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I've been re-watching Stargate SG-1 and I was a little bit surprised to see that despite Michael Shanks leaving the show, he actually appears in seven episodes in Season 6 (as Daniel Jackson and as the voice of Thor) so it's not like he was completely absent.

I can find plenty of discussion about Michael Shanks' absence during season 6 but there doesn't seems to be a definitive accounting of everything.

Now that it's long past, the truth must be out there. So, what's the full story behind Michael Shanks and Season 6?

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  • Others have answered the question below, I just wanted to add that his decision to take a break made the storyline even cooler, as it made possible more investigation of the Ancients and then the Season 8 finale where he temporarily re-ascends to meet Anubis in the diner. Those episodes were two of my favourite on the series.
    – Kaiser
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 11:58
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    Ego and money. I'm better more on the ego side. it's not hard to see the truth. Don't confuse actors with the characters they play.
    – user45923
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 19:10
  • I’m betting he was pregnant. Commented Sep 5, 2015 at 9:58
  • I've added some additional quotes. There isn't a lot more beyond what he's already said, but it does suggest some other motives.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 13, 2016 at 8:38
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    @PaulD.Waite, if he were pregnant, he would have just worn a large jacket and stood behind chairs for most of the season. Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 19:27

2 Answers 2

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The official line is that he wanted to take "a break" from the show.

Michael Shanks was asked this question at San Diego Comic-Con International 2004.

When Michael was asked why he left the series in season 6 he joked, "Because I hate Rob Cooper." After the laughter died down he followed with the more serious response of, "I needed to take a break from the show. I had a really good year off and then we decided to work together again, it was as simple as that. Nobody expected the show to go on so long and we had options in season 7 and now season 8, and who knows after that."

There was also the suggestion that he was unsatisfied with his character's writing in the prior season.

Shanks also believes that what he says and what gets into the media for his fans to read are two different things. "I read something that claimed I said I hated writers and denigrated their talents. That wasn't it at all! It was never my intention to insult them. I thought the writing staff was just great and did a marvelous job. In a way, maybe I wanted to stay on the show, but I just expressed that the character (of Daniel) wasn't being made use of as well or as creatively as he could have been. I had begun to think the show would work just as well without me and that's when I felt that I had to go. I also felt it was time to expand my horizons and look to other things as an actor."

"The writers disagreed with my point of view. I thought they didn't see what I was talking about. I realize now that I should have left it at that. We had artistic differences, which is what a lot of actors say, but I hated the public speculation that would create. I wanted to be more specific, and it just seemed to cause more hurt feelings. So now I wish I could go back and say we had artistic differences and that's why I left. There is no right answer, given that situation." Shanks pauses. "But," he says pensively. "I am learning to curb what I say."

There's a hint that there were "financial reasons" for his return (e.g. he was offered a chunky pay increase by MGM, possibly coupled with the fact that hadn't been able to find much work over the course of the previous year)

SFN: What led to you want to come back?

MS: Without going into too much detail in terms of the business and creative side of it, I'll just say that the reasons that I left are not the reasons why I'm coming back. They're two separate situations, and I'm walking back into a different situation that's much more acceptable than the one which I left. The bottom line is, I don't think there was any bad blood between myself and the production people, except in theory. And, once we actually sat down in a room and talked over some things, those things were resolved instantaneously. So, the situation I'm coming back to is a bit of a unique circumstance from the one [in which I left], and that's the main point. Nobody bent over backwards; MGM wasn't over a barrel, nor was I coming back with a cap in hand. It was more like the situation changed and they said, 'hey, what do you think about this?' And I said, 'well, that's better.' And it's as simple as that. For me, on a more personal level, I would say the acceptance of the character and the expression of sentiment towards the character was a factor in me deciding to come back.

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    As an actor, during this period he starred in several made-for-TV films and guest-starred in a couple of episodes of his wife's show (Andromeda) so it's not like he wasn't working. Anything beyond what's above is basically speculation.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 21:28
  • That's completely true, but there was a LOT of speculation out there. Particularly regarding Shanks' salary and the producers' desire to have him appear in more episodes than he wanted to; as you mention, he wanted time off to do other projects, whereas the producers, naturally, wanted him to devote his full effort to the show. I doubt we'll ever get a completely unbiased account of exactly what went on there, but it's possible. Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 0:34
  • @JamesSheridan - Apparently she asked him (personally) to guest-star on Andromeda so they must have had a relationship at the time.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 0:45
  • Oh, they had a relationship. It was crossing over with the relationship Shanks had with the actress that played Sha're on SG-1, as well as several SG-1 guest stars. Shanks met Doig when she auditioned for a minor SG-1 role, from memory, but was not cast because the character she would be playing (the Replicator android Reese) was too similar to her character on Andromeda. Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 0:49
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Your question was answered slyly in "200" (S10E06).

During closing credits, the actor says he needed to do some "real" acting without having someone hurl papier-mâché boulders at you all day. From this, you can deduce that he perhaps did not take Stargate very seriously and wanted something that felt more artistic. I actually see it in his portrayal. He rushes his words sometimes, not recognizing the depth of them.

I can understand. From my perspective, as a gay man having to portray a character on a show with grated mentality toward sexuality... No character development because the science is the star, HOWEVER I think like Xena, Stargate is a much deeper show than it's given credit for and I think he didn't see how blessed he was. He didn't realize the authenticity of Stargate.

Yes, it's formulaic and ridiculous, but much of Stargate is revelation and if you respect the ascension plot and recognize the truth of our universe, Stargate is educating people on a reality that nothing else in our culture even acknowledges.

The irony being now he's on that Hope show. Personally I'd be more embarrassed of THAT than Stargate.

Anyway the actor... catches himself and says oh I like papier-mâché boulders, that's great... he says that more for PR. It's not how he feels so i think it's clear that Shanks felt Stargate is a little silly and wanted to be involved with something a little more emotion based.

If he really wanted to push it why not ask them to write in Daniel falling in love with a being that is not male or female. It's no queer as folk, but it's a step.

Anyway, if you watch that scene carefully, you'll get your answers.

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    Although a good analysis, your answer seems quite long (and a bit rant-y). The Q&A system doesn't allow for discussion (besides in the comments, although discussion is discouraged) which doesn't suit answers like yours. To get some more traction possibly add some sources from interviews or snippets of footage to support you answer. Also, take a look at our tour!
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 8:26

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