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Joseph Adama was born on Tauron to Isabelle and William Adama in the years leading up to the Cylon War. Joseph's father believed him to be an introverted child in contrast to his younger, more emotive brother, Samuel. Having learned the Sacred Scrolls, Joseph received his "Mark of Manhood" - a tattoo representing the colony of Tauron - on his right wrist (CAP: "The Dirteaters").
Coming of age during the Tauron Uprising, Adama and his brother were taught the importance of loyalty by their parents, both Ha'la'tha sympathizers who had knowledge of the resistance. Informing her sons of the risks and price of aiding the rebellion, Isabelle Adama told Joseph and Samuel that they had always been her "little Adama men," but that it was now time to be "men for Tauron" (CAP: "The Dirteaters").
Shortly after, a Heraclitus soldier was killed in the alley outside the Adama home. Witnessing the murder, Samuel Adama climbed out of his bedroom window and removed the soldier's wallet and pistol, hiding them under his mattress despite the warnings of Joseph. Investigating the killing, three Herac officers later entered the Adama home to question the family. From their hiding place in a closet, Joseph and Samuel witnessed the torture of their father and the murder of their mother. Accepting that William Adama would not survive his injuries, Joseph shot and killed the Herac soldiers before turning the gun on his father (CAP: "The Dirteaters").
Escaping their home, Joseph and Samuel lived on the streets. There, Joseph gave his brother his own Mark of Manhood, the rudimentary tattoo sealing their own bond through the years (CAP: "The Dirteaters").
Caprican in a Tauron Body
Orphaned, Joseph and Samuel were sent to a refugee camp on Caprica. Arriving on the new world, Joseph was struck by the sight of flowers on the side of the road, something he had not seen on Tauron. In the refugee camp, the Adama boys met the Guatrau who later recounted that, even as a child, Joseph possessed a calculating air. Treating the Adamas as sons, the Guatrau took them under his wing, bringing Samuel into the Ha'la'tha crime syndicate and putting Joseph through law school (CAP: "Pilot," "The Dirteaters").
Early Years on Caprica
While he was in law school, Adama met Evelyn, who went on to be his legal assistant and later his second wife. Though he didn't smoke much until later in life, Adama used a chrome lighter engraved with his name in law school, later as a lawyer carrying it into court as a good luck charm. With Evelyn's assistance, Adama's practice grew from personal injury law ("ambulance chasing" as Evelyn described it) to criminal legal defense (CAP: "The Reins of a Waterfall," "The Dirteaters," "False Labor,"TRS: "The Hand of God").
Adopting a less Tauron sounding name - "Adams" - Joseph took great efforts to assimilate into Caprican culture, prompting his brother to refer to him as a "Caprican in a Tauron body." Privately, however, Adama retained some traditions of the "old world." Living in an apartment (615 Olympic Street #3) in Little Tauron, Adama raised two children, Tamara and Willie, with his wife Shannon and mother-in-law Ruth (CAP: "Pilot," "Gravedancing," "There is Another Sky").
Working as a defense attorney for the Ha'la'tha, "Adams" used cubits to bribe judges, often preventing his clients from facing jury trials. Despite the fact that the Guatrau had paid for his education, Adams was reluctant to fully embrace the Ha'la'tha and hoped to distance himself from the crime organization, saying that he was tired of doing their "dirty work" (CAP: "Pilot").
Fifty-eight years before the Fall, Adams faces the loss of both his wife, Shannon, and daughter, Tamara, when the Caprica City MLMT train is bombed by the Soldiers of the One terror group. Mourning in the traditional Tauron way - wearing black gloves to symbolize distance from the rest of the world - Adams is left to care for his son, William, alone (CAP: "Pilot").
Following a Global Defense Department briefing on the bombing, Adams meets famed technologist Daniel Graystone outside Caprica City Hall, offering Graystone the use of his lighter. Having also lost a daughter - Zoe - Graystone commiserates with Adams at a downtown coffee shop and the two men spend hours together, simply smoking. As they go their separate ways, Graystone offers box seats at a Caprica Buccaneers game to Adams and his son (CAP: "Pilot").
Taking Graystone up on his offer, Joseph and Willie attend the game, viewing it from the owner's box and later visiting the locker room. Following the game, Graystone reveals to Adams that he is aware of his affiliation with the Ha'la'tha, asking Joseph for his help in a project that could bring both of their daughters back to life. Graystone proposes to implant a virtual avatar of Tamara inside a robot body, essentially creating a duplicate of Adams' daughter. The key however, is a piece of technology owned by Graystone's competitor, a Tauron company called the Vergis Corporation. Though dubious about the offer, Adams is nonetheless intrigued (CAP: "Pilot").
