Stargate Universe Ratings: The Story Unfolds

Published 5 years ago by , Updated November 29th, 2009 at 8:45 pm,

stargate universe stargate on destiny 02 Stargate Universe Ratings: The Story Unfolds

When Stargate Universe (SGU) premiered on October 2nd of 2009, it brought in 2.3 million viewers.  This included both parts 1 and 2 of the premiere.  Part 3 of the premiere episode titled “Air” hit the peak of the ratings ride with just over 2.4 million viewers.

After that, the numbers declined slowly but surely until they bottomed out on November 6th with the episode “Earth” at a paltry 1.6 million viewers.

I believe this decline is a result of the franchise fans slowly but surely giving up on the show because it wasn’t the light-humored and quipping series they were all expecting.

We’ve seen the scathing remarks in various articles here on Screen Rant, where everyone is getting a “hate on” for Stargate Universe. In some of your opinions the show reeks, it’s boring, there’s no action, too much story – there’s an interesting perspective of wanting to get rid of the stones and some of you hate some of the characters outright.

True, I hate Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle) too, but I think that’s more a sign of the actor doing that good of a job to make you hate the character rather than being completely disinterested.

On the flip-side of perspectives, the one angle I agree wholeheartedly with is to get the crew to start exploring the ship, Destiny.  Come on folks, I’d be crawling all over that thing getting in trouble and figuring things out.  I’d be blowing airlocks and making things go hiss out of the pipes!

You Were Warned

You have to admit, they warned us that SGU was going take the franchise in a new direction, and from all the details they dispensed in promos and such, it would also be character driven.  That means learning all about the individuals on this rag tag crew of military, civilians and government oversight committee members – exactly like ABC’s Lost did with all their flashbacks, and what Syfy did with Battlestar Galactica, to just name a couple off the top of my head.

With that said, after the November 6th flat line, I think the folks that can appreciate character backgrounds will start to understand the character motivations. Those are the folks that are starting to come on board in the ratings.

The November 13th episode called “Time” drew in 1.8 million and the November 20th episode called “Life” brought in almost 1.9 million.

Before you roast me…  I want to say I get it.  I was expecting Stargate, the same 15-year franchise to continue in this new Stargate saga.  I was not a happy camper when it turned out otherwise.  But fortunately for me, I’ve got a bit of a devil’s advocate side to my personality and I came at this show after the series premiere with a different mindset and that worked for me.

stargate universe july poster 00 Stargate Universe Ratings: The Story Unfolds

It helped that I am a fan of Battlestar Galactica and can appreciate character motivation because in all honesty, if all you want is action and glory in your shows, then A:  Yes it can seem oh so slow, but more importantly, B:  You’re susceptible to the Nielsen mindset that destroys some of the quality content that hits the airwaves.  By that I’m referring to Jericho, Journeyman and the like. All good shows that missed their ratings niche because from what I can tell, the story got a bit too convoluted with details.

As it stands, I don’t think the Syfy Channel is offering a whole lot of quality programming and for once, they’ve added something new that actually falls into the category of well thought-out, unlike wrestling and other venues they introduce to us.

For now, it looks like Stargate Universe is plugging along and time will tell if the same demographic that made BSG as popular as it was will keep Stargate Universe afloat.

Source for ratings: By The Numbers

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  1. As for Shanks doing his ‘job’, he doesnt have to be in SGU, he is in other stuff and therefore is doing the job because he wants to or because he desperately needs the money!

  2. Just because Michael Shanks may have been willing to “support the franchise” by appearing on SGU, doesn’t mean that he was consulted with and/or agreed with any of the decisions being made on SGU. It also doesn’t mean that he was “desperate” for money.

    For all we know, he could have been asked during the script writing process if he would do a cameo and said yes, only to get the script shortly before filming and said to himself “Whoa…?” after reading it.

    By then, it could have been too late to back out because he had already said yes. Or, in good faith and on good will, he could have just went along with it because he was still willing to be supportive. He seems like a nice guy.

    No one really knows exactly how/why he or any other SG-1 people did their cameos, so I think we should let this topic go.

  3. @ Morena

    Fair enough. We have had a good discussion about this, and if we keep going it will become an argument.

    I’m going to keep watching SGU, becaue it is all the Stargate I will be getting for a while. And yes it is my 3rd favourite Stargate show, and I doubt it will run for more than a couple of seasons. I dont care for most of the characters beyond Rush and Young.

