The Wraith are a humanoid hive-based species from Pegasus, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, who harvest the 'life-force' of other humanoid beings for nourishment through suckers on their right hand palm. Countless worlds live in constant fear of the Wraith, who return periodically to cull their human herds. After taking their fill, the Wraith hibernate for centuries, watched over by Keepers, before they wake and feed again.
The Lanteans first encountered the Wraith many thousands of years ago, however, the Wraith race is over 100,000 years old according to Todd. After arriving in the lifeless Pegasus with Atlantis, the Ancients seeded several planets with humans and Stargates. In regards to the origin of the Wraith, it was theorized that one of these planets held a creature called the Iratus bug, which began feeding on the humans. Eventually, they began to take on advantageous human characteristics, such as larger brain mass, bipedal locomotion, and opposable digits. Once awoken, the Wraith went to war with the Lanteans and fed upon the humans of the Pegasus Galaxy. This was obviously after many thousands of years because the Wraith had to become advanced enough for interstellar travel. (SGA: "Rising", "The Gift")
However, the Wraith were actually created around nine hundred years before Atlantis was abandoned. In an effort to make themselves immortal in case they couldn't Ascend, the Ancients began experimenting on transforming themselves into immortal beings. On a frozen planet, the Ancients built a facility where they experimented on one hundred male and one hundred female test subjects taken from around the galaxy while creating a weapon that would wipe out their test subjects if they ever lost control of them. All but nine of the females died in the experiment while ninety-nine of the males survived. Under the Ancients testing, the Wraith began developing the characteristics and powers they would later have. Eventually, the Wraith learned how to use their telepathic abilities and tricked the guards into releasing them. The Wraith stole the weapon that could kill them and the facility's ZPM and escaped through the Stargate to Athos. The Ancients chased them, but by the time they reached Athos, the Wraith were gone. The Ancients continued to chase the Wraith, setting a trap for them when they briefly attempted to return to Athos. Eventually, the Wraith were able to steal ships and hide the ZPM and weapon. It is suggested that a mollusk creature found on one of their original sanctuaries, Cair Leonid, would become the basis for their hive ships. The Wraith eventually split into various bands and the original nine females became the first Wraith Queens, known as the First Mothers, while the males would become their commanders. (SGA: "Legacy: Secrets")
The dominating (and at the time only) power of the Pegasus galaxy were the peaceful and technologically advanced Lanteans, the group of Ancients that had left the Milky Way millions of years ago to escape the plague destroying their race. The Wraith felt a genetically-inherited hatred for the Lanteans, because the Lantean's experiments had made them the way they were. They could never return to their normal lives, and felt compelled to go to war with the Lanteans for retribution. But the Lanteans were far more advanced than the Wraith, with one Ancient warship being able to inflict massive damage on several Hive ships at once with their devastating Drone weapons, while at the same time suffering little to no damage themselves due to their powerful shield technology.
At first, the Wraith were at a major disadvantage against the advanced warships of the Lanteans who, in their overconfidence, began to send their warships deeper into Wraith territory. The Wraith, after a period of time and with great cost to themselves, managed to capture several of these vessels and obtain the Zero Point Modules powering a number of them. Using these incredible power sources, the Wraith began creating a cloning facility which they used to increase their numbers against the Lanteans, giving them a much needed advantage and allowing them to permanently turn the tide of war in their favor. (SGA: "Spoils of War")
The Lanteans began to slowly fall back into their own territory, which the Wraith continued to absorb into their own, facing the powerful weapons platforms and outposts protecting Lantean-controlled territory in their effort to destroy their enemy. This continued for years until Atlantis was all that remained of the Lantean empire. In a final attempt at ending the war, the Lanteans sent a delegation to meet with the Wraith to negotiate a truce. The Lantean delegation was protected by their most powerful warships, but they were ambushed by the Wraith's massive fleet. After that great battle, it was only a matter of time before Atlantis fell. (SGA: "The Defiant One", "Before I Sleep")
All that remained of the Lantean empire by this point was their capital of Atlantis, which the Wraith lay siege to for one hundred years, held off only by the powerful shield protecting Atlantis, the city's drone weapons, and the Lagrangian Point satellites deployed throughout the star system. Eventually however, the satellites were either destroyed or damaged beyond repair, and the city's supply of drone weapons was being diminished far faster than it could be replaced. Finally, the Ancient Council decided to sink the city, abandon the galaxy through the Stargate and return to Earth, leaving the Pegasus galaxy at the mercy of the victorious Wraith, who began to gorge on their human herds. (SGA: "Rising")
Shortly after this period, the Wraith came under assault by a new enemy: the Asurans, who were abandoned experiments of the Lanteans. To combat this foe, the Wraith disabled the directive in the Asurans' base code that forced them to attack the Wraith. The Asurans retreated to Asuras and remained there, leaving the Wraith again in control of the galaxy. (SGA: "Reunion")
Arrival of the Tau'ri
The Wraith continued their feeding pattern where they would abduct humans and take their life force after which they entered into a hibernative state allowing the human herds to grow while they slumbered. While this happened, they left a few caretakers to watch over them until the time was right to awaken. This cycle continued for 10,000 years until the Atlantis expedition arrived in the Pegasus galaxy and occupied the Ancient city of Atlantis. The Wraith first encountered the humans of Earth on the planet Athos when Wraith Darts were sent to abduct humans to feed on. A team was sent to the Wraith homeworld which was led by Major John Sheppard and Lt. Aiden Ford, on a rescue mission to retrieve their people.
