How did Kosh's training help Sheridan fight the Shadows?

In season 2, episode 13 of Babylon 5 (Hunter, Prey) Kosh says he will teach Sheridan.

Kosh: I will teach you.

Sheridan: About yourself?

Kosh: About you. Until you are ready.

Sheridan: For what?

Kosh: To fight legends.

The period that Kosh was giving Sheridan lessons covered at minimum the time between episode 13 and episode 15 (There All the Honor Lies). In episode 15, Sheridan's lesson was experiencing a moment of perfect beauty:

Sheridan: What, you want me to go inside, is that it? Why? What's inside there?

Kosh: One moment of perfect beauty.

[Sheridan experiences one moment of perfect beauty.]

Sheridan: I had no idea. No idea at all!

Kosh: Yes.

The only example I can think of where Sheridan directly referenced Kosh's teachings in the Great War was in season 4, episode 6 (Into The Fire) where Sheridan quoted Kosh when confronting the Shadows and the Vorlons:

Sheridan: A Vorlon said, “Understanding is a three-edged sword,” your side, their side, and the truth. Well the truth is we don’t need you anymore!

What did Kosh teach Sheridan? How did it prepare Sheridan for the war with the Shadows?

EDIT: Radhil in the comments brought up that Sheridan laters specifically asks Kosh to teach him to fight the Shadows in season 2, episode 16 (In the Shadow of Z'ha'dum).

Capt. John Sheridan: I let him go. But there is a price tag attached. You've been teaching me so we can understand each other. That's not what I want any more. I want you to teach me... how to fight them. How to beat them. Because one day I'm going to go to Z'ha'dum and I'm going to stop them.

Kosh: If you go to Z'ha'dum, you will die.

Capt. John Sheridan: Then I die, but I will not go down easily, I will not go down alone! You will teach me?

Kosh: Yes.

From the dialogue it seems plausible that Kosh taught Sheridan about Shadow strategies and their psychology, though none of that is shown.

  • 1
    My +1 for such an interesting question!
    – Hans Olo
    Jan 27, 2018 at 21:27
  • 5
    Some of the "training" is implied to happen offscreen, and the nature of that training changes after In The Shadow of Z'ha'Dum and Sheridan insists he's going to fight the Shadows at Z'ha'Dum. Still, doesn't really seem to be a lot, does it? It's probably summed up as getting him to think outside his boxes or step outside his comfort zones, but Sheridan was already a fair hand at that, so...
    – Radhil
    Jan 27, 2018 at 21:41
  • @Radhil I forgot that Sheridan explicitly changed up the lessons in that episode. Great catch. I was thinking about it too and yeah, Sheridan was already an exceptional tactician with a knack for flipping lopsided fights, so what was Kosh adding? Jan 27, 2018 at 22:17
  • 2
    In s5e19 (The Wheel of Fire), Sheridan appears to be able to resist Lyta Alexander's influence: "You're not the only one who has been touched by Vorlons". It's possible that Kosh taught Sheridan to resist telepaths. Jan 29, 2018 at 20:37
  • 1
    The Vorlons created telepaths, but the Shadows infiltrated the Earth Alliance psi corps, and intended to use telepaths as CPUs for their starships. The telepaths rescued in Ship of Tears were even referred to as 'components of a weapons system' (by one of Bester's informants). Jan 30, 2018 at 17:35

3 Answers 3


I see it as the lessons about himself were the important lessons to learn. He was being taught to fight legends, not just to fight the Shadows. I see it as Kosh was teaching Sheridan what he needed to know to see that it was time for the Vorlons and Shadows to leave, not just beat them in a military conflict. When he experiences "a moment of perfect beauty" he can look back on that and see that one of the younger races was able to create that. He can understand that he, or even all the younger races, no longer need the guidance of the First Ones, as if they can create something perfect like that one moment, they can do it again, and they did it without the Vorlon's help.

Sheridan uses a few tricks against the Shadows, but he doesn't seem to display any more tactical genius versus them than we had already seen him use in every other battle situation he had been in. He was a military genius who used his knowledge of how to bring people together and inspire his troops to win a victory over a superior force. He knew what he could do, and he knew what he could not do. His biggest stroke of brilliance came when he saw they were herding the refugees to a single point, and he says "That's what I would do." Delenn is so put off by that line of thought, that it was so Shadow, that there is no way it could have come from any Vorlon teaching.

In summary, I believe that Sheridan did not receive much more training about how to fight the Shadows off screen than we saw, but that in learning what he was capable of, he was able to 'fight' the legends of the First Ones as a whole.

