Stargate SG-1 has presented two major timeline theories over the run of the show: (1) alternate realities (also known as alternate universes or parallel universes), and (2) alternate timelines. Alternate Realities are presented when various versions of SG-1 live in parallel universes, some almost identical; others, so extremely different so as to be unrecognizable. Alternate Timelines are presented when it appears that the timeline in which "our" SG-1 exists is modified by a time traveling event.
This article presents Alternate Realities, or parallel universes, which exist concurrently with SG-1's timeline.
Bridging Alternate Realities
In a multiverse, there exist a near-infinite number of universes, or realities, that are each created to reflect a different outcome to a decision. One could use the fork in the road as an analogy, where going in one direction defines the individual's current reality, whereas the roads not taken represent the alternate realities. These realities are progressing through time at the same rate as ours, but different paths are being taken, thus the term "parallel universes" is also used to describe them. Additional terms for "alternate realities" have included "alternate universes", "quantum universes", and "parallel worlds", and all have basically been used interchangeably, even though there are some differences in their definitions. But in the world of Stargate SG-1, these differences have not been expounded upon, and thus, the two more widely used terms "alternate reality" and "parallel universe" describe the same thing.
Some of these alternate realities have been created through the impact of a time traveling event (see Alternate Timelines), but most were the results of a decision so that all possible outcomes have their own realities. For example, one alternate reality included Daniel Jackson's turning down Catherine Langford's offer to translate the Stargate's coverstone instead of taking up the offer and solving the riddle of the Stargate (1.20 "There But For The Grace Of God"). From that one event alone, several alternate realities were most likely created, carrying forward the idea that someone else opened the Stargate and went on the first mission, resulting in various realities where Ra was not defeated, and so on.
Entropic Cascade Failure
Traveling between alternate realities comes with some problems, the main one being Entropic Cascade Failure. This phenomenon results when two people representing the same person, such as two Samantha Carters, exist in the same reality at the same time, and is when the visiting person, the one out of his/her own reality, will start to suffer a physical breakdown at the cellular level due to temporal distortion. A traveler who has no living counterpart will not suffer from this breakdown.
Entropic Cascade Failure has been defined by Stargate SG-1 writer Joseph Mallozzi in this way:
- The multiverse theory of quantum physics posits the existence of endless alternate realities co-existing with our own. Some hold that the proximity of these realities is dependent upon the similarities between the various universes - i.e. the more similar the realities, the closer together/easier to access via an inter-universal bridge, while the more dissimilar, the further apart/more difficult to access. Some theorize that the temporal effects of entropic cascade failure are directly proportional to the proximity of the "universe of origin" from which a given element is introduced, ranging from dangerously high impact in distant, off-setting cases where the elements are more likely to be "out of sync" to negligible in closer, more attuned elements.
Based on this definition, the more "in sync" two realities are, perhaps having only a few differences in their "paths", the less the chance becomes that the traveler will suffer from these fatal effects. Entropic Cascade Failure was observed when the civilian Dr. Samantha Carter who worked at the SGA visited SG-1's reality (3.06 "Point of View"), but not when several Carters who were in the Air Force and members of the SGC's SG-1 team visited (9.13 "Ripple Effect").
Forming the Bridge
In order to travel to an alternate reality, one must form a link, called a "trans-universal bridge" or the more commonly used "inter-universal bridge", between the two realities. Various means of creating the bridge between realities have been discovered by the SGC.
SG-1 was introduced to the existence of alternate realities when they discovered the Quantum Mirror on P3R-233. This device appeared to be constructed of naquadah, the same material used to build the Stargates, and might have been the creation of the Ancients, but its actual origin was never determined. Using the hand-held remote control of the Quantum Mirror, an individual could "dial" an alternate reality, touch the mirror-like device, and be transported into that reality. As long as the link between the two realities was maintained, a traveler could go back and forth, but if the Mirror was turned off, the traveler would have to use a control device in their current reality to find the reality from which they had originally traveled. The method of determining the correct reality was purely by visual confirmation through the Mirror, as neither the Mirror nor its remote control recorded the placement of the originating reality or the last reality dialed.
Gen. George Hammond commanded that the Quantum Mirror in his reality be destroyed because he felt that there were some lines that were never meant to be crossed (3.06 "Point of View"). But, the crossing over from one reality into another was not always through the use of the Quantum Mirror. If one were to direct a controlled energy blast within a wormhole traveling through a blackhole, one could actually open bridges among several alternate realities and another, making the wormhole's destination reality a point of confluence. This effect was reversed at the point of confluence with the use of an Asgard energy weapon discharged in the wormhole connected to the original point of origin's corresponding Stargate. Because the Stargate's wormhole was used to create the inter-universal bridge, travel was only one-way, or uni-directional. (9.13 "Ripple Effect")
Another means of creating a uni-directional inter-universal bridge was developed by Dr. Rodney McKay and his sister, Jeanie Miller, to draw zero point energy from a parallel universe (SGA 3.08 "McKay and Mrs. Miller"). A traveler could traverse this uni-directional bridge (from the reality from which the energy was being drawn) if he was beamed across with Asgard beaming technology while wearing an Ancient personal shield. This attempt to draw zero point energy into a containment field created universe-destroying exotic particles, and their research had to be abandoned. Similar research was done in an alternate reality by Maj. Samantha Carter and Dr. Bennett, but that research was destroyed in a power overload when they accidently tapped into SG-1's reality and drew Lt. Col. Samantha Carter into their reality while she was inside a contained field and out of phase (10.13 "The Road Not Taken"). Maj. Carter and Dr. Bennett were totally annihilated in the explosion that resulted when Carter was drawn in. With the help of an alternate Dr. Rodney McKay, Carter was transported back to her own reality through another inter-universal bridge, but how her specific reality was determined as this bridge's destination was not revealed.
1.20 "There But For The Grace Of God"
While exploring a room on the abandoned planet P3R-233, Daniel Jackson found a collection of artifacts gathered from all over the galaxy. He was excited to see that most of the items had been tagged and quickly started to gather up some of them from the top of a table after Jack called the team to return to the Stargate to immediately leave the planet. Daniel didn't know that the planet had been radioactively contaminated by the Goa'uld who had destroyed the world, so he lingered a bit longer when he accidently activated the Quantum Mirror with its remote control. Curious as to why he didn't see his reflection in the mirror-like surface, he touched it and an energy field enveloped him. He didn't realize that he had been transported to an alternate reality and was alone on the planet. From his perspective, he was abandoned by his team because he had taken too long to get to the Stargate. He dialed the Stargate to return home and was met by the security team pointing their weapons at him. They didn't know who he was or how it was that he knew SG-1's iris code. Daniel appealed to George Hammond, but was taken aback when Hammond was at the rank of colonel instead of general. He was immediately taken to the infirmary where an MRI was run against him to see if he was a Goa'uld.
Daniel awoke in a holding cell. Catherine Langford entered the room and asked him more about how he got there. She revealed that the Daniel Jackson she knew had turned down her offer to translate the coverstone and that her team had eventually opened the Stargate on their own. This Daniel Jackson was last seen in Egypt and that country had already been destroyed by the Goa'uld, so Jackson was most likely dead.
In this alternate reality, a bomb was sent through the Stargate to Abydos, but no team was ever sent to Chulak. Their world was under attack by the Goa'uld, namely Apophis, at the very moment that Daniel had appeared there. Jack was the general in command of keeping the Stargate secured as teams were evacuated to another planet called the Beta Site.
Dr. Samantha Carter was working with Catherine in this alternate reality's version of Stargate Command, a civilian organization called SGA, most likely meaning "Stargate Agency". After talking with Catherine and Daniel, she determined that Daniel was from another reality. As First Prime Teal'c led his troops into the base, Jack made the decision to help Daniel get back to his homeworld because he knew that the base would fall. He was killed by Teal'c after Teal'c learned that Jack was the one who sent a nuclear weapon to Chulak, an act that Daniel tried to convince Jack was not necessary, but Jack didn't heed his advice.
The SGA had intercepted a transmission from the vicinity of P3R-233 that warned them of the coming attack. The aliens had transmitted a voice message and the coordinates of the Stargate at which the attacking fleet was assembling. Catherine's people didn't know how to translate the alien language, but Daniel immediately recognized it as he had spoken it when he lived on Abydos. Because Daniel had video recorded the Stargate on P3R-233, he was also able to correlate the coordinate numbers with the glyphs on that 'gate.
Catherine and Samantha helped Daniel escape through the Stargate back to P3R-233 at the moment the base fell. As Daniel was running up the ramp, Teal'c shot him with his staff weapon, leaving a severe wound on his upper right arm. This wound was partial proof of Daniel's story about being in an alternate reality, but the Stargate address he had obtained in that alternate reality was even more convincing. When SG-1 'gated there, they discovered that the Stargate was onboard one of Apophis's motherships (1.22 "Within the Serpent's Grasp"). They were able to destroy the ships before they reached Earth (2.01 "The Serpent's Lair"). In Daniel's reality, Earth was saved, but the Earth in the alternate reality he had visited was taken by Apophis.
3.06 "Point Of View"
The remote control of the Quantum Mirror was lost in the alternate reality that Daniel visited earlier (1.20 "There But For The Grace Of God"), so there was no apparent means of operating the device. The Quantum Mirror was stored in a building at Area 51, protected by an electronic security system and guards. When a Dr. Samantha Carter and a Maj. Charles Kawalsky traveled through the Mirror into Area 51, they were immediately placed under arrest and questioned.
Similar to the alternate reality to which Daniel had previously traveled, Dr. Carter's reality was under attack by the Goa'uld System Lord Apophis. In her reality, Kawalsky was alive and she was married to Col. Jack O'Neill. Gen. George Hammond was in command of the Stargate base, called the SGA, but Daniel Jackson and Teal'c were not members of SG-1. Jackson was never involved with the Stargate Program and Teal'c was still First Prime of Apophis. Jack died when the Jaffa took control of the base. It was during the invasion that Dr. Carter and Kawalsky used the Quantum Mirror, leaving Gen. George Hammond behind.
At first, Dr. Carter and Kawalsky wanted to stay in their new reality, but when Dr. Carter started suffering from Entropic Cascade Failure, they decided to return to their reality. Armed with the Stargate dialing program and a portable power generator created by Jack when he had the knowledge of the Ancients downloaded into his mind (2.16 "The Fifth Race"), Dr. Carter, Kawalsky, Jack, Teal'c, and Daniel went back to the alternate reality to contact the Asgard for help. Daniel and Teal'c didn't fear Entropic Cascade Failure because they estimated that they wouldn't be in the alternate reality long enough for it to come into effect.
The team was successful in sending Dr. Carter through the Stargate to the Asgard's homeworld in the Ida Galaxy. The Asgard removed Apophis, his Jaffa, and his motherships from Earth, and restored a recently-deceased Hammond. Teal'c killed his counterpart, however. The Quantum Mirror had to be turned off, so Daniel had to spend quite a bit of time trying to find his reality. He had to pay attention to every detail of what he was seeing on the other side of the Mirror, including reading the nametag on Carter's uniform to make sure she was of the correct rank. Daniel, Teal'c, and Jack returned to their reality as Dr. Carter and Kawalsky looked on, staying behind to rebuild their lives.
Gen. Hammond ordered that the Quantum Mirror be destroyed after this incident.
9.13 "Ripple Effect"
Even though the Quantum Mirror was destroyed, there existed another way for inter-universal bridges to be created between realities. One of the most complex of these bridges was formed by an alternate version of SG-1 who were desperate to save their world from imminent destruction by the Ori. They used an energy weapon blast directed in the wormhole from PX7-455 to the SGC while the wormhole was traveling through the Kallana Singularity. In doing so, they jumped their wormhole into SG-1's reality, making the time of travel longer at 3.4 seconds versus the normal average of 0.3 seconds. The SGC experienced the energy blast when the bridge was created, but didn't realize its nature. While the alternate SG-1 debriefed Gen. Landry, it became evident that they weren't the right team, even though they were the same "individuals". In this alternate team's reality, Jacob/Selmak were still alive, and the team was returning from a mission to PX7-455 formerly under Amaterasu instead of a planet, which had a designation starting with "P4R", formerly under Ba'al. As soon as SG-1 returned from their mission on time, Landry realized that he had duplicates in his midst and had tests run against all of them. Physically speaking, the teams were identical, but certain details of the duplicate team's story didn't sync up with the known facts. Because of this, Landry and Dr. Lam ruled out cloning (as Ba'al had done in 9.07 "Ex Deus Machina") and searched for other explanations.
After talking with her alternate, Carter realized that the other team had traversed a bridge between their realities. They used their combined and unique experiences to come to a conclusion on how this bridge was formed. As they continued their investigation, additional teams from other realities dialed the SGC, some of them under heavy fire. Landry let only those under extreme duress come through the wormhole, while the other teams were told to go to the Alpha Site to avoid traveling anywhere near the blackhole. The phenomenon that brought the first alternate team appeared to have a residual detrimental effect that caused bridges from other planets in other realities to be created, all coming together with the SGC's reality as their point of confluence.
Along with the Asgard Kvasir, the Carters proposed to close the converging point by detonating a Mark IX bomb inside the Kallana Singularity to "take the blackhole out of the equation." Kvasir brought an Asgard Time Dilation Device so that the Mark IX could be taken into the blackhole without being ripped apart by the gravitational effects (this was similar to how the Replicators used the Time Dilation Device to escape the Hala Singularity in 8.01 "New Order Part 1"). The calculations were extremely complex, and Kvasir gave the mission a less than 12% probability of success.
While the Carters were doing their investigation, the rest of the team members were interviewing the other SG-1 teams. Daniel was especially interested in the similarities and differences in their realities and at what point they were in their war against the Ori. Because most of the teams were composed of the same members, the realities were very close to SG-1's, so Entropic Cascade Failure didn't occur. In one configuration of SG-1, however, the team was composed of the Tok'ra Martouf, Daniel, Mitchell, and Carter, who wasn't with them on this mission. The fourth person traveling with this team was Dr. Janet Fraiser. In this team's reality, Gen. Jack O'Neill was the commander of the SGC, and Earth was suffering from the Prior Plague for which this team was trying desperately to find a cure. Teal'c and Daniel spent some time talking with this version of Janet, since they had both been very attached to Janet when she was alive in their reality. Carter spent time with Martouf, finding out that his Carter and he had pursued a romantic relationship, but eventually broke up. Martouf remained on SG-1, however, while his team's Carter married someone else and was on maternity leave.
Nearly twenty versions of SG-1 congregated at the SGC after over fifty teams had attempted to dial in. Not all of the alternate teams were SG-1, but most were SG-1 because that team, as the front-line team, is the one most likely to be in immediate danger. Nearly all of the SG-1s had Mitchell, Carter, Daniel, and Teal'c as members, but there were a few others with different composition. The one team that appeared to be closest to SG-1 and the most helpful in solving the problem was the first alternate team to arrive, so it was this team that Landry sent with SG-1 on the Prometheus to destroy the bridges. Because the mission meant that all of the alternate teams would be stranded, Dr. Fraiser spoke on their behalf to Gen. Landry, hoping that a solution could be found to reverse the bridges so that all of the teams could return to their own realities to continue in their fight against the Ori, but Landry was concerned that delaying the mission would only make things worse as more bridges were formed that prevented the SGC from conducting normal operations during a desperate time of their own.
SG-1, along with the first alternate SG-1, set out on their mission, but as soon as they reached the Singularity, the alternate team turned against SG-1 and confined them to the brig. The alternate team had created the inter-universal bridge so that they could take the Prometheus to the Pegasus Galaxy and steal the ZPM from Atlantis in order to power their Antarctic defenses against the Ori. Realizing that the alternate team created the bridge and knew how to reverse it to get home, SG-1 managed to regain control of Prometheus and aborted the mission. Back at the SGC, they used an Asgard directed energy weapon through the wormhole established to each team's relative point of origin, causing the bridges to go in the other direction (from the SGC to their planets, such as PX7-455, in their realities). Some of the teams were sent back home empty-handed, namely the alternate team that had caused the confluence in the first place, but at least one team (Fraiser's team) returned home with the cure to the Prior Plague.
After the alternate teams were sent home, all of the inter-universal bridges were closed, and Kvasir got his energy weapon back, since it was merely on loan. Ultimately, it was the first alternate team's reality that appeared to be the closest to SG-1's, as the fall of Jaffa strongholds, including Chulak and Dakara, eventually happened just as it had in that reality (10.01 "Flesh and Blood", 10.07 "Counterstrike"). The two realities weren't parallel, however, in that their methods of combatting the Ori threat were very different.
10.13 "The Road Not Taken"
While conducting an experiment to rewrite the safety protocols on Merlin's interdimensional device, also known as Arthur's Mantle, so that even larger areas than an entire village could be taken out of phase (as was done in 10.12 "Line in the Sand"), Carter isolated herself inside a two way force shield to restrict the range of the device and to ensure that nobody entered the field accidentally. During her time out of phase, she was transported across an inter-universal bridge created by a Maj. Samantha Carter and Dr. Bennett in an alternate reality. This inter-universal bridge was part of a project in which energy would be extracted in small amounts from thousands of alternate realities in order to avoid the harmful effects that exotic particles could have on either of the universes connected by the bridge. At the precise microsecond that Maj. Carter was tapping into Carter's universe, Carter was out of phase, and the entire contents of the room enclosed in her lab's force shield were transported across the bridge. At the moment that Carter was being drawn in, Maj. Carter's equipment overloaded and exploded, killing her and Dr. Bennett and leaving nothing of them behind. Carter shifted herself back from being out of phase, only to find that she and her equipment had replaced what was there before.
This alternate reality had several personnel at the SGC in common with Carter's own, but there were extreme differences in their lives' paths. Instead of being in the Air Force and in command of the SGC, Hank Landry was President of the United States. Instead of being retired, George Hammond was the Air Force general in command of the base. Additional differences included the composition of SG-1, namely the absence of Teal'c, Daniel, Mitchell, and Vala, with Maj. Lorne (formerly of SG-11 and currently assigned to the Atlantis Expedition) as the team's leader. Daniel's predicament, being a captive of the Ori army, and the existence of Dr. Bill Lee as a civilian scientist assigned to the base were about the only things similar to Carter's reality. Teal'c was with the Free Jaffa, Vala was in custody at Area 51, and Mitchell left the service, unable to walk, after the dogfight over Antarctica. This alternate reality also had the handicap of not knowing of the existence of Atlantis in the Pegasus Galaxy.
The major differences in the two realities were stark, for in this alternate reality, the Stargate Program became public knowledge as Anubis attacked a few years ago (as in 7.22 "Lost City Part 2"). Anubis's fleet was destroyed through the use of the Ancient defenses in Antarctica, and after the Program became public knowledge, the Russians seized the Ancient Outpost, but not before the control chair was removed to Area 51. The chair was used successfully against a single Ori warship, but that use nearly drained all of the power in the ZPM. The SGC was actively searching for alternate means to powering the chair, including Maj. Carter's and Dr. Bennett's research into creating the inter-universal bridges to draw energy from alternate realities. Another shocking difference between the two realities was that in this alternate reality, the United States was under martial law and its people's civil liberties were greatly reduced. To make matters even worse, the planet was attempting to find ways of defending themselves against another Ori attack, due to occur within five days.
At first, Landry and Hammond wanted Carter to complete Maj. Carter's research so that they could power the Ancient chair to defend against this attack, but Carter felt that five days wasn't enough time for her to come up to speed and then make the project work, so she proposed using Merlin's interdimensional device to shift the entire planet out of phase. They accepted her proposal, and she and Dr. Lee got started on connecting the device to the United States' power grid. Carter estimated that they would need 700 gigawatts, and they ended up using 93% of what they had originally estimated during the attack, but were successful in shifting the planet out of phase in time.
Carter became a national hero and the darling of the Landry administration, attending a fancy party at which she met an Idaho senator and his wife, as well as where she witnessed the harshness with which those who protested the stiffling of civil liberties were treated. She used her public position to try to pursuade the people to take back the liberties that they had been denied, but was soon cut off. Rather than treat her like they had Mitchell who had tried the same thing and got cut off from his physical therapy, Landry permitted Carter to pursue her research into getting back to her own reality after she showed them how to use their own Arthur's Mantle (also discovered in the caves of Avalon) to shift the planet out of phase in case of another Ori attack. Assisting her in these endeavors was Maj. Carter's former husband, Dr. Rodney McKay, who in this reality was a successful dot com industrialist whose companies were awarded several defense contracts. Landry's Chief of Staff (Charlie) "pursuaded" (blackmailed) McKay to work on the projects instead of being brought up in an anti-trust investigation. Carter encouraged McKay to keep pushing Landry toward helping the rest of the galaxy in the fight against the Ori.
With McKay's help, Carter created an inter-universal bridge and transported herself back to her own reality, where she had been absent for two weeks. During that time, her teammates took turns talking to an empty room to keep her company. Unfortunately, there was still no word on Daniel's fate.
- 1.20 "There But For The Grace Of God"
- 3.06 "Point Of View"
- 9.13 "Ripple Effect"
- SGA 3.08 "McKay And Mrs. Miller"
- 10.13 "The Road Not Taken"
- Gen. Jack O'Neill
- Dr. Daniel Jackson
- Capt./Maj./Lt. Col. Samantha Carter
- Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell
- Vala Mal Doran
- Gen. George Hammond
- Gen. Hank Landry
- Dr. Janet Fraiser
- Maj. Charles Kawalsky
- Dr. Carolyn Lam
- Catherine Langford
- Dr. Bill Lee
- Maj. Lorne
- Dr. Rodney McKay
- Jeanie Miller
- Dr. Radek Zelenka
- Alternate Timelines
- Area 51
- Arthur's Mantle
- Atlantis Expedition
- Goa'uld Pain Stick
- Mark IX Gatebuster
- Ori Warships
- Prior Plague
- Quantum Mirror
- Stargate Program
- System Lord
- Zero Point Module (ZPM)
- 1.22 "Within The Serpent's Grasp Part 1"
- 2.01 "The Serpent's Lair"
- 2.16 "The Fifth Race"
- 8.01 "New Order Part 1"
- 7.22 "Lost City Part 2"
- 9.07 "Ex Deus Machina"
- 10.12 "Line In The Sand"
- GateWorld Forum: Joseph Mallozzi's definition of "Entropic Cascade Failure", June 28, 2005.
- WikiPedia: Multiverse
10.13 "The Road Not Taken" Alternate Reality Persons:
- Michael Chase as Chief of Staff
- Billy Mitchell as Senator
- Lisa Bayliss as Senator's Wife
- Travis Woloshyn as Protestor
- Robert Mann as Dr. Bennett
--DeeKayP 20:39, 8 May 2007 (PDT)