When the team arrived to the planet, via Puddle Jumper, they discovered that their people were taken to a holding cell aboard a Hive ship. Meanwhile, the Keeper interrogated Colonel Marshall Sumner and learned that a plentiful feeding ground—Earth—existed elsewhere in the universe, but she could not find where. Upon her death at the hands of Sheppard, the entire Hive reawakened. Now that the species was moving, feeding on planets throughout the Pegasus Galaxy, no one was safe. However, there were not enough humans to sustain the Wraith for long. (SGA: "Rising", "The Gift")
Marshaling their forces, the Wraith sent a fleet to attack the planet Lantea once more, with a force of three Hive ships, along with cruiser escorts. One Hive ship was destroyed by an Ancient Lagrangian Point satellite that was reactivated by Dr. Rodney McKay and Dr. Peter Grodin, but the Wraith destroyed it after it destroyed one of their Hive ships. Once in orbit, they attacked Atlantis, hoping to learn the location of Earth. The Tau'ri and the Athosians battled to preserve the city with the assistance of reinforcements from Earth, which succeeded in destroying the bulk of the Wraith forces, but this was only the first wave. A secondary attack force consisting of twelve Hive ships and their escorts arrived and, though the Daedalus managed to destroy a few, the Wraith were too many. It was decided by the expedition that trickery would be used to escape the Wraith where they faked a self-destruct of Atlantis by setting off a timed Nuclear warhead and cloaking the city. Dismayed, the Wraith left the world and attempted to sustain themselves with what few humans lived in the galaxy. (SGA: "The Siege, Part 1", "The Siege, Part 2", "The Siege, Part 3")
In time, however, with the lack of food and the natural territorial instincts of the Wraith, they entered into a civil war. Stronger Wraith Hives began to attack weaker ones for control over the feeding grounds of the galaxy. (SGA: "Allies")
During the civil war, the various Wraith factions fed on the worlds in their possession as well as against one another and engaged in skirmishes with the Tau'ri from Earth. While this was happening, an old threat emerged to challenge the Wraith once more. The Asurans, whose attack Wraith command had been reactivated by the Tau'ri, resulting in a surprise attack against them. While caught off guard at first, the Wraith began to form an effective counter assault against this enemy and attempted to reuse their computer virus attack but this failed due to the Asurans being able to manipulate their programming at this point because of the accidental workings of Dr. Rodney McKay. Events became even more desperate when the Asurans decided on a new course of action to destroy the Wraith by targeting their food source: humans. Thus, the Asurans began targeting and destroying human worlds in an effort to starve the Wraith. (SGA: "Lifeline", "Reunion", "The Seer")
All attempts at reusing the virus failed and forced a level of cooperation between the Wraith and the Atlantis expedition. The Wraith known as Todd worked to assemble a fleet of Hive ships that would accompany the Atlantis expedition and the surprise addition of the Travelers in an assault against Asuras itself. This brought about the Battle of Asuras with the allied fleet emerging victorious over the Asurans which were destroyed by McKay in a complex plan. With the battle over, the temporary unification of the Wraith fractured once more, and the Wraith resumed their old posturing as they once again returned to civil war. (SGA: "Be All My Sins Remember'd")
However, a new threat emerged when the former Wraith known as Michael Kenmore began a subtle first attack against Wraith Hives by poisoning their food supply with a modified Hoffan drug. His plan was foiled when the Atlantis expedition once again cooperated with Todd to fight this threat, and the hives gained a cure for the drug. After this, the collective Wraith Hives became targeted by a reactivated Attero device which threatened to destroy them but this was stopped by the efforts of the Wraith known as Todd. Since then, the Wraith have also continued to eliminate those planets whose Human inhabitants have gained an immunity from feeding through the Hoffan drug. Michael was ultimately defeated in battle by the Daedalus and later killed by Teyla Emmagan when he tried to destroy the Atlantis expedition. (SGA: "The Kindred, Part 1", "The Kindred, Part 2", "Search and Rescue", "First Contact", "The Lost Tribe", "Outsiders", "The Prodigal")
