In Stargate SG-1 we learn of an alliance of four great races in the episode The Fifth Race. It is also in this episode that the Asgard tell Jack that humanity is on it's way to becoming the fifth race of the alliance. While the humans on Earth were obviously progressing rapidly technologically, they still had many sociological issues which prevented the Nox, Asgard and Tollan from (initially) offering Earth any assistance in the fight against the Goa'uld, for fear that that assistance would be turned on neighbors closer to home.

While Earth still had it's issues, the Tollan seemed to have resolved their internal differences. They lived in an apparent utopia, had advanced technology and learned to be wary of giving it to less developed people. While their leaders could have done with some better people skills, on the whole they seemed to be ideal candidates to join the alliance.

So why didn't the Nox name them as the fifth race and induct them into the alliance? Was there some other criteria the Tollan lacked? Or had the Nox offered it and the Tollan turned them down?

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    They were a secluded race and didn't really venture out into the galaxy
    – Force Flow
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 16:53
  • 1
    @ForceFlow But then again, neither did the Nox >_>
    – jono
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 16:57
  • True...course, it could be that the writers simply hadn't conceived the idea of the five races at that point yet. Or, an in-universe explanation could be that they hadn't encountered any of the original 5 races.
    – Force Flow
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 16:59
  • @ForceFlow SG1 (Samantha and Daniel) had interacted with Thor before then in Thor's Chariot
    – Xantec
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 17:36
  • @Xantec The Asgard were guardians for various underdeveloped societies protecting them against the Goa'uld. The Asgard interacted with these societies as Norse deities. There's nothing that I recall about the Tollan being in a similar situation in their distant past. They advanced faster than native Earthings, thus surpassed the point where their culture revolved around or needed deities.
    – Force Flow
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 18:49

9 Answers 9


Yet another reason, and the one I personally think the most likely:

The Ancients, Nox, Furlings, and Asgard all took some sort of role in shepherding the less-advanced planets, and protecting them from threats such as the Goa'uld. They were each part of the Alliance of Four Great Races, first mentioned in the "The Torment of Tantalus".

The Tollan, when first encountered and asked about the Goa'uld, responded:

We're aware of them, we don't interact with them.

They do not care what happens to the less advanced civilizations, just themselves.

The Tau'ri (humans), on the other hand, were fighting the Goa'uld from day one, and have gone through great efforts, and at risk to themselves, to help those in need despite not being very advanced technologically.

We naturally took up the role that the other Four had, and the Tollan did not.

  • 9
    Supported by the Thor's words in the final episode: "You are the Fifth Race. Your role is clear. If there is any hope in preserving the future, it lies with you and your people." Note that the key word here is "preserving", which fits with what you say about shepherding others. Commented May 12, 2013 at 2:57
  • In other words, humanity have picked up the Mantle. :)
    – graywolf
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 11:13

Maybe "race" in this context means the entire species (Homo sapiens), and not just a population of a single planet. It could be that for humanity to become the 5th race, all of humanity across all human-populated planets must unite.

As per Wikia articles, one of the novels canonically established that Tollans are part of human race, descendants from Central Americans. As such, they are really included into "5th race".

  • Hmm. That is a possibility, but a daunting task to be sure.
    – Xantec
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 17:32
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    This seems like the most likely option. Tollans are not a "Race" - as per Wikia, one of the novels canonically established that they are part of Homo Sapient, descendants from Central Americans. As such, they are really included into "5th race". Commented May 10, 2013 at 18:31
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    The show itself canonically establishes that the Tollans are human. The novel non-canonically describes how they were saved from the goa'uld by furling ghosts.
    – user1030
    Commented May 12, 2013 at 12:25

As has been touched upon; Tollan isolationism was likely a big part of it; but there are is another consideration as well:

Archetypically, each of the four races fall into a category:

The Ancients are Explorers, the Asgard are Warriors, the Nox are Teachers, and the Furlings are Builders. (Probably. It's difficult to tell, as the information we have about them is very limited.)

The Tau'ri, unlike the Tollan, encompass all four of these qualities, and the Asgard would therefore be more likely to consider them equals.


Because the Tollan weren't helping the people of the galaxy like the Earth was.

Also Thor said to Carter in the SG-1 episode 'Unending' :

"You are the Fifth Race. Your role is clear. If there is any hope in preserving the future, it lies with you and your people".


As Force Flow said they were very secluded and only dealt with Earth (and the Nox) when absolutely necessary. But more importantly, for all practical purposes the alliance didn't exist anymore since the Ancients ascended (and died off) and we have no idea of what happened to the furlings and the Nox seem to have isolated themselves.

