Break out of the frame | Updated April 12, 2006 | Get the frame back

John Sheppard


General background info

A pilot who loves flying more than pretty much anything. (Rising pt 1)

nb: As of second season, it's clear that he's Air Force, despite the Army-seeming helicopter experience.

For information on his possible AF piloting background, see this. Note, this is not canon in any way -- someone did some research based on what we know about Sheppard and very kindly sent it along to me, and I've posted it in hopes that it will be helpful to people trying to figure out his background. If canon gives different information, that will take precedence.

He carries the Ancient gene, very strongly -- he's a natural at using Ancient technology, without having to put much thought or effort into it. (Rising, others)

After Colonel Sumner died, he became the ranking military person on Atlantis. (Rising pt 2)

Promoted to lieutenant colonel in early 2005 and officially given military command of Atlantis. (The Intruder)

Somewhere along the line he got checked out on the F-302 - Caldwell had no apparent problem with Sheppard taking one out to destroy a transmitter array, rather than assigning one of the actual F-302 pilots to do it. (The Intruder)










Marital status




None. (Childhood's End)


Other family


If he has any, he may not be close to them. When offered the opportunity to send a recorded message home to a loved one before the Wraith attacked in force, Sheppard declined. (Letters from Pegasus)



Mitch (last name unknown) (Home)

Served with Sheppard and Dex in Afghanistan. (Home)

Very easily amused. (Home)

'...flying over a bridge with tanks on it...' 'With what on it?' 'Tanks.' 'You're welcome! < cracks up> '

Killed outside Kabul in Afghanistan when the chopper he and Dex were on was hit by an RPG when it touched down for a medevac. (Wikipedia explanation of RPG) (Home)

Dex (last name unknown) (Home)

He was a Blackhawk pilot. (Home)\

Served with Sheppard and Mitch in Afghanistan. (Home)

Killed outside Kabul in Afghanistan when the chopper he and Mitch were on was hit by an RGB when it touched down for a medevac. (Home)


Romantic interests

Chaya Sar

After some mutual light flirting, he took her to the top of the southwest pier of Atlantis for a late-night picnic. He got a little wigged out at being with someone from another planet when she pushed the flirting to the next level, but got over it pretty fast. (Sanctuary)



At least a Bachelor's, major unknown.

US military officers are required to have a college degree.




For the eleven months prior to the Atlantis mission, he lived at a research base in Antactica (McMurdo, not the Ancient outpost). (Home)

He once dreamed of having a big bachelor pad, complete with all the toys a person could want, but never actually lived there. (Home)


A standard small room, with a bed against the far wall away from the door flanked by two small tables, each with a small reading lamp. (Hide and Seek)

He brought a Johnny Cash poster with him that he hung above his bed in his Atlantis quarters. (The Gift)




Pre-Atlantis career

Has flown the Apache, Black Hawk, Cobra, and Osprey helicopters,  possibly  in  training  for  his  assignment  to  the  Antarctic. (Rising pt 1)

Links go off-site to Air Force informational pages about each helicopter.

It's not clear if he was strictly a helicopter pilot, or if he flew regular fighers/craft as well . (Rising pt 1)

There was some question whether he was USAF or Army (because of the helicopters), but screencaps have finally confirmed that he's definitely in the US Air Force, according to the patch he wears. That still makes the helicopters a bit problematic, but it's definite enough to put the question to rest, IMO. (Thanks to everyone who sent me clearer screencaps!)

He picked up a black mark on his record for something that happened in Afghanistan -- he disobeyed a direct order to save the lives of three servicemen. (Rising pt 1)

The Antarctic was the one continent he hadn't been to -- he made it there eventually, and was the pilot assigned to fly Jack (by helicopter) to the Ancient outpost. (Rising pt 1)

He'd never even heard of the stargate or the SGC, never mind the Ancient outpost itself. Jack gave him security clearance to enter the facility after they'd nearly been shot down, and his first exposure to alien technology (other than almost being shot down...) was when he sat in the Ancient command chair and activated it. (Rising pt 1)

He appeared to be a true natural talent at Ancient technology -- it responded very strongly to him, seemingly as strongly as to Jack when Jack had the Ancient database in his head helping things along. (Rising pt 1)

