open/close all folders
Telepaths in general
- Authority in Name Only: According to supplementary materials, the director of the Psi Corps (who is always a mundane human) has not taken a day-to-day role in the organization in almost fifty years, to prevent him or her from being telepathically controlled. As a result, EarthGov has little idea of what goes on within the Corps as long as everything seems to be running smoothly.
- Clash of Evolutionary Levels: Human telepaths, or at least a sizeable fraction of them, consider themselves "Homo superior."
- Conspicuous Gloves: All Psi-Corps telepaths are required to wear black gloves, as it is easier to scan someone (intentionally or accidentally) with direct physical contact.
- Create Your Own Villain: As Sheridan puts it, the Psi Corps (an insular, fascist society of superhumans who view themselves as separate from, and superior to, the bulk of humanity) is a monster of Earth's own making.
- Dark Is Evil: Psi Cops and other high ranking Psi Corps officers dress all in black. They also paint all their ships black, just in case you didn't notice.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Human telepaths get four choices: Join the Psi-Corps and follow their rules and agenda, go to prison, take telepathy-damping drugs which cause severe depression and often lead to suicide, or become a fugitive of the law and be doggedly pursued by law enforcement and the Psi Cops. If they take the last option, they might be able to pass themselves off as Mundanes in society (as Ivanova manages to do), get lost in the underworld (as more than a few of the Lurkers are revealed to be), or maybe find a home among an alien race where Earth laws have no authority (as one young girl in the first season ends up doing). In the second season, the comparison is made even more clear with the discovery of a "Telepath Underground Railroad", (being secretly run by the only black character in the main cast, Doctor Franklin.).
- Dragon Ascendant: This is the goal of the Psi Corps. They currently are The Dragon to President Clark and one of his biggest power bases, but in time they intend to seize power for themselves once Clark is out of the way.
- Dragon with an Agenda: Their long term goal is establish telepaths as the ruling elite of the human race.
- Elite Mooks: Created by the Vorlons to fight against the Shadows. The Psi Cops serve as this for the Psi-Corps, turning up in matching dark uniforms with black gloves.
- Fantastic Racism: Many telepaths are guilty of this as well as being targets of it.
- Happiness in Slavery: Many low-powered teeps feel this way about being in the Corps. It protects them, provides for their needs and gives them jobs. Since the Corps reserves most of its more gruesome practices to telepaths with greater potential, these often do not openly affect people such as commercial telepaths like Talia Winters. Furthered by the fact that many of them have been raised by Psi-Corps, and in some cases generations of their ancestors as well.
- A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Most people would be surprised at just how little most telepaths actually want to read what is in their minds.
- Mutant Draft Board: The Psi Corps is the former trope namer among humans.
- N.G.O. Superpower: Psi Corps has its own military and intelligence wings and, unbeknownst to anyone outside its upper echelons, its own colonies and a small fleet of hyperspace capable starships.
- Putting on the Reich: Psi Cops wear uniforms that make them look like Imperial officers.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: There is at least one instance of the Corps knocking out a woman, then having her prospective partner impregnate her to produce a telepath because she didn't want to marry him.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Psi Cops positively gloat about the fact that, being the ones charged with preserving Mind over Manners among human telepaths, they have freedom to take liberties that would be considered criminal if committed by anyone else. Scanning people without permission is just the tip of the iceberg. They have turned Mind Rape into an art form and can even completely replace people's personalities with new ones if they choose.
- Super Breeding Program: Since Psi-Corps members, along with rogue telepaths imprisoned by the Corps, are basically slaves the Corps feels free to practice eugenic breeding to try to produce stronger telepaths. If a telepath is unwilling to play along it's no problem, the Corps will happily arrange rape if necessary.
- Telepathic Spacemen: Telepaths are present in most sapient species. The Centauri also have precogs. Humans are somewhat unusual in their hostility towards the telepaths among their population. Other races appear to have better integrated them into society.
- Touched by Vorlons: The trope namer. The Vorlons spent centuries introducing the genes for telepathy into many species so as to produce weapons-grade telepaths to fight the Shadows and their Living Ships.
- Weird Trade Union: The Centauri have a Telepath's Guild.
Played by: Andrea Thompson
- Aborted Arc: Andrea Thompson left the series, resulting in her planned arc being shelved.
