8 Feb

Check out the Battlestar Galactica (2004) Show Bible!

Posted by Bryan White | Tuesday February 8, 2011 | Whimsy

Battlestar Galactica show bibleI’d never heard of a show bible until John Herman suggested we write one for our How To Survive The Strange web series. He explained that it was a major tool for writers on an ongoing series since it establishes characters, motivations and canon that can be used to script further episodes. Lots of shows have these, but not all (Shockingly The X-Files never had one). Any show that’s heavy on continuity will have something like this: 24, LOST, Dallas, you name it. The show bible’s detail varies wildly, though. I stumbled on to this one yesterday and if you follow me on Twitter then you probably caught it when I linked to it in the morning and then subsequently ruined your productivity for the day.

Every TV show goes into production with a Point A. You know? The starting point. Very few produced in North America go in with Point B in mind. This is something that BBC does all the time since their shows tend to have very short life spans and it makes more sense on a BBC budget to tell a quick story and move on. The endless drama is a symptom of American TV, though. In a lot of cases, that endless cycle leads to TV shows that go on too long and inevitably jump the shark. This happens to even the best of American TV. Ronald D. Moore’s Battlestar Galactica, however, was a rare exception to the rule. While I’m not sure that they ever imagined when the show would end, Moore went into production knowing that the Galactica could not roam endlessly through space. They would have to reach Earth, eventually. For this purpose, Moore’s bible for Battlestar Galactica is detailed to the nines! Every single aspect of the show was carefully planned from the outset, obviously leaving room for the writing staff to take the show in dynamic dramatic directions, but the technical details of everything were hammered out ahead of time. I loved Battlestar but reading Moore’s show bible made me appreciate it even more since the show’s endgame is outlined in the first few pages of the bible as Moore describes the religious culture of the twelve planets. He also goes into painful detail on the technical workings of the ship and why the Battlestars operated like they did. It’s amazing!

I wasn’t going to post this until Tony suggested that I get it up here. He analogizes it to Wikileaks for the nerd set and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a seriously detailed look behind the scenes of a really great show.

edit: I’ve been getting inconsistent results from this upload. I never seem to have a problem downloading or viewing the PDF but others have reported problems with the download. Please let me know in the comments if something goes wrong.

Battlestar Galactica Series Bible


  1. February 8, 2011 8:04 pm


    Link is 404

  2. February 8, 2011 8:34 pm

    Bryan White

    Not for me, it’s not. Anyone else having problems accessing the file?

  3. February 9, 2011 4:59 pm


    Getting a “not valid pdf type.” This can happen if you received this in an email and it didn’t decode properly.

  4. February 10, 2011 7:32 pm


    Please, fix it. I’m very interested in it.

  5. February 10, 2011 9:20 pm

    Ted Roche

    Downloaded fine here.

  6. February 10, 2011 10:08 pm

    Bryan White

    As of this comment, I’ve reuploaded a fresh version of the PDF. Please try again. I’ve had many people test this one out and no one has reported an error.

  7. February 12, 2011 2:32 am


    Link works now. Thanks!

  8. May 22, 2011 8:39 am


    Just browsed through the BSG bible. Looks very promising. I liked how Moore describes his way to provide a story of the week, while underneath he layers various story arcs spanning from a few episodes to the whole series (p. 30). In short: Avoiding the Trek pitfalls.

    Thanks for sharing that, Bryan.
    Really appreciated.

  9. May 22, 2011 9:57 am

    Bryan White

    Any time!

    I was already a huge Battlestar fan to begin with but the show bible really helped me appreciate it even more since it makes it clear that they had a point A and a point B in mind when they started the show and considered how they were going to get there while spinning off compelling subplots along the way. Honestly, this show bible should be required reading for film students.

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