In the episode Falling Toward Apotheosis, the piece of Kosh that was inside Sheridan came out of him to fight against Ulkesh. The plan was to get Ulkesh off the Babylon-5 station so the Vorlons would not interfere with Sheridan's plan to remove the First Ones from the galaxy.

Why did Kosh turn against its fellow Vorlons and fight Ulkesh?

The interview with JMS in the lurker's guide for this episode does not answer this question. It poses this along with related questions.

Kosh almost certainly knew of Sheridan's plan to expel the Vorlons, Shadows, and all the other older races from the galaxy. He was inside Sheridan and could sense his thoughts and see what Sheridan saw. That implies Kosh gave his life willingly to not just stop another Vorlon, but to stop the entire Vorlon plan. He was also willing to kill another Vorlon.

The Vorlons and Shadows have been playing their game with the younger races for perhaps millions of years. It's hard to believe that if Vorlons have been doing this for such a long time, one would not disrupt that entire plan on a whim.

Let's imagine how Ulkesh might react to this. Ulkesh has known Kosh for at least a thousand years or perhaps even much longer. I can imagine Vorlons living for hundreds of thousands or even millions of years. The two of them worked together before during a war among the younger races. They've probably been best buddies since a million years ago. Then a piece of Kosh comes out of one of those upstart humans and attacks him! Ulkesh would probably see Kosh as a traitor favoring the primitive races over his own people.

It's hard to imagine the psychology of a long-lived race of seemingly godlike creatures. It's also hard to imagine one turning against its own.

Is there any canon source that describes Kosh's thinking prior to this fight? Something that says it was disgusted with how Vorlons and Shadows play games with other races?

Like my other questions, in accordance with my "Quotes Get Votes" policy, please provide quotes, links, or citations from canon sources in your answers. Sources may include statements by JMS or others associated with writing or producing the show, B-5 episodes, B-5 TV movies, related shows, and novels. I prefer answers supported by original sources over mere speculative answers.

3 Answers 3


Kosh had, in Vorlon eyes, gone native.

From Invoking Darkness, right before Kosh's death...

They said that Kosh spent too much time among the younger races. They said that he allowed sentimentality to weaken discipline. They said that, in failing to keep himself above the conflict, he revealed how far he had fallen.
Now he would pay the price.

His situation actually parallels Vir's as ambassador to Minbar, in that both Vir and Kosh were away from their homes and trying to accomplish some good, when home wouldn't see it that way. The Vorlon as a whole were too obsessed with order and victory to bend or sacrifice like Kosh did.

That would make ending the war permanently, as both Sheridan and Lorien wished, a very attractive option, for a being that already gave most of its life just to change the status quo.

  • That might be the canon explanation, but it still seems out of character to me.
    – RichS
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 3:57
  • 1
    @RichS - admittedly, your question fills in character bits that have no justification except the length of time involved. The show goes out of its way to show that post-Kosh Vorlons are not nearly as cuddly, what with Ulkesh being a dick to Lyta (btw, nearly every tie-in novel character pauses for at least a paragraph to note that Ulkesh feels dark whenever they meet him for the first time) and bringing out planet killers for a joyride against anything but the race they claimed to be at war with. I can probably dig up more quotes to convince you, but I'm not sure I have time.
    – Radhil
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 10:37
  • The fact that the post-Kosh Vorlons are so willing to waste lives and inconsiderate to those around them personally just drives home the point that Kosh was out of character for a Vorlon. Maybe he was disliked or an embarrassment back on the Vorlon homeworld.
    – RichS
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 2:59
  • Kosh definitely had character development himself, as he gradually opened up more to the other characters on Babylon 5 (including the literal opening up when he removed his encounter suit). But from the first episode, he clearly had a benign attitude towards Sinclair, and was distinctly different from the Vorlon who replaced him. It's reasonable to believe that Kosh had been moving in that direction for some time prior to the beginning of the story.
    – bgvaughan
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 20:16

I think you can liken the Vorlon Empire to the Minbari during the days of Duhkat. Kosh was similar to Duhkat in being curious, exploratory, and the catalyst to the madness that overtook the Vorlons and Minbari, respectively.

When Duhkat died at the hands of the humans, the Minbari staged a holy war to exterminate the human race. When Kosh died, it could be argued that they, too, fell into a madness to exterminate the Shadows. However, they were bound by their rules of engagement: when Sheridan destroyed the capital city of Z'ha'dum, it allowed a bending if not breaking of the rules of engagement, and the Vorlons were now able to enact their madness. Morden "touched by Shadows" essentially allowed the Shadows to assassinate Kosh, and in turn, the Vorlons went to exterminate those "touched by Shadows".

Kosh had shown to be the "guiding shepherd" that was intended when the rest of the First Ones went away. He grew to care of them, especially when Sheridan showed up in Season 2: the attending of every council meeting thereafter, the "know yourself" lessons, the "fighting Shadows" training, and the risk he took to save Sheridan at the Season 2 finale.

On the other hand, Ulkesh was more militaristic and isolationistic of the pair. Hence why he was training Rangers with Sinclair on Minbar. His views were fundamentally at odds with Kosh's regarding the shepherding of the younger races. Ulkesh was like the other parent with different ideologies on raising kids with Kosh. I think, affected by Kosh's death. Him saying "We are all Kosh" sets that up very subtly. Knowing Kosh's nature, Ulkesh was likely in that mindset of "See? I told you so. Curiosity killed the Vorlon. Now you're dead. If you had just listened to me..." which probably was why he was a dick to everyone, especially Lyta, whom, I think, he also blames for Kosh's death. With a more military mindset, the enhancements the Vorlons did to Lyta was to fight the Shadows: had she been there, she probably would have defended Kosh and likely prevented his death.

Given Kosh's affinity towards Sheridan, (seeing Sheridan as his child, especially when right before he died, he appeared as Sheridan's father) the final straw was that battle with Ulkesh. Kosh, being protective of Sheridan, wasn't going to allow Ulkesh to harm him, so he took up arms. Sheridan was effectively Kosh's kid, and even against a partner, you don't go after the kid.


It's funny I am just re-watching season 4 and got to Kosh's death and I always wonder if he was going against the Vorlons. I mean, it's not the first time he has done stuff against their master plan and he knew from his words he would die for helping Sheridan with the Vorlon fleet.

Whilst I agree with Invoking Darkness, I think that even in their race there would be some that did not agree with the whole. Plus, how many Vorlons have pieces of themselves in others? Sheridan and Lyta maybe; that played a role in his change of heart.

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