Star Trek/Headscratchers

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What does everybody else on that ship do?

  • Before I start, I'd like to admit I'm not a huge fan of Star Trek, but I am aware of the concept. However, it seems like they travel through space in a huge spaceship with at least a hundred people on it, and yet only the people on the bridge do anything, even when they go down to the planet. Now I know that there need to be people to look after a ship of that size, but surely it would be easier just to have a smaller ship with less crew who are there just to be killed off every time they run into a little bit of trouble, as it seems to be their only job is cannon fodder and I can't really think anyone in this type of Utopian society would sign up just to be cannon fodder.
    • Several episodes give the crew size as 430, which really isn't very many at all (a real world aircraft carrier has a crew complement of about 5000). The commanding officers would beam down because only they had the authority to make contact with a newly discovered planet. The cannon fodder redshirts were security guards whose job was to act as bodyguards for the main characters. (Although it does seem serving as a security guard under Kirk was more hazardous than most captains in the Federation.)
      • Comparing the Enterprise to an aircraft carrier isn't fair; a carrier is a capital ship designed to carry 30-80 smaller fighter craft. This spaceship isn't anywhere near that large.
    • The vast majority of the crew are going to be maintenance and operations crews. You only need a small number of people to give orders, but that translates into hundreds of people to carry them out: e.g. the captain orders the ship to go to warp, a full maintenance crew is keeping an eye on the engine and adjusting the power levels. Giving the order to fire a torpedo means the torpedoes have to be armed and loaded, which requires supervision, and a team of people to keep them ready for use and properly looked after - which is shown (with the munitions being called "phasers" but acting as torpedoes) in "Balance of Terror". Shuttles need to be fueled, repaired, cleaned after use, etc. Food, air and fuel need to be organised. People need to fill out paperwork whenever any of these resources is used up. And so on. Double that for the large science teams Federation ships carry... who in turn need their own maintenance and administrative personnel for their scientific equipment... (You'd expect the computer to do a lot of the work, but the story 1. doesn't allow shipboard AI for some reason and 2. is based on present day ship crews.)
    • There are several episodes dedicated to the lower decks of the various ships who sit at a console waiting for something to happen. Nothing is immune to decay. Fuses, lightbulbs, plasma couplings and other things need to be maintained, probably on a daily basis. That stuff isn't very glamorous but it is necessary. Scotty merely represents the leadership of the entire engineering department that is putting the ship back together after every battle.
    • They're cataloging and researching samples taken from the various planets they've visited, writing sociological papers on those planets' societies, doing tech tests, revising the star charts, and all that other stuff too.
    • And in addition to all of the above, there's also the part where this ship is built for combat and frequently gets shot at. In the modern-day warships tend to have much larger crews than merchant vessels of comparable tonnage for the simple reason that merchant vessels aren't designed, built, and staffed with the expectation that X percentage of the crew will get killed during operations and need redundant crew on hand to immediately fill in their spots.
      • Neither are modern-day warships - keeping a person at sea / in space is expensive. There are no spare people aboard a ship.

Earth Standard Time Everywhere

  • This is a peeve of mine with the entire Star Trek franchise. Why is it that no matter what planet, space station, or alien culture we're talking about, time is always referred to in Earth-centric units? Days, weeks, months, years...these units are all based on the rotation and orbit of planet Earth! So, when we're not on Earth, or dealing with species not from Earth, it makes no sense that they would use them! Prisoners talk about having done "seven years" in penal colonies in space, Vulcans talk about being several hundred years old, and the crews of the various starships talk about how many days they are away from their destinations. In an episode of Enterprise, Archer even tells Phlox to turn a lever to the "three o'clock position" - another Earth idiom, based not just on our measurements of time, but on the standard physical 12-hour clock used to measure time on Earth, that everyone on Earth is familiar with, but which Phlox's planet probably doesn't have. Granted, some of this can be handwaved by the universal translator converting alien time units into a form that humans are familiar with, or maybe the Federation uses Earth time units as the standard seeing as it's a human-based organization, but mostly, it's a mark of lazy writing. It would be nice to hear an alien race use units of time that are germane to THEIR planet for a change. Also, there's another problem: The passage of time is not constant throughout the universe! One day on earth does not equate to one day (or the equivalent of one Earth day) on another planet, or in space; the theory of relativity holds that time is not "synced" between places very far apart in the universe. This issue becomes extremely mind-boggling in Enterprise when Archer's captains logs are still being recorded using Earth's calendar rather than stardates (which, according to lore, were devised specifically to avoid this entire issue). Just because it's July 12 on Earth, doesn't mean it's July 12 in the middle of space. Lazy writing.
    • It's a human-built and human-staffed starship in addition to the fact that Most Writers Are Human, they have a priority to use the time scales created by their own species. Trying to resolve time frames for every species they encounter is not lazy writing, it's recognizing what is not needed to tell a compelling story. It can also be assumed that when meeting species unfamiliar with Earth or humans at all when they refer to any time scale it is a factor of the universal translator, it's adjusting what they mean to the closest approximation of hours, minutes and seconds.
  • For that matter, how do they work out duty shifts on vessels with multiple species aboard? Not all planets have a 24-hour day cycle. Is it just that all M-class (which I interpret as Earthlike) planets have similar-length days, or is some other arrangement made?
    • Deep Space Nine used the Bajoran schedule. I'm guessing it's majority rule.
      • Or 'the owner of the ship/station gets to set the clock'.
    • The other species have to adapt their cycle to the 24 hour one (or whatever the captain has the ship using), much as the humans and other species on DS9 adjusted to a 26 (or 28, I forget) hour day. One assumes that species with a greater biological imperative than average to be awake at certain times or in certain environments are accommodated as much as possible without completely disrupting everyone else's duty shifts.

