough: Once Clark is deposed, his supporters will disappear into the population. Oh, and like the Father of the Nation, Clark eats his gun when the tide turns against him.
      • There's a neat visual trick with the suit jackets. They're each missing lapels, but not the collar. On a civilian, it looks normal enough, but if the character is wearing lapel pins (like Sheridan's interrogator, or the Nightwatch honchos), it evokes a Nazi collar.
    • William Edgars, the face of Big Pharma, unveils a designer pathogen which will specifically target and kill anyone carrying the telepathic gene. This, he gently hints, will solve "the telepath problem". Unlike Lantz, Edgars is a student of history, and is momentarily shaken when he hears himself say this.
      • In a funny scene, Garibaldi brings up the "two dozen lobbyists" and a Senator currently on Edgars' payroll. The senator turned out to a white elephant, since he was killed in Clark's "night of the long knives". C'est la vie. It's clear when listening to Edgars' banter (the guy never shuts up) that he's no different from the Quislings who put Hitler, Mussolini, and the other fascists into power, though he mistakenly believes he's on the right side of history. His corporate coup d'etat goes absolutely nowhere; all he's really doing is enabling Clark, and he is killed when Psi Corps finds out about his plans to use "the process" to depose the President.
    • In "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars", Earth has descended into an Orwellian regime that feels overly burdened by the conditions imposed by the Interstellar Alliance. Most of us can agree that the Nazis were bad, but JMS still doesn't feel like he's getting his point across: the propagandist has a Schutzstaffel on his uniform and offers boilerplate rhetoric ("Earth needs room to expand.") to justify the aggression.
    • The aim of the Centauri War, orchestrated by the Drakh, was to deplete the Republic of its treasure (in the form of costly reparations for war crimes) and cut them off from the Intersteller Alliance. Broke, embattled, and thirsty for revenge, the Centauri would be more easily converted into an engine of war.
  • Near-Death Experience:
    • "The Long Night of Londo Mollari". According to Vir, it's rumored to happen when a divine soul is imprisoned within the body of a corrupt individual. The soul tries to force another reincarnation by triggering a heart attack.
    • Experienced by Sheridan across "The Hour of the Wolf" and "Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?"
  • Neglectful Precursors: An ongoing theme of the later seasons of the show, as well as many of the spinoffs, was the younger races stumbling across various nasty things left behind by The Vorlons and the Shadows.note 
    • Lampshaded by Dr. Franklin, using the analogy of the breakup of the Soviet Union. The Shadows and the Vorlons are gone, but a lot of their technology is still lying around, waiting to be found by races who can't build it, can't understand it, but are more than willing to use it.
  • Neutral No Longer: During the Earth Alliance Civil War, the various alien governments begin providing only verbal support by announcing that they will do nothing to aid the Earth Government against Sheridan's rebellion. After the announcement of Sheridan's capture, out of gratitude for everything he did for them in the Shadow War, all of those same alien governments vote to provide full military support to Sheridan's faction to aid them in overthrowing President Clark.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye:
    • John Sheridan has a monologue where he laments the fact that he was rushed the day of the last phone call with his wife Anna, and forgot to say "I love you" before she headed out on the expedition that claimed her life.
    • Ivanova has similar regrets regarding Marcus. Marcus however did get to say "I love you" to a dying Ivanova, leading to the touching yet funny line, "I thought: God really does have an English accent, just like in those old movies."
  • New Neo City: Numerous references to New Vegas, a Mars-based resort. When Babylon 5 first came online, New Vegas oddsmakers put the odds of Babylon 5 surviving at 200 to 1 against.
  • New Old Flame:
    • Ivanova's old boyfriend, Malcolm Biggs, in "The War Prayer". By the end of the episode, he's been revealed as part of an earth-supremacist group, and Ivanova has had to arrest him.
    • Talia's got two of them: Jason Ironheart ("Mind War"; ascends to a higher plane of existence) and Matthew Stoner ("Soul Mates").
    • Elizabeth Lochley.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Marcus spends the entirety of "Exogenesis" investigating the disappearance of his friend, Duncan, who has been taken over by a Puppeteer Parasite. It later turns out that Duncan was on death's door, and that the parasites, or rather, the symbiotes, cure their hosts of all disease. Marcus realizes his error, but too late for Duncan; the symbiote leaves his body to prove its intentions are benign. Duncan can never be recoupled with one again. Somewhat bittersweet example, though: Before being bonded, Duncan was content to spend his twilight years running a kiosk in the Zocalo and making very little money. After briefly sharing the memories of the symbiote, he has decided to spend his last years exploring the galaxy and seeing new things.
    • The crew finds a man suffering severe delusions, thinking he's King Arthur. Seems there's no shrinks on B5 as Dr Franklin then decides to immediately break the man's delusion by reminding him who he is (and the terrible guilt he carries for what he did). Of course it does not go rather well, as the man has a breakdown and goes catatonic. Thankfully he gets better.
    • When Londo bombed the Shadow Vessels on Centauri Prime, the allies of the Shadows remembered and eventually came for revenge.
    • In Sic Transit Vir Ivanova and Sheridan get one. Vir has been assigned to Minbar and invented a fake persona who has been transporting Narns away. The records say that every Narn "Lincolni" sent away is dead. Ivanova and Sheridan decide that it's a good idea to confront Vir about this in front of Londo. Vir is forced to "confess" that he altered the records and the Narns are safe. Since Londo also hears this Vir is called back from Minbar.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: After Sheridan nuked Za'ha'dum and the Shadows moved some forces to make bases on other planets. When they come to Centauri Prime, they have Morden make Londo into their liaison to the Royal Court. This action allowed Londo access to a chance to not only kill Emperor Cartagia, but bomb every Shadow ship on Centauri Prime.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Marcus Cole (although he's one of the good guys).
    Marcus: "You know, I used to think that it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought: Wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them. So now, I take great comfort in the hostility and unfairness of the universe."
