15 Frakin' Fascinating Facts About Battlestar Galactica

The iconic sci-fi seires starring Edward James Olmos, Tricia Helfer and Katee Sackhoff made its debut on Oct. 18, 2004 after beginning as a miniseries

By Tierney Bricker 18 Oct, 2019 12:00 PMTags

Is Battlestar Galactica one of the most beloved TV series of all-time? So say we all!

It's been 15 frakin' years since BSG made its series debut on Syfy on Oct. 18, 2004, and while it would go on to become a cult-and-critic favorite over its four-season run, fans of the original series were less than enthused over creator Ronald D. Moore's reimagining of the series, which first returned as a miniseries in 2003. 

Battlestar Galactica first aired as TV series in 1978 and despite being canceled after just one season, it developed a loyal fanbase, thanks to iconic characters like Apollo and Starbuck. That might be why it took so long for Battlestar to come back, despite multiple attempts before Moore, a Star Trek veteran who is now an executive producer on Outlander, decided to take on the job, even penning a now legendary three-page manifesto that he presented to the network with his pitch for the reboot. 

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15 Frakin' Fascinating Facts About Battlestar Galactica

Titled "Naturalistic Science Fiction, or Taking the Opera out of Space Opera," the document was also sent out to the actors and boldly stated BSG's ultimate goal: : "Our goal is nothing less than the reinvention of the science fiction television series."

And Moore, along with stars Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, James Callis, Jamie Bamber and more, did just that, BSG going on to win a Peabody Award and the United Nations even hosting a retrospective for the series after it ended its run in 2009. 

To  celebrate Battlestar Galactica's 15th anniversary, we're revealing 15 behind-the-scenes facts you might not know about the show, like which star almost turned down their role, who was "pissed" when they landed a different role than they auditioned for and why Moore almost had objects thrown at him at a fan convention...

1. Though he initially turned it down because of his iconic sci-fi turn in Blade Runner, Olmos changed his mind after finally reading the script, especially Moore's manifesto. And during the filming of the mini-series, he proved to be just as much of a lead off-screen as Commander Adama was on-screen, "galvanizing" the entire cast and crew by delivering an epic speech in his  trailer during the first week of filming. 

"He sat us all down as the cast and went, ‘The show is going to go for five years. Five years. Every episode is going to be like a movie. Keep your powder dry. We're in this for the long haul. No one is to make fun of this,'" Callis recalled at the ATX TV Festival, and while he admitted he thought the actor was "raving mad" at first, it ended up setting he tone for the entire series.

2. Similarly, Adama's now-infamous catchphrase "So say we all!" was actually an ad-lib from Olmos during filming, with the actor repeating the line until the entire cast and group of  extras began chanting it as well. "It was just something Eddie came up with on his own in the moment, and then it became a signature line in the series after that," Moore reflected in So Say We All. "That was a big thing."

3. Even before the series returned, it had already angered fans with Moore making the decision to make Starbuck a woman in the new series, with Moore explaining in So Say We All, "I just realized that would change everything. It would change the whole dynamic. She would be an interesting character. It was right at the point where we were starting to get familiar with the idea of women in combat in the United States. So it was kind of a fresh and new character to play with. That was an early idea that then came to be a big influence in the show."

Original BSG fans? Not thrilled over the change, not that Moore minded. "Once it became a thing, then I was like, yeah, just stoke those flames, man. We need all the help we can get. Yell about it. Get angry. I need the publicity. Please. Go to chat rooms. More males demanding Ron Moore's head. Please. Give it to me!"

4. Sackhoff, then just 22 and much younger than producers initially envisioned the character being, only learned after she was cast that her character was initially a man when she sat down to watch the original series with a friend. After that, she went to an Internet cafe to see what fans were saying on message boards. "I learned in that moment, 'F--k em!'" she memorably said at the ATX TV Festival. 

5. After initially auditioning for Communications Officer Dualla and almost being cast as Starbuck, Grace Park admitted during the ATX TV Festival panel that she was "pissed" when she learned she wsa cast as Boomer. "I did not like that. I was like, 'Who the eff is Boomer?'" But after re-reading the script and discovering Boomer was a Cylon, Park's mentality quickly shifted.

