This Is The Correct Order In Which To Watch The Stargate Franchise

Some franchises are so gigantic, with so many TV shows and movies, that it's difficult to know where to begin watching them. A perfect example of this principle in action is the Stargate franchise, which spans three decades, three TV shows, and three movies, plus an assortment of other non-canon material. Some of these plot arcs overlap one another, while others are prequels that are set in time before the events depicted in the first movie. As you can imagine, it gets pretty confusing sometimes, and some sci-fi fans who are interested in the Stargate world have wondered what's the best order to watch the series in. If you've wondered the same thing, never fear — we're here to help sort it all out.

First, let's explain that watching the Stargate franchise in chronological order isn't necessarily the best way to go. Another factor we're considering is binge-watch-ability. In other words, sometimes you don't want to get caught up with knowing the exact order of the episodes to watch. It's a lot nicer to at least watch through an entire season without getting caught up in the hyper-specific chronology. So the order here is roughly chronological, but it's set up for binge-watching. At the end of our list, there's one exception where we'll have to go back in time, but don't worry — even given that, it's still really easy to follow along.

Heads up: there are spoilers!

Stargate, the 1994 film

The only logical place to start is the 1994 movie Stargate, which is where any Stargate watch-through list should begin. This is the film that created and launched the franchise, and it's the first time audiences were introduced to the Stargate universe as a whole. The plot builds on the popular conspiracy theory that aliens built the pyramids in Egypt, essentially posing the question "What if aliens really did build them?" and proceeding to build a mythos around the wide-ranging implications of that central question from there.

Our protagonist is an archaeologist named Daniel Jackson (played by James Spader) who proclaims that the pyramids were built by aliens. The academic community essentially ostracizes him, but as it always tends to be with crackpot academics in the movies, Jackson is speaking the truth. The U.S. military gets their hands on an alien device that was buried in Egypt, which is called a Stargate. Eventually, Jackson teams up with Colonel Jack O'Neill (Kurt Russell) to unlock the device's secrets. As it turns out, the Stargate is something like a phone for the universe: You "dial" a planet and immediately visit it by stepping through. Jackson and O'Neill activate it, and end up being transported to another planet. This is no vacation, though: On the other world, they must defeat an evil alien dictator named Ra and return to Earth.

Stargate SG-1 seasons 1 through 7

After you finish the movie, you get to enjoy a long, uninterrupted stretch of the television show Stargate SG-1. The series spans ten seasons in total, but don't worry — you're only watching the first seven seasons for now. A spinoff of the film, Stargate SG-1 picks up roughly one year after the events depicted in the movie. In the pilot, the Stargate device activates and aliens walk through, killing and kidnapping U.S. military personnel. Naturally, the U.S. government reacts by setting up a secret base called Stargate Command to monitor the device and mount a rescue mission. The base is led by General Hammond (Don S. Davis), who pulls Jack O'Neill (now played by Richard Dean Anderson) out of retirement. O'Neill leads a successful rescue mission through the Stargate with the help of Daniel Jackson (now played by Michael Shanks), Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), and Teal'c (Christopher Judge).

It's clear after the mission that the Goa'uld are an aggressive, advanced alien species who plan to destroy and enslave humanity. To protect the Earth, the U.S. military assembles teams, the first of which is SG-1, to travel through the Stargate and explore the universe. Their goal is to make allies and acquire technology in their fight against the Goa'uld, but other storylines develop as the show progresses. During the first seven seasons, this four-person team operates in a top-secret base in Colorado, traveling to other planets and facing all manner of alien threats.

SG-1 season 8 and Atlantis season 1

Here's where things start to get a little complex, but it's nothing too crazy. While Stargate SG-1 was still running, MGM took advantage of its popularity by launching another spinoff TV series, called Stargate Atlantis. Both of these shows take place in the same universe and happen simultaneously. The good news is that SG-1 and Atantis are roughly independent of one another, since they take place in different galaxies and have entirely different storylines and ensemble casts, but there are a few episodes when the shows reference one another in some way. You don't have to weave the episodes, but it's probably best to start watching Stargate SG-1 season 8 and Stargate Atlantis season 1 together.