  • Then why did the Asgard go out of their way to tell Jack that humanity would be the fifth? Especially since they wiped his mind shortly after anyway. Just to make him feel better for a few minutes?
    – Xantec
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 17:05
  • Downvoting because it doesn't answer the question, and Thor specifically called the Tau'ri the Fifth Race in the last episode. Active alliance or not, the epithet still exists. Commented May 12, 2013 at 3:02

Excellent points but I think there are other considerations too:

  1. Seeing as the Tollans were unwilling to be allied with anyone and had a strict isolationist policy, their technological advancements and knowledge would not be shared with anyone, even those they considered their equal, which means that knowledge would ultimately go to waste. The Tollans had managed to create Utopia, they had no need for further evolution or exploration and that knowledge would be left in the archives, unused and they wouldn't share it with anyone else.
  2. There hasn't been an explanation as to how the Tollans were able to evolve as rapidly as they did, especially when you consider that the majority of the planets the Tau'ri were still far behind technologically. It is possible that the Tollans learned what they did through under the guidance of the Omeyocan rather than acquiring this knowledge through exploration which means that instead of evolving naturally to that point, there was an external catalyst and this is what takes them out of the running for the title of the Fifth Race.
  3. Tollans relied extensively on technology to the point of arrogant complacency meant they were unable to think strategically, as noted by Teal'c, which means there would come a point where their civilisation would fall prey to someone more intelligent. The absence of strategic thinking meant that they would at some point encounter a problem they could not handle due to their dependency on technology and their belief in their technology, a reality that transpired when Anubis annihilated their planet since he had designed shields to withstand the ion canons.

Since the alliance of the four great races had clearly ended over the years, the Asgard probably wanted to avoid the same thing from repeating itself; they didn't want a race that was too overconfident, like the Asgards had become, a race that was all too willing to walk away from its responsibilities in favour of its own survival, as the Ancients did, or a race that would adopt an isolationist/pacifist policy, like the Nox, leaving the world to its fate. The Tollans imbued these very traits, the first and the last more than the second. The Asgards didn't want to leave their legacy and their knowledge for it to be wasted, forgotten but rather given to a race that would make mistakes but use it and try and honour it.


The Asgard probably wanted no part of the Tollan people due to the fact that they were just plain "do nothings." I mean, other than one solitary attempt to help the people of another planet in their solar system to advance--which ended in utter disaster for all involved, including the Tollans who lost their home planet--it is apparent that even with spaceships--which Narim said they had in the episode where Anubis was destroying their planet. Narim's last, garbled, fading message to earth, nonetheless, clearly said that "even their spaceships were being shot down before they could leave the atmosphere" (or clear orbit, or something similar)--the Tollan stayed home and kept to themselves except when they needed something from someone.

Consequently, since they would not pass on knowledge, nor help the other races battle the "bad guys" in the Milky Way, nor explore or stay inquisitive, nor even lend a hand, a la "The Peace Corps" to help lesser societies to have better, though low-tech improvements for a better life, the Asgard were probably correct in assuming that the Tollan were arrogant, unimaginative, non-inquisitive, unhelpful inhabitants of a galaxy that they should have, at the very least, been helping the various "peoples" therein to grow, prosper, and defend themselves from all unwarranted aggressors, foreign or domestic. Instead, they seemed to have an attitude of "We got ours, so the rest of you can f*ck off."

Despite the fact that, earlier in their history, they were willing to attempt to help a local race to advance, it was clear that they felt no need anymore to do anything for anyone. As such, they would obviously not be the sort of people whom the Asgard would want to give even more knowledge that would also be selfishly hoarded, for starters. The other reasons are in my argument and others' above. No, the Tollan would never have been called "The Fifth Race" under any circumstances--short of the entire galaxy being reduced down to only five races, total. In that case, the Tollan could have been called the fifth race simply because, semantically speaking alone, they were...if someone was counting and numbering the remaining races, that is. Otherwise, there is no way that they would have earned the appellation, without first undergoing many permanent upgrades to their core philosophies as a people.


Tollans didn't make they was destroy because they thought they didn't need help but the goa'uld who become a Ancients but was kick out and he had to find the tect himself which he did.The Ancients when they was human form tect was more advance than the Tollans . Tollans if they had their way they would never had contacted the human or anyone one else.They pay for it. The human throw themsevles into war with Goa'uld because in time the Goa'uld would had destroy the Earth but its protected by the Asgard..

  • This doesn't seem to answer the question of why they weren't considered for the alliance, and why they wren't named The Fifth Race. Please edit your answer to make it clearer why they weren't the Fifth Race.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 15:51
  • Anubis ascended, he didn't become an Ancient. The Ancients are a specific alien species, not a name for ascended beings.
    – Izkata
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 16:56

The Ancients repopulated the galaxy after the plague that wiped most of them out using the Dakara superweapon. Humanity in the Stargate franchise is the recreation of the Ancient civilization, which is the reason why Humanity is the fifth race.

  • 3
    I’m not sure how this precludes the Tollan from being The Fifth Race to be honest.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 18:29

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