Asgard

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Thor of the Asgard

Summary

The Asgard were a highly evolved humanoid race, and were original members of the Great Alliance of four races. It was said about them: "They are a friend to all and protector of all, except the Goa'uld with whom they are at war." They had a long-standing interest in Earth and human civilizations. They were introduced as a species in 2.06 "Thor's Chariot", and remained major players in the Milky Way for eight more years. Tragically, their race came to an end after their last attempt at prolonging their lives failed; they sacrificed themselves to give their legacy to Earth and keep it from the Ori. Two years after their demise, a splinter group was encountered living in the Pegasus Galaxy. This "Lost Tribe" of the Asgard arrived in Pegasus 10,000 years ago during the Ancient-Wraith War in order to conduct their "unsanctioned" genetic experiments on humans to solve their cloning problems without interference.

Stargate References

Biological Background

Thor as human hologram
Asgard body
Asgard head

The Asgard race was first mentioned when SG-1 visited Cimmeria and encountered Thor's Hammer. A hologram of a Norse warrior claimed to be Thor, the Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet. The holographic image was in stark contrast to the Asgard's actual appearance. When Carter saw the real Thor for the first time, she remarked that he looked uncannily like descriptions of the "Roswell Greys" of Earth popular legend. Asgard were typically about a meter tall, and had a light purple/gray complexion with veins, or an Asgard equivalent, visible, and smooth, waxy-looking skin. Their heads were massive in comparison to their bodies, with the majority of space taken up by a large cranium and large black eyes, devoid of irises. Their nostrils and ears were simply holes in the skull, and their mouths were small and narrow. Their bodies were very slender, with minimal muscles on their frame, long arms nearly reaching their knees, and six fingers on their hands. They appeared to have a nearly human skeleton, with collarbones, shoulder blades, and a ribcage. No sexual organs were visible. Their bodies did not possess an adrenal system. (Stargate Atlantis 2.20 "Allies", 2.06 "Thor's Chariot", 3.22 "Nemesis Part 1", 4.01 "Small Victories Part 2")

For some time before their extinction, the Asgard reproduced exclusively through a process of enhanced cellular mitosis; they'd been incapable of cellular division through meiosis for nearly a thousand years. In essence, their bodies were a genetic template, and they were incapable of sexual reproduction. Their ability to copy the template, combined with an ability to transfer an entire Asgard mind via computer from one body to another, gave each individual a measure of immortality: when a body failed with age or was killed, the mind was transferred to a younger body. However, deterioration caused by copying the same template over and over again caused genetic decay over the years. To combat this, the clones were subtly altered with a controlled mutation at some point, but still the Asgard eventually reached the limits of their technical ability to continue cloning themselves. (5.22 "Revelations")

Early Asgard body

The Asgard sought solutions to this problem aggressively. On a planet controlled by the System Lord Anubis, a research facility was set up to study an Asgard who was 30,000 years old and had been placed into suspended animation for a trip from the Asgard homeworld. The Asgard in question was much different from modern Asgard. It had a white/gray tint to its skin, a much smaller cranium, and eyes in scale with the body. As well, it had an actual nose and a much more human set of lips. The body was more robust, and appeared to be around the same height as a modern human. The Asgard furiously studied this Asgard, because it came from a time when the program of genetic manipulation had still been reversible. The results of the research are unknown, but given what happened later, they must not have been successful. (5.22 "Revelations")

The Asgard Loki sought to solve the problem of decaying genetics by cloning humans and studying those clones as potential new bodies for Asgard consciousnesses. He tried this on Jack O'Neill, whose brain he thought might be capable of holding an Asgard intellect, but was caught due to a marker that had been placed in O'Neill's DNA. Presumably, Thor stopped Loki from performing further experiments, so that the problem of genetic breakdown was not solved. (7.03 "Fragile Balance")