  • Nobody Ever Complained Before: The Minbari Warrior Caste's traditional method of greeting in interstellar dealings is to approach the ship with gunports open but uncharged, as a sign of respect to the other race. Unfortunately, Minbari tech dwarfs human tech, so when they approached the human ship and scanned them, they didn't think to turn off their stealth tech, and likely didn't know their sensors would shut down the Earth ships jump drives. When the human captain saw a fleet of advanced ships coming at them, somehow knocking out their jump drives, stealth tech preventing them from getting any reading beyond their gunports are open, and no means of effectively communicating, he panicked, resulting in a genocidal war.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: In "Soul Mates", Londo is laid low by a poisoning, and one of his wives has a blood type which can save him. Though she actually doesn't like him and wouldn't entirely mind seeing him die, she donates her blood to save him anyway because she doesn't want to win her battles in such a one-sided way.
  • No Hero to His Valet: Played straight with Vir who is very loyal but is also very much aware of Londo's faults. Subverted with Lennier. Delenn is always a heroine to her valet and remains so even after Lennier learns of her darker side in Atonement, despite Delenn's fear's of his reaction.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Lord Refa's death.
    • To describe HOW bad? There were two specific, exact instructions. First? Make sure incriminating evidence is found. Secondly? Make sure his head is intact so the body is recognized. That was all.
  • Nom de Guerre: The leader of the Mars Resistance is known through the entire fourth season only as Number One. It isn't until near the end of the series that we finally learn her real name.
  • Nom de Mom: The canonical Psi-Corps Trilogy novels reveal that this is standard for families that have been in the Corps for generations, like Lyta's and Talia's, with surnames being passed down along the mitochondrial line.
  • Non-Answer: After being released from prison, G'Kar tells Ta'Lon that he had a major revelation just before being imprisioned. When Ta'Lon asks what kind of revelation it was, G'Kar responds by telling him how big a revelation it was, and how it changed his entire outlook on the Universe, rather than what the revelation actually was. Ta'Lon, being nobody's fool, calls him out on it.
    Ta'Lon: That was a stirring reply, G'Kar. Unfortunately, while all answers are replies, not all replies are answers, so I will ask again.
  • Non Sequitur, *Thud*:
    • A truly epic example courtesy of a drunken Londo in "Parliament of Dreams".
    Londo: Did I ever tell you [Delenn] that you are very cute for a Minbari? Even you [Garibaldi] are cute, in an annoying sort of way. Everybody's cute! Everybody's cute! Even me. But in purple.. I'm stunning!''
    • "And he made a very satisfying thump when he hit the ground."
  • Noodle Incident: In "A Distant Star", an old friend of Sheridan's visits the station. During dinner with the officers, Sheridan starts to tell an embarrassing story about him, and he retaliates with three words: "July 12th, 2253". Sheridan admits defeat, and neither story gets told.
    • Also, it seems that Ivanova and a smuggler did something that Ivanova is convinced lead to Garibaldi losing all his hair.
    • An incident that is entirely physical and never so much as remarked upon by anyone in the series. Every time Bester appears, his left fist is clenched tightly and never eases up. Bester never brings it up, nobody else asks about it, and it is never explained why. It's not until the novel series that the cause is explained: In one of his first missions as a Psi Cop, Bester encounters a high-level Blip from his past. The Blip is killed, but not before attacking Bester with a deep mental block that paralyzes his hand (which was holding a PPG), making it almost impossible to move normally.
  • No-Paper Future:
    • Lampshaded and Subverted. A character in one season three episode complains that every time she's told they're entering a paper-free society, she gets three more forms to fill out.
    • Earlier in Season 2, an episode had a Green Aesop where newspapers are immediately recycled. (Done reading yesterday's edition? Drop it in the hopper and it comes out with today's news on it, customized to the user's preferences.)
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup:
    • When Jason Ironheart gains phenomenal telekinetic powers thanks to Psi Corps experiments, he's able to ensure that no one else is ever given such powers by killing one researcher. One researcher who was apparently remarkably bad at record-keeping.
    • Averted with the White Star. While they spend most of the third season using the ship as a very powerful one-of-a-kind starship, it is later revealed that the Minbari had been secretly mass producing the design, having an entire fleet of them ready for battle once the Shadow War kicks off in earnest.
  • Nose Art:
    • Many of the Starfuries have custom paint jobs on the wing just above the cockpits, including those flown by Mauve Shirts or Red Shirts. Ivanova has a black double-headed eagle with a red star superimposed (symbolizing her Russian heritage and past fondness for Neo-Communist philosophy), Garibaldi has a yellow and orange tigerstripe pattern (later Daffy Duck), and Sheridan has the entire top wing of his fighter decorated in a tiger motif, complete with face and claw marks. Lochley has a phoenix on hers, which presumably symbolizes the way she turned her life around after spending her teens as a substance abuser.
    • Sheridan takes it a step farther. When he launches his military campaign to throw President Clark out of power, he has the Babylon 5 crest painted on the hull of his flagship.
    • Omega Squadron has black star furies with white greek Omega symbols on the top.
    • Earth Force One and her Starfury escort carry a full-body blue and white paintjob inspired by the Real Life Air Force One.
  • No Such Agency: Bureau 13. So secret it's very name isn't even known. The one guy that told Captain Sheridan the Bureau's name ended up dead shortly afterwards.
  • No Such Thing as Alien Pop Culture:
    • Very, very much used throughout the series, to the point where when G'Kar, a Narn, asks the human Zack if the poster of Daffy Duck in Garibaldi's quarters is one of the human security chief's household Gods, Zack starts to explain, realizes it'll be more trouble than it's worth, and continues, "You could say that," and calls Daffy "the Egyptian god of frustration." Though by the way G'Kar laughs at the explanation, it's clear he realizes that Zack's being facetious.
