Roger’s Grand Unified Cylon Theory

This is hopefully the final revision of this entry before Battlestar Galactica Season 4 gets here. It includes all of my observations regarding Razor, and the latest (last?) round of updates involves how the events of Razor affect Tigh and Starbuck.

I present…


In the beginning, there were the colonies, and the colonials who lived in the colonies. And the colonials created the cylons, and the cylons were good. Until they turned bad. And waged war on the colonials, 52 years before the start of the TV series.

At some point during the conflict, unbeknownst to the colonials, the mechanical cylons began developing biological versions of themselves. Their initial experiments resulted in the hybrids (the first of which was seen in Razor), and eventually refined their techniques to create twelve models:

1 – Unknown
2 – Brother Cavil type
3 – Type Three (D’anna Biers)
4 – Doctor Simon type
5 – Type Five (Aaron Doral)
6 – Type Six (Caprica Six, Shelly Godfrey, Gina Invierre)
7 – Leoben Conoy type
8 – Type Eight (Boomer, Athena)
9 – Samuel Anders type
10 – Tory Foster type
11 – Galen Tyrol type
12 – Saul Tigh type

(Note that I had to stick with what the show gave me for slots 3, 5, 6, and 8, but I used the other empty slots to group the rest together. Numbers 2 through 8 are the first seven shown throughout seasons 1-3. Numbers 9 through 12 were revealed in the season 3 finale. Regarding type 1, unless the writers decide to point to someone completely out in left field, I think the evidence points to one of two people it could be, but more on this below.)

During the war, or after the war ends, the humanoid cylons take control of the entire cylon race, and create a pure democracy. Each of the 12 types has a vote, a say in what the entire race will do.

They decide to send their humanoid agents to infiltrate the colonies. Some of them are aware of what they are, and some aren’t. Based on what they learn through their agents, eventually the majority of the cylons decide that they need to take action against the human race and start the second cylon-human war.

Everything lined out above is what the show has told us. Here comes the theoretical part.

Whether or not the initial decision to wage war was unanimous or not is hard to determine, but during the attack on the colonies a serious schism occurs amongst the aggressors. Five of the cylons are overcome with horror at what they’ve wrought, and make an appeal to the other seven to stop what they’re doing. The other seven are committed to their plan, though, and this being a pure democracy run by machines bound to their programming, the majority rules. The war continues.

For the sake of discussion, I’m going to call these two factions the Pacifist Five (types 1, and 9 through 12) and the Warlike Seven (types 2 through 8).

The Pacifist Five see that there is no hope of reversing what they have done, nor will they be ever be able to effect any real change in their society because they’re a minority. The Warlike Seven feel the same way, but how do they solve this dilemma? Since they can’t just fight each other (this is one of the ways in which they consider themselves superior to humans), the two factions decide to go their separate ways, the Warlike Seven continuing their campaign of extermination and occupation, and the Pacifist Five embarking on a new voyage of peace that will take them far away from the destruction: the search for Earth.

To ensure that both factions can continue on their respective paths without interference with each other, they agree to something that only machines can accomplish: they willingly forget each other. All memories of what the members of the opposing group look like, what their plans are, where they’re going, etc., are deleted just like files in a computer, from the humanoid cylons and the centurions. Additional behavioral safeguards are put into place to prevent them from actively seeking out this missing information or even thinking about the missing models.

As far as when this happens, I’m thinking that the split takes place during the original mini-series. In the beginning of the mini, Caprica Six tells Baltar that there are twelve cylon types, but the final scene shows only four cylon models making the decision to pursue and destroy the Galactica. Four votes aren’t enough for a majority in a group of twelve voters, but it would be in a group of only seven.

(There’s a possible wrinkle here that I can only solve with a Marvel No-Prize answer, and it’s this: Caprica Six tells Baltar that there were twelve models in the mini-series, but years later when he’s being held on the base star, she says she can’t talk with him about the remaining five he hasn’t seen. Why the change? It’s possible that there was a “patch” developed for field agents who had knowledge of all twelve models. When they returned to the cylon fleet or went through the resurrection process, this “patch” could have been applied to remove the information about the other models.)

The time frame of the mini-series may also seem like an awfully short time span for a major event like this to take place, but I think with the cylons it’s doable. They’ve been shown to be capable of making big decisions quickly and acting on them just as quickly.

