Rockne S. O'Bannon

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Rockne S. O'Bannon
Rockne S. O'Bannon 2013 (cropped).jpg
O'Bannon at the 2013 Comic-Con
Born Los Angeles, United States
Occupation Screenwriter, executive producer, director, writer
Genre Science fiction, fantasy
Notable works Farscape, Alien Nation, seaQuest DSV Revolution, V
Notable awards Saturn Award

Rockne S. O'Bannon is an American television writer, screenwriter and producer. O'Bannon has created five original television series (Farscape, seaQuest, Defiance, Cult, and Alien Nation).

O'Bannon made his writing debut selling spec material to NBC's Amazing Stories (1985) and CBS's The Twilight Zone (1985), but first garnered critical attention for his film Alien Nation (1988) and its subsequent spinoff television show. His next notable achievement was his original series seaQuest DSV (1993) which ran for three seasons. O'Bannon's most critically acclaimed success was the space epic Farscape on Syfy (1999–2003) which ran for four seasons and spun off into a mini-series, a comic book series, and a rumored film. Since Farscape, he's created the TV show Defiance (2013) and CW's Cult (2013), the miniseries The Triangle (2005), along with helping to write the Warehouse 13 (2009) pilot. He's also written and produced for Constantine, Revolution and V among others.

O'Bannon prides himself on creating "shows that truly aren't like anything else" and pushing the boundaries of the science fiction genre.[1] He's won multiple Saturn Awards (including best series for Farscape)[2] and been nominated for other awards such as a Hugo Award[3] and a WGA Award.[4]

Early life[edit]

O'Bannon was born in Los Angeles. His father, Charles O'Bannon, was a career gaffer for over 30 years with Warner Bros, and his mother, Sheila, was a dancer for MGM. He grew up tailing his father around the Warner Brothers backlot and reading scripts his dad would bring home for him. From a very young age he knew that his dreams lay in writing.

I'd been writing passionately since I was ten years old. My very first screenplay was a television pilot – how prophetic. I was a huge fan of the spy series, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which had spawned a spin-off that year titled The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. So the first script I wrote was my version of a pilot for yet another spin-off titled The Boy from U.N.C.L.E.[5]

O'Bannon continued writing numerous spec scripts and submitting them to anyone who would read them. He sold his first material to "The Twilight Zone" reboot in the mid-1980s, and was hired as Story Editor. He also wrote for Steven Spielberg's anthology series of the same era, NBC's Amazing Stories.



O'Bannon's career got its start with a couple of spec scripts he had written for submission to ABC's Darkroom.[5] However, the show was canceled before his material could be produced. He followed it up by submitting those scripts to both the CBS reboot of The Twilight Zone and NBC's new anthology series Amazing Stories, receiving positive reaction from both shows. Based on his pitches for some additional stories, The Twilight Zone producers hired him as Story Editor. During his time on The Twilight Zone he wrote and rewrote several episodes, including more original episodes than anyone else. Among his original episodes was "Wordplay", starring Robert Klein, his first, and The Storyteller which was nominated for that year's Writers Guild Award.

After the cancellation of The Twilight Zone, O'Bannon turned his efforts to a new project: Alien Nation (1988), his first feature film. The film and subsequent television series developed a strong fan following which has resulted in a television series, five television films, comic books, and fictional novels.

He made his directorial debut on the suspense thriller Fear, a Showtime original that premiered on July 15, 1990.


O'Bannon's biggest success was his cult classic and fan favorite Farscape. Originally sold to SyFy (then called The Sci-Fi Channel), the head of the network told O'Bannon "Just make it as weird as you can, because I just don't want a kids show."[6] In an interview with the Huffington Post, O'Bannon notes: “The greatest words I’ve ever heard were, ‘Just make it as weird as you can.’ It took all the restraints off!” And it was their decision to shoot in Australia that made Farscape a classic. “Australians are just incredibly creative and they embraced the insanity of the show.”"[6]


O'Bannon began the new millennium continuing work on Farscape. After a four season run, the show was caught in a business conflict when The Henson Company was sold to foreign investors, and ended without an already-ordered fifth season. Fans were wildly upset and began campaigning en-masse to the SyFy network. Syfy then committed to making the three-hour mini-series Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars to wrap up the show. Brian Henson directed the mini-series with O'Bannon and his friend David Kemper writing and Executive Producing. The cancellation of Farscape has been lamented and noted as a blunder for Syfy.[7]

O'Bannon almost immediately then sold The Triangle to SyFy which he wrote and executive produced with Bryan Singer and Dean Devlin.[8] The Triangle aired to stellar ratings and was a critical success. He then sold his pilot Cult to The WB, but the series didn't proceed at that time when The WB was merged with UPN to become the CW. Around this time Syfy asked O'Bannon to rewrite the pilot script for Warehouse 13, ending up with a series order. [9]


