Television, like life, is just full of surprises.  Shows you expect to be huge hits tank while apparent duds become breakout hits.  Seemingly average episodes on the page magically come together onscreen while guest characters envisioned for a single episode appearance will pop, surpassing all expectations to develop into fan – if not writer – favorites.  Chalk it up to a number of things – the writing, the direction, the onscreen chemistry – but, in the end, you have to give credit to the actors who brought these characters to life and made them so much more.  Here are my Top 10 “guest stars to recurring favorites”.  Plus one for good luck!


Played by Gary Jones.

First Appearance: Children of the Gods (Stargate: SG-1, Episode #101) as Chevron Guy.

First, he was simply Chevron Guy.  Eventually, he got a first name: Norman.  And, finally, he got another first name – and a last name: Walter Harriman.  In time, Walter became as iconic a part of SG-1 as the gate itself.


Played by Anna-Louise Plowman

First appearance: The Curse (Stargate: SG-1, Episode #413)

There’s something doubly, deliciously evil about a stylish villainess – triply so if she has an English accent.  Just too damn good to kill off in her first appearance, she returned for several more outings before her alter-ego, Sarah Gardner, got the happy ending she deserved.


Played by Tom McBeath.

First appearance: Enigma (Stargate: SG-1, Episode #116)

Everyone loves a good rogue, and Harry Maybourne was good as you could get.  Sneaky, self-serving, and an incredible pain-in-the-ass, he developed into a perfect foil for Jack O’Neill.  A rival worthy of respect and admiration.


Voiced by Trevor Devall

First appearance: The Siege III (Stargate: Atlantis, Episode #201)

The Asgard always had a dry sense of humor, perhaps none more than this acerbic fellow who, I suspect, would have been equally at home on Frasier.


Played by Connor Trinneer (and Brent Stait for one episode)

First appearance: Michael (Stargate: Atlantis, Episode #218)

What made Michael stand out was his complexity and depth.  A product of Atlantis’s own creation, he was an outcast at odds with his own identity.  Can you blame him for being angry?



Played by Robert Davi

First Appearance: The Storm (Stargate: Atlantis, Episode #110)

Sure, aliens are plenty scary, but none proved quite as fearsome as Acastus Kolya.  It’s a testament to the character that he made an appearance even after his presumed death two years earlier.


Played by David Nykl

First appearance: Thirty Eight Minutes (Stargate: Atlantis, Episode #104)

The unassuming Czech scientist first introduced in Thirty Eight Minutes eventually developed into a beloved member of the expedition – and his verbal sparring with Rodney became a regular episode highlight.


Played by Chris Heyerdahl

First appearance: Common Ground (Stargate: Atlantis, Episode #307

Dangerous and inscrutable, yet possessed of an almost palpable nobility.  He would develop into Sheppard’s most formidable adversary.


Played by Cliff Simon

First appearance: Summit (Stargate: SG-1, Episode #515)

As far as villains go, you’d be hard-pressed to find one more stylish or possessed of a better sense of humor.


Played by Claudia Black

First appearance: Prometheus Unbound (Stargate: SG-1, Episode #812)

A mercenary with a heart of gold (she would certainly trade in for cash if she could) – and serious trust issues – went from hijacking Daniel Jackson to earning herself a spot on SG-1.  Damn, she was fun to write for.


Played by Robert Picardo

First appearance: Heroes II (Stargate: SG-1, Episode #718)

From irritating pencil pusher to lovable Commander in six short years. His road to redemption was a joy to behold.  And script.

28 thoughts on “April 2, 2013: From guest stars to recurring favorites! My Top 10! And 1 for good luck!

  1. Naturally, Cliff Simon’s Ba’al was beyond terrific. He really nailed that character and made him a joy to hate. Cliff once said that he knew right from the beginning that he had to make his Big Bad come across as more of a three dimensional character and not just as a stereotypical bad guy if he wanted to work more.

    I would also include Apophis, played by Peter Williams, the very first ‘over-the-top’ bad guy.

    And, for SG- Universe, Varro, played by Mike Dopud. He was a character who seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in his allegiance with the Lucian Alliance, but showed that he was a decent guy later on. It’s nice to see characters who start out bad and manage to come out on top as the person who learned their lesson.

  2. Hey, Joe!

    Totally agree w/ all 11!

    Curious though, no one from SGU.
    If it had gone on for more seasons, is there anyone from SGU that you think could have made it on the list?

  3. Richard Woolsey was my favourite boss of SGA. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Weir, but Carter (who I liked on SG1) never felt like a good fit – at least for me.

    As for baddies, well it has to be Kolya. Michael was good, and while I loved Todd, I never really thought of him as a bad guy. His character was much too complex for that. Radek…was a sweetie, but from all the SG1 characters you mentioned I liked Harry the best. He was another complex man, and I adore characters that always keep you guessing.

  4. A fantastic list. I love the character of Vala Mal Doran. I also have added to Apophis. Which by the way, I’ll have the pleasure of meeting this month in Valencia (Spain) during Gatercon 2.0.

  5. @ Marsha_R – You are the more loyal, as I did not wait up for this…but instead went to bed cursing Joey under my breath for not posting in a timely manner. He just does not take us east-coasters into consideration! (However, I also curse Joey under my breath when he posts too early, mostly because I just like cursing Joey under my breath for everything! :D)

    @ Joey – You forgot Todd’s wit, his purrrrfelicious voice, his exquisite fashion sense, and his uncanny ability to inspire fan fic that revolves solely around untangling his hair…with and without Sheppard doing the brushing.

