Shadows (Babylon 5)

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Shadow vessel in Babylon 5

The Shadows are an ancient alien species in the science fiction television series, Babylon 5. Their homeworld is Z'ha'dum. In contrast to the Vorlons that ask "who are you," the Shadows ask the question of "what do you want," centering towards desire rather than identity.

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In the fictional Babylon 5 universe, Z'ha'dum was the homeworld of the ancient, mysterious race known as the Shadows. Although a blasted, devastated world, from which the Shadows were frequently driven over the eons, they kept coming back out of respect for Lorien -- the first of the First Ones -- who for a long time resided on the planet.

Z'ha'dum is the homeworld of the Shadows. No one leaves the same as they arrived. --Delenn
If you go to Z'ha'dum you will die. --Kosh to John Sheridan


Year 1260

In 1260, the penultimate Shadow War raged between the Shadows and the combined forces of the Vorlons and Minbari. The Narn of the Narn Regime were also assaulted by the Shadows at this time. The Narn telepaths learned they could hurt the Shadows ships, and successfully fended off the attack. However, the Shadows destroyed all Narn telepaths of breeding age in order to prevent Narn telepaths from ever resisting the Shadows again.

Year 2259

In 2259, there are increasing reports of a black, spidery ship being encountered in hyperspace, which instills a dark fear in all who look upon it. Meanwhile, Narn ambassador G'Kar realizes that the ancient writings of the Narn philosopher G'Quan tell of a great enemy that rose to power a thousand years in the past. Known as the Shadows, they spread from their homeworld Z'ha'dum to rival the stars themselves:

"And the Spirit of Darkness moved upon the land. It screamed in the dreams of the Mindwalkers; and they fell, destroyed by it to their children and their children's children. Then did the Darkness come to Narn until it was driven out by G'Quan and the last of the surviving Mindwalkers."

The text is accompanied by pictures of the black ship, and ends on a chilling note:

"There is a darkness greater than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this foe we can never surrender."

Year 2260

In late 2260, Captain John Sheridan went to Z'ha'dum, and jumped into a ravine two miles deep to evade capture once his suspicion that he had been led into a trap was confirmed.

Before doing so, he remotely piloted his ship, the White Star, to crash into the Shadows' capital city, which he was visiting. The White Star was carrying two nuclear bombs in its cargo bay, each with a yield of over 500 megatons (the strongest nuclear bomb as of year 2000 only had a yield of 100 megatons).

Seconds after Sheridan jumped into the abyss, the White Star crashed into the city and the nuclear weapons it contained detonated: the White Star and the city were destroyed. In fact, the crater left from the blast was the size of a large Earth country and clearly visible from space.

Year 2261

At the Battle of Coriana 6, the second Shadow War ended and the Shadows passed beyond the Galactic Rim. Nonetheless, their servants, namely the Drakh, stayed behind, and retained the advanced technology of the Shadows.

Sheridan along with Bester and Lyta, trying to find some of this tech, went back to Z'ha'dum in early 2261: This triggered a self-destruct security feature that caused the entire planet of Z'ha'dum to explode, leaving nothing behind - except for what the Drakh took with them in their quick exodus from the planet.

Alliances and agents

 (center) is approached unawares by a Shadow on .
John Sheridan (center) is approached unawares by a Shadow on Z'ha'dum.


Resembling large spiders, the Shadows have several pairs of legs and other limbs. While they appear to have a black exterior color, they also have the ability to "cloak" their physical bodies outside the visible light range.


Virtually invincible, Shadow vessels are based on organic technology. A living being serves as the central processing unit of the vessel, giving it incredible control and maneuverability, but also providing a weakness for telepathic attack though it can countered by the preparation of telepaths as CPUs.

The Shadows it seems are also the provider of the source of the technology that gives the techno-mages their powers. It seems quite likely that the techno-mages were to serve as the Shadows' many soldiers of darkness and were to be the opposites of the telepaths in the Vorlon army of light.


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