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  • Acting in the Dark: J. Michael Straczynski mapped out the entire five-season run of the show but didn't tell the actors what would happen to their characters down the road; they would only know once the episode scripts were given to them. This was to make the journey the individual characters went on feel more authentic. This is why Peter Jurasik (Londo) gushes about his character arc in the featurettes.
  • Actor Leaves, Character Dies:
    • Andrea Thompson, who played the telepath Talia Winters, got a bit demanding on the set. Notably, she wanted to appear in more episodes than she was, in fact in more episodes than most of the regular cast but the lead. She left the show in the ensuing discussions, and was taken back to Psi Corps headquarters by Bester. In a later episode, Al Bester lets slip that they found out things about the crew in the course of her debriefing and examination. This one's notable in that Talia was always intended, right from the start to be sent back to Psi Corps. They even wrote in the mechanism that would enable her to return. The only thing that changed is that unlike the original plan, she never came back. This show is somewhat unusual in that there was always a ready plan to do this to any of the main characters, should the need arise.
    • This was also done with the recurring character General Hague. He had played a major role in season 2, and it was anticipated he would show up in a major episode of season 3. When that episode was about to be taped, he was unavailable. Because of the circumstances, J. Michael Straczynski killed off General Hague—partly out of vindictiveness and partly to add drama — and put Hague's subordinate in charge. One Hilarious Outtake puts the situation best:
      Captain Sheridan: Where's General Hague?
      Major Ryan: General doing Deep Space Nine. Apparently he was double-booked by his agent and there was nothing to be done. So you'll have to deal with me, sir.
  • Actor-Shared Background: Jerry Doyle was an alcoholic in his youth. When the show aired, he claimed to have stopped drinking. Years later, JMS claimed that Doyle had in fact fallen off the wagon before or during shooting. Garibaldi’s struggle with alcoholism was meant to be in part a cautionary tale. When Garibaldi took a shot glass as a souvenir in an improvised moment in the final episode, JMS knew he’d lost. Doyle died at age 60 from an alcoholism related illness.
  • Adored by the Network: Not its native Warner Bros., but after TNT swooped in to rescue Season 5, they not only commissioned several expansion TV movies, but ran episodes on repeat fairly consistently for years after the series wrapped.
  • Author Phobia: Londo's premonition of standing on his homeworld and watching the sky slowly fill with the Shadow vessels was based on one of JMS' recurring nightmares. He was curious to see if other people would find it as haunting as he did.
  • Awesome, Dear Boy: Doyle took up acting because he was a self-made millionaire by 35 and needed a new skillset to add to his portfolio. He just randomly decided to audition for B5 and got cast in it. (Of course he was in some small things prior, most memorably as a Bruce Willis "Wannabe" in an episode of Moonlighting.)
  • Black Sheep Hit: Notably, around the end of Season 2, the network notes ceased. The studio just stopped sending suggestions and demands, apparently content with JMS doing his thing or just ignoring him completely. This may have had something to do with PTEN's decay from an "aspiring fifth network" to "nickname for the Warner Bros. syndication package". It's still one today to Warner Bros.; entries elsewhere on this page discuss how petty and tightfisted they are concerning B5.
  • Cast the Runner-Up:
  • Channel Hop: From PTEN to TNT for the final season.
  • The Character Died with Him:
    • It was revealed after Michael O'Hare's passing that he had been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia for the entirety of Season One, in no small part due to the stress of helming a new TV show. But his was not known by the public or his castmates until after his passing. According to JMS, O'Hare held the show up with his bare hands to ensure that the rest of the crew would have a job to go to. But he was in no shape to do it again in Season Two, so he was conspicuously written out off-screen.
    • Jeff Conaway (Zack) had drug problems that contributed to the pneumonia which ultimately killed him.
    • When asked about sequels, JMS was known to say that he didn't see how it would be possible "so long as Andreas Katsulas (G'Kar) and Richard Biggs (Dr. Franklin) remain dead." That said, he did The Lost Tales after their passing, and now with his Hollywood success, there seem to be very early feelers out about a real movie. He also noted that Ta'Lon, played by the still living Marshall Teague, is similar enough to G'Kar that he could be used for further stories. However, with Jerry Doyle's death in 2016, followed by Stephen Furst in 2017, and Mira Furlan in 2021, this is looking less likely.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • We don't talk about Garibaldi's weird acid trip in "Grey 17 is Missing". JMS doesn't really like to, either.
    • Bill Mumy (Lennier) is still salty about the way in which he was written out of the show.