  4. SGU is,unhappily,just a boring show.
    The characters are neither interesting nor sympathetic.
    The actors appear to be “going through the motions.”
    Will there be a season two? I doubt it.
    (Oh, before the lights are turned off, please push Dr. Rush, Eli, and the senator’s daughter out an airlock!)

  5. I am a long time Stargate fan, but I have to say I am supremely disappointed in this show. Yes, I realize they are trying a new direction but it is the wrong direction. I have read a lot of posts from “new” Stargate fans who literally are saying that they are the new fan base and all of us long time viewers should get used to the show or just stop watching. Well, I say WRONG. Most of the new fans only like the show because it is over-loaded with human drama. THIS IS A SCIENCE FICTION SHOW!!!!!(If you want drama maybe you should stick to mtv or the e network). What some people don’t realize is science fiction television shows always have and still do rely on a “die hard” or “cult following”. If you alienate the fans that have kept you afloat all these years the “new” viewers will not be enough. Ratings show that they will jump ship as soon as something new comes along. So all of you can quote me all the numbers you want but one thing I know for sure is a temporary surge of new, fickle fans doesn’t keep a show on the air, loyal fans like me do.

    ……and to think they canceled Atlantis for this.

  6. I’m so disappointed they canceled Atlantis for this terrible show. :(

  7. Like others above I’m disappointed with the new show. If I wanted to watch Big Brother I would do so. The ship’s crew could just as easily be in house together rather than the ship given the complete lack of exploration.

    A character driven story is great, I really enjoy when SciFi goes for a more adult feel and avoids the cheese factor. That being said I don’t watch sci-fi for character drama alone.

    Calling this show SciFi because it is set on a spaceship seems disingenuous. Sure they are on a space ship… and? I can only hope, as I watch random episodes, that the series will grow in to something I enjoy. For now, meh.

  8. It is science fiction, it may not be filled with a bunch of techno-babble or aliens, those things alone do not make or break something in the sci-fi genre. Take Children of Men, it just takes place in the future, but it is considered one of the best science fiction films made in the last 10 years.

    Also, the show has dealt with the figuring out new technology, an alien (and more than likely a few more down the road), time travel.

  9. SGU picked up for a second season!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good news for me, but not for the haters.

  10. And they’ll be introducing a new alien race, so that should make some people a little happy, though they may have given up already.

  11. This show is horrible, and the ratings have tanked if you consider that this is a new show and has the coveted Stargate name on it. The ratings for the last episode “Justice” was a paltry 1.3 million viewers, down from what SyFy was bragging about with the 2.5 “highest rating” at the premiere episode(s). The overwhelming disdain for this show is unprecedented in the Stargate franchise. We saw some complaints with the few character changes like Ben Browder, etc…for a COUPLE of episodes, but they worked out just fine, as did the transition/creation of Stargate Atlantis.

    Now, we have a soap opera (and not a very good one), set in space and having Stargate in its name. This is really a dumb move. The Stargate name and the franchise itself are being endangered with this show. The few people who like it are in a SMALL minority, and the ratings and rantings prove it. The money people aren’t nearly as stupid as the writers, and they will respond according to profitability and not some false sense of artistic pride. WHEN it is cancelled after this next season, most of us will not be surprised, but the soap fans who like it may cry a little and eat chocolate to comfort them.

  12. KOBE SBM says:”cry a little and eat chocolate to comfort them.”

    LOL… good one..

  13. Introducing drama and ‘deep characters’ in general is OK, but I don’t see that in SGU.

    All I see is a bunch of characters whining and hating each other.

    Even when they go through the gate, on a timer, before they go back to FTL, they still have beating each other up as their top priority.

    Some ‘deep drama’ highlights:

    - Dr. Rush shouting at everybody because of his caffeine withdrawal ?!?

    - Telford screwing Young’s wife on and off because the stones malfunction ?!?

    Is this ‘deep drama’?

    BSG was overloaded with drama but you know what, it was quality drama. I liked it even though I’m not a drama fan.

    But the drama in SGU is shallow, cheap – rivaling the worst of reality shows (and seems to be inspired by them in a way).

    In many ways the ‘black and white’ characters of SG-1, even the more shallow ones such as the Goauld, were more intriguing than the characters in SGU.

    Clearly drama is not the strong side of the stargate writing crew.

    Also, if we are already addressing the series writers/producers, the idea of looking down upon their own fans for liking the previous series (SG-1/SGA) is quite arrogant to say the least.

    They literally criticize their own fans for not liking the new concept, and have done so (sometimes even going as far as criticizing their IQ) on web interviews and blogs.

