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Millions of years ago, a race of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens had a philosophical disagreement with their brethren and fled their galaxy to the Milky Way, where they settled and began building a civilization greater than any that galaxy has known before or since.
Tropes applying to the Ancients as a whole:
- Advanced Ancient Humans: Possible Trope Codifier, as they are physically indistinguishable from modern humans but built the stargate network among a great many other things that even the Asgard barely understood.
- Alien Non-Interference Clause / Obstructive Code of Conduct: They refuse to involve themselves in the events of the lower planes except to prevent other ascended from involving themselves. They won't even step in to prevent their own destruction.
- A God I Am Not: Their schism with the Ori stemmed from believing that Sufficiently Advanced Aliens should not play god.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The Trope Namers, much of their population ascended en masse to escape the Ori plague. The rest fled to the Pegasus Dwarf Irregular Galaxy.
- Benevolent Precursors: They may be thoroughly neglectful on the heroes' plane of existence, but SG-1 season nine reveals they've been active on their own level for quite some time keeping the humans of the Milky Way and Pegasus hidden from the Ori.
- Greater Scope Paragon: Played with. Initially they are seen as almost god-like, in that they had immense power and nearly magical technology, which still benefits those who are able to understand it, not the least of which are the Stargates themselves. Oma Desala in particular lends a hand to the younger races on a number of occasions. As time goes on, the view of them becomes more cynical, particularly over their Alien Non-Interference Clause, though they do keep Anubis from using his full power against the galaxy. Despite this, the Ancients remain something to aspire to for the current generation of humanity.
- I Have Many Names: Overlapping with No Name Given, because what they called themselves remains unknown. The Ori called them the Alterans, meaning "Others". The inhabitants of Pegasus knew them as the Lanteans. Everyone else called them the Ancients.
- Neglectful Precursors: Oh. My. Gawd. So much so they got their own folder on the trope page.
- Operator Incompatibility: Most of their technology requires the ATA gene to use normally, though sufficiently determined civilizations such as the Goa'uld and Tau'ri have found ways around this.
Oma Desala (Carla Boudreau)
The Ancient responsible for the temple on Kheb, she made a habit of breaking one of the Ancients' strictest rules: those worthy of ascension should be able to do it on their own. Oma instead chose to help people she thought worthy to ascend, and usually she picked right. Unfortunately, one of the folks she picked, a certain Goa'uld named Anubis, turned out to be an Omnicidal Maniac. To punish her for helping him ascend, the other Ancients kicked him halfway back down and forced her to watch as he tried to destroy every living thing in the Milky Way.Oma refused the lesson and continued helping people ascend, including Daniel Jackson (twice) and the entire human population of Abydos. After Anubis tried to use an Ancient superweapon to wipe out all life in the galaxy, she sacrificed herself to bind him in eternal ascended combat.
- The Atoner: Trying to atone for helping Anubis ascend, but unwilling to atone for helping anyone else.
- Hurricane of Aphorisms: She always speaks like this.
- Koan: Really, really likes sayings such as:"Because it is so clear, it takes a longer time to realize it. If you immediately know that candlelight is fire, the meal was cooked a long time ago."
- Mother Nature: Played the role to the monastery on Kheb.
- Sealed Evil in a Duel: She sacrifices herself in SG-1: "Threads" to bind Anubis on the higher planes.
- The Other Darrin: Played by Mel Harris as an Energy Being in SG-1: "Maternal Instinct".