It’s been nearly 10 years since the Colonial Fleet finally made their way to Earth and Battlestar Galactica made its way into television history. Arguably a game-changer when it came to making a place for genre television in the mainstream, BSG remains one of the most critically-acclaimed and influential science fiction shows ever to hit the airways. But if you’re reading this, you probably know that. If you’re reading this, you cheer when “33” makes it onto any “All-Time Best Episodes of TV” list. If you’re reading this you obsessed over the identities of the Final Five and were utterly shocked when they were revealed (#5, amirite?).
And if you’re reading this, you don’t want to go back to a time in your life when “frack,” “So say we all!” and “All of this has happened before…” weren’t parts of your everyday lexicon. This list of BSG memes isn’t for the casual fan (especially if you haven’t finished the series because there be SPOILERS below, matey), though you’re certainly welcome to read it if you want to bone up on some inside jokes. We’ve scoured the internet for the memes that best reference feelings we had watching BSG the first time (or times) around, and trust when we say this is a blind jump into nostalgia you’ll really want to take.
15. STARBUCK 2.0
After Starbuck came back from the dead, she was a bit… discombobulated, shall we say? She insisted she came back knowing the way to Earth, but considering the only people to ever come back from the dead looking brand spanking new were Cylons, the Colonial Fleet had a hard time believing her. So, she struggled to find her place, and that struggle was made harder by the fact that she was plagued by visions of her father and a catchy tune she couldn’t get out of her head.
Turns out, that tune, “All Along the Watchtower,” happened to correlate with some very special jump coordinates that got the newly united Cylon and Colonial Fleet to their final destination — a habitable Earth. And thank goodness, because Starbuck spent a lot of time drinking and plunking the piano in the back half of the fourth season, and audiences worried it wouldn’t go anywhere.
14. #TBT TO WHEN THE OFFICE WAS ALL OF US
While most of us remember the Battlestar Galactica reboot as a defining moment in genre television, it remained a cult show for much of its run. Despite garnering massive amounts of critical acclaim, it was never mainstream, as evidenced by its Emmy shut-out and early cancellation. That’s why it made so much sense that Dwight Shrute would be one of its biggest defenders.
Dwight exemplified the old-school, hardlined geek stereotype, and that made him a very fitting acolyte of BSG. In 2004, geeks were still struggling to be taken seriously when it came to recommending genre shows to mainstream TV watchers. But BSG was an objectively good show, so no doubt some of us were as intense as Dwight when insisting that others tune the frack in.
13. PRESIDENT BILL BALTAR
Boy if anyone needed a Xanax during the first season of Battlestar Galactica, it was Gaius Frakking Baltar. Arguably one of the most brilliant minds in the 12 Colonies, Baltar was something of a celebrity scientist. He was also a serious womanizer, which made him a prime target for Caprica Six’s attentions.
Just before the nuclear destruction of the Colonies, Six revealed that she’d been using her relationship with Baltar to gain access to Caprica’s primary systems in order to ensure total victory for the Cylon invasion. Baltar arrived on the Galactica armed with the knowledge that he’d been unwittingly complicit in the destruction of the Colonies. He spent the better part of the next few years burdened by that knowledge, as well as dodging Laura Roslin’s suspicions. Makes the Lewinsky scandal look pretty tame by comparison, eh?
Battlestar Galactica was a pioneer of the binging age. Before streaming services made it way too easy to watch seasons of shows at a time, BSG helped create the need for that type of service. The show’s miniseries pilot with its killer twist hooked audiences in a way they hadn’t been hooked since Lost. But the show was a sleeper hit on a network without much in the way of an On-Demand back catalog, so new viewers had to resort to pirating. And pirating seasons at a time (despite the moral and legal issues) turned out to be a pretty rewarding experience.
Because it’s true — you can’t just watch one. The show was heavily serialized, and each episode of the first season was paced with such a sense of urgency that people were utterly gripped. The phenomenon was so widespread, Portlandia wrote an episode dedicated to the show’s addictive nature.