One other thing happens as a result of the two factions breaking up and mutually forgetting about one another: the cylon sleeper agents from the Pacifist Five types (Tyrol, Tigh, Tory, and Anders) are forgotten by all of the cylons. The Warlike Seven have forgotten them because they are Pacifist Five types, and the Pacifist Five have forgotten them because they were part of the war plans. The agents go along their merry way, never recovered or activated, living more or less happy lives as humans.

Are you with me so far? Let’s go over a couple of things about our newly discovered cylons:


I really don’t see any problems with these two as cylons, but admittedly there’s not much known about their backgrounds that could conflict with the idea of them being sleepers. Anders would be notable for being the first cylon we’ve seen getting sick, long before the probe plague.


This opens up some interesting possibilities. We know that the cylons wanted to have babies, but thought that babies could only be produced by couples who were truly in love. Hold that thought.

We also know that the cylons had infiltrated the databases of the defense department and possibly other agencies, which allowed Boomer to get into the armed forces.

Presumably, they could have done the same for Tyrol, and all of his memories about dancing naked in front of his parents’ holy books could have been implanted. Fine.

What if Tyrol and Boomers’ military careers were engineered by the cylons to deliberately put them in contact with one another in the hopes that they’d fall in love? Perhaps it was part of an experiment to see if two cylons, being completely unaware of what they were, could conceive.

Also, it’s worth noting that Tyrol’s nightmares about being a cylon had some substance to them. And him being a cylon also means that his son is as special as Hera. Unless, of course, Cally is a cylon.


This is the one that everybody seems to think doesn’t work, but it actually does. Tigh says that he served in the military during the first human-cylon war, but there’s nobody still around to verify this. Adama met him 20 years after the end of the first human-cylon war, and 20 years before the second one, and Tigh was a civilian at that time.

Again, if the cylons had access to military records, and if they had that access as far back as when Tigh and Adama met, then it’s entirely possible that’s how his non-existent military career could have been fabricated, allowing him to get back into the fleet.

One interesting thing about Tigh is that unlike other cylons, we’ve had the chance to see him age.

His cylon physiology could also explain his Herculean tolerance for alcohol.

Another thing to consider: if the first hybrid shown in Razor was as far as the cylons had gotten in creating humanoid types during the first human-cylon war, then there’s no way that Tigh could have existed back then.


Think back to the beginning of Season 3 and where these four characters were. All four of them represented the heart of the resistance movement on New Caprica against the cylons. Is there some significance to this? Is it possible that even though they didn’t know they were cylons, the basic nature of their personalities as Pacifist Five types motivated them to oppose the warlike Seven?

D’Anna’s line while she has her vision in the Temple of Five (“Forgive me, I had no idea.”) makes a little bit of sense now that we know who these four are. She could be apologizing to Anders (who she tried to kill on Caprica) or Tigh (who was incarcerated and tortured during the occupation of New Caprica).

Or she could be apologizing to Baltar for that nasty interrogation session, but I’m still undecided about that.


…and remember that I only designated the unknown cylon as Type 1 on my list because I wanted to group the others together. There’s really no evidence at this point that says one way or the other that the remaining unrevealed cylon is more or less special than the rest, or the first type that was created, or the last type.

Whew. Okay, let’s look at Starbuck first. Why could she be a cylon?
– Her premonitory dreams like the ones D’anna had. They also included an “angel” like the one that lives in Baltar and Caprica Six’s heads.
– The cylons seem to know a lot about her.
– Her background: the thing with the dying mother could be just something the cylons planted in there. Also, the notable absence of any other parents or siblings makes her story simpler to fudge. Of course, there would have to be military records of her mother, but the cylons could have made them up, too.
– She came back from the dead in the final episode.
– She’s physically strong and resilient; in fact, she’s even beaten a couple of cylons in hand to hand combat. And, like Tigh, she can booze it up pretty well without any noticeable long-term effects.
– She has really good piloting skills. That in itself doesn’t make her a cylon, but keep in mind that she was pretty good at piloting that crashed cylon raider. It was never demonstrated whether or not this was a difficult thing for others to do, but the only other person shown flying it successfully was Athena, a cylon. (“Bitch stole my ride!”)