A subsequent attempt to stop their physiological degeneration using cloning had the disastrous effect of giving the entire race a rapidly progressing disease with no known cure. Rather than risk their technology and knowledge falling into enemy hands, the Asgard made plans to commit mass suicide. First, they summoned the SGC to their homeworld, Orilla. They asked the humans to witness their suicide, and gave them a computer core containing all of the latest Asgard technology, as well as a knowledge base, including their entire recorded history. Thor himself saw to the core's installation on the Odyssey. The timetable for their suicide was moved up when Ori warships entered the system. The Asgard blew up Orilla, buying time for Odyssey to escape with the computer core. As far as is known, no Asgard being survived these terrible events. They entrusted everything they had ever been to the Tau'ri, the Fifth Race. (10.22 "Unending")

Cultural Background

In Earth history, the Asgard are the basis of Norse Mythology. Many figures of the race, as well as names for some of their technology, are highly suggestive of this link: Thor and his Hammer, Aegir and his ship Valhalla, Freyr, Heimdall, and Loki. The Asgard had interest in the Tau'ri for generations and visited many times. They felt a great affinity with the human race, regarding it as a suitable candidate for their Great Alliance as its fifth member. When O'Neill asked the Asgard their opinion of humanity, an Asgard replied, "your race has great potential" (2.16 "The Fifth Race"). The fact that they regarded humans as a potential fifth race could have implied that the Alliance was still in existence. However this is still conjectural, as, at the time, at least one member race was presumed extinct (the Ancients), and a second race had not been seen in recent years (the Furlings). The Nox and the Asgard were only known to have established ties and diplomacy with the Tau'ri, not with each other.

The Asgard were known to pose as gods for a culture, as seen for two of the more primitive societies they protected, those on Cimmeria and K'Tau. Although in this respect they used a similar tactic as the Goa'uld, their 'godhood' was entirely benevolent, and the societies they protected, whether aware of the true nature of the Asgard or not, were allowed to develop naturally, apart from their worship of the Asgard gods. (2.06 "Thor's Chariot", 5.05 "Red Sky", 9.12 "Collateral Damage")

Perhaps fearing humanity's demise, the Asgard went so far as to establish a Protected Planets Treaty with the Goa'uld System Lords. Under this treaty, the Goa'uld left a protected planet alone or risked suffering the consequences from the more advanced Asgard ships and weapons. During the negotiations to add Earth to the treaty, the Goa'uld wanted the Tau'ri to forfeit their Stargates, but settled for threatening that any Tau'ri caught off-world by a Goa'uld would be shown no mercy (3.03 "Fair Game"). Since Cimmeria has Thor's Hammer, it was not necessary for it to be named in the treaty; it is not certain whether or not it was included. (1.10 "Thor's Hammer", 5.05 "Red Sky")

The Riddle of Pi

On Cimmeria, and perhaps on all worlds that the Asgard watched over, was a device for communication with the Asgard homeworld. These devices, referred to on Cimmeria as The Hall of Thor's Might, enabled the Asgard to determine when a culture was advanced enough to understand that their gods were not truly gods, but advanced aliens. On Cimmeria, the device put the people brave enough to try through a series of tests, both physical and mental. The tests were different on different worlds, but on Cimmeria, the people in question had to walk across what appeared to be a very narrow stone walkway suspended across a great void. The values of selflessness and courage were given high marks on this part of the test. For the second part, an understanding of basic mathematics and geometry was required, leading the person to draw a radius on a stone circle. When touched, the stone activated contact to the Asgard homeworld. It is unknown to which worlds the Asgard revealed themselves. Cimmeria is one, of course, and the people of Gelar knew that they had been under the protection of the Asgard for generations, even as they developed their own advanced technology. (2.06 "Thor's Chariot", 9.12 "Collateral Damage")

On K'Tau, Carter manipulated the panel that controlled the recorded holographic message, and that action initiated contact with the Asgard, in this case, Freyr (5.05 "Red Sky").