Your Consoles A'Splode!

  • Why is every control panel on the Enterprise packed with explosives? Surely getting hit with a torpedo shouldn't cause the consoles to explode? And even if they have to use explosive panels, wouldn't a fuse or circuit breaker be a useful addition? Also, since the ship is apparently still fully controllable after the panels explode, what purpose do they serve?
    • The first two questions: Because it Looks Cool. (Actually, of course, as you and many others have noticed, it looks pretty ruddy dumb...but random explosions have been action-adventure visual shorthand for "OK, we're in big trouble now!" since long before computers were invented.) The third: Most of those control panels are 'science stations' or similar, dedicated to the gathering of data and reporting on status rather than actually running the ship.
    • Because most of the action centers on the bridge, and having bridge consoles explode is the only way to pose a mortal threat to the bridge crew without causing massive damage to the ship. Without exploding bridge consoles, the only way for them to establish that an enemy attack is dangerous would be to show random Red Shirts getting killed. And they do enough of that already.
    • Because they're powered by plasma instead of solid wires. Think of it as steam IN SPACE: one malfunctioning valve sends pressure spikes across the ship.
    • This is a type of Adaptation Decay. The first case of a console freaking out in Star Trek was in the seventh Original Series episode, where they fight a Romulan starship. There, the console shorted out, but it was pretty much just a standard electrical fire. Spock got things under control soon enough. But over time, the idea of bridge console fires and explosions got out of hand, until you wind up with control panels packed with C4.
      • The trip to the energy barrier in the second pilot damaged a bridge console so badly soon-to-be Red Shirt Kelso had to scrounge replacement parts from the Automated Lithium Cracking Station.
    • Also, in the new movie, they have fixed this. Every time the ship is damaged, rather then seeing something on the bridge explode, we see something in engineering blow up instead, which makes a bit more sense.
      • They'd do that on TNG too any time things got Really Bad. For example in the Best of Both Worlds part I, after a few solid hits and some minor console explosions, the Enterprise takes a really bad hit and we cut down to Main Engineering to see Geordi evacuating the warp core room amidst all sorts of busted pipes spraying steam or whatever the hell it is.
    • Because that's how the Adam Savage-Jamie Hyneman Console Engineering Building puts 'em together?
  • I could be wrong, but as I recall the whole exploding consoles thing started when Saavik was taking the Kobiyashi Maru test. In universe the simulator was just the bridge so the panels were rigged to explode harmlessly in response to the 'damage' the simulated Enterprise was taking from the Klingons as a indicator of the catastrophic nature of the damage and the casualties, essentially the consoles exploded and the bridge crew 'died' as a representation of the simulated battle damage and casualties. Unfortunately this escaped from simulated starship bridges where it made sense and 'real' starships started to ape this in combat, hence Made of Explodium consoles.


Scan it! Scan it again!

  • Why do they always have to try scanning everything twice, once with an "increased resolution"? Doesn't anybody in Star Fleet know how to work a scanner?
    • Filler. Pure filler.
    • Or maybe it's like looking at the stars through a telescope. You take a wide angle shot to look at an entire section of the sky, find the items of interest in it, and then take more pictures with a much higher resolution focused on the interesting parts. The first scan doesn't and can't give you all the information, it's telling you what to look at with the more detailed scans.
    • This troper usually clicks "preview" to get a quick overview of the page... then selects the area he wants to scan at full resolution (say, 1200dpi). Why, how do you work a scanner?


