Babylon 5 viewing order
Babylon 5 is a classic of science fiction television, and in many ways of television as a whole. This page is here for my own reference when I re-watch it (once every few years).
Shown in the first half of the 1990s it suffered from poor acting and slow storylines for the first season. From the second season onwards this generally picked up but, with some notable exceptions, the performances never really peaked.
The effects were, at the time, very good. When other such shows were using models, the Babylon 5 team were using early CGI. These days, however, the early seasons especially look a little embarrassing.
So, given all that, why do I call it a classic?
- The storyline had a clear five-year arc, full of depth, emotion, and action
- despite 110 episodes, all bar a handful had the same writer (continuity!)
- There is a consistent and multifaceted thread that runs through all the seasons
- It is character driven - the plot exists to move the characters; they are the crux
- People (and aliens) change, grow, adapt, have insights, revelations, and breakdowns
- The terrible toll of decisions is made clear, and characters suffer real consequences
- The pre-planned arc leads to events in the final season being foreshadowed in the first
- There are hints, clues, and inconsequential moments, whose impact is felt years later
So, why a viewing order?
- The first season is notably harder to watch now than the others. There is stuff in there which is good, and it all deserves a visit at some point, but if your introduction to Babylon 5 is season 1 there's a good chance you'll never reach season 2.
- In addition to 110 episodes, there were 7 movies. Those movies take place at points in time that slot between series and episodes.
- There was a spin-off named Crusade that only lasted a single season. It's set in the same timeline but is not essential to Babylon 5 as a whole. If you want to watch it, though, there is a definite place in the sequence where it works best.
- Finally, Crusade episodes should not be watched in their natural order. For whatever reason, there will be inconsistencies and continuity issues.
Finally, the order
What I'm presenting here is an order for watching the whole of Babylon 5 series 1 to 5, the movies, and Crusade. This is based on my own opinion plus online fandom research.
In brief, it is a list of interspersed episodes, seasons, movies, and series. Use this order to get the most amount of consistency and the least amount of spoilers.
It also shows the more important episodes of season 1. You can skip the whole season if you want (catch it later), just watch the highlights, or do the whole thing. Just don't judge the rest of it by that first season. Starting at season 2 will not spoil things; in many ways season 1 exists to presage what follows in subsequent seasons. Personally I'd recommend using the list to watch the important episodes.
Click here to see the suggested Babylon 5 viewing order as an image. Right-click (or option-click) on the link to save the image or open it in a new window instead.
Start with Babylon 5
- The Gathering (pilot movie, may be skipped)
- Season 1 (see episode list below)
- Seasons 2, 3, 4 episodes 1 to 8
- Thirdspace (movie)
- Season 4 episodes 9+
- In the Beginning (movie)
- Season 5 episodes 1 to 21
- River of Souls (movie)
- A Call to Arms (movie)
Optionally watch Crusade in this order
- Episode 1, War Zone
- Episode 2, The Long Road
- Episode 6, Ruling from the Tomb
- Episode 8, Appearances and Other Deceits
- Episode 10, The Memory of War
- Episode 11, The Needs of Earth
- Episode 9, Racing the Night
- Episode 12, Visitors from Down the Street
- Episode 13, Each Night I Dream of Home
- Episode 4, The Path of Sorrows
- Episode 5, Patterns of the Soul
- Episode 3, The Well of Forever
- Episode 7, The Rules of the Game
Then return to Babylon 5
- Legend of the Rangers (movie)
- Lost Tales: Voices in the Dark (movie)
- Season 5 episode 22 (the finale)
Season 1 episodes
As said above, not all episodes are essential. Given that seasons 2 onwards are much improved, you may wish to get through season 1 with the minimal amount of viewing. Those in italics below are the ones you could skip with the least impact.
- Midnight on the Firing Line
- Soul Hunter
- Born to the Purple
- The Parliament of Dreams
- Mind War
- The War Prayer
- And The Sky Full Of Stars
- By Any Means Necessary
- Signs and Portents
- A Voice in the Wilderness part 1
- A Voice in the Wilderness part 2
- Babylon Squared
- The Quality of Mercy