The face of the Nox is among the most iconic in the Stargate universe, alongside the Asgard, the Goa’uld, and the Replicators. We just can’t imagine what the Milky Way Galaxy would look like without our favorite tree people.
The Nox were featured in only a single episode of Stargate SG-1 — early on in the show’s first season — and made only a smattering of subsequent appearances. But this mysterious people was so fascinating, so different, that they quickly became a favorite of fans and a cornerstone of the fictional universe.
But with so little screen time, we actually know very little about this important species — even after 214 episodes of the hit show. Here’s a run-down of five important facts about the Nox … plus five brand new Nox stories we’d love to see some day!
FACT #1: The Nox Live in Secret
When SG-1 first encountered the Nox it was on the aliens’ homeworld. The team was led there by Teal’c, who as First Prime of Apophis had often been sent there to hunt for the Fenri — a flying creature that could evidently become invisible (“The Nox”).
Colonel Jack O’Neill and his team meet the Nox after getting the business end of a staff weapon and … well, dying. The forest dwellers revive the team, and SG-1 soon learns that the Nox are not merely a simple people who live in harmony with nature. They are in fact a technologically advanced race, whose simple dwelling in the forest belies a much more extensive, hidden civilization.
The Nox are so well-equipped to take care of themselves that the Goa’uld pose no threat to them. Even after generations of Fenri hunts, Apophis and his ilk evidently knew nothing about them.
FACT #2: The Nox Are Pacifists
Not only do Anteaus (guest star Armin Shimerman) and the others of his family demonstrate their healing ritual to SG-1, but they also make it clear that they are strict pacifists. They will not fight against Apophis and his Jaffa soldiers. And they won’t resist when the enemy moves against them.
Jack and his team make it their mission to repel the Goa’uld and protect Anteaus and his family. But they learn that the Nox’s knowledge and technology go far beyond the healing ritual. They will not permit the humans and the Goa’uld to fight one another on their soil, vanishing Apophis before Jack can shoot him.
“Fear not,” Anteaus tells the Colonel. “Maybe one day you will learn that your way is not the only way.”
FACT #3: They Have Cloaking Technology
So, that Fenri you were looking for? Yeah … turns out it can’t make itself invisible after all. The Goa’uld hunted the animals for generations, and SG-1 too tried to find and capture a Fenri for study. After all, how great would it be for Earth to develop cloaking technology? The brand new Stargate program would be paying for itself in no time.
As SG-1 learns, though, it is actually the Nox who possess the power to make things invisible. They hid the Fenri from Jaffa hunting parties in order to protect the creatures. And the Nox also use their tech to conceal their larger civilization, so that those who came through the Stargate would never know they are there.
Just how do the Nox cloak objects large and small? Is it a device, made with wires and circuit boards? Does it emerge from nature, and their close connection with their planet? Or is it spiritual, a power far beyond our understanding? The fact that we never learned how the Nox do what they do only adds to their mystique.
FACT #4: They Have Floating Cities
Anteaus and his family gave SG-1 every indication that they make their humble home in the forest. But the revelation of their city in the clouds at the end of Season One’s “The Nox” opens up a whole world of possibility. The Nox likely occupy multiple biomes on their world, on the ground and in the air.
The city’s existence also implies that the Nox civilization includes many thousands of residents (perhaps more). We do know that their species is many thousands (even tens of thousands) of years old. And so a peaceful people with advanced tech, to whom the Goa’uld are no threat, could number in the millions — or the billions.
Perhaps the city that SG-1 saw was only one of many around the planet. Maybe it wasn’t even one of the big ones … but the Cleveland of the Nox homeworld.
FACT #5: They Were Part of the Ancient Alliance
“The very young do not always do what they are told.” Anteaus’s words to Jack O’Neill and his team speak to the deeper truth of the Nox: they aren’t just in touch with nature, but they are old souls. They aren’t just technologically superior to the Goa’uld … they are one of the Milky Way’s most ancient species.
Not long after first meeting the Nox, SG-1 stumbled upon an ancient meeting place (“The Torment of Tantalus”). Nicknamed “Heliopolis,” it once served as home to an alliance of four great races in the galaxy. Millennia ago the Nox, the Asgard, the Furlings, and the Ancients gathered to share their knowledge and govern this part of space — a sort of “United Nations of the stars.”
The Nox were advanced enough even then to interact with those other giants of the Stargate pantheon. But eventually the alliance came to an end. Today the Nox may be the last of the four races still dwelling in the Milky Way — a tribute to their greatness, and to their way of life.
