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In the first season of Babylon 5, there is an episode called Legacies. In this episode, Sinclair gets into a physical altercation with a Minbari, Neroon, in his quarters. Not just any Minbari, but one of the leaders of their warrior caste. This should be one of the most formidable warriors of their entire species.

Sinclair beats him without too much difficulty, apparently by being significantly stronger. He basically just punches him and throws him across the room.

Later, in the season three episode Ceremonies of Light and Dark, Lennier picks Marcus up off the floor with one outstretched arm and holds him there without any apparent effort. This is quite a feat of strength, and in context it is clearly meant to intimidate Marcus. Lennier reminds him that "sometimes we may look like you, but we are not you" (quote from memory may not be exact).

This implied that Minbari were so much stronger than humans that Marcus, a great fighter capable of single-handedly beating an entire room of humans in hand-to-hand combat, should not even consider fighting Lennier.

That episode also includes some human Night Watch members taking Delenn and another Minbari hostage. At no point does it seem like either Minbari is particularly powerful.

These examples seem contradictory, and it's not enough data to form a conclusion. Perhaps one or both of Lennier and Sinclair are simply exceptionally strong for a member of their race.

So, are Minbari physically stronger than humans, or not? If so, how much? Is it an overlap, like men being stronger than women on average, or is the weakest able Minbari still stronger than the strongest able human?

Note: I'm re-watching the series. I've seen the whole thing before, and am not concerned about spoilers in the answers.

  • Erm, in Season 3 Lennier picks Marcus up off the floor with one outstretched arm and holds him there without any apparent effort. This is quite a feat of strength, and in context it is clearly meant to intimidate Marcus. That seems pretty conclusive. – Valorum Jun 13 '16 at 20:35
  • @Valorum It's pretty contradictory in comparison to the other example, though. Lennier has been shown to be a skilled martial artist in the past. Maybe Lennier is just exceptionally strong, even for a Minbari. – DCShannon Jun 13 '16 at 20:37
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    Maybe Sinclair is exceptionally strong for a human. Maybe (spoilers)! – Politank-Z Jun 13 '16 at 20:38
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    @Politank-Z Given what we know of his future (past?)... maybe that was meant to be foreshadowing. ;) – Roger Jun 13 '16 at 20:42
  • (Shameless spoiler ahead!) Well, there there could be a chance that children of Vailan are not as strong as pure blood Mimbary. I wouldn't interprete too much into Season 1 because many things changed compared to Season 1. While it does get the story going, it is not very consistent with the other seasons. And come to think about it, it is always Marcus who loses the 1:1 fight with the Mimbari. When Delen and that one captain get captured, the Mimbari don't appear stronger or superior at all. – user1129682 Jun 13 '16 at 21:52
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Since no one does a comparative biology on the show, we have to rely on what the episodes show us. Going down the episodes that show Minbari / Human fights, evidence suggests Minbari have a strength advantage, but not an overwhelming one. In show order:


The Gathering

Sinclair grapples with a Minbari assassin. Sinclair is in tactical gear and still mostly gets hammered; he only ends up back to even when the assassin starts losing control of the chameleon net and ends the fight by applying high voltage. Probably a point in favor of Minbari strength.

Legacies

Neroon jumps Sinclair when Sinclair interrupts Neroon's search of his quarters. Sinclair holds his own against him, using momentum against Neroon to throw off the initial ambush. Both land solid punches. Neroon falls first, so this could be taken as a point against Minbari strength, and the fight is interrupted shortly after. It's worth noting that Neroon shows none of the calm lethal discipline he shows in later episodes; he may be too emotionally invested here, or may not want to actually hurt Sinclair, either may be enough to nullify a basic advantage.

The Quality of Mercy

Lennier and Londo get in a bar brawl over card cheating. Not exactly a straight fight like we want, but it's telling. It's offscreen, but Lennier and Londo apparently win, because the kind of folk they were brawling with wouldn't let them walk away. Point in favor of Minbari strength, although Lennier took plenty of hits.

There All The Honor Lies

Sheridan gets ambushed and put on the ground by a Minbari, but given that the entire thing is staged, can't take a point either way. Sheridan dropping can be explained entirely by the suddenness of the attack.

Ceremonies of Light and Dark

Lennier neck lifts Marcus as you stated. Point in favor of Minbari strength. It's worth noting this is also something a human could do with proper leverage, just not with the seeming ease that the smaller build Minbari does here. Also worth noting is that Lennier is channeling his rage at Marcus here, possibly doing more than he normally could - almost exactly the same way Marcus channeled his rage at the bar crowd.

Then again, in the same episode, Delenn and her cohort are quickly overwhelmed by the Nightwatch holdouts and taken captive. Delenn doesn't seem to have combat training, but her company should. Point against. This suggests that while they might have an advantage in strength, it's not a vast gap, or it doesn't extend to endurance.

Grey 17 is Missing

Neroon thrashes Marcus within an inch of his life, with ludicrous precision. Point in favor of Minbari strength. Admittedly, he does use a weapon, but he treats it like a minor strain on his skills, and is probably the biggest demonstration of how lethal a properly trained Minbari can be.


In sum, there's plenty of points where Minbari show their strength over humans. Considering they don't perform frequent acts that look superhuman, that they can be overwhelmed, or lose simply by fighting sloppy, it only looks like a small advantage.

  • Good analysis. Seems about right. – DCShannon Jun 14 '16 at 17:02
  • Note that it's possible that while physically stronger they do have weak points. For example in the first fight against Neroon it may be that he took a punch to a vital area that caught him off guard and weakened him. Sinclair after all may have instinctive knowledge of Minbari anatomy and fighting styles which would be unexpected in a human. – Tim B Sep 28 '17 at 9:44
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    @TimB - I have high skepticism of any Sinclair-is-special bits beyond what is demonstrated in the show. Besides, it was a brawl, zero style to it on either side. I can't accuse Sinclair of awesome hidden techniques when Neroon starts it with a drunken full body tackle. Also, logic would then show Neroon's weak points being in his face, which is where Sinclair kept hitting him. – Radhil Sep 29 '17 at 1:01

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