Yet another threat emerged that could have wiped out all of the other factions of the Wraith if not stopped: the Wraith underling's powerful Super-hive. The Hive was initially under Todd's control and part of his faction, but the Wraith underling mutinied and broke away, taking the ship for himself. It gave him a significant advantage over the other Wraith and races in the galaxy and Todd contacted the Atlantis expedition to warn them about the ship coming to Earth, urging them to destroy it. This led to the Battle of the Super-hive where the Tau'ri battled the ship, but were no match for it leading to an attempted culling of Earth. The new Hive ship was so powerful that even Atlantis itself, powered by three Zero Point Modules retrieved from Todd couldn't defeat it. Ultimately, the Super-hive was destroyed over Earth by Lt. Colonel John Sheppard and his team with a nuclear warhead planted inside, eliminating the only technologically enhanced ship that any Wraith possessed and restoring the balance of power. The Wraith underling was also killed during the battle. (SGA: "Enemy at the Gate")
Rise of Queen Death
After Atlantis left the Pegasus galaxy, a new Wraith queen arose, Queen Death. Queen Death was a "queen of queens" and began forcibly uniting the hive ships under her control with none able to stand against her. Within six months, even Todd's alliance was down to a single hive ship loyal to him. Death began culling whatever worlds she so chose and destroying anything she didn't take, completely devastating many worlds. Under the command of Queen Death, a powerfully united Wraith alliance was formed as discovered up the return of the Atlantis expedition to Pegasus six months after departing. Queen Death's forces kidnapped Doctor Rodney McKay and turned him into a Wraith, gaining them a ZPM and limited shield technology in the process. Eventually McKay was rescued while Guide formed a new alliance to oppose Queen Death with the aid of Teyla Emmagan in the guise of Guide's queen, Queen Steelflower. Queen Death's alliance was defeated in battle over the planet the Wraith were created on and Queen Death herself was killed by Teyla. During this time, it was discovered that Queen Death was being used as a tool by Ashes, the last surviving original Wraith who still wanted revenge upon the Ancients who were long-gone. Queen Death's alliance was disbanded and Ashes was handed over to Queens Alabaster and Waterlight for punishment for his actions. (SGA: "Legacy")
Peace with Atlantis expedition
In the aftermath of Death's defeat and subsequent death, the remaining Wraith forged a peace treaty and as such, half of the Pegasus was relinquished to the Tau'ri. This was facilitated by the creation of a retrovirus that strengthened human physiology while helping the Wraith in turn, with the combined strains meaning that feeding on a human was no longer automatically fatal to the humans while still providing the Wraith with sufficient sustenance.(SGA: "Inheritors")
The Wraith later began hunting a man known only as Wolf who caused many Wraith deaths. Guide eventually tracked him to the Travelers and then to a Traveler supply depot where he demanded to search the Traveler ships for him. John Sheppard was also on the planet and intervened to stop things from escalating. After it was discovered that the Wolf was long-missing Atlantis expedition member Lieutenant Aiden Ford, Doctor Elizabeth Weir was able to negotiate a deal with the Wraith where the Tau'ri "exiled" Ford back to Earth to keep the peace. Ford returned to Earth in a Vanir scout ship while the Wraith took a bearing on the ship's hyperspace vector in hopes of getting a clue as to where Earth is. (SGA: "The Third Path")
The Wraith are characterized by a pale blue or light-green epidermis, yellow eyes, and white, black, or red hair. As a species they have a social structure similar to that of ants or other hive/nest-based creatures, with distinct physiological differences between castes of Wraith, tailored to facilitate different functions within the society. They also possess powerful telepathic abilities. They have displayed in several episodes phenomenal physical strength, along with phenomenal physical agility. Their eyes can glow in darkness, giving them night vision and thermal vision abilities. (SGA: "Rising", "Sateda", "Spoils of War")
The majority of Wraith so far observed are male. Adult female Wraith have been seen to fill the higher echelons of Wraith society as 'Queens'. Beneath the Queens are workers, soldiers and drones. The lowest echelons are distinctly different; they lack intelligence and are larger and much more muscular.