Beware the Holodecks

  • If it's so easy for the Holodeck to trap everyone inside and try to kill them, why do all these ships have them? You'd think Moriarty would only have to take over the ship once for them to get the hint.
    • Well, yeah, it'd be safer, but then they'd run out of things to do.
    • Because the Holodecks are really dang useful. They aren't just glorified recreation rooms, they can do everything from highly realistic combat simulations to crime scene investigations. Even if they do sometimes malfunction, removing such a powerful and versatile tool from a starship would put the crew at a distinct disadvantage.
      • But even if its useful for pragmatic purposes, why on Earth allow something so dangerous to be used for recreation? Also, who would ever use it?
      • On Deep Space Nine they don't have Starfleet holodecks, just the privately owned holosuites. They never use it for official purposes at all; it's strictly for recreation. They did use it for business in "The Magnificent Ferengi," but that wasn't a Starfleet mission, it was a private expedition led by the owner of the holosuite.
        • But Deep Space Nine's holosuites also malfunctioned much less than the ones on the Enterprise. In fact, this troper can only recall one episode involving a holosuite malfunction, and that was a result of something going wrong with the transporter. Also, O'Brian joked about how no one could keep the Enterprise's holodecks working right, implying that the the Enterprise's holodecks were unusually prone to failure.
      • Are you kidding? "Computer! 100 incredibly busty/hung beautiful/handsome women/men! In a giant pool of Jello! And they all want to jump me bones and aren't jealous of the other people!" Yeah, nobody would want to use that at all.
      • In theory, holodecks have safeties. And, in those shows where holodecks are legal and common, we see that everyone uses them. There are even children's holodeck programs. And Quark has a side-business renting holodeck space.
        • In many ways, this is a change in premise. The pilot and first season of TNG made it clear that they were fairly new, at least on starships. Picard had clearly never been in one prior to his first Dexter adventure.
      • In theory, holodecks work nearly flawlessly... It's just that we only usually see the times it malfunctioned.
        • In the fleet similar systems are used for mostly free-form simulation rather than limited to the pre-made pre-tested programs, which is why they are doomed to the perpetual Night Of The Living Bugs. What makes it worse is lack of development experience to support free-form simulation: Federation has all and any communications centralized, to the point of all-eggs-in-one-basket computers on ships (to the obvious and oft-observed detriment of both mechanical safety and operational security) and almost non-existent cryptography (ditto). Thus all data including software and entertainment is tightly controlled. If everything that can possibly be loaded into a holosuite was approved and tested thousand times (that's bureaucracy for you), data and systems can receive all the fixes and jury-rigged patches before release, and this allows them to get away with using generally very glitchy systems. Maybe even use this very instability as another layer of (political) security.
      • Basically, we DO only see them when they malfunction. And it should be noted that just because they malfunction, doesn't mean they aren't more useful than dangerous, cars being the standard example here. Half the time, malfunctions are caused by Negative Space Wedgies and explosions only experienced in certain ships. They sneak up on the Enterprise and cause malfunctions before the deck can be emptied.
      • We see them functioning normally on a regular basis. We only see episodes entirely about them when they malfunction.
        • Not every holodeck episode is a broken holodeck episode: "Manhunt," all three Vic Fontaine episodes, "Take Me Out to the Holosuite," "Fair Haven." In that last one, the holodeck broke in the end, but that wasn't the point of the episode.
        • Oh, and the ENT finale.
    • Bread and circuses?
    • Are you aware at all that people ski, skydive, scuba dive, hang glide, mountain climb, and do dozens and dozens of other things that people die doing every year and consider all of them casual fun?

All I Need's My Holodeck

  • On this subject, can someone tell me why the Holodeck wasn't the last invention ever? They have replicators, they have holodecks, it's like the Internet taken to its logical extreme, with actual food sources built into the wall. Doesn't that pretty much end society?
    • How many people can seriously go a week on the Internet without DOING something? Get a minifridge, fill it with a week of food, block out a week, and see how long you can last. There are some people who spend their lives in the holodeck, but most people want to go outside and talk to people occasionally. One thing about holodecks is, until very recently, holopeople were not nearly as interesting as real people. We've watched the invention of sentient holofolks, and the field testing of holocommunication. Everything else is just a decent simulation.
      • Alternatively, half of society IS in the holodeck, which is why we only see extroverts.
    • Wasn't an unhealthy holodeck obsession one of Lt. Barclay's many, many diagnosed mental or physical ailments? If it's an actual diagnosis, presumably that's something that future psychiatrists are responsible for treating.
      • True. Geordi says to Barclay "You're going to be able to write the book on holodiction," as if this is a well-known neologism and an established phenomenon.
    • The closest we've come to seeing this was Nog after his leg got shot off, and that was the result of an extreme psychological situation. I'm willing to bet that most people in the Federation have extreme self-control. Even today, there are people who know when to turn off the Xbox and return to the real world.
    • It's a collectivist society... who doesn't seem to even passively resist it. Thus... one, they are conformistic and hypocrytical enough to condemn those who were caught on this even if gone that far themselves. Two, just about everything is centralized and "regulated" if it can be. Which may work both as a software safety (they somehow survive despite their various ludicrously unsafe toys) and if the first time you set up a holodeck orgy properly it gets interrupted by PSA, this could become a little turn-off.
    • Maybe it mostly was "the last invention ever". After all, lot of Federation engineering is obviously stolen (type I phaser in "Homo-sapiens-only club"), backward (even aside of coathanger galleons - how to heat a rock? hurr... eh, let's use a phaser) or both (type III phaser). It's just that we can't tell apart the effects of Marxism and holodiction.