When Weir asked him to join the expedition to Atlantis, he hesitated. Jack snarked at him for it, saying anyone who didn't want to go through the stargate was just as whacked as someone who didn't want to fly (Sheppard had just told him that anyone who didn't want to fly was crazy). Jack told him that if he couldn't give him a yes by the time they hit McMurdo, Jack didn't want him anyway. (Rising pt 1)

It looked like he did indeed give a yes -- he wound up back in the States while the Atlantis expedition was assembling, rather than staying in Antarctica. But he still wasn't positive about it -- he was flipping a coin to check the outcome. (Rising pt 1)


Atlantis career

General info | Base commander

General info

He made the first contact with a person in the Pegasus galaxy, when he scared Jinto of the Athosians half to death by holding a gun on him while the boy was playing.

He was one of the three members of the offworld security detail (along with Sumner and Ford) to start discussions with Teyla of the Athosians on the first offworld trip, hoping to negotiate for a place to live and possibly supplies.(Rising pt 1)

When Sumner proved too impatient, Sheppard stepped in and started schmoozing Teyla, basically. (Rising pt 1)

On the rescue mission to recover Sumner and the others from the Wraith stronghold, he made a bad call in deciding to go rescue Sumner himself and leave Ford behind to blow the cell open and head out with the other prisoners if Sheppard didn't return, the compounded it by not listening when Ford correctly pointed out that he should be the one to go. (Rising pt 2)

Sheppard was the only person who could fly the puddlejumper -- if he didn't return, everyone else was stranded on a Wraith world with no way out, because the stargate was floating in space, completely out of reach. Ford explained that, and Sheppard still went off on the most dangerous part of the mission alone. (Rising pt 2)

After Sumner died (at Sheppard's hands, in a mercy killing), Sheppard became the ranking military officer on Atlantis. (Rising pt 2)

He took on the Genii strikeforce single-handedly before Ford and Teyla arrived. (The Storm, The Eye)

He broke quarantine (and put Sergeant Bates in the horrible position of having to disobey a direct order from Weir to her face, to obey an order from Sheppard facilitating Sheppard's breaking of the quarantine). (Hot Zone)

He chose to leave the puddlejumper (with Teyla in it) to go investigate something on his own, in the middle of a Wraith attack, once again leaving a member of his team with no way to use their only means of transportation should he die or be captured. The stargate on Orin's world was at least on the ground, so presumably Teyla could have gotten home after the Wraith left, but it was still extremely irresponsible of Sheppard. (Letters from Pegasus)

He was the one who recorded the message about Sumner's death to send to Sumner's family. (Letters from Pegasus)

Used the chair platform to take out several attacking Wraith darts when the Wraith launched the beginning of an all-out attack against the city. (The Siege part 2)

He had intended to use the chair to fly a cloaked puddlejumper remotely right into a hive ship, detonating a nuclear device on board to take the hive ship out. The Mark II naquadah generator needed to power the chair had been depleted during the test, though, making it impossible. Sheppard ran for the jumper bay to do it manually instead. (The Siege part 2)

He was promoted to lieutenant colonel after the siege of Atlantis, when he and several other Atlantis personnel (including Weir, McKay, and Beckett) were back on Earth being debriefed. The promotion came largely at Weir's insistence  (although  obviously  he'd  earned  it,  as  well) -- she wanted him to stay on as military commander, which wouldn't happen unless he was ranked higher than major. (The Intruder)

The promotion was a source of strong pride for him, enough that he brought it up as often as possible -- he knew that a lot of people in the Air Force had never expected him to make it past captain. (The Intruder)

He flew an F-302 twice -- once to take out the Daedalus's transmitter array to prevent a distress signal from reaching the Wraith, and once to take out a computer-virus-controlled F-302. The second time he flew without a functional navigational computer. (The Intruder)

Base commander

After Sumner died (at Sheppard's hands, in a mercy killing), Sheppard became the ranking military officer on Atlantis. (Rising pt 2)

He lost his position as base commander when Colonel Everett came through the stargate from Stargate Command and took over. (The Siege part 2)

He had no problem with that, only with Everett's dismissal of Weir from the decision-making process. He told Everett that cutting Weir out of the loop would only serve to alienate everyone on the base who'd come to trust and respect her over the months they'd worked together -- including Sheppard. Everett allowed Weir to sit in, then overly politely asked Sheppard to carry out his orders to contact the alpha site and start retrieving personnel (an order Sheppard had ignored when Weir asked him to hold off), adding that he was never going to repeat an order to Sheppard again. Sheppard did as he was told. (The Siege part 2)

