Dr. Helena Magnus on Sanctuary [Female Protagonists on SF TV]

Dr. Helena Magnus is the immortal protagonist of Sanctuary. She is a 158 years old British medical and scientific researcher who has devoted her life to both hunting and protecting so-called ‘monsters’ (Abnormals). She runs a Sanctuary for all of them where they can be safe for the world and the world can be safe from them (if they are dangerous). Later we learn that it is only one out of five Sanctuaries in the sanctuary network.

The show is about her and her team of experts who run the Sanctuary as they try to help and learn from the Abnormals, while also having to contain the more dangerous ones.  Will is her somewhat reluctant partner played by Robin Dunne.  Her feisty and reckless daughter Ashley played by Emilie Ullerp is part of the team to the beginning of season two when she suffer a teleporting accident and dissipates (she was written out of the show, I don’t really know why), she is replaced by a somewhat shady but beautiful thief and con woman named Kate Freelander (Agam Daresh). Also on her team is the talkative geek Henry Foss (Ryan Robbins), a computer and security expert and her taciturn Neanderthal-like unnamed (Known as Bigfoot in the show’s lineup) assistant, sometimes called “Big Guy” (Christopher Heyerdahl).

Amanda Tapping that plays Helena Magnus is one of my favorite actors. I loved her in Stargate SG-1 and she also made an impression on Stargate Atlantis besides here.

Sancturary is the first show tho be filmed entirely on the Green Screen.

Name: Dr. Helena Magnus
Portrayed by: Amanda Tapping
Series: Sanctuary
Genre: Science Fiction Fantasy
Original Channel: Syfy
Status: Waiting on season 3.
Started: October 3, 2008
Episodes: 2 seasons, 26 episodes, 8 webisodes

Sanctury is a quite entertaining show with interesting characters, fast paced action and mysterious creatures.

Helena Magnus Wikipedia Entry

In her youth she was a member of a group of experimental scientists known as “the five”, which included also Nikola Tesla, Nigel Griffin, Dr. James Watson, and John Druitt; who wanted to push the boundaries of their understanding of the physical world through unconventional means. At some point during their partnership, Magnus acquired a vial of untainted vampire blood and used it in a serum that “The Five” injected into themselves. After the injection, they each developed different gifts; Magnus gained a high level of longevity, Nigel Griffin acquired the power of invisibility, Dr. James Watson’s intellect was tremendously heightened, John Druitt developed the ability to teleport through time and space, and Nikola Tesla undergoes transformation into a vampire, with the additional power of electrical manipulation.

Doctor Helen Magnus, played by Amanda Tapping (Webisodes, main Season 1– ) is a 158 year old teratologist and head of the Sanctuary in Old City. She was born in England during the Victorian era, and was one of the first female doctors and scientists of the Royal College of Surgeons in London. Her father, Gregory Magnus, taught her about his private research of studying and helping the Abnormals. She became a proficient medical and scientific researcher, and eventually Gregory introduced her to other scientists and paranormal researchers interested in the same field, a group called “The Five”. She was the first to inject herself with a sample of pure Vampire blood, giving her the gift of longevity; she has not aged since taking the blood. Helen later pursues a relationship with fellow Five member John Druitt; they are briefly engaged until his new abnormal abilities drive him to become a serial killer. The two conceived a child, Ashley (who would be born over a century later due to being kept as an embryo in frozen stasis).

Helen later builds the Sanctuary in Old City using her father’s designs to accommodate the Abnormals. On one hunt, she saves Will Zimmerman during his childhood from a deadly Abnormal, though she is unable to rescue his mother. Decades later, she recruits Will as her protege. In the episode “Requiem”, she becomes infected with an aggressive parasite. The only way this is stopped is for Will to kill her, though he manages to revive her after the parasite leaves her body. After Ashley dies at the hands of the Cabal,Magnus falls into a short stage of depression. She researches a way to lose her longevity, but finding that what she needed would cause all of humanity to collapse, she leaves the solution behind. In “Veritas”, Magnus was thought to have killed Big Bertha, an abnormal capable of creating natural disasters.However, in the season two finale it is revealed she kept her alive. After the news broke Terrance Wexford relieved her of command.

According to Mark Wilson of About.com, Amanda Tapping was enthusiastic about creating a radically different character after eleven years playing Samantha Carter in Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, and expended tremendous effort to separate Helen from Carter as successfully as possible. Tapping was able to successfully portray a woman who’s experienced a century and a half of isolation, strangeness, and relentless compassion. Rick Bentley from McClatchy Newspapers commented Tapping’s role as Dr. Magnus was a way for the actor to make a name of herself outside the Stargate universe as Carter. Magnus is also described as a “non-glib, female Jack Harkness.” Magnus has been listed number ten in TV Squad’s “Ten Most mysterious characters on television.” For her role as Helen Magnus in “Requiem”, Amanda Tapping won a Leo Award for “Best Lead Performance by a Female in a Dramatic Series,” as well as nominations for the Constellation Award’s “Best Female Performance in a 2008 Science Fiction Television Episode” from the same episode, and the Gemini Award’s “Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role”.


Amanda Tapping


Official Trailer

Other Female Protagonists on SciFi TV

  1. Olivia Dunham in Fringe
  2. Max Guevara (X5-452) in Dark Angel
  3. Erica Evans on V
  4. Molly Anne Caffrey on Threshold
  5. Wendy ‘Dub-Dub’ Watson on The Middleman
  6. Jane Vasco on Painkiller Jane
  7. Æon Flux on Æon Flux
  8. Dana Scully on The X-Files
  9. Myka Bering on Warehouse 13
  10. Dr. Helena Magnus on Sanctuary
  11. Sarah Walker on Chuck
  12. Echo on Dollhouse
  13. Amy Pond on Doctor Who