The Babylon project is a dream that's about to be given a new form. A quarter of a century since "Babylon 5"'s groundbreaking and influential five-year arc came to an end, the sci-fi show's creator, J. Michael Straczynski, is returning to the eponymous five-mile-long space station for all-new animated movie "The Road Home."
A contemporary of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine", the show originally ran from 1993 to 1998, and told the story of humans and aliens struggling to maintain a delicate peace against a backdrop of civil wars, ominous prophecies, and super-powerful ancient races. The new film will focus on Babylon 5 commanding officer John Sheridan as a mysterious force sends him jumping through time. It will also reunite many of the original cast, including Bruce Boxleitner and Claudia Christian.
Straczynski has described "The Road Home" as "Classic B5: raucous, heartfelt, nonstop, a ton of fun through time and space & a love letter to the fans." He's also confirmed that the film is "finished and in the can", and that it'll be released by Warner Bros Animation and WB Home Entertainment sometime this summer.
This is one of two "Babylon 5" projects Straczynski has been working on, the other being a rebooted TV series for U.S. network The CW. With that show seemingly stuck in indefinite development limbo, the entirely separate "The Road Home" is – for now, at least – the last best hope for B5 fans. Here's everything you need to know.
When is the Babylon 5: The Road Home release date?
All we know for sure about the "Babylon 5: The Road Home" release date is that it'll arrive soon.
This year's instalment of the annual geekfest, San Diego Comic-Con, runs from 19-23 July, so don't be surprised to see the new animated movie landing in late July. Straczynski has also confirmed that this "new original animated movie is already finished", so it shouldn't be delayed by Hollywood's ongoing writers' strike.
How to watch Babylon 5: The Road Home
It's yet to be confirmed where we'll be able to watch it, though given the presence of Warner Bros Home Entertainment in the credits, a video-on-demand and/or Blu-ray/DVD release seems likely.
Don't be surprised if it also turns up on Warner's new-look streaming service, Max (formerly HBO Max), at some point.
What is the plot of Babylon 5: The Road Home?
While we know Straczynski has been working on a "Babylon 5" reboot with the CW network (a project that seems stuck somewhere in the outer reaches of hyperspace), "The Road Home" is entirely separate. The writer has also confirmed via his subscriber-only Patreon page (reported by IGN) that it's "not a sidebar story, or an unrelated sequel, or a re-do of anything that came before", so how it connects to B5's original five-year arc is anybody's guess.
"Travel across the galaxy with John Sheridan as he unexpectedly finds himself transported through multiple timelines and alternate realities in a quest to find his way back home," says the official logline for "The Road Home", as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. "Along the way he reunites with some familiar faces, while discovering cosmic new revelations about the history, purpose, and meaning of the Universe."
John Sheridan, of course, was the main protagonist of the show from seasons 2-5. Initially an Earth Alliance captain, he went from commanding Babylon 5 to president of the Interstellar Alliance, the show's answer to "Star Trek"'s United Federation of Planets. Over the course of the series, he died on Z'ha'dum (the deserted homeworld of ancient antagonists the Shadows), but was subsequently resurrected so he could fulfill his destiny, eventually telling the Shadows and their eternal rivals the Vorlons to "get the hell out of our galaxy." When he died again two decades later, he was seemingly transported away to join the "First Ones" in some distant corner of the universe – much as Frodo left Middle-earth for the Undying Lands at the end of "The Lord of the Rings."
On paper, the summary above makes the movie sound like "Babylon 5"'s take on "It's a Wonderful Life" or even "All Good Things", the classic "Star Trek: The Next Generation" finale in which Jean-Luc Picard was bounced between three distinct time periods to fix a problem of galactic importance.
Whether it's an ancient being such as Lorien (Strazynski loves his Tolkien references) or the Great Machine located inside Epsilon III (the planet beneath the space station), there are plenty of forces in the B5 universe with the potential to send someone leaping through time – indeed, the station's predecessor, Babylon 4, was purposefully transported a millennium back in time to help fight a war against the Shadows. It'll also be intriguing to find out what time period "The Road Home"'s time-travelling Sheridan hails from, seeing as the Earth Alliance officer incarnation was very different to the diplomat he later became.
Whatever the stardate, there's plenty of new ground to explore within the "Babylon 5" universe. The two decades between the show's end in 2262 and Sheridan's death in 2281 remain largely untapped on screen, while there are even gaps in the original five-year arc – not least because Straczynski rushed to cram as much as possible into the show's fourth year when he was unsure whether the final year of its five-year arc would be greenlit. As a result, some elements of the story may have been left undercooked.
Babylon 5: The Road Home cast
The fact the movie's animated means that many of the core cast have returned as characters they played a quarter of a century ago, without the need for the expensive de-ageing CGI technology that's been used to take Indiana Jones back to his prime.
Bruce Boxleitner is back to voice Sheridan, alongside Claudia Christian as B5 first officer Susan Ivanova, Peter Jurasik as Centauri ambassador Londo Mollari, Bill Mumy as Minbari aide Lennier, Tracy Scoggins as Earth Alliance officer Elizabeth Lochley, and Patricia Tallman as the telepathic Lyta Alexander.
Sadly, several stars of the show have passed away since the show ended, notably Mira Furlan (who played Minbari ambassador Delenn), Jerry Doyle (security chief Michael Garibaldi), and Michael O'Hare (original B5 commander Jeffrey Sinclair). New voice actors on "The Road Home" include Rebecca Riedy as Delenn, Anthony Hansen as Garibaldi, Paul Guyet as Sinclair, and Great Machine caretaker Zathras, Phil LaMarr as Dr. Stephen Franklin and Andrew Morgardo as Narn ambassador G'Kar. Sheridan and Delenn's son, David, also has a role to play, and will be performed by Piotr Michael.
Babylon 5: The Road Home director, writers, & crew
Arguably even more hands-on than Aaron Sorkin on "The West Wing", J Michael Straczynski wrote 92 of the show's 110 episodes, as well as spin-off movies "In the Beginning", "Thirdspace", "River of Souls", "A Call to Arms", and "The Legend of the Rangers", and most of short-lived spin-off series "Crusade". It's no surprise, then, that he's returned to script and executive produce "Babylon 5: The Road Home."