FIVE STORIES WE’D LIKE TO SEE …
Part of the wonder of the Nox comes from the fact that, over 10 seasons of the show, the Nox only made three appearances. After their big intro, SG-1 saw only one member of their species — the Nox girl Lya — on two occasions. She helped in the relocation of the Tollan (“Enigma”), and she arbitrated the dispute between Skaara and Klorel (“Pretense”).
So many more stories involving the Nox are possible! And, since they are still out there (unlike the other members of the ancient alliance), it’s entirely possible that new, canon stories about the Nox might one day be told.
Here are a few ideas we have kicking around:
The Alliance Falls
A prequel story could explore the waning days and final end to the alliance of the four races. Was there conflict? Did the Nox’s pacifist philosophy cause friction with the others?
We know that the Ancients suffered from a widespread plague, eventually leaving Earth for the Pegasus Galaxy. The Asgard came to maintain little presence in the Milky Way (only keeping tabs on member worlds in the Protected Planets Treaty). And the Furlings haven’t been seen or heard from in countless generations. So why are the Nox the only ones still around?
We’d like to think that the alliance ultimately failed not because it merely outlived its usefulness, but because of some sort of dramatic conflict among its members. There is no indication that the Nox of today maintained any open lines with the Asgard, or cared one whiff about the Ancients and their obsession with ascension.
Lya (played by Frida Betrani) is the one and only Nox who has appeared more than once on the show. She’s the one who shows up when Earth and its allies need help — whether it is whisking away a group of Tollan refugees, or helping Skaara be rid of the Goa’uld who has taken over his body.
These are noteworthy appearances because the other Nox left SG-1 with the definite impression that they don’t want to be involved in the affairs of other races. That’s all the more true when those races are engaged in violent conflict with one another. This suggests that Lya — despite her meek disposition — might have been something of a rebel among her people.
As Sam Carter put it after Lya aided in the destruction of a Goa’uld mothership over Tollana, “That’s a pretty fine line you didn’t cross there.”
A new Stargate story could explore this new dimension of Nox society. Imagine Lya leading of group of Nox who, while still committed to their people’s philosophy, wish to return to the stars and interact with other species again. She could even lead a series of secret ops to help others … right under the noses of the more rigid Nox leadership.
A Lost Tribe
The idea of a rogue faction living in another galaxy worked for the Asgard (“The Lost Tribe”). So why not the Nox? Let’s see a story where Stargate Command or the Atlantis expedition discovers a colony of Nox, who either wish to remain hidden from their own homeworld or who were separated long ago.
Many different stories suggest themselves. Perhaps our team can help to bring them home after many generations, and begin the difficult work of re-integration. Or perhaps the lost Nox want nothing to do with the others and their passive noninterference. Maybe over the intervening millennia they’ve even dropped their pacifist heritage altogether, and are looking to join Earth’s fight against the latest threat to the galaxy.
I can image a group of Nox not secreted away on another forest planet, but instead ship-bound. It’s entirely plausible that the Nox’s advanced technology also includes space-faring ships (although we’ve never seen them). It would be astounding if the Odyssey encountered a Nox vessel in deep space, piloted by a crew more integrated with technology than with the forest.
How about a Nox who has become host — willingly or unwillingly — to a Goa’uld parasite? Stargate‘s writers never shied away from putting a new twist on an old character by implanting him with a symbiote (see also: Robert Kinsey). If Anubis exploited his knowledge of the Ancients for his own benefit, what about a Goa’uld who has access to the hidden secrets of the Nox people?
An evil Nox character would be a thrill, simply because it is so at odds with the species as we have come to know them. The Nox value peace and eschew violence; the Goa’uld make war for power, domination, and sheer pleasure. The thematic contrast in a story like this is just too delicious to ignore.
All credit for this idea (and the image above) goes to the 2005 comic book, with a story by James Anthony Kuhoric. Here SG-1 learns that a member of the Nox has abandoned her people and their peaceful way of life, and thrown in with the power-hungry Goa’uld.
Building on the idea of a faction of young Nox who no longer wish to live in isolation from the rest of the galaxy: imagine a Stargate future when one or more Nox has left her homeworld and joined Stargate Command. Her mission is to aid in the exploration of the galaxy, to bring the wisdom and experience of the Nox to the efforts of the very young Tau’ri.
But perhaps she also has a hidden agenda of her own — to find something that the Nox require to survive, but don’t wish even their human allies to know about.
Admittedly it would be strange to see a Nox character garbed in green Air Force fatigues. But having people from many different allied races join with the next generation of Stargate Command is pretty appealing. If a Klingon can serve in Starfleet, why not a Nox on an SG unit?
Do you want to see more of the Nox? What’s your story idea? Post it below!