At the end of Stargate SG-1 season 7, the show introduces a lost city called Atlantis. The members of the team discover its location, which is extremely deep in space. Stargate Command sends a permanent team there, which sets up its own base and essentially lives as a colony in the city of Atlantis. Stargate SG-1 season 8 continues its threads, and by the season finale, the team finally defeats its two biggest opponents, the Goa'uld and the Replicators. Meanwhile, Stargate Atlantis season 1 introduces the new characters — and, of course, their own powerful enemy, the Wraith.

SG-1 season 9 and Atlantis season 2

Next up, watch Stargate SG-1 season 9 and Stargate Atlantis season 2. Again, you don't have to go back and forth between the shows, but it'll help to watch these seasons back to back since the events they depict take place at the same time. With many long-running shows, expanding salaries and assorted behind-the-scenes drama often leads to onscreen changes, and season 9 of Stargate-SG-1 is no exception; longtime viewers found themselves watching a markedly different show. Both Jack O'Neill and General Hammond became minor characters because the actors playing them wanted to step down. As a result, a new SG-1 team forms. Hank Landry (Beau Bridges) assumes control of Stargate Command, and newcomer Cameron Mitchell (Ben Browder) tries to lead a fractured SG-1.

Additionally, Vala Mal Doran (Claudia Black) becomes a main character: She's a very clever but morally ambiguous (human) alien with a strong infatuation with Doctor Jackson. We're also introduced to a new race of villains called the Ori, who learn of humans living in the Milky Way Galaxy. So they begin a violent crusade into our regions of the universe, planning to convert everyone to their religion, Origin. They're very technologically advanced, so SG-1 has to come up with innovative ways to defeat them.

Meanwhile, in Atlantis, the team tries to develop a retrovirus that will turn Wraith into humans. But their experiments aren't exactly perfect, with subjects producing ambiguous results at best. The Wraith, who feed on humans, learn of Earth's location and decide to fly there for its rich feeding grounds. Yikes.

SG-1 season 10 and Atlantis season 3

This is the last time you have to watch both shows at the same time, but once again, you are going to watch a season of Stargate SG-1 and a season of Stargate Atlantis together. Season 10 is the final season of Stargate SG-1, and it wraps up several plot threads. Without giving anything away, the series finale ties up a bunch of different long-running plot threads, including the fate of at least one fan-favorite couple and the climax of the battle against a series big bad. After dozens of episodes, that's finally it for Stargate SG-1 — now dust off your hands and head over to Stargate Atlantis season 3, which you should watch at the same time.

In Stargate Atlantis, the team manages to prevent the Wraith from assaulting Earth, but they also fail to develop a retrovirus for changing Wraith into humans. They continue to battle the Wraith through the season as well as yet another adversary — a new enemy called the Asurans, which are self-replicating nanobots. The Asurans threaten to destroy the city of Atlantis, so the team fires up the city's hyperdrives (yes, the city can freaking travel through space) and take off for the stars. But soon after this evasive move, the ship is damaged, and our heroes are left adrift in space.

Stargate: The Ark of Truth

Before you watch the next season of Stargate Atlantis (which has five seasons in total), you have to first watch Stargate: Ark of Truth, a direct-to-video movie whose plot picks up right after the end of Stargate SG-1.

Ark of Truth wraps up the Ori arc left dangling in the SG-1 series finale, effectively eliminating the enemy once and for all. The movie begins by explaining the existence of an ancient device known as the Ark of Truth, which can defeat the Ori. Naturally, the team is eager to find it, but unfortunately, it's on the Ori homeworld. Despite being a suicide mission, they visit the planet and retrieve the device. But in the process, they also resurrect an old enemy — the replicators.

The Ori gather their forces for a final assault on the Milky Way, but SG-1 activates the Ark of Truth, and it defeats the Ori, albeit in an unexpected way. The device shows the Priors that the Ori are not gods. The Priors are humans who serve the Ori and promote their religion, which includes plans to invade Earth. The effect of the Ark of Truth is that all Priors in the galaxy become aware of the truth and thus leave their religion and the Ori altogether, and the film ends with SG-1 preparing to go through the Stargate on yet another mission, implying the story will go on.

Atlantis season 4

Now that you've finished Ark of Truth, head back to Stargate Atlantis and watch season 4. At this time, there was a bit of a transition in the Stargate franchise. For one, Stargate Atlantis was airing alone, as its predecessor Stargate SG-1 was off the air. Secondly, there was quite a shift in the casting. Main character Elizabeth Weir (Torri Higginson) became incapacitated in-universe, making room for Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping) to become a main character. Carter crossed over from Stargate SG-1, but after the show ended, she continued to appear in Atlantis.