    • In Midnight on the Firing Line, the episode ends with Delenn sitting in Garibaldi's quarters with him watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. She seems faintly amused by it, but also very confused, apparently unsure what she should be doing. When Garibaldi offers her popcorn, she stares at the bowl for a moment before taking some, then turning back to the cartoon, asks Garibaldi to explain part of it to her.
    • In one episode, Vir and Lennier meet up at a bar. Lennier asks Vir what he's drinking, and Vir says it's a Shirley Temple. Lennier thinks about this for a second, and then says that while he's studied Earth's religions, he can't say he's ever heard of the Shirley Temple.
    • Delenn introduces her old mentor, Draal, to Londo. Londo meanwhile is ranting at length about a song that humans all teach their children, the Hokey Pokey. He has studied it extensively, had it analyzed by every specialist he could find, and discovers that it means nothing at all.
    Draal: I rather enjoyed the song.
    Delenn: Don't tell him.
  • Not Actually the Ultimate Question: Repeatedly and vigorously deconstructed.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: In "Lines of Communication" Sheridan walks in on Ivanova in her nightgown and just starts talking, ignoring her dress. She even has to note she needs to get dressed before they leave and he reacts with as much interest as someone saying "Okay, just let me turn off this light." Ivanova is perturbed by this.
    • Invoked by Sheridan in Voices of Authority, when Babylon 5 gets a very attractive Political Officer, who tries to, ah, convince Sheridan that their working relationship can be quite, uh, pleasant. She's buck naked in his quarters, and he just comments that it's apparently rather cold, so he'll see about adjusting the thermostat. He apparently, er, kept it up all night, because she's rather irate about it the next morning.
    Julie Masante: Honestly, I've never known a man who could find so many ways of saying no to a simple proposition.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Despite numerous episodes making it clear that Ivanova was born and raised Russian, you could be forgiven for believing that she was raised in America, since Claudia Christian makes no effort to hide her American accent. She does give herself a slightly stilted way of speaking here and there in early episodes, but any trace that she may have once been Russian is gone by Season Two.
    • Contrasts very noticeably in the "The Gathering" TV movie, where Ivanova, still a student, is speaking with her brother, who has a huge, thick proper Russian accent. A casual viewer wonders if she was perhaps adopted.
    • She mentions in passing that she was transferred from school to school as a kid as part of her parents' efforts to keep her off the Psi-Corp's radar, seeing as how she's an unregistered telepath. One of the novels clarifies that this included sending her to boarding schools abroad.
  • Not Hyperbole: After Marcus makes his Badass Boast to some thugs ("If you don't tell me what I want to know, in five minutes I'll be the only person at this table still standing. Five minutes after that, I'll be the only person in this room still standing."), they force Marcus to follow through on it. Ten minutes later...
    Marcus: Bugger! Now I have to wait for someone to wake up!
  • "Not Illegal" Justification:
    • Used by none other than The Captain in the episode "In the Shadow of Z'Ha'Dum". Captain Sheridan recognizes Morden, who is acting as a human Mouth of Sauron for the Higher-Tech Species known as "The Shadows", as having been part of the crew on the same ship that his wife was on when it was mysteriously lost and everyone on it, including Sheridan's wife, was presumed dead. Sheridan orders Morden detained without any charges and pushes Morden for answers. As it goes on Sheridan goes further and further in violating the spirit of the law and ideals of human rights to continue detaining and questioning Morden, including snapping at one point that since Morden is legally dead, he has no rights to due process under the law. That move leads the station's Security Officer to Resign in Protest.
    • As President Clark and his minions seize more and more authoritarian power and control on Earth, they use this reasoning frequently to justify things like expanded spying, crackdowns on human colonies with independence movements, takeover of the biggest human news network, etc. Eventually the increasingly fascistic government becomes openly despotic enough that a portion of the military and some of the previously mentioned colonies rebel against the government.
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?:
    Franklin: Tell them to make an appointment.
    • Later in the series, Marcus Cole realizes that Ivanova isn't paying attention to his report: "There's always the threat of an attack by say, a giant space dragon, the kind that eats the sun once every thirty days. It's a nuisance, but what can you expect from reptiles? Did I mention that my nose is on fire, and that I have fifteen wild badgers living in my trousers?" (Ivanova finally looks at him, witheringly.) "I'm sorry, would you prefer ferrets?"
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Commander Sinclair is faced with a pretty bad scenario in one episode: the cargo workers on his station have been badly abused by a combination of having so small a workforce that they're pulling triple (or even quadruple!) shifts and by having to work with aging, failing, unsafe equipment that tragically leads to the death of a worker. These horrible conditions have driven the workers to the point where they're starting a strike that's necessary, but that's not legal under their contract. Sinclair wants to solve the problem by reallocating dormant funds away from the station's defense budget toward hiring more workers and replacing the infrastructure and equipment that the workers are (correctly) pointing out will fail altogether within a few months, but Sinclair doesn't even get to reveal his plan until an unrelated law gives him power to end the strike "by any means necessary", thus giving him power to reallocate the funds, himself: more than once before that point in the episode, he genuinely tries to tell someone with authority to reallocate this money about how the dormant funds can be used to solve the whole situation fairly, peacefully, and logically, but before he can reveal any details of his idea, they talk over him and dismiss him. Only repeat viewings would even reveal to the audience that this trope was what was happening at the time.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • Bester points out the similarities between himself and Garibaldi, though mainly just because it amused him to do so.
    • When Lochley is trying to help Garibaldi over his drinking problem, he snaps at her that she hardly ever drinks herself so how would she know what it's like? She explains to him that there's a very simple reason she hardly ever drinks, so she knows exactly what it's like.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Grey Council. They like to present themselves as enlightened and wise leaders, but it quickly becomes apparent that they are just politicians. The infighting between the religious and warrior castes gets so bad that the worker caste, caught in the middle of the civil war, is given extra representation and control of the majority.
