In the Season 2 episode Serpent's Song, the Goa'uld System Lord Sokar uses a beam of particles to heat up the iris set in place by Stargate Command. The Tau'ri wait for the gate connection to time out and then they attempt to dial any valid address faster than Sokar can redial Earth. They fail, which gives Sokar another round of attacking.

As we know, a stargate does not accept incoming wormholes if the portal space is obstructed in any way. That's why many civilizations that want to avoid visitors bury their gate.

So why do the Tau'ri decide to go for such a time-consuming and therefore error-prone (given the situation) plan, when they could just use any (large enough) to object obstruct the portal area of the gate even temporarily and therefore inhibit incoming connections? Surely the point of the iris is to enable communication before SGC can decide whether they will allow passage -- but in the case of Sokar's attack, they already know that neither communication nor passage is desirable.

  • 4
    Possible dupe of: scifi.stackexchange.com/q/134566/65768 but in short, "any" object isn't sufficient to block it, it apparently needs to be of some significant size. While that might have been a plan to consider, it would need to be maneuvered into place within a few seconds of the gate closing and while the gate room is already extremely hot, which at the very least makes it problematic. Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 21:20
  • @starpilotsix I imagine it would be less difficult to set everything in place in the 40 minutes they had, so when the timeout occurred they could just push the object in by a centimeter.
    – Natural30
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 21:30
  • Perhaps, but they were already pretty frantic and not thinking at their best the first time it happened. After all, they didn't even have the "dial out to keep them from dialing in" plan until their 38 minute window was almost up. Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 21:34
  • I don't think anyone in their position would be the types to fluster like that. Much more like a writing issue there. But I guess if they'd make that mistake it'd be for something they never expected or drilled for prior so I'll give the writers a pass.
    – John LA
    Commented Aug 14, 2019 at 8:53

3 Answers 3


The only way to stop the Stargate from opening is to bury it, and Stargate Command just didn't have the time or means to do so

For a Stargate to become non-operational, it needs to be buried... thoroughly. A simple object in the way isn't enough to do it, and things caught in the vortex are destroyed on multiple occasions. We even see in Season 3's A Hundred Days that in some circumstances, a buried Stargate can still work, disintegrating the ground around it and leaving a large cavity.

Deep in Cheyenne Mountain, Stargate Command simply didn't have any way to bury the gate, certainly not in the short time they had. Even taking it out of the base via the missile silo, as we see in Season 6's Redemption, Part 2, to bury it elsewhere would take too long, since it is a sloooow process to get the gate up, not to mention coordinating the necessary transportation. And during that time, you can't manually cool down the gate, making the risk of the gate being destroyed even greater.

And even if they could bury it, they would have to finish burying it in the very short window while the gate is deactivated, the iris is retracted, and the ring is spinning for the next activation. That's a very brief time where a lot can go wrong, and if you fail, the vortex destroys most of your progress.

An alternative to burying the gate is seen in Season 5's 48 Hours in which the SGC technicians offset the iris in such a way that the Stargate doesn't open because it thinks it is buried. Still, this is a long process and one that must be performed while the gate is offline, which would not be possible in this situation (because there were earlier episodes where they talk about burying the Stargate, I personally think that this trick wasn't known at the time and Stargate Command researched quick ways to "bury" the gate due to the events of this episode).

Also, let's not forget that a buried gate means that Stargate Command can't use the gate either. There are SG teams off-world who can't come home. If they unbury the gate at some point in the future and Sokar tries his attack again, then everybody is back to square one.

  • And not all obstructions work anyway; I recall one or two gates submerged in water that could still activate
    – Izkata
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 4:32
  • +1. The follow-up question is: why didn't the SGC design a system to bury the gate at will? Some kind of "lift" for example.
    – Taladris
    Commented Nov 4, 2018 at 5:51
  • @Taladris They didn’t have time during this incident, and in most other cases the iris was sufficient. That said, there would have definitely been times where it would have been helpful, like the time Teal’c was stuck in the memory buffer of the Stargate, but I suppose they figured the offset iris trick was good enough for that. We don’t get an explanation beyond that. Commented Nov 5, 2018 at 13:42

They didn't think of it. Even Apophas was caught totally off guard and the Gua'ould are used to sneak attacking each other by numerous means with very long memories of such things.

