The Babylon Project
This article refers to the planet Z'ha'dum. For the Season 3 episode, see: Z'ha'dum (episode).

"If you go to Z'ha'dum, you will die."


Z'ha'dum was the home planet of the Shadows, and for countless millennia the home of Lorien.[3]


Z'ha'dum's official Earth Alliance designation was Alpha Omega III, meaning it was the third planet of its star. The planet was located on the rim of known space. It was approximately a four day jump from the Epsilon Eridani system.[4]

Physical Characteristics[]

Z'ha'dum was covered in extensive mountain ranges. The temperature averaged 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and the gravity was approximately 1.3G. The mountains were made of igneous rock and the plains of sedimentary rock. Violent dust storms cloaked roughly 25% of the planetary surface at any one time. The planet had an extremely dry atmosphere with low levels of carbon monoxide, which would prove fatal to humans within about an hour. There was also a background level of radiation, which suggested that the planet was nuked approximately one thousand years ago.


The crew of the Icarus explore Z'ha'dum

Stone pillars ranging from 100 to 150 yards in height covered most of the planetary surface. They were spaced exactly 2.43 miles apart from one another. The pillars were covered in characters from the Shadow language.[5]


By the twenty-third century, Z'ha'dum was a blasted, charred wasteland, its surface marred by the many attacks that drove the Shadows away from the planet eon after eon. When the Shadows returned at the dawn of the Third Age, their cities were kept mostly underground.[6]


"Z'ha'dum is the homeworld of the Shadows. No one leaves the same as they arrived."


It was unknown if Z'ha'dum was the homeworld of the Shadows as a species, but for most of their long history they considered it their home. That was due to the presence of Lorien, one of the First Ones, who lived in a deep chasm on the planet for over one million years.[3]

The last time the Shadows would be driven from the planet was at the end of the First Shadow War, in 1261.[6] Some of their race managed to remain but were in a state of hibernation. Nearly a thousand years later, the Shadows returned. They slowly rebuilt their great cities. The Shadows also began to recall some of the ships that they had hidden throughout the galaxy after the War.[7]

One of their ships was hidden on Mars. When Earthforce crews uncovered it, they reactivated an ancient beacon.[7] Days later, the Shadows' allies sent a second ship to retrieve the first one. The Psi Corps, however, had managed to plant a homing beacon inside. In 2257, Interplanetary Expeditions was commissioned to send a ship (the Icarus) to Z'ha'dum on an exploratory mission--most of the crew were apparently unaware that they were being used, that the planet was where the Shadow vessels had been tracked to. The Icarus' long-range probe awoke the Shadows hibernating there. When the Icarus arrived on Z'ha'dum, they found it seemingly deserted. They were then captured by the Shadows, and those members of the crew who did not serve willingly were said to have been killed.[6] However, Morden and Anna Sheridan were "enslaved" by the Shadows.[8] It was possible that the other crew members were simply integrated into various Shadow vessels to fight in the upcoming war.

Third Age of Mankind[]


Z'ha'dum, moments before its destruction

Once the shadows had been defeated and left for beyond the rim, the White Star went to investigate Z'ha'dum, only to see a mysterious fleet (almost certainly the Drakh) leaving Z'ha'dum moments before the entire planet exploded.[9]


Canonbox default The following is based on The Mongoose Publishing RPG books and contradicts canon sources.

(The following was from the Babylon 5 the Roleplaying Game's sourcebook: Darkness and Light)

Inhabitants of Z'ha'dum[]

During peacetime, Z'ha'dum's only inhabitant was Lorien. When the Shadows went to war, approximately 100 million resided on the planet, mostly Shadows and Drakh. To the Minbari it's Z'ha'dum (Death of Futures), to humans it was Alpha Omega 3, and to the Drakh it's Sha'las (The Ending Place). It was inhabited by spacefarers far longer than any other planet in its region of space. The Tombs of Z'ha'dum were already ancient when the Vorlons built their homeworld. The Speakers weren't the first race to walk on the planet, when they arrived to build their tombs buried deep in the planet. For a time, Lorien tended to the tombs of his people, but eventually abandoned them, as he went into silent contemplation. In a million years, no one, not even the Shadows, saw the tombs.

Cities of Z'ha'dum[]

The strongholds of the Shadows were located far above those tombs, in relatively shallow caverns which were built in caverns that were deep enough to survive attacks from weapons such as nuclear bombs or mass drivers but wouldn't be able to survive an attack by either a Vorlon fleet or a planet killer. The Shadows were adept at using jump points and hyperspace folds within Z'ha'dum's gravity well, in addition to manipulating space within the planet. At Z'ha'dum, the "cities" were simply the places where the Shadows' underground fortresses came near to the surface. Between the "cities', in the underground spaces were vast and timeless labyrinths of darkness, which contained machines the size of continents, and wonderous and terrifying devices such as the "Eye of Z'ha'dum".

The Eye was located near the "City of Shadow", in a fortified chasm in the midst of the primary research and birthing region. It was within the caves above the Eye that the first Shadow ship screamed into the night, and it was also the birthplace of the Techno-Mages. The Drakh considered the domed "City of Shadow" the capital of the Shadow Dominion, which darkly amused the Shadows as every party of Shadows contained the whole. It's the City of Shadow, to which the leaders of the Darkness were brought, its tunnels and caves were easily converted to the different atmosphere types that were needed for them. In the middle of the city was a chasm that led into the planet's depths.

Located at Z'ha'dum's north and south poles were the cities of Shiv'mal and Dum'al, two huge living machines that were connected to the Eye, which were inhabited and tended by thousands of Shadows. The two city-complexes had the responsibility of controlling Z'ha'dum's environmental systems and launching the terraforming probes that were used to build Shadow bases in other systems. Buried under the two cities were power generators, of such power that if they detonated, they would shatter the planet. At the shores of a long-dry seabed was the city of Carcosa (which was so named by one of Shadows' human minions). Originally a city of Speakers, it was inhabited by Shadows for eons. Much of the original city endured, and whenever the Shadows wanted to dream of the past, they went to Carcosa.

Defenses of Z'ha'dum[]

The Shadows' primary defense was secrecy and obscurity, which was why they build their fortresses so deep underground where only those who knew where to look could find them. During time of war, a host of unstoppable Shadow vessels defended Z'ha'dum. As an additional defense, there were no jump gates or jump beacons that visitors could use to get to Z'ha'dum, which was not a problem for the Shadows, who were masters of hyperspace. In the unlikely event that some explorer accidentally stumbled onto Z'ha'dum and found the buried structures, automated defense systems protected their holdings. Soldiers of Darkness were common, and so were horrifying biological weapons like poisons and plagues (one of which melted your skin from your bones).


  • According to JMS, the name "Z'ha'dum" was of Minbari origin and roughly translates as "Death of the future", while the novel The Shadow Within (considered mostly canon) which detailed the story of the Icarus and its voyage to Z'ha'dum revealed that the Earth codename for the mysterious planet was "Alpha Omega 3". Alpha and Omega, when used together, often referred to the "beginning and end" or the "beginning of the end" as they are the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet, respectively. So, it appeared that both the Minbari and Human name for that world mean roughly meant the same thing.


Babylon 5 the Roleplaying Game's sourcebook: Darkness and Light