Why Didn't Ya Just Shoot God?

  • Star Trek V the Final Frontier's Sealed Evil in a Can proves to be easily destroyed by a single torpedo, so you'd think anyone who could seal off the center of the galaxy could have dealt with him with much less fuss.
    • Maybe he used to be more powerful, but he spent so much in time the center of the galaxy cut off from his power source that his power waned considerably.
    • Or whoever sealed him off didn't want to kill him. Not every culture has capital punishment, even for a Negative Space Wedgie with a God complex.
    • Maybe he would have deflected the torpedo quite easily, had he not been blinded by rage at a pesky Starfleet Captain.
  • It's Star Trek V. Do you really expect it to make sense?


So Many Galactic Barriers, So Little Time

  • ...and wasn't that barrier at the edge of the galaxy?
    • Different barrier. And why assume that the barrier was made by someone? It could just be a natural phenomenon that someone took advantage of to trap the Big Bad. Or Fake God got stuck in some cosmic flypaper and managed to smuggle out rumors of "paradise" to the outside galaxy before he was fully entangled. Likewise, we don't actually know that Fake God was destroyed, he might be merely indisposed.
    • The Expanded Universe tells the story of the villain that barrier was made to protect the galaxy from, sealing the evil out of the can, and references his underling from The Final Frontier.