Deciding to move forward with Graystone's plan, Adams approaches his brother Sam Adama for help in the theft of the meta-cognitive processor from the Vergis Corporation. Working as an enforcer for the Ha'la'tha, Sam Adama is hesitant to betray Tomas Vergis - a friend of the Gautrau - but agreed to help if Joseph agrees to return the favor. Accepting the exchange, Adams agrees to deliver a threat to the Caprican Minister of Defense, Val Chambers, further increasing his involvement with the Ha'la'tha (CAP: "Pilot").
Upon receiving the stolen MCP, Graystone repays Joseph by bringing him into the virtual world where a digital version of Tamara is being stored. At first embracing the avatar as his daughter, Adams' joy at seeing Tamara again quickly evaporates. The avatar is confused and panicked, screaming that she can't feel her heartbeat. Incensed, Adams calls the entire endeavor an abomination and storms out of the Graystone Estate, leaving the Tamara avatar behind in the virtual world (CAP: "Pilot").
Realizing that he cannot not escape the reality of his situation, Adams resolves to begin anew. Sharing with his son the story of his own father and life on Tauron, Joseph reveals that he had changed their family name to "Adams," but that they would now embrace the Adama name (CAP: "Pilot").
In the weeks that follow the tragedy, Joseph Adama struggles to cope with life as a single parent. Upon receiving a vision of Tamara reaching out to him, Adama becomes obsessed with seeing the avatar of his daughter again. With Daniel Graystone ignoring his calls, Adama confronts Graystone at the MagLev memorial service at Apollo Park. There, Graystone tells Adama that the program is lost, the Tamara and Zoe avatars apparently gone. Unable to accept this, Adama confronts Graystone again, this time bringing Sam Adama with him. Savagely beating him in an alley, the Adama brothers persuade Graystone to reconsider his position and the scientist agrees to search for the Tamara avatar (CAP: "Rebirth," "Reins of a Waterfall").
Though Graystone suspects Tamara may still be in his private virtual space, the avatar disappears when it is discovered by the living Zoe avatar and released into the expanse of the virtual world. Believing his daughter to be truly gone, Adama seeks retribution, telling his brother to even the score by killing Graystone's wife, Amanda Graystone (CAP: "Reins of a Waterfall").
Later having second thoughts about the murder, Joseph attempts to call the hit off, but is unable to reach Sam. Aware of Joseph's high moral code, Sam Adama takes the opportunity to scare both his brother and Amanda Graystone, revealing later that he had no intention of killing her (CAP: "Gravedancing").
Sinking into a deep depression, Adama begins neglecting his responsibilities, failing to go to work and to provide a stable home for his son. Lacking direction from his father, Willie spends time with his uncle Sam, who teaches him about the Ha'la'tha. Discovering that Willie has skipped school to spend time with Sam, Joseph confronts his brother and takes steps to reestablish his relationship with his son. Taking Willie on a fishing trip, Joseph attempts to bond with his son. The trip is cut short, though, when Willie savagely beats a teenage boy who had taunted him (CAP: "There is Another Sky").
Believing that he is quickly losing his son, Joseph decides to hold a traditional Tauron funeral to give his son - and himself - closure. Receiving a new tattoo on his chest, Joseph performs the funereal rights, giving the ferryman coins to ensure Tamara and Shannon safe passage to the afterlife. The following celebration, however, is interrupted by Tad Thorean - a New Cap City gamer - who arrives to deliver a message from Tamara - alive and lost in the virtual world (CAP: "There is Another Sky").
Search for Tamara
Now aware of the living Tamara avatar's existence in V-world, Joseph Adama seeks out assistance from Tad Thorean. Locating Thorean at his workplace at a market in Little Tauron, Adama demands to be taken into the hacked virtual space. Leading Adama into the game, Thorean introduces Joseph to the rules of New Cap City. Chief among the rules Thorean described is virtual mortality - if a user is killed in the game, that user is permanently ejected from the game (CAP: "The Imperfections of Memory").
As Adama and Thorean explore the virtual environment, several aircraft begin strafing the streets below. Fleeing to avoid being shot, Adama inadvertently shoves Thorean into the gun fire, derezzing him and banning him from New Cap City (CAP: "The Imperfections of Memory").
Without Thorean as a guide, Adama returns to New Cap City alone, encountering "Emmanuelle," a beautiful user who claims to have been sent to help. Really Adama's assistant Evelyn in disguise, Emmanuelle helps protect and guide Adama through the gaming environment. Entering New Cap City's version of Little Tauron, Joseph and Emmanuelle break into the virtual version of his own apartment where they demand information from the current resident. Being shot and nearly derezzed in the an ensuing melee, Emmanuelle insists Adama leave V-world until he is prepared to do whatever it takes to find his daughter (CAP: "The Imperfections of Memory").
