In the events of Moebius, SG1 travels back in time to steal a ZPM from Ra in ancient Egypt.

It went something like this:

  • SG1 resolves to steal the ZPM. They travel 3000 years back in time.
  • They acquire the ZPM, but get stuck in the past.
  • Three thousand years later, SG1 doesn't exist, but the same people (alternate-SG1) are brought together to find the time jumper.
  • Alternate-SG1 travels 3000 years back in time.
  • Alternate-SG1 fixes whatever went wrong and live out their lives in ancient Egypt.
  • Three thousand years later, an alternate-alternate-SG1 has the idea of going back in time to steal a ZPM, but decide not to because it's already happened, because Lo And Behold they have a ZPM there waiting for them in a box.


When alternate-alternate-SG1 realized that the whole "steal-the-ZPM-from-the-past" scheme works, they think "cool, we got a free ZPM". They promptly sent it off to Atlantis to help the Expedition stave off a wraith attack.

Could alternate-alternage-SG1 have taken the "stolen" ZPM, stashed it in the Time Jumper, and then jumped 3001 years back to steal it again and again? If so, why didn't they? They knew that Atlantis needs three ZPMs to be fully operational, so why not get two more?

6 Answers 6


You could probably construct a time loop that would let you use the same ZPM multiple times. The time you possessed it would be limited by how long you kept it until you took it back in time.

I think the problem with using a time-cloned ZPM in Atlantis is that it requires three ZPMs. With a time-clone you're using the same ZPM in parallel. I don't think its power would last very long at all.

  • 7
    +1 the implication here is interesting. The ZPM itself might be duplicated, but not necessarily the pocket universe from which it draws power. So you could maybe have duplicate ZPMs, but they'd all be drawing power from the same universe, and thus it'd drain faster than expected. Dec 15, 2011 at 21:04

My first thought is that they would only ever have one ZPM from this - because they need to send the ZPM they have just discovered/stolen back 3000 years so they can discover/steal it again.

But when I think about... my brain hurts... but you might be onto something:

   |      3001 ya ---+
   |         |       |
3000 ya      |       |
   |         |       |
   +---------+       |
        |            |
     Moebius         |
        |            |
       Now ----------+

Looking at the loop... I think you would only have one ZPM now, after Moebius (one you have now, and one you sent back), but there would have been 2 ZPMs 3000 years ago

So, in theory, you could probably leave a note to yourself saying "look, remember that time in Atlantis when we only had one ZPM and really, really needed three, could you see your way to jumping back in time with it to just before we need it a couple of times?"

As Zan Lynx points out, the 3rd incarnation would be almost dead (or dead) after running alongside itself in parallel.

But maybe, also (getting into wild conjecture), there's some kind physical limit about ZPMs, and you just can't have two of the same device in the same time due to some of signature or something, and that's why they never tried.

  • 1
    +1 I think maybe the simultaneous existence might have prevented it (e.g., "entropic cascade failure"), but "Ripple Effect" implies that objects from "close" universes don't suffer from ECF (see the Notes for "Ripple Effect"). Do duplicate objects from the same universe count as "close"? Dec 15, 2011 at 21:02

TL;DR It's impossible, as the existence of the Time Jumper in the main series timeline is a production error.

Main answer:

This shouldn't actually be possible, but it somehow seems to be.

Time travel in the Stargate universe is a bit strange, as it seems to be both multiple-timeline and single-timeline at the same time, which doesn't make even a tiny bit of sense.

However, time travel in the Stargate universe has never been seen to actually duplicate anything, and it certainly happens enough.

The confusing factor in Moebius is that there seems to be three SG teams in play, when there's really only one:

SG-1 #1: The SG-1 that we are introduced to at the beginning of the episode.

That's right, I said "introduced to". This is not the SG-1 we know; but the original timeline team who are later overwritten by the timeline shift that is about to happen, creating the main series timeline in the process. This is the team that finds the time jumper.

In their timeline, the ZPM is taken off-world by Ra and presumably destroyed when his Ha'tak is blown up.

SG-1 #2: The non-SGC'ed SG-1.

SG-1 #2 is created when the modified rebellion causes the egyptian Stargate to become lost, overwriting the timeline from which SG-1 #1 arrived. SG-1 #1 doesn't disappear, of course, because when they arrive in Ancient Egypt, they alter the past to include themselves, essentially keeping them safe from overwriting.

At this point, the ZPM has been stolen and stashed, and is buried beneath the dunes, as is the time jumper they arrived in. Teal'c #1, Sam #1 and Jack #1 are both dead, as is Daniel #2, but this doesn't actually matter. Sam #2 is not a duplicate of Sam #1, but a different person entirely, and the same goes for the rest of the team.

SG-1 #2 uses the time jumper to fetch Teal'c, and accidentally travel back in time.

The version of events that transpire here is the true main series past; and leads to the creation of

SG-1 #3: The main series SG-1

SG-1 #3 have a ZPM already; and have not found a time jumper. While it looks as if the time jumper from the original has been duplicated, what has really happened is that a time jumper has entered into the timeline in ancient Egypt, but just as Sam #2 isn't a copy of Sam #1, Time Jumper #3 isn't a copy of Time Jumper #2 or Time Jumper #1, both of which existed at some point in ancient egypt.

Interlude: Please note that the above analysis might be somewhat confused, considering that I haven't seen Moebius in a while.

In short, the main series SG-1 have a ZPM but no Time Jumper, Time Jumper #2 having been destroyed by SG-1 #2.

"But wait!", I hear you say, "They have the Time Jumper!".

The problem is that the existence of this Time Jumper is a production error. This episode makes everyones head hurt, including the writers, apparently.

"It's Good to be King" happens in the original timeline, to SG-1 #1, and not in the main series timeline, to SG-1 #3. The existence of the Time Jumper hinges on Elizabeth Weir traveling back in time in Atlantis, causing Janus to move his time travel experiments from Atlantis to the Milky Way.

This happens in SG-1 #1's timeline, and it happens in SG-1 #3's timeline, but it does not happen in SG-1 #2's timeline, meaning that while SG-1 #2's trouncing about in the past, Janus is not doing his time manipulation experiments in the Milky Way, and as this is the true past, Janus never did the Milky Way experiments, preventing the Time Jumper from existing in the Main Series timeline.

  • 2
    I'm not sure I agree at the first SG1 we see aren't the original, becauseim sure that in a previous episode it had been mentioned that Jack had no fish in his ponds
    – Jonathan.
    Dec 25, 2011 at 18:26
  • @Jonathan. is correct, there are no fish in Jack's pond in 8x18, Threads. The timeline did get rearranged, not split.
    – Izkata
    Apr 16, 2012 at 22:57

This is in response to Williham Totland's answer above.

"Williham Totland" wrote:

Time travel in the Stargate universe is a bit strange, as it seems to be both multiple-timeline and single-timeline at the same time, which doesn't make even a tiny bit of sense.

I believe it is multi-time-line [1], but it's the character(s) who make the mistake (perhaps out of caution), like in the SG-1 episode, "1969"; it is quite likely that Hammond wasn't exactly an expert on anything temporal (then again, who is?), could just as well have assumed (no thanks to Hollywood) that if he hadn't sent SG-1 back again (from the original time-line since "Children of the Gods"), the he would be altering his own past, when in fact, his past has already happened, and the past he ended up sending SG-1 again to is not the same, but another (even if virtually identical) reality, meaning even if he hasn't sent them back in that episode, nothing would have happened.

The confusing factor in Moebius is that there seems to be three SG teams in play, when there's really only one:

This is where I disagree. Again, lets keep in mind (assuming that I am correct) that time travel is just another way of crossing into an alternate reality [1]. As such, I would submit that the following is what actually transpires:

1) SG-1 #1, departs in Jumper #1, from reality #1 (all the numbers correspond to the reality they are from.) End up going back some 5,000 years, in what is reality #2, where they get stuck after the clocked jumper (#1) is discovered by Ra's Jaffa.

2) Fast foward as reality #2 plays out all the way to present day, where we meet the indigenous SG-1 (#2), where Sam and Daniel have day jobs, Jack conducts fishing tours, and Teal is first prime. The former three get located by the air force after the tape and jumper (#1) are recovered. They proceed to use said jumper to go through the recovered arctic gate to Chulak and encounter reality #2 native Teal'c.

3) SG-1 #2 (minus Daniel #2) activates the "flux capacitor" activates the time travel device and travels once more roughly 5,000 years back, which inserts them into reality #3. There, SG-1 #2 encounters Daniel #4 [2].

4) This reality (#3) then plays out, where events mirror closely enough to the original time-line, reality #1 (Ra is successfully over-thrown and leaves the gate behind this time), up to where we get to present day again, where we have SG-1 #3, who are the indigenous SG-1 to this reality.

The problem is that the existence of this Time Jumper is a production error. This episode makes everyones head hurt, including the writers, apparently.

"It's Good to be King" happens in the original timeline, to SG-1 #1

Why wouldn't it?