The show's tone and direction also take a turn, but this one is a little more dark. The city of Atlantis is adrift in space, and our heroes are struggling to make repairs. They continue to fight their two primary enemies, the Wraith and the Asurans, but in a rather genius move, they force the two opponents to fight one another. After the Atlantis team reprograms the Asurans, the Asurans begin fighting the Wraith, who are seemingly destroyed.

Stargate: Continuum

At this point, you only have one more season of Stargate Atlantis to get through before you finally finish the show, but after season four, you have to take a detour and watch Stargate: Continuum. This is another direct-to-video film, and while it's essentially a standalone story, it does fit chronologically between seasons four and five of Atlantis.

Stargate: Continuum completes the story arc of a certain character that we know from Stargate SG-1. Even though the evil Goa'uld are killed off in season 8 of Stargate SG-1, one survivor remained, named Ba'al. Ba'al continued to play a minor role in SG-1 seasons 9 and 10, occasionally joining forces with the Earthlings, but ultimately remains evil.

In Stargate: Continuum, the SG-1 team has finally cornered Ba'al, and they plan to kill him. However, this is a clone of Ba'al, and the real Ba'al has one last trick up his sleeve to gain universal power. Ba'al time-travels to 1939 and prevents the Stargate program on Earth from ever happening. Doing so creates an alternate timeline where Ba'al conquers the universe and will soon assault Earth. Fortunately, a few members of SG-1 remember the old timeline and successfully revert history back to the way things were originally. The movie ends with the first scene — Ba'al is about to be executed. This time, the characters are unaware of the previous events of an alternate timeline and go through with killing him, once and for all.

Atlantis season 5

Once you're done with Continuum, it's time to head back to Stargate Atlantis one last time. You're going to watch the fifth and final season of the show. Fortunately, the show does a pretty good job of wrapping up a bunch of plotlines. McKay, the snobbish geek, finally falls in love with Keller. The team finally defeats their archenemy, the Wraith. In the end, humans can finally form a government in the Pegasus Galaxy, free from the tyranny of enemy alien forces.

The series finale of Stargate Atlantis is pretty spectacular. The Wraith discover the location of Earth and head straight for it, planning to basically eat everyone there. So the team decides to fly the city of Atlantis to Earth and join in a massive fight to fend off the Wraith. After an epic fight and glorious victory, Atlantis lands in the Pacific Ocean next to San Francisco.

Stargate Universe seasons 1 and 2

After the conclusion of Stargate Atlantis, fans got another TV show called Stargate Universe, although it only lasted two seasons. And you get to watch the entire show without threading any other content into the mix.

The plot and characters are pretty separated from the rest of the franchise, essentially making the show its own independent story arc. In Stargate Universe, Earthlings discover that an old alien race called the Ancients sent an exploration ship deep into the universe — like super far into the universe. It's so freaking far that it's actually quite difficult to even get to the ship using the Stargate, and it's such a long journey that it turns out to be permanent.

A team from Stargate command decides to check it out, but then they get stuck on the ship. The show is a balance between figuring out how to get back, surviving, and also figuring out what the Ancients were trying to accomplish with this ship. As it turns out, the Ancients were investigating something extremely close to where the Big Bang occurred, and there's evidence that there was life prior to the Big Bang, or at least soon after.

Stargate Origins (prequel set in 1939)

Well, if you've been following along, we've been going in roughly chronological order through the Stargate franchise. Here is the one exception: Stargate Origins is a web series that serves as a prequel to everything you know so far. It takes you back in time to 1939, long before the events of the first movie. Origins is quite a different medium than the rest of the franchise, as its ten episodes are only ten minutes long apiece. If you've been binging so far, you'll be able to knock this series out really quickly.

The plot follows a young Catherine Langford, who is trying to unlock the secrets of the Stargate. In Stargate SG-1, Langford is a minor character and a good friend of Daniel Jackson. It's explained throughout Stargate SG-1 that Langford was key in helping establish the Stargate program. We now get to hear more details about that story in Stargate Origins. The main antagonist of the series is a Nazi who, surprise, knows about the Stargate and how it works.