Battlestar Galactica TV Poster Image

Battlestar Galactica

Exciting space drama has complex adult themes.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The central story is about a search for home, belonging, spirituality, and identity. The storylines featuring the often-tense relationship between the military and the civilian government, which is not bound by the chain of command, are complex, and demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the use, and abuse, of power. On the downside, there's plenty of betrayal to go around, and a robotic army is out to destroy the remains of humanity.

Positive role models

The Colonial Fleet is a rigid military hierarchy that places a high value on respect for authority. Certainly there are a few rebellious characters, but even when they appear to be disobeying orders, their actions are usually in support of the overall good, and are generally lauded by their peers. Starbuck is a strong, complex female character in a position of military authority. The president is also a strong female character. Adama is the epitome of a strong, passionate, rational, wise leader. Many characters demonstrate teamwork.


In this alternate reality, humans are at war with a ruthless robotic enemy, and violence is a given. Battles tend to be on a large scale, showing combat between spaceships far more often than hand-to-hand fistfights, but later seasons have amped up the violence, including some torture scenes and attempted rape.


Most episodes have some romantic interludes, which range from relatively tame to somewhat racy, though none include nudity or explicit scenes.


No explicit language, unless you count "frack," which is all too common among this offshoot of humanity and sounds quite similar to an expletive used on this planet (though it's managed to escape the ire of Earth's censors).

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Many episodes feature scenes of soldiers drinking, usually in the context of blowing off steam after battle, and often while mourning fallen comrades. Many of these scenes make it clear that the characters are quite drunk; a couple of characters are clearly alcoholics. Occasional use of stimulants to keep the soldiers alert during extended shifts, and the show stresses the downside of abusing such drugs.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Battlestar Galactica  isn't an unrealistic, space-set soap opera. Despite the show's sci-fi premise, the characters react in very human ways to the constant pressure of being on the run and fighting for the survival of the species. With little to lose, people live, love, and fight as if every day is their last -- and since it often is, the emotions can be very honest and very raw. Because of the adult themes and the frequency of both violence (including torture) and drinking (a couple of characters appear to be alcoholics), this series falls into the "older kid" sci-fi camp.

What's the story?

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA starts with the notion that an offshoot of humanity has developed its own culture on the far side of the galaxy. Their technological accomplishments prove to be their undoing when the Cylons, a line of self-aware robots, decide that people are inherently flawed and should be eradicated for the good of the universe. The series begins with a deadly sneak-attack that almost accomplishes this, and the remaining humans flee their home world in anything that can fly. Other than the basic concept and several characters' names, this thought-provoking drama has little in common with the campy sci-fi series from the 1970s that shares its title. The original was light on realism and made the survivors' fight for survival seem like a party in space; the remake is more believable, showcasing the survivors' efforts to maintain their composure while running short of food, water, fuel, and hope.

Is it any good?


The strength of this series is the way its characters each choose to react to this untenable situation. Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos) gives his crew a reason to fight by setting off in search of a planet long considered a myth -- Earth. Some choose to believe in this quest, while others decide the only way to survive is to put themselves first.

One critical difference from the original show is that some of the Cylons are now identical to people. Boomer, a supporting male character on the first show, has been recast as a female Cylon sleeper agent (played by Grace Park), and her struggles to comprehend the fact that her human tendencies are little more than programming make for one of the series' most compelling storylines. Indeed, her confusion lies at the heart of Battlestar Galactica, as the viewers and the cast attempt to define what it means to be human.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how they would react if they lost everything and had to start over, like on Battlestar Galactica. Some people would find the strength to protect their people, but others might turn inward and focus only on protecting their own interests. Though it's hard to know how anyone might act in a life-or-death situation, it can be interesting to speculate. What would your teens take with them if they had five minutes (or less) to leave the house? What would you do if the slate was wiped clean?

  • How do the characters in Battlestar Galactica demonstrate teamwork? Why is that an important character strength?

TV details

Premiere date:October 18, 2004
Cast:Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, Mary McDonnell
Genre:Science Fiction
Character strengths:Teamwork
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 5, 7, and 9 year old Written by3girlsmom January 15, 2010

Not even for teens

I'm not such a fan of sci-fi, but I very much enjoy the plot and storyline of the series. I've seen the full 1st series, but will not continue due to sexual scenes and violence. I am usually not as affected with violence as with other things, but after a while it was just too much. Punching and kicking a person over and over again should never happen, even in fiction. I think the sexual scenes are explicit. It does not show breasts or private parts, but gets as close as possible, including sex scenes where it avoids just those areas, making what I think is too much even for teens. I agree with a kid reviewer who called it "Battlestar Erotica". The swearing isn't quite so bad, but the use of "frack" gets to be so frequent that it starts to give the notion of saying f*** instead. There is a lot of drinking also, but it doesn't bother me as much. It's unfortunate that they put so much of these in the show.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byThe Lord Almighty April 9, 2008

The Best Sci-Fi Show on Earth (or on the road to it)

This is an amazing show that isn't really Sci-Fi. In fact, it could very well take place on a naval ship in the current day, or even in Vietnam. There is a lot of violence (given that it's a really realistic show, and even some of the robots that DON'T look like us have blood) and could be renamed Battlestar Erotica. But for any kid 13 and up (or if it's a mature 11 or 12 year old), it should be a must-see.
Parent of a 13 year old Written byLisette's Mom July 5, 2013

Sci-Fi Geek Mum Says "No Way" for 11-or-12-Year-Olds

I haven't done the math on this, but I don't see how this series got an age-appropriate rating of 12 years from paretns, given all of the "Not For Kids" ratings that have been logged so far. My husband and I love this series. I agree with everything I read in this review, and I think 14 years or 15 years is the appropriate age to begin watching. We have a 13-year-old who won't be allowed to watch it for a year or two. There are occasional, brief, but fairly explicit scenes involving intercourse and masturbation, and while most of the romantic relationships are realistic and mutually supportive, there are a few couples whose relationship is ambiguous--exactly who is manipulating who, how and why? I think this is way too much to process for kids whose romantic lives are just beginning. Also, it may not be shown explicitly, but there are a few prisoners, including female prisoners, who are beaten badly. The make-up used to show this is graphic, and the emotional tension between prisoners and perpetrators is quite high. I am an elected officer in my church, and I am absolutely NOT offended by the Messianic character and the running discussion over the relative merits of monotheism and polytheism. It is not a direct allegory (since most contemporary religious conflicts are between monotheistic groups), but it serves as a useful and thought-provoking device for examining political, religious and class differences in our own world culture.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking