In Season 3's "Forever in a Day", Daniel and Teal'c discuss what happens when two Goa'uld have a child:

Daniel: Teal'c, what happens if two Goa'uld hosts have a child.

Teal'c: It is strictly forbidden, punishable by death.

Daniel: Really. Why?

Teal'c: If two hosts were to mate and produce a child, that child would contain all the knowledge of the Goa'uld.

Daniel: So the genetic memory that Goa'uld have in their DNA is passed onto the human offspring.

Teal'c: That is correct. Such children are called Harcesis. These children are hunted down and destroyed by the Goa'uld with great impunity.

Daniel: So the offspring, the Harcesis, would contain all the knowledge, all the secrets of the Goa'uld that…

Teal'c: Yes, Daniel.

Another question on this site asked if a Tok'ra could mate with a Goa'uld and produce a Harcesis child in order to gain intelligence. But why would the Tok'ra not want to create a Harcesis child between two Tok'ra?

It seems clear to me that the reason the Goa'uld don't want a human child having the knowledge of the Goa'uld is that they crave power. A human who knows where all of your military bases are, your weaknesses, and so on is likely to use that knowledge to help overthrow you, especially if that craving for power is passed on as well.

However, the Tok'ra don't have that craving for power due to the Goa'uld Queen Egeria giving a mental imprint of compassion and a desire to rebel against the Goa'uld. Especially with their diminishing numbers (a plot point brought up throughout the show), it seems to me that duplicating the knowledge of the Tok'ra would be a good thing. That way, if a Tok'ra dies, there are humans raised by the Tok'ra who still have that knowledge.

So why didn't the Tok'ra ever create a Harcesis child among themselves in order to preserve their memories?

  • 2
    Nothing prevents it except bad writing. I've always wondered that myself. It made no sense to me. Especially given we know Tok'ra do fall in love with each other, and with outsiders, so it's not a lack or romance.
    – BBlake
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 22:34
  • Well, the one we did see didn't side with his parents...
    – Izkata
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 2:23
  • Isn't there also a saying a few times in the series when that points gets brought up: That if you have the knowledge of the goauld you become like one (seen in one episode even where I think daniel tries to conquer earth?). That could be a reason there for that also that the child would be like the normal goa'uld.
    – Thomas
    Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 20:59
  • @Thomas, you're right, they did say something to that effect. But if you had the knowledge of the Tok'ra wouldn't you become like one? And wouldn't that be a good thing? Commented Jun 27, 2015 at 21:07
  • The question is more WHY are the Tokra different to the go'auld. And would it be the same for the child. Thus can they even dare to take the risk? As one has seen they can't tell to whom ones loyality belongs and thus such a child could easily destroy them if it is like their brethren and not like themselves.
    – Thomas
    Commented Jun 28, 2015 at 20:03

4 Answers 4


I think the answer to that is in Stargate's "Absolute Power". In there Daniel is given knowledge, admittedly from Goa'uld, but he seems to be able to fight off the vicious streak it also contains. He succumbs to it, apparently, but my take is something else was the cause.

One explanation would be good ole' superiority complex. More severe cases can include paranoidal delusions, but for the matter at hand just vanilla complex will be enough. It simply makes you believe that your solution to any given problem is the best, because you're the only one capable of solving it, given that you alone possess necessary knowledge.

Second explanation would be inherent in human beings capability to do both good and evil. More often than not someone does something unforgivable simply because one can. It would definitely be supported by other phenomenon called wardens and prisoners experiment.

Both are, in my opinion, inescapable in such situation, provided the mind is not ready. Which seems to be the case in the universe, as implied by a number of "older" races.

So, just like the boy said: this fight cannot be won, so the only way to win is to deny battle.

