Babylon 5 is an American space opera television series created by writer and producer J. Michael Straczynski, under the Babylonian Productions label, in association with Straczynski's Synthetic Worlds Ltd. and Warner Bros. Domestic Television. After the successful airing of a test pilot movie on February 22, 1993, Babylon 5: The Gathering, Warner Bros. commissioned the series for production in May 1993 as part of its Prime Time Entertainment Network (PTEN). The show premiered in the US on January 26, 1994, and ran for five 22-episode seasons.
The series follows the human military staff and alien diplomats stationed on a space station, Babylon 5, built in the aftermath of several major inter-species wars as a neutral ground for galactic diplomacy and trade. Major plotlines included Babylon 5's embroilment in a millennial cyclic conflict between ancient races, inter-race wars and their aftermaths, and intra-race intrigue and upheaval. The human characters, in particular, become pivotal to the resistance against Earth's descent into totalitarianism.
Many episodes focused on the effect of wider events on individual characters, with episodes containing themes such as personal change, loss, oppression, corruption and redemption.
Unusual for the time, Babylon 5 was conceived as a "novel for television" with a pre-planned five-year story arc, each episode envisioned as a "chapter". Whereas contemporary television shows tended to maintain the overall status quo, confining conflicts to individual episodes, Babylon 5 featured story arcs which spanned multiple episodes and even seasons, effecting permanent changes to the series universe. Tie-in novels, comic books, and short stories were also developed to play a significant canonical part in the overall story.