What order should the Babylon 5 movies and series be watched in?

  • Can someone tell me what order should the Babylon 5 movies be watched, so as to get the best out of them as a whole while watching the series?

    I know that release date isn't the best way to do this as they sometimes have to release movies earlier than they'd like to fit in with channel scheduling etc.

    Like mentioned below, it is not enough just to put the movies in the right place, some episodes really should be moved around for the optimum experience.

  • NominSim

    NominSim Correct answer

    9 years ago

    Suggested chronological viewing order of Babylon 5 From the episode list at The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5

    That list provides the chronological order of the storyline for the episodes as well as the movies, as indicated by JMS. (Some episodes vary slightly with the release dates and the chronological ordering intended)

    "If you want to watch everything chronologically" is there another suggested way of watching them (besides release date)? or is chronologically the way to go?

    I would submit that watching _In the Beginning_ before the series acts as a bit of a spoiler. The way the series was written, they give you bits and pieces of background story slowly. There's something to be said for leaving a bit of mystery while watching the start of the series. Watching _In the Beginning_ after season 4 fills in the backstories without spoiling major plot points.

    @NorbyTheGeek I agree watching In the Beginning may be best after season 4

    @AidanO Norby made a good point, that In the Beginning is probably best saved for after season 4, other than that though the episodes/movies are written as a progressive story line, so watching in chronological order seems to preserve the feel the best.

    @NorbyTheGeek. Good stuff, if you want to adjust your answer to reflect the "In the beginning" comments, I'll accept it.

    @AidanO Changed to reflect the comments

    @NominSim - Have taken the liberty of turning your answer into a diagram, as I have with a few other answers like this. Please revert if need be, or ask me for any changes and I'll ba happy to make them (or you can copy the Google document and play with it yourself). The original document is here.

    @neilfein Nicely done :)

    @neilfein Thanks, looks good to me. :)

    Great chart! You need to add the novels as well as they wrap up some of the story lines very well (eg. Londo, techno-mages).

    @SimonO'Doherty - This question is about the TV episodes and films, but point me at a question about the novels and I'll happily diagram the answer.

    NO WAY. "In the Beginning" must be watched (right) after S5, not a bit earlier.

    Would be nice to include the crusade episodes chronological order from http://scifi.stackexchange.com/a/31601/9104

    Personally, I never got the confusion with "In The Beginning". It is set far in the future, and therefore needs to be watched near the end, I don't care that it contains lots of backstory that pre-dates B5, it is set long after.

    An answer by @scott-taylor below suggests to order the ending thusly: 1. s05e19 2. Legend of the Rangers 3. s05e20 4. River of Souls 5. s05e21 6. s05e22 Aside from complicating the diagram :) does anyone have thoughts on that ordering?

    -1: where does it say this is the order indicated by JMS? It only says that he gave s1 and s2 orders his blessing. In my opinion, and other commenters above concur, you shouldn't watch "In The Beginning" at the beginning. This would spoil a lot of stuff.

    I finished watching The Legend of the Rangers last night. I was getting ready to watch Sleeping In Light (the rest of season 5), when I noticed on the Wikipedia page for Legend of the Rangers that Sleeping in Light occurs in 2281, after *everything else*. Why should we watch Sleeping in Light before A Call to Arms or Crusade?

    Yeah, @DCShannon I'm pretty sure "A Call to Arms" and "Legend on the Rangers" are mixed up in this graphic.