I thing Tok'Ra are aware of that as well. And child born with knowledge will not have the balancing influence of the wisdom and experiences of the Tok'Ra symbiont. Simply because knowledge nor intelligence is not wisdom. And if acquired for free, it's worthless. If there is no effort, pain etc., in it, it can't really teach much, if anything at all. Also, Tok'Ra are descendant's of the Goa'uld themselves, which means their memories and experiences would be mostly bad, as well.

And last thing would be that for the Tok'Ra such move would be very Goa'uld, thus by definition not allowable.

It's not clear if the Harsesis requires queen itself, but it's definite that the parasite must go dormant for the time of the pregnancy. It may be impossible for any Tok'Ra to take that long sabbatical.

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    The next-to-last part about knowledge/intelligence vs wisdom, I don't think quite holds up - all the Tok'Ra were created by one Goa'uld Queen, Egeria, who altered the personality of her offspring to make them different from the Goa'uld - but they were born with the same knowledge/memories as a Goa'uld would be
    – Izkata
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 3:21
  • They make it clear in "Absolute Power" that there is an evil personality embedded in the Harsesus subconsciousness, not just knowledge. They literally refer to it as "the evil in my subconscious." Daniel doesn't succumb to normal human failings powered up with Goa'uld knowledge. He succumbs to that evil personality. They literally show it changing his perceptions. We see this phenomenon of the racial memory leading to a domineering evil personality in Anna as well. In that case, it was the result of human experimentation on Goa'uld and human DNA with no Goa'uld conscious intervention at all.
    – HyperNym
    Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 9:06
  • @HyperNym Correct. That evil comes from memories of all the Goa'uld of the genetic lines. The difference is that for Goa'uld there is no such thing as imperfect memory. Their recall is total, unlike in humans, who can suppress bad memories. To some extent - it will be buried in subconsciousness, as they say. Which means Tok'ra will remember good and bad and will remember why he is opposing the Goa'uld. Human will not.
    – AcePL
    Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 10:24
  • @izkata That's one opinion, unfortunately. There's no proof she did that. Other explanation would be because Tok'Ra came from Egeria, they, as she did, believed the Goa'uld way was wrong, and did that freely. This is basic "implementation" of genetic memory and may not be result of genetic manipulation. And, in fact, such manipulation would be unacceptable as Goa'uld way, as well. She would be essentially creating slaves to her worldview, no matter how good and benevolent... I think Tok'ra are volunteers.
    – AcePL
    Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 10:31
  • @AcePL "I think Tok'ra are volunteers" is definitely wrong, as it's stated outright that all Tok'ra are Egeria's offspring. She rebelled against Ra and ensured her children would be different, then died/went missing. This was why they're so careful, the Tok'ra can't increase their numbers.
    – Izkata
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 16:22

The bulk of what we know of Harcesis comes from the episode "Absolute Power". This first scene explains how it works:

HAMMOND: What about the information this boy apparently knows? What exactly can he tell us?

TEAL'C: He is born with the genetic memory of all Goa'uld who came before him.

O'NEILL: So the kid should know everything Apophis knew when he...

DANIEL: Fathered the boy.

O'NEILL: That.

HAMMOND: That must be an awfully big burden for a young child to carry.

TEAL'C: That is why all Goa'uld are born evil.

DANIEL: It also explains why a benevolent being like Oma Desala would help the boy to bury those memories in his subconscious so he could lead a normal life.

And then:

CARTER: [The Tok'ra] say they can use the memory recall device to extract information from Shifu without harming him physically.

DANIEL: Ahh what about emotionally? I mean think about what we'd be exposing him to. We'd be flooding his mind with the thoughts of a thousand Hitlers. One of whom happened put a snake in the head of his mother. Look I realise we're talking about protecting Earth and potentially eliminating the Goa'uld entirely but..

HAMMOND: It seems to me the boy is fairly wise well beyond his years in fact. Isn't it possible he might comprehend the situation if you explained it to him?

DANIEL: Well I guess so but I doubt he'd be willing to remember. And even if he is how can we ask him to?

