How Long Battlestar Galactica’s Cylon War Actually Lasted

Although the Cylons of Battlestar Galactica go beyond being mere robotic villains designed to turn on their creators, the humanoid machines are at the helm of the series’ two greatest conflicts, the Cylon Wars. While the First Cylon War occurs between the events of Caprica and 2004’s Battlestar Galactica, the Second Cylon War happens during the series. Due to these battles between humans and robots, animosity remains between the two groups, but more importantly, relations become muddled as the Cylons become more and more sentient and humanlike.


The first iteration of Battlestar Galactica came in 1978, followed by a sequel series in 1980, a reimagined miniseries in 2003, a rebooted version of the show which ran from 2004 to 2009, and a prequel series in 2010. All of these versions rest on the same concept that humans migrated from their home planet of Kobol to the Twelve Colonies. However, after the First Cylon War, nearly the entire population of humans is wiped out except for a ship called the Battlestar Galactica which begins to search for the lost Thirteenth Colony, Earth. In this way, Battlestar Galactica’s humanoid Cylons are a major impetus to the series and remain important throughout.

How Long The First Cylon War Lasted Before Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica Cylons

The First Cylon War lasted for twelve years. The conflict began when the Twelve Colonies began crafting robotic slaves which they named Cylon Centurions. When the creator’s daughter unexpectedly dies and is downloaded into a Centurion, her consciousness spreads throughout all the Centurions, leading the Cylons to become sentient. This leads to a Centurion uprising that ultimately begins the First Cylon War. The war is a harsh conflict that lasts for twelve years, and includes the Centurions experimenting on humans to try and create humanoid Cylons called “skinjobs.”

Related: Did Adama Really Start Battlestar Galactica’s Second Cylon War?

The First Cylon War ends in a hurried armistice after the Final Five makes a deal with the Centurions without the Twelve Colonies knowing. The Final Five promise to help the Centurions build “skinjobs” if they stop their war on the humans. Ultimately, the Centurions agree and the war comes to an end. For several decades after, there is peace between the Cylons and the humans with the help of the Final Five. However, forty years later, at the start of the events of Battlestar Galactica, the Centurions rise again.

How Long The Human/Cylon Conflict Lasts During Battlestar Galactica

The Humanoid Cylons in Battlestar Galactica: The Plan

The Second Cylon War, or rather, the continued conflict between the humans and the Cylons lasts until the end of Battlestar Galactica, which is roughly four years. Forty years after the end of the First Cylon War, the Centurions attack the Twelve Colonies, killing almost the entire human population. The reason for the renewed conflict is that the Final Five’s Model Number One, John Cavil, becomes jealous of the new Cylon models and resentful of humans, so he convinces the Centurions to start another war. The Fall of the Twelve Colonies sets into motion the events of Battlestar Galactica.

In the end, despite conflicts, crimes, and betrayals, Battlestar Galactica’s humans and Cylons end the series at peace. While the Fall of the Twelve Colonies devastated the remaining humans, they learned to ally with the sentient Cylons and fight against a common enemy. Therefore, the end of Battlestar Galactica sees humans and Cylons living side-by-side in a very familiar version of Earth. In this way, the twelve years of the First Cylon War and the remaining four years after the Fall of the Twelve Colonies ends in a satisfying form of peace.

Leave a Comment