Don't confuse "Cylon" with "Final Five"

The original Cylons (the 7 humanoids and the metallic ones) first defined the concept of Cylon in this version of BSG. Now the writers call them the Significant 7 or S7. The audience has been introduced to the concept of the "Final 5" Cylons. Because they are both called Cylons, I often see people confusing the two, and making some very wrong assumptions about the final 5. These are two very different types of Cylon, with two very different agendas. More different than any two factions of humanity in history, so it's hard to get a grasp of it. Strictly speaking only the S7 are descended from Graystone-brand Cylon(TM) Robots, but "Cylon" has become, like Aspirin, the generic term for an artificial being in the show.

The name "Final Five" which is Baltar's name for the last 5 Cylons he would meet, is confusing. If you think of them as the "Original Five" that might help a bit.

Let's look at some comparisons to clarify this:

  • The S7 engaged in a genocidal war against the colonies. The F5 fought for the colonial side. They played no visible part in planning or executing the Cylon attack.
  • The S7 have many copies. For the F5, we've only seen one, and perhaps another in white robes in a projection of the Kobol opera house.
  • The S7 seem fixed in age, and come out of the tank that way. The F5 age like humans.
  • The S7 were the occupiers on New Caprica. The F5 were the leaders of the resistance.
  • The S7 are super-strong and super robust. The F5 are perhaps slightly above average and not super strong until activated. (Tyrol was able to handle vacuum much better than Cally.)
  • The S7 infiltrated the colonies 2 years before the war. The F5 were there at least 40 years, probably much longer
  • The S7 are the result of experiments the metal Cylons did after the war. The F5 built the "Temple of 5" while on a trip from Earth, 4,000 years ago.
  • Just to make that clear. The S7 are a few decades old and from Caprica. The F5 are several thousand years old, and from Earth
  • The S7 fear Kobol. The F5 choose to appear in the Kobol opera house setting, destroyed 2,000 years ago.
  • The S7 have built in programming commanding them not to think about the F5; trying to get past it got #3 boxed. We don't know much about the F5's programming, other than 4 were planted as sleepers, set to "wake up" at the Ionian nebula.
  • The Centurions will obey and not shoot at S7 members. Before activation, they would attack F5 members. After activation, this appears to have changed.
  • The S7 can't breed with one another and have a very hard time breeding with humans. Tyrol of the F5 seemed to have little trouble breeding. Tigh quickly was able to breed with Caprica Six.
  • The S7 planted copies all over the colonies. We only see one of each F5 planted, but 3 (possibly 4) were arranged to be on or near Galactica at the start of the war, one as XO. The 4th made it through remarkable odds, and we don't yet know how the 5th got there. The F5 were clearly very interested in Galactica and Adama.
  • The S7 worship their god from afar, and Cavil is even doubtful. The F5 appear to have been the 5 priests of some god which seems likely to have been the Cylon god.
  • When the Raiders learn the F5 are with the fleet, they immediately back off -- or possibly Anders sends an unconscious command that they do so. Some of the S7 don't believe the raiders. (No cylon reacted to the F5 before activation, however.) Raiders happily attack the fleet with S7 members aboard, and even Athena who fights them.

This show has a cycle. All this has happened before and will happen again. There have been several cycles of creation of Cylons and war with them. The S7 are from the latest cycle, or believe themselves to be. The F5 are from some earlier cycle, possibly going back to the very first cycle.

There's still a lot we don't know about the F5. We don't know what their agenda is. We don't know their relationship to the Cylon god. We don't know why they were planted as sleeper agents, set to wake up at the Ionian nebula, and planted as much as 60 years ago. We don't know if there are other copies, sleeper or non-sleeper out there, at different apparent ages. We don't know how, when or why they implanted themselves in colonial society, but since they age and can have children, they have probably been there since the exodus from Kobol. We don't know if they took the same form each generation or not. We don't know how or why they (or somebody related to them) programmed the S7 not to think about them, while still knowing they exist at some level.

