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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?

Rooney, the ill-fated researcher in Star Trek: Enterprise ‘Regeneration’ (S2, Ep23), was played by Bonita Friedericy (best know as Diane in Chuck). She is married to Dr. Phlox actor John Billingsley, who wanted her to play all three of his character’s Denobulan wives – and indeed every female of the species – and he play every male.

Whilst wonderfully weird, the execs didn’t go for it.


Stephen Hawking’s Holodeck appearance in Star Trek: The Next Generation (‘Descent’ – S6, Ep26 ) came about during the release of the documentary, A Brief History of Time. Hawking requested a tour of the Star Trek sets and when they reached the bridge, he asked if he could be lifted into the captain’s seat.

The next day executive producer Rick Berman received a call from Leonard Nimoy, who had been a guest at Hawking’s premiere, informing him that the physicist wanted to be in the show.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s ‘Trials and Tribble-ations’ (S5, Ep6) used technology developed for Forrest Gump (1994) to insert the DS9 crew into TOS, predominantly ‘The Trouble with Tribbles’ (S2, Ep15).

‘The Trouble…’ writer David Gerrold was promised a small speaking part, but the line went to William Shatner’s double instead. For DS9, Gerrold was given a second chance and appears as a Redshirt petting a baby Tribble – a 1960s original that he brought with him!



Miscellaneous | Did You Know?

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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