GateWorld has been covering the Stargate franchise for more than 20 years, and one of the most common questions we still get is: What order do I watch the Stargate franchise in?
There are three Stargate shows, with more than 350 episodes … plus three movies (and a bit more). And for three years, two of those shows were in production at the same time and aired together. There are movies in between them, and not all of the franchise is streaming in the same place. For new viewers it can be a daunting prospect to figure out how to watch Stargate in the right order.
We’re here to sort it all out! In this guide we’ll step through three different ways you might watch Stargate (depending on how you prefer to binge your favorite shows). Just watch this video from GateWorld’s YouTube channel, or keep reading for the written guide.
There are three ways you might opt to watch through the Stargate franchise: (1) strictly following the canon timeline; (2) altering back and forth a full season at a time; or (3) watching just one show at a time. Click a link below if you want to jump ahead to that option.
And there’s one more way you might be looking to watch Stargate: If you are just looking for the episodes that are important to the main storylines, and you don’t want to watch the entire series, head over to GateWorld’s SG-1 Key Episodes List. (We will be adding the same kind of lists for Atlantis and SGU in the future.)
SG-1 aired for 10 seasons, and this key episodes list cuts your viewing time in half. We’ve picked a little bit more than a hundred episodes that will give you just the main storylines.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that those are the best episodes. Stargate SG-1 was an episodic show, and some of its very best hours are stand-alone episodes. But that list will be useful if you are just wanting to catch up with the main storylines.
Let’s start with the canon timeline, which in our view is the best way to watch if you don’t mind switching back and forth between two shows. If you want to watch everything exactly as it happened in the Stargate universe, this order is for you.
Start with the original 1994 feature film. Stargate was directed by Roland Emmerich, and stars Kurt Russell and James Spader. From here you’re going to move into Stargate SG-1. (The television series started three years after the feature film, in 1997, but the story picks up only one year later.) You can watch through all of this first seven seasons, which tees up SG-1‘s first spin-off series.
Stargate Atlantis premiered in July of 2004 and ran for five seasons. The two shows aired in parallel for the first three years of Atlantis, back to back on Friday nights: Season 8 of SG-1 aired alongside Season 1 of Atlantis. Season 9 of SG-1 aired with Season 2 of Atlantis; and Season 10 with Season 3.
Both shows shared the same writers room. And the writers strategically wrote these to air back-to-back on Friday nights. SG-1 would air at 8 o’clock on SCI FI Channel, Atlantis at 9 o’clock, and then Battlestar Galactica at 10 o’clock — the great “Sci-Fi Friday” lineup.
The Season 8 premiere of SG-1 is a two-parter, called “New Order.” You want to watch both of those together as a little mini-movie. Then switch over to “Rising.” The two-hour Atlantis pilot aired the following week as a two-hour movie. And “New Order” specifically sets up “Rising.”
Then, starting with the third episode of the season, you can alternate back and forth. Watch the SG-1 episode first and then the corresponding episode of Atlantis: episode 803 and 103, 804 and 104, etc. That’s how they aired, and this is going to work for you all the way through the end of this season.
The shows don’t actually reference one another all that much, and you are certainly safe watching any two-parters together. But do make sure that you watch “Moebius, Part 2” — that’s the last episode of Season 8 — before you watch “The Siege, Part 2,” Atlantis‘ Season 1 finale. You’ll see why when you get there. “Moebius” sets up an important story element for the Atlantis finale.
From here you can continue the same procedure: alternate back and forth with episodes from Season 9 of SG-1 and Season 2 of Atlantis, and then Season 10 of SG-1 and Season 3 of Atlantis. Enjoy the two-parters together. Again, there’s just a few occasional references that one show makes to the other … until you get to the tenth season of SG-1. There’s one big crossover episode.
So now you’ve watched ten seasons of SG-1 and the first three seasons of Atlantis. Here’s where your watch order is going to get a little tricky.
SG-1 was immediately followed up by two direct-to-DVD movies. That’s Stargate: The Ark of Truth and Stargate: Continuum. You can watch The Ark of Truth immediately after the series finale, “Unending.” This film wraps up the storyline from the final two seasons of the show.