We can guess a few things:

  • They probably knew about the war, even if not planning it, and probably allowed it to happen. Their plan involves taking the colonials to the Ionian nebula, and beyond, after all.
  • The final 5 have been Cylons "from the start" according to Tyrol. That means either from birth, or embedding in colonial society as children. They could be natural born or switched in a hospital, or snuck in later with forged histories.
  • They probably snuck the knowledge of their biotechnology to the metal cylons to help them create the S7, and got to control their programming at that time. This explains why the S7 are not very good at their biotech, and can't breed themselves even though they can grow themselves in tanks. (Hint: starting from a human template, which one is easier?)
  • They probably come from Earth, since the Temple of Five, in which they appear, is said to have been built by the mythical 13th tribe of Earthlings. (This is mostly confirmed by the rebel Hybrid.)
  • They are the disciples of some godlike figure, the god whose name must not be spoken in the temple of five. This is almost surely the Cylon god, who put a message in the babble of the Hybrid that Baltar decoded as meaning to go to the Algae Planet.
  • They like Bob Dylan. :-)
  • They make be interested in the Adamas because Joseph Adama, father of Bill, helped Graystone to build the first Cylons, and Bill's big sister Tamara was the template for one of them. Later J. Adama renounced the project, and may have opposed the slavery of the Cylons.
  • Even before full activation, they had some compulsions, like Tyrol's quest to seek the Temple of 5 and his refusal to destroy it when ordered.

They have entirely different agendas. While Tigh had a daydream about shooting Adama, truth is, there is no reason an F5 member would want to kill Adama. If one group is controlling the other, it's the F5 who are manipulating the S7.

So if you hear the word Cylon, be sure to realize that there are at least 2 very different types, and you can't assume almost anything you learned about one type is true of the other.


I do not see how the XO can be a cyclon as he is much older than the technology which created the human like cylons.

You are confusing Final Five (ie. Tigh) with the original human like Cylons. They are as alike as java and javascript. Tigh is not 60 years old, he is at least 4,000 years old -- but he does not remember that yet. Realize that and it comes together.

I thought they might reincarnate like the prototype hybrid. Then again, he could be a special case being neither of the three Cylon types. If the Final Five are that old it knocks Apollo out. It probably knocks Starbuck out as well. I guess, that leaves Baltar and the filler. I can't stretch to Gaeta. His freaking out with Starbuck over the star charts didn't ring with that. Doc Cottle seems too incidental to me. Dualla's character would snap like a twig is she was the Final Cylon. Somehow, Zarek seems too cheesy. I guess that leads us, eyes rolling, back to Baltar.

Hang on. Nobody's mentioned Romo Lampkins cat...

While Gaeta is one of the few characters we have not seen the inner thoughts of, and thus he could be an aware Cylon, the other 4 were sleepers so the 5th could be too.

However, I don't see what you're saying about age. Nobody appears 4,000 years old, so that tells us nothing. The F5 could plant sleepers where and when they wanted them, over the whole history of Kobol and the colonies.

I wasn't paying attention and ended up confusing myself. It looks like the issues thrown up by the different Cylon types will unfold as we head in. Your essay is a good peice of work and we'll just see how things shake down as things develop.

what if the final five exist in the human genome, and every generation a new one arises(out of all the final five) so they repeat over and over again throughout eternity.
Thus, helo could of had a recessive cylon final five gene, and it was enough to make him able to reproduce with 8. and it hadn't work with any other human because they were so different. Thus Hera could be the final cylon.
I dont know just an idea...

Well, I did notice the strange coincidence that just after the first Hybrid declares his life will begin again in ways uncertain, and he is blown up, Sharon goes into emergency labour and Hera is born prematurely.

Yeah but that's not necessarily connected. Ron said the First Hybrid was just going to be randomly reincarnated but it got cut because of the time schedule.

Oh, I had not heard that -- where did you see it?

