This is a question I've long wondered about in Babylon 5. There's a scene in which Bester says to Garibaldi:

"Would it interest you to know that I'm married, Mr. Garibaldi? That I have a five-year-old daughter? That on Sundays when I'm back home, we pack a picnic lunch and go out under the dome on Syria Planum and watch the stars come out? Hardly the description of a monster."

I see two possible interpretations of Bester:

  1. He knows he has questionable methods, but believes he's doing good in the long run, and so, in his own estimation, is on the whole a decent person. Because his methods are questionable, he accepts certain people (the entire Babylon 5 staff) will hate him.

  2. He knows perfectly well he's despicable, enjoys having power and pissing people off, and says these things either to get a reaction, or to look like he's not so terrible.

Has anyone involved in Babylon 5's production, especially JMS or Walter Koenig, said which of these interpretations is true?

  • @HarryJohnston It doesn't matter what you think regarding morals, the question is talking about Bester's viewpoint -- does he somehow in his flawed thinking think he's not a terrible person.
    – Kai
    Oct 28, 2015 at 21:18
  • 1
    Given the latest edit, I withdraw my objection. It is perhaps worth noting though that in the real world, even the worst of humanity almost invariably believe that their actions were entirely justified. Honest villains like Shakespeare's Richard III are few and far between. Oct 28, 2015 at 21:29
  • I think he's an ends justifies the means kind of guy, and given that he's a telepath, probably sees both sides of those two interpretations and believes both are probably true depending on which sides you're on. His sides are simply not our sides, as we view them, and his willingness to good for teeps while writing off the larger portion of the human race as a loss is what takes him into pure evil. I'd be hard pressed to find a quote on that though.
    – Radhil
    Oct 28, 2015 at 21:32
  • I'd also like to point out that "in his own estimation is on the whole a decent person" and "enjoys having power and pissing people off" aren't actually mutually exclusive. :-) Oct 28, 2015 at 23:34

1 Answer 1


Walter Koenig stated (in an online interview in 1994) that Bester was pure evil, so much so that a single episode couldn't contain his sheer evilness:

Question: Do you plan on doing any more Babylon 5 episodes?

W Koenig: I don't want to lead you all on, but let's just say we probably haven't seen the last of Bester. That much evil is hard to contain.

As to whether Bester is deluded enough to believe his own propaganda, JMS indicated in an interview for the Midwinter site that he left this aspect of his personality intentionally ambiguous:

Some of what you say here, he says. (Not about the corps, but about doing what's right as he sees it.)

'Course, whether or not one should believe anything he says is another question altogether.

  • @HarryJohnston - It's reasonably clear from the show that Bester's sole aim was the furtherance of the PsiCorp (Corp is Father, Corp is Mother and all that). All other considerations are secondary. Oh, and he thinks that norms aren't really people and don't count.
    – Valorum
    Oct 28, 2015 at 21:37
  • Yes, and personally I'm convinced that he thinks that's the right thing to do. (He is human, after all.) But the question asks for Word of God about Bester's self-opinion. [Ah - your new edit addresses that. Excellent.] Oct 28, 2015 at 21:47

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