- FaceHeel Turn As the result of an artificially-implanted personality being activated and destroying the original one.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend: The crew really doesn't seem to think all that much about Talia after her real personality is effectively murdered by reciting the keyword triggering her sleeper personality. However, in Bester's next appearance he implies that Psy Corps dissected her, enraging the crew members who hear this. And let's not forget Ivanova's confession to Delenn mid-season 3:
- Ivanova: I think I loved Talia.
- Happiness in Slavery: See her quote above. This trait gradually faded as she found herself having to work against the Corps multiple times to help friends or obvious innocents attempting to flee the Corps, as well as evidence that her beloved Corps was taking part in very underhanded secret projects.
- Limited Wardrobe: Talia gets a lot of wear out of that gold blazer. This is more evident than with other characters, each of whom wear an assigned uniform or ceremonial garb.
- Manchurian Agent: For Bureau 13/Department Sigma
- The Mole Revealed to be one at the end of season 2.
- Put on a Bus / Bus Crash: Maybe. When Bester speaks of her, he uses past tense and speaks of dissecting her. This, of course, could be a ruse to get the heroes so angry he can bypass their defenses and read their minds easily.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Andrea Thompson was dating Jerry Doyle (that's Garibaldi) at the beginning of the series, and married him in 1995. By the end of that year, the relationship had soured, and she couldn't work with him (and therefore, couldn't work on the show); hence her departure in Season 2 (Thompson and Doyle's divorce was finalized in 1997).
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: To Lyta Alexander, who was replaced after the show's pilot. Notably Zig Zagged, as Lyta Alexander would be brought back to replace Talia after Andrea Thompson left the show.
Played by: Patricia Tallman
- Black Magician Girl
- Break the Cutie
- The Dog Bites Back: to Kosh II (Ulkesh).
- Enforced Method Acting: Lyta's eyes turn black whenever she is using her telepathic powers against the Shadows (or even just to interface with their technology), which requires quite a bit of effort and strain from her. It is worth noting that the black contacts that Patricia Tallman had to wear to get this effect were by all accounts immensely uncomfortable, so the cringing was likely not all faked.
- Eye Color Change: In the later seasons, Lyta Alexander's eyes would turn solid black whenever she made use of the Vorlon enhancements to her psychic abilities. However she became even more powerful in the Postscript Season, she acquires Glowing Eyes of Doom instead. Possibly because the black contacts used for the old effect were painful to wear.
- Fiery Redhead - or Cold Rage Redhead
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Color-Coded for Your Convenience Glowing green eyes when she is linked with a Vorlon, Inky black eyes when she is linked with the Shadows (typically when she is hitting them with a psychic attack)
- Person of Mass Destruction: [[sppiler:After she gets Touched by Vorlons, her telepahic abilties are so profoundly strong that she effectively breaks the P scale, and can psychically destroy peoples' minds with frightening ease if inclined to.]]
- Real Life Writes the Plot: In a variety of ways. Her departure and return to the show were major story points, and her relationship with Kosh was partially based on her real life romance with Kosh's actor.
- Stockholm Syndrome
- Touched by Vorlons: The trope namer. Before her enhancements, her P rating was middling. Afterwards, she effectively breaks the scale, able to psychically out-muscle even a P12 like Bester.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds
Played by: Walter Koenig
I'm here to save your butts. Next time show a little gratitude.
- Arch-Enemy: To Garibaldi and Ivanova
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Only P12s (the most powerful rated telepaths) are allowed to be Psi Cops, and Bester is one of the most powerful Psi Cops, not only because of his raw telepathic talent, but because of his people skills as well.Lyta Alexander: "Psi Cops are trained to make people feel nervous. Bester makes other Psi Cops nervous!"
- Beware the Superman: Actively plotting what appears to be either the enslavement or extermination of non-telepaths.
- Brought Down to Badass: After being dosed up with drugs to suppress his telepathic abilities, Bester still proves to be an excellent interrogator and investigator, a skilled marksman and an Ace Pilot.