They probably could've if things had continued but any quick option would've been tough to undue. I'm thinking maybe pull the gate down horizontal onto the iris while it's still active and continuing to cool it from below. Leaving the iris closed, as soon as the wormhole disengages dump cement into the Stargate from the back, now "top". If the iris is hot enough maybe throw scrap steel in instead.

But that hinders their only offworld access when they could retain it which is the very reason for the SGC or just hand over their prisoner like they did. So they'd ultimately do that regardless.

  • The only workable way of blocking gate is to prevent the event horizon from forming. That to happen requires physically blocking the inside of the gate. This can be done by burying the gate, but not all methods work, as this requires the process to be thorough. For example when Earth gate is re-discovered it is blocked by very tight-fitted blocks of rock placed inside the ring... Other way is to offset the iris, but this also requires time. 60 seconds or so is not enough to make it workable as a makeshift solution. I agree if pre-planned it looks doable at the very least.
    – AcePL
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 14:11

I agree with Thunderforge that in that particular episode there was nothing they could have done.

However I strongly disagree with the part that they didn't have the means to bury the gate. The gate is inside a silo that is inside a mountain. Gate goes in from the top and the hatches get closed down.

Simple solution 1

Make a collapsible floor above the stargate and fill it with as many metric tons of sand and gravel as possible. In case of an attack destroy the floor and drop all the sand on top of the gate. In doing so the gate is "buried". This is ofc VERY anticlimactic and they couldn't make a very good episode out of it if there was no "tension" to keep the momentum going.

Simple solution 2

Pour quick-dry cement into the gate room and wait until the level is above the bottom part of the gate. Connection cant be established as there is "stuff" obstructing the proper formation of the event horisont.

Simple solution 3

Make the gate room smaller so that when the gate opens there is no room for the soldiers or material to move in.

Simple solution 4

Get a metallic cylinder and build it to "just" fit inside the gate. When a gate is diaaled by a not preordained time use some kind of a pneumatic ram or a hydraulic system to ram the cylinder into the gate. making it impossible to establish a gate.

and so on and so forth. None of these make for good TV as there are no smart doo-hikies that save the day and us Sci Fi geeks can clap with our smallish hands.

Yes, these are all my personal opinions and somebody out there will find a way to nit-pick it to death with some pseudo science nonsense based on the show restrictions.

  • Where are you going to get the sand, gravel, or quick-dry cement in the short time they had between Sokar's attacks? Also, burying the gate would have to be done in the 30 seconds or so as a new connection is being dialed in, meaning that you are dumping sand and gravel while the rings are spinning. And of course, if you bury the gate, you can't establish a connection again, meaning there are SG teams stranded off-world. Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 14:42
  • @Thunderforge you arent magically going to get any of these things in the sokar attack episode. what I'm describing is done in advance of an attack.
    – Cherubel
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 6:24
  • While definitely possibilities to debate, it doesn't answer the question of "When Sokar was attacking the Earth using the beam, why didn't they obstruct the gate?".I think that's where the downvotes come from. Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 14:42
  • Having watched every episode at least 3 times including the Film and feature length episode for serious 10, I struggle to recall the consistency in 'Burying the gate'. As seen on many episodes a buried gate will simply disintegrate what ever matter is behind the gate. Granted the Iris was a titanium field microns from the event horizon, but even this didnt stop a worm hole from connecting. It just stopped the matter reforming. There was reference to the tablets found on the gate from the Egyptian dig where the earth gate Gate Ra used at the start. However no mention of stopping a connection?
    – DubMan
    Commented Sep 26, 2016 at 15:14

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