The Galactica and its fleet finally reached Earth, only to be forced to pass it by to lead the Cylons away. Meanwhile, Troy (Boxey, now an adult) and his wingman Dillon were left on Earth (soon joined by the "Super Scouts", a group of Colonial children stranded by accident), on a mission to uplift Earth science to Colonial standards while maintaining a Masquerade to avoid drawing Cylon attention.
Although the series is generally not nearly as well-regarded as its predecessor, Battlestar Galactica (1978) Expanded Universe materials have frequently imported selected elements of it, like Boxey going by the name Troy when he grows up (in the 1990s-2000s novel series), or the sympathetic Cylon "Cyrus" (in a comic book adaptation). Dynamite Comics actually produced a Galactica 1980 comic book series, featuring Doctor Zee and other elements from the show, but involving a divergent timeline created by time travel.
Galactica 1980 provides examples of the following tropes:
- Aliens Steal Cable: How Dr. Zee finds out about Earth cultures.
- All Just a Dream: Glen Larson wanted to continue the original series and for this show to turn out to be Starbuck's dream.
- Armor-Piercing Question: In one episode, a Cylon states that their goal and purpose is to organize the entire universe. Another character asks what they'll do after that. The Cylon hesitates and finally admits that no one has ever asked that question.
- Back for the Finale: Starbuck, in a rather sad flashback episode.
- Benevolent Alien Invasion: Galactica's plan for bringing Earth up to their level of technology.
- Big Applesauce: In the episode "The Night the Cylons Landed".
- Canon Discontinuity: For the continuation comics and novels, at least; although they're not above borrowing a few Canon Immigrants. The Dynamite Comics series acknowledges it, however.
- Chekhov's Gun: It turns out microwave ovens can really scramble a Cylon's circuitry.
- Cool Bike: Troy and Dillon were given motorcycles to blend in to Earth society, with a few extra features like converting into mini-aircraft.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: By Dynamite Comics, though it involves a divergent timeline.
- Culture Clash: Invokes Fridge Logic since Dr. Zee is monitoring Earth's transmissions.
- Giving Radio to the Romans: Xavier goes back to give rocket technology to the Nazis, hoping it will make Earth advanced enough to fight Cylons in the modern day.
- I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: In the pilot Mike Brady is reunited with Cousin Oliver.
- Innocent Aliens: Played straight and averted.
- Intrepid Reporter: Jamie Hamilton, who becomes the Colonials' Secret-Keeper during the first storyline.
- Invisibility Cloak: Dr. Zee created a short-duration unit for the teams sent to Earth to use in emergencies.
- Killed Offscreen: Implied for most of the original series characters. Explicitly stated for Apollo.
- New Super Power: In Galactica 1980, we discover that the artificial gravity they've been living with in the fleet is several times the surface gravity of Earth; so, when they land on Earth, they can jump several meters in the air. This is pretty amazing, considering we've seen crew members wrestle and/or drop things in the original series, and they didn't seem to fall any faster than they would on Earth.
- Storyboarding the Apocalypse: Dr. Zee demonstrates the need for the fleet to pass Earth by in the first episode with a computer simulation of an attack on Los Angeles. The footage was heavily featured in the commercials for the series premiere — but not the fact that it was a simulation.
- Stranger in a Familiar Land: After many years spent trying to reach Earth, the Fleet arrives only to discover that our society is not in any position to readily assimilate them, and still less to defend itself against the Cylons who have followed them here.
- Teen Genius: Dr. Zee.
- Terminator Twosome: Xavier goes back to World War II to give technology to the Nazis so Troy and Dillon go back to stop him.
- They Look Like Us Now: Cylon human-form infiltrators appeared on this show decades before the "Skinjobs" in the new series.
- Time Dilation: They go back in time by travelling faster than light despite having ships that can travel intergalactic distances in the space of an episode that do t travel through time.
- Time Travel: Xavier makes a Heel Turn to implement his alternative to Adama and Zee's plan travel back to World War II Germany to induce Stupid Jetpack Hitler.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: The last episode of the first season ("The Hand of God") had a final scene in which it is revealed that the unusual transmissions that the Galactica observatory was picking up were the transmissions from the 1969 Apollo moon landing. However, Galactica 1980 (which we are led to assume is set in 1980) is said to be set thirty years after the events of the first season. This is impossible to reconcile unless the colonial Yahren was ridiculously short, or the fleet had to take an insanely roundabout course, equivalent to Seattle to Vancouver (a day trip if you go up the coast) by way of Los Angeles, Mexico City, New Orleans, New York, Toronto, and Whitehorse.