I was just re-watching part of the Stargate: SG1 pilot, Children of the Gods, and saw something that may just be a production writing issue, but it also got me wondering.

When SG1 is about to be executed, Teal'C says, "Many have said that...But you are the first I believed could do it," then turns and starts to kill his own guards, and helps SG1 and the other prisoners escape (and also kills the other Jaffa guards).

After that, when other guards are running to the prison, O'Neill fires a staff weapon at the barred door/gate to the cell and it apparently fuses the lock so the other guards will have to break in. Then, in the same scene, with less than 30 seconds elapsing, O'Neill turns toward the stone wall and shoots it, creating a small opening, then shoots it again, reating a large opening so everyone can flee through the opening.

Now, normally, I'd consider this a mistake in the writing, but both actions (shooting the lock and shooting the wall) take place on, basically, the same script page, so I'd think it'd be hard for a writer to keep the two actions disassociated in his mind.

Do Jaffa staff weapons have a kind of "1-2 punch" effect like the zats? In other words, does firing a second time at the same target deliver a stronger charge? Or is there something else that would explain why the shot at the cell door just melted the lock and the shot at the wall blasted a hole in it?

  • 3
    It could be Star Wars Physics Part Deaux. Laser weapons melt steel but not wall. It IS somewhat intuitive for a random non-physics person as an expected behavior. Jan 9, 2012 at 2:38
  • 2
    I always saw that as O'Neill attempting to break the door open, but it failed somehow (shielded, perhaps?), not that the lock got fused. The wall was Plan B.
    – Izkata
    Jan 9, 2012 at 3:00

2 Answers 2


No. Staffs are always depicted as directed energy weapons. Therefore their destructive effect should be proportional to the heat and concussion resistance of the material being struck, and the number of hits (which means more energy).

So the scene you describe should have worked the other way -- it should have blown the lock off (since it's a bunch of metal pieces mechanically held together) while the stone walls should have held for quite a while (they're temperature resistant and there is a lot of weight keeping the stones in place.

I attribute it to the writers taking some liberties to get the story moving. Remember that on the Nox planet, a single blast each killed the entire team (including Teal'c) instantly, while during the assault on Earth, Daniel took a direct hit and still kept shooting (and then crawled to a sarcophagus). Serpent guards are routinely mowed down by Teal'c's staff but Teal'c himself survived a number of staff blasts, once even standing up after being hit.

But to answer your question, Staffs do have a cumulative effect, in the same way a hammer has a cumulative effect when we keep smashing the same thing over and over -- it's a matter of energy imparted on the target. But it's not a 'feature-effect' like the Zat.

In the end, I think the power of a staff weapon is proportional to the power required to advance the scene. Unless, of course, it has a regulator dial in addition to the safety release (which opens the muzzle) and the trigger. But I've never seen such a third control.

From Stargate Wiki

Edit: Looking at the picture above (from Stargate Wiki), it seems that there is only a single control. Maybe the trigger has two depression settings: light pressure activates the weapon, more pressure fires?

  • 2
    the trigger has to be at least dual-purpose if it is the only control - as Jaffa are repeatedly seen 'opening' the blast aperture before firing the weapon (and sometimes just as a threat gesture).
    – HorusKol
    Jan 10, 2012 at 1:51
  • @HorusKol - and burning/shocking people's faces with the electricity effect after it's opened already...
    – Robotnik
    Dec 12, 2014 at 4:37
  • TL;DR: Plot armor is OP in the SG universe.
    – Codeman
    Jun 1, 2015 at 21:12

There's also a difference in the physics of hitting a piece of rock and a metal gate.

The metallic lock is a great conductor of heat, and it will probably melt easily, securing it in place. Even if it's not a simple mechanical lock, there will be some part that gets stuck in place, preventing the gate from opening.

On the other hand, rock usually is a very poor conductor of heat. Rather than melting, it will tend to crack and cleave (a purely directed energy weapon might not have displayed such a strong effect, but we've seen many times that the staff bolt has a significant kick to it, so it cannot be a pure DEW). The first blast weakened the wall, the second one more so.

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