Asgard High Council

The nature of Asgard society was never well understood. Family structure, social customs, and geography were left almost completely to conjecture. It is known that they had at least three homeworlds, from oldest to youngest: Hala, in the Othala galaxy, Othala, in the Ida galaxy, and Orilla, likely also in Ida and now destroyed. Some part of the galaxy they were in was around 4 million light-years from Earth. (2.16 "The Fifth Race", 6.12 "Unnatural Selection", 8.01 "New Order Part 1", 8.02 "New Order Part 2")

The Asgard written language is runic and highly reminiscent of Germanic languages. It is perhaps this base that the Germanic languages on Earth came from. The governing body of the species was known as the Asgard High Council. The size of this body was unknown, but Thor, Freyr, and Penegal were members of it. This political body apparently held all judicial, executive, and legislative powers of the Asgard government (5.05 "Red Sky").

Technological Background

In terms of technology, the Asgard were the third most advanced race in the known universe. The Ancients/Ori are more advanced given their ascension capabilities and starship technology, and the Replicators were known to have combined several cultures' technology into their collective being. Thor admitted at one time that the Replicators were capable of modifying the Asgard's weapons technology beyond Asgard understanding (4.01 "Small Victories Part 2"). However, the Asgard were still very powerful in their own right. Their starships were capable of crossing the vast distances of galaxies in just a few minutes and were powerful enough to engage Goa'uld and Wraith starships and win with ease. However, the Asgard were not an aggressive or militaristic people, and were shown to be highly benevolent with their technology, even being remorseful at the prospect of destroying a life.

Beyond starship technology, the Asgard were known to be highly advanced, with many fantastic capabilities, such as time dilation, suspended animation, and Stargate technology. Neutronium, trinium, and naquadah are known to have been highly useful elements in their advanced technology.

As their final act before committing mass suicide, the Asgard bequeathed all of their technology and knowledge to Earth; it was brought back to Earth on board the Odyssey and is now in SGC hands.

For more information, see Technology of the Asgard.

The Lost Tribe

Lost Tribe members who raided Atlantis for the key to the Attero Device
Lost Tribe member with key to the Attero Device
Leader of the Lost Tribe

About two years after the demise of the Asgard at their own hands in their home galaxy, Dr. Daniel Jackson and Dr. Rodney McKay encountered a splinter group of Asgard in the Pegasus Galaxy. The reason why these Asgard left their home was because they wished to conduct experiments on human beings in order to solve their cloning problem (human physiology is very close to the original form of the Asgard). The Asgard High Council forbade this type of experimentation, and this splinter group escaped in their intergalactic spaceships 10,000 years ago so as to avoid the Council's sanctions. Knowing that human life existed in Pegasus and that the Ancients and Wraith were distracted with the war, the Lost Tribe of the Asgard carried on their experiments without interference. Then, the Ancients lost the war and left Pegasus under the control of the Wraith. The Asgard had already formed several settlements by this time, and these settlements were targeted by the Wraith because they were technologically advanced. The Wraith destroyed the Asgard's intergalactic ships in the first battle. As a result, the Asgard retreated to a planet without a Stargate to hide within a poisonous atmosphere. At first they were able to survive this harsh environment with simple breathing apparatus, but over several thousand years, even their advanced armor—what the Asgard called "exoskeletons"—couldn't adequately protect them from their dying planet. As a result, they had to venture out into the galaxy once more, ever fearful that they would be found and destroyed by the Wraith. (Stargate Atlantis: 5.10 "First Contact Part 1", 5.11 "The Lost Tribe Part 2")

In their travels, they found a research facility built by the Ancients that housed an advanced weapon developed by the scientist Janus to fight the Wraith during the war. This same Janus was the one who had built a time machine inside a puddle jumper and was among the survivors who escaped through the Stargate to Earth when only those Ancients in Atlantis were left. Many of his projects were not approved by the Lantian High Council, so he built a secret lab in the lower level of one of the towers of Atlantis. Daniel and McKay were the ones who discovered this secret lab, and when they entered it, McKay's Ancient gene activated the dormant systems, including the key to the Attero Device (that's what the Wraith called this weapon). This key was connected through a subspace link to the main Device in the facility that the Asgard found, and as soon as they realized that they could eliminate the Wraith with this Device's full reactivation, they sent a ship and a team to Atlantis to retrieve both the key and the Ancient who had activated it. Because both Daniel and McKay were in the secret lab when the extraction team arrived, both were taken with the key to the facility on M6H-987. (Stargate Atlantis: 1.15 "Before I Sleep", 5.10 "First Contact Part 1", 5.11 "The Lost Tribe Part 2")