  • This is too big for a comment, so I'm posting it as another answer:

    If you plan on watching the Crusade spinoff, don't watch it in airdate order. I strongly, strongly suggest chronological order - it resolves most of the inconsistencies TNT created when they started interfering with the series, and the character development makes a hell of a lot more sense:

    • 1x01 - War Zone
    • 1x02 - The Long Road
    • 1x06 - Ruling from the Tomb
    • 1x08 - Appearances and Other Deceits
    • 1x10 - The Memory of War
    • 1x11 - The Needs of Earth
    • 1x09 - Racing the Night
    • 1x12 - Visitors from Down the Street
    • 1x13 - Each Night I Dream of Home
    • 1x04 - The Path of Sorrows
    • 1x05 - Patterns of the Soul
    • 1x03 - The Well of Forever
    • 1x07 - The Rules of the Game

    Basically, 5 episodes of Crusade were produced with minimal meddling. Then filming went on hiatus while the budget was increased and better sets/etc were made - and TNT's meddling went crazy.

    For example, episodes numbered 1x09 - 1x13 use the original, low-budget uniforms. After the budget was increased, TNT mandated that the high-budget new uniforms be aired first - so they became episodes 1x01 - 1x08. Appearances and Other Deceits had an in-universe designer create the old uniforms as a new design, then one of the unfilmed episodes would have a laundry accident that "returned" them to the new, high-budget uniforms seen in the others. Since that episode was never filmed, we can imagine it happens between Each Night I Dream of Home and The Path of Sorrows, when the chronological ordering switches the uniforms back.

    Other much more spoilery advantages to this order include:

    • The nanotech shield. In airdate order, it was used before Dr. Chambers invents it. In this order, it makes sense.
    • The Apocalypse Box's warning about Galen (in The Memory of War) foreshadows a small distrust between Gideon and Galen that grows throughout the episodes (when in this order), all the way through The Well of Forever. Word of God is that it would have gotten far worse through the remainder of the season.
    • Gideon and Lochley's familiarity with each other.

    Among others.

    (To be perfectly honest, I almost suggest skipping Crusade altogether. Episode 1x14 was planned to be its version of Signs and Portents, launching the true storyline of the series... So what did manage to get filmed largely feels like a teaser to something that will never happen. Very frustrating.)

    Just to let you know, you have linked Wikipedia from here, but the Wikipedia version of "chronological order" differs from yours in a couple of places. But I think yours is more correct because it puts "Ruling from the Tomb" before "Each Night I Dream Of Home" which is clearly correct due to the Lochley/Gideon interactions. Wikipedia has them the other way around, which would make no sense to someone watching for the first time. (The only other difference is that "Needs" and "Memory" are swapped in Wikipedia's version compared to yours, but I'm not sure that makes a huge amount of difference.)

    @Kidburla Hm, it's changed since I made the links... The hash-part of the URL no longer exists on the page.

    @Kidburla Y'know what, here's a link to the Wikipedia page from when I posted this answer&oldid=536150608#Completed_episodes) - it has at least one major difference from all other versions I can find online from a quick search, including from later in 2013 to now on that same page: _Ruling from the Tomb_ is #3 in that list (and this answer), and seemingly not #3 on any other list across the internet. Later I'll try to remember to go through them and find an explanation.

    the edit you are looking for is here&diff=559259082&oldid=559256554) where the order was changed to move the position of "Ruling From The Tomb". The edit was made by Wikipedia user B5historyman who claims in this talk page section#Episode_order) to be Terry Jones, a writer who wrote the official version of the B5 chronology signed off by jms. However I still disagree with him as I'm sure you do.

    Furthermore, Terry Jones also claims that the reason for this discrepancy is that the lines in ENIDOH were overdubbed to make it fit in with the TNT sequence (see last comment on the talk page section linked above). However, this is not a valid explanation because even if Lochley/Gideon had been meant to meet for the first time in ENIDOH, it still doesn't explain why they don't appear to know each other in "Ruling".

    Finally, on Terry's talk page he says he's never found a problem with the running order and that the continuity is based on a date on the podium stand of June 15th 2267. However maybe he's never watched the final episodes as his "order" makes no sense, and as a commenter on his talk page points out, it's much "*easier to ignore the banner date than to believe that Lochley and Gideon's memories of each other work backwards*".

