Stargate Atlantis is a spin-off of the popular sci-fi show Stargate SG-1.
SG-1 spent its seventh season searching for a "lost city", which they believed was actually a ship belonging to the Ancients. Finding a way to travel to the city via a very long Stargate jump to the Pegasus galaxy, an expedition was put together to assess the new location, what threats it may have and the radical leftover technology there might be.
Stargate Atlantis is similar in tone to Stargate SG-1, but is successful in distinguishing itself from its predecessor, partly through an intriguing new enemy in the Wraith and through being very much Fish Out of Water as they have little actual knowledge of how the city and its technology works. The character dynamics are inverted from its parent show, as Atlantis is a scientific research group with military support. The Mission Commander Elizabeth Weir is a civilian, as are most of the scientists and doctors, with John Sheppard being the head of the military support team.
The show branches off from Stargate SG-1 after the first episode of season eight, and continues for five seasons. It is currently set to continue through a series of tie-in novels.
- Action Girl:
- Teyla, ascending to Action Mom in season 5.
- Amelia Banks, one of the control room technicians, is well-trained in kicboxing. She starts a relationship with Ronon after he sees her beating up one of Michael's hybrids.
- Actor Allusion: In "Brain Storm" Jennifer Keller, played by Jewel Staite, references her previous role (Kaylee of Firefly) and her fascination with strawberries.
Dr. Jennifer Keller: Seriously, have you tried these strawberries?
- The Alliance: One episode in Season 4 features a brief alliance between the Atlantis team, several Wraith hives, and the Travelers to destroy the Replicator homeworld. They succeed.
- All There in the Manual: Deleted scenes included on the DVD releases give a lot of supplemental information, and even tentatively conclude several plotlines that reach back to Stargate SG-1. Several producers have explained that, as far as they are concerned, the scenes are canon, but that they are not official since they never made it to air.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
- In the first season the Genii seize Atlantis for a brief time after the majority of the expedition evacuates to avoid a dangerous hurricane.
- The Replicators conquer the station (From the Ancients) and plan to return with the city to their homeworld to replace the ship that had been destroyed earlier in the third season.
- Michael seizes the gateroom and operational control of the city for a single episode, but never does manage to seize the entire facility.
- The Wraith pull one at the midway station, complete with one of them appearing on a computer screen and telling Sheppard that he has no chance of retaking the station.
- Alternate Reality Episode: "Vegas", the penultimate episode, which features Sheppard as a police detective in the titular city chasing a Wraith that crashed on Earth after a failed culling. Mostly a Diabolus Ex Machina episode to give an excuse for the Wraith to find Earth in the main reality.
- Amazon Brigade: The all-female expedition team from season five episode "Whispers".
- And Man Grew Proud: The pilot reveals that the Greek myth of Atlantis was inspired by the true story of the Ancient city: A great civilization that sank beneath the waves of the ocean. The Greeks simply did not understand that it happened on another planet.
- And Then What?: Todd the Wraith asks the heroes this with regards to their plan to genetically re-engineer the Wraith so that they no longer need to prey upon humans, as it is all that the Wraith have ever known
- Arbitrary Skepticism: "The Shrine"; "The Seer". Really, Col. Carter, remember that time you and SG-1 encountered the exact same situation?
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In a first season episode, Rodney is about to receive gene therapy, prompting the following exchange with Dr. Beckett:
Carson Beckett M. D.: [sighs] We believe ATA or Ancient Technology Activation is caused by a single gene that's always on. Instructing various cells in the body to produce a series of proteins and enzymes that interact with the skin, the nervous system and the brain. In this case we're using a mouse retrovirus to deliver the missing gene to your cells.
- Ascended Extra: Rodney McKay had a few minor appearances on SG-1 as a rival with pseudo-Unresolved Sexual Tension for Samantha Carter. The character intended to be the smart guy was originally to be called "Ingram" and be black, but was re-written as McKay after David Hewlett joined the cast.
- The Asteroid Thicket: They actually use the game as an expository device when they need to shoot their way through the "edge" of a thicket, and the situation become even worse when they point out how this thicket is actually less dense than the average asteroid field.
- As You Know: When Woolsey tries it with Ronon, Ronon says that he actually did not know that. Woolsey follows up that he previously explained it personally, but Ronon says he missed that meeting, and Woolsey says that he saw Ronon there.
- Atlantis: In this series, it's an ancient city-cized spaceship, rather than an ancient mythical continent.
- Back for the Dead: Lt. Ford is first Put on a Bus, brought back, then Put on a Bus anew and never heard from again for the rest of the series. It is more-or-less implied he did not survive his suicidal gambit to escape the Wraith, even though the door is left open just in case.
- Back from the Dead: Carson Beckett, who dies at the end of season three and returns at the end of season four in clone form.
- Badass Abnormal: Lieutenant Ford (And briefly Teyla and Ronon) gains increased strength and a resistance to Wraith stunner technology after he is injected with an enzyme that the Wraith produce as part of the feeding process. Too bad it also drove him insane.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: To emphasize that it takes place in an alternate universe, "Vegas" has every regular SG character (Except Walter Harriman) dressed in a suit instead of their traditional garb. This includes McKay, Keller and even Zelenka. Sheppard also wears a suit throughout the episode, but it is a dirty and disreputable affair to emphasize his squalid lifestyle.
- Badass in Distress:
- Sheppard is kidnapped and tortured by Kolya in order to extort Weir's help in toppling the Genii government; he is forced to team up with Kolya's Wraith prisoner (Todd) in order to escape while his team tries to find him.
- In "Sateda" Ronon is re-captured by the Wraith faction that turned him into a runner and is used again as hunting prey. He is saved by the arrival of the Atlantis team and a well-timed drone.
- Bait and Switch Tyrant: Woolsey taking over the command of Atlantis.
- Bare Your Midriff: Teyla in most of her "civilian" clothes.
- Bash Brothers: Ronon and Teal'c... versus the Wraith.
- Battle in the Center of the Mind: The entirety of "The Real World."
- Beach Episode: In the commentary for the first-season episode "Sanctuary", actresses Rachel Luttrell and Tori Higginson discuss the feasibility of having a beach episode. They mention that there must be at least one floor in Atlantis that is at sea-level and whose edge can serve as a boat/swimming dock to stand in for a sand beach. However, they also mention that they are happy that Atlantis lacks an actual beach, because if it did Teyla would probably wind up in a tiny bikini and Elizabeth would be dressed in an all-concealing parka.
- Beneficial Disease:
- Sheppard is resistant to Lucius Lavin's mind-control pheromones because he has a cold and cannot smell anything.
- When Jeannie, McKay's sister, is infected with nanites that will eventually render her comatose and braindead as they "fix" her epilepsy, McKay buys time to deactivate them by breaking her legs, forcing them to focus on that and keeping them away from her brain.
- Berserk Button: Ronon is extremely defensive of his Satedan past, and when Teal'c insulted Sateda's fight against the Wraith and blamed them for attracting the Wraith in the first place, Ronon drew his gun and violently declares that statement a lie. Teal'c calmly responds that yes, it was a lie, and surely Ronon would not think to draw a weapon if somebody mentioned such an obvious falsehood in his presence.
- Beware the Nice Ones:
- Elizabeth Weir repeatedly. First demonstrated by her smackdown to Kavanagh in "Thirty-Eight Minutes".
Elizabeth: If you waste one more minute that could be used to save the people on that ship because of your ego, I promise you I will dial the coordinates of a planet where you can be as self-important as you want to be. You think I'm kidding?
- Teyla. After Ronon manipulated her to arrange a meeting in order to assassinate Kell, the man who betrayed thousands of people on Sateda to save himself, Teyla calmly waits until they are in a quiet spot, then slams him against the wall and draws a knife against his throat.
Teyla: If you ever abuse my friendship again, I will not be so forgiving!
- Big Bad: Several Chief among them are the Wraith (among which no single Wraith has managed to claim the title of overall leader, although Todd managed to get pretty close even though he cooperated with Atlantis more often than against them), but there's also the Asurans (lead by Oberoth), Michael and his Hybrid faction, and the evil Asgard were to be another significant adversary before the cancellation.
- Big Damn Heroes:
- In "Miller's Crossing," Sheppard, Ronon and the NID burst in to save McKay and his sister when they have been kidnapped and she experimented upon.
Sheppard: It was a daring rescue.
- In the finale, Carson Beckett pulls this with Atlantis itself.
- Big Eater: McKay, whose hunger and obsessive eating is a frequent point of discussion and even, occasionally, a plot point.
- Bilingual Bonus: Zelenka's Czech is half context-relevant dialogue from the character, and half fourth-wall-breaking commentary from the actor.