- The Chessmaster
- Cruel Mercy: After his Gambit Roulette pays off and his Manchurian Agent Garibaldi has exposed the anti-telepath industrialist, he meets a catatonic Garibaldi in a subway car. After debriefing him, Bester says You Have Outlived Your Usefulness and considers leaving him in that state — which is pretty much Locked-in Syndrome — as punishment for the trouble he caused Psi-Corps in the past. He then waves that off as too cruel and points a gun in his face, musing about a Mercy Kill. He ultimately decides to split the difference — releasing the brainwashing and leaving Garibaldi stranded in the heart of enemy territory with nothing except the clothes on his back and his friends believing he willingly gave Sheridan to the ruling regime. Once Bester leaves the subway car, the revelation hits and Garibaldi is left screaming in rage.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Few telepaths like doing deathbed scans because they feel that part of them goes with whoever dies, and you'd be hard-pressed to find any willing to do more than one. Those who have done so four or five times are said to be empty inside. Bester has done at least eight - and in the novels number eight was shown to have literally stolen his soul and turned him into a complete and utter sociopath.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Devil in Plain Sight: He doesn't even bother trying to play nice with Sheridan and the crew when he pops up in the first few seasons he's an outright jerk to everyone and they can't do a thing about it.
- The Dreaded: It's pointed out that while Psi Cops are meant to make everyone nervous, Bester is able to make all other Psi Cops nervous.
- Enemy Mine: When he told Sheridan where the telepaths were being shipped, which was a combination of Papa Wolf, I Will Find You, and a Roaring Rampage of Revenge upon the Shadows.
- Before that, he worked with the station's senior crew to root out a group of Dust smugglers. The senior crew may not like Bester, and they certainly don't trust him (to the point where he gets his powers suppressed by "sleeper" drugs for the duration of the episode), but they really don't want Dust on board the station. Thanks to Bester's help, the smugglers are dealt with in short order.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He had a lover who was modified to serve as a living CPU for a Shadow vessel. Finding out about this is what made him a temporary ally to the station during the Shadow War.Your war is now my war.
- Faux Affably Evil: He tries to put on a cheery, affable facade, but anyone with any experience of normal human interaction sees his attempts for what they are; a deeply broken and possibly sociopathic individual going through the motions. His attempts come across as even creepier than cold, immutable stone-face would have been.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: He loves using fear, paranoia and intimidation as weapons so he quite naturally plays the Bad Cop role when he and Garibaldi are Perp Sweating a suspect. Between them they get a confession out of him pretty damn quickly, though it has to be said that Bester's Bad Cop routine was the biggest contribution to breaking the suspect.
- Handicapped Badass: His left hand is completely immobile, in a permanent clenched fist. It's very easy to miss, as no other characters remark on it and he rarely does anything on screen requiring two hands to lift or manipulate* .
- Insult Backfire: Garibaldi one time says he wants to string Bester up like a piñata. After conversing about the matter at hand, he comes back to the insult and comments that piñatas are colorful things that are filled with candy and other goodies which bring joy to children. So he thanks Garibaldi for being called one.
- Knight Templar: He will do anything to protect his telepaths. Using Garibaldi to find out the conspiracy and even sacrificing his own men to get Babylon 5 to take him to Z'ha'dum to see what the Shadows left behind.
- Love Makes You Evil: His love for a rogue telepath who was due to be used as the CPU in a shadow ship leads him to take actions he wouldn't normally, even going so far as betraying his own Black Omega squadron. As far as he is concerned, she's the only thing that matters in his life and everything else can burn it it means he can get her back.
- Manipulative Bastard: He is an expert in twisting people's thought processes around his little finger, even when his telepathic powers are temporarily unavailable. He uses fear, intimidation, persuasiveness and even his own smarmy brand of charm to get people to do what he wants, and he's an expert in telling people all the facts without letting them get to the truth. Whenever he's telling you something, you can be certain there's some small but crucial fact that he's holding back, and more often than not he manages to get people who openly hate him to do what he wants. One example is he manages to get a prisoner to spill important information by repeatedly stating he was lying and implying he could read it all over his brainwaves, when in fact he was on sleepers that temporarily blocked his telepathic powers. The prisoner didn't know that, however, and as Bester observes, it was a fairly safe bet that the guy was lying about something because people in his position usually are by default.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Leaving the memories of the brainwashing he and his conspirators in Psi Corp put on Garibaldi, to torment him, actually serves as a valuable character witness for Garibaldi's innocence when he's captured by the Martian resistance, and scanned by Lyta.
- Nose Art: His personal Starfury is painted jet-black, with the Greek letter Omega in white. Mind you, he commands an entire Psi Cop unit that operates these, but they only appear briefly in flashbacks or as Unwitting Pawns in one of his plots.
