If you’re looking to lose yourself in some richly detailed science fiction, look no further than the ambitious space opera saga of Babylon 5.
Created by writer J Michael Straczynski (also known as JMS), the story takes place hundreds of years in the future, when the people of Earth have spread out to build civilisations across the solar system.
The action centres on a space station called Babylon 5, intended as neutral ground for trade and diplomacy in a universe that has seen several brutal wars.
You’ll meet the large and memorable band of characters working aboard the station, whose lives are influenced by the ever-changing interplanetary relations and conflict.
For many, the appeal of Babylon 5 is its tightly structured narrative, as JMS had a five-season plan laid out from the very beginning, which he was able to realise with support from fans and Warner Bros.
Where many sci-fi shows have opted for one-episode storylines, often with little lasting consequences, Babylon 5 charted longer-form storylines in a similar manner to much later productions like Lost.
Those wishing to sample the series for themselves have two watch orders to choose from: release or chronological.
How to watch Babylon 5 in release order
If you want to experience Babylon 5 in the order that it was first released, feature-length pilot episode The Gathering is where you need to start.
It’s the perfect introduction to the world and sends you straight into the original television series, which contains many of the franchise’s most memorable moments.
1. Babylon 5: The Gathering (22nd Feb 1993)
2. Babylon 5: Season 1-4 (26th Jan 1994-27th Oct 1997)
3. In The Beginning (film, 4th Jan 1998)
4. Babylon 5: Season 5 (21st Jan 1998)
5. Thirdspace* (film, 19th Jul 1998)
6. The River of Souls (film, 8th Nov 1998)
7. A Call to Arms (film, 3rd Jan 1999)
8. Crusade: Season 1 (9th Jun 1999)
9. The Legend of the Rangers (film, 19th Jan 2002)
10. The Lost Tales: Voices in the Dark (31st Jul 2007)
*Note: Thirdspace was released while Babylon 5’s fifth season was airing on television and is chronologically set during the events of season four.
How to watch Babylon 5 in chronological order
When tackling a sci-fi saga such as Babylon 5, some people wish to follow the action in the chronological order of the universe, which can sometimes add some extra insight into events as they unfold.
Given that this was not the order intended by the writers behind the show, this technique isn’t recommended to complete newcomers to the franchise as it could make some plot points more confusing.
But if you’re revisiting the world and looking to shake up your viewing schedule, consider watching Babylon 5 in this chronological order.
1. In The Beginning* (film, year: 2245-48)
2. Babylon 5: The Gathering (year 2257)
3. Babylon 5: Seasons 1-4 (year: 2258-61)
4. Thirdspace (film, year: 2261)
5. Babylon 5: Season 5 (year: 2262)
6. The River of Souls (film, year: 2263)
7. The Legend of the Rangers (film, year: 2265)
8. A Call to Arms (film, year: 2266)
9. Crusade: Season 1 (year: 2267)
10. The Lost Tales: Voices in the Dark (year: 2271)
*The main story of In The Beginning is set 15 years before the Babylon 5 television series, but the film does feature a few scenes set much later in the year 2278.