Stargate is a sci-fi franchise that started out with a movie that wasn’t particularly great and eventually expanded into a television series with two spinoffs and a number of movie specials. For those of you who are not familiar with the series, the premise is that a race of Ancients created devices that our modern Earth humans call Stargates, which allow people to travel from planet to planet through wormholes hooked up to unique gate addresses, much like dialing up a phone number. Earth people travel through the gates, exploring the universe and fighting a string of increasingly more ridiculous bad guys in the process.
The original film spawned the ten-season hit series Stargate: SG1, from which the five-season show Stargate: Atlantis was spun off. The vastly inferior Stargate: Universe followed after the unjust cancellation of Atlantis.* Among the handsome men and crazy aliens in these series, there are a number of strong female characters. Since I’m not a SU watcher, I’ll leave that post for someone else to tackle. But today, I’d like to introduce Casa Persephone to the badass ladies of the SGC* and Atlantis.
Captain, then Major, then Lt. Colonel, then Colonel Samantha Carter is a brilliant scientist with a PhD in astrophysics who was also a kick ass pilot during the Gulf War. She’s brought on to Stargate Command as the second in command and is often the one bailing her team out of trouble with her superior math, science, and computer skills. (In the series finale of SG1, she even figures out how to save all of their lives in dramatic fashion from an impending space laser beam by pulling them into a slow-moving time bubble.) Partway through Atlantis and after the conclusion of SG1, she was brought on to command the base, after saving everyone in the city from certain death. In short, I want to be Sam Carter when I grow up.
Dr. Elizabeth Weir is the original leader of the Atlantis expedition. Notably, she’s a civilian in command of a mixed military and scientific/cultural research team, and she manages to hold it all together when they’re isolated from Earth almost immediately after arrival. She has a diplomatic background and was brokering peace treaties in Africa or some such when she was tapped for the job. Elizabeth is not afraid to tackle tough ethical questions, and while she’s glad for advice and support from the military side of her team, the buck stops with her.
Tayla is the leader of an alien group of humans called the Athosians that the Atlantis team encounters on an early expedition. She has the ability to mentally link with the Wraith, a particularly nasty enemy race, and can even control them on occasion. She is fiercely protective of her people and an amazing leader, but she becomes an integral part of the Atlantis team and ends up staying in the city. At one point in the series, Teyla becomes pregnant, which starts an interesting arc about being pregnant on active duty and struggling with her place on the team. She’s better at relating with the natives of the Pegasus Galaxy*** than pretty much anyone else in Atlantis, even Elizabeth the diplomat, but she can still kick the ass of enormous tough guy Ronan.
Vala was a late-season addition to the SG1 team. I hated her for a really long time, but she won me over by the end of the series. She has a rough background and, needing a favor, worms her way into SG1 through a pretty dirty trick. She’s impregnated by an alien race against her will, forced to marry a villager on an unindustrialized planet to disguise the pregnancy, and later gives birth to the new leader of that alien race. Initially, Vala is pretty much every stereotype of a sexy con artist lady. Over the course of two seasons, though, she grows more complex without losing her feistiness.
Keller is another later addition, this time to the Atlantis team, that took me a while to warm up to. I’m still not entirely sold on her, to be honest, but she seems to be a fan favorite because everybody**** loves Firefly. Jennifer Keller joins the Atlantis team as Chief Medical Officer to replace a much beloved character who was unceremoniously killed off. She was a child genius, skipped a bunch of grades, graduated with her B.S. before she was 18, then went on to become a brilliant doctor. She’s actually very good at what she does and skillfully neutralizes some particularly nasty biological threats to the Atlantis base. At first, she’s kind of whiny and weak, but her character grows as she gets her footing and overcomes some of her insecurities. If we just pretend the stupid love triangle didn’t happen, Keller is pretty badass in her own, less in-your-face way than the other more overtly awesome ladies.
So, are there any Stargate Universe fans out there who want to help complete the list?
*Not that I’m biased or anything.
**Stargate Command, or the original flavor series.
***The galaxy where Atlantis is located.
****Not me. Although I do remember Jewel Staite fondly from her days on the Canadian kids show Flash Forward.
Images copyright MGM