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Discover a hidden dimension to your favorite sci-fi shows and movies, and test your knowledge

Stargate | Did You Know?

Stargate SG-1‘s Michael Shanks made his small screen debut in 1993 courtesy of another sci-fi movie-turned-TV show, Highlander: The Series.

In ‘The Zone’ (S2, Ep6), the future Dr. Daniel Jackson played a mine owner’s son trying to curb his father’s corruption.

In true Daniel style… he dies.


In the 1994 Stargate movie, the alien beasts of burden were Clydesdale horses in full-body suits. The humps hid their drivers who operated an animatronic head.

In the long shot where Daniel Jackson (James Spader) is dragged across the desert, the creature is played by a dog.

(Don’t worry: according to American Humane, the horses were rotated, rested and watered in the shade, and didn’t wear their costumes for longer than three hours.)


Stargate‘s Chris Judge and Richard Dean Anderson first acted together in a 1990 episode of MacGyver – ‘Live and Learn’ (S5, Ep13).

The future Teal’c plays Deron, a cocky football player, opposite the future Jack O’Neill.

Both are smashing the hair game.



Star Trek | Did You Know?

Leeta, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Dabo Girl-turned-forthright-series regular first introduced in ‘Explorers’ (S3, Ep22), eventually lost her ‘big hair’. Literally.

Chase Masterson accidentally left it on the roof of her car and drove off. Unable to afford a new one, she used her own short hair for the character instead.


The simultaneous production of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) with The Next Generation resulted in a ‘Klingon shortage’ in the costume department.

This apparently extended to the Holodeck as two of Worf’s tormentors in ‘The Icarus Factor’ (S2, Ep14) are wearing gorilla boots from 1968’s Planet of the Apes.


Now an indelible part of Star Trek lore, John De Lancie’s Q was only added to the pilot of The Next Generation – ‘Encounter at Farpoint’ (S1, Ep1-2) – by Gene Roddenberry to bulk out the 90-minute running time after the network insisted on a two-hour TV movie.

Since then Q has appeared in 12 episodes of the TNG, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager,  one episode of Lower Decks, and returns to the character for Picard Season 2.



Miscellaneous | Did You Know?

At the time of Boba Fett’s first on-screen appearance in the Star Wars Holiday Special (1978), all the animators had to go on was test footage of the unpainted white costume.

The use of pastel blues and greens was partly a homage to the French sci-fi artist Moebius (at the request of George Lucas) and partly because many homes still had black-and-white TVs, so characters needed to contrast with the dark backgrounds.


K9 voice actor John Leeson made use of his anonymity in Doctor Who fandom by wandering around his first US conventions in the 1980s pretending to be from Philadelphia. He even entered two K9 voice competitions… but only won one. Awkward.


Razor Crest’s bumpy landing in The Mandalorian ‘Chapter 11: The Heiress’ (S2, Ep3), directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, is a deliberate shot-for-shot recreation of the re-entry in Apollo 13 (1995), directed by her father Ron Howard. 


David Lynch was contracted to direct two further Dune movies back-to-back if the first one was a success. Dune II was to be based on Frank Herbert’s second book, Dune Messiah, but Lynch admitted: “Dune III is the one that’s going to be trouble for me. I’m not wild about Children of Dune.”

It was a moot point. Butchered in the edit, Dune (1984) was a critical and commercial flop.


Director Philip Kaufman was on the verge of shooting a Star Trek movie in May 1977 when Paramount pulled the plug. Kaufman was told there was no chance of a sci-fi movie earning close to $19 million – the box-office takings of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).

Later that month, Star Wars was released and hit $20 million in five weeks. A year later, Kaufman’s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers – starring Leonard Nimoy, of course – made $24.9 million.

*chef’s kiss*


Jonathan Harris (1914-2002) the original scheming and screaming Dr. Zachary Smith of Lost in Space declined to appear in the 1998 Matt LeBlanc movie, feeling that an “innocuous six-line bit that they laughingly referred to as a cameo” was beneath him.

Harris even rejected an offer to extend his role, as he felt so proprietorial about Smith, then played by Gary Oldman, and loyal to the lighter tone of the ’60s show. Can’t imagine he’d have been impressed by the Netflix reboot either…


Though The Expanse is filled with references to sci-fi noir, the scene in ‘Back to the Butcher’ (S1, Ep5) where Detective Miller (Thomas Jane) is interrupted eating noodles was an accidental homage to Blade Runner (1982).

According to co-creator Ty Franck, the location was chosen because of its unusual shape and textured blue wall – it just happened to be a noodle restaurant.

What they didn’t realize is the production company had issued a ban specifically on Miller eating noodles because they were secretly starting work on Blade Runner 2049 (2017). They got a telling off.


The exact costume worn by reptilian bounty hunter Bossk in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) was previously worn by an astronaut in Doctor Who‘s ‘The Tenth Planet’ (1966).

Similar suits with ribbed vests – actually High-Altitude Windak Pressure Suits used by the RAF – are worn by TIE pilots and their Rebel counterparts across the original Star Wars trilogy.


Battlestar Galactica prequel series Caprica began as an unrelated story.

When BSG‘s creators were too busy to develop a pilot, Universal hooked them up with screenwriter Remi Aubuchon, who had just submitted a script about artificial intelligence that hit a lot of the same notes.


South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker originally envisaged the whole show having a vast alien conspiracy at its heart, but worried it was too similar to The X-Files, which had just begun on the same network.

As a running joke, the alien visitors from the first episode, ‘Cartman Gets an Anal Probe’, regularly appear in background shots.


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