I swear blind I mentioned it in an earlier topic. I went looking but can't find it, and my record on finding stuff is looking a bit flimsy so I'll give up on that. Um, Ron mentioned it in one of the Razor podcasts. If I recall, it would be somewhere around the thick end of the bunch.

It's funny, most people read that part of the movie as if the First Hybrid is just another evil Cylon. That's the vague impression I got at the time but listening to Ron talk fleshed out another angle. He could've avoided being killed but embraced it as part of a larger inevitable path. There was also the hint that he saw the futility of war between Cylons and humans and welcomed an end to the silliness. Then again, that could just be Ron's mouth motoring ahead of his brain. Who knows, life is a mystery.

One of the things common to all of the Dylan-Four is that they have placed themselves in positions to influence - but not determine- humanities destiny. Based on all we have seen to date, there are accurate prophecies that describe the events transpiring on the show, and the Cylons are aware of them (esp Leoban and the First Hybrid). It is likely that the Five were well aware of who would be important players before they went into "sleeper" mode, and are subconsiously trying to herd humanity down the proper path.


Old friend of and advisor to Bill Adama.
May have influenced him to get back into the military.
Leader of resistance on Caprica.
Pushes Starbuck hard, much as her mother abused her to prepare her for her "special desitiny."

Becomes chief tech aboard Adama's ship.
Romances a cylon agent, which may have stopped her from destroying the fleet, and changes in her later have dramatic consequences for the S7 Cylons.
Also a leader in the resistance
Helps find the temple on the algae planet, which will lead them to the Ionian nebula, reveal the final 4, and let them find Starbuck with the path to Earth

Advisor to President Roslin, the Dying Leader
Tries to steal an election (with Tigh's help as I recall) to ensure Roslin remains the leader and humanity does not settle New Caprica

Waits on New Caprica to assist Starbuck (who will return to Galactica with the arrow of Artemis) and Athena (mother of the first Hybrid).
Falls in love with Kara,which leads to the rescue mission, which results in the new Cylon armistice and the discovery of New Caprica
Also becomes a resistance leader on New Caprica
By becoming viper pilot, stops Raiders from destroying the Galactica's fleet.

Based on the premise that there is a difference between the S7 cylons and the final 5. What if the 5th cylon was actually one of the S7? Not the entire model line but just one individual S7.

You're the first person I've seen suggest an idea that has been in my head since the first airing of Maelstrom. And I assume you are making reference to Number Two/Leoben, who in one incarnation or another is, I'm sure, Kara Thrace's (at least biological) father. (Just because Inner Six said Hera is the first human/Cylon hybrid doesn't mean it's true. I mean, she doesn't know who the other five are so anything could have happened and she wouldn't know.)

I don't know if Number Two is also the fifth, or the also 13th, or neither, but I think he has a much more important role to play than we have been led to believe.

The secret of the Cylon yet to be revealed lies in D'Anna Three's reaction in the temple -- one of surprise, but not necessarily fear as she might feel towards Tigh for having tortured him -- and it would seem to me that she has always imagined herself superior to the Cylon yet to be revealed. She then says to Baltar, "You were right," implying that they have discussed the Cylon yet to be revealed ... and implying that we have heard that conversation. While many might see this as implicating Baltar, it really encompasses everyone (human and Cylon, if there really is a difference) that D'Anna and Baltar both have knowledge of. (That is also a point for Felix Gaeta, who has been at the center of everything -- the virus, the Cylon detector, the star charts, the trial -- and he was involved with biogenetics before and plots the course/FTL jumps for the fleet.)

Still, I'm convinced Number Two/Leoben is in there somewhere. He was introduced in the mini-series, he is the most metaphysical and philosophical of the S7, he is bound to Kara, and he exists in a form different from Leoben, as we learned in Maelstrom.

There is also the musical clue. Kara playing the piano music in her apartment with Helo, a very similar piece (without rights paid each time to Philip Glass) that is the Basestar theme, and the Opera House on Kobol ... if the music (or musician) is not important, then why not the library or the hall of justice or the sports arena?