In 2010, O'Bannon was asked to help out on ABC's reboot of V which was struggling in its second season. Early in 2011, Syfy approached O'Bannon to create and showrun their project Defiance. Defiance's concept included combining a TV series with a massively multiplayer online game that was developed concurrently by Trion Worlds Online. With Defiance up and running, O'Bannon moved on to Warner Bros. Television when it was announced the CW had placed a pilot order to make Cult in January 2012 nearly seven years after the network's predecessor had bought it.[10] With both of his projects slated to go on the air, O'Bannon chose to follow his longtime passion project.[11]

O'Bannon originally wrote Cult in the aftermath of Farscape and watching the legions of fans mobilize to save the show. "I saw this phenomenon with fans rallying around the show. Okay, what if there wasn't this wonderfully warm sci-fi adventure show, but it was something a little bit darker and edgier? What kind of fans would that bring in? That's what started me down the path of creating Cult."[12] When asked about leaving Defiance for Cult, Rockne responded: "It was a difficult transition for me because I really did and do love “Defiance,” but “Cult” is really my baby."[10]

Cult went into production shortly after in February 2012, and a season order was placed May 11, 2012. Cult was a unique viewer experience designed to break the fourth wall. Rockne explained the appeal of the show, "The show, itself, is kind of invading your space, because it's not letting you just passively watch it. I'm watching a show called Cult about people watching a show called Cult... Cult was really an attempt to break down the fourth wall, to break the glass between you and the TV show."[1]

O'Bannon next began work as Executive Producer on the second season of Revolution.[13] Despite praise for the revamped and grittier season, NBC declined to add a third season and canceled the show after 42 episodes. After Revolution, O'Bannon was asked by Warner Bros. Television and NBC to consult on their fledgling horror series Constantine.

Currently, O'Bannon is working on a slate of original series and films for his recently branded company IMAGINATE.

Personal life[edit]

O'Bannon currently resides in Los Angeles.


The Twilight Zone 1985 TV series Story Editor (18 episodes), Story Consultant (6 episodes), Teleplay (4 episodes), Written By (4 episodes)
Amazing Stories 1985 TV series Writer (1 episode)
Alien Nation 1988 Film Writer
Alien Nation 1989 TV Series Writer (characters – 18 episodes) (character – 4 episodes)
Fear 1990 Film Director, writer
SeaQuest 2032 1993 TV series Creator (23 Episodes), Story/Teleplay (1 Episode)
Deadly Invasion 1995 TV movie Director, writer
Creature 1998 TV miniseries Writer
Farscape 1999–2004 TV series Creator (81 Episodes), Executive Consultant (66 episodes), Executive Producer (22 Episodes)
The Triangle 2005 TV miniseries Writer, Executive Producer
V 2009 TV series Writer (1 episode: "Unholy Alliance"), Consulting Producer (10 episodes)
Cult 2013 TV series Creator, writer, Executive Producer (12 episodes)
Defiance 2013 TV series Developer, Writer (2 Episodes), Executive Producer (12 episodes)
Revolution 2013 TV series Writer (4 Episodes), Executive Producer (17 episodes)
Constantine 2014 TV series Writer (1 episode: "The Darkness Beneath"), Consulting Producer


  1. ^ a b "Sci-Fi Mastermind Rockne S. O'Bannon on Defiance, Farscape, Cult, and the Coming Revolution". Retrieved 2016-08-07. 
  2. ^ "31st Annual Saturn Awards – Press Room Pictures | Getty Images". Retrieved 2016-08-07. 
  3. ^ "1989 Hugo Awards". July 26, 2007. Retrieved 2016-08-07. 
  4. ^ "Writers Guild of America, USA (1988)". Retrieved 2016-08-07. 
  5. ^ a b "Marv Wolfman – With Rockne S. O'Bannon". 
  6. ^ a b Andrew Fish Writer (August 16, 2013). "Rockne S. O'Bannon on Defiance, Farscape, Cult, and the Coming Revolution". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-08-07. 
  7. ^ Anders, Charlie Jane. "10 Actual Mistakes that Syfy Has Made Over the Years". Retrieved 2016-08-07. 
  8. ^ "Breaking News – Sci Fi Channel's Epic Miniseries the Triangle to Premiere in December 2005 on Sci Fi |". Retrieved 2016-08-07. 
  9. ^ Staff, I. G. N. (October 25, 2007). "Farscape Producer Opens Warehouse 13". IGN. Retrieved 2016-08-07. 
  10. ^ a b "Rockne S. O'Bannon on 'Cult' – CraveOnline". February 20, 2013. Retrieved 2016-08-07. 
  11. ^ Hale, Mike (February 18, 2013). "'Cult,' on CW, Created by Rockne S. O'Bannon". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-08-07. 
  12. ^ "Matthew Davis and Rockne S. O'Bannon CULT Interview". July 20, 2012. Retrieved 2016-08-07. 
  13. ^ "'Revolution' Adds 'Cult's' Rockne S. O'Bannon for Season 2 (Exclusive)". Retrieved 2016-08-07. 

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