How about Baltar? Is he a cylon?
– He’s visited by an “Angel of God” who sometimes feeds him important information. Only one other character has experiences like this, and she is a cylon.
– He has “visualizations” that allow him to retreat into a fantasy so he can escape painful situations. Cylons have been shown to do this.
– His back story, of disconnecting himself from his family and his culture is a good one for a planted cylon agent.
– He’s very resistant to torture, like Leoben was.
– He’s very intelligent and he has a natural knack with computers and science. Again, this doesn’t make you a cylon, but it makes you wonder.

Neither one of them were shown reacting to the Bob Dylan song. Of course, we really didn’t get the chance to see Starbuck or Baltar react (or not react) to it when Tyrol, Tigh, Tory, and Anders were reacting to it. Maybe it means something, maybe it doesn’t.

The existence of the hybrid in Razor, who went off to do his own thing while the rest of the Cylon race evolved, adds an interesting possibility: what if he was out there creating his own humanoid cylons in addition to the 12 that Caprica Six referenced? Baltar and Starbuck could be these “neanderthal” types. That hybrid seemed to know a lot about Starbuck and her destiny. Could it be because he created and programmed her to serve that role?


Of course, there are other people it could be. A lot of people have suggested Roslyn, due to her shared dreams with Athena and Caprica Six, but this could be the result of her being pumped full of Hera’s half-cylon stem cells. If she was a cylon, she’d be the first one shown having a reaction to hallucinogenic drugs.

I have a hard time buying the idea that any Adama could be a cylon, because William was supposed to be a kid when the original mechanical cylons were created (according to what was released about the Caprica spin-off series) and he was presumably there when his kids popped out of their mom.

The writers could be sneaky and bring back a dead character as a cylon (Billy, Ellen, Kat, etc.) but that would be pretty unsatisfying.

Or it could be someone we’ve never seen before.


I haven’t been able to figure out how all the pieces could connect yet, but I wonder if Tigh could have hooked up with Starbuck’s mom. If so, he could be a lot more than just a metaphorical father figure for her to rebel against.


Questions? Comments? Let’s kick these theories around to see if they work.

– Roger

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No Responses to “Roger’s Grand Unified Cylon Theory”

  1. Eros Welker says:

    I really love all of this, I haven’t thought much about the Pacifist/Warlike crew, but it holds water.  I’ve seen Razor, and while it doesn’t shed any more light on season 3, it does have some startling (and awesome) revelations that beg even more questions, or yield even more theories.

    This is very well thought out though.  Up until this, I was pretty squarely in the “it’s lame it’s Tigh” camp, but you’re right.  It was post-first war so it actually makes a lot of sense.  What are your theories to the Six/Baltar connection?  She starts seeing him in her head after she resurrects, what’s it all mean?

    It’s going to take a lot for me to buy that Starbuck is alive, and that she’s been to Earth… or at least, it’s going to take some smart writing.

    The interesting bit, as we head into the long stretch towards the new season (can you believe it doesn’t start till April!?), is that we should see more of the Earth/Caprica connection.  I forget who, but a question was asked about why does it seem like a lot of Earth technology exists in BSG world, and it was hinted that there was a very good reason that Earth and the Colonies were connected.  Now, we have a Bob Dylan song that four folks, from different planets, seem to know.  For a moment, I thought it was that they were receiving a signal from Earth, almost like tuning into a radio station, but really I’m confused by it all, but still interested.

    Razor is bad ass btw.  I highly recommend to those that can to see it in a theater.  Not that I did, but I would have loved to.

  2. Roger says:

    I’m itching to see Razor. Those flashback webisodes have really been whetting my appetite.

    I’m not 100% sure what the things in Baltar and Caprica Six’s heads are, but they have to be “real” because they were able to give noth of them important information. Maybe they are what they say, emissaries of some godlike power.

    Have you seen the Season 4 trailer? Starbuck is most definitely alive.

    Does anyone have information on how to see Razor in the theaters?

  3. BNJ says:

    Well done. (I read it in the can as you recommended.) I only hope the writers have put together something equally plausible. I remain anxious, however….

  4. Fat Ass says:

    Well done. I just hope and pray that the writers have given it as much thought as you have, LOL.