He obviously is quite different from the others. Why does he know about Kara's destiny? Do the others know? I recall hearing an official declaration that the last Cylon is not one of the five -- that there really are 12. Otherwise I would be suspecting him. It seems likely that both #1 and #2 know more than the others, more than they have let on. And their numbers, just revealed, tend to back that up.

D'Anna also tortured Baltar, don't forget. I examined everything Baltar said to her, and there's really only one obvious thing that she would be saying "you were right" about. (I have another post on the blog about this.)

I have been pondering last weeks episode (Six of One), specifically the scenes involving the S7. I see a Genesis themed story for the Cylons developing. The ones, fours and fives are adamant that discussion of the F5 is forbidden by their "programmers". The sixes, twos, eights (all but one anyway) and threes have launched a quest for the F5. Generally, all of the female characters are on one side and the males on the other (the twos being the exception). The 1-4-5 faction is going to great lengths to suppress all knowledge of the F5; boxing the threes, lobotomizing the raiders. In Genesis, when Eve and Adam took a bite of the apple, it had disastrous consequences. Likewise, the quest for the F5 is having serious repercussions for Cylon society.

Does anyone else see the same themes developing? This series is so rich with metaphor, it is hard to tell what is intentional, and what is random chance.

I've viewed BSG as a mix of the search for the holy grail and Rorcshach tests for a while. Ron is just buffooning around and we'll get dished what ever result he wants to present. I'm a bit ticked off he knocked the Final Cylon into the long-grass. That was a bit of cheat and with the extended hiatus I just want the guy to square whatever circles need to squared and just wrap the thing.

After tonight we know that Tori is...well...pretty much as close to evil as I can imagine. I can only wonder what Chief would do if he knew what she did to Cally, fellow Cylon or not.

I think given the differences in personality the final 5 will wind up having their own little civil war, just as their S7 brethren are already engaged in.

Speculation (a little better adapted from a recent Usenet post of mine):

The S7 already have well-thought-out boxing facilities. How do we know if or how they have been used before D'Anna? S7 reincarnation *could* be a primitive adaptation of older downloading technologies. Older technology might not have required identical bodies. The S7 could be downloads into bodies built by Toaster-level evolution (hybrids anyone?).

Maybe the 40,000 year-old Final Five didn't download into Colonial bodies until *after* the war? [There has always been a plan -- the F5 didn't want a large violent return to Earth, etc.]

This makes the odds of downloading into survivors 100% (no it's-a-tv-show miracles). If so, *when* did they download?

1) Only when the Colonial was dying (or to us could have died) -- like the movie The Hidden, they share a life force that makes the human more survivable (not necessarily skinjob tough)):
a) Tigh on New Caprica
b) Tyrol with Cally at the pod bay door scene
c) Anders in the Mountains on Caprica
d) Tory in the escape from New Caprica
e) Lee after destroying Resurrection Ship
f) Kara in nebula
g) Baltar in house on New Caprica (better if Baltar isn't Final 5 b/c Baltar already occupied)

2) Whenever they wanted b/c human life not valuable (possibly all on New Caprica)

3) Whenever they wanted b/c they will share bodies like Head-Six and Baltar, the Final 5 merging rather than killing the host.

Anyway, just some possible justification that (even if it was retconned) doesn't *feel* retconned.

Moore knew that fans kept speculating about cylons taking over or copying the bodies of regular people. My sense is he is tired of this SF cliche, and didn't want to have it in the show. so he's declared several times this doesn't happen.

And more to the point, he had Tyrol say, "We're Cylons, and we have been from the start." That last line isn't for them -- they know this, after all -- it's for the audience, to remind you that no, what you suggest didn't happen.

That doesn't mean however, that they don't have different bodies with different incarnations.