Borg Packin' Heat

  • Why don't Borg ever run or carry personal weapons? You'd think creatures so obsessed with perfection and efficiency would try to be a bit more efficient when it came to survival? The same goes for ignoring people not considered threats: you'd think by First Contact, the Enterprise crew would have been considered a threat - as would anyone whose ship you happen to be invading.
    • Well, I think the writers do this to emphasize that to the Borg, the individual humanoid components are of no consequence. The Borg are a hive organism and care no more for individual humanoid portions of themselves than we do about individual cells. Which does not strike me as much better or more logical, come to think of it. Then again, I gave up on Trek years ago and haven't watched much of it since around 1990.
    • This troper concurs. Borg drones may be highly expendable in the sight of the collective, but they still cost something in finite resources to produce (if nothing else, the time, effort, and availability of victims are finite resources) and thus should not be thrown away unless the benefit of doing so outweighs the cost of assets expended. Or, to put it in plain English -- toilet paper might be so cheap and disposable that you feel free to wipe your ass with it, but you still don't throw all your TP rolls into the fireplace every day just for laughs, do you? Of course not. It might be cheap but it still ain't free, and if you waste all your toilet paper then you're stuck in a very uncomfortable situation until and unless you can go buy some more.
      • But the Borg actually benefit from allowing a few drones to be killed - it's how they learn about and adapt to your weaponry. Your fancy phaser rifle might take out three or four drones, sure, but as each one goes down it's transmitting information about what killed it to the Collective, and within minutes they've worked out a solution. Then when your ship tries to fire a really big version of that phaser rifle at the Borg cube, they already know the score. They may even allow boarding parties to wander around their ships unmolested precisely because they know their unarmed, lumbering drones make for tempting targets.
      • Given that their policy of letting intruders wander around their ships unmolested ("Best of Both Worlds") is the direct cause of their failure to take over the Federation, its really hard to argue that policy had any good results. Likewise, finding out about their new phaser rifles did absolutely nothing to help them prepare against the anti-starship weapons specifically invented for use on the Borg, notably the Defiant's pulse-phasers and the quantum torpedo.
      • Neither of those weapons were shown to be of much use against the Borg in the long term.
    • For that matter, why did the Federation never get the bright idea to go around the Borgs rotating shields by using bullets? It's even worse considering that First Contacts proves their usefulness.
      • The idea of just using bullets to kill the Borg was something this Troper thought of the first time he saw Best of Both Worlds pt. 1 at age 9. However, upon reflection, it probably wouldn't work. Most of the dialog about why the Borg are nigh invincible states that they adapt to whatever energy is directed at them (the first few times they shot them with phasers, it did kill them, then the Borg figured out a defense). It seems logical that after the first dozen or so Borg that got gunned down by solid slugs they could easily adapt their shielding to deflect physical projectiles as well, so Starfleet probably didn't bother, especially since they'd have to retrain their people to use old-style firearms.
        • Except that the Borg have never demonstrated any ability to shield against physical attack, even after getting punched, kicked, or slashed with bladed weapons over and over again.
          • This troper swears there was a TNG episode where a Borg forcefield blocked a blade that Worf was swinging... But either way, it is worth pointing out that the tommygun sequence in First Contact wasn't using actual physical bullets. Those were holographic bullets, which are some configuration of forcefields and photons. So really, it was just a case of a novel energy weapon that the Borg hadn't adapted to yet. We still have no idea what real bullets would do.
            • If you can stab it to death -- and Worf repeatedly stabs Borg drones to death in the movie -- then you can shoot it to death with enough bullets. Death by penetrating trauma is death by penetrating trauma.
      • Given how easy it is to protect ships from incidental collisions with space matter at interstellar speeds, I imagine protecting against something as superficial as bullets is very easy.
      • Knives would be even more easy then, wouldn't you think? And yet, it doesn't work that way with the Borg.
        • There was a projectile weapon developed by Starfleet, actually. It was used in one of the less necessary Deep Space Nine episodes; naturally, it wasn't just a gun, it had to incorporate a transporter to "shoot through walls" (turning a physical bullet into energy? Doesn't that kinds miss the point?). Gotta have the latest, shiniest and high-techiest toys to justify that research budget, after all. Just like like the US space program can't be seen using cheap mass-produced boosters, we have to use the finicky and massively expensive but visually impressive Space Shuttle.
          • The "TR-116" rifle? While it may never have been shown to be much use on screen, it fares much better in the books. According to them it didnt get mass produced until the end of the Dominion war, but was used repeatedly in the Tezwa conflict, and a combined force of Starfleet troops from the Enterprise, Aventine, and Titan boarded and captured a Borg ship in the "Destiny" trilogy by using said weapon and energy dampeners to clear the ship of Borg.
          • Actually, the projectile weapon was developed by Starfleet without the teleportation thing, then they gave up on it entirely because it still didn't work very well. The crazed Vulcan added the micro-transporter to the rifle in order to safely shoot anyone on the station from the comfort of his quarters.
          • Either that, or the rifle was originally fitted with a transporter for use by Section 31 as an assassination weapon, and the story about it not being designed to shoot through walls is just a cover story.