  • Best movie order is as follows:

    1. Watch "The Gathering" pilot movie
    2. Watch all of Seasons 1, 2 and 3.
    3. Watch Season 4 up to Episode 8
    4. Watch B5 Movie "Thirdspace"
    5. Watch Season 4 Episode 9 with Delenn as she goes into the dreaming. This is good background material for the next movie
    6. Watch "In The Beginning" immediately after Season 4 Episode 9 and before Episode 10. This is the best time to watch the movie as you don't get spoilers and it ties in really well with episode 9 in Season 4.
    7. Watch the rest of Season 4
    8. Watch Season 5 right up to the episode BEFORE "Objects In Motion"
    9. Watch "Legend Of the Rangers" A lot of people slag this movie, but for G'Kar alone it is worth watching and infinitely better than Star Trek V.
    10. Watch "A Call To Arms" which sets up the spin off show Crusade.
    11. Watch the 13 episode series Crusade next.
    12. Watch "The Lost Tales" the 2007 I think it was, direct to DVD movie.
    13. Watch the Season 5 episode "Objects in Motion".
    14. Watch the movie "River of Souls" as this takes place in the year 2263 between "Objects in Motion" and "Objects at Rest" in Season 5 and makes the most sense to watch here.
    15. Watch "Objects at Rest" and the grande finale "Sleeping In Light" Watching these 2 episodes back to back has the best emotional impact.

    Mo matter what "Sleeping In Light" should be watched absolutely LAST.

    [Apologies; apparently comments aren't formatted] I'm very curious if you could you share any (spoiler-free, obviously) reasons why you think the ending ordering you suggested of: 1. s05e19 2. Legend of the Rangers 3. s05e20 4. River of Souls 5. s05e21 6. s05e22 Is better than the accepted answer's: 1. s05e19 2. s05e20 3. s05e21 4. River of Souls 5. Legend of the Rangers 6. s05e22

    What has you say that "River of Souls" is after "Objects in Motion" and before "Objects at Rest"? I just watched both of them, and thought they were subsequent days, with only a matter of hours between.

  • Just a LITTLE correction to the answers above...

    In "Thirdspace", Zack is seen fully wearing and sporting an alternative B5 uniform just like Sheridan and the rest. This, however, is not a formally accepted fact until S4 E09 (the beginning scene).

    I would thus respectfully suggest that for the sake of consistency that instead of watching "Thirdspace" after S4 E08 to instead watch it after S4 E09.

    I know, trivial detail but...

    If we start excluding trivial details, I don't think the site will be long for this world.

    The Lurker's Guide makes a good argument that Zack wasn't receiving his uniform in that scene, he was getting it refitted after the fistfights in _Thirdspace_. Otherwise the entire movie would take place between scenes in 4x09.

  • Personally I think you should follow the release order as much as possible, with only a few modifications. Following the release order means you will get the same experience as people watching the show at the time of release. When creating a new episode/film, the creators largely catered towards audiences who had already watched everything released up to that point, and so you should be on fairly safe ground.

    The exceptions I think should be made are:

    • The film "Thirdspace". It was the first produced movie, although the second to be released. Though it was released during season 5, it's set during season 4 and doesn't contain any spoilers for later-released episodes. It's kind of weird to watch it and go back to that time it was set after so much has happened in between.
    • The series finale episode, "Sleeping In Light". This was intended as an overall finale to the franchise as a whole (the fact that they moved this episode from the end of season 4 to the end of season 5 when a fifth season was ordered attests to this) and therefore should be watched last. It's also set in the year 2281, which is later than any other episode or film (except for segments of the season 4 finale). It's intended to provide finality.
    • The episodes in the series "Crusade". Here the network messed with the episode order and so to watch it in release order would not be in keeping with the creators' wishes.