  • Creator Breakdown: By Season Five, JMS was exhausted and in poor health from years of overwork and a dangerous work environment. This didn’t help the quality of the fifth season, or the aborted Crusade series that followed.
  • Creator's Pest: J. Michael Straczynski was forced by Executive Meddling to add a "hot-shot fighter pilot" to the cast in the second season, which Straczynski despised because he considered it such a trite and cliched character archetype. The character he ended up creating, Lt. Warren Keffer, hung around for a while not doing a whole lot (appearing in only six episodes), and then as soon as Straczynski realised the executives weren't paying attention any more, was brutally killed off by the Shadows. He wasn't actually all that bad a character, it's not like Straczynski had intentionally written him to be annoying, and the actor was a nice enough guy that Straczynski felt guilty about killing him off, but he still went through with it. At least he died in a significant way that advanced the plot, rather than just being casually killed off in an accident.
  • Creator Recovery: A temporary one, anyway. After his well-publicized addiction issues on Taxi, Jeff Conaway was sober when he joined the cast of Babylon 5. It was one of his last major roles in a scripted production. He relapsed during the fifth season and never recovered.
  • The Danza: Turhan Bey as Emperor Turhan.
  • Digital Destruction: The DVDs have an infamously poor transfer, looking actively worse than the original broadcasts in some situations. The show was originally shot on 35mm film and framed for both widescreen (16:9) and fullscreen (4:3) so it could be broadcast in fullscreen at the time and converted to widescreen later. However, Warner Bros. only had the special effects generated in fullscreen aspect ratio. When the decision was made to release the episodes in widescreen, any scene with CGI had the top and bottom of the image cropped and the remaining image was then stretched to match the widescreen aspect ratio. This resulted in a loss of 'crispness' in the pure-CGI scenes, and was particularly hard on any composite shot (A shot including both CGI and live-action footage). The result was that the composite shots became comically degraded even when compared to their own pure-CGI scenes. Exacerbating the situation was that even the live-action footage wasn't taken from the original 35mm masters (Which could have been upgraded to HD at will) but instead were re-ports of the episodes that had already been converted to widescreen for broadcast in PAL regions. This article covers the scenario in detail. The 2020 remaster sidesteps these issues by using the original film masters and retaining the 4:3 aspect ratio.
  • Dueling Works: JMS had previously pitched Babylon 5 to Paramount, who turned it down.... a year before they announced a new Star Trek series "On a space station, near a portal allowing travel across the galaxy". B5 made numerous cracks at DS9's expense:
    1. In "Babylon Squared", Garibaldi insists upon accompanying Sinclair and company to investigate the time distortion. Sinclair shuts him down, saying it is unwise to have the entire command staff away from the station at such a critical moment; an obvious dig at Trek's tendency to have the most (or all) of the senior staff depart on "away missions." However, in the audio-commentaries for several episodes, JMS makes repeated excuses for what he terms "TV moments", such as when one of the command staff decides to go join a fighter squadron in combat in defiance of military doctrine and wisdom.
    2. Ivanova protesting attempts to merchandise the Babylon project. The writer of that episode was Peter David, who is also a prolific writer for the Star Trek Expanded Universe, and who wasn't above taking the piss out of JMS while writing for Space Cases. David was surprised, however, when JMS announced his intention to keep the line intact. David's reply was, "You people really are dangerous over there."
      Ivanova: This isn't some deep-space franchise; this station is about something!
    3. Lennier takes a subtle jab at Scotty Time. (When Scotty came back in Star Trek: The Next Generation, he admitted that he would often reserve power to give the illusion of Tim Taylor Technology when the Captain inevitably demanded more speed.) When Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner) orders more power for the engines:
      Lennier: If I were holding anything back, I would tell you.
    • Of course, the shows shared quite a few writers, directors (including the son of Leonard Nimoy), and guest actors between them, with several B5 regulars/guest stars appearing in guest roles on Star Trek before and after B5's conclusion. There are more similarities and parallels between the shows in theme and naming: the Prussian-themed Centauri and Cardassians, the recently-freed Narns/Bajorans (the Narn are a mix of Klingon warrior poets and Bajoran holy rollers), the black-suited and jack-booted Psi Corps/Section 31, the opaque Vorlons/Prophets and their evil counterparts, the Shadows/Pah-Wraiths. Some characters have similar names: DS9's Dukat and B5's Dukhat; DS9's Leeta and B5's Lyta. The premises have a great deal in common (a traumatized veteran of a battle for humanity's survival takes command of a space station and learns he has an important role in the prophecies of an alien religion), as do the war arcs (a Centauri/Cardassian seeks to reverse the decline of his empire and improve his own career prospects by allying his people with malevolent aliens, which ultimately leads to his homeworld's devastation).