McKay reactivated the Attero Device after the Asgard threatened to kill them (Daniel was going to be the first to go because he was "not that kind of scientist"). Then, he discovered why Janus had abandoned the Device 10,000 years ago after a three-day trial: Not only had the Device destroyed Wraith ships as they entered hyperspace, which was its original design, but it also caused Stargates to explode when activated due to an energy build-up originating within the wormhole itself, which was the unfortunate and devastating "unforeseen side effect." Daniel attempted to reason with the Asgard twice: first, to not turn it on because it had some kind of unknown harmful side effect, and second, after it was turned on, to turn it off once the "unforeseen side effect" was discovered. The Asgard leader explained his dying race's desperate need to eliminate the Wraith at all costs, even if it meant the death of millions of others due to the use of the Stargates. Because of the leader's refusal to turn off the Device and to work with the Expedition on other alternatives, Daniel and McKay were forced to attempt to turn off the Device on their own, even if it meant their deaths. (Stargate Atlantis: 5.10 "First Contact Part 1", 5.11 "First Contact Part 2")

In the meantime, the "unforeseen side effect" was made very visible when the Stargate in Atlantis blew up. Fortunately, Atlantis had a shield that lessened the impact of the explosion, but people on other planets that were using Stargates at the time weren't so lucky. After a hundred generations living solely in spaceships, the Travelers were establishing a colony on a planet. The Stargate's explosion killed three thousand colonists and destroyed two of their spaceships, including an Ancient Aurora-class starship that they had salvaged with the help of the Expedition. (Stargate Atlantis: 5.11 "First Contact Part 2")

Daniel and McKay managed to gain access to the main chamber of the Attero Device itself by wearing the Asgard's exoskeleton suits (they had to enter the chamber because the Asgard had removed the key and locked them out of the control systems). Going into this room was extremely dangerous, and Daniel was hit by several bolts of electricity while McKay was protected long enough to disable the Device by yanking out its control crystal. Even though Daniel was wearing the armor, he was still severely injured. Fortunately for him, the Daedalus arrived at the planet in time to use its Asgard beaming technology to retrieve both him and McKay. The Travelers destroyed the facility. Two of the Asgard's ships were destroyed in a space battle to protect that facility, but a third ship managed to escape through a hyperspace window. Daniel predicted that these Asgard were most likely to hold a grudge since their plan to run free in the galaxy by eliminating the Wraith was thwarted. (Stargate Atlantis: 5.11 "First Contact Part 2")

The Lost Tribe of the Asgard had some incredibly advanced technology (Stargate Atlantis: 5.10 "First Contact Part 1", 5.11 "First Contact Part 2"):

  • Their small spaceships had hyperdrives and were able to penetrate Atlantis's shield (McKay had to modify the shield to prevent this from happening in the future).
  • Their exoskeletons not only protected the Asgard from a toxic atmosphere, but they also allowed them to jump from their spaceship and crash through the roof of a tower unharmed.
  • These exoskeletons also had personal defense shields that could protect them against Earth's projectile weapons, but if an Asgard was captured or killed, the suit activated a self-destruct.
  • They had a circular platform that generated a defense shield, burrowed through several levels of the tower, and carried its passengers back to their spaceship.
  • They had energy-based hand-held stunning weapons.
  • Their experimentation on humans in Pegasus has helped them solve some of their cloning problems, but, like their now-deceased brethren in their home galaxy, they are still suffering from diminishing returns that could very well end their race.

Articles on the Asgard

Heimdall Beliskner-Class Ship Asgard Stargate Dialer
Thor's Hammer Thor Jackson-Class Ship
30,000-Year-Old Asgard O'Neill-Class Ships in Battle Asgard High Council

This series of articles covers the history, science, and technology of the Asgard, as well as the biographies of their key personalities.