    Not sure I can come up with 10 since I didn’t watch SG-1, but (using character names), mine would be:

    Major Lorne
    Ladon Radim (come on – it’s Ryan Robbins!)
    Cowen (mostly ’cause of the Star Trek connection)
    Halling (mostly ’cause of the Heyerdahl connection)
    Kavanagh (the illimitable prick everyone loves to hate!)

    Okay, that’s my 10! I really loved to hate the Genii, too. 🙂

    I would have added Wraith queens and commanders/scientists to my top ten since early on most were portrayed by Andee Frizzell and James Lafazanos, but they don’t count as recurring characters, though they are recurring actors.

    @ PBMom – I have mulled over your suggestion, and have come to the conclusion that Todd really would not be Dancing with the Stars material…he would find it too pompous and flash. Steve the Wraith, on the other hand… 😉


  6. D’accord avec tous vos choix, mais mention spéciale à Claudia Black, une des actrices les plus talentueuses que j’aie vue, et Gary Jones: comment peut-on répéter 1 000 000 de fois “chevron one encoded”
    sans jamais jamais jamais être ennuyant et avoir voulu continuer à redire la même phrase pendant 10 ans. Quel professionnalisme!

  7. Das: I believe you’re right! 9.5 cookies did seem a big odd. I liked the movie but it seemed more like a 6 cookie film.
    Oh and did you see Chris Heyerdahl on Castle a few weeks back? He’s so fun to watch.

    Those were some good choices for favorite guest stars. There were a few more guests I liked seeing, for example, Kate Hewlett was always fun.

  8. You’ve had some really excellent luck with the recurring characters on Stargate! Love them! Kolya and Todd were the BEST!

  9. @ Tam Dixon – Oh, yesssss….saw Chris and he totally melted me right down into my boots with that Frenchified accent of his! GUH!!! *dies*

    Now, if only I can teach Mr. Das how to do THAT one. He still prefers Chris’ Todd voice, but the big problem there is that he’s always calling me Sheppard, and then I start worrying about HIS fantasies…



  10. I love your choices. Who in the show makes these selections because that’s a talent in itself. I loved Maybourne, Michael and Vala. Would it be possible to have Claudia Black on a Q & A session? I would love to know what projects she is into these days. Frankly, I lookout for all the SG alums in all the shows that come up. They bring back memories of a good franchise and are themselves a good, professional introduction to new shows or guest spots. I’d like to see more, but we all know that TPTB never listen to the fans anyway…

    All that said, I thought that Zelenka was under-used, even though he did fit in where he did appear. Kolya and Michael were fantastic villains and Melbourne was a smooth-talking, but loveable one. Chris Heyerdahl is multi-faceted and mult-talented and shines in any part he plays. Cliff Simon – excellent. I’d like to see him around more often too. Too much talent going to waste. Your picks are excellent – I’d like to continue seeing them all more often, including Gary Jones and Kavan Smith, who you didn’t pick, but I would have.

    There are probably more (I KNOW that there are many more..) that I would have picked, but then that would make the list endless. I also liked Morena Baccarin and don’t forget the kids of SGA and SG1. They were superb, even the youngest (who must not be so young now…) I’d love to know what they are doing, without divulging any privacies. Best wishes to them, if they decide to continue in such a fickle business.

  11. Zelenka (would have loved to see a lot more of him), Harry and Todd all amongst my favorites, too. And Vala? Simply the best!

  12. Those are great choice of characters and actors. I couldn’t argue with any of them. And yes there’s probably lots more that deserve mention.

    I’m just sitting here in LAX waiting for our final flight to Vegas enroute to Grand Canyon AGAIN. This time with friends, which should be fun. Not sure how much chance I’ll get to comment over the next few days but I’ll try!

  13. Throughout her run on SG1, I really couldn’t see a point to the Vala character, granted she was written in with some meaning when she had her baby via the Ori, but even so, if Adria had a different mother, it wouldn’t of changed the series that much.

    I thought Ba’al was the best recurring on SG1, with Todd and Woolsey the best on SGA.

    Cam was much better written and had much more a purpose on the show than Vala in my opinion.

  14. Mmmmm. Todd. 🙂

    Maybourne. I’d forgotten about him, but he’s an excellent choice. No arguments from me about any of your choices.

    @das: I’ve got to agree with your hubby that the way Todd said “Sssheparrrd” was very cool and well worth imitating. But I completely understand your concerns. It would be a bit creepy…

  15. I know that you’ve mentioned before that had there been a season six, Kolya would have come back alive and not as a hallucination, but would Michael have?

    And you’ve probably mentioned this before, but would Zelenka have finally been made a series regular in Season Six and Todd to? Always wondered about that.

  16. @Joan001: If you’re interested, she’s done some voice acting for Bioware’s Dragon Age series. She plays a pretty important character in Origins. 🙂

  17. Vala and Ba’al are my two of my very favorite characters (plus Rodney), so I”m glad they got to stick around. And I always loved Zelenka’s mutterings around Rodney.

    What about Lorne?! I remember he went through some naming issues just like Walter. Which, actually, I just listened to the audiobook where Gary talks about his naming/renaming – funny stuff!

  18. Osiris is great. Otherwise Apophis or Hathor – they are awesome.
    But any of the Tok’ra would hand-down be the favourite recurring character for me. I love the Tok’ra more than any of the other characters.
    Especially Martouf/Lantash – he is/they are my all-time favourite character(s) in all of Stargate, all shows.

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