The Jaffa are an offshoot of humanity, genetically engineered by the Goa'uld to be not only their slave race, but also to serve as incubators of their larval Goa'uld in an abdominal pouch. Larval Goa'uld symbiotes provide strength, longevity, excellent health, and immunity or recovery from many otherwise lethal infections, illnesses, and poisons - at the intentionally engineered cost of supplanting the Jaffa's natural immune system, making them dependent on the Goa'uld for more symbiotes. The Jaffa have a warrior culture and formed the armies of the Goa'uld.
The Goa'uld sought to populate the galaxy (and also mine other planets for a rare substance called Naquadah, which is central in all Goa'uld technology), and sent slaves to other planets via the Stargate until 3,000 BC, before a rebellion led to Ra's retreat from Earth and the burial of Earth's Stargate. (Stargate, SG1: "Children of the Gods")
Some of the slaves who were taken from Earth were implanted with infant Goa'uld, and became known as Jaffa. As 'reward' for carrying infant Goa'uld, the larval symbiote (or prim'ta) protects the host Jaffa from disease and gives the host Jaffa a long life, along with increased physical capabilities (although it is unclear how much is from the symbiote and how much is a result of their disciplined upbringing). The symbiote is also capable of healing its host of most injuries or ailments. (SG1: "Children of the Gods", "Bloodlines")
For thousands of years, Jaffa faithfully served various Goa'uld masters as soldiers in their armies and servants of different kinds, controlled with the indoctrination of the idea that the Goa'uld were gods. Although mostly men served as warriors, all Jaffa are raised as warriors, with strong emphasis on physical development and discipline. In many ways, they can be fanatical in their devotion, as a result of being taught from birth that dying in the service of their Goa'uld masters results in great rewards in the afterlife. They also believe strongly that their ultimate purpose is Ascension, although it is unknown if this belief is fostered by the Goa'uld or simply ignored. (SG1: "Maternal Instinct")
Several thousand years ago, a group of Jaffa realized the Goa'uld were not gods and went into hiding. They became known as the Sodan. They do not carry the mark of any Goa'uld and are proud of their independence. They still require symbiotes however, and must raid symbiote transports to procure new ones. (SG1: "Babylon")
The final Jaffa Rebellion did not truly begin until July 1997 when the First Prime of the Goa'uld System Lord Apophis Teal'c of Chulak, who had for some time been expressing hidden doubts that the Goa'uld were not gods, encountered members of the Tau'ri: Colonel Jack O'Neill, Captain Samantha Carter and Dr. Daniel Jackson. Just as Serpent Guards were about to execute the prisoners, Jack pleaded with Teal'c to help them, Jack voicing his own belief that he could save these people. Teal'c hesitated for a moment, but eventually summoned the strength of will to finally abandon the Goa'uld and side with the Tau'ri. In doing so, Teal'c helped the group escape from the pursing Serpents and returned to Earth where after finally proving his loyalty to the reopened Stargate Command, he joined the SGC's flagship team, SG-1, Teal'c believing that the Tau'ri as well as the SGC were the best chance of freeing all Jaffa from Goa'uld control. (SG1: "Children of the Gods", "The Enemy Within")
With the help of his mentor Bra'tac, who later joined the Rebellion and his team, Teal'c was able to spread his new belief in freedom for all Jaffa. Many Jaffa joined his cause, allying themselves with the Tau'ri and Tok'ra in the fight against the Goa'uld.