Definitely be sure to watch it before you head into the fourth season of Stargate Atlantis. Again, you’ll see why when you get there. There’s a big crossover here.
Now you can proceed through the fourth season of Stargate Atlantis — and also watch the Season 5 premiere, “Search and Rescue.” If you want to stick close to the timeline then Stargate: Continuum fits here, after this episode. So watch that movie and then come back, and you can finish the rest of Season 5.
Stargate Universe aired for two seasons immediately following Stargate Atlantis. So once you’re done with Atlantis watch those two seasons. Just be aware that the show ends on a cliffhanger. SGU was intended to have a 5-year storyline, but the show was cancelled after its second season.
Watching two different shows back and forth isn’t for everyone. You might like binging a full season instead, giving you a good chunk of story with a satisfying arc. And isn’t that what Auto Play is for?
If you want to watch the Stargate franchise this way, that’s perfectly fine for keeping the continuity straight — you are not going to miss out on any big references if you watch them a full season at a time.
So here’s our second strategy for watching the shows. Again, start with the original feature film. Then watch the first seven seasons of Stargate SG-1, until you reach the point where two shows aired at the same time. Then watch SG-1 Season 8, followed by Atlantis Season 1. Just remember: these stories are happening at the same time.
Then it’s SG-1 Season 9, and Atlantis Season 2. And SG-1 Season 10, followed by Atlantis Season 3.
Using this method you can watch the DVD movie Stargate: The Ark of Truth either before or after Atlantis Season 3. It doesn’t really matter. That movie wraps up the storyline of the last two seasons of SG-1. Go ahead and watch SG-1 Season 10 and then immediately watch The Ark of Truth with it, to close the book on that chapter.
Using this watch order we would actually watch Continuum here as well — either before or after Atlantis Season 3, but definitely before you start Season 4. There’s going to be a cast change, and if you don’t want to alternate back and forth using the canon timeline order, then Continuum fits pretty well here, after The Ark of Truth.
Finally, you’ll wrap up by watching Seasons 4 and 5 of Stargate Atlantis, and the two seasons of Stargate Universe.
This “alternating seasons” strategy is perfectly good. There’s no big continuity blips that you’re going to run into, with things happening out of order. Just remember when you start an Atlantis season that you are rewinding a year in the timeline.
The other downside here is that you have a longer wait for the resolution of those big cliffhangers that end most of the seasons. You will notice at one point that the Atlantis team must have mercifully survived the mortal jeopardy they were in the last time you saw them.
There’s a third option here for watching the Stargate franchise, depending on your TV habits: maybe you don’t want to alternate back and forth between two shows at all. Maybe you just want to watch one show and finish it, and then watch the next show. That’s fine, too.
Now you can watch five seasons of Atlantis, and two seasons of Stargate Universe.
Again, this is a perfectly valid way of watching all the shows. But there are some more caveats here. There’s going to be a bigger impact on your experience of the continuity. You will miss some references one show makes about the other, and as you watch SG-1‘s last three years you’ll steamroll right into spoilers for what’s going on in the spin-off (including a crossover episode in the tenth season).
When you move on to Atlantis you will have to remember that you’re rewinding three years in the timeline. Here at GateWorld we’re total nerds for continuity … so this isn’t how we recommend watching. If you are willing to compromise, consider Option #2 above.
So, you’re ready to jump into Stargate SG-1 Season 1! The next question is: Which version of the pilot do I watch? That’s because there are actually three different versions of “Children of the Gods.” And you’ll get a different cut depending on where you are watching.
The original version of the pilot aired on Showtime in the United States in 1997. And it’s rated TV-MA for a scene of full-frontal nudity. Network executives insisted on this to make their new sci-fi show “edgy” and “adult” … but after the pilot the producers were more or less left to make the show they wanted to make.
This is the version of the episode that is on the DVD and Blu-ray sets that you can buy. And it’s streaming on Netflix. (It’s why Netflix has the entire series rated TV-MA, even though every other episode of the show is either TV-14 or TV-PG.)
