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Stargate SG-1 Writer on Why They Resisted Sam/Jack Romance: "We Didn't Really Want to Go There"

Writer Heather E. Ash looks back on why a kiss scene wasn't meant to launch a romance.

By Matthew Jackson
Maj. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping) and Colonel Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) from Stargate SG-1

Over 10 seasons and more than 200 episodes, Stargate SG-1 had a lot of time to explore different storylines and personal stories surrounding the SG-1 crew. But despite all that time, there were some ideas that some of the show's writers did their best to resist, including giving in to the tension between Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) and Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping) and just delivering a full-on romantic subplot. 

“Not every male-female duo has to be romantic,” SG-1 writer Heather E. Ash recalled in a recent interview with The Companion. “It's a trope I’m quite done with. I’m kind of bummed that Scully and Mulder, you know... they made them succumb to ‘Yes, they’re going to be romantically involved because they work together because they're men and women.’ We didn't really want to go there. It’s a trope, it’s kind of sexist. Let’s just call it out. It’s really sexist and very, very male gaze in that weird thought that men and women can only be around each other in a sexual way."

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Ash, who joined the series in Season 3 beginning with the episode "Learning Curve" and became one of SG-1's most important writers and story editors, is referring specifically in the interview to the episode "Beneath the Surface" in Season 4. Thanks to the machinations of a slaver, the crew spends much of the episode trapped in a mine underground, brainwashed to believe that they're simply miners working away under the watchful eye of their overlords. That gave Ash the opportunity to write the SG-1 cast as versions of their characters without the full-on baggage of all their adventures.

“It was who are they if they don't know who they are? How consistent are they? There was a kiss between Sam and O’Neill that was going to be the first time they kind of gave in to the attraction," Ash explained.

Sam and Jack's Relationship in Stargate SG-1

Jack and Sam Stargate SG-1 Press

That kiss, of course, is not the only time SG-1 explored the potential attraction between Sam and Jack. Other episodes, including some after "Beneath the Surface," also delved into the possibility that they'd eventually get together (not to mention alternate universe versions of the characters who did get together in some realities). For Ash, though, having the two characters kiss wasn't a nod in the direction of a full-on relationship. It was more of a chance to prove that the actual spark of romance wasn't really there, something she shared with Tapping. 

“I know Amanda didn't want to deal with it and she was very much like, ‘Thank God, there’s a woman on set, a woman who appreciates science’ because I was a huge science geek," Ash explained. "When we put [the kiss] in my episode, it wasn’t to kind of have them [go] ‘Oh, they’re now going to get together.’ It was more like, ‘Oh, they're gonna kiss and it’s like kissing my brother,’ you know, like Back to the Future.”

So, the next time you're bingeing SG-1, just know that the kiss in "Beneath the Surface" is less about romance and more about proving that these characters shouldn't kiss. Because as Ash pointed out, they can't all be Mulder and Scully. 

Stargate SG-1 was a groundbreaking original series for SYFY, with the franchise spawning two spinoff series in Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe, and serving as a staple of SYFY's originals lineup for the better part of a decade.