In Babylon 5 we are told that a Vorlon can control their appearance in regards to certain modified races, generally making themselves appear as angelic or otherwise religiously significant beings via some manner of telepathy. In the episode Falling Toward Apotheosis, however, two Vorlons fight outside of their encounter suits, bearing a energy/jelly-like appearance, similar to Lorien's natural appearance.

Due to this similarity with another First One, one would assume that this is their physical appearance, sand projection -- but being as they are of the same species, however, there should not be such a huge difference in appearance between the two Vorlons.

Can Vorlons change their physical appearance, as well as projecting a different appearance, or is there anything from JMS that might suggest that these very different energy squid appearances are also projections?

  • This youtube video inadequately shows their appearances. Kosh looks like he has the upper body of a humanoid, while Ulkesh looks more serpentine.
    – user40790
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 21:09

1 Answer 1


Yes, absolutely.

On the excellent Midwinter site, there's a couple of brief interviews with JMS regarding the episodes "The Fall of Night" and "Falling Toward Apotheosis" in which he states that Kosh (and other Vorlons) can indeed control their appearance to other races.

Q. Would a Hindu, or a Buddhist, see Kosh differently?

JMS: Yes, there would be some amount of variation among humans, though not in terms of beliefs that may have come along post-Vorlon influence. This sort of thing has been implanted almost at a genetic level, and they do have a hand, or a mind, in activating it when seen. The more people who see them in different ways, the longer they must maintain that, the greater the strain on them. The more people who have to see Kosh as one of their own, the greater the strain on Kosh, as you'll note in the first ep of year three.

If follows that the "squid" projections you've identified are the Vorlon's most basic form, the one that they deploy when they're not trying to remain hidden.

Q. Have we seen a Vorlon's true appearance?

JMS: That's pretty much what they look like.

  • My issue with this is that it doesn't necessarily apply to the forms they take during the fight, which are significantly different from each other. It's an Indra vs Vritra situation.
    – user40790
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 21:28
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    @Axelrod - I fail to see why two Vorlons would look identical, any more than two humans.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 21:30
  • One looking like a man and the other looking like a dragon is pretty significant. Dang youtube, not having a video of the full fight!
    – user40790
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 21:34
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    @Axelrod - Lorien: Yes, the last of Kosh. And some of him and some of me.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 21:50
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    @Richard I'm not willing to interpret JMS's words quite as strictly as you are. A more interesting detail I think: the last we see of Kosh and Ulkesh is a disc of mixed blue and yellow light flying along the station, out into space, and coalescing on the Vorlon ship (which then explodes). Additionally, the fact that Vorlons can inhabit encounter suits and bodies of various forms would suggest their true appearance is a malleable form.
    – varradami
    Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 18:03

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