Last night, news broke about the sudden passing of actor Cliff Simon who played the role of the system lord Ba’al over several seasons on Stargate. It’s no secret that Ba’al was one of my very favorite villains to write, and this was wholly attributable to Cliff’s masterful performance. He imbued the character with confidence and color, a delectably wicked self-assuredness that made me an instant fan following his introductory appearance in SG-1’s fifth season two parter Summit/Last Stand. The episodes were designed to showcase some potential new villains for the series, and Cliff not only seized the opportunity; he devoured it. It was an impressive debut, but it wasn’t until the following year, in season 6’s Abyss, that Cliff truly gave life to the character in a delightfully nefarious guest appearance at turns commanding and comedic. And that’s one of the things I loved about Cliff’s Lord Ba’al. He wasn’t just a formidable opponent. He also had style and, most importantly, a sense of humor – which was very much Cliff himself.
He ended up guesting in fifteen episodes, a few of my personal favorites being Ex Deus Machina (in which the former “god” takes up residence on Earth as a powerful business magnate) and Quest 1 and II (which featured him in fine roguish style, forming an unlikely alliance with the team only to end up getting decked by Samantha Carter).
His final appearance was in Stargate: Continuum, a time-tripping adventure that confirmed yet again his status as one of the Stargate franchise’s greatest villains. I remember running into him in the production offices after wrap where he suggested that maybe, just maybe, the SGC hadn’t been successful in ferreting out all the Ba’al clones and that perhaps one clone had survived to live another day. And I agreed that it was possible, not because I was humoring him, but because I sincerely wanted to write for his character again some day.
I knew Cliff Simon the professional but never really had the opportunity to get to know him personally as, clearly, many of you had over the course of numerous convention meet-ups and fan events. So, in tribute to Cliff, leave a comment to this post. Tell us about an interaction you may have had with him, a happy memory, or let us know your favorite Ba’al episode or moment.