Why Fans Are Rallying To Save The Babylon 5 Pilot

Reboots are the name of the game these days, but one of the more unexpected ones was a "Babylon 5" reboot, set to air on the CW, produced by Warner Bros. Television and helmed by original series' creator J. Michael Straczynski ("JMS").

"Babylon 5" is the name of the series' setting, a space station where the intergalactic powers of the 22nd century can conduct diplomatic business on neutral ground. The protagonist is the station's commander, John Sheridan (Bruce Boxleitner), but the series is an ensemble, following characters from all over the galaxy, each with depth and history. Over the course of the series, Babylon 5 becomes the centerpiece of a conflict millennia in the making. 

Per the initial announcement, the "ground-up" reboot will retell the story of Sheridan and Babylon 5 for a new audience — assuming it sees the light of day. Warner Bros' business strategy lately has been "no one is safe." Plus, the CW is now under the new majority ownership of the NexStar Media Group, who've indicated a shift is coming:

"As many of you are aware, The CW is currently the lowest-rated broadcast network, which we believe largely reflects the fact that its programming is targeted for an 18-to-34 audience demographic, while the average age of the CW broadcast viewer is 58 years. Over time, we'll be taking a different approach to our CW programming strategy."

It seems that NexStar is unsure if "Babylon 5" has a place in their new programming strategy. On September 19, 2022, JMS tweeted that the series' fate could be decided by the end of that month, imploring fans to raise their voices to NexStar and Warner Bros. Television.


After a pilot movie in 1993, the original "Babylon 5" ran for five seasons between 1994 to 1998. It was initially broadcast on PTEN, but after that network folded, it switched TNT for its final season. JMS approached the series as, "a novel for television" and started production with a five year plan (albeit one that was changed several times, due to actor availability and a narrowly avoided cancellation before season 5). This tightly serialized approach was ahead of its time, and a reboot which used similar storytelling would fit right into the modern era of television.

However, "Babylon 5" never had much luck at starting a wider media franchise. Four TV movies were produced from 1998 to 1999 — "In The Beginning" was a prequel, "Thirdspace" and "River of Souls" standalone side stories, and "A Call To Arms" a backdoor pilot for the spin-off "Crusade." Said spin-off last only a single 13-episode season. Other spin-offs, "Legend of the Rangers" and "The Lost Tales," never went to series.

Attempts at a "Babylon 5" movie have been made, from a continuation titled "The Memory of Shadows" to a silver screen reboot, but none have gotten off the ground. Further complicating things, much of the original cast has passed away since the show went off air.

The 2021 announcement of the CW reboot ended a long dormancy for "Babylon 5." The first sign and portent of things going wrong was when the pilot script was not picked up for the Fall 2022 season. The CW didn't pass on the script, though, but simply postponed the series until 2023. JMS reassured fans that CW President Mark Pedowitz was simply waiting as "the dust settles on the sale of the CW." It took only months for the writer to change his tune.

Fan campaign

In his tweet sounding the alarm, JMS used the hashtag "#B5onCWin23." Fans have been echoing his words to broadcast their support, to the point that it shortly theafter became Twitter's #1 trending topic. However, it's unclear what impact this will have or if it will be enough to save the series.

The shift at the CW is already underway. For one, the Arrowverse, the DC Comics shared TV universe which has run on the CW for over a decade, will be ending after "The Flash" concludes its ninth season. Deadline reports that part of Nexstar's new CW strategy: they're broadening the network's programming slate to include police procedurals and half-hour sitcoms. A lessened reliance on genre shows could bode poorly for "Babylon 5."

The signs aren't all bad though. According to JMS, Mark Pedowitz is, "a long time fan of B5. He worked for Warners when the show was first airing, and always made sure we got him copies of the episodes before they aired because he didn't want to wait to see what happened next." JMS adds that Pedowitz said the pilot is a "damn fine script." If "Babylon 5" has someone as important to the CW as Pedowitz in its corner, that will help a lot. The CW hasn't totally abandoned genre TV either. "Superman and Lois" has been picked up for a third season while the Batman adjacent "Gotham Knights" is still currently on track to premiere in 2023.

Speaking of: if you're a "Babylon 5" fan and need something to do besides raising hell online, you can read JMS' autobiography "Becoming Superman" to learn more details about the original show's production and his process as a writer. We'll know soon if we get to see more fruits of that process.