    • The punchline: in 1998, Peter Jurasik co-wrote Diplomatic Act, a novel wherein the lead character, an actor in a Star Trek knock-off, is kidnapped by aliens who think he is the genuine article. The book is similar to Galaxy Quest, which was released one year later.
    • Over the years, JMS published several informed speculations about how Babylon 5 and DS9 ended up sharing so many similarities. In his 2019 autobiography, he mentioned a new one: WB and Paramount were teaming up to create a new network together. WB owned the Babylon 5 rights; Paramount owned the Star Trek rights. The new network’s flagship show would combine both. At the last minute, Paramount pulled out to create their own network, UPN. They were already deep in pre-production on DS9, which was itself based on the early B5 pitch. WB in turn added Babylon 5 and a few other shows to a hastily cobbled-together syndication network while they assembled what became The WB. Eventually the two networks did merge to form the CW, but that happened over a decade later.
  • Enforced Method Acting:
    • In "Severed Dreams", we see an ISN Newscast get cut short when an explosion rocks the building. Debris can be seen landing on the news desk, with the anchors crying out in terror. The debris wasn't supposed to land that close to the actors.
    • Claudia Christian (Ivanova) broke her ankle during "The Geometry of Shadows" but, thanks to a hasty rewrite (Susan getting trampled by the Drazi), was able to work through it. Though she might have wished she hadn't, since filming the 'injury' scene aggravated her real-life injury, generating such a blood-curdling scream that it was rumored she actually broke her ankle on-camera.
    • 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 intensely uncomfortable.
    • "In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum" has a scene where Sheridan starts to apologize to Talia for exploiting her telepathy. She cuts him off by slapping him. According to both JMS and Bruce Boxleitner, Andrea Thompson got so worked up in preparation for that moment that she walloped him across the face. The reactions on the set were genuine.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • It was the decision of Warner Bros. to only render special effects in the fullscreen aspect ratio, despite the show deliberately being shot so it could be converted to widescreen at a later time. When the time came to release the series on DVD they also chose to re-port the episodes that had already been converted to widescreen for broadcast in PAL regions instead of going back to use the original 35mm film masters. This resulted in extensive Digital Destruction, so some parts of the final product look even worse than the original broadcast.
    • In The Gathering, Takashima's dialog is clearly looped, but no one else's is. This is because PTEN balked and wanted a "softer" performance from their female lead. JMS was pissed, and it was a factor in Tamlyn Tomita's quick exit from the show.
    • The part of Lyta in the pilot movie was written specifically for Patricia Tallman by JMS, who is a huge geek for zombie films and loved her performance in the Night of the Living Dead remake. Tallman had unsuccessfully auditioned for other roles, including a Star Trek movie, and worked as a stuntwoman on numerous Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes, and guest-starred in at least two of them. (In her book she humorously refers to them as "vagina forehead" and "Liza Minnelli with jaundice.") She was chomping at the bit for something bigger, so when JMS offered Tallman the role, she was ecstatic and promoted the show around-the-clock. PTEN nixed the character and replaced her with Talia before the series went to air. In hindsight, it's clear that few people involved in the production (including Adam Nimoy) trusted Tallman, a stuntperson, to convincingly act. Not one to take a network note in stride, JMS called Lyta back into action the minute Talia was written out.
    • This is the reason why WB hasn't done anything with B5. Warner Bros. TV themselves weren't responsible for B5: WBTV's first-run syndication division was, and they were denied the credit (and the profits); the execs are apparently still bitter about it.
  • Fake Nationality: The Irish-American Jerry Doyle played the Italian-American Michael Garibaldi. He once quipped that he was "a Mick from Brooklyn playing a Wop from Mars." (He was canonically born in NYC but worked the Mars beat for many years.)
  • Fake Russian:
    • American actress Claudia Christian played the born-and-raised Russian Susan Ivanova. She barely has any accent beyond an occasional stilted speech pattern in early episodes. The In-Universe explanation is that she spent most of her life studying abroad so her mother could prevent the authorities from figuring that Susan was a latent telepath.
    • Beata Pozniak, who is Polish, plays Russian Consortium Senator Susanna Luchenko in "Rising Star". In an example of Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic, she used an authentic Russian accent, but viewers still complain that it sounds fake.