  • 1
    It's interesting: Kosh was initially preparing Sheridan until he was ready to fight legends. The fact that Kosh later fought Ulkesh seems to support the idea that Kosh was more in line with Lorien re: the First Ones. The Younger Races no longer needed the Vorlons/Shadows and it makes sense that Kosh would try and plant that idea. But Sheridan specifically demands Kosh teach him to fight the Shadows and he was furious in that scene about his wife and the Shadows' part in her death. I see it as unlikely that he would accept esoteric lessons when he wants to fight. Jan 29, 2018 at 21:32
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    @just_happen_to_know Yeah, he definitely wanted lessons on how to beat the Shadows, but if you think about it, I don't think Kosh could teach him how to beat them. Vorlons are order incarnate, and Shadows are chaos incarnate, so how could Kosh teach him to win? They have been deadlocked for millions of years, if Kosh knew how to win they would have taught the Minbari how to win. All they know how to do is gridlock and stall. No way would Kosh teach him any technical details about the Shadows, as their own secret tech was similar. Kosh also died soon after, so not many lessons I'm guessing.
    – Daishozen
    Jan 29, 2018 at 22:51
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    I was under the impression that the First Shadow War was a clear victory for the Vorlons and their allies. The Vorlons had Jeffrey Sinclair (Valen), who had been prepared for the war by the Minbari and the Rangers. The Shadows were forced back to Z'ha'dum, and they had to bury their weapons on different worlds. There was the view into the alternate universe where Valen never went back in time and the Shadows were strong enough to destroy Babylon 5. So the Vorlons have beaten the Shadows in the past. Jan 30, 2018 at 3:08
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    @just_happen_to_know It always seemed like a pyrrhic victory at best to me. But at the same time, their goal has always been to strengthen through conflict, so every couple thousand years coming out and kicking the ant hills is what they do, long term they don't care if they get driven back, which is basically all that has ever happened to them, they still create the conflict. The Vorlons tried to beat them by destroying their ideology, which they could never do, even after millions of years. Sheridan wanted a final victory, which the Vorlon's couldn't ever provide.
    – Daishozen
    Jan 30, 2018 at 14:53
  • I think it's interesting you saw the First Shadow War as a pyrrhic victory. I always read it the other way. They had a time-traveling general who had been prepped for the war (giving them a huge edge). The Vorlons weren't forced into retreat and hibernation (giving them a thousand years to prep for the next war). The Minbari (Vorlon proxies) were the dominant Younger Race from that War on it seems. I thought it was a pretty big win for the Vorlons. Jan 30, 2018 at 18:12

I went to the source and the answer may surprise you: I guess that answers that

  • 1
    Now I am imagining Kosh doing the yoga in his encounter suit...
    – Daishozen
    Jan 31, 2018 at 17:09
  • +1 for the chuckle. Joe's cute when he's evasive.
    – Radhil
    Feb 2, 2018 at 20:07
  • 1
    Warrior II has always been here...
    – Anonymous
    Jun 4, 2021 at 1:47

Didn't Kosh put a piece of himself inside Sheridan that gave him advice at critical moments e.g. telling him to jump at Z'ha'dum? Maybe the lessons were just an excuse to do that.

I don't have episode details to hand, but there were several where Sheridan heard Kosh talking to him in his mind, and people kept asking him if he knew he had a Vorlon inside him.

  • I can't tell if this is an answer or confirmation of the question. If it is an answer, can you use sources to support your answer?
    – Edlothiad
    Jan 29, 2018 at 7:52
  • 1
    Sorry, I meant it as a possible answer. I don't have episode details to hand, but there were several where Sheridan heard Kosh talking to him in his mind, and people kept asking him if he knew he had a Vorlon inside him.
    – Aggie
    Jan 29, 2018 at 7:59
  • 2
    These seem like interesting details you can edit into your answer.
    – Edlothiad
    Jan 29, 2018 at 8:06
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    A fragment of Kosh survived the Shadow assassination in Sheridan. Kosh speaks to Sheridan on Z'ha'dum, and Lorien later tells Sheridan he has a Vorlon in his mind. After that, Kosh (and Lorien) attack Ulkesh at which point the "last of Kosh" was destroyed. Kosh did certainly establish a link with Sheridan over the course of the lessons, but that seemed incidental considering he was ostensibly training Sheridan (a veteran commander) how to fight. Jan 29, 2018 at 21:38

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