Count Baltar

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Battlestar Galactica character
First appearance"Saga of a Star World"'
Last appearance"The Hand of God"
Portrayed byJohn Colicos
Full nameCount Baltar
AffiliationColonials / Cylons

Count Baltar was a leading antagonist in the original Battlestar Galactica (1978) television series. The character betrayed the human race to its enemy, the robot race of Cylons. He was portrayed by Canadian actor John Colicos.[citation needed]

Character biography[edit]


Material deleted from the final broadcast of the episodes explains that Baltar had originally been a Colonial military officer, who led an expedition to discover new sources of tylium for mining. After discovering a particularly rich tylium deposit on Carillon, Baltar decided to go into business for himself, leaving the military. He falsified records, declaring Carillon too minimal for mining, and set himself up with the Cylons and Ovions, who were also mining Carillon.[1]


Towards the last years of The Thousand Yahren War between the Cylons and the Twelve Colonies of Man, Council of Twelve-member Baltar acts as a liaison between the Twelve Colonies and the Cylons, and arranges for a peace conference that would bring an end to the war, with the Cylons apparently conceding defeat. Unknown to the Colonials, however, Baltar has made a deal with the Imperious Leader of the Cylons: Baltar would conduct the peace conference to lull the Colonials into a false sense of security, while the Cylons prepared for a massive attack on the Colonial military and the Twelve Colonies. In return, the Imperious Leader promised Baltar that his home colony would be spared from the attack, and Baltar would be installed as its dictator. It is never stated which of the Twelve Colonies was Baltar's home. The original script states that he was from "Orion", but as this did not make the final version, its canonicity is debatable. Since the Cylons are dedicated to the complete annihilation of humanity, the Imperious Leader goes back on his word, and destroys all twelve Colonies in the attack.[citation needed]

After the attack[edit]

A handful of humans flee in civilian ships, under the protection of the (apparently) sole surviving battlestar, the Galactica. In the meantime, Baltar goes before the Imperious Leader aboard his flagship, enraged that the Cylons had not held up their end of the bargain. The Imperious Leader coldly responds by explaining that every human being must be exterminated, and then sentences Baltar himself to death, reasoning that any being who would see his own race destroyed could not be trusted. As originally depicted in the theatrical version, Baltar is supposedly decapitated when one of his Cylon escorts holds him fast and the other draws its sword across Batlar's throat. However, when the film was presented on television preceding the television series, the scene was reshot so that the Imperious Leader instead orders that Baltar be brought away for public execution, presumably to a prison baseship or the Cylon homeworld. Soon thereafter, however, the Imperious Leader is destroyed when his basestar gets too close to the exploding planet Carillon.[citation needed]

Pursuer of the Galactica and its ragtag fleet[edit]

The succeeding Imperious Leader (each of the two with whom Baltar dealt was embodied by Dick Durock and voiced by Patrick Macnee) spares Baltar's life, believing that Baltar, being human, would have a superior insight into the minds of the remnants of humanity which the Cylons are pursuing. To this end, the Imperious Leader installs Baltar as the commander of a Cylon basestar, with an "I.L.-series" Cylon named Lucifer (body by Felix Silla, voice by Jonathan Harris) as Baltar's second in command; the two other basestars in Baltar's taskforce are also subservient to him.[2] Baltar then makes it a personal quest to vanquish his rival, Commander Adama, and destroy the Galactica and its ragtag fleet. Of his numerous offensives against the Colonial survivors, his three biggest ones are in the following episodes, all of which were two-parters:[citation needed]

