The daily routine of a stargate team is, that they dial a new coordinate, step through the gate and arrive at a new unknown world, stepping out of a stargate, most times located in the wilderness and completely unguarded.

While this is acceptable in cases of uninhabited planets or where the inhabitants are not aware of the stargate it seems completely stupid in case of planets that are controlled by the goa'uld or other stargate aware fractions. Humans on earth of course hide there stargate in an underground base, heavily guarded and sealed with an iris.

The explanation that the goa'uld think they control the network and so do not think about the possibility that an enemy could use it to sneak in their location sounds lame. They are rivals and had other enemies even before humans become stargate travelers. And there are no great cost to guard a stargate.

Why does the ruler of a planet not move the stargate to a safe (to control) place like humans did? Why not build a kind of "airport" around it?

OOU it is of course otherwise all the sneak in and guerrilla plots won't work. Especially in the early episodes. But was this complete ignorance of the stargate regarding security ever addressed in universe?


Why do no other planets in the Stargate universe have a iris? Thanks for the hint, but it does not answer my question. It does not say why people who are aware of a stargate and use it, do not guard it, as they would every city gate, border, checkpoint etc. Especially if they are as military as the goa'uld and have enemies that could use the stargate to enter their realm.

Even primitive cultures guard every door in the city walls. And even if the stargate is the door to the gods, it should be sourounded by a temple and worshipped by priests awaiting the arrival of the gods. And as a goa'uld I would at least monitor it (camera?) to be informed about activations.

It boils down to 2 scenarios:

  1. Stargate is used often and by many people => It would be moved to a logistic reasonable location, surrounded by a facility and like any airport, harbour etc. guarded.
  2. Stargate is used only by the worshipped "gods" => People would build temple around it, guard it with priests and the "god" will of course be very interested if anybody else comes through so he will at least monitor it.

Perhaps I can shape the question a little bit more. I'm not asking you to invent justifications:

Is it just plot convenience and is never lampshaded in universe? Like Daniels asking why the stargate is not guarded and Carter giving an absurd explanation or O'Neill giving a sarcastic comment?

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    Possible duplicate of Why do no other planets in the Stargate universe have a iris? – Ghanima Nov 4 '15 at 14:29
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    You can't have a dramatic escape with an overly guarded wormhole, duh! (jk) – Mark Rogers Nov 4 '15 at 15:17
  • Yes. So it is just plot convenience and is never lampshaded in universe? Like Daniels asking why the stargate is not guarded and carter giving an absurd explanation or O'Neill giving a sarcastic comment? – Hothie Nov 4 '15 at 15:19
  • @Hothie - Sure, sometimes they have explanations in episodes and sometimes they don't bother. I think it partly has to do with time, pacing, and story about whether they explain why its unguarded. Usually the planet is a remote, lowly populated planet and no one has used the gate in millennia. So, no one bothers to guard it. – Mark Rogers Nov 4 '15 at 15:38
  • Which specific episodes do you feel have gates that are unguarded when they should be? I don't see this as a huge trend in the series, and would like some more information to address your specific concerns. – user31178 Nov 4 '15 at 16:10

The Stargates are guarded on a number of planets, or monitored in some way. We see it guarded on Langara/Kelowna, Euronda, Tollana, Gaia (of the Nox), and Cimmeria (Thor's Hammer planet). That's just a sample of the planets in in the Milky Way. We often see Pegasus and Ida Galaxy gates be under guard or observation, too.

It seems to be a trend that Stargates under the control of races (such as the Asgard) or people with military knowledge and an understanding of the threat of Stargates end up guarding the Stargate. However, it is a point of the show that many of the planets visited don't have any idea about the Stargate, other than it being a Circle of the Gods or some other mythical artifact, or that it even exists.

Now, the Goa'uld only seem to guard strategic gates, around either precious resources or military strongholds, and probably sought to protect them from one another, rather than other races. This is just a part of the nature of the Goa'uld. Their power system is fragmented, subject to in-fighting and rarely cooperation. Their resources are stretched over many planets. They are completely arrogant, thinking their private play-worlds can't be found. They care nothing for humans, so nothing beholds them to protecting planets like Argosia where they ran experiments. Oh, and they've been using Sarcophagus for centuries, which causes megalomania and an inflated sense of one's own superiority.

So, we see two primary reasons for the gate to be left alone:

  • It's on a planet with people or beings ignorant of its military risks
  • It's a Goa'uld-controlled planet, and the Goa'uld have known poor judgment

If you'd like further proof that the Goa'uld are not the best examples of military strategy, just realize that in 10 years the Tau'ri went from ignorance of the Goa'uld to essentially destroying ancient, technologically-superior Goa'uld empire. (They had some help, of course, but the Tau'ri's ability to strategically leverage allies is just another way of showing that they were superior to the Goa'uld.)

After the Goa'uld recognize the Tau'ri as a threat, their guarding of gates on planets that would be of Tau'ri interest increases. For instance, we see that Ba'al doesn't underestimate the Tau'ri and is usually prepared for their incursions.

As others have pointed out, we only see a biased sample of unguarded gates. Meaning, sending the MALP is standard protocol, and we don't see the majority of the results, just the interesting ones. This reconnaissance protocol is carried over into Atlantis and Universe through cloaked/shielded Puddle Jumpers and Kinos respectively. You could consider that a plot-point, even though it's a best practice, because it sets us up to only view the eventful cases of interplanetary travel.