Notable Characters

  • Thor - The Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet had tremendous admiration for the humans of Earth. The most well known Asgard, he was the SGC's most trusted Asgard ally and friend. He fought for Tau'ri interests on several occasions, both with and for them. He gave several pieces of Asgard technology to Earth, and granted Asgard engineers to help utilize them. We first meet Thor in 1.10 "Thor's Hammer".
  • Freyr - Freyr was an Asgard of similar nature to Thor, posing as the god of K'Tau. He had several meetings with the SGC, and was the one who contacted the SGC after Thor's "death".
  • Heimdall - Heimdall was an Asgard scientist specializing in genetics. He was working on the Asgard genetic problem and was assigned to the Asgard specimen being analyzed in the Adara System. Although ultimately ineffective, this was considered vitally important to the Asgard.
  • Hermiod - Hermiod was an Asgard scientist with specialization in spaceflight and engineering. In contrast to Thor, he was rather quick tempered and often became annoyed at the comparatively primitive humans.
  • Kvasir - Kvasir was an Asgard specializing in engineering and technology. He helped the SGC, Carter in particular, with such troubles as the multiple alternate SG-1's and the Ori Supergate. He was onboard the Odyssey when the Ori invasion began through the Supergate, and tried to repair the beaming technology so that Carter could be brought aboard. He had no sense of humor and tended to be smug and condescending to his Tau'ri allies, much to Carter's annoyance.

Alliances

  • Once the Asgard discovered that the Tau'ri of Earth had reopened the Stargate and were exploring the galaxy, they began to depend on them to help in the fight against the Replicators. The Asgard, in turn, helped Earth by including it in the Protected Planets Treaty the Asgard had made with the Goa'uld System Lords. The Asgard regarded Earth as well on its way to being a member of the Great Alliance. They held the SGC personnel in great esteem for their actions in assisting the Asgard in the Replicator war, as well as helping them with their genetic difficulties. The Asgard gave the Earth much technology, helping humanity reach the stars. Their last act was to give Earth all of their knowledge and technology.
  • The Asgard defended several worlds against the Goa'uld System Lords, twenty-six in all. It is unknown if the Protected Planets Treaty was still being honored by the Asgard after the System Lords had been largely eliminated. Most likely, the Asgard were posing as the gods of the protected peoples and were working to advance them to the point where they were ready to learn the truth about their protectors. The state of those Asgard-worshipping societies is now, sadly, in question.

Enemies

  • We first met the Asgard with the understanding that they were at war with the Goa'uld. However, for the most part they let the Goa'uld cower in fear at the power of their technology, rather than actually engaging actively to destroy the Goa'uld.
  • The Replicators voraciously attempted to expand in territory and technology, with the Asgard being the primary defenders against them. The Asgard finally defeated the Replicators, with much needed assistance from the Tau'ri.
  • The Ori were attempting to invade the Milky Way galaxy via Supergates, and the Asgard gave military support to the fight to halt their spread into this galaxy. Finally, they committed suicide rather than let the Ori take them prisoner in their ill, weakened state.
  • While not in direct war with the Wraith, the Asgard were clearly willing to defend the Tau'ri against their enemy.
  • The Lost Tribe of the Asgard in the Pegasus Galaxy are the enemies of the Wraith because the Wraith destroy those who are technologically advanced. This group of Asgard, however, are also an enemy of humans of Pegasus because the Asgard use humans in their "unsanctioned" genetic experimentation in order to solve the Asgard's cloning problem. This group of Asgard has had a presence in Pegasus for at least 10,000 years.

Gallery

O'Neill visits Othala
Thor
O'Neill and ill Thor
Carter on Hala with Thor
Asgard High Council
Freyr visits the SGC
Heimdall in his lab
Heimdall and SG-1
Thor aboard Daniel Jackson

Episodes

Stargate SG-1

Stargate Atlantis

Related Characters

Related Articles

Further Reading

Norse Mythology
Roswell UFO Incident


Article written for Solutions by Jordan Kreiger; edited by Michelle.
Updates for the Lost Tribe contributed by DeeKayP.
--Michelle 21:05, 10 June 2006 (PDT)