  1. "Lost Planet of the Gods": Baltar realizes that Adama is taking the fleet into an immense void in order to find the "mother planet of humanity", Kobol, and has his fighters capture a Galactica patrol pilot—who happens to be Starbuck—telling him that he has a new "offer of peace to all humans". Baltar then lands on Kobol itself, alone, to tell Adama a different story: He was "as much a victim" as anyone else in the destruction of the Colonies, and the Cylons—being spread out all over the galaxy in search of the Galactica—are vulnerable; he proposes escorting the Galactica to Cylon in order to "launch a devastating counter-attack against those demons", with Starbuck's release as proof of his sincerity. Adama is reluctant to trust Baltar again, but Baltar warns: "I can only be away so long before my machine friends become nervous and do something rash." This prophecy is soon fulfilled when an impatient Lucifer launches a massive Raider attack on Kobol. Baltar then becomes trapped in the ruins of the ancient tomb when a wall collapses on him. Left for dead by Adama and Apollo, who are unable to free him, he shouts angrily after them: "You haven't seen the last of Baltar!!!" In The Tombs Of Kobol, Robert Thurston's novelization of the episode, Baltar is freed by Lucifer in the story's epilogue.[citation needed]
  1. "The Gun On Ice Planet Zero": Baltar, once again in command of his basestar, has subtly shepherded the Galactica and the Fleet over time toward the frozen planet Arcta, which has an "energy-lens" pulsar—created by the human Dr. Ravashol (Dan O'Herlihy) as a communications device, but hijacked by a Cylon garrison as a weapon—capable of destroying a battlestar with one shot. After two Viper pilots are killed and another is captured, Adama sends a Demolition Team, consisting of his three top warriors and (much to his and Apollo's shared chagrin) a group of skillful criminals, to find a way to destroy the pulsar. Baltar responds by having his nearly-out-of-range ship launch two successive Raider attacks on the Galactica, withdrawing once his companion base stars have arrived and start closing in on the Galactica. He instructs Arcta's Centurion commander, Vulpa, to fire the pulsar in random directions across the corridor that the Galactica and the Fleet must pass through to evade his basestars. In the end, the demolition team causes the pulsar to destroy itself—saving the Galactica at (literally) the very last second. Despite the debacle, Baltar swears: "I shall have the last laugh on Adama...mark my words."[citation needed]
  1. "The Living Legend": Baltar, having once again located the Galactica's ragtag fleet, launches an attack using Raiders from all three of his base ships, just as the Galactica approaches the Cylons' "Outer Capital", Gamorray—only to be thwarted on the verge of destroying the Galactica by the arrival of Commander Cain's ship, the battlestar Pegasus, which was inaccurately thought to have been destroyed in the attack on the Colonies. As he prepares for a new attack, the Galactica attacks Gamorray while the Cylons's Imperious Leader is on it, forcing Baltar to send his fighters to rescue the Leader and destroy both battlestars. At this time, however, Cain complicates Baltar's plans by sending the Pegasus on a suicide mission to engage Baltar's three basestars. Baltar, unnerved by Cain's bravado, orders his own basestar to retreat behind the companion ships, which he leaves to intercept the Pegasus. After the battle, the Cylon Raiders are stranded in space with Baltar's ship out of range and the companion basestars destroyed. With the fate of the Pegasus unknown, Commander Adama withdraws the Galactica and the civilian refugee Fleet into deep space.[citation needed]

For approximately the first half of the televised Battlestar Galactica series, Baltar was the commander of Cylon forces that ruthlessly pursued the Galactica and its ragtag fugitive fleet of approximately 220 civilian ships, a theme continued in the 1995-97 graphic novels published by Image Comics which take place some 20 years after the initial series.[citation needed]

Captured and imprisoned[edit]

In the episode "War Of The Gods, Parts One And Two", the charismatic miracle worker Count Iblis promises to Adama that he will deliver "the enemy", meaning Baltar, to the Colonials. Baltar, irritated that neither he nor his Cylon crew can explain the mysterious lights dogging his basestar, transmits a direct message to the Galactica requesting permission to board on a proposal of "universal truce". Adama instead seizes the opportunity to capture Baltar and his Raider, and have him tried by the Council for crimes against humanity, of which he is soon found guilty. For the remainder of the series, Baltar is a prisoner on board the Colonial prison barge. The episode "Baltar's Escape" features an attempt by Baltar and other imprisoned villains (Borellian Nomen and some Eastern Alliance officers) to escape from the prison barge. All do escape except for an overconfident Baltar, who witnesses a (cleverly exploited) malfunction in his re-activated Centurions which makes them destroy his Raider's launch panel instead of starting it, allowing the Galactica's people to re-apprehend him with little struggle.[citation needed]


In the final episode of the show's original run, "The Hand Of God", Baltar makes a deal with Adama. Baltar provides the Colonials with technical information on Cylon basestars, which Apollo and Starbuck use to render a wayward Cylon basestar "blind" to the Galactica, which then destroys it. In exchange, Adama agrees to "maroon" Baltar with sufficient equipment and supplies to allow him to live on the first habitable planet that the Fleet passes on its journey; Adama also reluctantly gives Baltar equipment for "short-range communications" so that he has "some hope of eventual rescue". This ultimately paves the way for Baltar to find himself in command of Cylons again: in the spin-off series Galactica 1980, it is revealed that he is the "Commandant" of the Cylons who have followed the Galactica and the fleet to Earth, although Baltar himself never physically appears in any particular episode of the second series.[citation needed]

