When Baltar runs the Cylon detector on


when the detector indicates that they are a Cylon he lies about it for fear of that characters reaction to the news. I cannot understand what his motivation is when he lies to

Ellen Tigh

When he gives the results to this person, there are a number of people present so fear of their response would not be such a worry for him this time. I cannot understand what he hopes to gain from lying about the results? We know that the character is later revealed to be one of the final five cylons although at that point in the series I do not know if that was planned in advance. I have seen nothing in later episodes to provide any explanation of why he lies about this.

  • The answer is here: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/9243/1148 Jun 25, 2013 at 19:10
  • 3
    @JackBNimble I don't think that answers the question. It informs that he decides to return always negative results, but it does not explain why
    – bazz
    Jun 25, 2013 at 19:17
  • 1
    @phantom42 Sorry but I don't think that answers my question at all, only in the case of Boomer, which I am not asking about. I guess this will get closed soon though as others clearly think this is the same question.
    – bazz
    Jun 25, 2013 at 19:58
  • 1
    Are you seriously asking this question? I would think the fear of the potential ramifications of revealing anyone as a Cylon, let alone people whose power and authority could lead him to being killed would be motivation enough to lie until he could figure out how to protect himself. Gaius was completely directed toward self-preservation above anything else. Jun 25, 2013 at 20:15
  • 5
    @Thaddeus Yes I am seriously asking the question. It is Baltars sense of self-preservation that makes me answer the question in the first place. The fact that he has created the Cylon detector makes him a target for Cylons anyway but the fact that he never detects a single Cylon with it (in the eyes of Adama/Roslin because he keeps it secret) makes his usefulness less in their eyes. Had he alerted Adama to the fact that he had found a Cylon it would have benefited him greatly I would have thought so that is why I cannot understand why he keeps it secret.
    – bazz
    Jun 25, 2013 at 21:16

5 Answers 5


I think this is because the Five were special - although they are the last of the Cylons introduced into the story, they actually are the creators of the Eight humaniform models.

The Five originated on an Earth many years before the Colonial-Cylon war, and so could be significantly different to the newer models.

Gaius just may have been unable to detect Ellen's origin.

  • 9
    This is very speculative. Do you have any evidence?
    – sjl
    Jun 26, 2013 at 0:30

Evidently, from the flimsiness of available information in material in related questions here and on the BG wiki page on the Cylon detector, as well as from having recently watched these episodes and having been left with the same questions, it appears that:

  • Baltar is very frightened in general and is surprised by the result.
  • Baltar is caught in a web of guilt and his own lies, and has a nutty weaselly behavior pattern where he tends to make very unwise short-term decisions including inventing regrettable lies on the spur of the moment.
  • Baltar's thinking is severely skewed by visions of Messenger Six, including specifically being afraid that he needs to appease her.

The wiki asserts that he was afraid that if he told the first positive subject she was a Cylon, she might kill him, but that only covers why he'd cover it up at that moment. It doesn't explain why he didn't then go tell, say, Adama. It also says nothing about the second case that your question asks about.

My feeling is that even the first case is a somewhat mysterious weak point in the plot, but that it's covered by Baltar's irrational fear for himself combined with Messenger Six's bullying, making him afraid enough to cowardly prefer pretending the detector is failing, to having to out anyone. That is consistent with many other cowardly short-term evasions that Baltar chooses in other stressful situations. He's crazy that way.

Having lied in the first case, revealing the second case might open him up to future investigation if/when the first Cylon were discovered. Baltar has a tendency to try to double-down on his lies rather than admit to an earlier one. Again it doesn't make a lot of sense, except that Baltar is crazy from fear, lies, guilt, and Cylon psychological torture.


I thought of it like this. He figured that, by lying, the Cylons would assume his test was a failure, and do nothing to the crew. Once he had all the Cylons he could inform Adama and crew and then dispose of all of them. Had he told Adama or anybody else they would have killed Boomer or acted differently. I don’t see why this is a question. By not telling them the real results the humans, for the first time, were one step ahead of the Cylons.


I rewatched the episode. He was afraid that if he told her she was a cylon, she would kill him right there... And that any OTHER sleeper cylons would assassinate him. Period.

  • 2
    Is there any indication in the dialogue that supports this?
    – Monty129
    Dec 19, 2013 at 0:31
  • 2
    It's quite clear he was afraid of Boomer, but not so sure about the "sleeper" Cylons.
    – Andres F.
    Dec 19, 2013 at 1:54
  • @Monty129 In S01E06 Litmus, a suicide-bomber-Cylon detonates himself not far from Baltar's lab and Head Six hints to Baltar that his Cylon detector was the likely target. This is further confirmed in The Plan when we learn that suicide-bomber-Doral was specifically sent on a mission to destroy the Cylon detector. Adama and the fleet demand a Cylon detector, while the Cylons "demand" it be removed from existence. Providing a "working" Cylon detector that secretly passes everyone is Baltar's way out of the dilemma. As always, he prioritizes short-term self-preservation.
    – Daniel
    Aug 18, 2020 at 10:39
  • @Monty129 (continued) Note that Baltar's confrontation with Sharon and her test results occurs in S01E08 Flesh and Bone - after the bombing attempt - and Baltar and company have no idea at that time how many Cylons currently remain hidden in the fleet, nor even what they all look like, though they are fairly certain that there are more "sleepers". Baltar has every reason to be paranoid about him and his detector being a target.
    – Daniel
    Aug 18, 2020 at 10:42

I think Baltar is just behaving like the coward he is. If he revealed them as cylons, he would potentially be targeted for assassination. That's all the motivation he requires to pass everyone. What I'm curious about is why he didn't test himself.

  • This seems more like speculation as opposed to a verifiable answer. I suggest taking the Tour to get a better idea how the site works. Oct 21, 2018 at 6:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.