  • Fanwork Ban: There was a fanwork ban while the show was being broadcast, due to a notorious incident in which JMS was forced by Warner Bros. lawyers to prove that he had come up with the "A"-plot of the episode "Passing Through Gethsemane" before a fan had idly suggested on Usenet that such a thingnote  would be a cool idea.
  • Hostility on the Set:
    • JMS offered to put the show on hold for a year so O'Hare could get treatment, but O'Hare refused to be the reason why so many people would lose their jobs, as there was no guarantee the show would come back. The wrap-up with Sinclair was filmed after O'Hare got his condition back under control. Strangely for Garibaldi, he never crossed paths with his "old friend" in Season 3, instead communicating over a grainy video recording. This is because Doyle and O'Hare got into a fight beforehand: Doyle interpreted O'Hare's frequent outbursts and tendency to go off on strange tangents as prima-donna behavior, and often referred to him as "the whackjob" in public. When O'Hare left the series after season one, Doyle threatened to "kick the whackjob's ass" if they ever set foot in the same room again; true to his word, they never again appear onscreen together. Doyle gave an ultimatum saying he'd quit if O'Hare remained on the show. Clearly, this ultimatum was still in effect for season 3, which is why Doyle doesn't share any screen time with him.
    • Christian and JMS had a falling-out after she opted not to return for Season 5. Christian claimed he hit on her and she turned down his advances; Joe alleged that she was leveraging the future of the series for higher pay, which he alludes to in a Lower-Deck Episode when one character speculates out-loud that Ivanova quit over a salary dispute. It got ugly and played out in real-time on the internet, with both parties talking past other, rallying fanboys to their side, and pitting them against one another. Transcripts of the feud are available online.
  • Line to God: JMS was a frequent poster on the Usenet group during the show's run, and would often answer questions about the B5 'verse posted to Numerous comments have long since been collected and preserved on the Lurker's Guide fan site, in the "jms speaks" sections under each episode's entry on the episode list.
  • Network Red-Headed Stepchild: Thanks to the PTEN block's quick disintegration and the fact that Warner Bros. higher-ups resented the show (because it was developed outside of WB and the first-run syndication people took charge of it, not the network division, meaning they couldn't take the credit for the show's success; they also would delay renewing the show until the last possible moment, costing the staff time), the show quickly became this after it ended; WBTV execs prevented JMS from doing anything with the property and did not rerun it...until around 2020-21, after the shakeups at WarnerMedia; this seemed to have cleared the way for not only the show being added to HBO Max, but a reboot with JMS at the helm being announced for The CW.
  • No Budget:
    • Filming took place in a disused recycling plant and hot tub factory. Tallman admits it was kind of funny going back-and-forth from the glamorous Paramount Studios (where Trek is filmed) to the recycling plant. (But she can't help adding that some anonymous Paramount exec whispered to her, "I really like Babylon 5" before darting off.)
    • A British computing magazine did an extensive article on Babylon 5 and its use of Amiga/Video Toaster systems and Lightwave to generate the effects. The tagline for the article was "Star Wars effects on a Doctor Who Budget" (The article in question pre-dates the Doctor Who reboot; at the time everyone thought of Doctor Who as that show with the "rubber monsters" and "wobbly sets.") The Earthforce ships hold up okay (even if they look a little too spotless). And the CGI allows fighter craft to pull off 'realistic' combat manuvers, such as pivoting on their axis to shoot at pursuers, as well as long-range battles between cruisers.
    • JMS hired a set designer with a theatre background to make the sets inexpensive and reusable. It mostly worked, save for a few obvious budget-crunch oddities like reusing the Centauri throne room set for scenes on the Narn home world. Later TV movies didn’t fare as well.
    • The Lost Tales. Most of the episode is green-screened, and what few actual sets they use are barely-serviceable walls. Sheridan's half opens in the middle of a black void occupied only with a pair of chairs because the Minbari are "minimalists." Sure.
  • On-Set Injury:
    • Claudia Christian (Ivanova) broke her ankle during "The Geometry of Shadows" but, thanks to a hasty rewrite (Susan getting trampled by the Drazi), was able to work through it. Though she might have wished she hadn't, since filming the 'injury' scene aggravated her real-life injury, generating such a blood-curdling scream that it was rumored she actually broke her ankle on-camera.
    • Jerry Doyle broke his arm for real during the filming of "Severed Dreams". Unfortunately the scene showing him with a broken ankle was filmed BEFORE the accident and later episodes ignored the broken ankle and show Garibaldi with an arm cast, explaining that this was the injury sustained in the fight.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • Delenn's mentor, Draal, is played by Louis Turenne in the two-parter "A Time in the Wilderness". In all of his subsequent appearances, he is played by the hammy John Schuck. This is Hand Waved by explaining that Draal has age-regressed as a result of being linked to the Great Machine.
