This article is about the episode. For the safety feature, see Failsafe mechanism.

"Fail Safe" is the seventeenth episode of the fifth season of Stargate SG-1.


An asteroid is on a collision course for Earth. The Asgard can't help, and the Tok'ra are hard to find, so they return to Revanna to repair a Tel'tak, and SG-1 could deliver a Nuclear warhead to destroy it. However, they soon learn that the asteroid may not be natural in origin.


A civilian is viewing through his telescope and sees what looks like a giant asteroid heading towards Earth. He is "convinced" by the U.S. military to keep it quiet.

At Stargate Command, SG-1 and Major General George S. Hammond discuss their options. They have only 11 days and 16 hours to stop the asteroid otherwise all life on Earth will be wiped out. The SGC gets no response from trying to contact the Tok'ra. They have been overextended and hard to reach since the assault on Revanna. The SGC contacts the Asgard through the Hall of Wisdom on K'Tau, but learn that the Protected Planet Treaty prevents the Asgard from taking any action to avert a natural disaster with Jack eventually losing his temper and according to Daniel, making a reference to Freyr's mother.

Fail Safe incident

SG-1 and the SGC's engineering teams heading for the crashed cargo ship.

After a discussion, SG-1 and an engineering team go back to Revanna to fix the downed Tel'tak Jacob Carter/Selmak and Dr. Daniel Jackson crashed. The team plans to plant a Naquadah enhanced Nuclear warhead on the asteroid which would detonate with the force of 1,200 megatons.

They arrive in Earth's solar system and after their engines fail they are on a collision course with the asteroid. Both SG-1 and Stargate Command realize that the ship doesn't have enough space to decelerate to land. While the SGC sees them hit the asteroid's surface, the scout ship actually enters a massive canyon, and it gives them the extra distance to brake enough to put the ship down, but their communications with Earth are severed. General Hammond believes them to be dead and an evacuation on Earth commences.

Earth 2

The asteroid closing in to Earth.

Having landed on the asteroid, Major Samantha Carter completes detailed scans of the asteroid and discovers that it's made almost entirely from Naquadah. Since naquadah doesn't naturally occur in the solar system, SG-1 conclude that the Goa'uld must have launched it to make it look like a natural disaster. If the asteroid is detonated, the resulting explosion would be big enough to burn Earth's atmosphere, and boil the oceans. Due to a cave-in that occurred while they were back at the ship, the control keypad isn't functioning to stop the bomb from detonating. Colonel Jack O'Neill has to open the bomb and disarm it manually by clipping 'the red wire' but upon opening the casing, he finds the wires are all yellow. He is forced to cut them at random, and after cutting four of the five finds the correct one with only a few seconds left. After considering their options, Sam manages to open a hyperspace window large enough for the asteroid to pass through, long enough for it to miss Earth entirely. Knowing beforehand that their engines will burn up and Life support will fail a couple of hours after that, SG-1 accept their fate.

Fortunately, not long after, a Tok'ra ship piloted by Jalen appears to give them a ride home.


Appearances for Fail Safe





Sentient Species





Notable quotes[]

O'Neill(whispering to Daniel) I've seen this movie... it hits Paris.

(Following the failed attempt to enlist the Asgard to save Earth.)
O'Neill: And after that I kinda lost my temper.
Hammond: What exactly does that mean?
Jackson: Let's just say Jack made a reference to Freyr's mother.
Hammond: We'll discuss Colonel O'Neill's diplomatic shortcomings later ...

(repeated lines)
Jackson: I'm confident.
O'Neill: Me, too.
Teal'c: As am I.

Carter: (referring to the bomb) If it comes right down to it, we can detonate it right here. What's our position?
Jackson: Well, personally, I'm against it. If you wanna know where the ship is, we're about five meters above the surface at the bottom of the crater.

(O'Neill is disarming the bomb, with some difficulty.)
O'Neill: You know, I'd like to take this opportunity to say that this is a very poorly designed bomb and I think we should say something to somebody when we get back.
Carter: I agree sir.

Carter: Now find the wires leading from the timer to the detonator and cut the red one.
(O'Neill looks at the wires and sees no red wire, only yellow ones)
O'Neill: Carter... they are all yellow!
Carter: Say again.
O'Neill: There are five wires and they're all yellow. Maybe I should cut 'em all.
Carter: The thing is, sir, if you interrupt the wrong circuit, it's basically the same as telling the bomb that the timer has reached zero!
O'Neill: (downcast) Yeah, I knew that...
Carter: I'm sorry, sir, but you're just gonna have to cut them randomly.
O'Neill: Yeah, I knew that too.

O'Neill: (looking out the window of the Goa'uld cargo ship, approaching the Earth) Carter....I can see my house!

