One of the things that makes Stargate so interesting to fans of classic science fiction is the many diverse species that populate this fictional universe. There are fan-favorites like the Asgard and the Nox, and villains like the Goa’uld and the Wraith. There are countless worlds populated by humans … and there are the very, very alien.
With more than 350 episodes spread across three different shows, there are a whole lot of recurring alien races. But then there are those cool, interesting, and strange species that appeared just one and only one time. For whatever reason, the writers never brought them back.
Of course in an episodic, planet-of-the-week show like Stargate SG-1 or Stargate Atlantis there are plenty of human peoples the viewers saw just the one time. Whether it’s thanks to Goa’uld enslavement or Ancient colonizing, most of the worlds visited by our heroes were populated by humans. So to keep this list interesting, let’s limit it to only non-human, alien races.
Sure, we would have loved to see these guys come back for more stories. But if absence makes the heart grow fonder, it’s probably right to say that these characters’ scarcity contributed to their mystique. Some of them are so interesting because we only saw them one time!
EPISODE: “Show and Tell” (SG-1 Season 2)
One of the most alien foes that SG-1 ever tangled with were the Reetou, an insectoid species who exist 180 degrees out of phase with us — rendering them completely invisible. Like most of the galaxy the Reetou were at war with the Goa’uld, leading to a conflict among them: a violent faction of rebels sought to undermine the Goa’uld by eliminating all potential hosts (namely, humans), while the Reetou leadership opposed this genocidal strategy.
We came to know the Reetou through Charlie, a young boy genetically engineered by the Reetou to deliver a warning to Earth. Charlie was accompanied by his “Mother,” an invisible entity whom the team first thought was a figment of his imagination — until a weapons blast out of nowhere demonstrated that she, and the threat to Earth, were very real! Charlie arrived in time to warn Earth about the rebels, though the base was shot up a bit when a rebel strike force infiltrated Stargate Command.
The Reetou were a cool foe, totally invisible most of the time (easy on the VFX budget) but presenting that tension that they could be just around the next corner. Why didn’t they return? Ultimately it might have been because there are only so many stories you can tell with an invisible enemy. Once they had infiltrated the S.G.C., and we had found a weapon to defeat them, was there anything left for the Reetou to add to the show?
EPISODE: “Crystal Skull” (SG-1 Season 3)
Daniel’s grandpa, Nicholas Ballard, seemed like a harmless old man. Himself an archaeologist, Nick had been committed to a mental health facility due mainly to his claims to have seen “giant aliens” while on a dig in Beliz decades ago. Ballard had found a crystal skull, an ancient artifact that in truth transported him to a temple on another world.
When SG-1 finds an identical crystal skull inside a pyramid on P7X-377, Daniel finds himself out of phase — so that none of his friends can see or hear him. With Daniel missing the team goes to Nick to try and find answers … and yep, Nick can see Daniel! After convincing his grandfather that he is not a figment of his imagination, Daniel has Ballard lead SG-1 back to the planet so that the crystal skull’s phase-shifting process can be completed without interruption.
It is here, finally, that SG-1 comes face-to-face with the mighty and impressive alien who calls himself “Quetzalcoatl” — a central deity in Aztec culture. As tall as a building and seemingly made of mist, Quetzalcoatl (who is voiced by “Teal’c” actor Christopher Judge) invites Nicholas Ballard to stay with him as an emissary from Earth. His people too are in conflict with the Goa’uld, and, he says, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
Nick chooses to stay with Quetzalcoatl (and, we presume, more of his people that are around somewhere) to fulfill his own lifelong dream. But it’s the last we hear from him — neither Nick nor his giant alien friends are heard from again on the series.
EPISODE: “Remnants” (Atlantis Season 5)
Strange things are afoot in and around Atlantis after the discovery of a 4-foot-long metallic cylinder on the ocean floor. Richard Woolsey has a spring in his step after meeting a beautiful new member of the expedition, Dr. Vanessa Conrad. But the I.O.A. is threatening to replace Woolsey as Atlantis’s leader, while on the mainland John Sheppard is getting his hand cut off by an enemy he thought he had killed long ago: the Genii Acastus Kolya, who is looking very much alive and once again in control.