    I can’t posit any theories other than what you’ve got, but I really hope that, for example, if Baltar ISN’T a Cylon, then SOME explanation is given for the fact that the hallucination in his head delivered him real information. Even just the chip theory would solve that problem. I also hope some explanation is given for Starbuck’s return and strange supernatural powers.

    Startbuck could be her own clone, created from the uterus or cells or whatever were taken from her on Caprica. That’d be interesting.

    Can’t wait for Razor. Love seeing the 70’s toasters in action, although the one in the preview looks like a CGI ragdoll.

  5. Douggold says:

    From listening to all the Battlestar podcasts, and reading reviews and articles where I could, I recall the following two comments:

    1. Katee has said in numerous articles that the show creators have told her that Starbuck is NOT a Cylon.  I don’t think this is a red herring, since cast and crew have never directly lied in interviews. So I trust that.

    2. Ronald Moore has said that the four Cylons revealed in the season finale will challenge our notions of what Cylons are and what their history has been.  I’ve been digesting this for a while, and this is what I think:  I think we’ve never questioned the timeline that Cylons were robots that build better versions of themselves that looked like humans.  What if Cylons STARTED OUT looking like humans (perhaps they’re aliens? Mutants?) and have been manipulating things for a long time…even creating the robot Cylons long ago…and laying the seeds for their revolt.  Maybe this has all been planned to get the Colonials out of the colonies and looking for Earth, and everyone is playing into the hands of the original Cylons (what we now call “the final five.”)


  6. Roger says:

    1) I haven’t seen or heard any recent interviews with her, but Moore & Co. have been less than truthful in the past. They did tell the entire cast and crew (save for a couple) that her character was killed off.

    2) I’ve heard Moore say that the Final Five are fundamentally different from the seven cylons we’ve already seen. What I’m hoping he doesn’t do is plant some sort of retro continuity macguffin in Razor that doesn’t fit with everything we’ve seen so far.

    A friend of mine has a theory like yours that fits with the idea that “all of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.” He believes that this is one big long repeating cycle: Humans on Earth migrate to Kobol, then to the twelve colonies, where they create cylons, who eventually create humanoid versions of themselves, who drive the humans back to Kobol, and back to Earth. And then you start all over again, like The Matrix.

    One thing about the “signposts” that the humans have encountered on Kobol and afterwards: they were obviously put there by someone who knew the way back to Earth, which means that they probably came from there in the first place. How would someone know what the constellations looked like while one was standing on Earth, unless they had been there already?

  7. Roger says:

    One of the ideas I had was that the cylons are so hung up on “God” because they had actually found something godlike out there in space after the first war. An Imperious Leader or something that changed them from mechanical puppets into real little boys and girls. Since the cylons were demystified somewhat in Season 3, and the religious angle hasn’t been played up so strongly in recent episodes, I’d stopped thinking about it.

    I like the idea of God being played by Dirk Benedict. That would be cool.

  8. Douggold says:

    About the eleventh time someone on the show said “this has all happened before” (which, come to think of it, nobody has said in a while) I had the idea that they were referring to the original ‘70s TV show and when they finally get to earth, the old ‘70s Battlestar and her fleet will be there already.

  9. Roger says:

    One thing that just occurred to me: Anders might be significant because he’s the only cylon we’ve ever seen get sick, long before the plague incident. Didn’t Simon say that it was impossible for cylons to get sick?

    Being a cylon could also explain Tigh’s herculean resistance to alcohol.

    I’m told there’s a torrent of Razor floating around. I may pull the trigger on it tonight.

  10. cybergosh says:

    What I wanna know is where does Dirk Benedict fit into all of this?

  11. Roger says:

    Some interesting speculation here:

  12. Junktape says:

    I am impressed, intimidated and awestruck by the level of thought that’s gone into all this – and how very tangible it all seems to be.  Fascianting, as the son of Sarek would say.  I really love this theory and it gives me a dash of hope.  As loyal as I am to this series, Ron Moore has always insisted that the arcs the shows have taken were NOT discussed from the beginning but improvised along the way.  Which makes me worry that they have painted themselves into a corner.  But he HAS lied to us before, and they ARE some of the most unconventional writers working in tv today.  (and hopefully, star wars tomorrow, along with Fat Ass).  Anyway, you give me hope.