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: Upon learning that Lennier is a "master adept" at the laws of probability, Londo wrestles him into joining a card game. Unfortunately, the subtler points of playing Poker (like bluffing) are lost on Lennier. Londo then resorts to using his....erm, "appendage" to re-shuffle the deck, getting busted in the process.
  • The Nth Doctor: Draal was played by Louis Turenne in the character's initial appearance in the episode A Voice in the Wilderness. Due to health issues Tureene was unable to return the following season to play Draal in The Long, Twilight Struggle. John Schuck was cast to play Draal in that episode and all subsequent appearances, with the difference in appearance being explained as the Great Machine of Epsilon III - which Draal had joined with in A Voice in the Wilderness - restoring him to how he appeared 30 years earlier. When Schuck in turn was unavailable to play Draal in the fourth season episode Conflicts of Interest producers briefly considered recasting Draal with an even younger actor with the explanation that Draal had been further de-aged by the Machine before dropping the idea and instead having one of the Zathras brothers telling Commander Ivanova that Draal was very busy handling repairs to the machine and was thus unavailable.
  • Nuclear Option: Despite actor Bruce Boxlightener's personal nickname for his character, John "Nuke 'Em" Sheridan, the commander of Babylon 5 uses nuclear weaponry several times in his career but with judicious, tactical considerations, not flippancy.
    • It's pretty likely that the "Nuke 'em" part comes from Sheridan's life before the show. During the Minbari war he mined and asteroid field and lured the Minbari across it. The result? A big BIG boom. That was the only success that the humans had in the entire war and the only enemy ship they destroyed. So it seems likely that the name might be the kind of thing he was called by people who joined the EA military after the war and saw him as a hero even though he didn't really feel like one.

  • Obligatory Joke: Garibaldi to Dr. Franklin, after being revived from his coma: "What's up doc?"
    • For bonus points, it was established back in the first episode that Garibaldi is a fan of old Warner Bros. cartoons.
  • Obviously Evil:
    • Many trappings of President Clark's government are copied directly from George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, right down to the names.
      • Nightwatch deserves a special mention, what with their mandate to police the wrong kind of thinking and wearing black armbands to show that they are member of Nightwatch. As SF Debris notes, "they've already given up on the "secret" part of "secret police," and gone in on advertising that they're spying on you." President Clarke himself seems to count as well, given he signed off on a black armband for his not-so-secret police.
    • Similarly, Daniel, propagandist for the anti-Alliance rebellion in "Deconstruction of the Falling Stars" uses terms imitating Orwellian Newspeak, and wears a uniform with a nearly-unmodified SS logo. He obviously never read point 21 of the Evil Overlord List.
    • Inside one of the Psi Corps buildings shown in "The Corps is Mother, The Corps is Father" there are signs on the walls saying things like "OBEY" or "Trust the Corps".
  • Odd Friendship: Londo and G'Kar, representing two races which had long been bitter enemies, grew into an Odd Friendship by the end of the series.
  • Oddly Small Organization: None of the delegations to Babylon Five appear to consist of more than two people.
    • This is justified early on by several factors. For the Narn and Centauri governments, the station is somewhat of a joke (especially after the loss of stations 1-4), and Vir is even considered demoted when removed from Minbar back to Babylon 5 mid-season 3. For the Minbari, they are likely guided by prophecy which says what already happened in Sinclair's experience, which is that there were two members of the Minbari delegation. Also, Babylon 5's official "no weapon policy" likely makes additional guards seem redundant (though you'd think they'd reconsider that after all the times that policy is broken in the first year alone...).
  • Ode to Food: G'Kar sings a song called "So Many Fishes" while preparing a fish dish. Later, when he and Londo believe they're about to die while trapped in a burning lift shaft under a terrorist building, he sings a version to gloat about Londo's demise.
  • Offered the Crown: After G'kar and his deal with Londo frees the Narn people from Centauri occupation, the Narn want to make G'kar their sole leader. Notably, G'kar was the last surviving member of the pre-occupation ruling body left, but G'kar turns it down both because he doesn't want to be a sovereign ruler and because the Narn expect him to lead them in taking revenge against the Centauri.
  • Official Couple: Sheridan/Delenn.
  • Official Presidential Transport:
    • The Earth Alliance president travels aboard Earth Force One, a specially modified space liner, with a blue paint job and the Earth seal on the front. It is destroyed at the end of the first season, killing President Santiago. His successor, President Clark, is sworn in aboard a ship called Earth Force Two in a scene based on the inauguration of Lyndon B. Johnson.
    • The Minbari Grey Council travels aboard a special warcruiser called the Valen'Tha, which is also where they have their meetings.
    • In The Lost Tales Sheridan is seen aboard a ship called the Valen as he is making an official visit to Babylon 5.
    • The Centauri emperor travels to Babylon 5 aboard a ship they call the royal liner. Similar ships are seen later which are identified as battlecruisers, but this one seems distinct from them for the emperor's use.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The short story Hidden Agendasnote  reveals that Sheridan had salvage crews gather up all the debris from Ulkesh's ship for study. All the debris was put together in a docking bay, where it began to reknit itself together until the entire ship was restored. What's more the ship seems to have transferred its loyalty from Ulkesh to Sheridan!
  • Oh, Crap!: The look on Refa's face when holographic Londo reveals his endgame to him — which then leads to a pack of angry Narns beating the absolute bajeezus out of him. The following scene, as the Narns pummel him with upbeat Gospel music playing in the background, is almost eerily beautiful.
    • When Londo tells Refa that he poisoned his drink.
  • Oh, My Gods!:
    • Londo says this in the Season 3 finale.
    • "In Valen's name!"
    • "Oh, Grrreat Maker!"
  • Old Friend
  • Ominous Message from the Future: In "War Without End", the station receives a distress call from Sector 14. It turns out to be Ivanova from eight days in the future, sending a mayday about the station being under attack by the Shadows. The message ends right as the future station explodes. This message would signal the end of Babylon 5 in real-time if Jeffrey Sinclair did not steal Babylon 4 and travel back in time, using it as a base to fight the Shadows as Valen. Else, the Shadow forces would return far too powerful in Babylon 5's day.
