‘Stargate Atlantis’: Why Was Torri Higginson Written Off the Show?

Stargate Atlantis fans were in for a shock when Dr. Weir was written off of the show during season 4 — especially given Torri Higginson’s excellent job in the role. Amanda Tapping as Samantha Carter and Robert Picardo as Woolsey eventually replaced Higginson. So when it comes down to it, what led the writers to remove Dr. Weir and Torri Higginson from the show?

Torri Higginson hates being asked this one question

Reporters and fans have asked Torri Higginson one particular question countless times, it seems, and the Stargate Atlantis star has a pointed answer. And while it’s not “why was Dr. Weir written off,” it does share some insight into how Higginson felt about her character’s eventual departure.

“How important do you think it is, especially in the sci-fi genre, to see strong female characters depicted?” asked a Red Carpet News reporter. 

“Well, I, to be honest, get irritated with that question. Because I think in this day and age, it should not be a thing. It shouldn’t be an issue. It shouldn’t be in sci-fi, it should be in every day. It should be present and it shouldn’t be uncommon,” explained Torri Higginson.

“So I’m frustrated that it’s still seen as uncommon. You know what I mean? I kinda go, ‘really, in this day and age? That’s still a rare thing? Why?’ So that’s my response to that.”

When the interviewer pressed further, saying they think it’s important and unique to sci-fi because sci-fi is aspirational and progressive, Higginson had a sharp but accurate reply.

“Well, I mean to be honest though, in Stargate, my character got kinda pushed out because she wasn’t military strong enough, Amanda came in, and then in the end, it was a guy that ran it. Picardo came in and ran it, right?” she replied.

“So I don’t know how progressive that was. But I’m just being a devil’s advocate.”

Why was Dr. Weir written off ‘Stargate Atlantis’?

Torri Higginson smiles and poses for a photograph while at an event.
Torri Higginson played Dr. Weir on Stargate Atlantis | Albert L. Ortega/WireImage

Part of why Dr. Weir, and subsequently Torri Higginson, was written off of Stargate Atlantis is related to that certain lack of depth or characterization for her character. Higginson seemed to feel as if Dr. Weir’s role was somewhat inchoate.

“I think that my character — we never found a place for her. I think everybody can take a bit of responsibility for that, obviously, myself included. So yeah, I imagine that was it. They thought, ‘here’s this woman character that we’re not really able to explore to her full right,’” Higginson told GateWorld

During a now-deleted chat with DTRN’s “SciFi Guys,” Higginson explained that she felt like writers treated Dr. Weir too passively. 

She revealed that producers gave her the option of becoming a recurring character. However, she disagreed with their approach, and she instead decided to simply bow out. 

“Honestly? I found that quite s—–, to be honest. Oops. But I found out, because I kept going to them, I kept going up to them saying, ‘I have a feeling [that] my character, you’re not doing anything with me, and you guys have me for six years and I don’t want to, you know, be here not doing anything. Let me know what’s going on,’” Higginson explained.

“And they kept saying, ‘No, no, no, it’s great. We love you. We love you. Things can be great.’ And I said. ‘Well, if that’s the case, can we do something with her?’” 

“And they kept reassuring me … and the very last day of filming season three, as I finished filming the last scene on the last day I was called up to the office and was told that my character was going to become recurring if I chose to be,” she explained. 

She didn’t hold it against Amanda Tapping

Torri Higginson signs authographs for fans at ComiCon Toronto 2013.
Torri Higginson | Ernesto Di Stefano Photography/Getty Images

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Torri Higginson was replaced in part on Stargate Atlantis by Amanda Tapping as Samantha Carter. However, Higginson doesn’t hold that against Tapping at all. During her chat with “SciFi Guys,” she went into detail. 

“Well, no. I understand that it’s a club, and you know, some people…you know. I think they didn’t like me constantly rapping on the doors saying, ‘Excuse me, why aren’t there any women writers or any women producers on the show?’ I think it bothered them,” Higginson admitted. 

“And so, Amanda, bless her, just had a kid so…bless her, man, she needs that gig more than [me]…you know what I mean? So I have no issues with any of them. I understand how it works. It is a bit of a political game and…I’m not very good at politics (laughs). I’m like Weir. I just want to act,” Higginson added.