Ultimately we discover that the cylinder is messing with people’s heads, causing hallucinations … but for a purpose. This device was left behind thousands of years ago by a long-dead civilization called the Sekkari, a silicon-based lifeform, in order to one day bring their race back from extinction. The cylinder contains the chemicals required to biologically seed a new home world for the Sekkari, and its artificial intelligence is distracting Sheppard while making an appeal for help to Mr. Woolsey.
After the “Vanessa” A.I. helps Woolsey solve his I.O.A. problem, the future of the Sekkari seems to be secure: the Apollo will ferry the device to a world where it can fulfill its programming. Before the A.I. departs, she reveals the true form of the Sekkari: as tall as a human, but silver-metallic in appearance. It may take an age for their people to be reborn, but the Sekkari will live again.
EPISODE: “Scorched Earth” (SG-1 Season 4)
The Sekkari were not the first extinct alien race that our heroes helped to put on the road to resurrection. In the fourth year of the Stargate program SG-1 encountered a massive terraformer, which was in the midst of transforming a planet into a new homeworld for a long-dead civilization: the Gadmeer, who were wiped out by an enemy long ago.
There’s just one problem: SG-1 had just helped a group of refugees, the primitive Enkarans, resettle on the same planet. Their biological needs are very specific, and in months of searching Earth hasn’t found any other planets able to sustain their new friends. But the Gadmeer ship cannot stop its terraforming and still have enough raw materials to begin again on another world. One race must live, and the other must die.
Technically we never actually met this species, given that they are extinct. But SG-1 did see computer records of what they looked like: tall, possibly lizard-like, with large craniums and multiple legs. Their representative was the artificial lifeform Lotan, created to look like the Enkarans.
Ultimately Daniel Jackson helped Lotan to discover a solution: in its long travels the Gadmeer ship discovered the original Enkaran homeworld. Lotan agreed to relocate the refugees there before returning to complete the terraforming process. Like the Sekkari, it may take the Gadmeer many years to be reborn on this new world. But if all goes well, one day there will be Gadmeer once again.
EPISODE: “The Fifth Man” (SG-1 Season 5)
General Hammond is confused when Daniel, Sam, and Teal’c return through the Stargate and report that the other members of SG-1 are pinned down by Jaffa — both Colonel O’Neill and Lt. Tyler. When they request backup to return to the planet and get their teammates out, Hammond asks the same question that we as viewers were asking: Who is Lt. Tyler?!
On the planet, O’Neill tries to keep the Jaffa away and make it through the night. Tyler is injured, and as night turns to day Jack takes out another patrol that is searching for them. Tyler finally decides to come clean and reveal his true nature: he is not a member of Colonel O’Neill’s team, but an alien who is on the run from the Goa’uld.
Tyler (whose real name is … difficult to pronounce) is a member of the Reole, a chameleon species that secretes a chemical that alters people’s memories, tricking them into believing the Reole to be an ally. His people have been hunted by the Goa’uld nearly to extinction, and today few of the nomadic creatures survives.
Although SG-1 helps “Tyler” to escape, an ongoing alliance with Earth does not seem to be a realist possibility. The Reole are xenophobic and have difficulty trusting others (for obvious reasons). But despite the fact that we would never see his kind again, Tyler does leave SG-1 with an important gift: the Reole chemical would be weaponized and used to infiltrate the enemy on more than one occasion (“Summit,” “Last Stand,” “Company of Thieves”).
PARALLEL UNIVERSE BADDIES
EPISODE: “The Daedalus Variations” (Atlantis Season 5)
While we never learned the name of these guys, boy did we ever get to know their ruthlessly aggressive nature. Sheppard’s team encountered warriors from this race after boarding a duplicate version of the Earth ship Daedalus from a parallel universe. The ship is equipped with an “alternate reality drive,” allowing it to skip from one universe to the next. After flashing to another universe, the team found themselves under attack.