    • Apparently they had a terrible time keeping actresses around to play G'Kar's aide. His first one, Ko'Dath, disappears under mysterious circumstances because Mary Woronov had trouble with the makeup and prosthetics. The same problem drove away the original Na'Toth actress, Susan Kellerman. Julie Caitlin Brown powered through the entire first season before she, too, succumbed to makeup problems and quit. Her role was given to Mary Kay Adams, who was not up to the task at all. Finally, Na'Toth was written out of the story altogether: the character is presumed dead during the Narn-Centauri war, and later found by Londo and G'Kar in a prison cell on Centauri Prime in Season 5. For this appearance, she was once again played by Julie Caitlin Brown.

  • The Pete Best:
    • Michael O'Hare began to suffer from severe paranoid schizophrenia during season 1 and replaced with Bruce Boxleitner in Season Two, though he did make guest-appearances in Season 3 to close out his story.
    • Lt. Cmr. Laurel Takashima in The Gathering. For whatever reason, Tamlyn Tomita didn't like the direction the series was heading in,note  and left the show before the Season One premiere.
      1. According to JMS, he'd meant to strike up a romance between Takashima and Sinclair, and promptly replaced her with Catherine Sakai.
      2. Ivanova (who never appears or is mentioned in the pilot movie) replaced her as first officer, making this a twofer. She even inherited Lauren's illicit coffee planter in Hydroponics.
      3. Make that three: Takashima was going to be outed as "Control" (Talia), the sleeper agent planted by Psi Corps. Crazy to think that 3 characters were originally funneled into one.
      4. Make that four: Takashima, under the influence of "Control", was originally supposed to shoot Garibaldi in the back instead of his top lieutenant.
  • Playing Against Type:
  • Post-Script Season: The show was originally plotted to have a five-season arc. When PTEN finally disintegrated and the show was not renewed for a fifth season, the fourth season was reworked to finish the arc. The show was subsequently granted a fifth season by TNT, but with almost all of its major plot threads resolved. To add to the problem, JMS’ original notes for season five were lost while he was attending a convention. The fifth season which resulted was noticeably boring and was composed partly of scripts that had been cut from earlier seasons for various reasons.
  • The Production Curse: Fans have been saddened and spooked by the number of actors and crew in the show who have died relatively young.
    JMS: It is another loss in a string of losses that I cannot understand. Of the main cast, we have lost Richard Biggs, Michael O'Hare, Andreas Katsulas, Jeff Conaway, and now Jerry Doyle, and I'm goddamned tired of it. So dear sweet universe, if you are paying attention in the vastness of interstellar space, take a moment from plotting the trajectory of comets and designing new DNA in farflung cosmos, and spare a thought for those who you have plucked so untimely from our ranks... and knock it off for a while. Because this isn't fair.
    • Richard Biggs (Dr. Stephen Franklin) died of a ruptured aorta in 2004 at a mere 44 years old.
    • Tim Choate (Zathras) died in a motorcycle accident later in 2004 aged 49.
    • Andreas Katsulas (G'Kar) died of lung cancer in 2006 aged 59.
    • Jeff Conaway (Zack Allan) died from drug-abuse-related illnesses in 2011 aged 60.
    • Michael O'Hare (Jeffrey Sinclair) died from a heart attack in 2012 aged 60. It was subsequently revealed, via pre-arrangement with him about what would happen on his death, that he had developed schizophrenia during the making of his season of the show and struggled with it for the rest of his life.
    • Jerry Doyle (Michael Garibaldi) died from an alcoholism-related heart attack in 2016 aged 60.
    • Stephen Furst (Vir Kotto) died from diabetes complications in 2017 aged 63.
    • Larry DiTillio (writer & executive story editor) died from Parkinson's Disease in 2019 aged 71.
    • Mira Furlan (Delenn) died from complications from West Nile virus in 2021 aged 65.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Jeff Conaway was a big supporter of the show pretty much from Day 1. According to other sources, Conaway had seen the show on TV and liked it so much that he started hanging around the set to watch it bring filmed. Tracy Scoggins (Lochley) is a science fiction geek and had been watching the show from the start.
  • Prop Recycling: In "Babylon Squared" and "War Without End", space suits from 2010: The Year We Make Contact were used. They changed their appearance as much as they could, but people still recognized them and some assumed it was meant as a Shout-Out.