- Bittersweet Ending: In "Vegas", an alternate John Sheppard lies dying alone in the desert, but his sacrifice actually saved the galaxy.
- Blue and Orange Morality: The Wraith do not really hate humans, it is just a normal predator/prey relationship that looks malevolent when seen from the "prey" side of the line.
- Body Count Competition: In "Whispers," they know that there were twelve monsters and are trying to figure out how many are left. Sheppard killed one and Sergeant Dusty killed two, which she points out automatically puts her in the lead.
- Body Horror: "The Seed"
- Boldly Coming: Sheppard, several times, and never without heavy Lampshade Hanging by Rodney:
McKay: Oh, how 1967 of you.
- This gem from "McKay and Mrs Miller";
- Booby Trap: The Runner in "Tracker" sets up at least three traps in the woods in order to keep himself from being tracked back to the shelter where he has hidden the wounded young girl he is caring for. After Ronon manages to dodge the second trap, he comments that "he's good."
- Brilliant but Lazy: When he is not being a Colonel Badass, Colonel Sheppard prefers to do as little work as possible and describes himself as lazy. Some of the show's funnier moments have been other characters reacting to his quick and often out-of-the-box thinking. In the alternate reality belonging to "Rod" McKay, their Sheppard averts this, being both an active member of Atlantis' Mensa chapter and resident Insufferable Genius.
- Bottle Episode: In the commentary for "Hot Zone," writer Martin Gero explains that a benefit of the vast sets constructed for the series is that they can produce bottle episodes (Episodes that are filmed entirely on already-constructed sets with a minimum of special effects) that still have the large scope of a regular episode. They specifically mentioned that episode and the preceding "Thirty-Eights Minutes," which still managed to feature several different groups of characters operating in distinct locations.
- Broken Pedestal:
- The Ancients. Over the course of the series you realise how utterly careless and arrogant they were and how badly they screwed up both the Pegasus Galaxy and the Milky Way. Lampshaded by McKay in "The Tao of Rodney" after an accident with an Ancient Device will either cause him to ascend or kill him.
McKay: That’s why the Ancients didn’t put it into common use! It’s just one more in a long line of abysmal, over-ambitious failures! Oh God. I’m a dead man!
- The Vanir, a rogue faction of Asgard who were trapped in the Pegasus Galaxy after their intergalactic ships were destroyed and willing to do anything to ensure their own survival. When Sheppard and Rodney call them out on their actions, that they're the Asgard and supposed to be the good guys, their response is to point out how well that mentality helped their brethren become extinct in the Milky Way.
- Bulletproof Human Shield: When Sheppard is being chased by the Genii in "Remnants" he captures one with a tree snare and hides behind his hanging body while he shoots the other two soldiers.
- Bury Your Gays: The only Atlantis personnel to die in "Whispers" is Captain Vega, who had been implied (In deleted scenes) to be a lesbian.
- California Doubling: Or rather Vancouver, par for the course for Stargate.
- Call Back: When Colonel Carter is packing her equipment at the SGC in preparation for taking command of Atlantis, Teal'c gives her a farewell speech, which culminates with the statement that "undomesticated equines" (Wild Horses) could not keep him from visiting her. She laughs and says "nice Call Back;" Teal'c had first referred to horses in such a manner back in season one of Stargate SG-1.
- Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Major Sheppard and Sergeant Bates in the first season. Bates, a Marine non-com, is much more blunt than Sheppard, and spends much of the first season arguing with him over what he sees as too-lenient restrictions on the Athosians, who Bates see as a security risk.
- The Cast Showoff: Yes, that really is Rachel Luttrell singing in the episode "Critical Mass".
- Casual Danger Dialogue: He is rarely casual about it, keeping with his usual manic and panicked personality, but McKay is frequently sidetracked by random or inane conversations in the midst of high-pressure or dangerous situations. The other members of the team frequently need to remind him that now is not the time to pursue that train of thought.
- Caught with Your Pants Down: In "Grace Under Pressure," Rodney McKay is badly injured and hallucinates seeing his long-time crush, Samantha Carter. Even though he is well aware that she is just a figment of his imagination, he works with 'her' to try to help his situation. When 'Samantha' comes up with an idea that gives him much-needed extra time, he jumps up and hugs 'her'. He suddenly turns serious and moves in for an amorous kiss, but 'Samantha' spoils the mood by pointing out, "You do realize what you're doing here, right?" Possibly the only example where the person who caught him was actually his own subconscious.
- The Cavalry: "The Siege," the season one finale and season two opener, sees the US Marines arrive to defend Atlantis from Wraith attack, and then the USS Daedalus arrives to drive off the remaining forces.
- Celebrity Star: The world's greatest physicists are trapped in a building with an Applied Phlebotinum device that is about to kill them all. Said physicists include the director of the Hayden Planetarium and Stephen Hawking. So of course, out of all of them, the one fellow Dr. McKay chooses to help him save the day is Bill Nye the Science Guy. The episode also allows for a Funny Moments when Rodney asks Neil deGrasse Tyson if he has made any children cry today.
McKay: Hey, at least I didn't declassify Pluto from planet status. Way to make all the little kids cry, Neil. That make you feel like a big man?
- The Chains of Commanding: Sheppard points out to prospective-queen Harmony that being in charge is not fun and games, and that you need to put the needs of your people ahead of your own essentially all the time.
- Characterization Marches On: When Rodney McKay was first introduced on SG-1 he was a much more smug, self-confident character with noted sexism. Starting with the pilot of Atlantis, his general self-confidence transformed into intellectual arrogance and he became more panicked and unsure when it came to women.
- Chekhov's Gun: In "Midway", Ronan and Teal'c find themselves inside a room with a couple of spacesuits. By the end, Sheppard manages to avoid death by entering one of these.
- City of Weirdos: "Vegas" points out how very easy it would be for a Wraith to hang out in Las Vegas and have nobody notice.
- Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: Sheppard does it in "Quarantine".
- Clingy MacGuffin: In "Tracker", the Runner Kyrik was in possession of an ancient armband artifact that fused onto him, and allows him to teleport long distances as long as it's powered up.
- Cloning Blues: Carson's clone never knew he was a clone until he managed to make it back to Atlantis.
- Colonel Badass: John Sheppard, Samantha Carter, Steven Caldwell and Abraham Ellis are all Colonels in charge of different aspects of the Atlantis expedition. When they are all in the same room at the same time, Hilarity Ensues.
- Command Roster: Made interesting as various mission commanders take control of the Atlantis expedition, which rearranges the dynamic.
- Conflict Killer: Teyla and Sergant Bates had a growing conflict throughout season one, where Bates believed that Teyla was a security risk that was feeding information to the Wraith, either willingly or subconsciously. This came to a head in "The Siege, Part 1" where they exchanged physical blows after Bates made an explicit accusation after a mission went wrong. Later in the episode Bates was discovered beaten so severely that Beckett felt it was best to keep him in a medically induced coma, attacked by a Wraith that had secretly been in the city for weeks; after the beating he was shipped out of the base for treatment and never returned to Atlantis.
- Continuity Porn: In "Doppplerganger", Carter refers to the events of "Cold Lazarus", where they encountered a similar form of Crystal Entity that briefly impersonated Jack O'Neill, "The Gatekeeper" which was where they first acquired Virtual Reality technology, as well as her time being taken over by an alien entity in "Entity".
- Cool Gate: It is Stargate Atlantis.
- Courtroom Episode: "Inquisition"
- Crazy Enough to Work: When Martin Gero and Brad Wright were discussing the conclusion to "Hot Zone," the original plan had been for the charactes to simply generate an electro-magnetic pulse using equipment in McKay's lab. After realizing that this idea did not have much emotional power, Wright mentioned that nuclear explosions generate an EMP and Gero commented that that was crazy. According to the commentary for the episode, Wright's response was "so crazy it just might work."
- Cure for Cancer: When McKay and his sister reprogram Replicator nanites, they celebrate it as a possible cure for cancer. Then the nanites kill the person anyway.
- The Danza: Chuck the Technician, played by Chuck Campbell. He got his name when Torri Higgenson accidentally called him by his real name in a scene instead of his character's rank (Sergeant) and it was left in as a Sure Why Not.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Hermiod stands out as being the only Asgard we have ever seen to repeatedly snark and express outright annoyance at humanity, especially with McKay.
- Seems to have been a requirement to join the Atlantis expedition, but most of the time it is Sheppard.
- Todd the Wraith is the one Wraith to really seem to enjoy deadpan sarcasm.
- Decapitation Presentation: In "The Last Man", Michael does this with the head of a Wraith queen.
