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The Wraith



War with the Ancients

At some point, the Wraith developed a transmission device, designed to be track Ancients, so they could more easily hunt down their enemies. The transmitter in it was too weak to travel through subspace, but certain worlds had relay devices that sent the signal to the nearest hive ships, triggering an attack. (Suspicion)

The war with the Ancients lasted roughly one hundred years -- but it's not clear if that includes the years of siege, when Atlantis was the last holdout, or not. (The Siege part 2)

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Current culling cycle

The Wraith woke up roughly 50 years early, after Sheppard killed at least one of their caretakers. (Rising pt 2 [timing given in Poisoning the Well])

They woke up too soon -- there wasn't enough food to go around. It left them desperate to find more food sources. (The Gift)

They scorched Athos bare in revenge for the Athosians's resistance (presumably the rescue effort and the killing of the caretaker(s)). (The Storm)

According to 'Steve', after they woke up, the various hive ships would first harvest their own feeding grounds (human worlds) to regain their strength. After they'd had their fill and recovered their strength, they would join forces to come for the people on Atlantis. (Poisoning the Well)

On seeing the devastation wrought on Orin's world, Teyla said she'd never seen a culling take so many. (Letters from Pegasus)

This could just be because these are the first full cullings since the last cycle, or it could be because the Wraith were awakened early, and their regular 'feeding grounds'were insufficient, leaving them with no choice but to do take more prey than usual wherever they could find it. (Letters from Pegasus)

According to what Teyla felt while connected to the Wraith telepathic network, the Wraith were desperate because of their numbers and the insufficient food supply. They were heading for Atlantis because they knew it was the only way to Earth, and they wanted access to Earth's rich new feeding grounds. (The Gift)

Roughly six days before they attacked Atlantis, the Wraith culled the Genii homeworld, taking hundreds of lives. (The Siege part 2)

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War against Atlantis

Preliminary moves | First attack on Atlantis | Interim moves

Preliminary moves

While their fleet was moving toward Atlantis, the Wraith sent a dart in to the city to scan for information -- probably personnel, defenses, etc. -- and one Wraith beamed into the city without the expedition's knowledge, either to do further recon or to sabotage any self-destruct efforts, or both. He was discovered after badly beating Sergeant Bates and leaving his DNA in Bates's clothing. When the expedition sent teams after him, he struck first, taking out Sheppard's entire strike team with a strong stunner blast. Before he could begin feeding on Sheppard, Ford and Teyla's strike team arrived and knocked him out with another stun blast. He was captured and brought to the holding cell formerly used to house 'Steve', where Sheppard first named him 'Bob', then eventually killed him. (The Siege part 1)

First attack on Atlantis

When the Wraith fleet made it into Atlantis's system, the first hive ship was taken out by the LaGrangian-point satellite. It couldn't fire again, and the other ships destroyed it in short order, then regrouped rather than heading immediately for Atlantis. (The Siege part 1)

After losing a ship, the Wraith held back long enough to harvest more than a hundred asteroids from the system's asteroid belt, acclerating them toward Atlantica. Rather than aiming for the city, though, they aimed directly at the six naquadah-enhanced nuclear space mines that the expedition had placed near the planet, detonating all of them. The blast and the residual radiation blinded the city's sensors long enough for the Wraith armada to move in undetected, and to launch a barrage of darts against the city. In addition to firing on the city, 20-30 made kamikaze runs, crashing into the city to do as much damage as possible. (The Siege part 2)

The darts did a lot of damage before they were destroyed: power was out in several sections in the city, and long-range scanners and internal sensors were down. (The Siege part 2)

The pilots of the kamikaze darts beamed into the city before they crashed. (The Siege part 2)

While in the city, the Wraith started going after the naquadah generators, taking out at least one, as well as any people who got in their way. (The Siege part 2)

The second hive ship was destroyed when Sheppard pointed a nuclear-warhead-carrying puddlejumper straight at it on a suicide run. (The Siege part 3)

The third (and last) hive ship was destroyed when the Daedalus managed to beam another warhead into it, detonating as soon as it arrived. (The Siege part 3)

The cruisers fled into hyperspace as soon as the final hive ship was destroyed, leaving behind a lot of darts which broke off from the Daedalus to attack Atlantis. They were on a kamikaze run, using a ballistic approach to impact the city at more than 10,000 kilometers per hour -- the city would be unable to withstand it. Seconds before impact, the city's shields went up, destroying all the darts with no damage to the city. (The Siege part 3)

