Over the course of its first decade of operation Stargate Command saw more than one person step up to take charge of the military base. And some of them have been … shall we say “more capable” at the job than others.
Deep inside Colorado’s Cheyenne Mountain and code-named “Area 52,” the S.G.C. operates as the front-line in the struggle against alien adversaries. And, of course, the more than two dozen S.G. teams that operate out of the base are also tasked with planetary exploration and reconnaissance. So it takes a certain kind of leader to ensure the success of these missions, and the top-secret Stargate program’s overall mandate.
Here are Stargate Command’s five base commanders (so far) — ranked from the worst, to the best. How does your ranking compare?
WHERE’S GENERAL WEST?
First off: No, General West doesn’t count. No matter how many times people on YouTube tell us we “forgot” him, it’s on purpose. W. O. West (played by Leon Rippy in the 1994 Stargate movie) was never in command of a program called “Stargate Command,” which was formed under secret presidential order only at the close of “Children of the Gods.”
Leaving aside the fact that West’s command wasn’t even in the same mountain, he oversaw the unit tasked with opening the Stargate. This was a scientific research project, and there’s even evidence in the movie that he didn’t spend much time on site. After the first mission to Abydos the research project was mothballed and West was reassigned — prior to the S.G.C.’s formal organization a year later.
On with the list!
#5 – GENERAL BAUER
Ah, General Bauer … we hardly knew ye. An increasingly aggressive N.I.D. black-ops division decided that the Stargate program was not making progress fast enough in retrieving valuable weapons and technology to aid in the defense of Earth. They blackmailed the base commander by threatening his grandchildren, forcing him to step down (“Chain Reaction“). In his place they installed General Bauer — a tough (and thick-headed) Air Force General near the end of his career. Bauer was someone who will do what the N.I.D. wants, even taking massively reckless risks.
That’s just what he did when he sent a team to steal refined naquadah from the Goa’uld, losing a man in the operation. Then, Bauer ordered Major Samantha Carter to use the mineral to detonate a high-yield explosive device on the surface of a naquadah-rich planet. Much of the test site was incinerated, and Bauer declared victory … until he learned that the Stargate cannot be shut down. Radiation was now pouring through the gate to Earth, and there wasn’t any way to stop it. The base was evacuated and Stargate Command nearly lost.
That’s a pretty terrible first day. Next time, General — listen to Sam.
#4 – DR. ELIZABETH WEIR
Dr. Weir was in charge of the S.G.C. for only a short time (probably a matter of weeks), and to date she has been the base’s only civilian commander. She was hand-picked by the new President, Henry Hayes, once he was sworn into office and briefed on the Stargate program’s existence (“Inauguration,” “Lost City”). This was a crucial time: Anubis’s fleet attacked Earth, SG-1 discovered the Ancient outpost beneath the ice of Antarctica, and a subsequent international treaty introduced new complications to normal operations at Stargate Command.
Elizabeth is a capable leader who agreed to serve where the President wished her to serve — but she also knew from Day 1 that she was out of her depth. Politically her hands were tied during much of her tenure, leaving her with little to do but pass along bad news from the political leadership. But then the Goa’uld System Lords came knocking. In the wake of Anubis’s defeat they sought an alliance with Earth against Baal, and Elizabeth — a seasoned diplomat and negotiator — was in the perfect position to meet the delegation (“New Order”).
Eventually Dr. Weir found her real calling: after being reassigned to lead the international research team at the Antarctic outpost, she found herself heading up the expedition to the lost city of Atlantis.
#3 – GENERAL JACK O’NEILL
“I’ve spent my whole life sticking it to the man. If I do this, I’ll be the man. I don’t think I can be the man.”
The long-time head of SG-1 took a promotion that put him in charge of the S.G.C. — but he did it with some trepidation. Jack O’Neill was used to being in the middle of the action, always in a position to get his people out of danger. Now, he had to send teams off-world and into danger while he himself stayed behind. It was a tough transition, but Jack weathered the storm (a lot of them), kept the base safe, and held both Baal and the Replicators at bay — with a quip and smile ever at the ready.
It was a year that saw the defeat of the Goa’uld, the destruction of the Replicators, a giant plant infest the base, a disembodied Anubis run amok, a billionaire threaten to expose the program to the world, rogue operatives steal the Stargate, and a Jaffa wedding. And at the end of it, there was cake.
General O’Neill commanded the S.G.C. for one year before he was ready to move on. But he wasn’t ready for retirement just yet. Jack’s new assignment was at the Pentagon, leading the newly formed office of Homeworld Command. This put him at the President’s right hand, overseeing U.S. interests in an international alliance that was concerned with the Stargate program, the Atlantis expedition, the BC-304 deep space carrier fleet, and the ninth-chevron project on Icarus Base.
#2 – GENERAL HANK LANDRY
Hank Landry stepped into command at the S.G.C. in the program’s ninth year (“Avalon, Part 1”). Calm and confident, he had years of command experience under his belt, as well as the confidence of the man who put him in that chair — his predecessor, Jack O’Neill. General Landry also inherited a well-oiled machine, with support personnel (like Walter Harriman) at the top of their game and all major threats to Earth more or less dealt with … at least for the first few days.
With that well-oiled machine came a new crisis, as Earth once again inadvertently exposed itself to a powerful new threat. Alerted to their existence, the followers of the Ori sent emissaries to the Milky Way Galaxy as a prelude to all-out invasion. It was Landry to stood on the front lines, standing up to the Ori Priors when they came knocking, and suffering first-hand when they unleashed a biological plague. Landry stood toe-to-toe with a Goa’uld spy working for the Ori, and even with … the mighty Senate Appropriations Committee (“The Ties That Bind”)!
Relying on SG-1’s skill and expertise, General Landry helped to lead Earth through the two-year crisis that threatened the galaxy. At last report Landry was still in charge at Stargate Command. Depending on how long he opted to defer his retirement, the length of his tenure there might have even exceed that of the base’s first commanding officer …
#1 – GENERAL GEORGE HAMMOND
What can be said about Major General George Hammond? The officer who led the S.G.C. for the longest was also the very best at the job. “Hammond of Texas” (as Bra’tac called him) was tough but fair, a seasoned military man who wouldn’t back down from a fight — yet who was also wise and compassionate. Hammond commanded the base from the program’s inception, and for its first seven years of operation he was the steady center that his people could always count on to have their backs.
Hammond’s character was originally pitched as gruff and hard-headed, barking orders and giving ultimatums in ways that put him at odds with SG-1. But actor Don S. Davis was having none of it: under his influence Hammond quickly went from “strongman” to strong leader, who exercised his authority by empowering those under his command (rather than by lording his authority over them). It made for a better character, better relationships, and a healthy base of operations inside Cheyenne Mountain.
General Hammond oversaw the implementation of the Stargate program in 1997 and its careful, ethical pursuit of its standing orders. He led by example, willing to put himself on the line and to make the tough calls. He stood toe-to-toe with the likes of Apophis and Nirrti; helped to build alliances with the Tollan, the Tok’ra, and the Asgard; fought off a Replicator infestation; and finally took command of Prometheus to help defend the planet from its greatest threat yet (“Lost City, Part 2”).
George Hammond retired in peace, and after he passed away got a ship named in his memory: the U.S.S. George Hammond deep space carrier.
He was the best.
What’s your ranking? Would you move any of these around? Tell us why in the comments below!