- Death By Pragmatism: Used with many Shoot the Dog moments.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Atlantis tends to bring out the best in people.
- Woolsey, continuing his arc from SG-1, noticably lightens up and becomes less bureaucratic from his earlier appearances, even the producers referred it as "his redemption".
- McKay. Lampshaded in The Defiant One where someone points out that he is less insufferable, braver and less self-centred, compared to the cowardly insufferable asshole he used to be in SG-1. Especially evident in the episode "McKay and Mrs. Miller", where McKay finally admits that he does love his sister Jeannie, wants to be part of her life and acknowledges his fault and regret they were estranged for so long.
- Ronon Dex. His homeworld was wiped out, the woman he loved killed in front of him, and he spent several years constantly hunted by the Wraith and socially isolated; he began to lighten up almost as soon as he got a chance to live again and not just survive.
- Deliberately Cute Child: Harmony has Sheppard wrapped around her finger with the proper application of tears and insinuations that McKay is the one who ate his power bar.
- Delivery Guy: McKay to Teyla in the season 5 opener.
- Department of Redundancy Department: When Zelenka explains to Elizabeth that the Ancient computer system is incredibly redundant and difficult to erase, Elizabeth repeats his 'redundant' statement right back to him. Zelenka explains how that never gets old.
- Development Hell: Production for the direct to DVD film Extinction has been put on hold indefinitely due to the cancellation of Stargate Universe.
- Die Hard on an X: "The Prodigal". The episode even ends with Teyla tossing
Hans GruberMichael off the top floor of the Atlantis main tower.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: McKay does it so frequently that listing individual examples here is simply impractical and would take up half the page. Lampshaded in "Trio," where Carter points out that if Keller had not interrupted him, he would have gone on all day.
- Dirty Cop: In "Vegas," Detective John Sheppard barely scrapes by on his performance reviews, has illegal gambling debts, and quits his job to skip town after stealing money from a crime scene.
- Discount Lesbians: Depending on how you count these things, "Duet" features either the Stargate franchise's first gay kiss or first lesbian kiss, but not both. Laura Cadman, whose conciousness was trapped in the body of Rodney McKay, took control of his body and kissed both Katie Brown and Carson Beckett.
- Distant Prologue: "Rising"
- Doctor. Doctor. Doctor.: John Sheppard, Samantha Carter, Steven Caldwell and Abraham Ellis are all Colonels. Leads to a Funny Moments when all of them are put in the same room and greet each other.
- Don't Make Me Destroy You: Otho gets Sheppard to hand over his weapons and agree to accompany him to the Tower by pleading that he think of his life and the lives of the surrounding civilians, many of whom would be killed if Sheppard tried to resist.
- Dramatic Space Drifting: Two examples, both involving Asuran replicators (nanite robots).
- The first is after an Asuran scientist does a Heel Face Turn. When the other replicators detect this they wirelessly reprogram him, causing him to attack the Atlantis team. They beam him into outer space, with the episode closing on a shot of him floating around.
- The second is of Dr. Weir (now turned replicator) and her Ascension-seeking brethren floating in space after she tricked them into following her through the Stargate to protect the rest of the expedition.
- Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: Each side wears their respective military uniform, with a few off-worlders in native dress thrown in for variety. The good guys wear regular military clothes and the Wraith wear leather. And going the other way, the expedition's baggy battledress contrasts nicely with the Genii and their habit of Putting on the Reich.
- The Dutiful Son: Sheppard's brother in "Outcast", who stayed behind to take care of the family business while Sheppard was out on military ventures across the world after having a fallout with his father. They eventually manage to reconcile after their father's death.
- Early-Bird Cameo: SG-1's "Merlin" slips in an appearance before he is even alluded to on the mothership show.
- Early Installment Weirdness: When the Genii were originally introduced they maintaned a facade as primitive farmers in order to remain hidden from the Wraith, keeping up the charade even with regular trading partners and "friends." The facade was completely dropped by season two, where the Genii were known as a militaristic society to the galaxy at large, and had been for several decades.
- Embarrassing First Name: Meredith Rodney McKay
- The Ending Changes Everything: Sheppard and Woolsey's plots in "Remnants" began to deconstruct a little more than halfway through the episode, but it is only in the final scene that we learn McKay's plot was also being manipulated by the AI, and Zelenka was never actually in the episode at all.
- Enemy Mine: "Common Ground," the introductory episode of Todd the Wraith, featured him and Sheppard working together to escape a Genii base. This would lay the foundation for later episodes, where Todd would collaborate with Atlantis against both Michael and the Replicators.
- Establishing Character Moment:
- Before you knew his name you only knew Sheppard as the one to save Jack O'Neill's life from a wayward Ancient attack drone.
- Ronon's introductory episode has him getting into a fistfight with Ford (who was inhumanly strong and crazy because of a Psycho Serum accident) and not only matching him in combat, but seemed to have the edge.
- Colonel Ellis, commander of the Apollo, clashes with the Atlantis expedition personnel over how to deal with the Replicators and dismisses McKay's technical abilities as a potential weapon, highlighting how he is less cooperative and used to the Pegasus galaxy than Colonel Caldwell.
- Everything's Better with Spinning: Subverted: The symbol ring on the Pegasus gates are stationary and the illuminated panels simply give the illusion of spinning.
- Evil Is Visceral: The Wraith use Organic Technology and are not very pretty themselves.
- Face Death with Dignity: Colonel Marshall Sumner, USMC, calmly follows the Wraith sent to collect him from his cell, and faces the Wraith Queen without showing fear or asking for mercy. The Queen herself notes that she has not tasted such valor in many years.
- Face Heel Turn: Otho towards the conclusion of "The Tower."
- Fake American: Most of the main cast are Canadians playing Americans. In the original cast, only Joe Flanigan (American playing an American) and David Hewlett (Canadian playing a Canadian) were actually playing their correct nationalities. They are, by coincidence, also the only characters to appear in every episode of the series.
- Fake Nationality: Sort of. Many of the actors were born in the countries that their characters are from, but they emigrated to Canada at young ages.
- Zelenka. David Nykl was born in the Czech Republic, but having lived most of his life in Canada he is not using his normal accent.
- Paul McGillion (Carson Beckett); born in Scotland, grew up in Canada, and has spent time back and forth.
- Fan Service: McKay conjures up an image of Col. Carter to act as a conversation/idea foil for himself as he tries to figure a way out of a sinking Puddle Jumper. At one point he imagines her in nothing but a skimpy pink bathing suit. Yes, Rodney creates his own fanservice and the audience gets to observe for free. Hewlett has remarked at conventions that, due to having recently given birth, Amanda Tapping admitted herself that she didn't fit in her own bra anymore. Hewlett then spent the entire shoot looking in any direction except Tapping's.
- Fakeout Escape: Sheppard uses this in "Aurora" to escape from a virtual-reality cell.
- Famous Last Words: When Peter Grodin stays behind to bring the Ancient Satellite Weapon online, he laments that his only regret is that he was unable to get enough power to fire off a second volley and take down another Wraith Hiveship;
Dr. Peter Grodin: "I'm sorry."
- Five-Man Band: The Atlantis Team;
- Flip Personality: When Cadman is trapped in McKay's body in "Duet", they act like this.
- Floating Continent: Atlantis is both a floating city and a spaceship; in the original mythology described by Plato, it was a large island/small continent on Earth.
- Food and Animal Attraction: Sheppard discovers a planet inhabited by glowing dots that are attracted to his power-bars. Since they also register strongly on Lantean life-signs detectors, he ends up exploiting this to kill a Wraith: he attracts a bunch of the creatures, tosses the power-bar to the wraith, and then radios the puddle-jumper sent to rescue him, telling them to shoot at the strongest life sign they see.
- Force Field Door: Though Atlantis is at least sensible enough to have physical bars with the forcefields between them.
- Foreign Language Tirade:
- Zelenka is known to rant in Czech when frustrated.
- Hermiod frequently complains about humanity in Asgard, which is actually just English in reverse.
- Geeky Turn On: Dr. Weir distracts a scientist by talking about World of Warcraft. Incompetently.
- Genre Savvy: Sheppard repeatedly show an awareness of sci-fi cliches and what roles they play, that Ronon is "Chewie" and Beckett is "McCoy".
- Get Back to the Future: "Before I Sleep" exists at the nexus of this trope, Trapped in the Past, and The Slow Path.
- Get It Over With: The third-season episode 'Common Ground', where the Wraith Todd is first introduced. After repeatedly feeding on Sheppard to the point that he has almost become a desiccated corpse, Sheppard intones him to do this. Then Todd gives back all the life-energy he took from him because he helped him escape from a Genii prison.
