"Message in a Bottle" is the seventh episode of the second season of Stargate SG-1.


SG-1 explores the rather barren and moon-like P5C-353 and brings back a mysterious orb to study. After realizing it is a threat, Colonel Jack O'Neill attempts to throw it through the Stargate and return it to P5C-353. However, it takes control of him to prevent this and infects Stargate Command with a virus.




SG-1 are on P5C-353, a sterile planet with a moon-like landscape, looking for the source of EM radiation which the probe has detected. The source is a spherical metal artifact of obviously alien but not Goa'uld design. SG-1 are reluctant to take the artifact back through the Stargate, but Captain Samantha Carter realizes the object must have a power supply which has lasted since Neanderthals were a dominant species, hundreds of thousands of years ago. Colonel Jack O'Neill decides that the potential benefits outweigh the risks, and the artifact is brought back to Stargate Command for study.

Carter and Dr. Daniel Jackson make little progress studying the object, and SG-1 are about to leave on a mission to a "primordial world" with no advanced life forms when the artifact suddenly starts heating up and emitting high levels of alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma rays. O'Neill decides to return the sphere to its original world, so he and Teal'c carry it to the gate room.

When the Stargate is activated, the sphere shoots out metal spikes in all directions. One of the spikes penetrates O'Neill's shoulder and pins him to a wall. O'Neill starts to show signs of infection and other people begin to become ill. SGC quickly discover that the "infection" can eat through concrete and is particularly attracted to wiring. Dr. Janet Fraiser finds out certain antibiotics slow the infection, and Carter finds that low oxygen also slows growth.

Skirmish with the Virus Orb

The A't'trr

Major General George S. Hammond orders the quarantine procedures known as "Wildfire", whereby the whole base is totally sealed, and the base self-destruct is put on automatic countdown.

Meanwhile, Carter has realized that energy speeds up growth of the organism, and a nuclear explosion is just what it needs to help it spread all over the Earth. When Hammond is told, he tries to cancel the self-destruct, but the base computers have now been "infected" and will not respond.

Jackson sees an image on one of the computer monitors which matches a symbol on the sphere, he finally understands that the organism is trying to communicate. Carter suggests that they allow the organism to grow, and the oxygen levels are increased, with Teal'c firing his staff weapon at the sphere several times to provide more energy.


The Orb using Jack's body to talk to Hammond, Sam, Daniel and Teal'c

O'Neill wakes up from his coma, and Hammond calls his name, to which he responds "O'Neill is here." Hammond asks, "Who else am I speaking to?" and O'Neill says "We are also here."

A discussion with the alien intelligence reveals that although it has no desire to harm humans, it will not allow itself to be returned to its previous world and intends to remain and "consume" the Earth.

Jackson suggests that the sphere allow itself to be taken to P4G-881, the primordial world SG-1 were due to visit, where it will have ample resources without interfering with other intelligent organisms. The sphere agrees, and the spikes retract, allowing a miraculously healed O'Neill to push it through the Stargate. The base computers reboot with the infection removed, allowing the self-destruct countdown to be terminated at the last second.


Appearances for Message in a Bottle




Sentient Species





Notable quotes[]

Teal'c: When a Goa'uld's world is taken by another in battle, he will sometimes leave the means to destroy the conqueror.
Carter: You think it might be a booby trap?
Teal'c: Booby?

(While analyzing the artifact)
Carter: Lieutenant, I'd like to record this.
Graham: Whatever you say, Captain.
Carter: Try to relax, Graham, or it's gonna be a long day.
Jackson: You know, I don't think it's the artifact. He gets nervous like that every time he's around you. Maybe a crush.
Graham: Uh, we're recording now.
(Jackson and Carter are silent)
Carter: Thank you, Lieutenant.
Jackson: Oops. Hey, the artifact!

O'Neill: Good morning, campers! Sleep well? I did.
Jackson: Oh, it can't be morning.
O'Neill: Ah, but it is. We ship out at oh, 1300 hours.

Carter: This is incredible. If Daniel's right, this artifact has been doing this since Neanderthals were still a dominant species on Earth.
O'Neill: Ah, that takes me back.

(While O'Neill is pinned to the wall.)
O'Neill: Teal’c, you don't have to stick around.
Teal'c: Undomesticated equines could not remove me.
O'Neill: Wild horses, Teal'c. It's...that's a joke. You told a joke. Ah, don't make me laugh.

Hammond: The NID people want to see it.
Carter: Even knowing what it's done to the Colonel?
Jackson: Especially knowing what it's done to the Colonel.
Hammond: They're hoping we've found some kind of weapon we can one day use against the Goa'uld. All I can tell them is what it isn't.
Jackson: General, I don't know what to say. I wanted the artifact to be something wonderful.
Hammond: You have nothing to apologize for, son. We've brought things back from all over the galaxy. One just finally snapped us in the ass.


Main Characters

Guest Stars


  • This episode shares many similarities with The Andromeda Strain, including a plan for dealing with extraterrestrial contagions dubbed "Wildfire", the idea of an other-worldly pathogen being introduced to Earth and feeding on energy, a nuclear self-destruct activated automatically by the contagion dissolving containment, and a struggle to deactivate the self-destruct as it will feed the pathogen enough energy to replicate over a significant portion of the United States of America.
  • This episode also shares similarities to the "Lilliputian Hitcher" episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, a show which itself makes numerous code references to The Andromeda Strain. In this episode. a microscopic organism similarly consumes everything it comes into contact with and replicates rapidly. It evolves into a living computer that hacks into the base computer and engages the base auto-destruct.


  • The Orion-glyph is directly activated by the corresponding chevron instead of the top one.
  • When SG-1 returns through the Stargate with the Virus Orb, there is no sign of the FRED on the ramp, and the wormhole immediately disengages behind them. However, after they walk down the ramp towards Major General George S. Hammond and then look back, the FRED has suddenly appeared at the top of the ramp.
  • When the Stargate dials P4G-881, initially it shows the address for the planet for the first few chevrons but when the dialing sequence finishes, it's Abydos' address.
  • When they dial the Stargate to throw the object through, Earth's point of origin has reached the top Chevron, but when the shot goes to Teal'c and Colonel Jack O'Neill, the sound of the Stargate's inner ring turning still plays.
  • The ultraviolet paint is on the wall in the shape of the organism behind O'Neill before he is shot through the shoulder by the orb, well before the Ultraviolet units are brought down to the gate room.

Other languages[]

  • Hungarian: Üzenet a palackban
  • German: Trojanische Kugel (Trojan Orb)
  • Italian: Messaggio Alieno (Alien Message)
  • Polish: Wiadomość w butelce or Kula trojańska or Kapsuła czasu (Trojan Ball or Message in a Bottle or Time capsule)
  • Portuguese: Mensagem numa garrafa (Message in a Bottle)
  • Romanian: Mesajul din sticla
  • French: Un Message dans la Bouteille (A Message in a Bottle)
  • Spanish: Mensaje en una Botella (Message in a Bottle)
  • Czech: Zpráva v lahvi (Message in a Bottle)
  • Russian: Послание в бутылке (Message in a Bottle)

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