CARTER: Well if he forgot once, maybe he could forget again?

The most important line:

SHIFU: Oma teaches the true nature of a man is decided in the battle between his conscious mind and the desires of the subconscious. Oma teaches the evil my subconscious is too strong to resist and the only way to win is to deny it battle.

The key point about the Goa'uld is that their genetic knowledge is entire. I mean, not just technical details, or strategy, or military knowledge, but eons of enslavement and enjoyment of corrupting power, from birth. Like real life, racists beget racists, abusers beget abusers, new goa'uld are immediately born being taught how to be power hungry bast'ards.

Shifu was burdened with that, but Oma, an Ancient, buried that knowledge, preventing him from being morally corrupted. When he had Daniel experience that knowledge in a dream, even a full grown adult like Daniel fell to millions of years of Goa'uld shenanigans in his subconscious.

How this applies to the Tok'ra. It basically doesn't. A Tok'ra Harcesis would essentially be like the Tok'ra that begot it. As far as I could tell through the series, there is only one generation of Tok'ra around, no other queens, so the Harcesis wouldn't know much. And as a human only, would not even benefit from the symbiotic healing or anti-aging, or blended consciousness that can sound off each other. Most importantly, trying to keep the Tok'ra alive through Harcesis would be keeping the Tok'ra only in name, as the essential part of being Tok'ra is being a symbiote. It would no more be the Tok'ra as androids surviving past humanity's demise would be humanity.

  • Everything that applies to Goa'uld Harsesis applies to Tok'ra one, except for last millenium or so. Remember, Egeria was Goa'uld descent, so her memories necessarily contained "thousands of Hitlers". It's only her change of heart that liberated Tok'Ra from evil fate. But the genetic memory is still there in every one of them. What's stopping it from taking over all Tok'Ra?
    – AcePL
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 10:19
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    @acepl based on the episode Malek: The knowledge imparted on her young by a queen is done so voluntarily. As such either she kept out just the evil parts or all of it.
    – user16696
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 13:10
  • Does anywhere says it's partial knowledge? AFAIK it's all or nothing. More: would Tok'Ra member be Tok'Ra without the complete knowledge? Do we know what makes Tok'Ra be as they are, and not Goa'uld?
    – AcePL
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 22:04
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    I like this answer, makes sense within the given context. Also, humans who knew the location of every potential Tok'ra base & agent would be a huge security risk. It just seems like the idea is all around a lot of risk for very little benefit.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 1:54
  • Sorry, but Egeria demonstrated that she could guarantee the formation of a Tok'ra and not a Goa'uld. There is literally no evidence she ever failed. She could pass on any memories she chose to. The weight of the evidence is that the Tok'ra have no such Hitler lineage in them, whether or not Egeria had it in her, which we can't even say for certain.
    – HyperNym
    Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 9:18

Besides the apparent taboo around this, it wouldn't make any strategic difference. The Tok'Ra separated from the Goa'uld thousands of years ago, so a Tok'Ra Harsesis child would only possess the knowledge of the Goa'uld up to that point of separation - knowledge each of the Tok'Ra already possesses.

The only exceptions I can think of would be Tanith - a known Goa'uld infiltrator carried and brought to the Tok'Ra by Shan'auc of the Red Hills, and Cordesh. However, in the first case this would have revealed their knowledge of their infiltration and in the latter there was no time. In any case, the Tok'Ra would probably have resorted to other means (like memory, their retrieval technology) to extract the information if the opportunity had presented itself.


I have read that there is a Tok'ra harcesis.

I have read about a woman called Ser'name, she is the daughter of Kadon (a man who host of Selmak previous to Saroosh) and Pria (the host of Ja'nok); I have read that Ser'name Harcesis gene has been deactivated, so Ser'name cannot access to her Harcesis memory.

  • 1
    Precisely where did you read this? I can't find any record of her in any of the EU novels, nor does she appear on the show
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 28, 2020 at 21:03

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