Sheppard: Finish it.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: Sheppard playing poker with a Wraith, though admittedly it was an alternate reality.
- Good Is Not Dumb: Col. Sheppard; Rodney McKay was quite surprised to find that Sheppard has a Mensa-worthy IQ.
- Good News, Bad News:
McKay: OK, I got bad news and I got good news.
- Grappling Hook Pistol: When they are trapped in a collapsed mining facility, Carter, Keller and McKay try to climb out using a makeshift grappling hook. They joke about making a Grappling Hook Pistol part of the standard mission gear for all off-world missions.
- Greater Need Than Mine: After the control room of Atlantis is blown up (again), Col. Sheppard finds Ronon sitting on the ground with a large shard of glass sticking out of his shoulder. Sheppard asks him why none of the medics are attending to him, and Ronon says he wouldn't let them, because others in the room need help more. Shepherd immediately calls BS on this, and orders one of the medics to see to Ronon's injuries. Ronon actually loves to pull this when he gets injured. Which isn't very often, actually.
- Guile Hero: The Atlantis team.
- Gunship Rescue: "The Siege, Part 3" opens with the Daedalus emerging from hyperspace to save Atlantis from the Wraith assault.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: Increasingly so as the series went on. By season five virtually the entire main cast are wearing as their standard off-world outfits: black leather jackets (McKay, Keller, and occasionally Sheppard), black leather jacket and pants (Teyla), or black leather trenchcoats (Ronon). Then there's the Wraith...
- Hellish Pupils: The Wraith.
- Hero of Another Story: Major Lorne
- Heroic Sacrifice:
- Henry Wallace in "Miller's Crossing." We are shown the moments leading up to his decision to offer his life to the starving wraith, and then it cuts to his body being wheeled out in a bag.
- Griffin in "Grace Under Pressure" who defied McKay's order and forcibly sealed him in the rear compartment of the Jumper, knowing full well that this was a death sentence as the cockpit window was seconds from cracking and pouring in several-hundred feet of ocean water.
- Hero Worshipper: Halling calls Teyla out on this in "Suspicion".
Halling: [The Atlantis expedition] may reside here Teyla, but they are not the Ancestors. No matter how much you wish them to be!
- Hey, You: When Woolsey is being reviewed and graded by the IOA he attempts to show how well he has settled in by addressing Atlantis personnel by their first names and referencing individual hobbies that they have. However, he accidentally calls Chuck "Chet" and, when Chuck corrects him, spends the rest of the episode referring to him as "you."
"There is no Chet."
- Hidden Depths: Sheppard. He off-handedly mentions he passed the Mensa test, solved a brainteaser that even Rodney could not and one of the few items he took with him to Atlantis was a copy of War and Peace.
- Hide Your Lesbians: Captain Alicia Vega, introduced in the premier episode of season five, was intended to be first canonically gay character in the Stargate verse. However, the only implication of this fact was a single scene at the end of the episode where, after unzipping her jacket, Vega invited Jennifer Keller to join her for a drink. This scene, and all of Vega's other scenes in the episode except for an exchange with Colonel Carter, was deleted from the episode before airing, and she was killed in her next appearance.
- Hive Caste System: The Wraith are divided into Queens at the highest strata (typically just one per Hiveship), followed by male Wraith (functioning in officer and science capacities), and Wraith soldiers at the bottom, who are under the constant mental influence of the higher groups.
- Hollywood Giftwrap: McKay gives the pregnant Teyla a baby present wrapped this way: an iPod filled with recordings of his genius, so she can listen to them and make her son smarter in the womb.
- Horror Hunger: The Wraith, who can only feed on the live energy of humans or other Wraith.
- Hospital Hottie: Drs. Beckett and Keller
- Hot Amazon: Ronon shows an attraction to, and starts a (minor) relationship with, Amelia Banks after he sees her beat up one of Michael's hybrids in "The Prodigal."
- Hot Scientist: Sam Carter
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: The Wraith occasionally capture humans and, instead of feeding on them, release them as "Runners." Runners have a tracking device planted within their bodies and are hunted from planet to planet.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- O'Neill cites Sheppard's record of having disobeyed orders, only to be immediately called on his own record of the same by Weir.
- From the episode "McKay and Mrs. Miller":
Jeannie: Good work, Radek.
- Idiot Ball: The writers literally could not think of a way to make the plot of "Midway" happen, so they recorded new dialogue for McKay that was inserted into the "Previously on..." opening with clips from "The Return" where he specifically mentions how they are not taking the standard precautions that they have taken on every other gate under SGC control.
- I Have Boobs - You Must Obey!: McKay believes that the way to get a pair of ten year old boys to help them out of danger is for Carter to lift up her shirt, since that is how you get a male kids attention. Carter points out that they can survive without resorting to that.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Zadek tries this with Ellia in "Instinct". It doesn't work.
- I Like Those Odds: Often stated by Ronon.
Caldwell: "I warn you as a Go'uld I possess the strength of many men."
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Carson often in season 1, specifically in "The Brotherhood".
- "For the last time, I'm a doctor, not a bloody fighter pilot!"
- "I'm a bloody medical doctor, not a magician!"
- Immune to Bullets:
- The Wraith (at first, before Lowered Monster Difficulty set in). Later seasons Hand Wave the Wraiths increased vulnerability to bullets by explaining that their healing ability is directly proportional to how recently they have fed; with more Wraith awake and less food to go around, they begin to lose their advantage.
- The Asurans.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Averted, the Wraith frequently manage to shoot Atlantis personnel, including the stars of the show, but since they only use stunners the cast can keep coming back for more.
- Impossible Task Instantly Accomplished: McKay uses this as a Badass Boast.
"I'm Dr. Rodney McKay, alright? Difficult takes a few seconds; impossible, a few minutes."
- Infinite Supplies: Throughout the first season the expedition refers to the problems that will arise when their supplies run low due to their isolation from Earth, but they never actually run into a problem.
- Inflationary Dialogue: Sheppard's claims about how many Wraith he killed in "Sateda".
- Innocent Innuendo: This exchange from episode 5.15, as Richard Woolsey sees that a women he has been flirting with found his balcony hang-out spot:
Woolsey: You’ve poached my private spot!
- Instant Expert: Sheppard when it comes to Ancient Technology. He was even recruited after accidentally sitting in the Ancient Control Platform in Antartica, managing not only to activate it but demonstrate an exceptional level of control, despite having no idea what he was doing!
- Instant Sedation: When Sheppard, McKay and an Atlantis assault team are gassed by the Genii, they all collapse immediately but suffer no long-term effects.
- Insufferable Genius:
- The expedition's science teams are an army of Insufferable Geniuses, with Rodney McKay as their supreme leader. The two exceptions are Carson Beckett and Radek Zelenka, who are just as smart as the rest, but are rather humble about it.
- Inverted in Rod McKay's reality, where Rodney is humble, but their version of Sheppard is constantly showing off his intelligence.
- Interdimensional Travel Device: In "The Daedalus Variations", an alternate McKay builds an "alternate reality drive" which has this function. The only problem is, it does not have an off switch or any way to control which reality it jumps into. This leads to one universe's worth of main characters being stranded in the wrong reality and another universe's worth dying of starvation before they can figure it out, before the actual main characters bootstrap on their research and discover a way to make it backtrack through the realities it came from (so they can at least get home, if not actually exploit the drive).
- Ironic Echo: When Ronon refuses Teal'c's help in learning to handle the I.O.A. he insists that he knows "how to play the game." In response, Teal'c insults Ronon's Satedan history and Ronon draws his gun in anger. Teal'c calmly comments that Ronon would never dream of doing such a thing in his upcoming I.O.A. meeting since he does, of course, know "how to play the game."
- Jerkass: Kavanagh, described by the producers as the most irritating person in three galaxies.
Hermiod: Doctor Kavanagh?
- Jerkass Has a Point: Not one specific point, but a general mentality. When Teyla finally has enough of Sergeant Bates' insinuations that she is either a willing traitor or unwilling information leak, Sheppard points out that Bates is the head of base security and it is his job to look for potential threats.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
- Rodney, oh so much Rodney.
- In "Tracker," when Keller has been kidnapped by a Runner in order to treat the young girl in his care, the child explains that he is not really mean, he just acts that way. Keller comments that she knows someone just the same, but the nature of the episode means that she could be talking about Rodney or Ronon.
- The Juggernaut: The upgraded Wraith ship in the Grand Finale.