  • One-Federation Limit: The Earth Alliance, the Minbari Federation, the Centauri Republic (a monarchy), the Narn Regime and the Vorlon Empire. Some races (like the Dilgar, Shadows, and Drakh) have no stated governmental body, while the others have ones only stated offhand or in the background material (Drazi Freehold, Brakiri Syndicracy, Abbai Matriarchate, Grome Autocracy, etc)
    • And all those miscellaneous governments could conveniently be lumped into the League of Nonaligned Worlds.
  • One-Gender Race: The pak'ma'ra ... sort of. The "hump" they have on their back is actually their mate, permanently bonded to them. Whether the hump is the male or the female is up for debate. In an online post, JMS stated that the hump is the female, but the official Babylon 5 Role Playing Game says that the hump is the male.
  • One Last Job: Refa pressuring Londo to enlist the Shadows in wiping out the Narn fleet. Londo, however, has grown fearful of his "associates" and warns Refa that that this is the last time he will call upon Morden.
  • One World Order: Earthgov, for all intents and purposes. Under Clark, the government institutes giving Psi Corps increased judicial powers, as well as creating a trio of agencies (The Ministries of Peace, Truth, and Information) to tilt the balance of power in his favor. Clark later dissolves the Earth senate, which he re-forms with many of his own people in place.
    • Earthgov is actually an alliance of most of the world's major powers, including Europe, America, Russia, Japan and others. It's also implied that many countries resisted the formation of Earthgov and that many of them are not equal members of the Earth Alliance, and yet the EA posits itself to be the unified representative of Humanity.
    • This holds true for the Minbari Federation and Centauri Republic, as well.
  • Opening Narration: Different for each new season (WARNING: spoilers ahoy in this one!).
  • Operation: [Blank]: Operation Sudden Death ("GROPOS").
  • Opt Out: An extra after Sheridan gives a Line in the Sand speech. In the commentary, JMS stated it's unreasonable that no one ever leaves in moments like that, especially in essentially a rebellion.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The whole point of the war between The Shadows and the Vorlons.
  • Ordered Apology: See the entry for Backhanded Apology in the A-H section.
  • Orphaned Punchline:
    • "...and then she said to me, 'If I could do that, I wouldn't need an encounter suit!'" - Garibaldi ("Survivors")
    • "...and he says, 'Goulash!'" - Londo ("A Voice in the Wilderness")
    • "...and then he said, 'That's not my leg, that's my air hose!'" - Londo, again ("Soul Mates")
  • Our Doors Are Different: The doors on the station are mostly automatic-opening, slide open sideways, and are a sort of lopsided pentagon shape instead of rectangular. Elevator doors are rectangular, but split open on a diagonal.
    • In "The Gathering", the pentagonal doors actually opened on corner hinge, flipping up into the wall butterfly-style. The impracticality of this mechanism on a weekly show likely led to the more conventional side-slide method used thereafter.
  • Our Humans Are Different: Human history is relatively the same in this series as it is in real life, except one crucial difference: human history was actually tampered with by aliens (the Vorlons and the Shadows, to be precise). The Shadows were to blame for much of humanity's warlike nature, because they taught them to fight and kill in the name of progress as a species. Meanwhile, the Vorlons tampered with human genetics, trying to create human telepaths to fight the Shadows with. Sadly, humans became little more to either side than weapons to be used against each other.
  • Our Showers Are Different:
    • Water conservation is important on the station so only the executive suites and command quarters get showers with running water; everybody else has to make do with "vibe showers".
    • Earth's space ships don't have water showers even in the command quarters; when Captain Sheridan is transferred to Babylon 5, he is seriously happy when he learns his quarters include "a real live honest-to-god shower with running water".
    • The Minbari use a chemical that removes the outermost layer of skin. It does terrible things to hair, as Delenn finds out.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Totally and utterly averted. Every race is religious, although humanity surprises everyone by having so many different faiths (the only other species explicitly stated to have multiple religions is the Narns, and it's implied that they have many, many fewer than Earth).
    USENET: (on Passing Through Gethsemane) "The themes of faith and forgiveness were worthy of a theologian. Are you sure there isn't something you'd like to tell us?"
    JMS: Never shoot pool at a place called Pop's. Never eat food at a place called Mom's. The difference between horses and humans is that they're too smart to bet on what we'll do.
    And I have lost people. Too many people. Lost them to chance, violence, brutality beyond belief; I've seen all the senseless, ignoble acts of "god's noblest creature." And I am incapable of forgiving. My feelings are with G'Kar, hand sliced open, saying of the drops of blood flowing from that open wound, "How do you apologize to them?" "I can't." "Then I cannot forgive."
    As an atheist, I believe that all life is unspeakably precious, because it's only here for a brief moment, a flare against the dark, and then it's gone forever. No afterlives, no second chances, no backsies. So there can be nothing crueler than the abuse, destruction or wanton taking of a life. It is a crime no less than burning the Mona Lisa, for there is always just one of each.
    So I cannot forgive. Which makes the notion of writing a character who CAN forgive momentarily attractive...because it allows me to explore in great detail something of which I am utterly incapable. I cannot fly, so I would write of birds and starships and kites; I cannot play an instrument, so I would write of composers and dancers; and I cannot forgive, so I would write of priests and monks and Minbari....
    • When it comes to human religions, Babylon 5 is shown to be home to a small but thriving community of Trappist monks, and is also chosen to host an ecumenical conference which involves a visiting Baptist choir (much to the contemplative Brother Theo's chagrin), and a delegation from the Church Of Elvis.
    • G'Kar is a figure of some importance among the followers of the Path of G'Quan, and is seen leading ceremonies, studying religious texts and even at one point writing a text of his own.