In the real world, Adama is visited by his brother, concerned by the Joseph's recent decline. As the brothers speak, Joseph asks Sam how - as a Ha'la'tha assassin - he is able to kill men. At first hesitant to share such personal information, Sam reveals that he simply pretends it isn't real. With that, Adama reenters V-world, accompanying Emmanuelle to the New Cap City nightclub "Mysteries." Being called on stage by the host, Cerberus, Adama is given the opportunity to solve a riddle in return for information on his daughter's whereabouts. Refusing to answer, Adama is thrown out of the club and labeled a coward. Discovering Tamara's distinctive flower signature stamped on a wall outside the club, Adama uses amp - a drug-like hack - to charge back into Mysteries. Opening fire on and derezzing much of the clientele, Adama holds Cerberus at gunpoint. (CAP: "Ghosts in the Machine").
Though Cerberus proves little use, Adama spares him from being derezzed. As they leave the club, Joseph and Emmanuelle discover a wall covered with Tamara's signature - Emmanuelle tells Adama that his daughter may have found a new home in the virtual world (CAP: "Ghosts in the Machine").
End of Line
Watching Adama's life deteriorate in the real world, Evelyn realizes the search for the Tamara avatar is destroying his life. Entering New Cap City's Little Tauron as Emmanuelle, Evelyn lures Tamara into her family's virtual apartment. Explaining the situation, Evelyn convinces Tamara her father is better off believing she is dead (CAP: "End of Line").
Later entering his virtual home, Adama is shocked and relieved to find Tamara, but the reunion is short. Tamara tells her father to stop following her and to focus on Willie. Aiming a gun at her chest, she shoots herself, appearing to be mortally wounded before turning the weapon on her father and derezzing him from the game. Devasted by losing his daughter once again, Joseph collapses into the arms of Evelyn in the real world (CAP: "End of Line").
Having dealt with Graystone in the past, Joseph Adama is asked to advise in dealing with the Ha'la'tha take over of Graystone Industries after Daniel Graystone loses control of his company to Tomas Vergis. A significant bump in the crime organization that he had previously sought to distance himself from, Adama personally represents the Guatrau's interests. (CAP: "Unvanquished").
Adama & Graystone
Visiting Graystone at his home, Joseph and Sam Adama stage a scenario in which Daniel is forced to choose between killing his mother or backing out of the deal. Handing Graystone a detonator supposedly linked to an explosive attached to his mother's car, Joseph Adama patiently waits for Graystone to break. When Daniel refuses to press the detonator, Adama suggests Graystone consider his options, asking the scientist if he is truly ready to work with the Ha'la'tha (CAP: "Unvanquished").
Despite Graystone's failure to prove willingness to work with the Ha'la'tha at any cost, the alliance is forged and both Adama brothers become instrumental in helping reinstall Graystone as CEO of the company. To that end, Joseph and Samuel blackmail members of the Graystone Industries board, buying their votes to reinstate Graystone. Though Graystone himself has difficulty exploiting people he once considered friends, the scheme pays off and he is once again in control of his company - though with the Ha'la'tha behind him. Working out of the Graystone Industries campus, Joseph and Evelyn operate to ensure the Guatrau's bottom line, secretly securing a deal with the Soldiers of the One terror group to ship Cylons to Gemenon (CAP: "Unvanquished," "Retribution," "False Labor," "Blowback," "The Dirteaters").
Working closely with Daniel Graystone, Adama's feelings about Graystone remain unchanged. Blaming Graystone for the deaths of his wife and daughter, Adama is cold, even hostile with Daniel. Still, when the Guatrau proposes killing the scientist whether he completes his resurrection program or not, Adama is opposed. Without betraying the Ha'la'tha by openly warning Graystone, Adama attempts to alert Daniel, telling him to out think his opponent during a boxing match (CAP: "False Labor," "Blowback").
Against the Guatrau
As Adama's personal life slowly returns to normal - and his business relationship with Evelyn progresses into a romantic one - political strife once again ignites on Tauron. With Sam Adama obsessed with the new Tauron rebellion, Joseph Adama senses his brother's feelings of remorse concerning their childhood on Tauron and the deaths of their parents. Still, Joseph keeps secret from his brother the knowledge that the Guatrau has decided not to smuggle Cylons to Tauron as Sam had suggested, but is instead selling them to the STO (CAP: "The Dirteaters").
Outraged when he learns of the deal with the STO, Sam Adama rails against his brother, asking Joseph how he can sell robots to the people who murdered his wife and daughter. Realizing that Sam is correct in his outrage, Joseph agrees to help smuggle Cylons to Tauron, an act of defiance against the Guatrau that will have serious consequences (CAP: "False Labor," "Blowback," "The Dirteaters").
