Why are there no other intelligent aliens in the Battlestar Galactica universe?

  • 8
    Not all fictional universes have non-human intelligences. Dune and Foundation spring to mind. Feb 11, 2014 at 13:27
  • 1
    @james sheridan when they land on the New Caprica there are no alien life except plants ?
    – DSaad
    Feb 11, 2014 at 13:30
  • 2
    The fact that a planet supports life does not mean that there will be intelligent life present.
    – phantom42
    Feb 11, 2014 at 13:36
  • 3
    I think the more interesting question is why there is no animal life at all, then, instead of intelligent aliens.
    – Andres F.
    Feb 11, 2014 at 14:15
  • 1
    SPOILER: There is animal life on new Earth, in fact they talk about incorporating with the indigenous tribal human population. Not alien, but also not "no animal life at all."
    – Matt
    Feb 11, 2014 at 16:03

3 Answers 3


Co-producer and writer David Weedle says:

Rubber-headed humanoid aliens have always had a place in sci-fi and always will have a place. I'm sure others will find inventive and revealing ways to utilize them. But because of Star Trek and shows of that ilk, they have become a cliche and we have challenged ourselves to create a compelling drama without have to resort to lizard men from deep space.

Also, Edward James Olmos, playing William Adama, was very reluctant to accept sci-fi clichés (including rubber-headed humanoids), so much so he jokingly threatened:

The first four-eyed monster I see, I’m going to faint on camera, and you’re going to write me off the show.

The series is about humans, about being human. Intelligences other than human or cylon would seriously dilute the show's message. Also note that BSG is not the only space opera without alien intelligence: Firefly springs to mind.

Oh and, in your comments you wonder how is it possible to have complex plant life and no animal life whatsoever on New Caprica: yeah, well, personally I always thought they showed the plants on New Caprica and the Algae Planet as way too complex organisms. It's a bit of a bad science in the show (bad science peaked around the Algae Planet arc, the "star cluster" part was painful to watch), due to budget constraints and undereducated set designers.

  • 5
    +1 For the informative comment by the producers. But I'm puzzled... you were surprised by the bad science of showing plant life with no animal life in a show with miracles and angelic beings? :P (I love the reimagined BSG, but the religion-come-true aspects were painful to me, especially as they grew more important in the series, and atheist characters either recanted or were shown to be in the wrong; the strongest atheist being the main villain of the show :( )
    – Andres F.
    Feb 11, 2014 at 14:13
  • 1
    @AndresF. "surprised" may be too strong a word: it's just that there was a whole lot of really silly stuff in season 3 that featured all the stuff I disliked in any Star Treks ("star cluster", gosh, that really did it to me), and which was in stark constrast with the relatively technobabble-free beginnings. But it's ultimately a matter of taste. Personally, I loved the religious aspect, and I don't regard it as bad science at all because it doesn't pretend to be scientific. Then again, I grew up reading Philip Dick, so no wonder I liked the miracle stuff :p
    – SáT
    Feb 11, 2014 at 14:35
  • 3
    I love Phil Dick as well! And indeed religion (and in general "the psychology of the soul") are his themes. But in BSG I expected more SF, especially since -- as you say -- the series beginning was relatively technobabble-free (and even babble-free in general). The later episodes are very hand-wavey and mystical, resorting to plugging plot holes with "God did it". Also, I prefer when atheists are represented sympathetically in fiction, as opposed to being wrong or the villains. "All powerful aliens and all mysteries converge to God" is a very tiring SF trope :(
    – Andres F.
    Feb 11, 2014 at 15:03
  • 1
    I understand their goal and point and their budget constraints, but one of the biggest things that bugged me about the show was that it was essentially life on Earth today, but with a few spaceships and some robot bad guys. And for a series that wanted to avoid cliche, it was rife with almost every sci-fi/action/thriller cliche known (except maybe time travel). And the pervasive re-use of well known Earth tech without any disguise (can you say Humvees?) tended to break part of it for me. Don't get me wrong. I did love the series, but leaving them all alone the entire series was a mistake.
    – BBlake
    Feb 11, 2014 at 18:08
  • 6
    @BBlake Which goes to show everyone's taste differs! I actually liked that the tech was (mostly) toned down and a lot like the tech from current Earth. For over-the-top futuristic stuff and aliens we have other shows... :)
    – Andres F.
    Feb 11, 2014 at 18:34

Frankly, who is to say that there is not? The Lords of Kobol certainly fit the description of "intelligent life." WHile they are worshiped by the Colonials as "gods", from the technology that was shown it is clear that they were likely an extremely advanced race whose morphology was not the same as human beings.

Also, while the series does indicate that space is a vast place, its vastness is still underestimated by the writers. The distance between New Caprica, the Algae Planet, Kobol and the Cylon's empire might only be a few dozen parsecs. Outside of that area, dozens or hundreds of races could exist and simply no nothing of humans or Cylons or be so xenophobia that they have no interest in interacting with them.

Finally, it's clear that the Cylons are obsessed with humanity. They couldn't care less about space exploration or discovering other lifeforms as it does not fit in with their fixation on humanity. As for human beings, the core colonies were their home. WHile they built a series of highly functional societies within that sphere, in the re-imagined series (unlike the original) there seemed to be little interest in travel much beyond that area of space.


I prefer the reimagined series precisely for this reason. In the Original BSG, the very first episode involved sentient Bugs. But instead of going the rubber-forehead route, the New BSG focused on the human element, and told interesting stories about people.

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.