          • Without transporter it's a low-signature weapon with integrated through-the-wall scope despite low penetration (those bullets are subsonic, since there's no boom). Without transporter and with lesser sensor it would be... still a rifle with integrated silencer and small magazine of high-caliber subsonic ammo. So there are only two variants: either it was designed for assassination in the first place, or it was designed for hunting... and then adopted for assassination.
      • It could be that Borg shielding works like Dune, or Stargate. Only projectiles/energy weapons moving above a certain speed threshold are blocked.
        • Actually, it's physically impossible for the Borg shield implants to deflect bullets, because the momentum is transfered to the implant, which would then be moving at near-sonic speeds inside the Borg. Also, did you know they apparently have lasers on their arms? They seem to use them in one episode.
      • Er, no. The deflector shields in ST don't work that way. Energy is countered and dispersed, not transferred into the shield generators. At least not in TV canon; some EU stories may have different rules. As for the lasers, yes, they did use them in the very first Borg appearance in "Q Who?" to kill a Redshirt. But since most drones are not dedicated combat units, they rarely fight back. No, it's not efficient; but then, the Borg aren't and never have been efficient, they just like to tell themselves (and everyone in earshot) that they are.
        • Not energy, momentum. Newton's 3rd law. And this does apply: Star Trek ships can take a nuke hit on shield, yet being bumped by a huge rock at very low velocity (imparted by its own tension) would be very bad, and asteroid fields have to be "navigated through safely", which isn't always possible — i.e. it's not just the largest pieces that are dangerous (TNG Season 7, Ep# 164: "Pegasus", TNG Season 7, Ep# 171: "Genesis").
      • An easy resolution for the above debate as to why the Borg would not be able to adapt to bullets: the fact that they haven't already done so. Think about it: what are the odds that, in all the millennia the Borg have been conquering planets, they've never encountered a species that uses bullets or some other form of projectile weapon?
      • As for why the Federation doesn't seem to be smart enough to use projectile weapons against them (aside from phasers being cooler than kinetic weapons): they've fallen victim to the problem plaguing the Asgard in their war with the Replicators over in the Stargate Verse. Namely, they've become used to searching for technological solutions to their military problems (read: technobabble) rather than innovating tactically with what they already have, and being unwilling to make strategic sacrifices a la Carter's bait-and-switch with the O'Neill in "Small Victories". Teal'c's assessment of the Tollans in "Pretense" is applicable as well: "The Tollans [Federation] have not been at war for many years. They do not think strategically." Picard's "We're explorers, not soldiers" mindset is the heart of the matter: At the beginning of TNG, Starfleet doesn't see itself as a military organization, so when forced by circumstance into that role, they do a uniformly terrible job until the mindset changes. In that respect, the Dominion War and the various conflicts with the Borg are healthy for the Federation in the long run, inasmuch as they've given them a good swift kick in the pants. The effects of that kick can be seen as early as Star Trek: Nemesis (three or four Earth years post-war), where for the first time we have an armed ground vehicle that can be used for scouting. It was probably developed as a counter to a similar Jem'Hadar vehicle during the Dominion War.
    • The video game Elite Force has Borg that develop a ranged attack. However, those were "isolated from the collective for a long time," which somehow suddenly made that a pressing need.
    • The complete inability of the drones to defend themselves individually could be either a holdover from an era when the Collective was not yet fully established (ie. gun control), or perhaps allowing even the thought of individual self-defense is dangerous to the Collective.
    • I'm still wondering why they never display any knowledge of unarmed combat techniques, and individual drones are often at least temporarily neutralized by hand-to-hand combat. The lack of subterfuge skills is equally puzzling, in a race that contains all the skills, knowledge and abilities of every member individual or databank it has ever absorbed.
      • Well I think hauling attackers across the room and/or giving them broken noses is quite a good unarmed combat technique...
      • And don't get me started on the fact that the Borg, entirely counter to all logic, become progressively weaker as the series went on, until Voyager reduced them to a complete mockery of their original status as the universe's ultimate boogeymen.
      • Subterfuge may be something that an assimilative hive mind, by its very nature, has difficulty with. If the Borg were to trick a numerous race into getting assimilated, then the false belief they'd foisted off on their recruits might potentially establish itself in the Collective, because no one Borg's thoughts or beliefs have priority over any other Borg's. Majority rules, so if a cube of a few thousand assimilates a planet of millions, the lies told to those millions would supplant the truth in the cube's own awareness (e.g. if they'd been told that the Borg are peaceful explorers, those particular Borg really would begin acting like peaceful explorers). Such aberrations in belief could potentially disrupt Borg civilization, much as Lore's or Hue's introduced deviations did; better to be completely honest and open about their own nature and intentions, because Resistance Is Futile and they're positive they'll win even if their prey are forewarned.
      • They have deemed standard star trek fighting techniques futile. Can't say I blame them actually. On a more serious note: the Borg are shown to pretty much need to mentally conference every time they do anything. Martial artists, that does not make.
    • A meta-explanation would be that the Borg seem to be modelled after the Living Dead of the eponymous films. Their menace was the intelligent behaviour without apparent intelligence. Ignoring threads, the lack of emotion or urgency when attacking. Their attacks had a somewhat inevitable quality.
      • In-universe, it doesn't make any sense. They've existed long enough to have encountered formidable resistance before. And if entities from a ship you're about to assimilate transport onto your own vessel, you should take that as a thread. Especially since it was proven time and again that blowing up a Borg cube from the inside was not that difficult.