- Juggling Loaded Guns: Pretty much every time Rodney McKay fires a gun. Justified since he has no military experience and no training with firearms. In one episode, he frantically asks someone else what the hell he is supposed to do when his gun runs out of bullets. His best part was when he tried to shoot a Wraith, and hit the magazine release instead.
- Kangaroo Court: The trial in "Inquisition". They arguably could have convicted Atlantis fairly on the charges, but instead they had one war survivor looking for a scapegoat and another judge being bribed by the Genii to vote guilty.
- Kind Restraints: Sheppard is confined to his room while turning into the iratis bug, he asked for it, he warned everyone, yet no one seemed to take him seriously.
- Kingpin in His Gym: When we are first introduced to him, Commander Kolya of the Genii is having a sparring session with some of his military subordinates.
- Kissing Under the Influence:
- In "Duet," McKay had the conciousness of Laura Cadman, a Marine, trapped within his mind. She was able to take control of his body for brief moments, longer if he was sleeping or voluntarily surrendered control, and she twice took the opportunity to kiss other members of the Atlantis expedition. First she kissed Katie Brown, a botanist with whom Rodney had a date, and then she kissed Carson Beckett right before the dangerous experiment that would either restore her to her own body, or kill her and Rodney both.
- When Sheppard was infected by Beckett's prototype Wraith retrovirus he kissed Teyla when he began to lose his self-control.
- While possessed by ancient warrior entities, Phebus (Elizabeth) kisses Thalen (Sheppard) in order to convince the other Atlantis personnel present that they were husband and wife.
- Last of His Kind: Ronon initally assumed he was the last of the Satedans. "Reunion" reveals that 300 Satedans survived in shelters outside of the city and migrated to other world such as Belkan and Manaria when they realised that their was nothing left to rebuild.
Solen Sincha: Drink and rejoice Ronon! You Are Not Alone!
- Last-Name Basis: McKay frequently addresses Sheppard by his military rank as a form of respect.
- Left It In: In "Letters from Pegasus", McKay gives a videotaped message to Ford, who is editing a bunch of these messages together to send back to Earth. McKay recorded the message while severely sleep-deprived, so it is full of rambling, back-tracking, and McKay telling Ford to edit out the last thing he just said.
- Life Drinker: All the Wraith, who drain the life from their victims and have no natural lifespan if they are well-fed. The process is referred to as "feeding," and the victim visibly ages during the process; those who are fed on until death become mummified husks. The Wraith refer to the effect on the victim as "taking years" from the victim, although Beckett explains that the aging process is actually due to a complex chemical interaction that humans do not completely understand.
- Littlest Cancer Patient: Sharon from "Miller's Crossing." She does not make it.
- Love Triangle: At the end of season four and the beginning of season five, Ronon and Rodney both begin to have feelings for Keller, and in "Tracker" they admit their feelings to each other and agree to allow Keller to make the decision. She ultimately choses Rodney, but a deleted scene in "Trio" (lightly) implies that it was because Ronon took too long to make a move after their first spark in "Quarantine."
- Lowered Monster Difficulty:
- The Wraith were first introduced as the ultimate evil in the universe. They were the race that killed the Ancients, and the Atlantis team spent much of the first few seasons running and hiding from them. They were practically Immune to Bullets due to their rapid Healing Factor, requiring huge amounts of firepower to bring down, and just two of their Hiveships posed enough of a threat to Atlantis to warrant the team trying to blow the place up themselves, rather than let them get their hands on it. After a couple seasons, however, they die just as easily from a burst of P90 fire as any other enemy Mook, although they sometimes can eat a few pistol rounds and keep coming, and their ships tend to go down even easier. By the series finale, Sheppard is casually mocking most of the Wraith he comes into contact with.
- The first attack by the Mist Monsters in "Whispers" manages to grab Captain Vega in total silence, without being seen by the other people present even though they were looking at her at the time, and kill her in the few seconds before the other team members catch up. The Monsters never manage to kill another Atlantis member in the rest of the episode.
- Mama Bear: Teyla. Threaten her child, get thrown off a skyscraper.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Richard Woolsey, perennial stuffed-shirt bureaucrat, meets a beautiful scientist aboard Atlantis who persuades him to go to movie night and come out of his shell. Too bad she is a mental projection from an AI that was created after gleaning his romantic and sexual desires from his mind.
- Married to the Job: The reason Sheppard and his ex-wife Nancy divorced was because due to the inherent danger of his job, she dreaded the inevitable phone call that Sheppard would not make it home. Interestingly enough, said ex-wife fell into this trope with her new boyfriend due to the nature of her job at Homeland Security. She even tells Sheppard that she now understands what it's like.
- Mauve Shirt:
- Dr. Peter Grodin was a science officer introduced in "Rising" that served as Elizabeth Weir's assistant and primary control room technician during the first season. Craig Veroni had previously appeared in the episode "Grace" of Stargate SG-1, but it was never confirmed if it was the same character or the same actor playing two different people.
- Sergeant Bates is appointed by Dr. Weir as head of Atlantis security, and spends much of season one butting heads with Major Sheppard over how to treat the Athosians as a potential security risk.
- Chuck the Technician was a nameless character for the first three seasons until Torri Higginson accidentally called him by the actor's first name and that was kept in the show. He recurred until the finale as one of Atlantis's operators and technicians.
- Amelia Banks was a recurring technician introduced in the fourth season; in the fifth season she was given personal hobbies and a minor relationship with Ronon.
- Meaningful Echo: When Colonel Dillon Everett was sent to Atlantis to oversee the city's defense he clashed with Dr. Weir, and when he eventually commended her on her negotiations with the Genii she wryly remarked that "Maybe there's hope for me yet." Several episodes later, when Dr. Weir congratulates Colonel Steven Caldwell, the commander of the Daedalus that she had repeatedly clashed with, on his own performance, he also remarks that "maybe there is hope for me yet."
- Meaningful Name: Ronon is phonetically similar to ronin, the Japanese word for a Samurai warrior without a master, Ronon's situation when the expedition first encountered him.
- Medieval Stasis: Justified, the Wraith destroy any civilization which is advanced enough to pose a threat.
- Mental Story: In "Home", the main characters apparently manage to return to Earth, but it is actually an illusion of Earth fabricated from the memories in their heads.
- Mercy Kill: Major Sheppard kills Colonel Sumner after he had been fed upon by the Wraith. When Colonel Dillon Everett, a friend of Sumner's, arrives on Atlantis, he wonders just what made Sheppard feel that, after only knowing Sumner for a few days, he was qualified to make that call. When Everett himself is fed on by a Wraith he tells Sheppard that he made the right call, and wishes that Sheppard had been there for him.
- Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Rodney McKay and his talents of obliterating planets, solar systems, alternate universes....
- Mile-High Club: McKay and Keller were implied to have joined at the end of "Brain Storm".
- Monster Clown:
- Mentioned half-jokingly by Sheppard when one of the natives asks him if he is afraid of the Wraith. He says no, what he is really afraid of is clowns, eventually adding he is at war with them. They try to fight them off, he says, but there are hundreds of them, pouring out of Volkswagens.
- Brought out for real when Rodney McKay and Sheppard are being attacked by an entity that feeds on their worst nightmares: rowing a boat through a stormy whale-infested sea... with a clown sitting behind them.
- Moral Dissonance: Too much to list here. Lampshaded occasionally... ONLY occasionally.
- Mr. Fanservice: Colonel Sheppard; Ronon Dex
- Ms. Fanservice: Teyla's workout outfit is pretty much designed to make her this, even though the majority of her fanbase is female. At one point during the filming of a fight scene the director had Rachel Luttrell reposition herself to more prominently display her body to the camera.
- Multinational Team: You can have fun spotting the flags on the base uniforms.
- Multitasked Conversation: When Woolsey is seeing the mental projection of an AI in "Remnants" he tries to hide it from the other Atlantis personnel since it would make him seem crazy. When he eventually winds up talking to real people and the AI at the same time he tries to pretend that his (Almost panicked) dialogue with the AI is meant for the real person.
- My Greatest Failure:
- Sheppard received a black mark on his service record, which was referenced as far back as the pilot, when he disobeyed orders in an attempt to rescue a downed pilot in Afghanistan. He did not make it.
- Ronon blames himself for bringing the Wraith to a village where he once spent the night when he was Runner.
- McKay destroyed 5/6 of a solar system when he let his hubris get the better of his judgement.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits: When Sheppard meets McKay's sister, McKay's first words are to point out that she is married and she is his sister. When Sheppard gets defensive, McKay points out that he knows what Sheppard is like, "Kirk."
- Neglectful Precursors: The Ancients and how. They accidentally created the Wraith, created the Asuran replicators, and for some reason, a device that creates tumours in your body that explode. After a few seasons many characters no longer regard them as the wisest of all species.