Please remember, I'm only tossing out what I think is a solid possibility, I'm not trying to say it is provable. If any of the good stuff was a priori provable, we wouldn't generate so much buzz for the show by speculating :)

That said, I did forget Tyrol's "[A]nd we have been from the start line." And I do appreciate the loony theories of which it disposes. However, I will note that Tyrol doesn't say "[A]nd we have been from birth" I do not think the F4 were born Cylon (or at least F4); given Tyrol's statement (both to the viewer and to the other 3) I do concur that any downloading or upgrading to the F4 must have been during the miniseries (or at least by the time they first appear). I think that keeps the "from the start" real. And, given that they didn't *know* until season 4, we'll have to hope the writers say which, if any, actions were taken by them between the miniseries and when they are revealed. My quick "retcon" is:

1/2) Tigh/Tyrol -- Miniseries, possible first F4 actions with fire extinguishing scenes (I'll have to rewatch)
3) Anders -- First appearance on Caprica
4) Tory -- First appearance after Billy dies

Note, I'm not saying some of this isn't retcon, but if it is, it can fit well. And it *does* with the "They have a plan" line.

Finally, Tyrol is speaking only the the F4 -- this puts no burden on when #5 transferred.


There was no reason for Tyrol to tell the other 3 that they were Cylons from the start. There is no "start" to these characters, other than their own births or decantings.

I think if it had made dramatic sense, RDM would have had Tyrol say, "So enough with the theories that we're people taken over/cloned by evil robots."

You agree that's an overused TV SF cliche. He knows it is. So why do people, even when told clearly, still love to imagine it? What is it that attracts you to the theory that they weren't born or made Cylons? (I suspect born myself.) Once you know that Tigh, Tyrol, Anders, Foster and the 5th are from Earth, and have been around for thousands of years, what is so attractive about saying that only recently did they move into these bodies, which were once occupied by people the same as the rest of the colonials?

When Hogan learned he was to be a Cylon, his first question to Moore was whether it made him a different person. He was bothered if the writers were going to take his character and suddenly give it a whole new set of motives, a new personality. Moore said no. These characters are who they always were and always have been -- the difference is they now know that they are Cylons, and are now expressing a few Cylon abilities. But they still are who they were, as Tigh said. Foster is the one who's starting to lose her old self. But that's not programming. I think that's exploration of her new self-knowledge.

First, this is just an idea I have that fits the facts that I see them -- it's pure speculation. I honestly think "from the start", said to both other three and (breaking the fourth wall) to the audience is sufficiently ambiguous to support either of our positions. You believe it means birth (as we as whatever support system allows only the final four. I believe that "from the start" could mean from the start of this war (essentially the start of the show -- the miniseries) I may allow a little flexibility, as two of the four were (IMO) ever supposed to be cylons, much less characters, during the miniseries. The value the statement holds seems to be that any position other than one of ours (i.e., a position that one of the F4 was copied/replaced/possessed AFTER the miniseries definitely contradicts Tyrol's statement. However, that's not necessarily a problem if (1).

1) Tyrol was lying or wrong -- it could happen, not likely
2) "From the start" meant birth -- establishes major differences between 7 a 5, but
a) ignores how/why Caprica six and others discredits 12 known models as if was a family
b) Fail to explain why the F4 are alive (the seven didn't apparently know the f4 were alive and with he fleet)
c) Doesn't allow for either (thhey never die) or (die and are reborn without serious kludge

3) My was (fron the start" means beginning of series has:
a) explains lack of knowledge of F4 since war
b) easily explains how they lived

And finally, Tyrol spoke only with the R4. No bet of #5 :)


Remember the reason for all this. RDM has regularly told fans none of the Cylons are replacements for real colonials or copies of them. He doesn't like that cheap TV SF trick and I agree with him.

He could change his mind, of course, but Tyrol's line pretty clearly shows he hasn't. And why would he -- he's right. As for explaining the difference, it's explained here in the thread and the master article that started this blog.

BTW, I think the final 5 are copies of humans, by the way, but in this case 21st century Earth humans who wanted to be uploaded into AI form, not people whose lives were taken over. This is not a TV SF cliche and nobody would have a problem with it.

good clue

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