Shortly after the three hive ships were destroyed, a second wave -- 12 hive ships strong, with their accompanying fleet -- started for Atlantis. According to what Teyla sensed from them, they were angry and worried that other worlds would hear of Atlantis's success, and they didn't want to risk that. They wanted to silence Atlantis. The Daedalus intercepted them at their final jump point before Atlantis (roughly 50 light years away) and took out two of the hive ships before the others knew what was happening. The remaining ships managed to block any more beam-ins, preventing the Daedalus from sending nukes aboard to destroy them. With the now-protected hive ships closing in, the Daedalus was forced to run for home. (The Siege part 3)

The Wraith took up station above the city and began bombarding it. Teyla made mental contact and convinced them that the Atlanteans were about to trigger a self-destruct to keep the city from falling into Wraith hands. When a nuke went off and the city vanished, the Wraith believed it had been destroyed, and left -- not realizing the nuke had been above the shield, and the city itself was cloaked. (The Siege part 3)

Interim moves

At some point during or just after the siege of Atlantis, the Wraith managed to get a computer virus aboard the Daedalus, designed to grow and change as needed as it took over most of the ship's controls. It was meant to bring the Daedalus to the Wraith, giving them access to its intergalactic hyperdrive and navigational information for Earth. (The Intruder)\

After several failed attempts, the Daedalus crew and the Atlantis personnel aboard managed to eradicate the virus, just before it killed them all in a sun's coronasphere. (The Intruder)

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General info

They appear to be unwilling to give their names out.

The captive Wraith on Atlantis would only say 'I am your death, that is all you need to know' when Sheppard tried to get him to give a name, going so far as to call him 'Steve' to goad him into identifying himself. (Poisoning the Well)

According to 'Steve', the Wraith are a patient race. (Poisoning the Well)

The Wraith communicate with each other through a telepathic network of sorts. (The Gift)

They can't read human minds. (The Gift)

The Wraith language is a derivative of Ancient, according to Weir. (The Gift)

At one point, at least several human generations ago, one Wraith started performing experiments on humans on a particular world, against the wishes of the other Wraith. He was trying to make their food source more compatible with them -- by splicing Wraith DNA into their genetic makeup. He was apparently trying to make the feeding process more efficient. (The Gift)

According to Weir's translation of the data log of his work, he was never caught -- he stopped the experiments when he couldn't find a way to splice Wraith DNA into humans without also splicing in the ability to tap into the Wraith telepathic network. (The Gift)

As part of his attempt to reverse or reduce the telepathic effect, he released some altered humans back into the general population, hoping that breeding would dilute the effect. It didn't. (The Gift)

When the other Wraith found out what he'd done, they wiped out the entire village, and thought they'd killed everyone who had any Wraith DNA. They didn't know some had fled to other worlds. (The Gift)


NB: The term 'classes' is probably completely inappropriate, but there's a clear division of function in what we've seen of Wraith culture. 'Upper class' is pretty much bound to be incorrect, but hopefully it gives a sense of the arrogant superiority those particular Wraith exude -- they seem to consider themselve far above the soldier-class Wraith. (Rising pt 2, others)


Probably not a class at all, per se -- simply the 'upper class' Wraith who are selected to stay awake while the rest hibernate. (Rising pt 2)


Their function appears to be strictly on a support level -- they wear blank masks that completely cover (and protect) their faces, and are basically muscle for the 'upper' class. (Rising pt 2, others)

It's not at all clear how they feed -- the prisoners we see get 'eaten' are sucked dry by 'upper class' Wraith, while the soldiers stand by and watch/guard. (Rising pt 2)

Their body armor comes with a self-destruct, activated by pressing on the center of their chests. (Suspicion)

'Upper' class

The visible face of the Wraith -- they don't wear masks, and they're the ones who interrogate and feed off prisoners. (Rising pt 2)

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The Wraith hibernate for decades, giving the humans time to rebuild their populations -- so they can be safely culled again without dying out completely. (Rising pt 1)

They consider human worlds to be their feeding grounds. (Rising pt 2)

Even with most of their people hibernating, a few Wraith stay awake and continue to make raids on the human worlds. (Rising pt 1)

The humans believe this is to remind them of the Wraiths' power. (Rising pt 1)

At least occasionally the Wraith will dial in to whatever world they're culling, keeping the stargate engaged to prevent their prey from escaping. (Letters from Pegasus)

Hunting tactics

The Wraith can make humans see things (wraith/ghost-like things, possibly how they got their name) that aren't really there, distracting them and letting the Wraith snatch them easily. (Rising pt 2)

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When the Wraith can't feed on a particular human (genetic sports, maybe?), they insert a tracking device into the person's back and set them free, then hunt them down for sport. (Runner)

Ronon Dex was a runner before Beckett took the tracking device out of him. (Runner)

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General info

McKay suggested that the Wraith evolved from a particular bug (or possibly had a common ancestor with the bug). (Thirty-Eight Minutes)

The bug immobilized its prey using first severe pain then encroaching paralysis. Once attached to its prey, it couldn't easily be removed, and any time it got hurt, it healed itself by using its victim's lifeforce. that healed itself by using its victim's lifeforce. (Thirty-Eight Minutes)

Personal note: It seems unlikely to me that this bug and the Wraith are especially closely related -- it's more likely that they're just from the same world, where likely all life developed in the same general way. The bug is insectoid, while the Wraith appear to have no insectoid traits at all.