- Never Heard That One Before: When Zelenka tells Elizabeth that the Ancient computer system is incredibly redundant, Elizabeth repeats the 'redundant' statement right back to him and he explains how that joke never gets old.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Atlantis team woke up the Wraith prematurely when they arrived, who feed on many humans. They created Michael, who killed many humans, quite a few of them by using the Hoffan drug that the Atlantis team helped develop three seasons earlier. They reprogrammed the Asurans to attack the Wraith... who did so by killing humans (their food). Finally, they gave the Lost Tribe the means to defeat the Wraith which - you guessed it - caused the deaths of many of humans. In other words, they are basically responsible for almost every recurring villain in the show.
- Nice to the Waiter: Woolsey attempts to show the IOA that he has settled into his position as leader of Atlantis by demonstrating that he not only knows the first names of the technicians operating the city, but also their individual hobbies. This backfires when he accidentally calls Chuck "Chet" and later in the episode has to fall back on calling him "you".
- Not Helping Your Case: Carter asks Teal'c to travel to Atlantis in order to help tutor Ronon in how to properly deal with the I.O.A., who has a new member that is insisting on personal interviews with all aliens serving on SG teams. Ronon, however, insists that he does not need any such help, since he "knows how to play the game." So, Teal'c insults Ronon's Satedan history and drives Ronon to draw his gun; which of course he would never do, since he knows how to play the game.
- Not That Kind of Doctor: McKay
- The Nth Doctor: When Elizabeth Weir reappeared in the shows fifth season she was portrayed by Michelle Morgan, since her consciousness was in the body of a human-form Replicator.
- Nuke'Em: In "Midway," once the military learns that there are Wraith within the SGC they plan to nuke the facility, despite the fact that other characters have pointed out that the Wraith cannot escape the facility and there are less a dozen enemy soldiers remaining.
- Oblivious to Love: McKay. In "The Brotherhood", "Inferno" and "Trio", he shows that he is completely unaware when a woman is actually interested in him until it is spelt out for him.
- Oddly Small Organization: The Atlantis Expedition originally only had two commissioned officers assigned to its security forces, Marshall Sumner (Colonel, USMC) and Aiden Ford (Lieutenant, USAF). The last-minute inclusion of John Sheppard (Major, USAF) brought that total to three, which is extremely low for an expedition whose personnel number in the hundreds.
- Older Than They Look: Sheppard tries to get Ronon to heed Teal'c's advice on dealing with the I.O.A., pointing out that he has to know something since he is something like a hundred years old. Teal'c was 159 years old during the airing of "Midway."
- Ominous Crack: This has happened to McKay twice, probably because his Oh Crap expression is so funny.
- In "Grace Under Pressure", Rodney and Lieutenant Red Shirt crash a puddle-jumper into the ocean on a test flight. They look out at the water in wonder and then - surprise! - Ominous Crack. Redshirt manages to push Rodney into the other section of the jumper before the cabin floods.
- In "The Ark", Rodney is stuck somewhere in the space station looking out at space. He starts panicking when he spots a piece of equipment hurtling toward the glass from outside. It hits... and nothing happens. Rodney's relief quickly turns into terror as the glass starts to crack. He only just gets into his space suit in time.
- One-Man Army: Ronon in "Sateda" where he single-handedly takes down multiple Wraith platoons in the ruins of his homeworld.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Puddle Jumpers. After Sheppard christened it in the pilot, (in reference to a light aircraft and the event horizon of the Stargate), everyone refers to them by that name. The Ancients actually referred to them as "Gate-Ships".
- Organic Technology: The Wraith.
- Other Me Annoys Me In one episode, an alternate universe version of Rodney McKay appears. This version is charming, extroverted and socially skilled. The regular Rodney ends up disliking him because everyone seems to like him better.
- Overt Rendezvous: Sheppard meets his ex-wife -- who works for the Department of Homeland Security -- on a park bench, in order to ask her to illegally dig up some classified information for him.
- Pardon My Klingon: Hermiod, the Asgard engineer aboard the Daedalus, expresses displeasure by cursing in his native tongue.
- Paused Interrupt: In the "The Eye" episode, Weir and Sheppard's conversation was supposed to be interrupted by Kolya yanking the radio away. This stopped her line five seconds before it moved.
- Perfect Poison: Averted and played straight in "The Tower." The Lord Protector has been slowly poisoned over the past few months in order to hasten his death, but at the conclusion Otho dies almost instantly when he is cut by a poisoned knife.
- Perma-Stubble: Sheppard has a fluctuating level of stubble, but he is never fully without it.
- Pirate Girl: Larrin of the Travellers, while maybe not technically a pirate all the time, she sure acts like one in her first appearance.
- Plot Tailored to the Party: Inverted in the episode "Quarantine" when everyone is locked in various rooms and each person has a part of the skills that they need to get out of the situation, except no one is in a situation where they can use those skills: McKay (The Smart Guy) does not have a computer, so Sheppard (The Hero) has to do all the technical stuff; Ronon (The Big Guy) is locked in an isolated room and is thus forced to do nothing; and Zelenka (another Smart Guy) has to do the dangerous air vent crawl that is pretty much Sheppard's trademark.
- Portal Slam: Like Stargate SG-1, a Stargate is open as long as the directors say, so it is not unusual for characters (or ships this time) to miss the wormhole. The Atlantis gate has a shield that obliterates anything that tries to appear from it, making a loud "FZZSSHH" sound as it does so.
- Power Creep, Power Seep: The Wraith's ability to regenerate varies on the episode. However, to the show's credit, they justified this by saying that their regeneration capacity was dependent on how recently and how much they had fed on life force.
- Precision F-Strike: In the season five episode "Tracker", McKay clearly says "Holy Shit!" when a Wraith he thought he had escaped gets the drop on him, in contravention of SyFy's censorship standards, to boot.
- Precocious Crush: Harmony spends most of her self-titled episode infatuated with Sheppard, even asking him to marry her before switching her affections to McKay at the end.
- Precursor Killers: The Wraith
- Pregnant Hostage: Teyla gets kidnapped while pregnant.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy:
- From all indications, this was the reason why the Wraith wiped out the Satedans, and Ronon Dex continues their tradition on Atlantis. Each time the team hears tales of supposed super-soldiers killing many Wraith, Ronon remarks that they must be Satedans, and once was absolutely correct.
- During the fourth season, Teal'c, the Stargate Verse's original Proud Warrior Race Guy, visits the city.
- Puppeteer Parasite: In Critical Mass, it is revealed that Colonel Caldwell has become host to a Goa'uld in the employ of one of the Stargate SG-1 villains.
- Putting on the Reich:
- The Genii, although they become (relatively) friendly to Atlantis as the seasons go on.
- Downplayed in a season two episode that features a society which deports its prisoners to the vicinity of the planet's Stargate so the Wraith will feed only on them, where the Magistrate's uniform bears some fascistic overtones.
- Quip to Black: The second-to-last episode, "Vegas", was originally titled "CSI: Atlantis". It features an alternate universe where the cast is essentially transplanted into CSI, and "Detective John Sheppard" does a textbook one-liner at the end of The Teaser.
- The Rashomon: "Sunday"
- Real Dreams Are Weirder: "Doppelganger" has a bunch of alien-induced nightmares, so naturally McKay feels the need to tell everyone about his perfectly ordinary Moby Dick-inspired nightmare.
- Reality Subtext:
- When Col. Samantha Carter leaves SG-1 to become leader of the Atlantis Expedition, she says, "I know I am going to miss this place, and all of you," to old friend Teal'c. The tears in Amanda Tapping's eyes were likely not faked; she herself was saying goodbye to SG-1 after ten years.
- Jason Momoa got a large tattoo on his left forearm between the filming of seasons two and three, forcing Ronon to likewise get a tattoo in the series. This was applied in "Reunion," where the application apparently hurt and forced Ronon to lightly slap the person doing the inking; Jason had not told the producers about the tattoo, and they were unhappy to learn about it after the fact.
- Teyla became pregnant in the fourth season when Rachel Luttrell became pregnant in real life.
- Amelia Banks, one of the recurring control room technicians, is a proficient student of kickboxing. Her actress, Sharon Taylor, is a kickboxer in real life, and when the producers learned this about her they wrote it into the character.
- Reality Warper: John Sheppard in "Home" was the first person to discover their reality was faked by the fog aliens. Its heavily implied that Sheppard's instincts are what alerted him to this before McKay, who would only discover the truth due to facts.
- Real Men Get Shot: When McKay asks if the rope burns on his hands are going to leave scars in "Trio," Keller remarks that chicks dig scars.