    • Among the human main characters: Sinclair is a Catholic, and was instructed by Jesuits as a teenager. Ivanova is a former lapsed Jew, whose re-connection with her faith is a large part of her character arc in the first season. Franklin is a Foundationist, a syncretic future religion which holds that all the galaxy's existing faiths reflect some part of a greater truth. Garibaldi is agnostic but had a Catholic upbringing. Zack Allen's religion is unknown, but he believes in Heaven and (perhaps jokingly) comments on being behind on penance. Sheridan doesn't follow an organised religion, describing his beliefs as "eclectic".
    • The Vorlons make use of this fact, conditioning other races so they can use their telepathic power to appear to them "figures of light," angels or gods or similar divine beings, as part of ensuring the obedience and cooperation of the younger races.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: In "Rumors, Bargains and Lies", Delenn and Neroon are in private conference onboard a ship discussing how to resolve the Minbari Civil War. Delenn says that neither the Warrior Caste nor the Religious Caste should be allowed to win the war because it would unbalance society—but a Religious Caste member walks by the room and hears only the part that the Religious caste should not win the war. He thus concludes that Delenn is betraying her caste and surrendering the war to Neroon's Warrior Caste, which leads to the Religious Caste members (who crew the ship they are travelling on) to plot to sabotage the ship's life support so that it doesn't reach Minbar.
  • Outrun the Fireball: Sinclair does this in the Pilot Movie when a high-tech piece of equipment overloads.
    • Londo does this as well, though in his case it's more like "Dive sideways into an elevator to avoid the fireball."
    • The White Star has to use every ounce of power it has to outrun the exploding Jump Gate after opening a jump point within it to destroy a persuing Shadow warship. Due to most ships capable of opening jump points being too slow to escape such an explosion, this maneuver (a desperate but abandoned tactic to destroy Minbari ships during the war) is referred to by humans as "The Bonehead Maneuver"note 
    Sheridan: "Give it everything you've got!"
    Lennier: "If I were holding anything back, I would tell you."
    • In the made-for-tv movie Thirdspace, Sheridan ends up having to do this in a space suit with a thruster backpack. He ends up using all of his fuel in his escape and is left drifting in space, asking Delenn to come pick him up (prompting her to tease that she'll do just that... eventually.)
  • Overly Long Name: The actual species name for the Shadows is over one thousand syllables long.

  • Pacifism Is Cowardice: Ivanova's ending narration in the season 2 finale "The Fall of Night" expresses this belief.
    "We came to this place because Babylon 5 was our last, best hope for peace. By the end of 2259, we knew that it had failed. But in so doing, it became something greater. As the war expanded, it became our last best hope... for victory. Because sometimes, peace is another word for surrender."
  • Paperwork Punishment: Discussed. In "Midnight on the Firing Line", Garibaldi stops Londo at gunpoint from going to murder G'Kar. After backing down, Londo asks whether Garibaldi would really have shot him. Garibaldi replies, "Yes, I would have. But I'm just as glad I didn't have to. The paperwork is a pain in the ass."
  • Parenthetical Swearing: "Bester" sounds like "bastard" whenever any station personnel speaks the name.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish":
    • First averted by Garibaldi, who selects a password "peekaboo" purely on the grounds that nobody would have ever guessed he would use it. And because it would get a big laugh.
    • Later justified, by Sinclair, when he needs to leave a password-protected message behind for Garibaldi. In this case the password had to be something that wouldn't be easily guessable in general, but would be easily guessable by Garibaldi. He settles on "Hello, old friend".
  • Percussive Maintenance: Ivanova trying to access the records of an old exploration vessel in "The Long Dark".
  • Percussive Pickpocket: Happens to Sheridan, where the thief steals the comlink.
    • Jinxo does this to Aldous in Grail.
    • A strange example occurs in Passing Through Gethsemane. A Centauri bumps into Brother Edward as the latter is leaving an elevator. The viewer discovers later that the Centauri was a telepath, and bumped into Brother Edward so he could break the monk's mind block.
  • Percussive Therapy: In frustration, Garibaldi shoots out an elevator's intercom just so he won't have to listen to Sparky yap any more.
  • Perfection Is Static: The Vorlons are one of the First Ones, old races that predate most space-faring civilizations. Their rivals the Shadows cast them as "frozen perfection". The Vorlons live up to this by supporting races that blindly follow them and asking "Who Are You?". That diving question is meant to have their followers focus on themselves and the Vorlons' cause. As soon as anyone steps out of line, the Vorlons are quick to punish them. Later the Vorlons take to blowing up whole planets that have any trace of Shadow influence. When confronted by Captain Sherridan in a mental projection, the Vorlons appear as an angelic figure encased in ice.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: Subverted by the Minbari, who are pacifists only among themselves. And later not even that. Minbari Civil War, anyone?
  • Pet the Dog: Londo Mollari has so many of these that it makes people cry.
    Londo: My shoes are now too tight, and I have forgotten how to dance.
    Vir: I don't understand.
    Londo: Nor should you.
    [Later, when he helps the two young Centauri and they ask why]
    Londo: Because you are young, and young people should be allowed to dance!
    • G'Kar gets one in the first season, back when he was less sympathetic a character. After warning Catherine Sakai to stay away from a particular planet, he sends a rescue team to recover her after she ignores him and gets into trouble. When she asks why, his response is "Why not?" It's one of the first hints that there's more to him than meets the eye. He even states that "no one [on Babylon 5] is exactly what he appears."
  • Phantom Limb Pain: G'kar's eye was removed during his imprisonment by the Centauri, and it was still itching afterwards. The doctor was able to create a replacement later.
  • Phlebotinum Rebel: Jason Ironheart in "Mind War".