11. YES HE FRAKKING DOES
One would never characterize Admiral Bill Adama as a rash military leader, but he knew when to roll the hard six. Among the many spectacular shows of military prowess he lead, our favorite will always be dropping the Galactica into New Caprica’s upper atmosphere and then JUMPING OUT. At the end of the day, what made Adama a great leader was his understanding of when and how to use appropriate force.
We get the feeling he’d have knuckled down, gritted his teeth and taken out every last Orc on the way to Mordor with a scowl and a few well-placed “Frak yous.” Sure, there are some logistics changes he’d have to adjust to what with being in Middle Earth and all, but if you’re looking for a direct approach in any situation, Adama’s your man.
10. LEE GOES A LITTLE SOFT
Everyone, audience and character alike, took the Cylon occupation of New Caprica pretty hard. Lee Adama took his feelings of frustration and powerlessness and proceeded to bury them under a large pile of carbs. In the year that passed between when the Cylons appeared and the Colonists’ eventual rescue, the younger Adama put on a little weight, turning Jamie Bamber from a sculpted Adonis into a way too cuddly Adonis.
We’re not trying to fat-shame in the slightest here, but his weight gain was such a sudden and drastic change from normally svelte physique that it was almost comical. Up until then, we’d only seen indulgence in the form of booze, unadvisable sex and/or violence (see: Starbuck), so realizing Lee’s vice was food was kind of adorably sad in the face of all the darkness that surrounded the rest of that storyline.
9. BSG EXPLAINS CHARACTER ALIGNMENTS
If you ever need to explain Dungeons and Dragons character alignments to anyone, simply send them this meme. It illustrates each one perfectly — and we do mean perfectly — with the use of Battlestar Galactica characters. Adama’s Lawful Good because he’s got a strong moral compass and a very set way of acting on that moral compass. Starbuck’s Chaotic Good because while no one would ever question her intentions, she definitely does not color within the lines.
We really wish this grid had found a spot for Laura Roslin, but we can’t really blame the creator — Roslin doesn’t really fit into a box. She made the questionable decisions one needs to as a post-apocalyptic political leader, and that didn’t always win her a lot of friends on the show or off.
8. SON OF A FRAKKING BORTCH!
Ron Moore’s world-building for the BSG reboot was full of a lot of simple genius that drew us into the Colonial Fleet seamlessly. In an effort to ground this science fiction show in a little more realism than, say, Star Trek, the Galactica was an old ship that had purposely remained free of more advanced technology in case the Cylons ever came back.
Then, when they did, it was not only believable that the Galactica would survive, it set the stage for a show unburdened by the fanciful design and idealism that turned off a lot of people to more mainstream sci-fi. One of the ways he created the necessary, militaristic atmosphere on a network that wouldn’t allow swearing was… to invent a new swear word. Thus, “frack” was born, and the rest is history.
7. BECAUSE… YOU KNOW… HE’S A…
You all remember when four of the final five Cylons were revealed in one of the trippiest season finales in history, right? When Tigh, Tyrol, Tory and Anders wound up crawling through the battlestar driven batty by the strains of “All Along the Watchtower” and whispering lyrics, NO ONE had any idea what to expect. Even though we’d all hotly debated who the likely candidates were, Saul Tigh was a Usual Suspects-level twist.
Like, the only thing that got Tigh out of bed besides booze was the idea of destroying the Toaster threat — he’d killed his own wife for betraying the Resistance to the Cylons on New Caprica, for gosh sakes. And yes, we knew the Cylons operated sleeper agents, but supposedly Tigh’d been around since before they’d developed that tech, so his reveal was as confusing as it was revelatory.
6. THIS MEME HAS A POINT
It’s rare that we discuss a captain in any fandom that can hold a candle to Jean-Luc Picard’s turn on the Enterprise’s D and E. HOWEVER, it should be noted that the Enterprise could’ve used a little of Adama’s foresight when dealing with its enemies. While Laura Roslin (and presumably a lot of other political and military peers) mocked Adama’s strict adherence to the “no networked computers on my ship” rule, it turned out to be humanity’s only hope after the Cylons attacked and easily disabled nearly every other ship’s defense systems.