Jumper #1 (from reality #1) ended up in reality #3 when SG-1 #2 went back in time (when still on Chulak), and was presumably either destroyed or damaged (as it was unusable from all the blasts it took on both Chulak and later in ancient Egypt. Also, at the same time, in reality #3, there were potentially two Jumpers there; jumper #1 which traveled from reality #2 (when they were on Chulak) and the one that was found half-buried after a sand storm (jumper #4, see footnote [2]) by Ra's jaffa patrols.

After that, reality #3 plays out to modern day, in which there nothing that we were shown on screen that would suggest that "It's Good to be King" would not have still occurred in this resulting reality. Therefore, they still would have found the jumper (which would be jumper #3 [3]) when they went to that planet after having been summoned by "King Archon."


[1] The terms "parallel", "alternate", or "multiple", when used with "reality", "universe", or "time-line", are actually fully interchangeable when talking about a meta verse (what defines the traits of a show, movie, book, and/or production.) Think about it like this: Any alternate time-line IS an alternate reality or universe. SG1 #2 were just as much alternates versions of the SG1 we know as alternate Sam was in Point of View (SG-1, Season 3.)

The difference being in the method used to cross over; the Quantum Mirror appeared to only transfer the travelers to the same point in time in another reality, where as a "time machine" transfers the traveler to any arbitrary point into what is another reality (one of the many possible permutations for each an alternate universe is supposed exist for.

[2] Yes, "Daniel #4" is NOT Daniel #1 who time-traveled with his SG-1 (again, this is NOT SG-1 #1) from yet another alternate reality that is likely nearly identical to reality #1, but nonetheless is it's own separate reality (for one thing, reality #1 did not include a second SG-1, a la #2 around 3000 B.C., which is one thing that makes reality #3 distinct from reality #2, around that point of time.)

Why did I pick "#4" for that SG-1, you might ask? #4 is just an arbitrary number that I chose to show that he's not the same Daniel of reality #1, that we see at the beginning of "Moebius Part 1", who traveled along with the rest of SG-1 back in time ~5,000 years into reality #2.

[3] Note that jumper #2 was never recovered, since SG-1 #2 used jumper #1 which was recovered from Egypt when reality #2 played out to modern day. They never went to the planet in "It's Good to be King" in reality #2, since there wasn't a gate program. They had gone back in time with jumper #1 (the second time that jumper had been used to time travel by an instance of SG-1) emerging into reality #3, where it was probably destroyed or ravaged.


It could be for more moral reasons. They had messed with the timeline so much already they probably didn't want to risk losing O'neils fish ;)

The original Sam originally wasn't happy with the mission and told them to do as little as possible in Eygpt.

Just be careful. We're here for the ZPM. In and out – minimal interaction, minimal impact.

I mean it. All of you, sir. looks at Jack


I was kinda hoping we wouldn't have to stay that long. I'm sorry – I keep thinking I'm gonna step on a bug and change the future.

Also if I remember correctly they said that they wouldn't use the Time Jumper again (might have been a different episode though) because of the problems time travel causes (stargate continuum movie)


TL;DR: Temporal mechanics says No.

One time-line, one reality.

SG-1 acquires timeship, goes back in time, grabs ZPM, slow boats ZPM to future. SG-1 acquires ZPM.

SG-1 acquires timeship AND ZPM, goes back in time (a little farther), grabs ZPM, this causes the ZPM they already had to disappear, as they are slow-boating it to the future from a different location (meaning they couldn't have grabbed it last time). This causes their memories of what happened to be different from what actually progresses through the timeline (at least until temporal mechanics catches up to them).

SG-1 acquires timeship AND (older) ZPM , etc, etc, repeat ad nauseum.

Multiple time-lines / universes / whatevers:

SG1 (1) gets timeship, goes back in time, grabs ZPM, slow boats it to the future. ZPM arrives in reality #1. SG1 (1) skips ahead, but arrives in reality #2.

SG1 (2) gets recruited, stuck in timeship and heads back, landing in reality #2. SG1 (1) is not here. SG1 (2) grabs ZPM slow-boats it to the future, ZPM arrives in reality #3.

Repeat ad infinitum. The Big Problem is that once an SG1 team heads to the past, there is no way for them to return to the present of their own reality. The best that they can do is return to the present in the next closest timeline, so whichever ZPM they grab will be the only one available to grab.

("Temporal Mechanics gives me a headache" - Miles O'Brien)

  • This would be better if you could provide some evidence of how time travel actually works in-universe, as opposed to speculating. (That way you have one answer, instead of two.)
    – DavidW
    Dec 17, 2021 at 22:54
  • Ahhh, but time travel in-universe is inconsistent at best, and subject to the whims of the writers' room Dec 17, 2021 at 22:57

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