  • Real-Life Relative: Anna Sheridan (played by Beth Toussaint) first appeared in a video to her sister-in-law, which was recorded prior to her disappearance. Toussaint wasn't available for the episode where Anna returns as a Shadow agent; Melissa Gilbert (Bruce Boxleitner's real-life spouse at the time) was cast in her place.
  • Romance on the Set: Jerry Doyle was married to actress Andrea Thompson (Talia Winters) during season one, but between Seasons One and Two, the couple went through an extremely bitter and acrimonious divorce. The set afterwards was something of a minefield.
  • Science Marches On: In "Believers", Doctor Franklin wants to perform a surgery to remove a blockage in the lung of a sick alien boy. His parents object to cutting him open because it's against their religion. This probably would have kept the kid's parents from killing him afterwards due to their belief that the soul leaves the body if it is cut open. The operation Franklin performs on the child can now be done non-invasively, requiring no cutting of the body at all beyond hacking up the blockage to facilitate removal via an endoscope. Endoscopic surgery was commonplace in the 1990's when the show first aired. If anything, Franklin should have even more advanced techniques to work with, but then his whole arc would unravel; it sets up a major plot point for two later episodes, both involving this same species (who managed to develop interstellar travel but somehow neglected medicine).
  • Screwed by the Network: Par for the course for a '90s syndicated show, as local stations could (and did) pre-empt it. Christian joked that her friends assumed she was bullshitting when she claimed she was a TV regular, since Babylon 5 was often pre-empted by Clippers games in the Los Angeles area. Per JMS, the reason why no network reruns the show anymore (and why JMS hasn't been able to do anything B5 related in recent years) is due to unnamed executives at Warner Bros. Television nursing a grudge against him and the property for costing them money. (See Trivia/Crusade.)
  • Scully Box: JMS is a tall man, and by his own admission mostly cast tall actors. One exception: Walter Koenig (5′ 6″), who played Bester. In most scenes where he is shown arguing with the Babylon 5 personnel, the other actors remain seated in order to avoid looming over him in the shot.
  • Short Run in Peru: Babylon 5 aired in the US amid the then-usual reruns. What was not usual was that PTEN, Babylon 5's distribution network, typically held back the last four to five episodes of each season until the next season was ready to air. This meant season-ending story arcs intended to keep viewers intrigued over a hiatus between seasons never lined up with the hiatus. Channel Four in the UK ignored all this and showed each season in weekly order, meaning the UK saw the last four or five episodes of each season weeks or months before the US airing.
  • Sleeper Hit: Despite its cult following, the series was not seen in reruns after it left the airwaves. It has found a new audience on Amazon Prime Video and with airings on Sinclair Broadcasting's Comet digital subchannel.
  • Spin-Off Cookbook: Dining on Babylon 5 by Stephen C. Smith. It actually appeared in the series. It's compiled by the owner of B5's Fresh Air Restaurant and with contributions from all the main station personnel (with a note explaining the alien recipes have been adjusted to suit human biology).
  • Spoiled by the Cast List: "A Tragedy of Telepaths" suffered from this. Julie Caitlin Brown's name appears in the guest cast list, spoiling the episode's revelation that her presumed-dead-for-two-seasons character Na'Toth is still alive. A downplayed example, though, as she'd already reappeared in an earlier episode ("There the Honor Lies") playing a totally different character (a human at that, meaning it was highly unlikely anyone would be able to recognise her from having seen her before through the heavy Narn prosthetics) so most viewers would assume it was happening again.
  • Technology Marches On:
    • The thick digital tablets used by the station personnel might have looked futuristic the mid-90's when the show was produced. Also, the snowy static shown on a monitor whenever a camera is shot out is jarring if you are used to modern devices that simply switch to a blank black or blue screen when the signal is lost.
    • Then there are the computer interfaces. The buttons look like colorful candy, and the interfaces look like a children's computer game from the 80's.
    • Data Crystals - small clear crystals about the size of a USB flashdrive, are the data storage medium of choice in the setting. One of the technical manuals states that they have a storage capacity of 50 gigabytes, which certainly seemed like a lot in the mid 90's, especially for something so small. 20 years later, and there are USB drives commercially available in excess of 250 Gb.
  • Throw It In:
    • The Centauri hairstyle was a practical joke by Peter Jurasik. His wig hadn't been trimmed yet, so he turned it upside-down and strode into the showrunner's office. JMS went along with it because he wanted the actors to feel like he valued their input; by the time the situation became clear it was too late to go back. It did end up making the Centauri visibly-different from humans.