Strongly humanoid: bipedal, upright, stereo vision and hearing, with five fingers (including opposable thumb) on each hand and of roughly human height (with individual variations, like humans).

Their eyes are slitted, like a feline's or reptile's. (multiple eps)

They have have very sharp, pointed teeth. (Rising pt 2, others)

They may have evolved purely as carnivorous predators, who eventually turned to lifeforce rather than meat (or possibly blood -- they have a very vampiric vibe). (Rising pt 2, others)

nb: I'm guessing on the pure carnivores, pretty much based on the teeth. There's no canonical support for it beyond that.

Their hands are large, with very long, thick, almost clawed fingers, and with what looks almost like a small mouth in the center of the palm. They use the 'mouth' to suck the lifeforce out of people -- they slam their hand against a victim's skin and began drawing out the lifeforce that way, taking years of the victim's life away. (Rising pt 2)

The males' hair is very long and blond. (Rising pt 2, others)

At least one female had very red hair -- nearly magenta. (Rising pt 2)

Their cells contain none of the normal human 'inhibiting proteins', meaning that they have tremendous ability to regenerate -- which could make them virtuatlly immortal. They would have no reason to die of natural aging. (Rising pt 2)

Extremely strong, capable of knocking a full grown man backward with a simple one-handed shove that doesn't have a lot of oomph behind it. (Rising pt 2)

Extremely hard to kill, thanks to the regenerative abilities of their cells. (Rising pt 2)

A Wraith that went down in a dart that had been exploded with a bazooka had been blown to pieces -- and at least one of the pieces, a forearm with hand still attached, was still moving after the fact, basically crawling along the ground using its fingers to propel itself. (Rising pt 2)

The arm had no intelligence of its own, or any agenda of its own -- it was just continuing the follow the commands left behind in its severed nerve endings. (Rising pt 2)

Beckett theorized that a Wraith's ability to heal was directly proportional to how recently he'd fed. (The Defiant One)

They have certain psychic abilities. (Rising pt 2)

They can sense what a human is feeling (both emotion and physical sensation, such as hunger). (Rising pt 2)

They can also mentally nudge someone (pretty strongly) toward giving them the information they want, all without laying a finger on the person being 'asked'. (Rising pt 2)

Tremendous jumping ability -- can go straight up at least several feet. (The Defiant One)

The Wraith communicate with each other through a telepathic network of sorts. (The Gift)

They can't read human minds. (The Gift)

Beckett had a theory that the Wraith had evolved in the Pegasus galaxy after the Ancients arrived, but had no hard data to back his theory up. (The Gift)

His theory was that the Ancients had (unwittingly) allowed humans to evolve on a world that had an insect species, which at some point fed on the humans and somehow incorporated human DNA into their own genetic structure, and eventually evolved into the Wraith -- creatures with some human traits, but still closer to the original insect form in many ways. (The Gift)

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They consider human worlds to be their feeding grounds. (Rising pt 2)

When Sumner was being questioned by a Wraith female and she found out that Earth had more than millions of people, she was overcome, saying 'Our feeding ground has not been so rich in ten thousand years.' (Rising pt 2)

If their captives are hungry, they feed them before feeding on them -- they can sense hunger, and find it 'distasteful' (when they're feeding) (Rising pt 2)

To feed, they slam their hand against their prey's (victim's) skin (apparently the chest is their preference), using the small 'mouth' in their palm to suck lifeforce out of the body, year by year. (Rising pt 2)

They exude a chemical that enters the victim and somehow precipitates the draining of lifeforce. (Poisoning the Well)

The chemical they exude is actually an enzyme, injected into the human to strengthen the body temporarily -- to keep the heart beating so they can continue to feed as long as possible. The enzyme is released slowly throughout the feeding process, to extend it as much as possible. (The Siege part 3)

They keep the 'mouth' in position by sinking fingernails that are damn near claws into the prey's skin. (Rising pt 2)

