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On Season 3 finale...

Sheridan refuses to join the Shadows and after fighting them off-camera, they finally corner him on a balcony over an abyss. He is wounded but able to walk, step on the edge of the balcony and jump into the abyss, while his White Star —armed with two nuclear bombs— crashes into (or nearby) the same place he is jumping from. At some point Sheridan dies, or at least that's what Lorien tells him.

But how did this happen...?

  1. Was he so badly wounded in the fight?
  2. Was it because the blast/radiation of the explosion?
  3. Was he wounded when he was caught?
  4. Or —the least likely— did he hit bottom? (which implies an instant death and the complete reconstruction/regeneration of his probably badly broken body, a thing Lorien is not supposed to be capable to do, because, as he says:

"I cannot create life, but I can breathe on the remaining embers...")

Is there any canon source/JMS commentary that explains the reason for this particular demise?

  • 2
    Interesting question. I actually consider the reverse question much more interesting. How did he live? I don't think he died at all even though Kosh warned him "If you go to Z'ha'dum, you will die." I assumed the piece of Kosh within him saved him as he fell into the abyss just as Kosh once saved him when he fell at the end of season 2. – RichS Jul 10 '18 at 4:45
  • Well, of course he hit the bottom; what else could possibly happen? Why do you say this implies a "complete reconstruction" and what do you mean by that? – Harry Johnston Jul 10 '18 at 4:49
  • Related question, but certainly not a duplicate. scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/154680/… – RichS Jul 10 '18 at 4:50
  • This question is interesting enough that it has two favorites but only one upvote. – RichS Jul 10 '18 at 4:51
  • @RichS, I don't know about the other guy, but I favorite everything I comment on, simply so that I can follow the discussion. Doesn't (necessarily) imply anything either way about the quality of the question. – Harry Johnston Jul 10 '18 at 5:45
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Well, he clearly considered himself dead, as evidenced by this quote from S4E21 "Rising Star". (Emphasis mine.)

I find it amazing that you think that threats still mean anything to me. 'Do this or you're a dead man.' Death! Been there, done that.

As far as I'm aware, the exact cause of death was never mentioned. I don't know that it matters, because whether he hit the bottom of the shaft or was vaporized by the nukes, he's just as dead.

However, I would interpret Lorien's quote slightly differently. Keep in mind that in Babylon 5, there is in fact a part of a person described as their "soul". We know this because there are people who capture them in little jars. I would say that this is what Lorien is talking about - the presence or absence of a vital soul, not a body per se.

Incidentally, checking the Lurker's Guide (which compiles J. Michael Straczynski's online responses to fan questions and discussions) for "Z'ha'dum" and the first few episodes of Season 4 reveals nothing concrete about cause of death.

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    The premise for the Soul Hunters is that the soul is lost when the body dies, that's why they capture them in spheric vessels. And if there is not a risk of physical death, there is no need to replenish his life force, thus we don't need the resulting "20 years clause" in the story. – LudovicoN Jul 10 '18 at 18:09
  • @LudovicoN Both fair points. I can only suggest that a First One might be better at the process than a younger race. Unfortunately in the absence of anything from JMS himself, speculation is all I can offer. – Cadence Jul 10 '18 at 18:19
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I don't think we're ever told and certainly we're not shown but it is strongly implied that while his dive off the balcony jump took Sheridan out of range of the explosion of his Whitestar it also killed him, or would have killed him if Lorien hadn't intervened.

  • Of course, but I just want to know if it was covered in any official source, since the novels tend to explain some of B5 plotholes. Knowing the difficulty of this question, I could conform with a "Welcome to Hawai" type of response, but only if JMS provides it. – LudovicoN Jul 10 '18 at 18:14
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    @LudovicoN It's not covered anywhere as far as I'm aware. You might find that someone has asked Bruce Boxleitner about it at a panel at some point he may have had an answer, or not. – Ash Jul 10 '18 at 18:34
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There's no way Sheridan escaped either the radiation or the blast wave of the White Star. He jumps only moments before the ship crashes into the skylight and detonates her nuclear warheads. Remember, close counts in nuclear war...

This is somewhat confirmed by the fact that Mr Morden also survived, albeit with major disfigurement that heavily implies he got a major dose of radiation and/or blast wave himself.

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  • But Morden didn't die and had his life force replenished by some light being, at least there is no mention of this anywhere. Apparently he was healed with a process that reminds a little of Delenn after getting out of her cocoon. So maybe he was alive all the time. – LudovicoN Jul 10 '18 at 18:03
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    @LudovicoN No, he didn't. But the fact that Morden needed repairs at all attests to the forces that he experienced. He was probably about as far away as Sheridan was from the blast epicenter. – Machavity Jul 10 '18 at 18:06

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