- "Not So Different" Remark: He tries to argue this to Garibaldi in this comment. Garibaldi doesn't buy it.Bester: My blood is the same color as yours, and what I do, I do to protect Earth, same as you. You don't like how I do it, that's your prerogative. But there are things going on out there that you know nothing about. Threats to the human race that no one ever hears about because we stop them. There's dangers all around us! And whether you like us or not, we may be all that stands between you and the abyss.
- Also in the exchange with Garibaldi quoted below under Paranoia Fuel, he points out that they both use a badge and uniform to intimidate people when they find it useful to do so.
- Older than They Look: He's in his seventies when he first appears.
- Paranoia Fuel: He, the uniform, and his badge are this In-Universe to anyone who knows the symbol. Even when he was on sleepers (drugs which negate a telepath's abilities), he made use of the paranoia his badge and uniform inspire to trick a perp into revealing information that Bester had no way of knowing.Bester: Liars are always afraid that somebody's going to see through them. So I just provided him with a vehicle for his paranoia. Your captain's opinions notwithstanding, the badge and the uniform do have certain advantages.
Garibaldi: Like intimidation?
Bester: Absolutely! Just like your badge, and your uniform.
- Perp Sweating: Bester turns out to be very good at this, even when his telepathic abilities are not in play.
- Playing Against Type: Very different character from Chekov. One must remind oneself it's the same actor.
- Which, in fact, was the goal. To help Walter avoid type-casting. For this reason, it was also his favourite role.
- The Resolution Will Not Be Televised: Bester is functionally a Karma Houdini in the series, since his planned Crusade episode (which would have shown him now down on his luck) was never made. The final end of his story is instead found in the Psi Corps Trilogy.
- Shout-Out: To the real-world SF novelist of the same name, who wrote the "telepathic secret police" novel The Demolished Man. As it turns out, the Psi Corps novel trilogy reveals that he was purposefully renamed after Bester by his grandfather, a big fan. His birth name is Stephen Kevin Dexter.
- Smug Snake: What he started out as. Eventually averted.
- Villain Episode: "The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father"
- What Could Have Been: There was a Bester episode planned for Crusade, "Value Judgements". It was unproduced due to the cancellation, but canonically happened, as referenced in Final Reckoning - The Fate of Bester. The script can be read online, and it has been produced at least once as a fan audio drama.
- You Might Remember Me from...: Hey, it's Pavel Chekov as a fascist psychic secret policeman!
Played by: Robin Atkin Downes
What a piece of work is man... the paragon of animals. The paragon of animals? Six thousand years of brutality, murder, and slavery. An animal does not do this to its own kind.
- Actual Pacifist: At first. Even to the point of, after being struck by a mundane, asking him to hit him again, to see if it gets his attacker any additional satisfaction. He goes out of his way to try and restrain his fellow rogue telepaths from retaliating against various hostilities from mundanes aboard the station.
- Byronic Hero: Byron's name is no coincidence. He fits most elements of this archetype.
- Defector from Decadence: Used to be one of Bester's underlings of Black Omega Squadron until he was forced to kill a bunch of mundanes who were smuggling rogue telepaths, after they had surrenderred the fugitives.
- Fantastic Racism: Although he tends to accuse others of it, it's obvious that Byron has quite a chip on his shoulder about 'mundanes', seemingly a leftover from his time in the Psi Corps.
- HeelFace Turn: Byron used to be a Psi Cop before turning rogue.
- King of the Homeless: As the leader of the Telepath Colony on the station in Downbelow.
- Nose Art: Painted jet-black, with the Greek letter Omega in white.
- Passive Aggressive Combat: Byron is a master of it. He can make anything someone else's fault. To the point where telepaths fighting each other is the fault of mundanes, having been forced into it by mundane persecution. Even when those mundanes are aliens not involved in the internal politics of humanity.
- The Paragon Always Rebels: He was one of the top of Bester's proteges.
- A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Inverted, he was a pupil of a villain who turned to good.
- Strawman Has a Point: Byron's attitude towards mundanes is somewhat justified by the fact that the main reason telepaths have no civil rights and Psi Corps exists is because the mundane human population is utterly paranoid about telepaths. Even Sheridan has a noticeable tendency to treat telepaths (especially Lyta, who has saved his life repeatedly) as tools or weapons, and not worry very much about them as people.