'Stargate Atlantis' writer reveals where story would've gone next, never-made 'Extinction' movie

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When it left the air for good in 2009, Stargate Atlantis was firing on all cylinders — and it still had plenty of ZPM fuel left in the tank. The show’s fifth and final season ended with the episode “Enemy at the Gate,” as the untethered city of Atlantis stood secret sentinel off the coast of San Francisco in the wake of an epic close call with a Wraith Hive ship.

As ending episodes go, “Enemy at the Gate” had plenty of payoff for what already had been an explosive and intriguing fifth season in the Stargate franchise spinoff. But with Atlantis now on Earth and poised at the edge of an unknown future, fans who hoped that a sixth season could pick up the story had their plans dashed when the plug was pulled on the series to make way for the new spinoff series Stargate Universe.

That doesn’t mean the show’s creative team didn’t have ideas about where to go next, though. In fact, as writer and executive producer Joseph Mallozzi recently explained on the Dial the Gate webcast, the team wanted to extend Season 5 by making the season finale a two-part episode; one that would have set up the script for the never-made Stargate: Extinction movie — originally conceived as either a direct-to-DVD film (if SGA was canceled), or as the two-part intro to Season 6 (if the show was renewed).

As fans know, the movie never happened, and neither did Season 6. But Mallozzi revealed some of the Extinction script’s key story elements, in the process sharing that Atlantis was never destined to hang around the Bay area — or even on Planet Earth — for long. Instead, he said, the crew would have found themselves stranded in empty space as Atlantis made its way back home, setting up a new time-traveling story arc that would tie back into the Stargate Universe series.

“Atlantis is going to make its way back to Pegasus, and en route they end up experiencing engine problems,” Mallozzi said, via the webcast-adjacent Gateworld website, of the never-produced film (or, as the case might’ve been, the Season 6 premiere). “And they end up stranded between Pegasus and the Milky Way in another galaxy. And they end up detecting a power source coming from a world … and ultimately the story that unfolds ended up laying seeds for what would [instead] be the Stargate Universe story [‘Common Descent’ and ‘Epilogue’],” where our team meets their own descendants.”

The good guys wouldn’t have been the only ones affected by the split timeline, Mallozzi teased, revealing that fan-favorite baddie Todd the Wraith (Christopher Heyerdahl) — who remained stranded in prison in the Season 5 finale — would have had to face off with another version of himself as well.

“One of the things that really saddened me is, it was such a great ‘Todd’ episode as well, where basically you have the present-day Todd, who’s locked up, who encounters a future version of himself who has designs on the planet and designs on Atlantis,” he explained.

“And at the end of the movie, he’s in a position of power. He’s about to kill [Rodney] McKay [David Hewlett], and our Todd steps in and saves him, and ends up turning the tables on his future self….And at the end, when they return to Pegasus, [Lt. Col. John] Shephard [Joe Flanigan] essentially rewards him by freeing him…They kind of part ways, not necessarily [as] allies, but having achieved a certain understanding.”

Sadly, declining fortunes in direct-to-DVD sales coupled with Stargate Atlantis’ cancelation assured that Stargate: Extinction — either as a movie or as a pair of episodes — would forever remain perched at the edge of a cliffhanger...even if saving humanity and finally splashing down in the Pacific after so much time among the stars felt like a semi-satisfying way on signing off. While we watch and wait to see what Amazon might have in store for the larger franchise (now that it has full control of the MGM library), at least we can binge on what’s already there: All five seasons of Stargate Atlantis are streaming now at Hulu, as well as at Pluto TV.

Looking for more sci-fi action in the meantime? SYFY's acclaimed hit Battlestar Galactica is streaming in full on Peacock right now. SYFY is also prepping the new space-set series The Ark, which hails from several former Stargate creatives behind the camera.

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