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Before War Without End, Sinclair was the head of the rangers. The rangers were a large presence at the time and they should have gotten orders from him indirectly or at least talk about "Ranger One". But the only times people saw/heard about him is when he chose to contact them. Why is that?

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Because he didn't want them to.

Sinclair is simply not in the habit of making a lot of public appearances. Even among his closest allies, as Ranger One he was notoriously cagey and kept to himself:

Marcus: Captain, if I were you, I'd quit while I was ahead. Back on Minbar, there was a saying among the other Rangers: "The only way to get a straight answer out of Ranger One was to look at every reply in a mirror while hanging upside down from the ceiling."

Whether it's because of his status as an agent of prophecy, something the Vorlons did or told him, or simply because of being an outsider among the Minbari, Sinclair just prefers to move in mysterious ways.

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    It may be worth noting that Valen likely started the Zen garden tradition Delenn noted was similar to the one Sinclair had installed. Jun 9 at 20:05
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The series was called Babylon 5. The simple in-universe fact is Sinclair and the Rangers were not on Babylon 5. We shouldn't view his absence as anything but a narrative decision reflecting that fact. (Note Babylon 5 considers itself to be metafiction - an in-universe dramatization of "real" events in the Babylon 5 universe.)

Out universe the actor Michael O'Hare was having mental issues and we are lucky we got him back for War Without End.

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    Of course if he wasn't having those issues he also never would have left, and would have remained commander to the end, without Sheridan replacing him. Jun 7 at 21:54
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    @suchiuomizu As I recall there was spin at the time about Sheridan - may be some truth to it. Sheridan would have been the fleet commander and Sinclair remained B5 commander. There is some trace of this perhaps in how Gen. Hague was being set up as a major reoccurring character before he was written out. As I recall JMS claimed focus was going to Sheridan eventually anyway to justify the cast change. B5 that "could have been" definitely depends on what draft we're on. Babylon Prime being the earliest draft where Delenn and Sinclair get married and have a magic chosen one son! Jun 7 at 22:22
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    The canon novel 'To dream in the city of sorrows' gives some detail on Sinclair's timeline, including why he is less visible for a time.
    – Michael
    Jun 8 at 8:23
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    Yeah, a lot of story decisions on the show were forced by out-of-universe things they had to deal with. Ivanova and Marcus, for example, leaving due to salary disputes. Jun 8 at 13:54
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    Do you have any reference for the metafiction note? A search for it seems to just bring up this stack exchange question)
    – user20310
    Jun 8 at 16:40

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