Miscellenous information on Cylons and Earth

Created by John Larocque on April 1, 1995
Last revised: August 31, 2005

The following are extracts pertaining to Cylons, from the publication "Encyclopedia Galactica: From the Fleet Library aboard the Battlestar Galactica."


The original Cylons were a technologically advanced reptilian race from a far corner of the galaxy. As they died out a millennia ago, little is known of their society. They must have been warlike and imperialistic since at the time of their extinction they had already conquered hundreds of other worlds. The key to the success of the early Cylon's conquests was their development, first of sophisticated robots, and then of fully intelligent androids. These machines were built to withstand enormous stress and to have great strength and powerful computational capacity. Armies of them swept through sector after sector of the galaxy. But ultimately, the machines became the superiors of their creators, and the Cylons themselves were destroyed by their own machines.

The Cylon androids, reptilian in form like their masters, continued the mission of destruction to which they had been assigned. Machines that they were, they swept through the galaxy even more ruthlessly than their creators. The directives of their programming crystallized into a single Edict of Extermination, that called for the destruction of all intelligent life forms in the Galaxy.

The Cylons have occasionally combined forces with beings like the Ovions, but few creatures are more useful to the Cylons alive than dead. Therefore, the number of members of the Cylon Alliance is likely to remain small. Cylons have no concept of friendship of loyalty, and are programmed to exterminate their living allies at the earliest convenient date.

Modern Cylons are basically humanform. The most common type is the Centurion, a heavily armored soldier capable of operating a Raider and piloting a Baseship, and also adaptable to planetary invasion and extermination. They are not of high intelligence, but can be cheaply mass-produced. A common Cylon strategy, therefore, is to overwhelm the enemy with large number of Centurions, many of whom will be destroyed, leaving a sufficient number of survivors to carry the day.

The most advanced Cylons are from the I-L Series. Both Lucifer, aide to Commander Baltar, and the Imperious Leader itself are of this type. I-L series Cylons have acute reasoning abilities, and can directly monitor electronic telemetry from up to fifty sources simultaneously. Much more than simple automatons, the I-L's at times exhibit humanlike drives for power. Human cylonologists speculate that this ambition response was deliberately programmed into the I-L's to insure prompt replacement of incompetent leadership.

The first human-Cylon contact occurred a thousand yahren ago, when combined human forces came to the defense of their allies, the Hasaris. The humans were unprepared for the massive Cylon offensive, and their fleet was soon forced back to the outer defense perimeters of their own Colonies. This was the beginning of the thousand-yahren Great Cylon War.

The humans proved to be the most formidable foes the Cylons had ever faced. Lacking imagination to respond to human advances creatively, the Cylons adapted in the only way they could: by imitation. The Centurions were designed to resemble humans more and more, and their weapons were redesigned accordingly. Human weapons advances were quickly met by Cylon copies, so that the war remained in stalemate for hundreds of yahren. The Colonial Unification Movement and the military genius of Commander Cain had pushed the Cylons to the breaking point, when the treachery of Baltar led to the near-final destruction of humanity.

Imperious Leader

An I-L series Cylon known as the Imperious Leader commands the vast Cylon Empire. Although the other I-L series Cylons treat the Imperious Leader with great respect, all secretly aspire to its role. No orderly means of succession has been developed; if an Imperious Leader show weakness, it is replaced by whatever Cylon unit has the power to eliminate it.

The first Imperious Leader engineered the overthrow of the reptilian Cylons. Today, of all Cylons, only the Imperious Leader retains reptilian form.


Baltar is without a doubt the most hated human in Colonial history. His greed and lust for power led him to deceive his fellow Councilors into relaxing their defenses, opening the door to the massive Cylon offensive in which at least seventy billion humans perished. The Cylon Imperious Leader promised Baltar safety for his own Colony, and personal rulership over the rest of humankind. Baltar, in return, persuaded the Quorum of the Twelve that the Cylons were sincerely interested in peace, and that they had already shut down most of their attack forces in a gesture of friendship. The humans then disabled most of their weapons.

Baltar, himself, was betrayed by the Cylons, who attacked all twelve colonies equally. Furthermore, their goal was not the enslavement of the human race under the dictatorship of Baltar, but rather the elimination of every human being from the galaxy. It was too late then for Baltar to return to the humans. The Cylons gave Baltar a choice between helping them complete their mission against the humans or slow death under torture. Baltar cast his lot with the Cylons, and appears now to enjoy his new rank of Commander of a Cylon Baseship. Although Baltar is not an inspired strategist by human standards, his imagination and knowledge of human nature make him indispensable to the Cylon Empire.

The following are excerpts from the episode novelizations Tombs of Kobol and War of the Gods, which were used in the very first version of the Battlestar Galactica FAQ, dated May 25, 1994. They were replaced with other material in subsequent revisions of the document.

Earth and Kobol

"The wondrous planet Earth had once been discovered by an earlier expedition of explorers. They sent a messenger ship back to report on Earth's resources and its characteristics... characteristics that made it the most perfect planet yet found for our colonization. Unfortunately, the messenger ship ran into trouble. A plague wiped out all but one of its crew, and its computer records were destroyed in the subsequent crash on Kobol's surface. The lone survivor died soon after, but not before reporting feebly the messages from Earth. The expedition itself was never heard from again...

"The legend has it that [the Ninth Lord of Kobol] received communication from another exploration ship that gave precise clues to the location of Earth. He, unfortunately, was a sceptic and did not believe in the hope that Earth represented. He also did not believe his planet was dying. It was said that he arranged for the crew of that exploration ship to be killed, and that he kept the secret of Earth's location to himself. His secret would not have been discovered but for some documents he left behind, documents that were carried to Caprica and enshrined there in the Planetary Museum... It said that the last Lord of Kobol had carried the secret with him to his tomb."

The Cloven Hoof in War of the Gods

"The body [among the wreckage] was shattered and burned, but its form was recognizable. It was large, twice as large as a human. It had a head, two arms and two legs, but there any resembance to human form ended. Its torso, although flattened by the piece of metal that had fallen upon it, was grotesquely large and misshapen. The chest cavity was huge. The fingers ended in talons and there were horns upon its head, sprouting from just above the eyes, which insects had eaten away. The body was in an advanced state of decomposition and the smell was overpowering. In spite of it both men were rooted to the spot. The thing had hooves. And a long, prehensile tail."