When it's all over, the entire front of the hand appears to be covered in blood, including the 'mouth'. (Rising pt 2)

They cocoon some of their prey, to be eaten later. (Underground)

As a last resort, they'll turn to cannibalism as a way to survive. (The Defiant One)

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The Wraith hibernate for decades at a time on hive ships, leaving only a few caretakers awake to keep track of things. (Rising pt 2)

The caretakers and their support troops (the masked, armed, silent Wraith) are the ones who stage the smaller raids on the human worlds, to keep from starving. (Rising pt 2)

If the caretakers die, the other Wraith -- all the other Wraith -- awaken. (Rising pt 2)

With sufficient access to a food supply -- humans -- either to hunt live or in suspended animation, Wraith can surive for millennia through a hibernation/waking cycle. At least one lived a good 10,000 years trapped on a world with no way off, with many humans in suspended animation and, at the last, a few other Wraith to feed off. (The Defiant One)

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Small fighters, very sleek and sharp looking, with a long pointed nose that gives the impression of an insect's stinger. (Rising pt 1)

They give off a high-pitched buzzing -- again, like a giant insect, particularly a mosquito -- that's fairly horrible to hear. (Rising pt 1)

They are capable of scanning (using a visible beam of light/energy) and beaming up people onto the dart. (Rising, multiple eps)

The same technology works in reverse, allowing the Wraith to beam down to a planet if they wish. (The Siege part 1)

The machine that dematerializes and rematerializes people (for culling and infiltrating) uses a specialized transformer that converts raw power into a stable, very specific stream of power. The transformer is crucial in operating the machinery. (Duet)

The dematerializing process seems to leave its victims stunned. (Duet)

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Hive ships

Just what they sound like -- ships that contain hives of Wraith. They use them to hibernate, but the ships are big enough to hold them when they wake up, too. (Rising pt 2)

Each hive ship functions like a carrier group, with cruisers and hundreds of darts escorting it. (Letters from Pegasus)

The ships are capable of landing, and of staying on the ground for very long periods while the Wraith hibernate. (Rising pt 2, Thirty-Eight Minutes)

In at least one case, the ship looked like a mountain after enough centuries had gone by, covered in dirt and trees. (Thirty-Eight Minutes)

There were some 21 hive ships in Atlantis's quadrant of the galaxy, with as many as 60 or more in the rest of the galaxy, a few months after they began to awaken. (Underground)

The faster-than-light technology is more primitive than the Asgard-based hyperdrive aboard the Daedalus and other Earth ships -- it's slower and not as efficient, forcing the Wraith to move through hyperspace in a series of jumps. (The Siege part 3)

At some point after the initial attack on Atlantis, the hive ships gained the capability of blocking beam-ins from the Daedalus, to protect against being nuked from within. (The Siege part 3)

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Supply ships

Smaller than hive ships. (The Defiant One)

They have huge chambers to store cocooned humans -- the 'supplies' they carry. (The Defiant One)

They have automatic distress beacons that are triggered in the event of a crash, sending a signal on an ultra-low frequency. (The Defiant One)

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Computer tech

They are capable of writing computer viruses so sophisticated as to be effectively AIs. (The Intruder)

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Activated by pulling the top and bottom halves apart, rotating them slightly, and pushing them back together. (The Defiant One)

They generate a powerful blast. (The Defiant One)

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These appear to be smaller, one-handed versions of the fullsize stunners. They also shoot energy, presumably also to stun rather than kill. (The Siege part 3)

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Homing beacon

Part of the wrist-guard on the soldiers' body armor (possibly on other Wraith as well). (Childhood's End)

It blinks when activated, as well as transmitting a signal. (Childhood's End)

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A small flying sphere, very fast, equipped with scanners, sent out remotely to check out situations. (Childhood's End)

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Apparently built into Wraith body armor, definitely the wrist guard(s) on the 'upper' class and possibly the soldier class as well, but also possibly the chest plate on the latter. (Suspicion)

In this case, it's a literal self-destruct, meant to kill the Wraith wearing it in the event of possible capture. (Suspicion)

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Very long weapon -- several feet -- that functions both as a distance weapon and hand-to-hand. It shoots energy that stuns from a distance, and closer up, the tapered front end works like a bayonet, for stabbing. (Rising pt 2)

It stuns its targets, and in cases where the target takes too strong a blast (or takes one to the head), it paralyzes -- temporarily. (Suspicion)

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Known Wraith

The Wraith don't give out their names, so this will be a short list.