The Scotty Diet

  • How did Scotty get so fat?
    • You honestly think Q was the first person to replicate ten hot fudge sundaes at once?
    • I think this comic explains it pretty well.
      • Captain, There Be Whales Here.
    • He always looked a bit pudgy to me. I just thought when he got older he let himself go.
    • Yakko, Wakko and Dot Warner introduced him to donuts.
    • I always comforted myself with the idea that in-universe, he was an acrofatic stout powerful scotsman warrior sumo guy.
  • Same way james Doohan did, he ate more calories than he burnt off. Presumably in the gap between the series and the movies he wasn't running for his life, or in a blind panic trying to fix the engines before the latest godlike alien Kirk pissed off blew it up, so he got more sedantary and just didn't cut back. Plus he got old(er), and with age comes a slowing metabolism.
    • You may remember "That Which Survives" and how the access tube Scotty has to work in wasn't wide enough for a man to roll over in, even though the stuff he had to work with was on the top of the access tube. So two ensigns had to tip him on his back and slide him in upside down. One would think he'd be afraid of someday getting too big to fit in the tubes.


Captain Leeroy Jenkins

  • I like the original 1960s Trek as much as the next guy (and find it consistently superior to all later attempts to revive the Trek brand name), but it always just bugged me when Cap'n Kirk beamed down to the planet to investigate weird stuff in person. I know, he's the hero of the piece and he's supposed to be Odysseus In Space. In the real world, any naval captain who constantly took such insane risks wouldn't be in command of a ship for long. In real navies, going ashore to investigate weird happenings is what junior officers and Marines are for.
    • Answer: Dramatic necessity, natch. This one Just Bugged the writers too, so starting with TNG, they compromised and had the first officer lead away teams. But because ENT predates the original series, they got to put Archer in as much danger as they liked.
    • Kirk was just that kind of cowboy. No one ever accused him of an excess of self-restraint, as a lot of pregnant Green Space Babes could tell you.
    • Pretty much all Star Trek series are guilty of this. There's a particularly telling scene in Enterprise when Trip, the chief engineer has to go fix an engineering problem in a conduit that can hold 2, and he takes the Science Officer, T'Pol, rather than a member of his Engineering staff. Sure, she's smart but they're ENGINEERS. In other scenes, an Ensign is left in charge of the flagship of Starfleet while the senior officers beam down to investigate something. I've had it put to me that the bridge crew go on away missions so often because they have the most experience but my response to that is that it's not a roleplaying game and they're not DnD adventurers!
      • Then again, Trip would happily use any flimsy excuse to be stuck in a narrow Jeffries tube with T'Pol.
    • In the modern navy, sure, he wouldn't. On the other hand, Captain James Cook did. On the gripping hand, that's probably why he got killed in Hawaii...
    • Star Trek is more like the navies of the 19th century. Read about what Captain Fitzroy and science attache Darwin got up to during a 5 year mission aboard the Beagle. Yes, that Darwin.
    • What made it really stupid is that he usually took his XO along.
      • Kirk's XO is also his Science Officer, he sort of has to come along on scientific expeditions.
    • My response to the "is Kirk or Picard a better captain" debate has always been. "When Picard sees an anomoly that might kill him on a planet, he scans it and sends in an away team if that doesn't work. When Kirk sees one he says, "ok everyone, I'm going down there and I'm taking my second in command and the chief medical officer along with me. And also Ensign Redding Shirtham. If we don't come back, you're all screwed. Bye!" Ya, I'm on Picard's side here.
      • I've always come to the conclusion that it's in Kirk's character to put himself before his men. While Picard represents the more sophisticated side of a military man, Kirk represented the spirit of one. Excited at the prospect of adventure, boldly going to new places, and completely loyal to his men and 'country'. Because of this, he would jump before considering protocol if he needed to and considers himself more expendable than a lowly redshirt because that's just his character. And I think, when you explain that he takes the best people on away missions, you underestimate the people he would leave in charge on the Enterprise. Like Scotty, who was next in command and more than capable of leading the Enterprise and then Sulu, who was able enough to command the Excelsior in the movies. And on the medical side, Nurse Chapel or Doctor M'Benga was more than qualified to take care of matters. Just because he takes Spock and Bones with him on dangerous missions doesn't mean the Enterprise is weakened due to their absence. I think Kirk is the more preferred captain to adventurous fans while the more subdued like Picard. The whole 'who's a better captain' spiel is just plain nonsense and juvenile.
      • The question 'Who is the better captain?' fails to ask 'Better for what?' Kirk and Picard are clearly champions at different things. You want a delicate situation investigated? Picard. A diplomatic crisis resolved? Picard. A problem involving personnel management? Picard. On the other hand, you want someone to fight a battle and win? Kirk. To do a blind jump into a hostile zone and figure out what the hell lives there? Kirk. A random space god needs to be conned out of his socks? Kirk. They are both excellent starship captains, and they are both the resident champion at doing various captain-y things that are vital to the continued success and good health of the Federation. It's just that some of those things are done better than other things, and those things are different for each guy.

Where Did All Those Wars Go?

  • Also, was there nuclear war on Earth in the late 20th or early 21st Century, or not? I wish they'd make up their minds about the backstory, in all seriousness.
    • Answer: Yes. The Third World War took place in the mid-21st century. They've been relatively consistent on that for a while now; if you want a real continuity mess, try the Eugenics Wars that were due to be waged before the turn of the millennium.
      • This editor suggests Eugenics Wars were actually fought in an MMORPG. Khan was actually a super-nerd, who took over a quarter of a video game "Earth". We saw in "Space Seed," Khan's first appearance, that 23rd century "Ship's Historians" were not necessarily that bright, so a mix-up in the historical records could happen. Right? Right?
        • I always figured that the Eugenics War and World War Three were the same thing but with different names. Than again, I'm not as up on Fanon as some other people, so I could be way off.
        • I have the first season on blu ray and in the full length version of space seed, that is said. "The mid-1990s was the era of your last so-called world war. The Eugenics Wars."
          • I think the writers ret-coned the war to a small out of the way conflict that went down in the middle of Asia that no one really noticed.
            • Specifically, the retcon was that the Eugenics War was fought in many places all over the world and over many years, but was covert enough that very few other than the active participants knew about it. Some real-life events were portrayed as covert actions by one or more of the factions, and those who knew the truth were covering it up. It's not spelled out, but the implication is that only years later did the truth get declassified, and that the horror at having nearly being annihilated by enemies they didn't even know existed is the origin of Star Trek humans' distaste for genetic engineering.
      • I always thought they could have easily solved the problem with the Eugenics War what with all the time travelling they do in Enterprise, and was quite surprised that they didn't even attempt it.
      • SPOCK JUST SCREWED UP. He just got the date of the war WRONG, people. Deal with it.
      • The Word of God supposedly states that the events of the Voyager episode "Future's End" caused the Eugenics Wars to "unhappen" within the Star Trek universe. That the Timeship from the 29th century that crashed in the 1960's changed history.
      • Except that just raises more questions than it answers. It seems "Future's End" just takes place in an alternate 1996 that is more like our world bucause of the tampering with history and it was cleaned up by temporal agents, where in the Trek world the eugenics wars did yhappen when spock said they did.
        • Actually it's suggested that the Eugenics Wars (that Spock dated as occurring in the mid-1990's) were localised to the eastern hemisphere, leaving the United States of America largely unaffected, hence Future's End being set in an apparently A-OK USA-of-A. It's considered in ST's EU that the Eugenics Wars were a catalyst that EVENTUALLY led to World War III, a war which did consume the US more directly, hence it's rustic appearance in Star Trek: First Contact.
      • The answer to this and all other continuity problems that don't match up with "real" history is, of course, that we are living in the evil Mirror universe.
      • That retcon about a Eugenics Wars Masquerade was from a non-canonical novel, and contradicts virtually everything Spock said about them - and personally, this troper hates the entire Masquerade trope with a passion and is glad it's that way. Do we really need any explanation for why they didn't happen other than "Star Trek ain't real"? It takes place in its own timeline, one where the Eugenics Wars happened in the '90s, World War 3 is due to happen within the next few decades, and then Zephram Cochrane invents the warp drive and introduces us all to a shipful of Vulcans. It's not like those things are any more likely to really happen, and Star Trek'll hopefully still be around when their expiration dates have passed too.
    • Because we're living in an alternate universe to the Prime universe, and hopefully we'll AVOID things like the Eugenics Wars and WW 3. Let's just hope it's not that universe that got overrun by the Borg...
  • And then there were all the wars that supposedly took place during early TNG but which we never heard of... specifically with the Tzenkethi and the Cardassians. Plus a whole bunch of wars (Talarians, anyone?) right before TNG started. Apparently the Federation is just so big that it can be at war for years with someone we've never heard of before this week's episode.
    • Would you like this troper to post a list of major American military actions since World War II? It's hardly implausible that in the half century plus between the Star Trek VI and TNG that the Federation got into some scraps. And from what we've since learned about the conflict with the Cardassians, it was a series of low intensity border disputes, not a total war like the Dominion War. The situation was probably similar with the Talarians and whoever else.

