Michael Shanks: Why Did He Leave Stargate?
Michael Shanks played Dr. Daniel Jackson on Stargate SG-1 but took a brief hiatus from the show because he needed a break.
Actor Michael Shanks made a name for himself in the Stargate franchise. But it wasn’t just that series that made his career. Far from it. He also had plenty of roles before and most definitely a lot after. What has he been up to lately? Here’s where Michael Shanks is now.
BEFORE STARGATE, HE WAS IN HIGHLANDER AND THE COMMISH
Michael Shanks started his career a good four years before Stargate took over his life. His early work revolved around TV series or TV movies. He was seen in the TV series Highlander and The Commish as well as Madison and University Hospital. He was also seen in the TV movies The Call of the Wild and A Family Divided.
All these roles were bit parts, nothing big, but they led him to the role he is most widely known for now.
MICHAEL SHANKS STARRED IN STARGATE
Michael Shanks joined Stargate SG-1 from the show’s start. He played archaeologist, Dr. Daniel Jackson, throughout the show’s 10 seasons. His character, Dr. Jackson, was previously played by actor James Spader in the original Stargate movie, which SG-1 is based on.
Michael Shanks’ Jackson character is brought back in the pilot episode to facilitate the search for his wife, who had been kidnapped. Shanks was a major character until the end of Season 5 when he left the series (more about that later) but then returned for Season 7 and beyond.
Not only was Michael Shanks involved with the remainder of SG-1, but he was also a main cog in both direct-to-DVD movies Stargate: The Ark of Truth and Stargate: Continuum. Shanks made a few appearances as Jackson in Stargate: Atlantis and Stargate Universe.
During his time on SG-1, Michael Shanks was nominated quite a few times for the Leo Award, winning once in 2004 for Best Lead Performance By A Male in a Dramatic Series and another win coming in 2009 for Stargate: Continuum for Lead Performance by a Male in a Feature Length Drama.
Michael Shanks’ talents weren’t just in front of the camera when it came to Stargate. Shanks was also behind the camera, directing an episode of Stargate SG-1 (as well as a future TV series he was involved with, Raising Hope) and he was also given credit as a writer for three of Stargate SG-1’s episodes.
MICHAEL SHANKS LEFT STARGATE SG-1 BECAUSE HE NEEDED A BREAK
Stargate SG-1 ran for 10 seasons. Contrary to popular belief, Michael Shanks was a part of all 10 seasons. But it was Season 6 that saw much less of Shanks’s character; he was in only seven of the season’s 22 episodes.
Why only seven? Rumor says Michael Shanks was unhappy with the money he was making, so he decided to leave the show. According to Shanks, he wanted to take a break.
He was finally directly asked why he left at the 2004 San Diego Comic-Con and this was his response. “I needed to take a break from the show. I had a really good year off and then we decided to work together again, it was as simple as that. Nobody expected the show to go on so long and we had options in season 7 and now season 8, and who knows after that.”
Michael Shanks also went on to quell rumors about his dislike of the series’ writers. “I read something that claimed I said I hated writers and denigrated their talents. That wasn’t it at all! It was never my intention to insult them. I thought the writing staff was just great and did a marvelous job. In a way, maybe I wanted to stay on the show, but I just expressed that the character (of Daniel) wasn’t being made use of as well or as creatively as he could have been. I had begun to think the show would work just as well without me and that’s when I felt that I had to go. I also felt it was time to expand my horizons and look to other things as an actor.”
He went on to add, “The writers disagreed with my point of view. I thought they didn’t see what I was talking about. I realize now that I should have left it at that. We had artistic differences, which is what a lot of actors say, but I hated the public speculation that would create. I wanted to be more specific, and it just seemed to cause more hurt feelings. So now I wish I could go back and say we had artistic differences and that’s why I left. There is no right answer, given that situation. But, I am learning to curb what I say.”
So why did Michael Shanks return in Season 7 and beyond? It seems he was much happier with his character’s direction. “For me, on a more personal level, I would say the acceptance of the character and the expression of sentiment towards the character was a factor in me deciding to come back.”
HE WAS IN A NUMBER OF SHOWS AFTER STARGATE
Michael Shanks was busy during his Stargate run. Throughout his 10 seasons with the franchise, Shanks was also seen in TV shows like Burn Notice, Eureka, CSI: Miami, The Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits. He also continued to make TV movies one after another, continuing a very busy and successful career.
MICHAEL SHANKS HAD A ROLE IN ALTERED CARBON
Michael Shanks’ final appearance in the Stargate franchise came in 2010. He has now moved on to other things.
First Michael Shanks jumped aboard the TV series Saving Hope, which ran for five seasons and was also seen in the TV mini-series Unspeakable and another series called Virgin River.
Most recently, Michael Shanks was seen on the Netflix series Altered Carbon and another series Project Blue Book. It doesn’t seem, even with Stargate ending, that Michael Shanks has plans to slow down any time soon.