Jackson: Wait a minute, what about the cargo ship that Jake and I crashed on Revanna during the Goa'uld attack? That must still be there.
O'Neill: In how many pieces?

Webber: I looked again, I still can't find it.
Spellman: Did you check the guidance system?
Webber: Twice.
Carter: Ok, I'll guess we'll have to assume there isn't one on board.
(Carter enters the bridge of the ship where Jackson and O'Neill are waiting)
O'Neill: One what?
Carter: We're about ready to attempt an engine start, sir.
O'Neill: Yeah, fine. Assume there isn't one what?
Carter: (pauses) Recall device.
O'Neill: The X-301? (points to Webber and Spellman) That was you guys?!
Webber: You have to admit it performed beautifully right up to the point where you and Teal'c were sent into... deep space...
O'Neill: (exasperated) Yeah!
Jackson: (slowly) Nice work.

Carter: I was right.
Jackson: This could be a problem.
Teal'c: Indeed.
O'Neill: (touches his face and waves his right hand in the air slightly)  I don't wanna hear it.
Carter: Sir, the asteroid's core is composed almost entirely of naquadah.
O'Neill: Of course it is.
Carter: It makes up about 45% of the total mass.
Jackson: Of course it does.
Teal'c: Naqahdah does not occur naturally in this solar system.
Carter: Which is why I never even thought to look for it. Sir, this whole thing must have been a Goa'uld set up.
Jackson: Circumvent the protected planets treaty with the Asgard. It's almost unthinkable.
O'Neill: What?
Carter: The Goa'uld brought the asteroid here and set it on a collision course to make it look a natural disaster.
Jackson: They knew the only way we could stop it would be with a nuke.
O'Neill: So, what happens when that bomb goes off?
Carter: Well, the explosion will be enhanced by the naqahdah, probably to the force of a small nova. This close to Earth, it would be enough to set the atmosphere on fire and boil the oceans.
O'Neill: Okay, this was not in the movie.


Main Characters

Guest Stars


  • This episode takes place over the course of twelve days.
  • When Major Samantha Carter explains the path of the asteroid, Colonel Jack O'Neill quips, "I've seen this movie, it hits Paris." This is a reference to Armageddon, which features a similar plot. He again refers to the movie when saying "We came, we saw, we planted the bomb. We had a little fun with a meteor shower, we went home. It's a great story." This same reference about seeing a movie where the meteor hits Paris is made in the season 8 episode, "Citizen Joe," by Fred in Joe Spencer's barber shop.
  • SG-1 believes the asteroid was sent by Anubis. '1912 Anubis' is an actual asteroid discovered by a Dutch astronomer in 1960.
  • The name of the episode refers to the designated area of space in which the asteroid cannot be deflected. Major Paul Davis uses the term "fail safe" to describe this region.
  • Dr. Daniel Jackson, O'Neill, and Teal'c collectively develop a catchphrase in this episode: Jackson says, "I'm confident," then O'Neill says, "Me, too," followed by Teal'c saying, "As am I."  They say this multiple times throughout the episode.
  • The spacesuits worn by O'Neill and Teal'c while on the asteroid are the same spacesuit props used in the film Deep Impact, which is also about a Near Earth Object about to hit the planet, in this case it was a comet.


  • As is common practice in movies and shows, sound can be heard in space and other airless environments. In this episode this includes ship noises, footsteps, the bomb and tools to deactivate it, and falling rocks. The beeping of the bomb is mainly for the audience's benefit for dramatic tension, and could possibly be broadcast over the radio to the team.
  • The SG-1 team and their bomb reach Selmak's Tel'tak going through a dusty path, but when they enter the ship their shoes are clean and there are no dust boot prints on the floor.
  • When Teal'c returns to the ship with Colonel Jack O'Neill after planting the bomb (and several other occasions also), gaps between Teal'c's helmet and suit can be seen clearly.
  • An asteroid that large and massive so close to the Earth would easily be visible to the naked eye, and its gravity would disrupt the tides.
  • It is assumed the asteroid continues on and leaves the Earth's solar system forever. While the initial distance and speed of the asteroid from Earth is not mentioned, the asteroid comes dangerously close to Earth at the end of the episode. After passing Earth, the mass of the Earth, and other solar system bodies, would gravitationally interact with the asteroid, potentially changing the path orbit of the asteroid and it remaining within the solar system, posing future danger.

Other languages[]

  • French: Impact (Impact)
  • Hungarian: Biztonsági határ (Safety Limit)
  • Italian: Limite di Sicurezza (Fail Safe)
  • Spanish: Límite de Seguridad (Fail Safe)
  • Czech: Kritický bod (Breaking Point)
  • German: Das Ende der Welt (The End of the World)
  • Catalan: Punt Crític (Critical Point)

Links and navigation[]

Smallwikipedialogo This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Fail Safe (Stargate SG-1). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with SGCommand, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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