10,000-year-old Wraith

He was aboard a supply ship on its way to the Wraith laying seige to Atlantis when his ship was shot down over another world in the Altantica solar system. (The Defiant One)

For 10,000 years, he hibernated and woke up with the other Wraith aboard, feeding on the humans they had stored. Eventually, when that was no longer possible he (or they) turned on the other Wraith, surviving by cannibalism. (The Defiant One)

When Sheppard, McKay, Abrams, and Gall arrived aboard his downed ship, something woke him up. He found Abrams and Gall first -- he knocked Gall out and fed immediately on Abrams, draining him. He cocooned Gall lightly and dragged him off to get information out of him about the ship they'd arrived in. After draining a few years out of Gall, he found out about the jumper, and got Gall's remote to decloak it. (The Defiant One)

Aboard the jumper, he tried to make it work but couldn't, then had a little tantrum for a few minutes, throwing things around and shouting. Sheppard arrived outside and claimed the jumper, then claimed that the Lantians had won the war, and the Wraith was the last of his kind. The Wraith didn't buy it, but went to the jumper's rear door to let Sheppard prove it. Sheppard shot him multiple times with a P-90, and the Wraith went down. (The Defiant One)

He came to as Sheppard was walking toward him, and figured out that a pistol near his hand was a weapon. When Sheppard got closer, he sat up and started shooting, ignoring the bullets heading his own way. He got Sheppard in the arm. The effort of having to heal his own bullet wounds drained a lot of his strength, though. (The Defiant One)

Somehow, he managed to get a shield up around the jumper. (The Defiant One)

He even managed to survive a direct hit with a Wraith grenade. (The Defiant One)

Still a bit staggery from the grenade, he survived a hail of bullets from Sheppard, plus a knife through his hand, followed by another hail of bullets from McKay. Finally, Sheppard shoved a powerbar in his bodyarmor to draw the local energy beings, creating a target big enough for the newly arrived Ford and Markham to shoot a drone at the Wraith from space. (The Defiant One)

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'Bob' X

He was the Wraith captured in Atlantis, after he beamed in during an apparent suicide recon mission. Two weeks later, after the expedition realized he was there and tracked him down, he took out Sheppard's strike team with a stunner, but before he could start feeding, Ford and Teyla's team took him down with another stunner blast. He was placed in the holding cell that had held Steve. (The Siege part 1)

When Teyla tried to get inside his mind to find out if he'd been sending reports back to the Wraith fleet, he realized what she was doing and appeared to trigger a massive headache in her, enough to fling her out. (The Siege part 1)

When Sheppard lost his temper at that and started shooting him, Bob basically laughed it off, saying his wounds would heal. Sheppard kept firing, and Bob went down, but still wouldn't give up any information, telling Sheppard that the Wraith who fed on him would know what he'd done to him (Bob). After hearing Weir on city-wide comms telling everyone to start evacuating in hopes of finding a safe haven, Bob told Sheppard that it didn't matter where they went: the Wraith would find them, and would find Earth, and they would feast. Sheppard shot him dead. (The Siege part 1)

top | known Wraith


He led a small team down to a planet in response to the transmitter in Teyla's locket, not knowing it was a trap. (Suspicion)

After a hand-to-hand fight with Teyla (he was winning, but she got in a few good blows) he got taken out with a Wraith stunner from behind. (Suspicion)

He was brought back to Atlantis and placed in an Ancient holding cell, where he refused to answer any questions. (Suspicion, Poisioning the Well)

He was there for at least a couple of weeks, with no access to 'food'. (Poisoning the Well)

Sheppard had offered him all kinds of 'live stuff' (presumably animals), but he wasn't interested in anything but humans. (Poisoning the Well)

When Sheppard offered to feed him in exchange for information, he was hungry enough that he went for it. He was shackled (wrists and ankles) and brought by puddlejumper to Hoff. (Poisoning the Well)

He wasn't thrilled when he saw that the 'sustenance' was a terminally ill man in the final stage of his illness, but he didn't back out of the agreement. (Poisoning the Well)

He told Sheppard that all the Wraith had awakened when the first one did, and that after they gathered their strength by visiting their particular hive ships' own feeding grounds, they'd join forces to come after the people on Atlantis. (Poisoning the Well)

When he tried to feed on his victim (Merell), it didn't work, because of the drug in Merell's system. Steve just backed off -- he didn't get angry or attack Merell in any way, just walked away from him, apparently confused. (Poisoning the Well)

Shortly after the failed feeding, he began reacting to the drug he'd encountered in Merell's system, getting steadily weaker. Eventually he collapsed, and after one snarled threat to Sheppard (telling him not to pity him, because Sheppard would suffer far worse when the other Wraith came for him), he died on the floor of his cell on Hoff. (Poisoning the Well)

top | known Wraith

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