I'm rewatching SG-1, and in epsiode 5x22 Revelations, it is explained that the Asgardians are all clones and that it causes degradation. Carter explains it like "making a copy of a copy of a copy". That I just don't get. Why don't they just make a "savepoint" of body which is working fine and don't just clone/replicate that specific body, there is no reason to clone new body from the old one, is it?

From later episodes we know Asgard have replication system capable of making anything, so why not just make a "snapshot" of a body and just use it instead of cloning? Would solve their problems, but would buy them as much time as they would need.

Am I missing something or does this just fall into the "they needed a plot" category?

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    Data degradation occurs in the long run no matter what medium you use. So even a single "savepoint" would wear out (if having only one genome didn't do something else terrible to the species), and there's every indication they've been doing this for a very long time.
    – Radhil
    Apr 2, 2017 at 12:14
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    Sure, that's why you have checksum-ed multiple copies and replace drives as they are failing. This is kinda solved problem even on our level of technology. And you could just make personal "snapshot" for each single Asgard.
    – graywolf
    Apr 2, 2017 at 12:19
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    Oh and you could also store the data in time-dilated space.
    – graywolf
    Apr 2, 2017 at 12:25
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    I just put it in the "they needed a plot" category myself. Maybe you could handwave with some sort of mystical force like ascension (or maybe ascended beings themselves making every copy worse, to try to nudge Asgardians off the wrong path and then saying $!$% it). Stargate got so much else right that I give it a pass on this and a few other mistakes. Apr 2, 2017 at 12:27
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    Can the Asgard replication really make anything though? In particular, can it create living organic beings? (Note: dead organic material != living organic material.) I don't actually remember any "replicators" from Stargate (other than the ones that were trying to eat the universe) so this is not a rhetorical question. Maybe these machines can't actually recreate a living creature, which would make them incapable of "storing" this "savepoint"?
    – Steve-O
    Apr 2, 2017 at 12:50

3 Answers 3


Cloning is a biological process while it may only require a single cell (maybe 2 cells) you have to have those cells and even freeze dried DNA will be subject to degradation so every so often you have to get a fresh batch from the current group of clones

While you could probably store the biological material in a time dilation field IIRC time dilation was a relatively new technology to the Asgard and the Asgard had been facing the degradation problem for a long time (theres no indication one way of the other if they used time dilation to store the biological material or not)

As to the Asgard replicators its likely that they are like star trek replicators you can replicate a steak and eat it just fine but if you tried to use that DNA to clone a cow it probably would get you a very screwed up non viable embryo

EDIT: Data storage does not last forever data rot

  • "DNA to clone a cow it probably would get you a very screwed up non viable embryo" why? isn't DNA just a complex molecule? did they try it in startrek? oh and afaik the asgard replicator is based of their transport technology (at least visual is the same), and that can DEFINITELY create living things (since you can beam people and they stay alive). In the between they are just data in the transporter memory and there should be no reason why you cannot just save those data
    – graywolf
    Apr 3, 2017 at 6:58
  • Stargate canon has no explanation, for Trek canon its handwaved as a data storage issue (see the second answer to this question scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/147870/…) honestly though since there is no canon beyond the fact that there is a problem perhaps they do have a copy of their bodies DNA in data storage somewhere and their degradation issue is caused by bit rot
    – revenant
    Apr 3, 2017 at 10:53

For the same reason that our biological recreation process doesn't just "reproduce a base model" — genetic degradation. No known genetic process can make a 100% valid copy 100% of the time. This (as well as the "need" to adapt to changing environments) is why we have sexual reproduction.

Asexual reproduction is common in very simple (mostly single-celled) organisms, where a single-gene corruption is more likely to be immediately fatal, limiting the spread of the mutation to the rest of the species.

Regarding your suggestion of technological replication, I'm extrapolating a bit from other universes (particularly Star Trek) but replication technology is generally shown to be limited in accuracy and/or complexity, also. You don't really want single-bit errors creeping into your shiny new body.

Ultimately, of course, we have to just assume that the Asgard considered all these things and came to the same conclusion. Otherwise, naturally, that is what they would have done.

I try not to put too much faith into the "because they needed a plot" argument, when the "plot" resulted in a fantastically advanced race congregating on their home planet and blowing themselves to smithereens out of the blue. Ugh.


For the Asgard, who had been around supposedly for a long time in SG-1, they did it to themselves by trying to perfect their genetic code, and removed sexual reproduction, and did not become aware of the problem till many generations later. (My favorite way to comprehend the loss of detail via entropy, can be seen if you take a photo copy of a document, then take a photocopy of that document and so on. Eventually it degrades so much that you struggle to read or see the original fine detail) I do agree that maybe they could have kept a golden copy against which they could crc correct the DNA..Now if the Asgard could have re-integrated their DNA, with say humans? they could have had a chance.

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