Laura Roslin is the Secretary of Education at the time of the Cylon attack and later serves twice as President of the Twelve Colonies, despite never being elected to office. She is also believed by some in the Fleet to be a religious figure essential to the fulfillment of the Pythian prophecy.
Some time before the Fall of the Twelve Colonies, Roslin is forced to take care of her dying mother, who is going through doloxan treatments for cancer. At some point, Roslin's father and sisters are killed in a car accident at the fault of a drunk driver. Like her mother, Roslin is a schoolteacher, though she enters politics under the mayoral administration of Richard Adar. When Adar decides to run for president, Roslin reluctantly agrees to join his campaign, and is later appointed as Secretary of Education.
Though Roslin never marries, she engages in a sexual affair with the married Adar. The day of the Cylon attack, Roslin learns that she has terminal breast cancer. Returning to work, Roslin informs Adar that she has successfully resolved an ongoing teacher's strike, but Adar vehemently disagrees with her method, and asks for her resignation. She asks him to defer the matter until she returns from the decommissioning ceremonies of the Galactica.
Fall of the ColoniesEdit
Roslin travels to Galactica aboard the government-chartered civilian transport, Colonial Heavy 798, accompanied by a government aide, Billy Keikeya. On board Galactica, Secretary Roslin meets with Commander William Adama, who denies her request to add a student computer network in the battlestar. Roslin lets the matter go and departs the ship following the decommissioning ceremonies. Roslin being sworn in
On route back to Caprica, Roslin learns from the captain that the Cylons are attacking the Twelve Colonies. Roslin quickly takes on the mantle of leadership, rallying the passengers to make space for potential refugees. She finally establishes contact with a government official on Caprica, who does not know the the whereabouts or condition of President Adar. As the transport begins to rescue survivors from a stranded passenger vessel, the Case Orange automated beacon is picked up on the wireless, and Roslin instructs the pilot to respond to the message with her government identification. Soon, a response returns from the automated message: Roslin, the forty-third official in line of succession, is the highest-ranking government official left alive and thus has succeeded Adar as president. Physically shaking, Roslin holds back tears and her voice cracks as the priestess Elosha administers the oath of office.
In her first act as president, Roslin orders the Galactica to assist her in rescue operations. In turn, Adama refuses to recognize her authority and orders the vessel to rendezvous with Galactica at the Ragnar Anchorage. The two are interrupted by a pair of Cylon Raiders, which launch nuclear missiles at the small fleet Roslin has assembled. She refuses to leave the vessels behind and is only saved by quick thinking on the part of Lee Adama. Soon after, a Galactica Raptor carrying Dr. Gaius Baltar locates Roslin's ship, the newly rechristened Colonial One. Roslin appoints Baltar as her chief science advisor and uses the Raptor to locate any surviving ships around Caprica. Over the next few hours, Roslin's small group of ships transforms into a massive fleet harboring over 50,000 survivors.
While attempting to transfer passengers off of all non-FTL capable ships, the Fleet is discovered by another pair of Raiders. Forced to make a difficult decision, Roslin orders all FTL-capable ships to jump to Ragnar, abandoning the thousands of people still aboard the sub-light ships. At Ragnar, Roslin meets again with Adama and urges him to abandon the Twelve Colonies in favor of guiding the surviving civilians to a new home. Though Adama initially rejects this idea, he later acquiesces and the Fleet, protected by Galactica, leaves Colonial space.
In an attempt to give the survivors a reason to survive, Adama claims that he knows the location of Earth, the home of the Thirteenth Tribe. Roslin privately calls Adama out on his lie. Adama admits the deception, and in return for Roslin keeping his secret and allowing him to retain control of the military, he acknowledges Roslin's authority over the civilian fleet as president.
The First MonthEdit
Roslin begins building the foundations of a civilian government by collecting a census on the remaining population while Cylon attacks force the Fleet to jump every 33 minutes. Working tirelessly throughout these attacks without any sleep, Roslin is forced to make another tough call and authorizes Galactica to destroy the Olympic Carrier, a ship suspected of being tracked by the Cylons. Ultimately, the destruction of the ship ends the attacks, yet Roslin continues to question whether she had made the right choice considering the 1300 lives lost on the ship.
Though Roslin and Adama continue to have a wary relationship, Adama integrates her into the decision process. Roslin and Adama agree to keep the knowledge that Cylons now appear human a secret. She later authorizes the conditional pardoning of prisoners aboard the Astral Queen. However, Tom Zarek, a former terrorist with a political agenda, successfully frees the prisoners, takes control of the ship and broadcasts calls for Roslin to step down from office and hold immediate elections. Roslin refuses to negotiate and presses Adama for an armed response, though she is less than pleased when Lee ends the situation by giving the prisoners control of their ship and promising that the scheduled presidential elections would take place in nine months.