Utilizing his position at Graystone Industries, Adama begins skimming Cylons from the company's regular shipments to the Caprican Government and those being smuggled by the Ha'la'tha to Gemenon. Recently released from prison, Fidelia Fazekas - the daughter of the Guatrau and a former romantic interest of Joseph's - detects the abnormality in the Graystone company's books. Confronting Joseph about the missing Cylons, Adama covers, but Fazekas is unconvinced and investigates further. Finding solid evidence that the Adama brothers are exporting Cylons to Tauron, Fazekas goes to her father and convinces him to have Joseph and Samuel killed (CAP: "The Heavens Will Rise," "Here Be Dragons").
Though the Guatrau is at first hesitant to put a hit out on men he considers sons, an assassin is soon dispatched to the Adama home. Entering the apartment under the pretense of taking Joseph to see the Guatrau, the hit man attacks Adama, attempting to strangle him. Stabbing the hit man in the back and killing him, Ruth intervens, loading a shotgun to protect the family. Gathering Willie and Evelyn, Adama calls Sam, leaving a message telling his brother to meet them at the betting parlor where they had stashed passports and money in case of an emergency (CAP: "Here Be Dragons").
Meeting Sam outside the betting parlor, Adama and his brother enter the establishment to find several Ha'la'tha men lying in wait. As a struggle ensues, Willie Adama runs inside and is shot in the hand and stomach. As Sam Adama dispatches his attackers, Joseph and Evelyn come to the aid of Willie, but it is too late and Willie dies in the arms of his father (CAP: "Here Be Dragons").
Following the death of William "Willie" Adama, the Ha'la'tha fractures, with several Tauron families siding with the Adamas against the Guatrau. Coming to the Adama home to pay her respects, Fidelia Fazekas pleads with Joseph not to allow a war between families. Making a deal with Fazekas that will prevent such a conflict, Adama arranges to meet with the Guatrau in the virtual world (CAP: "Apotheosis").
As Joseph speaks with the Guatrau through the use of a holoband, Sam Adama suffocates the Ha'la'tha's kingpin with a plastic bag. Leaving the virtual world for the real world, Joseph Adama denies the Guatrau's pleas for a knife to end his suffering, instead forcing him to swallow suicide pills that once belonging to Adama's parents. With the Guatrau dead, Joseph offers the title to Fazekas, installing her as the head of the Ha'la'tha and the new Guatrau (CAP: "Apotheosis").
Following the death of his son, Joseph Adama continues to pursue his burgeoning romance with his assistant Evelyn. Ultimately the two marry and Evelyn gives birth to a boy. Joseph and Evelyn Adama name their new son William, in honor of Willie and Joseph's father, William, before him. During the fifth anniversary of the death of Willie Adama, the family gathers to perform a ceremony of remembrance and Joseph speaks of his sons:
The Notorious Lawyer
Moving on from his association with the Ha'la'tha, Adama becomes a defense attorney. Enlisting in the Colonial Fleet, Adama's son William writes his father letters detailing his service in the Cylon War (Blood and Chrome). Adama later works as a noted civil liberties attorney and authors two books Law and Mind: The Psychology of Legal Practice and Trial Tactics and Strategies (TRS: "The Son Also Rises," "Crossroads, Part I").
Believing that law is a way of exorcising demons leads Adama to defend "the worst of the worst." Adama seeks to understand the motivations that causes people to cheat, reward their enemies, and go to war - asking why people built machines to correct their flaws and shortcomings (TRS: "The Son Also Rises").
During his tenure, defense attorney Romo Lampkin is one of Joseph Adama's students. Though Lampkin claims to have hated Adama because he was right about the law, Lampkin also admits to learning everything he knows from him, even carrying a worn copy of Law and Mind: The Psychology of Legal Practice (TRS: "The Son Also Rises").
Before going to trial, Adama would break pencils before entering the courtroom, then ask to borrow a pencil from the clerk. This was a reminder to Adama to break preconceptions and "work with what you had" (TRS: "Lay Down Your Burdens, Part I").
A Good Lighter
Years later, following Adama's death and the Fall of the Twelve Colonies, Joseph's son, Commander William Adama of the battlestar Galactica leads the remnants of humanity to the safety of Earth in a ragtag fleet. During the fleet's journey, Adama passes his father's engraved silver lighter on to his own son, Leeland Joseph Adama, a pilot aboard Galactica (TRS: "The Hand of God").
Lee Adama later recalls visiting the elder Adama during his youth, sneaking a peek at Joseph's various law books. Joseph in turn would wave Lee over, telling him "Lee, be a good boy, just don't be too good" (TRS: "A Day in the Life," "The Son Also Rises").
Following years of battles with the Cylons as they pursue the Colonial fleet, Lee Adama retires from the service to follow in his grandfather's footsteps. Using Joseph Adama's books and wisdom to win the trial of Gaius Baltar and eventually serve as the Quorum of Twelve delegate to Caprica and President of the Colonies (TRS: "Crossroads, Part I," ""Crossroads, Part II," "Revelations").