Wraith exhibit bipedal locomotion and have mostly humanoid characteristics. These characteristics include noticeable sexual dimorphism; female Wraith have protruding breasts while male Wraith exhibit noticeable facial hair. While it is unknown how Wraith reproduce, it is likely that they procreate similarly to placental mammals, given their presumed origin and other sexual characteristics similar to those of humans. The "soldier" caste, presumably also male, exhibit noticeable muscular definition compared to the male Wraith of the "leadership" caste. According to Michael Kenmore, the soldiers are unimaginative, and possess rigid thought patterns, comparing them to the soldiers of the Tau'ri, although it is unknown whether these drones are actually unintelligent or they are just trained to think rigidly. Within each caste, however, males differ very little. (SGA: "Misbegotten")
The reproductive nature of the Wraith and their life cycle is not entirely understood. There do appear to be young female adolescent members of the race. Based on their appearance, the Wraith appear to maintain a more human appearance until they reach their equivalent of puberty. However, it's not known whether this specimen was a normal member of the species or whether she would have metamorphosed into one of the female hierarchy. Furthermore, it's not known whether all young Wraith start off in this form. The Queens do appear to make use of a method of fertilization similar to insects where they secrete genetic material which results in warrior Wraith being born in pod-like structures. It was believed that this process occurred on their Hive ships. It's unknown how the two reproductive processes relate to one another, but considering that the cloning facility where the second method was carried had long been dormant before it was discovered by the Atlantis expedition, the most likely explanation is that the Wraith are capable of breeding in a similar way to humans and only rely on the pods when the situation requires them to produce a large army in a short amount of time. (SGA: "Instinct", "Spoils of War")
The Atlantis expedition knows little of Wraith physiology, but some facts have been learned. Though humanoid in appearance, the Wraith are genetically closer to the Iratus bug than humans. The Wraith possess none of the normal human inhibiting proteins, giving them a frighteningly efficient regenerative mechanism in their genetic makeup, allowing their bodies to heal themselves. Their regenerative abilities are so powerful that, as long as the cells are properly nourished, it is unlikely that the Wraith ever die from natural causes the way that humans do, and even dismembered body parts have the ability to move on their own. This makes the Wraith incredibly resilient and able to survive weapon fire and the crushing depths of the ocean floor without any form of mechanical assistance. (SGA: "Rising", "The Gift", "The Defiant One", "Submersion")
While the Wraith share many elements with the Iratus bug, there are aspects of their biology that are similar to humans. They contain all the necessary organs within their bodies that are required to digest food, even though they receive no nourishment from food as adults. (SGA: "Condemned", "The Queen")
Nourishment for the adult Wraith is the human "life force". Humans or very similar beings (e.g., Ancients or other Wraith) are the only food source that can properly nourish a Wraith. They are capable of cannibalism. It is also unknown whether or not the Wraith require fluids (e.g., water), to facilitate other bodily functions. The exact science (if there is one) of the life-force drain is not described, although it is portrayed as a materialistic process. It could be likened to sipping a drink through a straw. The Wraith can drain their victims slowly in order to torture and obtain information, or just to perform an act of sadism. As the victim is drained of life, the victim experiences pain and appears to age rapidly. This is not actual physical aging, but a by-product of the feeding process.
Although the Wraith possess teeth, they do not use them to puncture the epidermis of a human. Instead, they drain the life force through the use of a specialized organ found in the palm of their right hand. This is slammed into the chest of the human, typically where the heart resides. The nails puncture the skin and the feeding organ begins to drain the life force. During the feeding process, the victim is injected with a special enzyme, which strengthens the human body temporarily and ensures that the heart continues to beat. The feeding process is so traumatic, that without the special enzyme, the body of the human would shut down far sooner than the Wraith would like. Simply put, they make a victim stronger so they can take more time to kill them. In most cases the enzyme is released slowly into the bloodstream throughout the feeding process. (SGA: "Rising", "The Siege, Part 3")
Large doses of this enzyme have been known to increase the strength, speed and agility of regular humans. Lt. Aiden Ford became the first of these 'supermen' when he received a large dose of the enzyme after the death of the Wraith feeding on him. The numerous drawbacks of the high dose include altered brain chemistry and addiction to the drug requiring addicts to actively search for and kill Wraith to obtain it. (SGA: "The Siege, Part 3", "The Lost Boys")