There were several stumbling blocks on the way to Jaffa freedom. The Goa'uld wiped out several Jaffa leaders at a Free Jaffa meeting. Only Bra'tac and Teal'c survived. Attempts were also made to break up the resistance and the Jaffa alliance with the Tau'ri and Tok'ra. Seeds of mistrust were planted and successfully flourished between the Tok'ra and the Jaffa, and the alliance was disbanded, with all three taking their own route to defeating the Goa'uld. (SG1: "Allegiance", "The Changeling", "Death Knell")
The resistance was helped by the return of the Goa'uld Anubis and the subsequent civil war among the System Lords. In addition, the Replicators further weakened the Goa'uld, with most of the System Lords being wiped out in the Replicator invasion of the Milky Way. In a series of grand events, Anubis was prevented from completing his goal of galactic destruction by Oma Desala, the Replicators were destroyed by a temporary alliance of Ba'al, Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter and Jacob Carter/Selmak, and the Jaffa struck a major blow at the remaining Goa'uld. This was heightened by the fact that Ba'al fled when rebel Jaffa boarded his ship: it completely shattered the Goa'uld's image as gods and the Jaffa started abandoning their masters by the droves to flock to the side of the rebellion. After Anubis and his Kull Warriors fell due to the efforts of Doctor Daniel Jackson and Oma Desala, the Goa'uld Empire finally fell and the Jaffa won their freedom. (SG1: "Reckoning, Part 2")
With the fall of the Goa'uld Empire, the Free Jaffa Nation was born. Teal'c is a strong influence on the High Council representing the Jaffa nations. His hope is to create a democratic nation elected by the people. There is opposition to this idea however. Gerak believes council representation should be determined by the military strength of the vying coalitions. Despite Teal'c's attempts to sway the council, Gerak becomes the leader of the council. He ensures the faith of the other council members by capturing and executing the former System Lord Ba'al, though it turns out be just a clone. (SG1: "Avalon, Part 1", "Avalon, Part 2", "Origin", "Ex Deus Machina")
When a Prior of the ascended beings known as the Ori arrives spreading the religion of Origin, Gerak is quick to believe after seeing their power is real, unlike that of the Goa'uld. He urges the council to accept Origin and make it law. With civil war on the horizon between those who wish to follow Origin and those who do not want to serve another set of false gods, Gerak even becomes a Prior as proof of the power of the Ori. Using the past as a motivator, Teal'c manages to convince Gerak that the promises of the Ori are false, and allowing them to destroy the freedom they fought for would be wrong. Gerak helps the Tau'ri to heal the plague another Prior had inflicted on members of Stargate Command, knowing that he would be burned alive as punishment. (SG1: "The Fourth Horseman, Part 1", "The Fourth Horseman, Part 2")
The death of Gerak allows for the democratic nation Teal'c envisioned. The Jaffa nation remains in danger however due to the Ori invasion of the Milky Way. The Jaffa suffered a serious blow when their new homeworld of Dakara was destroyed by Adria, the leader of the Ori army, but they continued to war with the Ori. (SG1: "Stronghold", "Counterstrike")
After the final defeat of the Ori at the hands of the Tau'ri, the Jaffa continued to rebuild and enjoy their freedom. When the final Ba'al clone was captured, the Jaffa contributed to the Extraction Ceremony by sending half of their fleet to protect the Tok'ra homeworld so it wouldn't be interrupted. (Stargate: Continuum)
The Jaffa were human slaves taken from Earth by the Goa'uld, genetically altered to be dependent upon their function as incubators for Goa'uld larva. The process ensures compatibility and the success of implantation once the Goa'uld matures and takes a host, but also effectively enslaves the Jaffa to the Goa'uld. (SG1: "Children of the Gods")
Jaffa children are implanted with a larval Goa'uld when they reach the age of implantation, approximately ten-years old. Honored Jaffa are granted a ceremony of Prim'ta during which the implantation is performed. If the implantation is not completed before the Age of Prata (puberty), the Jaffa child will die as a result of a failing immune system. (SG1: "Children of the Gods", "The Enemy Within", "Bloodlines", "Bane")
During the implantation process, an "X" shaped mark is cut on the abdomen to create a pouch for the larva. This pouch never completely closes, meaning the larval Goa'uld inside can be physically inserted or removed at any time. The symbiote replaces the Jaffa's missing immune system completely; without one a Jaffa will die a painful death in only a few hours. (SG1: "Children of the Gods", "Thor's Hammer")
The symbiote grants a Jaffa increased physical strength, health, and longevity. They may live in great health for well over a hundred years. They do not experience advanced old age; rather, while their bodies remain physically fit, after about 140 years or so their bodies are no longer able to accept a new Goa'uld symbiote, without which they cannot survive. Jaffa do not sleep but they must perform Kelno'reem, a deep meditation. This time allows the symbiote to repair any injuries to the Jaffa's body and is necessary to maintain good health. It is possible for a Jaffa to communicate with the symbiote during kelno'reem, as in the case of the Jaffa priestess Shan'auc. The symbiote's healing abilities also make Jaffa immune to the vast majority of toxins and diseases, and they can survive without oxygen for much longer than humans while in Kelno'reem. (SG1: "The Broca Divide", "Hathor", "Singularity", "Crossroads", "Demons", "Threshold")
Through their symbiote, Jaffa possess the ability to sense the presence of Goa'uld, though this ability does not appear to be as strong as that of Goa'uld or former Goa'uld hosts; Teal'c has failed to notice Goa'uld infiltrators on a number of occasions when not already aware of their potential presence, while Samantha Carter seems to be more sensitive to the presence of Goa'uld. (SG1: "In the Line of Duty", "Demons", "The First Ones", "The Tomb").
