Battlestar Galactica (BSG) is an American military science fiction television series, and part of the Battlestar Galactica franchise. The show was developed by Ronald D. Moore as a re-imagining of the 1978 Battlestar Galactica television series created by Glen A. Larson. The series first aired as a three-hour miniseries (comprising four broadcast hours) in December 2003 on the Sci-Fi Channel, and ran for four seasons thereafter, ending its run on March 20, 2009. The series features Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, and garnered a wide range of critical acclaim, which included a Peabody Award, the Television Critics Association’s Program of the Year Award, a placement inside Time‘s 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME, and Emmy nominations for its writing, directing, costume design, visual effects, sound mixing, and sound editing, with Emmy wins for both visual effects and sound editing.
The story arc of Battlestar Galactica is set in a distant star system, where a civilization of humans live on a series of planets known as the Twelve Colonies. In the past, the Colonies had been at war with a cybernetic race of their own creation, known as the Cylons. With the unwitting help of a human named Gaius Baltar, the Cylons launch a sudden sneak attack on the Colonies, laying waste to the planets and devastating their populations. Out of a population numbering in the billions, only approximately 50,000 humans survive, most of whom were aboard civilian ships that avoided destruction. Of all the Colonial Fleet, the eponymous Battlestar Galactica appears to be the only military capital ship that survived the attack. Under the leadership of Colonial Fleet officer Commander William “Bill” Adama (Olmos) and President Laura Roslin (McDonnell), the Galactica and its crew take up the task of leading the small fugitive fleet of survivors into space in search of a fabled refuge known as Earth.
It spawned the spin-off TV series Caprica, which aired for one season beginning in January 2010. Another spin-off, Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, is in production to air as a TV Series or web series.
Battlestar Galactica continued from the 2003 miniseries to chronicle the journey of the last surviving humans from the Twelve Colonies of Kobol after their nuclear annihilation by the Cylons. The survivors are led by President Laura Roslin and Commander William Adama in a ragtag fleet of ships with the Battlestar Galactica, an old but powerful warship, as its command ship. Pursued by Cylons intent on wiping out the remnants of the human race, the survivors travel across the galaxy looking for the fabled and long-lost “thirteenth” colony: Earth. Unlike most space opera series, Battlestar Galactica has no aliens (the antagonists are man-made Cylon robots), the primary armaments used by both military forces utilize bullets, rail guns, and missiles instead of lasers, and the series intentionally avoids technobabble. Instead, most of the stories deal with the apocalyptic fallout of the destruction of the Twelve Colonies upon the survivors, and the moral choices they must make as they deal with the decline of the human race and their war with the Cylons. Stories also portray the concept of perpetuated cycles of hate and violence driving the human-Cylon conflict, and religion with the implication of a “God” whose angelic agents intervene on behalf of the main characters (most notably Gaius Baltar).
Over the course of the show’s four seasons, the war between the Colonials and the Cylons takes many twists and turns. Despite the animosity on both sides, the Cylons and humans slowly turn away from their hatred of each other. Part of this is due to a growing schism within the humanoid Cylons, led by the disgruntled Cylon “Number One” named John Cavil. Cavil’s obsession with hiding the genesis of the remaining five humanoid Cylon models (who had been created by the “Final Five,” who themselves are Kobolian humanoid Cylons from Earth, who had their memories erased by Cavil) leads to a civil war among the Cylons, with a faction of the robot race forming an alliance with the humans. Other plotlines involve the mysterious destiny of Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, who is the subject of a prophecy involving her as the “Harbinger of Death” who will “lead humanity to its end,” as well as the redemption of Gaius Baltar through the Cylons’ monotheistic religion, after he becomes a pariah within the fleet (after being forced to collaborate with the Cylons).
In the final episodes, a resurrected Kara Thrace leads the surviving humans and Cylons to a new planet, which is revealed to be Earth, with the first colonists landing in Africa. Adama names their new home planet “Earth,” as a tribute to the “real” Earth of legend, which had been originally sought by the survivors. The original Earth was revealed to have been a different planet, one which had become an uninhabitable wasteland by a nuclear war waged by its Cylon creations thousands of years before. The new Earth is found to be inhabited by early humans, who are genetically compatible with the humans from the Galactica and the rest of the fleet, but who possess only the most rudimentary civilization. Human beings had apparently independently evolved on Earth and Kobol, the original home world of the humans who settled the Twelve Colonies.
The surviving humans and humanoid Cylons decide to live on the new planet; they discard all technology, destroying the fleet by flying it into the Sun. Kara Thrace disappears, because she was actually an angel sent back to help guide the colonists after her presumed death when her Viper exploded, and her mission is now complete. President Roslin succumbs to her cancer, and dies in Admiral Adama’s arms on a mountain top on the African continent. The surviving Cylon Centurions are given possession of the remaining Cylon Basestar, and proceed to jump away from Earth, never to be heard from again. In the final scenes, modern-day Earth humans are shown to be descendants of the Kobolian colonists, the Cylons who joined with the colonists, and the early humans.
At the end of the series finale, an angelic Baltar and Cylon Number Six (played by Tricia Helfer) are walking down a sidewalk in modern-day New York. They are unseen and unheard by the people around them. As the two walk, they notice technologically advanced robots, computers, and other cybernetic devices, and they talk about the technological advancements the humans have made since the Colonists and Humanoid Cylons first arrived to this Earth, over 150,000 years earlier. Baltar utters one of the on-going quotes from the series, “This has all happened before, and it will all happen again.”
The original humans on Kobol, over 150,000 years earlier, developed the first Cylons, which resulted in a war on that planet after the Cylon rebellion. After an armistice between the Kobolian Humans and Kobolian Cylons, the humans left (because Kobol was devastated by war) for what would become the Twelve Colonies. The Cylons left for what would be the original Earth, but it was destroyed in a civil war between humanoid cylons and robotic centurion cylons. This was the Earth the Galactica crew would discover, before moving on to our Earth in the series finale.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this television series: