Nicholas Rush

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Dr. Nicholas Rush


The following article contains SPOILERS. Proceed at your own risk.

Update to: SGU 1.20 "Incursion Part 2"


From MGM: The scientific head of the Icarus program and a certifiable genius, Dr. Nicholas Rush is one of the most brilliant scientists of his day. Having devoted some of the most difficult years of his life to the program, he knows more than anyone the importance of what is beyond that 9th chevron address. Definitely not the most agreeable aboard the ship, he is without a doubt the mastermind behind most of what goes on, whether people know it or not. Unwilling to bend to any sort of military rule, his focus is always on discovering the secrets to, and purpose of the Destiny.

Personal Data

  • Birthday:
  • Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
  • Marital Status: Widowed, Gloria Rush
  • Children: None
  • Parents: Father worked in the shipyards of Glasgow
  • Siblings:
  • Stargate Program Rank: Civilian
  • Stargate Program Position: Lead Scientist of the Icarus Project and now stranded on the Destiny, where he has become the go-to guy concerning the Ancient ship

Before Joining the Stargate Program

Rush has a working man's background, established by his father who worked in the shipyards of Glasgow. Rush himself worked two jobs while attending Oxford on a scholarship. (Stargate Universe: 1.03 "Air Part 3")

His wife Gloria was happy in her marriage and in her career as a violinist, but her life was cut short by cancer. Having already gone through a fight with the disease, Gloria decided not to undergo treatment. Rush was a professor at a university when his wife's cancer returned, and at about the same time, he was contacted by Dr. Daniel Jackson concerning joining the Stargate Program and solving the power problem to dial the Stargate's ninth chevron. (SGU 1.14 "Human")

Icarus Base and Destiny

Lead Scientist of the Icarus Project

Rush and Lt. Gen. Jack O'Neill recruit Eli Wallace
Rush watches the evacuees come through the Destiny Stargate
Rush steps through Destiny's Stargate

During his wife's decline, Rush buried himself into his new work as the lead scientist on the Icarus Project. He became obsessed with solving the problem of locating and using a planet with a naquadria core. It took two years to locate such a planet, but in the meantime, Rush worked on the mathematical problem to safely draw the power from the unstable core to the Stargate. He worked closely with Dr. Amanda Perry and found that she provided the support he needed during his wife's illness. Gloria, in turn, found her support in her best friend Constance, who was present at the hospital when she died. (SGU 1.14 "Human", 1.16 "Sabotage")

Rush still hadn't found the correct formula after the Icarus Base had been built. He helped to program the problem into an online video game called Prometheus in which a similar scenario was played out in the Dakara Weapons Puzzle. MIT drop-out Eli Wallace solved the puzzle and soon Rush and Lt. Gen. Jack O'Neill were at his doorstep, offering him a position on the Project. Rush had a hand in getting Eli into the program, but he was envious of the young man's genius. Wallace had had no formal education and he had solved the equation that Rush, a trained mathematician, could not. Once Wallace arrived at the Base, Rush was eager to try the new formula and dial the Stargate, but the ninth chevron wouldn't lock. While Eli joined the rest of the Base's officials for dinner, Rush went to his quarters and cried over a picture of him and his late wife, distraught over his apparent failure in a project that had taken him away from her when she had needed him the most. (SGU 1.01 "Air Part 1", 1.14 "Human")

During the dinner, the Base was attacked by the Lucian Alliance. The energy blasts from their weapons caused the planet's core to become unstable. Col. Everett Young, the commander of Icarus Base, ordered that the Stargate to be dialed to Earth for immediate evacuation, but Rush realized that he'd only get one more chance and ordered that the Stargate be connected with the nine-chevron address. Eli proposed using Earth's Point of Origin as the ninth chevron, and once that was tried, the Stargate successfully connected. The base personnel had only a few minutes to gather as much as they could to take through the wormhole to an unknown destination. Rush was pleased to find that they had boarded Destiny, and after Young was temporarily disabled, he tried to put himself in charge of the expedition. (SGU 1.01 "Air Part 1", 1.02 "Air Part 2")

Rush by far was the most knowledgeable concerning Ancient technology, and as such, became the go-to guy whenever there were problems aboard the extremely damaged ship. He found the Interface Control Room and began searches in the ship's database for any information on how to control the ship's failing systems. He learned that the Ancients had named the ship Destiny, launched it from Earth, but had never boarded her. He also learned that the ship traveled using faster-than-light (FTL) technology, but would stop by any planets that met the criteria of the crew's needs. He was on the first "away team" to obtain calcium carbonate for the ship's air scrubbing systems. (SGU 1.02 "Air Part 2", 1.03 "Air Part 3")

"The ship will not be exploding. At least not today."
Rush shows his team the Neural Interface Chair
Young abandons Rush on a planet

After solving the ship's air supply problem, another issue came up: the support of the human crew had drained the ship's energy reserves. Rush tried to get everyone to conserve energy, but they had tried to dial the Stargate back to Earth and drained the systems. When they found that the ship was on a collision course with a star, everyone assumed that they were about to be destroyed, so a group was selected by Young and by lottery to man a shuttle to evacuate to a nearby planet. Rush gave up his chance to go on the shuttle, finally feeling that he was where he belonged. As it turned out, the Destiny normally entered a star's corona to extract energy to power up its reserves. The shuttle was recalled and Destiny resumed its preprogrammed course, which no one could alter without the correct password. (SGU 1.04 "Darkness", 1.05 "Light")

After learning how the ship drew power for its reserves, scientists on Earth hypothesized that they could redirect the power from the reserves to the Stargate while the ship was in a star's corona. Rush, however, knew the ship's condition much better and tried to stop the "experiment." He gained the support of several scientists aboard the ship, and as a team, they rigged a seeming catastrophic overload to get the Earth scientists off their ship. Their plan worked, but the IOA wanted answers. Young even suspected that Rush had lied about the disastrous outcome just so that he could remain on board, so he had Eli go through the numbers. Eli's simulations all ended in Destiny's destruction, much to Young's surprise. (SGU 1.07 "Earth")

Rush's new science team, comprised of Dr. Dale Volker, Dr. Lisa Park, Dr. Jeremy Franklin, Adam Brody, and Eli Wallace, worked hard on getting the ship in the best shape possible. They opened up previously unsafe areas and discovered the Neural Interface Chair. This was the precursor to the Ancients' Repository of Knowledge, and like that device, required that the user connect his mind with the technology, a proven fatal scenario. Young knew that Rush wanted to have someone sit in the Chair, but he ordered guards on it and denied Rush access until Rush could prove it was safe. Rush resented this interference, since he believed that the Chair was the only way for them to gain control of the ship's navigation and propulsion systems. He did everything he could to regain access, even going as far as lying about a nearby Icarus-type planet to encourage his research and framing Young for the murder of Sgt. Spencer, who had actually committed suicide. Rush was the first to respond to the sound of the gunshot, and he removed the handgun from the scene and planted it in Young's quarters. Young had to step down and put IOA representative Camile Wray in command. Rush immediately gained access to the Chair room with her permission. (SGU 1.09 "Life", 1.10 "Justice")

Young was exonerated when footage of Spencer's suicide was uncovered. He also discovered what Rush had done, and when they were alone on a planet to study a crashed alien shuttle, he confronted him. Rush admitted that he had done what he did because he felt Young was the wrong man for the job of leading the expedition. Rush accused Young of being weak and indecisive during crises. The two got into a physical fight, and Young rendered Rush unconscious and abandoned him on the planet. Destiny resumed its course without Rush, and Young told everyone that the scientist had fallen in a rock slide and didn't have time to get to the Stargate before the ship resumed FTL. (SGU 1.10 "Justice")

Rush linked to alien's mind
Rush is operated on to remove alien tracking device
Rush uses the Neural Interface to find the ship's password

Rush wasn't alone on the planet for long. He gained access into the alien spacecraft and accidentally triggered a beacon that led the alien builders right to him. They captured him and placed him in a water tank for study. They had sophisticated neural probing technology and tried to access his mind. He was able to resist most of the probing and gleaned information from his captors instead. He learned that this group were obsessed with Destiny and wanted to claim her as a trophy. They tracked her from one place to another and while the Ancient ship was not in FTL, they bombarded her to weaken the shields. They had succeeded, along with time, in making most of the ship inaccessible and the power reserves incapable of holding a full charge. (SGU 1.04 "Darkness", 1.11 "Space")

Rush's experience with the aliens was deeply traumatizing, though he didn't want to admit it to the others when he was successful at returning to the ship when Destiny was tracked down. Young, using the communication stones to connect with one of the aliens who had touched a stone Rush had with him, tried to free Rush, but only got as far as getting him out of the tank. Chloe Armstrong had also been captured, and together the two made their escape on one of the aliens' shuttles. Everyone was surprised to see Rush alive, and soon there were rumors that Young had abandoned Rush on purpose. But Rush and Young decided to keep their secret "for the sake of the crew." (SGU 1.11 "Space")

The aliens found Destiny once again and began their usual attack. Rush realized that he carried a tracking device inside his chest close to his heart. The surgery was extremely risky, but the transmitter was successfully removed. Destiny barely made it back into FTL, but the crew had some reprieve because the aliens would not be able to track them any longer, or so they thought. (SGU 1.11 "Space")

During the alien attacks, Young nearly crumbled under the pressure of not having the necessary weapons to properly defend the ship. Rush was afraid of Young and conspired with Camile Wray to take over the ship by locking doors that gave the military personnel access to the 'gate room and the control consoles. Young was able to gain access to the civilians' side of the ship and ended the "mutiny." He tried to act like everything was back to normal, but distrust continued. (SGU 1.12 "Divided")

Tension between Young and Rush had been building ever since the Neural Interface Chair's discovery. During the time that Young was on trial for Spencer's murder, Rush had made some headway in his research. Unfortunately, Dr. Jeremy Franklin decided to take the risk to sit in the Chair when he was alone in the lab. The interface pretty much fried his brain, leaving him in a deep cationic state. Young accused Rush of pushing Franklin to sit in the Chair and called him a coward for not sitting in the Chair himself. As unfortunate as Franklin's condition was, Rush and Brody were able to use his experience and programmed a buffering system to slow down the flow of data and target an area of the user's subconscious mind to give him control of the interface. Rush sat in the Chair and relived Gloria's death all over again, but at the same time, he was given a clue as to what the password to unlock Destiny's systems was: the code was based on the number of chromosomes in human DNA. This type of system was a precursor to the Ancients' development of the Ancient gene recognition technology present in Atlantis and the Antarctic Outpost. (SGU 1.14 "Human")

The persistent and ever-resourceful aliens managed to connect with the last person who used the communication stones, Lt. Vanessa James, and they used her to sabotage the ship's FTL modules. Rush was reunited with Dr. Perry through the use of the stones so that she could work with him on the repairs. Along with a semi-lucid Franklin, they managed to reactivate the FTL to once again evade the aliens' attack. (SGU 1.16 "Sabotage")

Rush hallucinates his alien captors
Rush captured by the Lucian Alliance
Rush and Brody try to regain control of Destiny

Apparently Rush was not confident that they had managed to elude the aliens that captured him. When he was under the influence of an "alien tick" that he had picked up on a planet, he hallucinated that the aliens boarded Destiny through the Stargate. The aliens he thought he saw were actually his crewmates and he stabbed Camile Wray with a screwdriver as a result. Fortunately, she recovered from the wound, and Rush and the others who were also hallucinating were cured once the ticks were removed. (SGU 1.17 "Pain")

Rush didn't have much time to recover from this trauma before he had to go through being a captive once again. This time, it was with the Lucian Alliance. He had dreamed that he was Col. Telford as Telford met with members of the Lucian Alliance on Earth to give them information about Destiny. Rush realized that this dream was based on Telford's memories that had bled through during their last connection via the communication stones. Rush and Young devised a plan in which Rush would connect with Telford again and pose as him to meet with the Alliance to find out what they were planning. In the meantime, Telford would be in Rush's body aboard Destiny where Young could confront him about being a spy. (SGU 1.18 "Subversion")

Telford had been under cover for about a year with the Alliance, but he was discovered and brainwashed to become a mole inside Stargate Command. While Young interrogated him, Rush tried everything he could to convince Commander Kiva of the Alliance that he was Telford, but after being tortured with a device that looked like a hand-held version of the Goa'uld Pain Stick, he gave in and identified himself. As soon as Kiva knew his identity, she took him to her Icarus-type base to work on the formula to dial Destiny from that planet's Stargate. (SGU 1.18 "Subversion")

Rush tried to stall, but he was persuaded to work on the formula in earnest when Kiva had the Alliance scientist who had been working on the formula killed before Rush's eyes. In the meantime, Young broke Telford's brainwashing and found out that Kiva planned to dial Destiny and take her by force. As Young prepared his ship for the invasion, General O'Neill sent the USS George Hammond to free Rush from the base and attempt to take the base so that they could gain access to Destiny. Like on Icarus before it, the naquadria core became unstable with the weapons fire, and Rush was unable to compensate fast enough. Kiva dialed the Stargate anyway, and soon several Alliance members and Telford were aboard Destiny. Her base was destroyed when the naquadria went critical. (SGU 1.18 "Subversion", 1.19 "Incursion Part 1")

Telford, though, was free of his brainwashing and worked covertly to help Young regain control of the ship. While he tried to give Rush control through consoles in an auxiliary control room, he was discovered by Kiva who shot him at the same time that he shot her. As a direct result of Telford's incapacitation, Rush and Brody got only partial control back. Along with the Alliance incursion, they had to deal with other deadly issues, including the declining power of the shields that were standing between them and dangerous radiation bursts from a nearby binary pulsar. (SGU 1.20 "Incursion Part 2")

Personal Life

The love of Rush's life was his wife Gloria, who died of cancer after Rush had joined the Icarus Project. When he connected to the Neural Interface Chair, he relived Gloria's last days once again. But because he knew that this was a memory, Rush was able to control his interactions and focus on finding the ship's password. His wife and Dr. Daniel Jackson became figments of his imagination, representing aspects of his personality and perhaps even Destiny herself. Dream-Gloria gave him the final clue as to how the password was structured, and Rush sat at her bedside and reassured her that he'd never forget her and would always love her. This interaction was cathartic in several ways since this version of Gloria was representative of his compassion and humanity, traits that he admitted to himself that he had shut away since his wife's death. (SGU 1.14 "Human")

While Gloria was slowly dying, Rush engaged himself in his work. He befriended Dr. Amanda "Mandy" Perry, who adored Rush secretly. When Mandy was repairing the FTL modules aboard Destiny using the communications stones in a body swap with Camile Wray, she wanted to pursue a sexual relationship with Rush, but he wasn't ready to take that step after having just relived Gloria's death when he sat in the Neural Interface Chair. Mandy was a quadriplegic and hadn't been able to provide Rush with physical comfort until she had swapped bodies with an able-bodied person, but instead of engaging in a sexual relationship, Mandy offered Rush comfort by giving him a hug, something she had longed to do ever since they had become friends. Her genuine gesture of friendship touched Rush deeply, and it seemed as though he was getting closer to opening his heart to someone once again. (SGU 1.14 "Human", 1.16 "Sabotage")

Hobbies and Other Interests

  • Classical Music: Rush enjoys listening to classical music. One such track was "Vissi D'arte" from the opera Tosca by Puccini (sung probably by Maria Callas). (SGU 1.01 "Air Part 1")
  • Movies: When Rush is faced with certain death, he quotes, "For a moment there, I thought we were in trouble," from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The love of this movie is something that Rush shares in common with Col. Young, but that's not enough to make these two men friends. (SGU 1.08 "Time")
  • Ascension: Rush is fascinated with the Ancients' ability to ascend, the shedding of the physical body to live eternally as a form of energy (to become Ascended Beings). Although he doesn't believe that he himself can accomplish this evolutionary feat, he joined the Stargate Program to search for how the Ancients managed to do it. (SGU 1.08 "Life")
  • Chess: Rush started carving a chess set after being stranded on Destiny. Col. Young also shares a love of the game, but the two have yet to engage each other on the chessboard. (SGU 1.13 "Faith")