In the original draft proposal for Galactica 1980, Baltar was to have been one of the returning characters. Initially, he was to have reformed and made amends for his actions during the first series, hence his new position as president of the Council. However, he would again betray the Colonials in an attempt to alter Earth's history by time travel, with Apollo and Starbuck thwarting each of his attempts throughout history. This time travel format was dropped in favor of present-day stories. To keep costs low, Baltar was dropped and a new human antagonist character, Xaviar, was created for the series.[citation needed]

Revival Attempt[edit]

In 1999, John Colicos reprised his role as Baltar for Richard Hatch's attempt to revive the series. In a short film entitled Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming, he reveals that the Colonial fleet is still in danger after a new breed of even more dangerous Cylons emerges after a civil war. Baltar also appears in Hatch's Galactica novel series which was initially published in the 1990s.[citation needed]

Differences in other versions[edit]

In the novelization[edit]

The original telefilm novelization tells a different story, where Baltar is a rare items dealer who had grown wealthy from his business dealings, and whose title of Count had been self-proclaimed.[citation needed]

Later novelizations of subsequent episodes revealed that Baltar's resentment of Adama had started when they had attended the Colonial Academy together, with Adama besting him in everything.[citation needed]

In comics[edit]

In the marvel comics run from 1978–80, Baltar was portrayed more as a darker skinned human, and was executed by the cylons as seen in the treasury sized edition.

In the 1990s, Baltar appears in the Maximum Press comic book series, still pursuing the Galactica, after having been freed by Commander Adama in exchange for bartering his knowledge of the Cylons. Due to licensing issues, his likeness is not based on John Colicos. In the comic, he is more muscular and appears to have cybernetic arms.[citation needed]

Dynamite Comics expands on this concept in a 2014 story (authored by Robert Napton) in which Baltar is found on the planet abandoned by Adama (per the episode "The Hand Of God"). He remembers his life to this point and how he felt betrayed by the Colonies and thus sided with the Cylon empire, only to be betrayed himself by the Cylons and suddenly believes he himself has been transmuted by the Cylons into a cybernetic being; throughout the story he deals with one particular First Centurion, as a youth, before the massacre of the Colonies, and when he is finally rescued. In this story, licensing allows the character design to directly resemble actor John Colicos.[citation needed]

In the feature film version[edit]

In the feature film version, when Baltar meets the Imperious Leader, and it is explained to him that every human being must be exterminated, and Baltar is sentenced to death, Cylon Centurions immediately execute Baltar on the spot by beheading him.[1] This differs from the television version, where his execution is delayed and he is sent to be prepared for public execution—with this Imperious Leader being killed at Carillon and, in the epilogue made for the movie's television broadcast, the succeeding Imperious Leader sparing Baltar's life and announcing that he would be provided with a basestar and Lucifer as a liaison—thus setting him up for his role in the series.[2]

In the re-imagined 2003 version[edit]

In the 2003 miniseries and 2004 series, the character is reimagined as Gaius Baltar, a scientist who is seduced and tricked by a human-looking Cylon into sabotaging the Colonial security systems, allowing them to attack the Colonies. He successfully covers up his role in the attacks, and using his reputation as a scientific genius, positions himself as part of the leadership of the survivors, serving as vice president, president, a puppet dictator under a Cylon occupation force, and a refugee aboard a Cylon ship following that administration's collapse. He is mentally unstable, a condition which is exacerbated by his interactions with a manifestation of his Cylon lover which only he perceives. His loyalty wavers, but he usually acts for his own self-interest and preservation, although he ultimately acts with selflessness and bravery in the series finale.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b This scene occurs somewhat differently in the pilot, "Saga of a Star World," with the Imperious Leader commenting on his "predecessor's" destruction and installing Baltar as a liaison for "universal truce": "Since we are omnipotent, we can afford to be more charitable." In "Lost Planet of the Gods", however, the scene is modified, with Baltar being spared specifically to destroy the Colonial survivors. Baltar makes an allusion to the original scene when telling Adama: "I was spared to lure you into another trap: An offer of peace from a more benevolent Cylon leader." He says this in rebuttal to Serina's supposition that the Cylons had found him to have been a "friend".

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