Battlestar Galactica Creator Answers Silliest Question That Drives Fans Crazy

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

While the Battlestar Galactica reboot had many mysteries for fans to figure out, the biggest mystery of all was the shape of the paper. In short, all paper has the edges diagonally removed, meaning that all documents and even video screens appear as octagons. In an old blog entry, showrunner Ronald D. Moore suggested it was just “a wacky design element” from the production of the miniseries, though the truth is that it was a visual gag about having to always cut corners when shooting episodes.

An Easy To Miss Detail

Since the Battlestar Galactica miniseries, fans have been wondering about the strange shape of the paper. It all looks octagonal, and this design element later seeped into things like the design of viewscreens. Back then, fans mostly assumed this was just a background detail to help this sci-fi universe feel different from our own.

Production Took It To The Extreme

In the early days of the Battlestar Galactica reboot, Moore wrote a blog for SyFy where he answered fan questions and one person asked why all paper, even “even the tractor-fed printer sheets,” had its “corners cut off.” At first, the showrunner played coy, claiming that “this is a closely guarded secret of the show.” Then, with his tongue very firmly in cheek, he claimed that “it’s certainly not a wacky design element that someone came up with during the miniseries.”

The Crew Won’t Name The Culprit

In his response, the Battlestar Galactica showrunner didn’t name the person who came up with this idea. However, the person in question is Michael Rymer, the television veteran who directed the miniseries and helped establish much of the show’s early aesthetics. He came up with the idea of cutting off the edges of the paper, though he was less interested in making a cool aesthetic choice and more interested in thumbing his nose at the network.

As the story goes, Rymer was annoyed at having to work within the budgetary constraints of the SyFy network, so he had all of the edges of the paper cut off for the miniseries. It was a not-so-subtle form of protest: the director was annoyed that he had to keep cutting corners while filming, so he ended up very literally cutting the corners off all of the onscreen documents. It’s pretty funny as gags go, but by the end of the series, nobody was laughing anymore.

Retained Elements From The Miniseries

Battlestar Galactica Plot hole

You see, once SyFy ordered Battlestar Galactica to series, the show had to retain all of the signature visual qualities of the miniseries, including the octagonal paper. The show went on for four seasons, which means that Rymer’s little joke was the gift that kept on giving. For more than four years, Moore and the production crew had to meticulously cut the edges off paper and even design things like viewscreens with this signature shape, all because of a director’s one-time joke aimed solely at network executives.

No Official Explanation

battletsar galactica controversy

Amusingly enough, Battlestar Galactica never officially explained this strange paper design, leaving it as one of the few mysteries without any kind of in-show explanation. However, even though the octagonal paper began as a kind of in-joke, it ultimately became an invaluable part of the show’s signature aesthetic.

Now, we can’t help but wonder if, when the series is rebooted yet again, the new producers will cut corners during production by (ironically enough) not cutting the corners on every piece of paper we see onscreen.