  • Pilgrimage: In the last half of season 5, the book G'Kar had been writing is taken and put into print without his knowledge and comes to be considered a holy book by other Narns. This results in many of them coming to Babylon 5 to learn directly from him. This is a bit of a deconstruction as while they profess to be coming for enlightenment, very few of them are actually interested in learning or applying what he has to teach them, something that causes G'Kar no small amount of frustration.
  • Pillars of Moral Character: Noted repeatedly is the concept that death is easy, obligations are hard. The Minbari Warrior caste states that they do not fear death, only failure to complete their appointed tasks. Lorien points out that Heroic Sacrifice is easy compared to living in pursuit of a cause. G'Kar defends David Martel's decision to retreat from a hopeless battle because death is a release from obligations. Pretty much every Big Good in the series holds to this.
  • Planet of Hats: Nearly every race. (Well, the Minbari have three types of hats.) Humanity's hat is diversity and community-building.
  • Plasma Cannon: Handheld Phased Plasma Guns, the main sidearm of most younger races. There are ship scale plasma weapons, and they pack a punch, but the plasma cools quickly and they do less damage at longer ranges. The pak'ma'ra really like them, and EarthForce has some (usually older) variants that use them.
  • The Plague: Drafa, a 100% contagious and 100% fatal disease from the Markab homeworld.
  • Playing with Syringes: Psi-Corp has several secret projects in their vein, all geared towards making more and/or stronger telepaths. They're responsible for pushing Jason Ironheart's P-rating so he could Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence, and developed the telepathy drug Dust.
  • Plot Archaeology: Much of Captain Sheridan's character arc in Season 2 centers on the death of his wife and how he needs to let it go and move on with his life. Fast forward to the end of Season 3, and Anna Sheridan shows up on B5, with a message for her husband from the Shadows.
  • Pocket Dial: Inverted in an episode where Sheridan is talking to a terrorist with his link active in his back pocket so the crew can listen in. When he is forced to sit down, he accidentally shuts it off. What's more, the channel-closed beep alerts the terrorist that he's been broadcasting their conversation.
  • Police Brutality: Michael Garibaldi has many friends from Mars, including an ex-lover of his. When there is fighting ongoing on Mars, it is probably best to take the hint when he asks you to stop talking trash about Marsies. He doesn't lose his temper often, but when he does, it isn't pretty.
    • Otherwise completely averted by Garibaldi, who calls Sheridan out on holding Morden indefinitely without formal charges:
    Garibaldi: "Look, out there I may play things fast and loose but in here I play things by the book."
  • Political Officer: One gets assigned to babysit Captain Sheridan. She has a rather direct technique for trying to secure his loyalty. She ends up returning to Earth to do damage control after someonenote  finds and leaks evidence that President Clarke may have had something to do with his predecessor's death.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: Following a recurrence of the Drafa virus, all of the Markab aboard B5 explode into a panic. According to Markab lore, Drafa only targets the sinful, resulting in their elders accusing everyone in sight (including Sheridan and co.) of being "unclean".
    • Narn and Centauri crowds during the Narn Centauri War in the second season, and after the end of the war, the frustrated Narn population as a whole, who G'Kar has to work to keep under control.
    • Human crowds aboard the station in the third season, around when everything begins to go completely off the rails due to internal tensions in the Earth Alliance.
    • The dockworkers' guild in "By Any Means Necessary" erupts into one during their strike. Sinclair is ordered to use the Rush Act to end the strike, with the expectation that he will use the station's military assets to do so ("by any means necessary"). Instead, Sinclair, being Sinclair takes a third option and indeed uses the station's military assets—namely, the military budget—and meets the guild's demands, ending the strike.
    • The Drazi form two separate powder kegs during their purple/green fight.
  • Power Fist: Trakis's taser glove in "Born to the Purple".
  • The Power of Love: Sheridan's love for Delenn is what gives him the anchor needed for Lorien to bring him back to life, and in fact may be responsible for winning both the Shadow War and the Earth Civil War. A station worker in the 5th season sums it up quite nicely:
    Bo: (Talking about Delenn) I know I'd claw my way out of hell and through three miles of sheer rock to see that smile again!
  • Precision F-Strike: After Sheridan deliberately provokes the Vorlon and Shadow fleets:
    Lyta: Captain...they're pissed!
  • Pre-Insanity Reveal
    • In "The Long Dark", crazy homeless doomsayer Amis (played by Dwight Schultz) is arrested early in the episode for disturbing the peace. When Amis starts saying "Incoming! Incoming!" in his sleep, Garibaldi realizes he's a Minbari War veteran.
      Guard: How do you know?
      Garibaldi: I've had that same dream.
    • A major plot point in "A Late Delivery from Avalon". The man who arrives on the station convinced he's King Arthur returned in Britain's hour of need is really David McIntyre, a retired EarthForce gunnery sergeant wracked with guilt over firing the shots that triggered the Minbaris' Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • President Evil: Morgan Clark.
  • Pretext for War: Kalain, alone in his cell, commits suicide using a false tooth filled with poison. Kalain hopes that the station will attack and destroy his ship, the Trigati, allowing his disgraced crew to reclaim their honor and restart the Earth-Minbari war in a single stroke.
  • Previously on…: Used in part two of the two-parter "A Voice in the Wilderness", in certain major arc episodes to remind the audience of previous events that are referenced, as well as the entire fifth season narration (see below).
  • Principles Zealot: The rogue Soul Hunter.
  • Product Placement: In some season 1 episodes, neon signs can be seen in the background of the local bar. One of them is an ad for Zima, which was a newly launched product at the time.
    • Word of God is that they weren't paid for the Zima sign at all; it was added purely as a joke.
  • Promotion, Not Punishment: When Garibaldi takes over his fiancé's company as the new CEO/Chairman of the Board, he calls a meeting with about eight notorious troublemakers, upstarts, whistleblowers and worrywarts. One of them, who is Wrong Genre Savvy, gets up and exclaims how none of them did anything wrong, there's no way Garibaldi can just fire them; Garibaldi instead says how he just fired the old board of directors, who were nothing but sycophantic yes-men, and this Ragtag Bunch of Misfits is the new board. Specifically, it's their job to tell him when he, or anyone else in management, is screwing up or generally acting like an ass on company time.
