In episode The Tok'ra II. Sam, Her Father and the ...Lover Boy was leaving the Tok'ra under attack planet. They are now in front of the Gate, then the Stargate lit up (as if being dialed as destination). Sam says, they are dialing here.. and also said, not if we dial Earth first.

She dialed earth but unsure who dialed first, if their current gate is a destination or the entry point. Her father stated that they dont have a choice. Lucky day.. they arrived to Earth!

Question is: How can a destination gate lit up as if being dialled from another source, when the address is still incomplete.

  • 4
    I always attributed that scene to bad writing to fill a needed dramatic finish for the episode and they couldn't come up with anything better.
    – BBlake
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 13:10
  • I could not accept the answers below yet. Because I really thought that how the stargate works before. Then I read stargate questions here and in wiki then came up with this question.
    – Sid
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 4:00
  • 1
    It's probably bad writing and just not logical. Like in Star Trek, when they push their communicater and say "Captain to bridge" and the bridge hears "Captain to" before the word "bridge" has been said.
    – Sentry
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 8:20

4 Answers 4


I always assumed that the caller dials the "number" and afterwards, the numbers are sent to the gate network, one by one. Otherwise, as you very well put it, it doens't make sense.

The other posibility, is that while the person is dialing, all gates that match the unfinished address start to light up and turn off when they realize it's they're not the destination, but that's never been seen (at least not on the show).

  • In more than one episode we see someone dialing a gate address and then mid stream the chevrons all go dark and start lighting up one by one again (ie I dialed you before you finished) so if Sam and her dad were as smart as they think they are they would have known right away... haha
    – Odin1806
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 4:38

There is a subspace connection between gates that happens in real time, this is why when dialing the sequence is visible simultaneously. (There is a bit of a plot hole here since there is no way for the gate to know which it is dialing until the end of its sequence, but that can be hand-waved away as we are never shown other gates with similar addresses at the same time so it is possible that they also light up until the address is no longer possible).

  • This isn't totally infeasible. It might be that the Earth dialing program loads the destination gate address into the gate's memory before it dials and "locks it in". Then the gate would know exactly what the destination was, but doesn't establish the actual wormhole until it is locked in.
    – Xantec
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 15:09
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    @Xantec Yeah I believe that is what they imply happens. In other words if you dial the first three symbols, and they happen to correspond to five gates from your position, then those five light up until the fourth symbol is dialed, which may then exclude two of the five...etc. until just the one gate is left and "locked in". We just never see a gate being dialed in and then canceled because the person "dialing in" chose some other address (We never see SG1 saying "Oh look the gate is dialing!...Oh shwew they were dialing someone else.")
    – NominSim
    Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 15:39

The Receiving gate's chevrons do not activate at the rate that the Sending gate is dialed. When dialing the gate there can be a 1 to 5 second delay between chevron locks as the symbol ring spins to align the next symbol. However the Receiving gate lights up at a regular 1 second interval, and it takes about (I haven't timed it) the same time for the sending wormhole to form and stabilize.

From this we can infer that once a connection locks onto the Receiving gate the sending gate begins forming it's end of the wormhole while the receiving gate lights up. By the time the sending gate has completed forming it's event horizon the receiving gate is in the process of forming it's event horizon. Though travel by gate is nearly instantaneous it is not perfectly instantaneous and so by the time the first matter enters the sending gate and traverses the wormhole the receiving gate is prepared for it.

  • Another question is how did they interrupt a successful dialed destination gate by just counter dialing. If its being lit up, the source gate already made a connection, hence we cannot counter the dial.
    – Sid
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 8:58
  • I must say this was alot more plausible than my answer,but I think Sid just broke both answers.
    – Vinc
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 10:23

I don't think all gates that start with the symbols entered thus far can lit up else there would be mention of it in the series.Can you imagine the amount of gates being dialed in the milky way simulatneously,considering the defense teams in the gate room and the ranking officer coming down to see whos incoming if it's unscheduled.There would atleast be some mention if this was the case.Also this would make the story difficult to do,there would be loads of dial-ins/outs at the same time.

I think the connection might just take time to establish between two gates,with distance between the two being a factor,but even this isn't a very plausible answer.I think overall it was just for benefit of the story.

  • 1
    More plausible than you think: There's a transit time in the wormhole, which was shown in the early episodes. In theory, the wormhole could take this long to connect both ends after the target gate was established - that's when the target gate would glow.
    – Izkata
    Commented Apr 22, 2013 at 23:50
  • That is true,Tyson of the Northwest also has a very plausible explanation.Why cant I comment on anything except my own answer/questions?
    – Vinc
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 9:48
  • The "comment everywhere" privilege is earned at 50 rep.
    – Izkata
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 10:57
  • I bumped up your answer so you can comment on Tyson's answer.
    – Sid
    Commented Apr 24, 2013 at 8:58

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