    In summary, I think the following order should be used:

    1. Watch the pilot film "The Gathering"
    2. Watch the whole of seasons 1, 2 and 3
    3. Watch season 4 episodes 1-8
    4. Watch the film "Thirdspace"
    5. Watch season 4 episodes 9-22
    6. Watch the film "In The Beginning"
    7. Watch season 5 episodes 1-21
    8. Watch the film "River Of Souls"
    9. Watch the film "A Call To Arms"
    10. Watch the episodes of "Crusade" in the order suggested by user Izkata in his answer
    11. Watch the film "The Legend Of The Rangers: To Live And Die In Starlight"
    12. Watch the film "The Lost Tales: Voices In The Dark"
    13. Watch season 5 episode 22 ("Sleeping In Light")

    I understand why other posters have shuffled around "Objects In Motion" and "Objects At Rest" towards the end also as these are "goodbye" episodes. However, they also naturally follow from the earlier episodes in season 5 and wrap up the storyline in 2262 (the year when the majority of season 5 is set) which is before all of the later-released films. The same cannot be said for "Sleeping In Light" which is set much later. So I think "Objects In Motion" and "Objects At Rest" should really be watched immediately after watching the main part of season 5.

  • As Ruben said, Zack doesn't get his alternative B5 uniform till 'S4E9 - Atonement' so Thirdspace should slot in after that.

    Also, If you're trying to be as chronologically accurate as possible (Though I do agree that 'In the Beginning' should be saved till late in S4 to avoid spoilers) you should save 'S5E22 - Sleeping in Light' till after all of the films and episodes as it takes place much later chronologically.


    I'm actually doing a re-watch of B5 right now and I realised that theoretically Thirdspace has to slot in later than I previously thought.

    Most people say between E8 & E9 but as stated above, because of Zack's uniform it can't be before E9. However, after watching through a bit more I realised that Dr Franklin is away from B5 from E9 through E12 and only gets back on station in E13. So though it's later on in the season, assuming Zack's uniform wasn't just a continuity error, Thirdspace should slot in somewhere after E13 - 'Conflicts of Interest' but before the campaign to remove Clarke.

    The Lurker's Guide makes a good argument that Zack wasn't receiving his uniform in that scene, he was getting it refitted after the fistfights in _Thirdspace_. Otherwise the entire movie would take place between scenes in 4x09.

  • I'm watching based on the printed list and not the graphic (the graphic is wrong on several key points).

    A call To Arms is happening 6 years after the Shadow War, so it would be 2267. It should be one of the last movies watched.

    The Legend of the Rangers talks about the Anniversary of the Alliance. There is also another problem in that the ship they're on lost it's crew 20 years prior, and there were Human Rangers on board. This totally messes with the Timeline, and G'kar should be dead by this time. Horrible continuity besides being a very cheesy show. I had remembered it being kind of good until watching it again last night and lost it when watching the weapons officer doing the 30 second scream while shadow boxing in VR. It's bad.

    For the sake of continuity it should be considered "alternate universe" since none of the rangers act ranger-like.

    My take right now would be watching season 5 until Objects at rest. Watch River of Souls, A Call To Arms, Crusade, Lost Tales, and then the final episode. After all that, then Legend of the Rangers, despite how bad it is.

  • You can do no harm to yourself starting with "In The Beginning." Aside from the obviously harmless title, the movie was made to introduce new viewers to the show when it was picked up by TNT at the beginning of the fifth season. TNT showed seasons 1-4 in progression once a day for five days a week, with a new fifth season episode at a different time slot once a week. There are thousands of people who watched the show, enjoyed it, and became hooked by it while watching it in this nonlinear fashion, including yours truly.

    Rather than be spoiled by something, you will have an even greater insight into the genius of Babylon 5 storytelling. It's the belief that one viewing order is better than another that may spoil the show!

    Also don't forget about the novels, several of which are considered canon, especially The Shadow Within and To Dream in the City of Sorrows, which are seamlessly interwoven with the show. Please feel free to pick them up and put them down as you feel to achieve their maximum effect!

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM