89

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.

1
  • 1
    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.
    – Jonathon
    Apr 17 '14 at 18:44
88

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)

19
  • 19
    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. Jan 30 '12 at 15:12
  • 6
    @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. Aug 1 '12 at 22:29
  • 2
    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). Feb 6 '13 at 13:57
  • 2
    Would be nice to include the crusade episodes chronological order from scifi.stackexchange.com/a/31601/9104
    – Matthieu
    Nov 28 '13 at 2:42
  • 2
    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?
    – DCShannon
    Jul 16 '16 at 3:58
24

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.)

8
  • 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
    Mar 11 '18 at 22:08
  • @Kidburla Hm, it's changed since I made the links... The hash-part of the URL no longer exists on the page.
    – Izkata
    Mar 12 '18 at 12:58
  • @Kidburla Y'know what, here's a link to the Wikipedia page from when I posted this answer - 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.
    – Izkata
    Mar 12 '18 at 13:09
  • the edit you are looking for is here 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 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.
    – Kidburla
    Mar 14 '18 at 23:10
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    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".
    – Kidburla
    Mar 14 '18 at 23:17
18

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.

3
  • 3
    [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
    – nexus
    Aug 10 '14 at 15:16
  • 1
    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. Dec 2 '17 at 21:20
  • In Lost Tales, Lochley is Colonel. In River of Souls she's Captain. Makes absolutely no sense to watch that way O.o Mar 8 at 11:18
9

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...

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  • 10
    If we start excluding trivial details, I don't think the site will be long for this world. Feb 6 '13 at 12:36
  • 3
    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.
    – Izkata
    Feb 6 '13 at 13:08
4

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.

2

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.

EDIT:

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.

1
  • 1
    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.
    – Izkata
    Feb 6 '13 at 13:08
2

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.

2

Unfortunately the assigned episode numbers, release dates, and production numbers do not match the intended viewing order of the show's creator, J Michael Straczynski (JMS).

Intended Order

The Intended Order for all TV Episodes and Movies as listed below is the order that JMS intended the show to be viewed in for full dramatic impact. This viewing order was taken from JMS's interviews, notes, and discussions. This is not a chronological order of events, and not everything is meant to make sense at first as some episodes have flashbacks and visions of things. This order (including the very similar Lurker's Guide) is popular among devoted fans.

Source 1: https://babylon5.fandom.com/wiki/Viewing_Order

Source 2: http://www.b5tv.com/showthread.php?t=11675

Note: For the Crusade spin-off the Chronological Order option is listed below as it is enjoyable and popular among devoted fans without continuity issues or jarring inconsistencies. This Crusade order is from the Babylon 5 Historical Database as authorized by JMS, with one adjustment to correct a continuity issue in "Ruling From the Tomb".

Episode Name Intended Order Episode # Release Date
The Gathering (Movie) *A 1 N/A 1993-02-22
Midnight on the Firing Line 2 1x01 1994-01-26
Soul Hunter 3 1x02 1994-02-02
Born to the Purple 4 1x03 1994-02-09
Infection 5 1x04 1994-02-16
The Parliament of Dreams 6 1x05 1994-02-23
Mind War 7 1x06 1994-03-02
The War Prayer 8 1x07 1994-03-09
And the Sky Full of Stars 9 1x08 1994-03-16
Deathwalker 10 1x09 1994-04-20
Believers 11 1x10 1994-04-27
Survivors 12 1x11 1994-05-04
By Any Means Necessary 13 1x12 1994-05-11
Signs and Portents 14 1x13 1994-05-18
Grail 15 1x15 1994-07-06
Eyes 16 1x16 1994-07-13
A Voice in the Wilderness, Part I 17 1x18 1994-07-27
A Voice in the Wilderness, Part II 18 1x19 1994-08-03
Babylon Squared 19 1x20 1994-08-10
The Quality of Mercy 20 1x21 1994-08-17
TKO 21 1x14 1994-05-25
Legacies 22 1x17 1994-07-20
Chrysalis 23 1x22 1994-10-26
Points of Departure 24 2x01 1994-11-02
Revelations 25 2x02 1994-11-09
The Geometry of Shadows 26 2x03 1994-11-16
A Distant Star 27 2x04 1994-11-23
The Long Dark 28 2x05 1994-11-30
A Spider in the Web 29 2x06 1994-12-07
A Race Through Dark Places 30 2x08 1995-01-25
Soul Mates 31 2x07 1994-12-14
The Coming of Shadows 32 2x09 1995-02-01
GROPOS 33 2x10 1995-02-08
All Alone in the Night 34 2x11 1995-02-15
Acts of Sacrifice 35 2x12 1995-02-22
Hunter, Prey 36 2x13 1995-03-01
There All the Honor Lies 37 2x14 1995-04-26
And Now For a Word 38 2x15 1995-05-03
Knives 39 2x17 1995-05-17
In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum 40 2x16 1995-05-10
Confessions and Lamentations 41 2x18 1995-05-24
Divided Loyalties 42 2x19 1995-10-11
The Long, Twilight Struggle 43 2x20 1995-10-18
Comes the Inquisitor 44 2x21 1995-10-25
The Fall of Night 45 2x22 1995-11-01
Matters of Honor 46 3x01 1995-11-06
Convictions 47 3x02 1995-11-13
A Day in the Strife 48 3x03 1995-11-20
Passing Through Gethsemane 49 3x04 1995-11-27
Voices of Authority 50 3x05 1996-01-29
Dust to Dust 51 3x06 1996-02-05
Exogenesis 52 3x07 1996-02-12
Messages from Earth 53 3x08 1996-02-19
Point of No Return 54 3x09 1996-02-26
Severed Dreams 55 3x10 1996-04-01
Ceremonies of Light and Dark 56 3x11 1996-04-08
A Late Delivery from Avalon 57 3x13 1996-04-22
Sic Transit Vir 58 3x12 1996-04-15
Ship of Tears 59 3x14 1996-04-29
Interludes and Examinations 60 3x15 1996-05-06
Walkabout 61 3x18 1996-09-30
War Without End, Part I 62 3x16 1996-05-13
War Without End, Part II 63 3x17 1996-05-20
Grey 17 is Missing 64 3x19 1996-10-07
And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place 65 3x20 1996-10-14
Shadow Dancing 66 3x21 1996-10-21
Z'ha'dum 67 3x22 1996-10-28
The Hour of the Wolf 68 4x01 1996-11-04
Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi? 69 4x02 1996-11-11
The Summoning 70 4x03 1996-11-18
Falling Toward Apotheosis 71 4x04 1996-11-25
The Long Night 72 4x05 1997-01-27
Into the Fire 73 4x06 1997-02-03
Epiphanies 74 4x07 1997-02-10
The Illusion of Truth 75 4x08 1997-02-17
Thirdspace (Movie) 76 N/A 1998-07-19
Atonement *A 77 4x09 1997-02-24
Racing Mars 78 4x10 1997-04-21
Lines of Communication 79 4x11 1997-04-28
Conflicts of Interest 80 4x12 1997-05-05
Rumors, Bargains and Lies 81 4x13 1997-05-12
Moments of Transition 82 4x14 1997-05-19
No Surrender, No Retreat 83 4x15 1997-05-26
The Exercise of Vital Powers 84 4x16 1997-06-02
The Face of the Enemy 85 4x17 1997-06-09
Intersections in Real Time 86 4x18 1997-06-16
Between the Darkness and the Light 87 4x19 1997-10-06
Endgame 88 4x20 1997-10-13
Rising Star *B 89 4x21 1997-10-20
No Compromises 90 5x01 1998-01-21
The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari 91 5x02 1998-01-28
The Paragon of Animals 92 5x03 1998-02-04
A View from the Gallery 93 5x04 1998-02-11
Learning Curve 94 5x05 1998-02-18
Strange Relations 95 5x06 1998-02-25
Secrets of the Soul 96 5x07 1998-03-04
In the Kingdom of the Blind 97 5x08 1998-03-18
A Tragedy of Telepaths 98 5x09 1998-03-25
Phoenix Rising 99 5x11 1998-04-01
The Ragged Edge 100 5x12 1998-04-08
Day of the Dead 101 5x10 1998-03-11
The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father 102 5x13 1998-04-15
Meditations on the Abyss 103 5x14 1998-05-27
Darkness Ascending 104 5x15 1998-06-03
And All My Dreams, Torn Asunder 105 5x16 1998-06-10
Movements of Fire and Shadow 106 5x17 1998-06-17
The Fall of Centauri Prime 107 5x18 1998-10-28
Wheel of Fire 108 5x19 1998-11-04
Objects in Motion 109 5x20 1998-11-11
Objects at Rest *C 110 5x21 1998-11-18
The River of Souls (Movie) 111 N/A 1998-11-08
Legend of the Rangers: To Live and Die in Starlight (Movie) 112 N/A 2002-01-19
A Call to Arms (Movie) 113 N/A 1999-01-03
War Zone 114 C1x01 1999-06-09
The Long Road 115 C1x02 1999-06-16
Ruling from the Tomb 116 C1x06 1999-07-14
Appearances and Other Deceits 117 C1x08 1999-07-28
The Memory of War 118 C1x10 1999-08-11
The Needs of Earth 119 C1x11 1999-08-18
Racing the Night 120 C1x09 1999-08-04
Visitors from Down the Street 121 C1x12 1999-08-25
Each Night I Dream of Home 122 C1x13 1999-09-01
The Path of Sorrows 123 C1x04 1999-06-30
Patterns of the Soul 124 C1x05 1999-07-07
The Well of Forever 125 C1x03 1999-06-23
The Rules of the Game 126 C1x07 1999-07-21
The Lost Tales - Voices in the Dark (Movie) 127 N/A 2007-07-27
In the Beginning (Movie) *A 128 N/A 1/4/1998
Sleeping in Light *C 129 5x22 1998-11-25
The Deconstruction of Falling Stars *B 130 4x22 1997-10-27

Decision Points

*There are three decision points indicated with asterisks in the chart based on your personal viewing preference.

  • *A. The order of the Movie "In The Beginning". JMS suggested watching it 3rd to last, just before "Sleeping in Light", as a summary flashback. However some fans prefer to watch this just after Season 4's "Atonement" as it ties in really well with this episode and you wont get any spoilers. Alternatively you can watch it first, before "The Gathering" as an interesting prequel with spoilers. If someone is on the fence about watching Babylon 5, its recommend to watch In The Beginning first because it gives them a taste of what will come will push them over the edge into watching the show.
  • *B. The order of Season 4's "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars". JMS suggested watching it last, as it wraps up the entire B5 universe. However some fans prefer to watch this after "Objects at Rest" at the end of Season 4 as originally broadcasted to conclude Season 4. During production of Season 4 it appeared B5 would not be renewed for Season 5, so "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars" was created to conclude the entire B5 universe.
  • *C. The order of Season 5's "Sleeping in Light". JMS suggested watching it 2nd to last, just before "The Deconstruction of Falling Stars", as it wraps up the show. However some fans prefer to watch this after "Rising Star" at the end of Season 5 as originally broadcasted to conclude Season 5, before moving on to watch the spin-off movies/episodes.

Other Orders

Additionally, the other popular Babylon 5 Viewing Orders for all TV Episodes and Movies are listed here: https://babylon5.fandom.com/wiki/Viewing_Order - This includes episode by episode lists with descriptions and comparisons for each order. The Chronological Order is a notable and very enjoyable alternative to the Intended Order.

-2

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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