Stargate SG1 was an incredibly popular series, running for ten seasons, with two television movies, and inspiring two spin-off shows. With a new series set within the Stargate universe set to return to television screens it’s time to look back at some of the best episodes from the original show.
10. Within The Serpent’s Grasp/Serpents Lair
The two-part finale to the first season of the show saw the Stargate Programme shut down by the government just as the evil goa’uld Apophis (Peter Williams) launches an attack on the planet.
With SG-1 managing to sneak aboard on of the invading ships, they, and the Earth, seem hopelessly outmatched against their enemies. With desperate odds, imminent global destruction, and the lives of friends hanging in the balance the first season’s finale would go on to shape the tone of future story lines.
9. The Fifth Race
When Colonel O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) accidentally has an entire alien database downloaded into his brain he soon finds himself overwhelmed by the knowledge and faces certain death. Thanks to that knowledge, however, he’s able to find help in the form of the Asgard, an ancient race of aliens that have long been the enemies of the Gou’auld.
With the Asgard having appeared briefly in an earlier episode, ‘The Fifth Race’ was the first time that the diminutive grey aliens appeared in full. The episode not only acted as an introduction to a race that would go on to become a major part of the Stargate mythology, but also promised bigger things to come, including giving the people of Earth the hope of a brighter future.
8. The Pegasus Project
Despite not being the first time that Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis would cross over, with characters from each show appearing in the other, ‘The Pegasus Project’ felt like the first real crossover between the two, with the SG1 team and the Atlantis expedition teaming up to find a way of stopping the hugely powerful Ori.
Not only does the episode move the main series plot forward in some big ways, particularly in the stopping of the Ori Super Gate, but also sees the destruction of both an Ori and a Wraith ship.
Despite this, it’s the personal interactions that make the episode stand out, with the members of both teams fitting in well with each other, demonstrating that the two series are just parts of a bigger whole, one amazing shared universe.
7. Prometheus Unbound
Stargate SG1 was a very serious series, often dealing with some very dark and adult themes. Despite this, it was also an incredibly fun and silly show at times. The season eight episode ‘Prometheus Unbound’ sees the titular ship hijacked by a devious, and slightly unhinged, thief Vala Mal Doran (Claudia Black), with only Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) on board to stop her.
The wackiness of Black’s portrayal, the spot on timing of the comedy and witty joke writing, and the wonderful chemistry between the two main leads made this an instant fan favourite episode.
The episode was so popular that the writers chose to bring Vala back as a recurring character in the next season, before making her a main character, and a part of the SG1 team for season 10. With Vala proving to be one of the more popular characters in the franchise, and her relationship with Daniel a highlight for many, this episode marked the beginning of one of the best periods of the series.
6. Window of Opportunity
One of the most popular comedy episodes of the entire series run, ‘Window of Opportunity’ saw Stargate SG1 doing Groundhog Day after Colonel O’Neill and Teal’C (Christopher Judge) stuck in a time loop.
Whilst the episode filled much of its run time with fun moments like O’Neill taking pottery classes, quitting the Air Force just so he could kiss Carter (Amanda Tapping), and even playing golf through the Stargate, the episode also had a strong emotional resolution, seeing O’Neill having to revisit the pain of his son’s death in order to stop the person responsible for the time loop. It might be one of the funniest episodes of the show, but it also had a lot of heart.
5. Lost City
Originally intended to be the end of Stargate SG1, ‘Lost City’ saw the final assault on the Earth by the Gou’auld Anubis. With the Earth facing off against a huge Gou’auld fleet, O’Neill once again facing death due to an Ancient database being downloaded into his mins, and the search for the lost city of Atlantis, the show packs a lot into its planned finale.
Thanks to the show being renewed for an eighth season the show was able to continue on many of these stories, but it doesn’t detract from the sense of danger and tension that permeates the events. With some superb acting and some excellently choreographed action sequences ‘Lost City’ would have acted as a great conclusion to the show, yet still manages to be an incredibly strong season finale.
With the revamp of the series in season nine Stargate SG1 not only had some new cast members, but a new deadly enemy to contend with. Despite having defeated the Gou’auld the series heroes still felt a little outmatched over the course of season nine. ‘Camelot’ showed the audience, as well as the characters, just how outmatched they actually were.
When an Ori Super Gate is activated, allowing through just four Ori ships, they quickly destroy an entire fleet made up of Earth ships, the Asgard, the Free Jaffa Nation, and the Lucian Alliance.
With Daniel Jackson apparently killed, Carter adrift in a space suit, the only defence for the galaxy destroyed, and Vala trapped on an Ori ship, things never looked bleaker for SG1. A shocking and devastating season finale that promised amazing things to come in the next season.
When SG1 discovers that an alien planet has a highly unstable for of the alien element Naquadah they try to secure some for themselves to help develop defence technology. Unfortunately, the planet is already trying to fashion the element into a devastating weapon. After an accident causes Daneil Jackson to become doused with radiation he faces certain death.
An episode that has clear parallels to the development of nuclear weapons, and deals with the concept of weapons of mass destruction. It’s not an easy subject to tackle, but the episode does it well, and manages to also deal with the death of one of their own as Jackson succumbs to radiation poisoning. Although he ascends to a higher level of existence moments before he died, this was effectively the episode that killed him.
As such, ‘Meridian’ was filled with powerful and emotional scenes, in particular showcasing the relationship between Jackson and O’Neill with some of the best acting from both Michael Shanks and Richard Dean Anderson.
Heroes was supposed to be a small episode, one with a low-cost and made with as little of the main cast as possible. Essentially telling the story of a documentary crew that had been given access to the SGC, it was filled with candid camera moments, talking head interviews, and background characters getting the chance to shine.
The episode evolved during its production stage, however, becoming a two-part story that featured a huge battle scene, and included the shock death of series regular Dr Fraiser (Teryl Rothery). The story looked at the role of the media in public opinion of the military, the importance of secrecy from the public, and the horrors of war.
Despite being set in a fictional universe the episode speaks well for the role of the military in the real world, how the soldiers who put their lives on the line every day are ordinary people with real lives and families. A heart breaking and devastating episode that will leave viewers in tears, ‘Heroes’ is a story that comes out of nowhere to shock the audience and forever change the series.
After planning for the series to end on several occasions, only to have the show renewed, the production team went into season ten ready to tell a story that would go on into an eleventh season. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled too far into production to end the story. Whilst the story of the Ori would be concluded in a television movie the choice was made to end the show on a celebration of the characters and the franchise.
Set on board the Odyssey, an Earth spaceship, SG1 and General Landry (Beau Bridges) end up stuck inside a time dilation field, effectively trapping them on board whilst the universe around them is stopped.
Spending the next fifty years together on the ship the team would go through personal emotional trials, joys, and devastating loss before finding a way to put things right. Whilst most of the events of the episode would be undone, it proved to be one of the best insights into the characters, and deliver some truly great moments.
A brilliant send off to the show, that gives each of the actors a moment to shine, it’s clear that this is a celebration of the franchise and the end of an era, with the tears in the actors eyes in the last scene being very genuine.