The second version of “Children of the Gods” was edited for the U.S. syndication market, so the nudity has been cut out. (The scene is there, so you aren’t getting a shortened episode or anything. It’s just cut with different shots.) This is the version that you can find streaming on Hulu. Unfortunately it’s also cropped to the 4:3 aspect ratio that aired in syndication. And the picture resolution isn’t great.
The third and (we think) definitive edition of the premiere is Children of the Gods: Final Cut. This was released on DVD in 2009, 12 years after the original had aired. After the show had finished, co-creator Brad Wright went back and recut the pilot. He changed some things, cut out some of the more cringey dialogue, restored unused music from composer Joel Goldsmith, and just generally made the pilot feel more like the show that came after it.
There are brand new visual effects here, and also new audio — most notably, actor Christopher Judge rerecorded all of Teal’c’s dialogue for the Final Cut. On the whole we really like the changes in the Final Cut. This version also doesn’t have the nudity, the visual effects are better, and several elements are wisely excised because in ten years they would never happen again. It feels more like a stand-alone movie rather than a pilot that is setting up a TV show.
If you aren’t looking to buy Children of the Gods: Final Cut on DVD, this is the version of the episode that streams on Amazon Prime … when Amazon Prime has Stargate SG-1. (As of this publishing date, the shows aren’t streaming there.)
Stargate Origins is a Web series released online at MGM’s official site, StargateCommand.co, in 2018. The site closed in 2019, so the short webisodes are no longer available. But these were edited together into the “Feature Cut,” which is available for purchase on digital storefronts under the title Stargate Origins: Catherine. (Sometimes it’s also available on streaming services, which GateWorld keeps track of here.)
This raises a question for our viewing order, because Origins is the first time that Stargate ever did a prequel story. It’s set in the 1930s, after the Stargate’s discovery … but still decades before the gate was unlocked in the feature film.
If you are a timeline purist, you could watch this one first — even before the feature film. But we don’t recommend that, since the low-budget production does not represent Stargate at its best. We recommend watching it here at the end, if you want to be a completionist, just to see what a different take on the Stargate formula is. None of the original creators of either the feature film or the television series were involved in the making of Stargate Origins.
Origins takes more inspiration from the original feature film. But there are some references to the television series. If watch this before Stargate SG-1 you’re not going to pick up on them. Even though it’s a prequel it’s better to watch here, at the end … while you wait for the studio to announce that they’ve greenlit a new Stargate project.
Finally, what about Stargate Infinity? Have you heard of this one? Infinity is an animated series that aired in 2002 and 2003 on Saturday mornings. The story is set several decades into the future, when Stargate Command has cool, new tech and alien allies.
This show aired for one season, and it’s available on DVD. It’s not connected to the official, canon Stargate universe. The producers of the live-action TV shows in fact had nothing to do with this, so it’s hard to even call it a spin-off aimed at a younger audience. Infinity is more a licensed product than it is official Stargate storytelling.
Anybody watching Stargate Infinity after 2003 is going to be asking: Why don’t these guys know what an Ancient is?! The writers picked up a very big and important thread from the Stargate mythology … but then the producers of SG-1 turned around and answered that question pretty definitively while the cartoon was still airing. So while it was nice that these writers made an effort to connect their show with Stargate’s mythology, because it wasn’t canon it immediately became dated.
You might pick up Stargate Infinity and check out a few episodes … maybe more for the novelty factor. Even for 2002, its animation budget shows. But fair warning: that theme song is going to be an earworm for the rest of your life.
Welcome to the world of Stargate! As you enjoy the franchise’s 354 episodes, three movies, and more you can read detailed analyses in GateWorld’s episode guides. They’re packed with details, behind-the-scene production notes, and more. And you can join the conversation about every episode at GateWorld Forum!
We’ve also done season-by-season audio reviews of the shows on the GateWorld Podcast (and for individual episodes, starting with Atlantis Season Five) to keep you company while you watch.
And let us know if you’re using this list! Leave a comment below or tag @GateWorld on Twitter. We’d love to hear how your time watching Stargate is going.
GateWorld earns a percentage on sales from our Amazon Affiliate links. Thank you for supporting independent fan journalism!