As we all ponder the possibility of a character dying during the remainder of season 3.5, I can’t help but think about how, well, different, BSG is from so many other shows. Whereas you could rest safe that the main characters in most TV shows wouldn’t die because the actors themselves were critical to the show’s success, that’s just not the case in BSG.
Could Baltar (or Starbuck) die? Sure. Even thought we’re totally in agreement that both of these actors are absolutely critical to the success of the show, the big difference here is that when someone dies on BSG they might stick around.
In Starbuck’s case, she could prove to be one of the “Final Five.” (Why do I always get a mental image of a centurion playing basketball when I type those words?) While the idea of Starbuck-as-Cylon has always seemed repulsive to me, we’ve already seen a significant body of evidence to suggest that the ‘Five are fundimentally different than the Cylons we’ve already met. Maybe as a ‘Fiver, she wouldn’t be a complete enemy to the Colonials. For that matter, Athena’s actions have softened the idea of “all Cylons are bad” a bit, hasn’t she?
It alsoseems completely reasonable for Baltar to die — at the hands of the Colonials or the Cylons — while James Callis remains on the show as ChipBaltar. (In fact, let’s have a show of hands. Who else out there loves ChipBaltar? “Too bad you nyuked it.” Classic!)
And this doesn’t even count the possibility of a J.R.-style recanting at some future date.
One thing’s certain, though. With all these options available to BSG’s writers, I’d say that no characters at all are safe in a mortal sense. Actors, on the other hand, are a different store.