On the ’90s sci-fi television series Babylon 5, N’Grath was a mantis alien that lived in the space station’s Alien Sector, which was pumped with gases for non-oxygen breathing lifeforms.
Physically, N’Grath looked to be around 8 feet tall and had a translator implant on his abdomen that flashed when he talked. He worked in the station’s criminal underworld and was a connection to the black market, providing illegal services for a price: “I sell. Provide. Fix.”
I have a weakness for mantises, especially giant space mantises, so of course I liked it when N’Grath popped up in an episode. And while his scenes are short and ultimately don’t have much of an impact on an episode’s plot, they help add to the ambience and sell the show’s setting.
N’Grath was designed by Jim McPherson, the suit actor was Russ Johnson, and the voice actor is unknown.
The Soul Hunter asks N’Grath for a map of every inch of the station. I don’t know why this information isn’t already available to the public, but N’Grath says it requires level 5 clearance and is very expensive. Worth noting is that N’Grath keeps two guards stationed outside his lair, who cower in fear at the sight of the Soul Hunter.
But N’Grath isn’t scared at all. Fear is a luxury in the world of business.
Born to the Purple
The episode’s antagonist Trakis asks for N’Grath’s help in reclaiming Adira, his lost “property,” and to distract (maybe even kill) Londo and Sinclair. N’Grath is hesitant at first, saying the job is trouble, but Trakis offers to double the price.
A clip from this scene shows up in the first season intro – meaning N’Grath technically shows up in all 22 episodes of season 1!
The Parliament of Dreams
Frightened for his life, G’Kar hires a bodyguard from a scathingly sarcastic N’Grath; the bodyguard is, of course, expensive, but dies pretty quickly at the hands of a mysterious assassin. Note: this is the first time a main character visits N’Grath.
After being framed and on the run from the law, Garibaldi tries to get help from N’Grath, asking for high level security clearance in order to prove his innocence. N’Grath stresses that he does legitimate business, and that despite Garibaldi’s current status as a fugitive, he still considers him “police” and quickly shows him to the exit.
And…that’s it, really. After a mere four appearances in the first half of Babylon 5‘s first season, N’Grath was retired due to technical issues with the costume. It looks like there were plans to improve the costume and bring him back for season 2, but they never came to fruition and he was never seen again.
Much later, in this season 5 (!) episode, it’s mentioned that N’Grath “went down” sometime after his last appearance. Whether this meant he was killed by a rival criminal or arrested by the authorities isn’t clear.
But wait, there’s more…
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The N’Grath puppet shows up at the end of the fourth episode of Buffy (Teacher’s Pet) to portray the true form of the She-Mantis, Ms. French. I’m glad N’Grath was able to find new employment!
As far as I can tell, the N’Grath puppet (or at least the head piece) was last seen in The Prop Store of London in 2010, according to this forum thread.
There are always rumors and rumblings of a new Babylon 5 production. If and when it happens, one can only hope N’Grath or another member of his species will make an appearance.