McKay: Not the chicks I dig.
- Realpolitik: When the heroes are put on trial for their previous actions, Sheppard basically argues that they are not fighting for right or wrong, but rather they are fighting for themselves.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Col. Caldwell. At times he is even more reasonable than Weir.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Ronon and Teal'c in the episode "Midway".
- Red Shirt:
- The season one finale featured three characters isolated on an Ancient weapon satellite. The writers knew they were going to kill somebody, so they had all three characters wear red.
- In "Midway," three scientists are in the station control room when they are boarded by the Wraith: Bill Lee, who had been introduced years ago on SG-1, Dr. Cavanaugh, recurring since season one of Atlantis, and Scott Dempster, who was introduced in this episode with only a single line. Scott Dempster dies.
- Redshirt Army: The crew of Ancients who briefly resumes control of Atlantis before the replicators hand them their collective ass.
- Reentry Scare: On more than one occasion.
- Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?: Doctor McKay's lovely talents for destruction of innocent random systems is continually referenced to remind him of his failures and hubris.
- Replacement Flat Character:
- Kavanagh is a Replacement Flat Character to McKay, where the shallow role being filled is "recurring Jerkass scientist who disagrees with the friendlier main-character scientist, and is always wrong".
- Colonel Ellis is a Replacement Flat Character to Colonel Caldwell, where the shallow role being filled is "ship captain and Obstructive Bureaucrat from the SGC".
- Mr. Coolidge, a new member of the I.O.A., is described as "much less pleasant" than Richard Woolsey, the resident Obstructive Bureaucrat of SG-1 and Atlantis.
- Retroactive Wish: In the pilot.
- Revival Loophole: Used to save Sheppard in "Thirty-Eight Minutes".
- Royal Brat: Harmony in the episode of the same name.
- Royally Screwed-Up: The family of the Lord Protector in "The Tower," where the son is poisoning the father to claim the throne sooner, and would have to immediately kill his sister after he assumed the throne to prevent the chance of her giving birth to an heir with a stronger ATA gene than himself.
- Running Gags
- Asking Ronon if his gun is set to stun.
- Dr. Zelenka griping in Czech when he gets frustrated.
- Rodney referring to Shepherd as "Kirk" when he thinks he is hitting on women.
- Someone pointing out that McKay is Canadian when he pronounces a ZPM as Zed-Pee-Em.
- Sacrificial Lion: Dr. Peter Grodin, in the season one finale.
- The Scapegoat: Sheppard's team becomes this in "Inquisition" for the new Coalition of Planets. Not that a lot of their complaints are not justified, mind you, but all the Coalition really wants is someone to blame for all the shit they have gone through with the Wraith in recent years. They cannot do anything about the Wraith, and the Ancients are not around, and they are perfectly aware the expedition as a whole is too powerful to challenge. Thus, they decide to throw a trial for just Sheppard and his team, so they at least feel like they are doing something.
- Scarpia Ultimatum: Michael offers to not destroy Atlantis if Teyla willingly accompanies him and brings her son with her. She is willing to do so, but knows that Michael is not trustworthy and demands that he deactivate the self-destruct first.
- Schmuck Bait: Clone-Beckett pulls this on a Wraith Commander, goading him into feeding on him... then reveals to the collapsing Wraith that Beckett has the Hoffan virus.
- Schrödinger's Butterfly
- The first season episode "Home." It concludes with the mist assuring them that they are back in the real world.
- "The Real World." It is probably back to reality by the end, but Sheppard remarks that for all he knows, it has just switched to his fantasy.
- Seinfeldian Conversation: When they are trapped in a Puddle Jumper and awaiting rescue, doctors Lee and Cavanaugh spiritedly discuss the merits of Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor. Lee is disdainful of the project, but Cavanaugh believes that the film has "weight" and will become appreciated in time.
- Semper Fi:
- Colonel Marshall Sumner, the original commander of the military forces of the Atlantis expedition, was a member of the United States Marine Corps. Sergeant Bates, who Dr. Weir appointed as head of Atlantis security, frequently clashes with the more laid-back Air Force officer John Sheppard throughout the first season.
- When the SGC gets a ZPM and sends a relief military force to protect Atlantis from the Wraith they are commanded by Colonel Dillon Everett, USMC.
- Send in the Clones: Beckett from "The Kindred" on forward.
- Sexiled: When Carson and Allison Porter are flirting (Very obviously) in "Whispers," Sergeant Dusty leaves to secure the perimeter and explains that she will be back in twenty minutes, unless she sees a sock on the door.
- Shadow Archetype: John Sheppard. His Afghanistan-visions in "Phantoms", Crystal-Entity Sheppard "Doppleganger" and Hallucination-Kolya in "Remnants" all hint that there is a part of him that really wants to punish himself.
- In the second episode of the first season, Sheppard looks at the size of the incoming Monster of the episode, looks at the proposed containment unit for it and says "We're gonna need a bigger boat."
- In "The Defiant One" Rodney calls Sheppard "Kirk" when he wants to do battle with the Wraith that they discover. This also leads into a Running Gag of referring to Sheppard as Kirk when he gets involved with alien women.
- A frustrated Rodney once refers to Ronon and Teyla as Conan and Xena
- In Episode 10 of the Second season, while piloting a Wraith Dart, John Sheppard gives us this immortal line.
Wraith HUD disappears
- In "Outcast," Dr. Lee is trying to think up how to destroy the Replicator that is on the loose, and mentions that if it was a movie they would drop it into a vat of molten lead or a volcano. This, of course, gave Sheppard an idea.
- Part of Rodney's long numerical computer password, as revealed in season four's "Quarantine," is 42, which Sheppard explains to Teyla is the answer to the Great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.
- In "Quarantine," Sheppard is preparing to free climb four floors up the outside of the main Atlantis tower. When Teyla asks if this is possible, Sheppard replies that "Batman did it all the time!" As he is completing the climb--and has just saved himself from falling to his death--the Batman theme music subtly plays as he pulls himself onto a ledge.
- In "The Hive," Sheppard is talking to a fellow prisoner, Neera who turns out to be a Wraith-worshipper placed there to pump Sheppard for information, and mentions his fear of clowns.
Neera: "And the clowns?"
- Shut UP, Hannibal: A subdued example. When a group of living Ancients is rescued and demands the return of the city, one of the things their leaders bring up is how the expedition awakened the Wraith. Woolsey is quick to retort that it was the Ancients' own negligence that made the Wraith such a threat in the first place. Though she still sticks to her demands, that marked the end of any attempted moral high ground on her part.
- Single-Stroke Battle: Ronon and a constable of the Lord Protector in "The Tower."
- The Smart Guy: Dr. M. Rodney McKay, obviously.
- Spock Speak: Teyla rarely uses contractions in her speech, if ever. Compared even to other Pegasus natives the Athosians appear to be a very formal in their speech.
- The Sociopath: The Crystal Entity from Doppleganger is explicity referred to as such because of how much it enjoys scaring people, quite literally, to death in their dreams.
- Some Call Me... Tim: Sheppard loves this trope. Therefore we have the Wraiths Steve, Bob, Michael and Todd.
- Spinoff Sendoff: The pilot starts with a visit to the arctic expedition by SG-1's Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson.
- Take Off Your Clothes: McKay, Carter and Dr. Keller are trapped in an abandoned mine, and McKay suggests that everyone disrobe so they can make a rope by tying their clothes together. Keller immediately gets started while Carter responds by producing a coil of actual rope which was in one of the boxes. McKay is clearly disappointed.
- Techno Babble: An in-universe example while stalling for time:
Weir: Find another problem with it. Tell them that the power loop interface isn't jiving with your walkabout, something.
- Teleport Interdiction: The crew of the Daedalus, in their first appearance, plans on destroying a bunch of Wraith ships by using Asgard beaming technology to beam nukes onto them. It works the first three times they try it. After that, the Wraith figure out how to jam the beam.
- Then Let Me Be Evil: Michael. Immediately after the experiment designed to stop him being Exclusively Evil, how do they treat him? Like he is Exclusively Evil. After several attempts where he tries to say "What the hell, heroes?" and do something appropriate before they screw him over again, he just goes nuts and becomes an Evilutionary Biologist, blaming the heroes, rather sensibly, for everything he has become.
- Throw It In: After Torri Higginson accidentally called the Gate Technician by his real name, "Chuck", the producers decided to keep it in and make it has official name, since he had not had one until that point.
- Tomato in the Mirror:
- The titular character in "Michael" realising that he is not a human with amnesia, but he is actually a Wraith.
