In the episode, A Day in the Strife, an alien probe approaches the station with a series of questions that have to be answered correctly within 24 hours, or Babylon 5 will be destroyed. The probe also promises knowledge of high technology to whomever answers the questions.

The probe does not in fact explode but is part of a Berserker style campaign, designed to wipe out races that are technologically superior to the creators of the probe.

Who sent the probe?

The lurker's guide said this question was not answered then, so I hope it has been answered since then. JMS did say "it was looking for civilizations that are sufficiently advanced to pose a possible threat". This seems like the kind of trick the Shadows or their allies would pull, but I don't remember any mention of that. It would also seem like the kind of trick a younger race to harm a more sophisticated race that might harm it.

Please provide answers from canon sources such as TV episodes, novels, or interviews with writers of the TV series.

  • 3
    The shadows objective was to cause chaos and so improve the younger races. As opposed to just keeping them down. Thus doesn't feel like their mo
    – user20310
    Apr 8, 2017 at 4:59

2 Answers 2


No clue.

No tie in materials, series episodes, or comments from the creator have shed light on this little mystery.

The Shadows don't appear to have sent it. Granted, blowing things up is how they work. However, only blowing up advanced species is not a distinction they've ever shown. The probe also doesn't resemble any of their visible tech.

In script books, the only light shed is on his research - berserker probes are a real concept considered as part of first contact theories. Nothing is said of where this example comes from. (This also is noted by JMS on the questions archived at Lurkers Guide)

Given that 99% of the races that come to B5 are interested in peace or trade, we can only presume that this came from an unknown. There are many races and worlds yet to be discovered, and one may have thought this was a good expansion idea.


It's never confirmed who they are but I always wondered if it was the Streib, they kidnap members of other races to assess them, I always thought maybe they sent the berserkers out to preempt races who might be able to beat them back, or possibly to do in those they've assessed individually as a potential threat. The probe postdates Sheridan's encounter with their collector ship.

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