He suggested taking the fight to the Wraith when a second wave, made up of 12 hive ships and their escorts, was headed for Atlantis. The plan worked -- the Daedalus managed to take out two hive ships before they knew what happened and could regroup, forcing the Daedalus to flee for home. (The Siege part 3)

He came up with the notion of protecting Atlantis by pretending to destroy it, suggesting that they detonate a nuke just above the city's shields then cloak it, making it seem like it had been obliterated by a self-destruct. It worked -- when they couldn't find the city on their scanners, the attacking Wraith left. (The Siege part 3)

Became the officially appointed military commander on Atlantis in early 2005, after being promoted to lieutenant colonel back at the SGC. (The Intruder)

The appointment was due pretty much entirely to Weir's insistence -- Landry and the others making the decision would have preferred that Sheppard not even be a part of the ongoing mission, not trusting his independence and willingness to disobey orders. They had tapped Caldwell as their most promisining candidate for military commander of the mission. (The Intruder)






Pain & Death

Severe injuries / illness

Stung by an alien bug that wouldn't let go, and began progressively paralyzing him as it sucked the life out of him. (Thirty-Eight Minutes)

The bug may have been related in some way to the Wraith -- every time they tried to kill it, it healed itself (very rapidly) by using Sheppard's lifeforce. (Thirty-Eight Minutes)

This is also listed under Confirmed deaths, since he did die in the middle of it all. (Thirty-Eight Minutes)

Shot with a Wraith stunner while on a mission. (Suspicion)

Shot in the arm with a pistol and cracked some ribs while fighting a 10,000-year-old Wraith. (The Defiant One)





Presumed deaths

He was briefly (for a matter of moments) presumed dead when a hive ship exploded after he flew a puddlejumper carrying a nuclear warhead toward it on a suicide mission. He was rescued just before the explosion by the Daedalus, and contacted Atlantis almost immediately afterward, but he was presumed dead by the command staff in the city until then. (The Siege part 3)


Confirmed deaths

Original timeline

He was aboard the 'gateship' (puddlejumper) fitted the time-travel device, along with Weir and Zelenka, when the city's shields failed completely, drowning everyone else. They got away when he  managed to inadvertantly trigger the ship's time-travel device and send them back 10,000 years, but they landed in the middle of a Wraith attack, with no idea what was going on. He died when the ship was shot down and landed on the ocean floor. (Before I Sleep)

Current timeline

He was deliberately killed by Ford, using a defibrillator to stop his heart, in order to free him from a bug that was attached to him and steadily sucking out his life force (not enough to pull years out of him, but it was also progressively paralyzing him, and eventually his heart would have stopped anyway). (Thirty-Eight Minutes)

The second defibrillation, to revive him, didn't work, so Teyla went with him into the wormhole in hopes that McKay would be able to fix the puddlejumper and they would all safely materialize on the other side. (Thirty-Eight Minutes)


Confirmed kills

Note: Wraith are very, very hard to kill, and humans may have access to medical help. A kill actually has to be confirmed by someone on the screen, or has to be incredibly obvious, for me to count it.

Colonel Marshall Sumner   (Rising pt 2)

Sumner was being sucked dry by a Wraith -- it was a mercy killing. Sumner knew it was coming, and nodded at Sheppard to tell him 'do it' . Sheppard shot him straight through the Wraith hand that was killing him, possibly hitting Sumner's heart (or at least, the torso right around the heart -- Sumner was weak enough that a shot that hit any vital organ would kill him). Sumner died instantly. (Rising pt 2)

The female Wraith who had been sucking Sumner dry -- during a fight, Sheppard ran her through with one of the Wraiths' own weapons. (Rising pt 2)

The Wraith flying the dart that Sheppard shot down in the fight to gain access to the stargate over the Wraith world. (Rising pt 2)

Two Genii soldiers who were spying on him at the final grounding station. (The Storm)

Three Genii solders who were tracking him through Atlantis. (The Eye)