The Wraith are known to employ the feeding mechanism and the enzyme as a form of interrogation tool in order to brainwash humans. The process involves constantly taking the life of a person and returning it back to them making the human see how they would look as they age. The return of their life has a euphoric quality on the human. This was one of the methods through which the Wraith gained worshipers. The enzyme is a key component of this process and the worshiper becomes addicted to the feeding. Being deprived of this results in a process similar to Wraith enzyme withdrawal and can be incredibly painful. This ensures that the worshipers remain loyal to the Wraith and are quite willing to betray their ideals or former friends for the gift the Wraith give them. Due to the traumatic nature of the feeding cycle, the stronger the individual the more indoctrinated they become as weak individuals die in the process. (SGA: "Reunion", "Broken Ties")
Despite the use of a special enzyme during the feeding process, the act of draining a life force from a human is extremely painful for the prey. For some, even a partial feeding can cause the person to simply die from the trauma they sustained. It appears that there have been attempts by the Wraith at improving the efficiency of the feeding process. (SGA: "The Defiant One", "The Gift")
The Wraith can consume human food and drinks, but apparently it gives them no nourishment and is done strictly for pleasure. This is apparently considered to be a more sophisticated type of enjoyment, and not all Wraith do this, with most cited examples being those Wraith who have allied with humans for some reason. When the Wraith are young, however, they consume normal human foods (which explains their possession of a fully functional digestive system, as such a function is useless in the adult Wraith due their method of feeding). As the Wraith mature, they begin to crave feeding on the human "life force", whether or not they have tasted it before. (SGA: "Condemned", "Instinct", "The Queen")
Wraith are also able to give back life. "The Gift of Life", as a Wraith referred to it, is typically reserved for devout worshipers and their "brothers". Lt. Colonel John Sheppard was returned to normal after being fed upon numerous times by a Wraith, and Dr. Rodney McKay commented on how he looked younger than he did before. This appears to be done after the Wraith has fed. Apparently, this can also revive the dead as the Wraith underling uses it to revive a dead Ronon Dex in order to question him. (SGA: "Common Ground", "Enemy at the Gate")
The ability to heal is apparently connected to how recently they have fed. If one has recently fed, they will heal almost instantly, though one who hasn't fed in some time is much weaker, but still quite strong. Even bullet holes quickly seal themselves like evaporating water. Females have a much stronger immune system than males. The species also has advanced telepathic abilities: they can force their prey to see things that are not there, and can use their mental powers to forcefully interrogate humans, though they are incapable of actually reading a human mind, but rather read their intentions (e.g. if they are bluffing). The Wraith also release a sticky, web-like substance that they use to cocoon victims for future feedings. (SGA: "Rising", "The Defiant One", "The Hive", "No Man's Land", "Submersion")
The one form of defense against feeding was the Hoffan drug, which poisoned the Wraith by causing their internal organs to shut down simultaneously some time after the attempted feeding while also preventing the Wraith from taking any sustenance from the victim (SGA: "Poisoning the Well", "The Kindred, Part 1"), although some cultures such as Halcyon have been shown to have developed armor that makes it difficult for the Wraith to more immediately latch on to them.
In the distant past, a group of human villagers were abducted by a Wraith scientist who added Wraith DNA to their genetic structure in an attempt to make them "tastier" for feeding. These experiments were conducted in secrecy from the rest of the Wraith, who would otherwise disapprove of them. The scientist found that the Wraith genes allowed the humans to access the Wraith telepathic network. He attempted to dilute this capacity by returning them to the village to interbreed, but any amount of the DNA gave them the ability. The scientist gave up his experimentation, and the Wraith later destroyed the village, presumably in an attempt to kill the test subjects. However, the descendants of these modified humans had lived on and are known as Wraithkin. They include Teyla Emmagan and Kanaan. (SGA: "The Gift", "The Kindred, Part 1", "The Kindred, Part 2")
It has been determined that the proper introduction of Wraith DNA into human DNA, likely via gene splicing, permits humans the ability to access the Wraith mental network, although the humans who do connect can be summarily controlled by the Wraith, due to superior psychic abilities. Even a small amount of properly introduced DNA is enough to allow this telepathic ability to occur; it remained even after a number of generations of the genes being "watered down" by breeding with humans without this modification. After the initial 'infiltration' by Teyla Emmagan into the telepathic network, the Wraith began to segregate their communication network to prevent sensitive information from being received by their enemies, although this has been attributed to the Wraith Civil War requiring them to work in private to sustain individual Hives. (SGA: "The Gift", "The Lost Boys")
