I’ve watched every episode of the three MGM-produced STARGATE television series and one of the props and in-universe elements from the first series, the ten season long STARGATE SG-1 is the Zat’nik’tel. They’re usually just referred to as “Zats” or “Zat guns”.  They’re the space alien ray gun that was analogous to a handgun or pistol.

I prefer to call them the obligatory alien ray guns, as STARGATE ATLANTIS, the second franchise series, had  completely different prop and therefore a completely different space alien ray gun analogous to a handgun, pistol, taken in-universe from a completely different species, empire of malevolent space aliens.  I’ll just call them zats because it’s only four letters.

As it is it struck me as weird that the ATLANTIS tv series didn’t employ the zat gun props during the first few episodes, and that the ATLANTIS Expedition didn’t carry the space alien ray gun stun weapon as standard issue when they’re exploring a strange new world that was presumed explored and settled by alien beings that closely resembled humanity in physiognomy and biology.  One would imagine, in-universe, that the natives yet to be encountered could be potentially hostile, temporarily.

So over at Oz Comic Con 2015 in Perth, on October 18 specifically, David Wishart asked a very good question about the zat gun.

Actor Michael Shanks is correct, the zat gun is handheld space penis. When you prepare the weapon to fire in-universe, when cocking it, so to speak, the weapon in your hands extends. Daniel Jackson’s space rod became larger, more erect.

This is not my fault. It is what it is. I accept barely any responsibility for the accuracy of this description.

Every attentive viewer was aware of how silly it was, and very convenient that one shot stun and two shots kill.  It’s practically a mantra if you’re a genuine fan of the series.  That three shots disintegrates thankfully becomes a bit more obscure as the series goes on because the series creators were self-aware and stopped writing situations where people and things got shot three times, on screen, and essentially lampshaded the whole thing.  One the reasons I love the franchise is because of all of the rampant lampshading by self-aware writers, directors and showrunners.  The show within a show “Wormhole X-Treme” successfully mocked the disintegration effect.

A skill, a practice that many genre fans are trained in across numerous media is too fill in the blanks to explain, if to themselves if not others in the audience why something that is a mistake by the creators isn’t actually a mistake.  We spot errors but we enjoy conceiving of how it works in-universe so that it was not actually an error but just something that happened.  In Marvel Comics writer Larry Hama and editor Mark Gruenwald, among others, awarded “No Prizes” as policy for this.

I’d like to think that a second shot kills because the charge delivered by the first shot hasn’t dissipated yet and a disintegration effect occurs because of accumulated charge by the first two shots.  If I was thinking about it, which I normally didn’t at the time.

The YouTube comments section is usually to be avoided as all comments sections are to be avoided normally, as normally they contain the dregs of society.  YouTube Commenter 90 Lancaster really deserves a No-Prize for comprehensively composing an explanation for these rules a bit better than I did.

My interpretation is it is to do with the induction of a field to the person’s nervous system and tissue – the “Lighting” effect with one shot – enters the body and disrupts their nervous system enough to render them unconscious. (sometimes this takes 2 shots if they are wearing dampening armour) two normal shots take the base charge in the nervous system and tissue and raises it to a lethal effect (this only works if the person has only been recently shot – if they woke up and were shot again they’d simply be stunned again). If they already have that 1st charge in their body the 2nd charge kills them by interfering with the heart, the autonomic nervous system and even the electrical passage in the brain. so they are VERY dead (but usually not damaged – though a burn would be possible if the zat was touching them). Now the 3rd charge goes from a 2nd level kill charge with a high lethal degree of energy – shooting them again immediately will act as a molecular distruptor and make them well “Disappear”. In theory following this logic shooting a corpse that has been dead for some time (even if they were killed with a zat would require 3 more shots to distupt) it should likely also be possible to set a zat to kill in the 1st place by doubling or tripling the charge. As a point of similarity multiple close range stunt shots in Star Trek also kills. I suspect the rules were not always adhered to though.


How could anyone not love this show?  Ben Browder is also correct that there are advantages and additional enjoyment from firing actual weapons with blanks rather than using stuff reliant on CGI gods for a visual effect.

I like the idea of MetaGate.  I had the idea of MetaTrek years ago but I never really did either.

Both are really just tags for interviews and convention appearances where the actors and creators discuss the respective tv series.