Injuries, Illnesses/Sicknesses, Deaths

  • Eyeglasses broken: Rush needs to wear eyeglasses to correct his vision and his only pair were broken during the evacuation. Fortunately, only the frames were broken and Rush created a new arm with twisted wire, but he only wears the glasses when he's doing close-up work. (SGU 1.01 "Air Part 1", etc.)
  • Heat exhaustion and sunburn: As a member of the first away team on a desert planet, Rush suffered from heat exhaustion and sunburn. Both of these conditions were treatable once he got back aboard Destiny. (SGU 1.03 "Air Part 3")
  • Exhaustion and caffeine and nicotine withdrawal: As a smoker and heavy coffee drinker, Rush suffered from the headaches and other symptoms associated with withdrawal. Adding exhaustion and his frustration on not being able to solve the ship's energy problem, Rush ultimately collapsed after having a spectacular emotional breakdown (Sgt. Riley called it a "nervous breakdown"). (SGU 1.04 "Darkness")
  • Injuries from fighting with Col. Young: Rush doesn't have confidence in Col. Young's leadership and feels that the military man gets in his way in exploring Destiny. When the opportunity came to force Young to step down, Rush took it. He framed Young for Sgt. Spencer's murder by planting Spencer's suicide weapon in Young's quarters. The charges against Young were dropped after recovered Kino footage exonerated him, but Young challenged Rush while they were studying a crashed alien ship on a rocky planet. With precious little time remaining, Young and Rush got into a physical fight that left Rush unconscious. Young left Rush behind on the planet as Destiny left without him. (SGU 1.10 "Justice")
  • Trauma from being captured by aliens: Aliens captured Rush, confined him to a water tank, and attempted to probe his mind. He managed to escape, only to find that the aliens had implanted him with a transmitter. The surgery to remove the transmitter was extremely difficult, but Rush recovered; however, the trauma from the capture continued to haunt him. When he was infected by an alien tick, Rush hallucinated that the aliens had boarded Destiny through the Stargate. Rush even used a screwdriver to stab Camile Wray because he thought she was one of the aliens. (SGU: 1.11 "Space", 1.12 "Divided", 1.17 "Pain")
  • Torture and near-death: Rush suffered torture from a type of pain stick at the hands of the Lucian Alliance while he was in the body of Telford via the communication stones. Rush's body, occupied by Telford, was being tortured by Young in order to break the brainwashing that the Lucian Alliance had inflicted upon Telford while he was working under cover. When Telford suffocated, Rush almost died as well. Fortunately, Young revived Telford and both men recovered. After returning to his body, Rush had to also contend with the aftereffects of having received a beating and having nearly crossed the threshold into permanent death. (SGU: 1.18 "Subversion", 1.19 "Incursion Part 1")

Key Episodes


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Further Reading

  • "What we know so far is that he’s been married, but his wife is dead. The fact that he was married is the only thing that actually roots him in reality, because he ‘lives’ in a different type of reality, one, I believe, in his own mind. Rush is by far the biggest expert on Ancient technology, and when his wife dies and he gets the chance to go on this exploration of the universe, he jumps at it because there’s nothing left for him [on Earth]." (Robert Carlyle, Official Stargate Magazine, Issue 29, July/August 2009)
  • “Dr. Rush is certainly a complex individual. You’re never sure what his motives are, and to be honest with you I don’t know what’s happening with the character either. Brad Wright and Robert Cooper [Stargate Universe creators and executive producers] are obviously telling me everything I want to know, but I’d rather not know it all, which is how I’ve worked over the years. When you know how your character is going to end up, you’re tempted to play his heroic side. In fact, what you should be doing is playing the moment and each scene as it is, which is fresh. Just like you shouldn’t look too far ahead in your [real] life, you shouldn’t look too far ahead in your acting life." (Robert Carlyle, Reprint: Official Stargate Magazine Interview, Issue 29, July/August 2009)
  • "As far as our story and where our people end up, it’s Rush who tells them that there’s no chance they can ever go back, and he thinks there’s nothing greater! This is the best potential for exploration that mankind has ever known. That’s what’s driving Rush; and therefore he’s probably not to be trusted by anyone on the crew." (Robert Carlyle, Official Stargate Magazine, Issue 29, July/August 2009)
  • "If we start at the top in terms of crew ranking, Colonel Young is my character’s nemesis, there’s no doubt about that, and it’s quite serious. These guys are not having a petty conflict. Without giving too much away, there’s an episode, which we’ve yet to shoot, where a tragedy takes place aboard the Destiny and Rush tries to frame Young. They hate each other that much. Young is a soldier, while Rush is a scientist, and they just don’t get one another. As soon as they end up on the Destiny, the colonel is all about getting everyone home, and Rush is all about ‘How do we avoid that?’ So they’re against each other from day one and that’s been developing beautifully over the past six or seven weeks of filming." (Robert Carlyle, Reprint: Official Stargate Magazine Interview, Issue 29, July/August 2009)


--DeeKayP 23:09, 10 July 2009 (UTC)