While Picard was a brilliant strategist and diplomat, we did occasionally wonder why gangs of thieves, rogue Ferengi and some lady with a video game could get control of the Federation flagship multiple times throughout the run of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
5. SIMON AND GARFUNKEL GET IT
The best thing about this meme is that Simon and Garfunkel legit look scared of the Cylon behind them. The photo was only adjusted to insert the OG Centurion from the original show, so their expressions are just a bit of dumb, wonderful luck. The pic inspires thoughts of what a Cylon takeover would’ve looked like through the eyes of the 70s folk rock scene.
If you’re a reboot fan only, this Cylon probably looks pretty unfamiliar. The original design did pop up here and there in the reboot and its prequel, Caprica, but for the most part, Moore stuck to his sleeker, reimagined design. However, he did keep the Cylons’ trademark red light eye and the signature, foreboding scanning sound they made as they searched for humans.
4. THIS SHIP SANK
If you were a Boomer/Tyrol shipper, our condolences. Rarely has a ship so tragically played out. After the couple adorably won our hearts in the first three quarters of the pilot, the last frame of the miniseries revealed Boomer to be a Cylon sleeper agent. At that point, her love affair with Chief Galen Tyrol was doomed. It didn’t happen right away, though.
We watched Tyrol struggle with still loving Boomer once her true nature was revealed, and we watched him unsuccessfully try to start anew with Callie. But once his own Cylon nature came to light, there was a glimmer of hope that he and Boomer could find their way back to each other. Unfortunately, Boomer’s time with the Cavill had made her cynical and treacherous, so she wound up using his feelings for her in order to kidnap Hera at the end of Season 4. *Le Sigh*
3. MISSION (NEARLY) IMPOSSIBLE
One of the reasons the BSG reboot was so resonant was the layered inner conflict that permeated the Colonial Fleet. Despite the fact that everyone was united in the pursuit of survival, just what that survival meant was up for serious debate. Under the influence of chamalla extract, a new-agey cancer treatment that had hallucinogenic effects, Laura Roslin became convinced humanity’s only chance for sustainable survival was finding the way to the heretofore mythical Earth.
The search involved some intense Indiana Jones-ing on her part, and Starbuck, having recently fallen out with her mentor, Adama, volunteered to pick up an essential artifact from Caprica. Suffice it to say, the job was NOT easy, and Starbuck barely returned with her life. Later, when she came back from the dead and Roslin believed her to be a Cylon despite her performance on this mission, their relationship… suffered.
MARK SHEPPARD MIGHT BE A CYLON
When the Colonial Fleet finally got off New Caprica, the first line of business was putting Gaius Baltar on trial for… well, being the galaxy’s worst president. Mark Sheppard played his enigmatic, cat-weilding defense attorney, Romo Lampkin. Lampkin became one of the series most successful later additions and wound up president of the remaining Cylon/Colonial fleet once they settled on Earth.
When Sheppard appeared on BSG, you probably recognized him from one of his many, many previous guest star turns on other genre series, several of which are listed on the meme above. This guy has made a prolific career out of being “that guy from that thing,” and he’s still out there pounding the pavement. Sheppard can most recently be seen on the MacGyver reboot as Jason Tennant.
2. STARBUCK = STARBUCK
Are people still complaining about a female doctor? Yes? Then please refer them to one of the more iconic character sex changes in television history. When Ron Moore rebooted BSG in 2004, one of the most significant deviations he made from the original was turning Dirk Benedict’s hotshot pilot into a (gasp!) female! Many other elements of the character remained the same — she still gambled, she still smoked cigars, she was still “best friends” with Apollo and she was still the best pilot in the fleet.
However, fans of the original practically rioted when they heard the news, convinced this was yet another in a long line of blasphemous changes to their beloved series. They turned out to be very, very wrong, and Kara Thrace remains one of the reboot’s most popular characters. So, calm down, Whovians. It’s gonna be just fine.
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