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    It's also worth pointing out that the daily routine is actually to first send a MALP (or, in later seasons, airborne drone) to check things out. We also know from dialog throughout the entire series that they (usually) deliberately avoid visiting gates that are guarded, and it's a very big deal when they choose to assault a guarded gate on one race's or another's stronghold planet. Since it would be a very boring episode to send a probe, see it get blown up, then just close the gate and roll the ending credits, it's reasonable to assume that most of those happen off-screen. – Kromey Nov 4 '15 at 19:14
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    True, but they don't just dial random addresses when they're off-world anyway. Only a tiny fraction of possible 6-symbol combinations (assuming one knows the home (7th) symbol) actually reference legitimate gates; it was part of the reason why it was such a big deal to find the cartouche and, later, the map (movie, pilot episode) that gave them a list of addresses, and why Daniel couldn't get off Abydos by just dialing random addresses himself. That means they know certain addresses when they travel from off-world gates, so it's still reasonable to assume they try to avoid guarded gates. – Kromey Nov 4 '15 at 19:19
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    also, goa'uld use ftl ships to attack one another and their enemies. gates are not convenient for large deployments, and would therefore be less of a threat. – njzk2 Nov 5 '15 at 4:32
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    @Kromey An episode where nothing but MALPs blowing up, melting down, and getting flung into the air as they passed through various gates onto guarded worlds would have been quite interesting. O'Neill would be bored out of his mind as some bureaucratic mess unfolds regarding the ongoing cost of MALP technology. – CubicleSoft Nov 5 '15 at 5:25
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    I can absolutely see O'Neill and/or Teal'c making thinly veiled "threats" to send the bureaucrats who show up to Cheyenne Mountain through the gate instead of a MALP as a way to reduce costs. Much to the chagrin of Hammond - even though only Teal'c might make good on such a threat. – CubicleSoft Nov 5 '15 at 5:38

They're only guarded when they need to be. While the large portion of the interactions we see with stargates are military-focused, they're also used for trade and transport as well. There are only a relatively small number of stargates that are guarded - specifically those by military installations or protected site - just like you can't drive into most military bases or into certain government buildings, but no one is stopping you from driving to the local mall.

For example, most Stargates on Goa'uld worlds are out in the open. This facilitates large armies marching through it, ships landing nearby, trade caravans moving through or even flight through gates using "Needle Threader" Death Gliders. Sometimes there's a guard that is posted, sometimes it's just part of the rounds, other times it's ignored completely. The Goa'uld rule with an iron fist, have massive standing armies, and also make sure that the common populace thinks that all the technologies are the acts of the gods, so there's not much pushback. They also have massive capital ships that could just focus fire in the area, which would destroy everything that isn't a stargate in the area.

Similarly, the Tollan homeworld, Tollana, has their gate in the middle of the a major city. They are the ones with the phase-shifting technology that could get through the Iris on Earth, but whether or not they have a similar shield or iris is never mentioned.

Conversely, the Goa'uld know that certain planets are off limits. Camilla has "Thor's Hammer" automatically guarding the gate and selectively removing any Goa'uld that waltz in. Hadante, the prison planet, has it there in the open, but with no way of dialing out. Erebus and Tartarus are both known have force fields around their gates.

We also see that it starts to change throughout the series(es?). At first, no one bothers guarding stargates save the Asgard & Atlantians at first, but as the Tau'ri become a larger and larger force to be reckoned with, we start to see more guard patrols and large artillary-esque guns mounted around it to be manned - these serto defend those escaping through the gate, or protect the area from things coming from the gate. Alternatively, any locations that want to be free from unexpected intrusions could simply bury the gate or lie it facedown, with the knowledge that they could bring it up if needed in the future.

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We see several instances of guarded stargates in the series notably when they are attacking known gou'ld strongholds (the episode where they wear the armbands that grant them super metabolism comes to mind)

the gates are guarded on worlds where it is important for them to be guarded but the manpower and equipment that would be required to guard every gate controlled by a gou'ld is better used elsewhere since while a gate may allow easy access to a planet only with ships can one gou'ld actually take and hold a planet

also The stargate are a part of the gou'ld control of their slave populations the gods and their servants use the stargate which would make it difficult to hide it away in a heavily fortified bunker

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    Also worth mentioning perhaps is that we have no idea how many worlds are dialed off-screen. You don't send a team through if your drone instantly gets shot down, you just mark the place as dangerous and move on to a new gate if you're just looking to explore. – Theik Nov 4 '15 at 14:11
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    If you don't want to use the stargate yourself, you bury it. If you use it, there is no reason not to move it in a logistic reasonable location. To place at least one guard in front of it, or some surveillance camera that monitors its activations is not too much manpower for a potential backdoor for enemies. And even if you use it as "portal of gods", should there not a kind of temple be build around it and some priests guarding it and woreship arriving gods? The instances we see guarded stargates are few and all plot devices I think. This does not explain all the other cases. – Hothie Nov 4 '15 at 14:20
  • @Theik Right. But this does not explain why a goa'uld let's this intergalactic backdoor to its planet unguarded. – Hothie Nov 4 '15 at 14:23

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