Starbuck Was A Cylon All Along: Battlestar Galactica Theory Explained


Starbuck Was A Cylon All Along: Battlestar Galactica Theory Explained

The revelations about the Final Five Cylons in Battlestar Galactica inspired fans to theorize that beloved BSG legend Starbuck was also a Cylon.


  • Starbuck potentially being a Cylon explains her knowledge of “All Along the Watchtower” and her surprise resurrection, adding depth to her character.
  • The theory that Starbuck is half-Cylon would provide a more secular interpretation of Battlestar Galactica’s religious conflict and align with viewers who wanted a less religious finale.
  • While it was never intended for Starbuck to be half-Cylon, the theory is compelling and adds to her role as the Fleet’s Guardian Angel, bringing the Colonists and Cylons together in the end.



A Battlestar Galactica theory that Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) was actually a Cylon makes sense of some of the BSG finale’s more contentious moments. As Ronald D. Moore’s revival of the classic Glen A. Larson show reached its endgame, it revealed that some of the characters believed to be Colonists were actually the Final Five Cylons. This revelation was key to Battlestar Galactica‘s final season, as it provided an additional layer of tension by blurring the lines between heroes and villains. Among the Final Five was Colonel Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan) who had previously been one of the most anti-Cylon characters in the show.

Battlestar Galactica‘s Final Five revelations caused confusion because it suggested that there were 13 Cylon models and not the 12 that had been previously stated. To smooth over this inconsistency, Ronald D. Moore created Daniel, the Model Seven Cylon who was cruelly killed off by his jealous brother John Cavil (Dean Stockwell). The introduction of Daniel and the sparse amount of detail given by Moore surprisingly triggered something in BSG fans, creating the so-called “Cult of Daniel”. These fans fervently believed that Daniel was also the estranged father of Battlestar Galactica‘s Starbuck, meaning that it was her, and not Hera Agathon who was the first child born of the union between a human and a Cylon.

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Theory: Starbuck’s Father Was Daniel, Battlestar Galactica’s Missing Cylon

Dubbed “The Cult of Daniel” by show creator Ronald D. Moore, Battlestar Galactica fans began speculating that Starbuck’s father was Number Seven. As the most sensitive and artistic of the eight Cylons built by the Final Five, Daniel was the favorite son of Ellen Tigh (Kate Vernon). This caused tensions among the Humanoid Cylons and led to Number One (Dean Stockwell) killing Daniel and corrupting the genetic formula so that he could not be replicated. However, despite such a definitive end, fans theorized that Battlestar Galactica‘s Daniel may have fathered Starbuck before meeting his demise.

The basis for their theory was Starbuck’s knowledge of “All Along the Watchtower”, the song that awoke the Final Five. Aside from Starbuck, only the Cylons could hear the song, implying that she too had some connection to the Cylons. Starbuck barely remembered her father, knowing only that he was a musician, who may or may not have taught her “All Along the Watchtower”. Daniel was also artistically minded, which was enough to convince fans that he was Starbuck’s absent musician father. One of the key storylines in BSG was the Cylons’ attempts to procreate naturally, so the theory posited that Daniel was the first Cylon who was able to do this, via his daughter Starbuck.

Ronald D. Moore, keen to manage expectations ahead of the ending of Battlestar Galactica, called out this theory on the official BSG podcast. He clearly stated that Daniel was not Starbuck’s father, and even apologized to fans if they felt the show’s writers had misled them. It was an unprecedented move by Moore, but “The Cult of Daniel” had become such a huge element of the fan culture that he felt a need to step in. Moore believed – rightly, given how divisive the finale was – that this speculation would derail fan enjoyment of the final episodes. However, it’s easy to see why many BSG fans found the prospect to be an appealing way to explain various elements of Starbuck’s story.

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Starbuck Being Half-Cylon Would Explain A Lot In Battlestar Galactica

Kara Thrace (Katee Sackhoff) and the downed Cylon Raider in BSG

Starbuck being a Cylon would obviously explain how she knew “All Along the Watchtower”, but that’s not all. The Cylons had the ability to resurrect themselves through the use of their resurrection ships. Starbuck was seemingly killed in the episode “Maelstrom” before returning from the dead a few weeks later. Starbuck being a Cylon would explain this surprise resurrection, even if she was unaware of her true nature. Starbuck being a Cylon would also further explain how she knew how to communicate with the downed Cylon Raider that she encountered after a crash landing. Starbuck was able to make sense of the creature’s inner workings and fly it back to Galactica to be reunited with the Fleet. Having some pre-existing genetic link to the Cylon hive mind would surely have been advantageous while she figured out how to operate Scar for her escape from the barren planet.

Kara Thrase being half-Cylon would also explain how Leoben Conoy (Callum Keith Rennie) knew about Starbuck’s ultimate destiny. As the Cylons appeared to be more attuned to the higher purpose than the Colonists, Leoben’s knowledge of Starbuck’s role in it would make a lot of sense. Ultimately though, whether Starbuck was a Cylon is down to the interpretation of viewers to decide if they want Battlestar Galactica to be a religious story or a secular one. Moore’s story is fundamentally a religious conflict between the Cylons and the Colonists’ opposing perspectives of their own mythology. In Moore’s intended reading of BSG, Starbuck was resurrected as the Fleet’s Guardian Angel by the same higher power that had been observing this continuing cycle of destruction between man and machine.

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Starbuck Being Half-Cylon Makes Her Ending Better

Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica

As one of the most iconic original Battlestar Galactica characters, Starbuck being revealed to be half-Cylon would have huge. It would have completely broken down the lines between human and Cylon and hammered home Ronald D. Moore’s message of peace and tolerance. If Starbuck had been half-Cylon all along then the seeds for Battlestar Galactica‘s cautiously optimistic finale would have been sown from the start. In the end, it was Hera Agathon, the first child born to human and Cylon parents, who would provide the genetic blueprint for the next generation of Colonists.

Starbuck’s half-Cylon nature fits better with those Battlestar Galactica viewers who wanted a less religious finale. If Starbuck was solely part of the Cylon’s overall plan to procreate and repopulate a brave new world then it removes the more mythological elements of her story. It wouldn’t have been a plot hole either, as Cavil’s removal of the memories of Daniel from his fellow Cylons would have also erased the knowledge of his daughter. In fact, Cavil knowing that Starbuck was half-Cylon and half-human could have been the driver for his plot to try again, this time with Boomer (Grace Park) and Helo (Tahmoh Penikett).

While it was never the intention of Moore for Starbuck to be half-Cylon, it’s hard to deny how compelling the theory was. Ultimately though, Starbuck was a symbol of the higher power that was at work throughout Battlestar Galactica. She was the Fleet’s Guardian Angel, the one who was trusted with all the memories of exploding stars and the notes of “All Along the Watchtower”. It was why she was protected from death at every possible turn until her role in bringing the Fleet and the Cylons to Earth, together, in the hope of finally breaking the cycle of violence. Starbuck may not have been half-Cylon, but she still brought both sides of the conflict together in the end.

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