Roughly fifty-five Genii soldiers from the company of reinforcements sent to help take Atlantis. This was indirect -- he killed them by raising the gate's shield so they couldn't make it through. (The Eye)

'Bob' the Wraith -- Sheppard shot him to death in the holding cell. (The Siege part 1)

At least two Wraith in the city, during the attacks on Atlantis. (The Siege part 2)

Everyone aboard a hive ship that he destroyed by flying a puddlejumper carrying a nuclear warhead toward it on a suicide mission. He was beamed out of the jumper just before it exploded, taking the hive ship out. (The Siege part 3)

One Wraith, in a downed dart. (Duet)


Personal enemies

Kolya (The Eye)








Ferris wheels   (Rising pt 1,  Hide and Seek)

College football (Rising pt 1, Hide and Seek)

He's enough of a football fan that chose as his one allowed personal item a videotape of the 1984 Boston College/ Miami Hurricanes game where Doug Flutie threw his famous Hail-Mary pass. (Hide and Seek)

When Teyla asked about football, he set up a tape deck and apparently invited Ford and McKay (trapped inside his personal shield), and the four of them watched the game. (Hide and Seek)

Doesn't see the attraction of hockey (but doesn't want McKay to hear that, since he considers hockey a 'touchy subject' for Canadians). (Hide and Seek)

'Anything that goes faster than 200 miles per hour' (Rising pt 1)

The Friday the 13th movies. (Hide and Seek)


Musical tastes

Johnny Cash (if his choice of poster is any indication.) (The Gift)


Food preferences


Microwave popcorn (Hide and Seek)


Personal habits

Wears Aqua Velva. (Runner)

nb: This is off a snarky comment by McKay -- Sheppard had just said that the amount of sunscreen he was wearing would give them away to any enemies, and McKay replied, 'Yeah, like the haven't been tipped off by the Aqua Velva?' There's no guarantee he got the brand right, but clearly, Sheppard wears aftershave and it's a little powerful -- he didn't object to McKay's comment.


Random misc

He liked it in Antarctica. (Rising pt 1)

He thinks people who don't want to fly are crazy. (Rising pt 1)

He's seen a 20-kiloton nuclear explosion -- '...not up close' . (Hide and Seek)

Seems to like kids a lot -- he spent at least some of his free time telling scary stories about the Friday the 13th movies to a group of Athosian kids to entertain them. It didn't go over all that well, what with them not understanding half the references and already having real things to be scared of in the form of the Wraith, but it was a sincere attempt at connecting on Sheppard's part.  (Hide and Seek)

Instead of being scared, the kids focused on the fact that hockey was a game, asking for more explanations and wondering if they could play. Sheppard told them football was a better game. (Hide and Seek)

Brought War and Peace along, on the theory that he'd want something that would take a while to finish. Four-plus months into the mission, he'd made it to page 17. (Home)

Willing to work within the context of other people's belief systems to put things in terms that will make sense to them -- when Zarah and Chaya of Proculis spoke in terms of Athar, he adapted instantly, careful to couch his requests in ways that made it seem like he was asking permission of Athar. (Sanctuary)

It's a vastly more respectful approach than McKay's open mockery and even contempt -- Sheppard never showed any sign of condescension, just acceptance. (Sanctuary)

Likes 'Back to the Future'. (Before I Sleep)

At some point he took (and passed) the Mensa test, but never joined Mensa. (The Brotherhood)

He's very strong in math skills. (multiple eps)

When McKay was stumped on how to sort out the nine stones that made up the Quindozum's puzzle leading to a ZPM, Sheppard figured out that they should be laid out in a square that added up to 15 in every direction. (The Brotherhood)

As of Letters from Pegasus, he hadn't lost the habit of moving to shake hands when he met someone.

He didn't want anyone mentioning the incident with the bug-creature attacking and nearly killing him. (The Gift)

He was weirded out by Hermiod aboard the Daedalus -- he thought it was strange they were working so closely with an alien, and was disturbed by Hermiod's nakedness. (The Intruder)

From the hallucination imposed by the energy beings of M5S-224

He was suspicious of how everything he thought just seemed to happen, but was quietly freaked out when two dead friends showed up to party.   (Home)

His sixth-grade teacher was Miss Watson. (Home)

This is likely to be true, since he explained who she was when he was busy picking apart the hallucination the energy beings had created.


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