This race is large in appearance, with sharp teeth and a vicious demeanor. They are highly advanced technologically, with warships and fighter craft that allowed them to penetrate Daedalus‘s Asgard-enhanced defenses and board the ship. They are extremely resilient, and may have crashed their ships into the Daedalus on purpose in order to gain access to the ship.
A close-quarters firefight with Ronon and Sheppard showcased their weaponry, which fires green blasts of energy. And in a design choice reminiscent of the Borg, they appear to have technology embedded in their foreheads.
This new enemy was extremely cool, and the way that executive producer Joseph Mallozzi tells it the only reason we never saw them again was simply because Atlantis was cancelled. They were introduced in the final season, and had the show come back for a sixth season the writers had every intention of using them again. If we met our own universe’s version of these guys, would they have been the same? Could they have been peaceful? Did the dominance of the Wraith in our reality perhaps prevent this race from growing so advanced?
EPISODE: “Fire and Water” (SG-1 Season 1)
SG-1’s very first weeks exploring the galaxy brought them to Nem’s planet, and their most alien encounter yet in those early travels (perhaps second only to the “Unity” crystals). The team found a great sea near the Stargate, out of which swam Nem — a humanoid fish man, basically.
After knocking everyone unconscious, Nem gave Jack, Sam, and Teal’c false memories of Daniel’s horrible death in fire, so that they would not come looking for him. He sent them home, while taking Daniel to his underwater fish lair. Because Daniel had demonstrated some knowledge of ancient Babylon, Nem was convinced that the human might hold the answer to the most important question in Nem’s universe: “What fate Omaroca?”
Daniel eventually consents to letting Nem use his advanced technology on him, unlocking the latent memories he has in his mind of when he read about Omaroca many years ago. Nem’s mate lived in ancient Babylon, where she was murdered by the Goa’uld Belos.
Nem’s race are called the Oannes, and clearly they are extraordinarily long-lived and technologically advanced. Nem appears to live in isolation, and — given Omaroca’s fate at the hands of the Goa’uld — it might be the case that today his people are all but extinct. That would explain why teams from Earth never again encountered their kind.
EPISODE: “The Lost Tribe” (Atlantis Season 5)
The series finale of Stargate SG-1 kicked off with an intergalactic tragedy: the end the Asgard civilization. They’d been around for hundreds of thousands of years, developing not just advanced ships and technology but a culture spread across numerous galaxies. The benevolent Asgard defended the innocent, and proved to be a key ally to Earth.
Then, they were gone. Unable to solve the cloning problem that was slowly leading to their extinction, the Asgard decided to take their inevitable fate into their own hands. They passed on their legacy to Earth, and committed mass suicide by destroying their homeworld.
It was more than two years later that Daniel Jackson and the Atlantis expedition made a shocking discovery: there are more Asgard out there. This break-away sect traveled to the Pegasus Galaxy some 10,000 years ago, where they could pursue their cloning research without all the pesky moral restrictions of the Asgard High Council. No longer able to survive in the hostile environment in which they have been hiding from the Wraith, and armed with powerful ships and exosuits, the Asgard ventured back out into the galaxy in search of Ancient tech that could help keep the Wraith out of their way.
Unofficially nicknamed the “Vanir” (after a race of gods from Norse mythology), this group of Asgard technically appeared in two episodes — Atlantis Season Five’s big two-parter “First Contact” and “The Lost Tribe.” But we’re calling it just one story. And though technically they’re the same race as the Asgard we know and love, a return visit from the “Vanir” would have been incredible. According to executive producer Joseph Mallozzi, it was indeed in the cards for a sixth season of Atlantis.
Which alien race would you have most liked to see come back? Did we leave anyone out? Let us know in the comments, and vote for up to three in the poll!