The Wraith are capable of projecting psychic projections making shadowy ghosts appear in a human's field of vision. This tactic is typically employed during cullings and battle in order to confuse the enemy. They use the hallucinations to keep the people in one place so it makes them easier to cull. During this time they use a shadow/ghost to scare the people away from the forest. A trained mind is capable of ignoring this threat and instead focus on the Wraith. A Keeper's telepathy is even more enhanced, allowing them to cause humans to kneel before them and implant suggestions in their mind. This makes for an excellent interrogation tool and a Keeper is capable of gathering data from a captured human with ease. This trait appears to be consistent among female Wraith as the Hive Queens are also capable of these abilities and are able to incapacitate humans who fall under their telepathic abilities. These telepathic abilities can even get a human to unwillingly work for a Wraith. A Queen was capable of using this ability to determine if there are any impostors within a hive, which means only people with Wraith DNA were capable of fooling a hive queen. (SGA: "Rising", "The Hive", "Submersion", "The Queen")
The telepathy serves as a potent communication tool, with the Wraith being able to interact with one another over great distances. However, individually, they were unable to use this bridge between stars. Furthermore, groups of Wraith or even former Wraith are capable of combining their abilities allowing them to summon their kind to rescue them making them a dangerous threat even when captured. However, this system can be exploited and Wraith are able to keep their thoughts shielded from their own kind, preventing one of them from realizing the intentions of the hive. (SGA: "The Lost Boys", "Allies", "No Man's Land", "Misbegotten")
Hive Queens possess some of the strongest telepathic abilities known, and are quite capable of disarming military personnel by causing them to drop their weapons or incapacitating them. They were able to disarm an opponent in order to feed easier. This telepathy even allowed them to take over the mind of a human with Wraith DNA who are then controlled like a puppet by the Queen. Similarly, two powerful telepaths with Wraith DNA are capable of taking control over a Queen, but this can be a dangerous process as the Hive Queen works to destroy the intruders' mental defenses. In addition, it appears that they are capable of destroying a sentient mind when given the opportunity and seemed capable of killing an unborn child within its mother's womb through telepathy alone. Wraith Queens are capable of killing lesser Wraith and other Queens telepathically by mentally stopping their bodily processes. (SGA: "The Hive", "Submersion", "Spoils of War", "Legacy")
Little was known of Wraith culture itself except that it was focused upon culling the human populations of the galaxy for feedings. Concepts such as beauty and comradeship do appear to exist within the species however. One Wraith that had been captured by the Genii for an unspecified amount of time declared that his escape attempt was worth seeing the stars once again. In addition to this, the same Wraith performed the Gift of Life on a human which they only did so to their most devout worshippers, and their "brothers". Despite being hated by a majority of humans within the Pegasus galaxy, the Wraith were known to be served by Wraith worshippers who would be allowed to live for their obedience. (SGA: "Common Ground")
The Wraith as a collective species go through long hibernation cycles, lasting hundreds of years. Their massive Hive ships contain untold numbers of hibernation pods. During this time only a small number of them move about, enough to keep their victim worlds on edge. The sleeping masses are watched over by a small group led by the Keeper, one Wraith designated with their care whose death would signal their premature awakening—as it did when she was killed by Major John Sheppard. (SGA: "Rising", "Underground")
To outsiders, the Wraith may seem like a united race that are determined to cull all humans in their path. However, they are known to possess an extremely strong territorial instinct. This makes inter-Hive cooperation rare and multiple Hives engaged in the culling of a planet can cause tensions to rise. They are extremely fierce in the defense of their own territories and kill any trespassers that enter their feeding grounds. Politically, the Wraith appear to have lacked any form of united government since the end of the war with the Lanteans. (SGA: "Rising", "The Lost Boys")
After being awakened from their slumber by the arrival of the Atlantis expedition, the Wraith attempted to discover the location of Earth, which was a rich feeding ground that contained far more humans than the worlds of the Pegasus galaxy combined. The Wraith had grown increasingly desperate due to the lack of food as they had prematurely woken up from their hibernation. With too few humans to feed the waking Wraith, the species entered into their civil war with the strong attacking the weak. As such, it is uncommon for two Hive Queens to cooperate with one another. However, the rise of threats that might destroy the Wraith has led to rare moments of cooperation. Despite this, treachery is possible among a hive's ranks with some members willing to support a rival hive. (SGA: "Rising", "The Gift", "The Siege, Part 1", "The Siege, Part 2", "The Siege, Part 3", "Allies", "Be All My Sins Remember'd", "Spoils of War")
- "Most Wraith seek to be ruled. They fear being without a Queen."
The Wraith are focused around a Hive-based society similar to some species of insects, but in spite their telepathy, they are not a collective mind. They are given names originating from the instinctive "feel" of their telepathic presence and their role in society; for example, Todd's name among the Wraith is Guide, as is Lt. Colonel John Sheppard's.