6. Originally only set to appear in the miniseries, the fan response for Karl "Helo" Agathon, played by Tahmoh Penikett, was so strong that the producers ended up bringing him back for the series, despite implying he had died. The sci-fi loving actor "couldn't wipe the grin off [his] face," after getting the call. 

7. While it was initially introduced on the original series, Moore liberally used "frak" as a replacement for "f--k," with the term becoming an iconic TV saying. "I just said, 'This is a brilliant opportunity to say f--k over and over again" Moore admitted at the 2017 ATX TV Festival. "This is just a license to kill, so I'm just going to do it over and over again." 

8. Before Callis was cast, Jon Cryer auditioned for the role of Gaius Baltar, and Jane Seymour, who starred in the original series, was offered the role of Admiral Helena Cain, which ultimately went to Michelle Forbes after she turned it down. 

9. While her inexperience was an initial concern, Helfer landed the iconic role of Number Six, who memorably kills a baby in the first episode, a controversial scene that was almost cut. "The network didn't want it in there," Helfer said during the ATX panel, adding she felt it added "depth" to her character. Oh, and that infamous red dress she sported in all of the posters for the show? It sold for $23,000 at an auction in 2012.

10. Before BSG premiered, Moore decided to attend a 25th anniversary fan convention to screen some early footage for fans. The response? "I'm taking questions from the audience and they were unremittingly hostile," Moore recalled in So Say We All. "Didn't like it, thought it was an affront, thought it was an insult to the original show and terrible. And they hated Starbuck." As it continued to get more heated, an unlikely savior eventually stepped in: Richard Hatch, the original Captain Apollo, who had actually tried to revive the series several times over the years. 

"He spoke in front of a hostile and rather unreceptive audience. I was impressed with his courage and forthrightness," Hatch would later say. After the panel, Moore and Hatch spoke for the first time, with Moore eventually offering Hatch a role on the new series, despite the actor's initial concerns over the project. He would go on to play Tom Zarek, a new character, in 22 episodes.

11. A few of the stars' family members ended up with roles on the series: Olmos' son Bodie Olmos played rookie pilot "Hotdog" Costanza, Hogan's wife Susan Hogan portrayed the captain of the Prometheus, and Kerry Norton, Bamber's wife, played Layne Ishay.

12. Trying to keep Starbuck's actual fate secret in season three, the cast was outraged when the leaked script revealing the character's death in season three was  read by the cast, with no one knowing Sackhoff would actually return by season's end aside from Moore, the writers and Sackhoff. "Everybody thought, 'You're killing off Katee?' Leading the charge was Eddie Olmos. He was like, ‘This is preposterous. This is wrong. She's one of the signature characters in the show. What the hell are you guys doing?'" writer Michael Angeli recalled in So Say We All. "Of course we had to explain what was going on, and come clean about everything. But it was astonishing how militant Eddie got about keeping her on the show."

13. To help "break the ice" on their first day of filming together after being the last two stars cast on the show, Helfer suggested she and Callis kiss—despite not having a kissing scene—while they were rehearsing an intimate moment between their characters. "We were both really self-conscious," Callis explained at the ATX TV Festival. "We really trusted each other, it's a thing about trust and that's what helped us and helped us establish the relationship."

14. Despite the critical acclaim and cult-like following, Moore made the decision to end the series after four seasons. 

"It was my choice to end the show. Sci-Fi was kind of surprised," he told Empire. "I called...after the end of the third season. It was late in the game and I said, 'I want next year to be the last one. We've reached the third act of the story. I don't want to stretch it beyond the point where it would be good television, let's go out strong.' They were a little surprised, they hesitated, we talked about it a little bit and they agreed and that was the decision we made."

15. BSG would briefly live on with the spinoff prequel series Caprica, which was canceled after just one season, while a 10-episode web series, Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, was released in 2012. And in September 2019, it was reported that Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail is set to reboot the series for NBCUniversal's streaming service, Peacock.