It was a sad night for us Stargate fans last night as we watched the Stargate get powered down and the lights turned off. After fourteen years and over 350 episodes, we said goodbye to a show that stands in good company with other science fiction shows that created a large and interesting universe full of friendly and dangerous aliens, powerful weapons and artifacts, and alliances and wars. But the best things the Stargate universe gave us were memorable characters and some outstanding storylines.
Stargate began with the original film in 1994, and the television series fired up in 1997 with Stargate SG-1, which wrapped up in 2007 with 214 episodes (not counting the two feature-length movies that helped close up various plotlines). Meanwhile, Stargate Atlantis debuted in 2004 and ended in 2009. Finally, Stargate Universe arrived in 2009 and, sadly, ended last night, May 9, 2011.
Fourteen years. Almost fifteen full days of content. It will be hard for any science fiction fan to argue that Stargate does not deserve to stand proud, side-by-side with the other science fiction series giants.
It’s difficult for me to think back over all three series and pick favorite characters, episodes, and plots… but I’m going to try. And it’s flat out impossible for me to choose which of the three series is my favorite — they all have their strengths and weaknesses.
[Warning: Spoilers below about many aspects of the show. So those new to Stargate, please don’t read any further if you have any intention of watching the Stargate series.]
It’s such a large universe to discuss, so forgive my randomness as I try to get my mind around exactly the sheer size of the character lists, storylines, bad guys, and last minute save-the-day discoveries. I think it would be easier to sit around a table full of fans for a few hours and have a few “Remember when…” discussions, but for now I’ll just reflect on what I enjoyed about the series.
Let’s talk humor first – the show was funny and never afraid to poke fun at itself (just watch SG-1 episode “Wormhole Extreme”). While the stories were mostly serious (Earth was invaded at least a half dozen times or more without any of us ever being aware), the characters were still well developed and we knew who we could depend on for some comic relief during the stressful moments. Did any viewers not enjoy the frequent back-and-forth bickering between O’Neill and Jackson (or between Jackson and Vala)? Jack O’Neill was the obvious funnyman of SG-1, and we could always depend on a little bit of snarkiness, insubordination, and cluelessness in his discussions with carter. I still smile when I remember him slicing a golf ball through a stargate (with Teal’C).
And what about Atlantis’ McKay (played by honorary GeekDad David Hewlett)? I believe he was originally supposed to be the scientist we all hated, but he ended up becoming the allergic-to-citrus scientist we all loved with so many memorable funny moments that even spilled over to SGU (“What’s that guy’s name who kept staring at your, ah…” — “Ugh. McKay.”).
And what’s even better with the SG universe were the minor characters that grew into fan favorites – Brody and Volker (SGU – “It’s a font”) and Dr. Zalenka (Atlantis) and Walter (“Chevron 5 locked”) and so many more.
But the shows weren’t comedies, so there were plenty of baddies and threats to our existence to deal with – the Goa’uld put up a good fight through almost the entire 10 season run of SG-1 before we met (and feared) the Ori. And in-between were constant run-ins with the Replicators and the Lucian Alliance. Who knew that living in the Milky Way Galaxy would be so dangerous?
We said goodbyes to many characters (sometimes more than once) – Dr. Jackson (twice I believe), Dr. Weir, Dr. Beckett, Dr. Janet Fraiser, and the list goes on. Who knew that being a doctor could be the most dangerous profession in the Milky Way Galaxy?
Of course, Stargate will always have that reputation as the series that refused to let characters die – Dr. Jackson (again…), Dr. Weir, and Dr. Beckett were all brought back (as human, replicator, and clone, respectively) but you won’t hear too many Stargate fans complain.
And then there were the weapons and ships and artifacts! What Stargate fan didn’t secretly wish for their very own Zat gun? Who didn’t smile wide at the launch of the Daedelus, Earth’s first hyperspace capable battleship? And how about that SuperGate? I’ll bet the SGU crew would have liked for that thing to still be operational! It must have had, what… 5000 chevrons?
So many good stories. So many laughs. So many heartbreaking endings. And we’re still left with questions. Where is Atlantis now? How will the war with the Lucian Alliance end? Did Eli fix that eighth stasis pod?
It’s been an enjoyable series and I’m still finding it hard to believe that there will be no more Stargate. (Well, unless you believe the movie sequel rumors.) We can always hope for some official novels or comic book follow-ups; some of you maybe even are hoping for the inevitable reboot that seems to all the rage in Hollywood these days. But for me, Stargate will always be O’Neil, Carter, Jackson, Weir, Sheppard, McKay, Ronin, Teal’C, Mitchell, Hammond, Landry, Teyla, Beckett… and the list goes on and on.
I have two sons that maybe, just maybe, might be interested in watching the three series from beginning to end one day (could take years) — I’m thinking one or two episodes per week (Stargate night!) isn’t unreasonable. And who knows? Maybe they’ll love the series as much as I do and find their own favorite characters and stories.
So this is not really a goodbye, Stargate. I’m sure that one day I’ll want to revisit the series – if not the entire thing, at least my favorites. And maybe things will change? Maybe this isn’t the end of Stargate at all, but just a break between SGU and the next spinoff that someone out there has in mind. There are plenty of stargate stories to be tapped – the known universe does appear to be seeded with stargates, all ready to be visited. So I’ll cross my fingers and hope that we haven’t heard the last from SG-1, the crew of Atlantis, and the sleepers on Destiny. But I just remembered this is Stargate, so I have a strong feeling the story isn’t over yet.
[What about you, readers? I’d love to hear your favorite “Remember when…” stories, your unanswered questions, and your congratulations to the writers, the crews, and the cast members for giving us some great science fiction television.]