John Sheppard (Stargate)

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John Sheppard
Major John Sheppard
Joe Flanigan as John Sheppard
First appearance "Rising" (Atlantis)
Created by Brad Wright
Robert C. Cooper
Portrayed by Joe Flanigan
Information
Species Human
Occupation United States Air Force
US-O4 insignia.svg Major
US-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel
Family Patrick Sheppard (father, deceased), David Sheppard (brother), Nancy (ex-wife)
Nationality US American

Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, USAF is a fictional character in the Canadian-American military science fiction television series Stargate Atlantis, which chronicles a civilian operation exploring the Pegasus Galaxy galaxy via a network of alien transportation devices. Portrayed by Joe Flanigan, Sheppard holds the military rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the series and is the second-in-command of the Atlantis Expedition following the death of Marshall Sumner (Robert Patrick) in "Rising".

Sheppard and Rodney McKay (David Hewlett) are the only characters to appear in all one hundred episodes of the series.

Role in Stargate[edit]

Character arc[edit]

John Sheppard was an experienced and a talented US Air Force Officer in Afghanistan, though his reputation was somewhat tarnished when he disobeyed a direct order in an unsuccessful attempt to save the lives of several US servicemen. When called upon to transport Brigadier General Jack O'Neill to the research base that had been established at the nearby Ancient defense facility, he inadvertently discovered that he not only had the ATA gene (the genetic factor necessary to activate Ancient technology), but that he was naturally proficient at using it. After some doubts, he finally joined the expedition to Atlantis, although Colonel Marshall Sumner made it clear he was not pleased about Sheppard's involvement in the mission.

After they discovered that the shield protecting the underwater city of Atlantis was about to collapse, he joined the mission team searching for a new power source on Athos on Elizabeth Weir's orders. He made a better impression on the Athosian leader, Teyla Emmagan. Sheppard then killed the Wraith Keeper, thus awakening all the other hungry Wraith that were sleeping. After retreating with a Puddle Jumper along with other military personnel and rescued Athosians they returned safely to Atlantis.[1]

Aside from being the ranking military officer, Sheppard led an exploration team that consisted of Dr. Rodney McKay, Emmagan and Lt. Aiden Ford. After Ford became addicted to the Wraith enzyme and left Atlantis, Ronon Dex joined the team. Sheppard's relaxed command style often put him at odds with his more by the book chief of security, Sergeant Bates, until Bates was severely injured after an attack by a Wraith.[2] During the Wraith attack on Atlantis, Sheppard lost command of the military after the arrival of Colonel Dillon Everett from Stargate Command (SGC).[3]

After securing Atlantis, the Daedalus took Sheppard, Weir, McKay and Carson Beckett back to Earth to report on the status of the Atlantis expedition. General Hank Landry implied to Weir that the Pentagon wanted to make Colonel Steven Caldwell the military commander of the Atlantis expedition, but Weir informed them that Atlantis already had a military commander. When they stated that Sheppard was just a Major with a questionable record, she told them they could solve that problem with the President and the International Oversight Committee on her side, Sheppard was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and instated as official military commander of the Atlantis expedition. Colonel Caldwell was displeased by this outtake, who had sought the leadership position.[4]

While testing a new "Gate bridge" that McKay and Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter came up with to accelerate transportation between Pegasus and the Milky Way, an Ancient ship was located, filled with living Ancients who reclaimed Atlantis. With the expedition disbanded, Sheppard was assigned command of an SG team. When General O'Neill sent a message to Stargate Command telling them that the Asurans have taken control of Atlantis, Sheppard, Weir, McKay and Beckett hijacked a puddle jumper and travel back to the Pegasus via the Gate Bridge. They tracked down Emmagan and Dex, the newly reunited team succeeded in rescuing O'Neill, Richard Woolsey and are able to retake Atlantis.[5] In the episode Adrift, Sheppard is forced to take command of Atlantis, since Weir is in a coma due to injuries she sustained after Atlantis is grazed by the Replicator's beam. Sheppard later lost Weir during a mission to the Replicator homeworld in a successful effort to save Atlantis and turn the Replicators against the Wraith.

After piloting Atlantis to a new home, Sheppard fell under the command of Colonel Samantha Carter, the new leader of Atlantis. He acted as her second-in-command during the war with the Replicators, a war which reunited him with the Wraith he later named "Todd." Thanks to a brilliant plan by McKay, the Replicators were destroyed by an alliance of Wraith and human forces, but a new threat emerged in the form of the former Wraith Michael who kidnapped Teyla. After rescuing Teyla and apparently killing Michael, Sheppard encountered a new change of command as Richard Woolsey took over Atlantis.

Under Woolsey, Sheppard continued to lead efforts to fight the Wraith and briefly Michael who returned a final time to takeover Atlantis. With the help of Todd, Sheppard and his team attempted to find a way to eliminate the Wraith's need to feed on humans, but this led to a betrayal by Todd when he believed Sheppard activated the Attero Device to destroy the Wraith at the cost of any activated Stargate in the Pegasus Galaxy. Despite this, Sheppard continued working with Todd when the situation called for it. In the series finalie, Enemy at the Gate, Sheppard learned of a new, more powerful hive ship from Todd and worked to stop it from reaching and destroying Earth. When all else failed, even Atlantis, Sheppard boarded the ship with a nuclear weapon in a suicide mission to save Earth. Sheppard succeeded in destroying the hive ship and saving Atlantis and Earth, but due to a surprise appearance by the rest of his team, survived the experience. He later joined Atlantis' senior staff at looking out over the Golden Gate Bridge from Atlantis which had landed on Earth in the aftermath of the hive ship's attempted attack.