On the planet Pangar, humans learned to develop a drug made from Goa'uld symbiotes known as Tretonin. The drug functioned much like a symbiote replacing the immune system of the humans who used it and granting them immunity from disease and increased longevity. Once used however, the body became dependent on it. Tretonin proved a successful replacement to symbiotes for the Jaffa, but Jaffa would lose the advanced healing that the symbiote provided. Over time with the absence of the symbiote the pouch also began to disappear. With the help of the Tok'ra the process was refined and several Jaffa, including Teal'c and Bra'tac use the drug until another, more permanent, solution can be found. (SG1: "Cure")
Due to their genetically altered nature given to them by the symbiote, the Jaffa are capable of surviving normally lethal levels of radiation exposure for an extended period of time. (SG1: "Crystal Skull", "Nemesis")
It has also been shown that when a perfectly healthy Jaffa and/or one without a prim'ta uses a sarcophagus device, they will no longer have a symbiote pouch and have an immune system once more. Injured Jaffa or ones that do have a prim'ta however, will simply be healed and remain a pure Jaffa that is in need of a prim'ta. (SG1: "Hathor", "Enemies")
Jaffa are a society of warriors and bear the mark of their "gods", a black symbol tattooed on the foreheads. They are indoctrinated to believe the Goa'uld to be gods, and did not see themselves as slaves until the advent of the Jaffa Rebellion. They believed that serving their gods is the highest calling, and to die while performing their tasks leads to great rewards in the afterlife. Without Jaffa, however, the Goa'uld have limited power. The Jaffa fight their wars, oversee their human slaves, and determine their strength and ultimate success.
Jaffa are well known for their courage and strength of will. Despite being treated as disposable by the Goa'uld, they take pride in their skill as warriors and have a great sense of honor and nobility. They can, on occasion, be superstitious and have many legends; some, like the legend of Kheb are based in fact. Most Jaffa believe in an afterlife. The rebel Jaffa believe their souls will be taken to Kheb when they die, a mysterious planet once inhabited by Oma Desala. Some free jaffa will kneel as a sign of respect to ascended beings.
Jaffa were noted for bearing a grudge against their enemies and for their long memories. Jaffa are shown to have little sense of humor, but the jokes they do have are usually at the expense of the Jaffa of a rival Goa'uld. (SG1: "Seth", "The Warrior")
When it comes to Jaffa romance, at least on Chulak, a dispute between a man and a woman that cannot be resolved necessitates a pledge break. For validity, one of the disputers must request said pledge break, which subsequently needs to be granted by the other. If the dispute is still unsettled, a weapon is required. (SG1: "Affinity")
Under the Goa'uld
- Main article: First Prime
The First Prime was the highest ranking Jaffa warrior in a Goa'uld System Lord's employment. They commanded the Goa'uld's army and was tasked with carrying out his master's most important tasks. Each group of Jaffa was led by a First Prime, a Jaffa warrior who has risen through the ranks by displaying superior strength and ability. First Primes typically, as in the case of Teal'c, bear the mark of the Goa'uld they serve in a raised form created by cutting into the skin and pouring molten gold into the wound.
Some example of First Primes were: Apophis' First Prime was Teal'c, until he rebelled and joined the Tau'ri. Ronac, the father of Teal'c, was the First Prime of Cronus, until he was sent to an unwinnable battle, and executed. Bra'tac has also served as First Prime of Apophis, and of his son, Klorel. A Jaffa known as Her'ak served as the First Prime of Khonsu and later Anubis until he died in the Battle of Antarctica.
The Jaffa would inherit most of the technology used by the Goa'uld prior to their liberation. However, some pieces of Goa'uld technology, such as the Kara kesh and the Goa'uld healing device, responds only to mental commands and require Naquadah in the bloodstream of the user to operate, making them worthless to the Jaffa.
- First Prime
- Jaffa Guards
- Horus Guards
- Necropolis Guard
- Serpent Guards
- Setesh Guards
- Jackal Guards
- Raven Guard
- Bast Guard
- Brahma Guard
- Crocodile Guard
- Dragon Guard
- Emperor's Hand Guard
- Guard of Ages
- Imperial Guard
- Lightning Guard
- Ninja Jaffa
- Olympian Guard
- Spartan Guard
- Thunder Guard
- Warriors of Akkad