    • Christian and Thompson were jokingly making out on-set one day, and Joe spotted them and wrote it into the show. You never know when the muse will strike.
      Thompson: And Joe always said it was about embracing his inner teenager, as well.
      Christian: [deflated] So, all of that politically correct, diplomatic shit I was talkin' about, you can just forget about that.
    • Zack's complaints about his ill-fitting uniform were inspired by Jeff Conaway, who was unaware that JMS overheard him griping about the costumes. He was stunned to see his verbatim comments in the script.
    • Conaway wasn't the only one. Jerry Doyle was never an actor: He went to school for aerospace engineering, worked as a corporate jet pilot, and then changed careers to become a stockbroker. Garibaldi was Jerry Doyle, so he's not actually acting. He was just playing himself.
      JMS: Politically, Jerry was just to the right of Attila the Hun. There is a line in Babylon 5 where his character, Michael Garibaldi, suggests that the way to deal with crime is to go from electric chairs to electric bleachers. That line is quintessential Jerry Doyle. I say this with confidence because I overheard him saying it at lunch then stole it for the show.
    • JMS was firmly against ad-libbed lines, since he was cagey about people potentially screwing-up his Myth Arc. In the few cases where he allowed it, he had serious, one-on-one talks with the actor involved—such as when Bill Mumy hummed a mantra which turned out to be the title of the album his band made.
    • One case is "The Fall of Night", the Season 2 finale. The Neville Chamberlain-quoting Earth Ambassador tells Ivanova that his pen was a gift from his wife. Then he smooches the pen. JMS states in that episode's commentary that when he asked the actor (Roy Dotrice OBE) why he did that, the response was, "Well, my wife isn't here, so I can't kiss her, so I kiss the pen instead."
      JMS: [chuckling mirthlessly] Ah, actors. Someday they'll all be replaced with CG. I'm kidding. No I'm not. Yes I am.
    • One very notable ad-lib which got kept: in the broken elevator scene in the episode "Convictions", G'kar was supposed to sound grim and unyielding as he refuses to help Londo escape, even at the cost of his own life. G'Kar's actor, Andreas Katsulas, embraced the irony of the situation and began giggling maniacally. After the take, JMS realized it one of the funniest moments of the show so far.
  • Troubled Production: Troubled Pre-Production in this case. JMS' account of how he pitched the show involves a cracked tooth, the last-minute change to start using CGI, and Paramount announcing Deep Space Nine (and a TNG writer's intern — JMS' then-wife, no less — having to recuse herself because of her connection to B5).
  • Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things:
    • The creators of B5 are very tight with the fandom, but the relationship is double-edged. Scoggins used to scan the B5 forums and "cry every night" at the anti-Lochley jihad.
    • After O'Hare left the show under the cloud, one unfortunate rumor floated around the internet. Supposedly, the "real" reason was not because Michael O'Hare was sick, but because "he has a bad cocaine habit" and therefore "never has any money." Apparently JMS supported this particular abuse by raising money to help him out!
  • The Wiki Rule: The Babylon 5 Wiki.
  • Word of Gay:
    • Susan/Talia is not mentioned here because it's unambiguous, but fans sensed sexual tension between Lochley and the ghost of her druggie friend in "Day of the Dead". Writer Neil Gaiman confirmed that it's intentional and that Lochley is bisexual.
    • JMS said he made a point to have pairs of background extras occasionally act like gay couples. His thinking was that homosexuality is common practice at the time due to First Contact with aliens making anything humans do seem more mundane.
  • Word of Saint Paul: JMS once asked actor Wortham Krimmer to tone down Emperor Cartagia's fey behavior, to which Krimmer responded, "Well, Joe, he's bisexual, don't you know?" JMS gave an oh really sort of reply, and Krimmer shot back, "Absolutely. He's the emperor. He can fuck anyone he wants."
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants:
    • The reason why the end of season 4 seems so crowded, and the beginning of season 5 seems mostly composed of filler, is because the show was about to be Cut Short due to PTEN going under. Season 4 was planned to end with the episode "Intersections in Real Time", and the Earth Civil War would be resolved at the beginning of season 5. Instead, the events of season 4 were shortened by four episodes (removing a story arc about Londo and G'Kar returning to Centauri Prime), and the resolution to the Earth Civil War was crammed into three super-dense episodes. Then, at the last-minute, the show was picked up by cable giant TNT (who would soon regret the purchase). By now they'd already used up half a season's worth of material. They filled the gap by stretching the "telepath-colony" arc and re-inserting the aforementioned Londo/G'Kar plot, as well as including standalone filler episodes, ranging from the yawner "A View from the Gallery" to the Cerebus Rollercoaster which is Neil Gaiman's "Day Of The Dead". A new standalone season 4 finale was also hastily-shot; the intended series finale "Sleeping in Light" was held back 'til the end of season 5.