Characterization[edit]

John is one of the more laid-back, easy-going personalities on the Atlantis Expedition. He is capable under pressure, an excellent marksman, and outstanding pilot. He is very instinctual and frequently is able to come up with ingenious solutions to complicated problems. Some put this ability down to his being a closet mathematical genius, despite little to no scientific training. He also has displayed the ability to keep up with much of Rodney McKay's complicated plans. But despite this, he tends to be relatively humble - being able to accept that sometimes there isn't anything he can do to help with the current problem, and leaving it up to more capable minds. He has also occasionally shown a darker side; he did not hesitate in taking action which killed over 50 Genii soldiers when Kolya was trying to take over the city in "The Storm". He also supported using torture on a former Atlantis colleague to gain information in "Critical Mass". Also in the episode Millers Crossing, he talked the owner of Devlin Medical Technologies, Henry Wallace, into sacrificing himself to a wraith. When McKay voiced his discomfort over this, he replied that he merely presented a situation. He told McKay that the report would only say that the wraith got the upper hand. Sheppard tends to be very honest at times: when he makes a deal, he keeps it, something which is acknowledged by the trust the Wraith Todd puts in him when they make deals together. Sheppard demonstrates this when he agrees to spare Todd in order to escape then despite having him at his mercy with Todd never actually expecting him to honor their deal, he does and releases him. When Sheppard later offers Todd a deal in exchange for saving their lives, Todd is dubious until Sheppard gives his word at which time Todd stops questioning his honesty. Sheppard does keep the deal, convincing a reluctant Richard Woolsey to go along with it.

Despite being a Lieutenant Colonel, he has an easy rapport with most of the people in Atlantis - including the military personnel that are below him in terms of rank. He is good friends with both Teyla and Ronon, and grudgingly admits that he loves McKay "in the way a friend feels about another friend".[6] And despite occasional clashes with Elizabeth Weir early on (due to their differing viewpoints), they have developed a strong and respectful friendship due, in no small part, to their parallel leadership roles on the Expedition. In the episode "Doppelganger". it was revealed that the thing he is most afraid of is himself, as well as failing to protect his friends. Though he is a somewhat incurable flirt, he has not yet been shown in an actual relationship. In the episode "Sunday"., Ronon tells him that Sheppard and Teyla would be good together. Sheppard never answered to Ronon. However, it was recently revealed that Sheppard has an ex-wife named Nancy (Kari Wührer).[7][8]

He is in possession of a rather wry sense of humor, and frequently alleviates tension by telling jokes to keep spirits up - much to the annoyance of McKay. He hates clowns, enjoys Ferris wheels, American football and 'anything that goes faster than 200 miles an hour', along with displaying a vague aptitude for Chess - beating McKay on at least one occasion, once again to McKay's chagrin.[9] Sheppard qualified for Mensa, (a "high IQ" society), but never joined.[10] Sheppard is an avid golf player and a fan of Johnny Cash. He has also on several occasions referred to the movies Alien by Ridley Scott, Star Trek, Star Wars, and The Abyss. Sheppard also brought the book War and Peace to pass the time, and in episode 50, states he is "Only a quarter of the way through War and Peace."

Sheppard possesses a unique relationship with the Wraith "Todd." The two were initially held prisoner together by Acastus Koyla with Todd being forced to feed on Sheppard to torture him. Sheppard's unfailing belief that they could escape or be rescued convinced Todd to work with him to get out with the deal that if they ever met again "all bets are off." Both kept their ends of the deal: Todd restored the life he stole from Sheppard, something he stated was reserved only for their worshippers and "brothers" and Sheppard took him somewhere he could be found by the Wraith rather than killing him. Despite their deal, Sheppard later agreed to work with Todd on several occasions, even once saying that Todd may be their best chance at defeating the Wraith, but is very distrusting of him. However, Todd, even after betraying Sheppard once, kept coming back to him for help despite repeated death threats and the two seem to have a mutual understanding of each other. In one episode, Sheppard uses his understanding of Todd's personality to convince him to do what he wants. Todd realizes this and states to him "you know how to talk to me," but is amused rather than angry as Sheppard was right. Todd also seems to trust at least Sheppard's word as he has never seriously questioned him when they make a deal which Sheppard always upholds. When Sheppard did so once to the point that it saved Todd's life, the Wraith promised to remember his actions.

Conceptual history[edit]

Ben Browder was originally planned to play the part of Sheppard[citation needed]. However, due to the fact that Browder was busy with Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars at the time, Joe Flanigan stepped in and took over the role. After Farscape ended, Browder joined Stargate SG-1 and was given the role of SG-1 regular, Cameron Mitchell instead.

Reception[edit]

Awards and decorations[edit]

The following are the medals and service awards fictionally worn by Colonel Sheppard during Carson Beckett's funeral.[11]

Personal decorations
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Width-44 crimson ribbon with two width-8 white stripes at distance 4 from the edges.
Meritorious Service Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters
Silver oak leaf cluster
Air Medal with one silver oak leaf cluster
Silver oak leaf cluster
Aerial Achievement Medal with one silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Commendation Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Achievement Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters
Unit awards
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Service Awards
Combat Readiness Medal
Campaign and service medals
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Service, training, and marksmanship awards
Air Force Overseas Long Tour Service Ribbon
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Longevity Service Award with three bronze oak leaf clusters
Air Force Training Ribbon
Other accoutrements
COMMAND PILOT WINGS.png Air Force Command Pilot Badge
USAFCommanderBdg.jpg Air Force Commander's Insignia

References[edit]

External links[edit]