The leaders of a Hive typically consisted of female Hive Queens who are in command of a Hive ship. They are a vital component within their society as without them, new soldiers cannot be bred. While this is the case, there are cases where a male has held the authority of ruler of the hive. Beneath this leadership cast lie the majority of the Wraith which consist of males. The first category consists of intelligent "commanders", who serve as lieutenants and scientists. Beneath them lies the masked warriors who perform most of the general duties such as defending the hive or participating in attacks or cullings. Another caste present within Wraith society of which little is known consists of a group known as Keepers. This caste was tasked with maintaining the organic technology of their race. (SGA: "Rising", "Suspicion", "The Siege, Part 1", "The Siege, Part 2", "The Siege, Part 3", "The Hive", "Allies", "Sateda", "Be All My Sins Remember'd", "Broken Ties")
Perhaps as a result of their Hive based society, the Wraith appear to show little regard to their own lives with the male warriors as well as commanders perfectly willing to make use of self-destruct mechanisms to kill themselves if facing capture. Wraith Dart pilots have even demonstrated the willingness to engage in suicide plunges if their carrier vessels have been destroyed. Furthermore, they are quite willing to die as long as their enemies die with them. However, if there is a potential threat or resource of their hive that might be lost in such a maneuver, then the individual Wraith are willing to prevent actions that might destroy it. There are a rare few that seem willing to bargain for their own lives. The Wraith also seem to exhibit a form of racial purity and seem to distance or even be hostile towards those members of their kind that have been turned into humans. They are noted to be capable of sensing the humanity in these Wraith. In addition to these qualities, the Wraith have shown several ruthless traits such as not showing sympathy for the fallen and not giving mercy to their enemies. They also seem to state that there should not be any retreat in a battle. There are times when they do seem to retreat, but usually when there have been a great deal of loss suffered. (SGA: "Suspicion", "The Siege, Part 1", "The Siege, Part 2", "The Siege, Part 3", "No Man's Land", "Vengeance", "Travelers", "Broken Ties")
One practice that demonstrates that harsh nature of Wraith society is the fact that they are able and willing to engage in cannibalism in times of starvation. Hive Queens have been known to threaten their lieutenants with feeding on them if they did not accomplish the tasks set to them. The Queens have also shown no hesitation on feeding on a member of their kind that was formerly a Wraith and had been turned into a human. In battle, commanders have been documented to feed upon dying or injured Wraith warriors to continue fighting, even for mere seconds. (SGA: "The Defiant One", "Allies", "Spoils of War")
Closely linked to the Wraith and their culture are the Wraith worshippers, who live among their masters, or serving as their eyes and ears among human cultures. These followers are known to worship the Wraith and are devoted to them. Some of them are actually broken through Wraith interrogation techniques and become addicted to the feeding process. Excepting these followers, there are no other humans that work among the Wraith as they are considered food. There are a rare few humans who are not fed on and instead outfitted with tracking devices thus turning them into "runners", which serve as sport for the Wraith, and are despised by the humans of the Pegasus galaxy. The Wraith themselves have shown disgust towards the Asurans, who they consider abominations for not being alive and thus immune to the Wraith feeding process. (SGA: "Rising", "Suspicion", "Runner", "The Hive", "Reunion", "Broken Ties", "Tracker")
Unlike humans and other species, the Wraith can be described as an almost nomadic culture which are based on their massive Hive ships and vessels which travel space in order to cull inhabitants for feeding. Typically, the security of these vessels were minimal as the Wraith are unaccustomed for intruders reaching their great ships, being the only major space flight capable race for ten thousand years. While this may be the case, the Wraith are known to make use of planetary based installations for research and to serve as strongholds, although these almost always have Stargates in space preventing access without a ship. (SGA: "Underground", "The Siege, Part 2", "Reunion", "The Kindred, Part 1", "The Kindred, Part 2", "Broken Ties")
Within their culture, showing hesitation or apprehension as well as other such qualities was a weakness in the Wraith's eyes and treated harshly. They worked through instinct, and power struggles were brutal with assassinations of queens by other queens who usurped power to become dominant. This was only present with the queens themselves as a male who accomplished the task was typically killed. This was because the hive who had their queen slain would be terrified of continuing to live without a ruler which meant that they were often quick to accept a hive queen in power. (SGA: "The Queen")
It was noted that Wraith were very good at playing games, and were intelligent enough to overcome the technology barrier and adapt the previously incompatible technology of other races for use with their own systems. (SGA: "Vegas", "Enemy at the Gate")
It should be noted that the wraith could have genetic memory considering that an unusual amount of Wraith can recall the war with the Ancients even though the war was over 10,000 years ago, and only three Wraith have been confirmed to have lived that long.
As a result of the Atlantis expedition's presence in the Pegasus Galaxy, both directly and indirectly, a number of variant subspecies of Wraith have developed who are viewed with hostility by the Wraith. These include the Human-form Wraith, the Bug People, Michael's experiments and, most notably, the Hybrids. (SGA: "Vengeance", "The Kindred, Part 2", "Whispers")
- The novel race Lilin are also related to the Wraith as are the alternate reality species known as the Eidolon.
- Main article: Wraith technology
The technology used by the Wraith, while advanced compared to the majority of civilizations in both the Milky Way and Pegasus galaxies, is far inferior to the technologies of the Lanteans, Asurans, Asgard, and Ori.
Wraith technology is unique in that most of it has an organic base to it. The Wraith are one of the few races that lack shield technology. This is possibly because Lantean weapons technology can tear through all but the most advanced shields with minimal effort, and so they would have been a waste of time and energy. Something which has yet to be covered is what, exactly, powers Wraith vessels; moving a Hive ship and powering its massive weapon banks must consume vast amounts of power. However, it is known that whatever powers them is nowhere as efficient as Lantean power sources. Wraith technology is rarely able to reach its full potential due this inefficient power generation, which was demonstrated when a Hive ship was equipped with at least one Lantean Zero Point Module, making it all but invincible, possessing far improved structural integrity, hull density and weapons capabilities. This ship was incredibly powerful, able to best even a fully powered Atlantis in battle, and it took a nuclear weapon being detonated on the inside of the ship to destroy it. as it was too powerful for weapons fire, even Ancient drones, to take out. (SGA: "Enemy at the Gate")
There is also an unknown weakness in all Wraith technology, possibly the above-mentioned power issue, which the Lanteans believed would allow them to turn the tide of the war to their favor again if exploited correctly. (SGA: "Aurora")
Worlds under Wraith control
- In an alternate timeline, Atlantis rose to the surface on its own when its power ran down, at which point it was retrieved by the Wraith. Using a worshipper with the Ancient gene to pilot it, the Wraith traveled to the Milky Way galaxy, infusing Atlantis with genetic material from a hive-ship to increase their own ability to control it, but subsequently abandoned it on Earth while they battled the Goa'uld. The naquadah in the blood of current or former Goa'uld hosts proved toxic to Wraith, with attempts to feed on these proving impossible at best or dangerous to the Wraith at worst. The Goa'uld Hecate attempted to create a Wraith/Goa'uld hybrid, but this action created division among the Wraith, with the end result of the Wraith Queen Earthborn allying with SG-1- who had been sent into the future after Hecate diverted an active wormhole around the elliptical edge of a black hole- to reactivate Atlantis and use it to take the Wraith back to Pegasus, after Hecate herself was destroyed in battle with the various competing Wraith factions (Stargate SG-1: Apocalypse).
- In another alternate timeline, Atlantis had no failsafe mechanism and all Zero Point Modules ran simultaneously so the city sank when it was flooded. Consequently, almost the entire Atlantis expedition was killed shortly after their arrival in the Pegasus galaxy and the Wraith did not awake from their hibernation in 2004. (SGA: "Before I Sleep")
- In another alternate timeline, the former Wraith known as Michael Kenmore created an army of half-Wraith, half-humans known as the Hybrids in an attempt to displace the Wraith as the dominant species of the galaxy. During the Wraith civil war, when they were at their weakest, Michael and his forces attacked the Wraith, succeeding in defeating them completely. Presumably, Michael and his hybrids then took complete control of the galaxy. (SGA: "The Last Man")
- In an alternate reality to which Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter was accidentally transported in 2007, Atlantis was never discovered by the Tau'ri. Consequently, the Wraith did not awake from their hibernation in 2004. (SG1: "The Road Not Taken")
- In another alternate reality, the Wraith somehow learned the location of Earth and sent a Hive ship there. A battle ensued in which the Hive ship was destroyed by the Ancient Control chair on Earth, but one Wraith survived and crash-landed on Earth. He became a serial killer, feeding off humans in the Las Vegas area while building a transmitter to send a transmission with the location of Earth to the rest of the Wraith in Pegasus. He got money by playing card games (using his telepathy to win) and bought a truck, trailer and guns, among other things. His actions drew the attention of John Sheppard (a Las Vegas detective in that reality) who ended up approached by that world's version of Richard Woolsey and Dr. Rodney McKay. There he met Todd, a delusional prisoner at Area 51 and figured out where the Wraith was. Thanks to Sheppard's efforts, the Wraith was stopped and killed, but not before he sent off a transmission detailing the location of Earth and its defenses. It never reached the Pegasus Galaxy, but got sent through to other realities, leading to the Battle of the Super-hive in the main reality. (SGA: "Vegas")
Behind the scenes
- It is speculated in Stargate Atlantis: Legacy: Secrets that the Wraith were instead of a deliberate genetic mutation by the Ancients in order to help the people in the Pegasus Galaxy gain a type of resistance against the Iratus bug. The clone of Carson Beckett concluded that the Wraith would have needed millions of years in order to gain a human form instead of mere thousands.
- Although they were the main antagonist of Stargate: Atlantis for all five seasons, they only made one appearance in Stargate SG-1, specifically in the Season 10 episode "The Pegasus Project".
- The Wraith's setting of hive, queen and ability to hear each other thoughts is similar to the setting of the Borg in Star Trek.