    • In the Babylon 5 script books, JMS states that he had Season Five neatly-plotted out... and then the only copy of his notes were stolen while at a con. His failed attempts to recover them resulted in the contentious "Telepath Colony" arc, which was supposed to last three episodes but wound up being eleven. JMS had other plans for S5, but those notes went missing (again) in a hotel room. Compounding the problem was Christian, the only cast member whom JMS couldn't re-sign; the departure of Ivanova and the introduction of her replacement Lochley caused additional strain on the season.
    • The only positive to come out of the chaos is that JMS decided at the end of S4 that there was no way he could squash the end of Londo's story in there; this meant it was still available to play out during Season 5, resulting in the second half being better-received than the first.
  • Written-In Infirmity:
    • Michael O'Hare apparently had Bechterew's disease, along with visible signs if you recognize those. His vertebrae had already begun to fuse by the time he was on B5; that's why he was on loads of painkillers and sleeping pills. He also suffered from asthma. He had to give up tons of roles because of his poor health. There were other rumors swirling around about drugs or network pressure to hire a more marketable lead, and Jerry Doyle spoke out about the guy in the past. If you ignored Doyle's usual reactionary sentiment, it was clear that O'Hare was suffering from something. His mental health decline forced him to resign as the show's lead, which meant that he had to be replaced. (There was never supposed to be a Sheridan at all.) "War Without End" was filmed when O'Hare got into a good enough state to come back for filming. He was on very strong meds, and the side effects showed. His physical and mental state declined further. By 1998, the year when B5 was originally planned to end, he was in a very poor state; the treatments were never entirely successful. There are convention videos from after he left. He had visible tardive dyskinesia by '96; by '98, he must have been on different meds, likely to get rid of the TD, because he gained plenty of weight. By '99, he looked about 70 years old, and was not even 50.
    • Had O'Hare stayed, the "War without End" storyline would occured at the end of Season 5 and had a much-slower burn. Moving the resolution to Season 3 caused an unfortunate plot hole: for the remaining two seasons-and-change, the time-travelling Sheridan knows first-hand that a cataclysmic fate awaits Centauri Prime and does sweet f*ck-all to prevent it, which makes him look like a nitwit at times. This urgent news concerning the future of his fragile Intersteller Alliance (which Sheridan came back from the dead to co-found) just conveniently slips his mind, without even a token explanation like Temporal Sickness.
    • Christian broke her ankle between shoots and phoned the studio to inform them. She was certain that her character was going to be written out. Instead, JMS simply wrote her accident into the script and production continued.
    • Jerry Doyle suffered a broken wrist during the filming of the battle sequence in "Severed Dreams". The very-visible effects were explained by the character sustaining the same injury.
  • You Look Familiar:
    • Wayne Alexander is a recurring actor on B5, usually playing characters behind heavy makeup (like Lorien). He went sans fards for his best-remembered role: the Inquisitor a.k.a. Sebastian a.k.a. Jack the Ripper.
    • Robin Atkin Downes played Byron Gordon in season 5 and Morann, a Minbari, in In the Beginning.
    • Caitlin Brown made a return appearance as Corey, the human lawyer assigned to represent Sheridan in a murder case ("There the Honor Lies"). Na'toth appeared one last time in Season 5's "A Tragedy of Telepaths".
    • Carrie Dobro appeared as Harrison (a doctor in "Exogenenis") and a Brakiri (in "Racing Mars") before netting the role of Dureena in A Call to Arms/Crusade.
    • Ed Wasser is best known for playing the Shadows' Mouth of Sauron, Mr. Morden. In the pre-series pilot movie "The Gathering", he has a bit part as an operations staffer named "Guerra". Neither role involved any makeup, so they looked identical, leading to some fan speculation about Morden making an Early-Bird Cameo as a undercover spy. (This was disproved.)
    • John Vickery played two recurring characters: the Warrior-Caste Minbari/Grey Council member Neroon, and Clark propagandist Mr. Welles. Though Minbari makeup was used for the former, his facial structure and voice is very distinctive.
    • Turhan Bey played two nice elderly gentlemen, Emperor Turhan and Turval.

Babylon 5 is the Trope Namer for:



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