- Halfway through "This Mortal Coil" the primary cast discovers that they are all Replicator-built copies of the Atlantis staff.
- Too Clever by Half: McKay
- Took a Level in Jerkass: The Vanir Asgard who are incredibly ruthless compared to their Ida Galaxy cousins.
- Touched by Vorlons: Elizabeth Weir becomes a Replicator.
- David Hewlett's role as Dr. Rodney McKay originated in SG-1, where he was brought in as a pseudo-rival to Samantha Carter in two separate episodes. The character was originally not supposed to feature in Atlantis, but when Hewlett joined the cast the writers decided to resurrect the old character instead of having him play a new character.
- Craig Veroni, who played Dr. Peter Grodin, first appeared in the Stargate Verse as an unnamed character in "Grace," a seventh season episode of SG-1. It was never confirmed if this was an early appearance by Dr. Peter Grodin, or the actor being cast in two distinct roles.
- Dr. Lindsay Novak, a scientist aboard the Daedalus with a habit of hiccuping while stressed, first appeared in SG-1's eighth season episode "Prometheus Unbound" before becoming a recurring character in season two of Atlantis.
- Samantha Carter was one of the lead characters on SG-1 for all ten seasons, joining the main cast of Atlantis in season four after SG-1 was cancelled.
- Woolsey taking over from Carter as head of the Expedition in season five after previously having appeared in SG-1. His entire character redemption arc is also carried over, with him learning to lighten up, stop being such an Obstructive Bureaucrat and why bending the rules on occasion can be beneficial to the success of the mission.
- The Unfettered: Acastus Kolya
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: "Return Part II"
- Unwinnable Training Simulation: The episode "Progeny" has the Replicators trick the team into believing that they have gone back to Atlantis, where the city is attacked by nine hive ships. Sheppard stays behind to trigger the self-destruct as fifteen more hive ships join the fight.
- The Usurper: "Harmony" revolves around a plot by the sister of the prospective-queen trying to have her sister killed so that she can claim the throne.
- Vampiric Draining: The Wraith take your Life Energy through their hands. It is stated to be the only way they can gain sustenance and a recently fed Wraith also gets an extra Healing Factor. This Life Energy is stated to have some kind of biological basis, but it basically behaves like magic with people growing old during a feeding and the process being reversible.
- Video Game Caring Potential: When Keller, Rodney and Ronon bring a wounded young girl back to Atlantis, Rodney tries to teach her to play Duck Hunt, but she refuses to shoot the adorable little ducks.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: An in-universe example in which Sheperd and McKay find an ancient game in Atlantis in which they are able to control two neighboring countries. Two years after they first played the game, they find out that the countries are real and that they have been changing the lives of real people.
- Villainous Crush: Michael becomes obsessed with Teyla, and has created this fantasy where, after he abducts her, she will voluntarily choose to remain with him. Guess who kills him.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Sheppard and McKay live this trope. Zelenka and McKay have a similar dynamic. Really, anyone and McKay could qualify.
- We Have Reserves:
- Both the Wraith and the humans of the Altantis expedition point out that no matter how many Wraith ships they destroy, the Wraith will just send more.
- When the Genii have Sheppard and McKay cornered in "Harmony," the Genii commander points out that they cannot escape since they have limited ammunition but he has unlimited men. Tellingly, once he is dead the Genii forces beat a quick retreat.
- West Coast Team: To the original Stargate SG-1.
- What Does This Button Do?: McKay claims exclusive rights to this trope, reasoning that he is the only person competent enough to fix what will almost inevitably go wrong upon doing so, while others will turn to him for the same. In "Sunday", this turns out to be painfully true.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
- Particularly bad in the case of Repliweir.
- The Asurans. There is a faction that deeply wants to change their nature and learn Ascension and are non-malevolent.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- A clip show is actually skillfully done in which the Pegasus Galaxy call the Atlantis Expedition out for all the chaos they have caused.
- "Michael" loves to point this out, that for all their preaching about morality, in regards to torturing and experimenting on prisoners, they violated it several times because of the flimsy justification that human rights do not apply when the enemy isn't human.
- What You Are in the Dark: In "Harmony," with the Genii between them an their goal, Sheppard and McKay decide that it is too dangerous to continue with the rite of passage to make Harmony the queen. When they ask why it even matters, since nobody will know that she did not technically finish the rite, she points out that she will know.
- Wild Card: Todd the Wraith, oh so much.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The Wraith enzyme, which confers increased strength and a resistance to Wraith stunner technology, also mentally imbalances the human mind. Rodney McKay explained that, while under the influence of the enzyme, it seemed to him like everybody else was crazy.
- Within Parameters: Leading to a solar system blowing up (5/6th of a solar system!)
- Worst Aid: When Ronon was impaled through the shoulder by a piece of shattered glass during a Replicator attack on the city, he told the medical attendant working on him to just pull it out. Knowing that that would only make things worse, the attendant refuses to do so, and stops Ronon when he is about to do it himself.
- Worthy Opponent: When Ronon dodges the second Booby Trap in "Tacker," all he has to say of the Runner he is tracking is "he's good."
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Sheppard won't fight back in "Travellers" despite being kidnapped and repeatedly assaulted, despite the fact that as a soldier it is his duty to escape. The reason? His captor is a woman.
- Yanks With Tanks: Though the military forces of Atlantis are composed of soldiers from numerous Earth militaries, their officers and non-commissioned officers come from branches of the US armed forces.
- Colonel Marshall Sumner, the original military commander, and Sergeant Bates, head of Atlanis security, are members of the United States Marine Corps.
- Major/Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, who replaces Sumner as ranking military officer, and Lieutenant Aiden Ford, Sheppard's next senior officer, are members of the United States Air Force.
- You Are Not Alone: How Sheppard motivates Elizabeth to overcome the nanite infection in "The Real World."
- You Can See the Explosion from Orbit: In the episode "First Strike", multiple explosions can be sen from an orbital vantage point.
- You Can't Go Home Again: Only held for a season, thanks to Stargate Command getting those spiffy intergalactic hyperdrives from the Asgard and a new ZPM. They later had the McKay-Carter Intergalactic Gate Bridge for a while, but then that was destroyed and they went back to combined gate/interstellar travel.
- You! Get Me Coffee!: In "Whispers," Sergeant Dusty mentions that she transferred to Atlantis from the SGC because there are "more bad guys that need killing," but Sheppard keeps assigning her to guard Carson and Porter instead of investigating the mystery of the deadly monster experiment.
- You Have Failed Me...: In "Irresponsible," when one his subordinates reports that Sheppard managed to escape, Kolya draws his pistol, points it at the reporting officer and pulls the trigger...which does nothing. The subordinate thanks Kolya for his life and goes back to duty, vowing to do better. Kolya then turns to another subordinate and orders him to have his gun fixed.
- You Look Familiar:
- Craig Veroni, who played Dr. Peter Grodin, first appeared in Stargate SG-1 as an unnamed weapons officer aboard the Prometheus in the episode "Grace." It was never confirmed if the two were the same character, or if Craig had been re-cast as a different person.
- The Lord Protector from "The Tower" originally appeared twice in SG-1 as Harlan, the amazingly annoying inhabitant of Altair who turned SG-1 into robots.
- Jewel Staite was a Wraith before she was Dr. Keller. Not very noticeable however, since the Wraith part required full prosphetic make-up that made her virtually unrecognizable.
- In a fairly ludicrous example, an actress in the early episode "Poisoning the Well" ended up playing the exact same role to one she did in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Cure" where Tretonin is discovered.
- Christopher Heyerdahl played a character named Pallan on SG-1, and the Athosian Halling on Atlantis. His largest role is the Wraith Todd. At one point he even portrayed both Halling and Todd in the same episode (without any shared screentime however).
- Paul McGillion, who plays Dr. Carson Beckett, first appeared in the Stargate 'verse as Young Ernest Littlefield in the SG-1 episode "The Torment of Tantalus". Incidentally, he was the first human to travel through Earth's Stargate in modern times.
- Garwin Sanford played the Tollan Narrim in the SG-1 episode "Enigma", and also plays Dr. Elizabeth Weir's fiance Dr. Simon Wallis.
- Captain Alicia Vega, introduced in season five, had previously appeared in "The Tao of Rodney" as a scientist that Rodney overhears (telepathically) saying that Ronon is "hot". After Vega died, her actress joked that she still has a twin sister serving on the city that could appear in future episodes.
- Mike Dopud played a Runner named Kiryk in SGA, but he also played a Bounty Hunter in SG-1 and a Lucian Alliance member in SGU.
- Zerg Rush: How the Wraith defeated the Lanteans and generally the way they like to roll.