    Something has gone extremely wrong among the stargate production team.

    It is in fact quite puzzling.

    As a big SG fan I have given SGU a chance and watched the first part of the season, and will watch the first couple of episodes of the 2nd part of the season coming in April.

    If nothing changes I will have to accept that this is stargate from now on and unfortunately, listen to the advice of ‘if you don’t like it, don’t watch it.’

  14. I think you hit a whole bunch of nails on the head gigitravels. Kudos to your valid unstinting analytical assessment. Most here just haven’t bothered, having felt like they’re pounding salt! I have to say that you belong to the pantheon of viewers that have been willing to rise. Since that is the case I give you and I guess by extension others here a boon, in the sense that they may not be aware of it’s existence. This is for inspiration…

  15. I’m 15 and I absolutly love SG-1 and SGA. I gave SGU a chance. I hate drama………so SGU is definantly out of my “shows to watch” One of the first things I saw when the season first started was a sex scene. I mean come on. I thought it was Stargate, not Battle Stargate. And even the way they shot the film, the angles, BSG. I gave it a chance, I watched the first like 7 episodes. It just doesn’t realy intrest me or my parents.

  16. This is almost as painful to watch for me as it is farming titanium nodes in Northrend on an overcrowded PVE server.

    I don’t like the direction, BSG did a way better job imo. I didn’t like the way BSG ended and the way the director wanted to make it some cathartic experience. I have had enough cartharsis for the next few years.

    I want a kick butt make me care and uplifting show, not some dreaded story about a bunch of inept people and their dysfunctional lives.

  17. I liked it the first time I saw it…. When it was called Battlestar Galactica.

  18. I liked it the first time I saw it…. When it was called Battlestar Galactica.

  19. Perhaps its too cerebral for the american market??

  20. I couldn't agree more. I don't really like SG in general, but I love this show. I am one of the newbies that will help out the ratings in the future!

  21. Drsambecjett is because of unconscious beings such as yourself who will watch any old crap on tv, that television truly does not get any better. Apparently it is rumoured that SGU Universe will be cancelled and thank god

  22. I’m a longtime Stargate fan and I’m enjoying this new show. It’s pretty much the Deep Space 9 of Stargate in my opinion.

    The older Stargate shows are pretty childish. Black and white ethics, the good guys almost always win, lots of action, not a whole lot of character driven story etc. I was 8 when the first season of SG1 aired, so for me, that was fine, and I always looked forward to seeing the next episode. But I’m 21 now. I started to lose interest in Stargate after the first season of Atlantis aired. I now like a show that’s darker and meant for a more mature audience, and Universe is delivering that.

    Quite a few fans of the old series have said that Universe isn’t true Stargate. I’m guessing they haven’t seen the original movie with Kurt Russell and James Spader. Universe is a lot more true to the style of that movie and the vision Roland Emmerich had.

    Ironically, there were fans of the movie which hated SG1 when it aired for very almost the same reasons people are now bagging Universe for. I guess they’re getting some payback now.

    • Todd:
      Star Trek DS9 was a war epic. Its only real similarity to SG:U is that they both have serial rather than episodic story lines.
      DS9 was not loaded down with unnecessary, unwieldy, shallow and irrelevant interpersonal drama for its own sake. When watching SGU it is obvious to anyone that the primary entertainment the writers are trying to provide is the micro-social dynamic of a bunch of slightly charactered flaws (as opposed to slightly flawed characters) interacting. The writing and character development are reminiscent of a daily soap opera; the only difference between All My Children and SGU is that SGU is set in a space ship traveling around some galaxies.
      When it is revealed that Dr. Rush is actually dead, but his evil clone/twin brother/whatever is the one who is on the ship, then you’ll know.

  23. You’ve misunderstood me mate. I was talking about how DS9 changed the direction of the Star Trek Franchise. There’s a big difference between it and the Next Generation. Again, there was a group of fans which hated DS9 for doing this, just how the style of SGU going away from SG1 has angered a group Stargate fans.

    But since you’ve gone there, you’re missing a lot of details by calling Deep Space 9 a war epic. That’s actually the first time I’ve seen anyone say that about it (big Star Trek fan here). DS9 was very drama focused, especially in its early seasons. The drama was a little more episodic than SGU has been, but that’s the biggest difference. Incidentally, I’ve heard the main enemy in DS9, the Dominion, was introduced as a way to improve ratings. As you watch through the seasons, the first is pretty slow and doesn’t have a whole lot of action, but it starts to pick up in the second. However, the drama in the early seasons wasn’t all bad. It helped set up some of the story arcs seen later in the show, like Kira and Odo falling in love and Bashir eventually hooking up with Dax. The relationship between Sisko’s son and his Ferrengi friend also comes to mind. Then there are Kira’s initial feelings towards Sisko and Starfleet (think Wray and Young) and how she changed over the years.