    • In a subversion, however...he makes it clear that if they THEMSELVES screw up...he'll eat them alive. In short, Do Wrong, Right
  • Prophecy Twist: Londo's chronic dreams of himself and G'Kar choking each other to death. Twenty years later ("War Without End, Pt. 2"), Londo allows Sheridan and Delenn (along with their son) to escape from his palace. Londo then confides to G'Kar that he Cannot Self Terminate, and must be killed before the Drakh Keeper inside him alerts the guards. As G'Kar reluctantly grabs him by the throat, Londo's Keeper re-takes control and kills him too.
    • The destruction of Babylon 5. We see, early in the first season, a prophecy of a single shuttle leaving the station seconds before the whole thing explodes. In the series finale, a single shuttle leaves the station seconds before it explodes. . . in a grand decommissioning, surrounded by the ships from all the various races, paying last respects to the place that ushered in a new, brighter future.
  • Prophetic Ship Names:
    • Icarus.
    • Agamemnon.
    • The White Star?
      • Especially if you recall what happened to the Black Star.
    • Played with in "Grail". Jinxo stays on Babylon 5 because he believes he carries a curse that will cause the station to blow up the moment he leaves it. At the end of the episode he finally gets up the courage to leave... on a ship called the Marie Celeste.
  • Proxy War: The Shadow-Vorlon conflict is one of these turned into a Forever War. The two Precursor races refuse to engage each other directly (apparently due to some arcane rules of war and because their Lensman Arms Race went too far), instead using the younger races as their proxies about every thousand years. This has lasted for hundreds of thousands of years. It began over an Order Versus Chaos disagreement in their approaches to how to guide the young races: the Vorlons thought orderly development and teaching was the way to help them grow, while the Shadows believed in fomenting conflict out of a Social Darwinist worldview. It finally ends in season 4 when Sheridan gets the young races to ally and demand both sides leave them all the hell alone.
  • Psychic Static: The nursery rhyme variant is used against Bester.
    • Psi Corps telepaths are trained to repeat snatches of songs, nursery rhymes, or math problems to cloud their own abilities while not actively working.
    • Used by Garibaldi while on the run from several Telepaths.
    • One guy tries to block Lyta by solving math equations in his head. She's been Touched by Vorlons by this point, and points out that he made an error in his last calculation while still breaking the guy down.
  • Psychic Strangle: Discussed in "Mind War", where Talia's former mentor talks about using a gentler form than usual to assassinate without a trace. Simply close off both carotid arteries to cut off oxygen to the brain, then release the pressure once the target dies. That's assuming it was possible to get a relatively stable telekinetic who wouldn't have qualms about that sort of thing....
  • Puny Earthlings: Played straight with regards to a few races' raw physical strength (Minbari, Narn...) compared to humans; but averted in other cases. Minbari come from a planet that is colder than Earth, and temperatures high enough that a human would merely find enormously uncomfortable will kill a Minbari rapidly; also, they become violently deranged when they consume alcohol. The Drazi have the opposite problem; they are far more intolerant of COLD weather than humans are.
  • The Puppet Cuts His Strings:
    • Downplayed with Captain Sheridan. He was chosen by the Clark administration on the basis of his loyalty to Earth (including a highly public incident during the Earth-Minbari war where he destroyed one of their war cruisers). Unfortunately for them, after he took command, he wasted no time in establishing that he was loyal to Earth — not necessarily the man leading it.
    • Played straight with the Centauri emperor Cartagia. Put on the throne by a conspiracy of noblemen believing he's nothing but a dimwitted and weakwilled leach, he not so much cut the strings as hacked them off with an axe while laughing manaically and was on the verge of turning his entire planet into a sacrificial pyre for his own ascension to godhood promised to him by the resident Cosmic Horror.
  • Puppeteer Parasite:
    • Used straight with the "keepers", creatures that possess the Centauri Regent and Londo.
    • Subverted in "Exogenesis" by the Vindrizi who purposely seek out the downtrodden, such as Lurkers or the terminally-ill, and take possession of their bodies under consent only. In return for carrying the parasites, the hosts get to share the memories of thousands of lifetimes of the Vindrizi's travel throughout the universe.
    • PsiCop Bester subtly controlling Michael Garibaldi by enhancing the paranoid tendencies of his mind and planting post-hypnotic suggestions; and the PsiCorps being able to plant a second "sleeper" personality into people, something which happened to Talia Winters.
  • Punny Name: Delenn, like most Minbari, typically gets addressed on a First-Name Basis. On occasion, her family name, Mir, is used, in this case a Multiple Reference Pun on actress Mira Furlan's name, and the Russian word for Peace.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The Interrogator in Intersections in Real Time, who insists that he is not Sheridan's enemy because he has no vested interest one way or the other. In this case, it actually makes him more dangerous because, having no vested interest, he is simply entirely apathetic to Sheridan's situation and pursues his mission with cold blooded efficiency.
  • Put on a Bus: Commander Sinclair is reassigned abruptly between seasons. Officially, JMS claimed it was due to his having written the character into a corner, combined with the suits at the network not being overly fond of Michael O’Hare, the actor who played him. A few months after O'Hare's death, JMS revealed that the actual cause had been the actor's struggle with schizophrenia. Writing him out and replacing him on the show allowed Michael O'Hare to dedicate his time to getting proper treatment without hurting the show.
    • For a much less sad version, see N'Graath. He was a very large mantis-like creature who was the head of Babylon 5's underworld, and a major antagonist throughout the first season... and then he just disappeared. Only when the fifth episode of season 5 (Learning Curve) aired did we find out "He went down" when his replacement was talking about the gap in power he left. He didn't even warrant an explanation as to whether that means "killed" or "arrested".