Having appointed Lee as her military liaison, she admits the truth of her cancer to him. She later seeks treatment from Galactica's doctor, Sherman Cottle, though she opts to use an alternative, psychoactive drug, chamalla, rather than endure the same doloxan treatments that she had watched her mother suffer through.
Following a suicide bombing aboard Galactica by copy of Aaron Doral, Roslin holds a press conference revealing the truth about humanoid Cylons and releasing pictures of Aaron Doral and Leoben Conoy. The news is greeted with a stunned reaction throughout the Fleet. A resulting independent investigation aboard Galactica is launched by Adama, though Roslin cautions against this course of action.
As a result of her press conference regarding the Cylons, a copy of Leoben Conoy is captured aboard the Gemenon Traveler. Despite Adama's desire to kill him immediately, Roslin insists he be interrogated. When Conoy claims that he has planted a nuclear bomb within the Fleet, Roslin travels to the Gemenon Traveler and stops the torture being inflicted on him. Agreeing to release him if he tells her where the bomb is, Conoy informs her that there is no bomb and that Adama is a Cylon. She subsequently orders him to be thrown out of an airlock, a method of execution repeated multiple times over the course of Roslin's administration. While Roslin becomes suspicious of Adama as a result of Conoy's claim, her fears are allayed by Baltar's invention of a Cylon detector.
Soon after, Roslin reconstitutes the Quorum of Twelve aboard Cloud Nine. However, the election of Zarek as the Sagittaron delegate disrupts her agenda when Zarek insists on the election of a vice president. The delegate from Virgon nominates Zarek, while Roslin chooses Wallace Gray as her preferred candidate. However, Gray fails to win enough support in the Quorum to defeat Zarek and is replaced at the last minute by Baltar, the Caprican delegate. The resulting vote is a tie, which allows Roslin to cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of Baltar.
Shortly before the capture of Leoben Conoy, Roslin has a set of visions that are uncannily prescient to future events. During a press conference soon after, she hallucinates a dozen snakes crawling over her podium. Disturbed by these events, she consults Elosha and admits that she has been using chamalla. On hearing about the snakes, Elosha reveals that it matches a prophecy in an ancient text written by Pythia 3,600 years ago concerning the exodus of humankind, which foretells that a dying leader will guide the remnants of humanity to the promised land.
Cottle informs Roslin that her cancer has spread to her lymphatic system, giving her perhaps six months to live. Soon after, a recon mission from Galactica discovers a habitable world with ruins across the surface. Reviewing the photos of the ruins, Roslin has another vision that Elosha confirms to be the City of the Gods on Kobol. Roslin has two further visions of the Arrow of Apollo and the Tomb of Athena and accepts the scriptures as fact. Though Adama considers permanent settlement on the planet, Roslin tries to convince him they should use a captured Cylon Raider to return to Caprica and retrieve the Arrow of Apollo, which would open the Tomb of Athena and point the way to Earth. Uncomfortable with Roslin's newfound religiousness, Adama asserts his authority over the military to deny her the use of the Raider.
Resolved, Roslin convinces Kara Thrace to steal the Raider and return to Caprica by admitting that Adama does not know where Earth is. Upon learning of her deception, Adama asks Roslin for her resignation; her refusal results in him sending a Marine boarding party to Colonial One to arrest her. Though Lee Adama ultimately sides with the President during the armed standoff, Roslin agrees to surrender to prevent bloodshed. Adama is shot soon after by a Cylon agent, and Saul Tigh assumes command of Galactica and refuses Roslin's request to be released.
From her cell, Roslin rallies support from the Quorum of Twelve by convincing them of her role in the Sacred Scrolls in response, Tigh dissolves the Quorum and declares martial law. With the help of several sympathetic crew members of Galactica, Roslin escapes with Lee and hides within the Fleet with the help of Zarek. Declaring herself publicly to be the "dying leader" foretold by Pythia, Roslin asks the Fleet to follow her back to Kobol. Nearly a third of the Fleet heeds her request and jumps back to Kobol, where they rendezvous with Starbuck and the recovered Arrow. A search party led by Roslin heads to the surface and Elosha is soon killed by a landmine, which deeply shakes Roslin.
A recon team led by Adama intercepts Roslin's group, and Adama and Roslin resolve their differences, with Adama agreeing to help her find the Tomb. After locating it, the group places the Arrow in the bow of a statue of Sagittarius, which activates a projection showing the way to Earth. Upon returning to the Fleet, Adama reinstates Roslin as president.