    I can see SGU heading in the same direction. I readily admit that it has been slow to start, and that there is a little too much drama in it. As I’ve said, DS9 was little different, but season 1.5 of SGU is already picking up the pace, and we’ll have to wait and see for season 2. I wouldn’t be surprised if a new enemy or something like that is introduced to add some excitement, like with the Dominion. Despite this, I still enjoy the show and will continue and watch it. It is changing the things about Stargate which were turning me away.

    “When it is revealed that Dr. Rush is actually dead, but his evil clone/twin brother/whatever is the one who is on the ship, then you’ll know.”

    I seem to remember a lot of silly stuff like this from SG1. Apophis was supposed to die heaps of times, and there’s the whole Baal thing.

    At the end of the day, those people who don’t like the change from the style of SG1 are going to have to deal with it and move on, just as fans of the original movie did with SG1.

    • I agree with you that DS9 was not a war epic, but I have to wonder about your comments. DS9 was the first of the star trek that tried to show how day to day life was in Stardate 47550.1, As Stargate is based now, what can they show us, discovering new worlds? SG1 did that, the evolution of ancient earth cultures? again SG1 did that, how we would live with and learn about new technologies? Then Atlantis did that. SGU is just a sad attempt to get the new young generation of views interested, Yep, a gamer and a solder and a young girl all lock in a space ship, far far away from mommy and daddy, Yep it’s a joke.

  24. When SG1 hit the screens it was great, new technologies and cultures, but it dropped off because it got too caught up in it. It removed tangible suspense, there was always a quick fix.

    Atlantis was rubbish, bad jokes, cheesy dialogue and oh so boring.

    Universe is diff from SG1 but it is exciting again, hopefully less humanoid aliens, villagers in huts crap. And carlyle is the best actor the franchise has ever had.

    I think it is great :D

  25. Matt!!! Atlantis was great a lot of action, new technologies, good stories. yeah it was not a drama but that for me is not what stargate is about.
    Stargate was always about exploring the unknown, meeting new cultures or incounter new aliens. That was what i loved in Atlantis but SGU is just boring. No action no real exploring just boring drama. I always think by my self when seeing SGU ´´when do they get starting with the fun´´ and do you know what? they never do. BORING!!!!!

  26. I’m just waiting for the show to end then I don’t have to watch anymore. Much like BSG the last season was slow and pathetic, nothing was being accomplished. I feel obligated to watch just to see if something happens… Please end this show I don’t want to watch anymore.

  27. >Perhaps its too cerebral for the american market??

    I don’t know why so many who like this show feel the need to insult those who don’t like it. This particular rant (not the anti-american part of it, but the “you’re too stupid to get it”, those the combination does seem tediously predictable), seems particularly common. There seems to be an overwhelming perception among lovers of this show that personal problems of the faulted characters, and I mean SERIOUSLY faulted characters, is what makes them complex, so if you don’t like them that means you’re too stupid to relate.

    In fact, what I despise about these characters so much is the fact that they’re so damn predictable – pretty much the opposite of what the show-lovers seem we think. For the most part they have little integrity and you can be sure that when placed in a self-gratifying situation most of them are going to indulge, knowing full well the consequences – not because they’re “complex” but because they’re weak-assed when it comes to moral fortitude … “moral what?” yeah … there isn’t any.

    That isn’t to say that appreciating horribly flawed characters whom I find so predictable means your stupid for not being as prescient. Not anymore than I’m stupid for appreciating “good guy always wins” shows that you find predictable.

    The point of the matter is that both show-types are predictable, and it comes down to what you enjoy. Nobody watches TV to find out what’s going to happen … they watch it to find out if what happens is what they want and expect to have happen.

    People who like SGU like what’s happening, and those who hate it don’t. Similarly those who like SGA liked what went on each week there, those who didn’t hated it. It’s just what you like, has nothing to do with how predictable the plot or characters, etc are.

    Frankly I have yet to see a single complaint about SGU saying it’s too complicated … in fact the ability to have things change so dramatically from week to week is really nice … were it not for what I find so mind-crushingly tedious behavior of the characters. And I think the reason it sticks in people’s craw like a fishbone is that all the SF shows seem to be going the same direction: dismally dark sets, horribly flawed characters, no real heroes you can look up to, and they’re all far more dismal than real life. There’s little interest among the characters about exploring … it’s like “we got this long to get this stuff. Hurry up and get it dammit”.

    Sadly, SGA was the first and last SF show my wife (and I’m sure millions of others) ever liked – a show we could watch together! It’s a shame those days are gone.

  28. Also, I think another mistake the producers … no, even further up: the SF executives, have made resulting in the whole SG legacy being abandoned for SGU is simply this: when planning their season programming they only seem to be listening ones passionate enough about SF to post online their thoughts about a SF show.

    Kind of like if Rodednberry got all his cues for Andromeda from hard core trekkies … what a recipe for disaster.

    Don’t get me wrong … produces and network execs should listen to their most loyal audience members – but what they ended up with was something only those members like. Most viewers, like me, seldom post or even go to fan-forums … unless I’m pissed, or extremely curious. I’m only posting my opinion now because I’m so disappointed with what’s been coming out of SF. If I see another vampire flick … gee whiz.

    I know they thought they were thinking out of the box and covering new ground with SGU, but in fact it was exactly what their most die-hard fans wanted, thereby alienating pretty much everyone else. The execs need to take a long hard look at their viewership: it used to be a lot bigger but even I’m no longer a fan … and I’ve been reading SciFi since I was old enough to read.

    In fact the turn of programming choices reminds me of reading the worst SyFy book I’ve ever read (30 years ago), Bio of a Space Tyrant, and by a talented author: Piers Anthony – but I suspect hard-core SF aficionados loved it.

    …and maybe that’s all the execs really care about.

    Again, I don’t think they should ignore the die-hard SF fans, but I have a hard time believing that any show should have to be so polarizing as SGA on one hand, or SGU on the other. So you thought SGA was too campy? Fine they could have fixed it, don’t replace it with something just the opposite: bitter, agonizing, and with humor that’s mostly deprecating in one way or another. Or at least if you’re going to provide it’s polar opposite, keep the campy one around so there’s something for everybody.

    Or do something completely differen than anything ever done in SciFi: how about a show for a change that is truly unpredictable because the characters aren’t monotonic, one to the next. How about a few characters among the power-hungry morally spineless, who really do have integrity and can always be counted on … you know such people do exist in nearly all walks of life (or maybe I just ignorantly live in a pocket of serendipity but I don’t think so) … except on SGU, unless they’re relegated to some goofy role where they’re never taken seriously (because as everyone knows good people should never be respected as a potential leader – sarcasm there, but it seems to be the rule on SGU). Why does every show have to have a freaking power-struggle between conniving self-centered individuals … how about they get along every now and then and act mature enough to solve their differences intelligently, openly, and humbly and use that strength in character unity to kick some evil alien butt from time to time against unbelievable odds. Or would that offend the sensibilities of those who think happy endings aren’t believable … for goodness sake it’s SciFi where anything’s believable. What good is a space opera when the characters can’t cooperate long enough to form a decent quorum?

    You know people are more complex when they aren’t so one-dimensional, campy on the one hand, or sarcastic and bitter on the other. Most people swing between the two and THAT’s what makes them interesting. In real life there’s almost always a contingency of people NOT acting like jerks nor are mindless followers of who think their only option is the lesser of two evils – but such people don’t exist among the simpletons in SGU.

    Then again, I haven’t seen the show for the last few episodes … I just found it too tedious, so maybe things have changed, but that would surprise me and I lost so much respect for all the characters I couldn’t really care less if any of them did find religion. Syfy screwed the pooch with SGU and then just need to move on.

  29. Okay, the reasons I do not like this show are MANY, but none of them are because it’s cerebral…what a joke THAT comment was.

    Interpersonal character drama can work in Sci Fi (Battlestar Galactica, Defying Gravity, Lost), with even a degree of sex or sexiness. And all of the three examples I gave (BG, DG, and Lost) are cerebral. And I enjoy them all for what they are.

    Stargate Universe is just juevenile in its attempts at being serious sci fi. The Stargate franchise has been all about camaraderie and fun. Here, there’s an attempt to redefine itself, but with the same “team” that created the previous series, and it FLOPPED.

    Can you imagine a “more adult” Battlestar Galactica penned by Richard Hatch or Glen Larson? No, it required a completely new direction and it had to become something completely different than its 1979-1980 incarnation.

    Mediocre at best, sickening at worst, SGU has almost NO redeeming qualities.