Join the Redshirt Army Today!

  • Wouldn't the Star Fleet security department start to, er, run into recruiting problems after a while? (James Alan Gardner memorably skewers this point in his Expendable series.)
    • The mass production of Replacement Redshirt clones is the Federation's largest growth industry.
      • WWI fighter pilots had a life expectancy slightly shorter than that of ice cream left out in the sun on a warm day, but they still recruited plenty of people. Plus, security officers probably aren't the brightest recruits out of the Academy - anyone with real talent gets pushed to command, all the geniuses go into science, and the gearheads go into Engineering. Security officers result from people who still want to go into space, but have no talent in any of the high-profile areas.
    • Star Trek Critics have No Sense Of Scale. Starfleet is a large organisation, granted, however it's staffing levels pale into insignificance compared to the population base it can draw on. Take Earth, population around the 4 Billion mark in the Trek Era that is one single planet. The Federation has 150 member planets, plus countless colonies and allies. Now, of those 150 the population probably bobs around a bit but for most will be in the billions (most likely between 2 and 10 billion). That is a huge population pool to draw from. Even if only a tiny fraction of a percent of the population want to be in Starfleet then Starfleet will still have more applicants than they can handle. We've seen how difficult it is to get accepted to the fleet, only the best of the best, of the best, of the best and Harry Kim even get to the entry test. And most of those who take the entry test fail. In the unlikely event of there being a shortage all Starfleet needs to do is lower the standards a tiny little bit and they are back to having more than they can handle. Plus even with the conflicts like the Dominion War you are still unlikely to die or be killed. After all, even in WW 1 most soldiers who marched off to war marched home again no worse for wear, we just notice deaths more than survivals, so the people bright enough to look at the numbers (which is the group Starfleet wants anyway) will not be put off applying. And as I said they've got a population pool upwards of 300 Billion to recruit from.
    • Combine this question with the "Leeroy Jenkins" question above, and you come up with an amusing possibility: with the senior officers always off putting themselves in dangerous situations, it's incredible they don't get killed a lot more often than they do. Maybe on just about every other ship besides the Enterprise, they do get killed pretty regularly. If your superiors keep getting themselves killed, just imagine how many opportunities for rapid advancement you'd have! Sure, security's a dangerous and thankless job, but as long as you never get picked to be on the away team (or if you do, your superiors get killed instead of you), chances are you'll be a superior officer in just a few years. For that matter, maybe that's how Kirk and his peers managed to get their seats and hang on to them: they survived a lot of away missions as lowly security officers, and learned how to pick the kind of security guards who put Honor Before Reason to be their own cannon fodder on away missions.


Ignore that Superweapon, It Was Just a Test!

  • Why in the glorious bleeping hell did the Xindi test their prototype Earth-Zapper(tm) on THE REAL PLANET EARTH? They tested the second one on an uninhabited moon, so they obviously came to their senses eventually. Come on, there were any Earth-like planets around you could zap? What about that Cowboy planet in North Star? That one even had real Humans on it! If you hadn't gone and shot at Earth long before you were ready to blast it into little pieces, they would have been completely surprised when you blasted it into said little pieces. This is Bond Villain Stupidity taken to an amazing level. You have a weapon that can kill your enemy in one hit. Your enemy doesn't know you have this weapon, that you hate him, or even the fact that you exist. So instead of waiting for your weapon to finish being built you decide to build a smaller version that will 1. piss him off instead of kill him 2. tell him of your existence 3. tell him of your location and methods 4. give him time to stop you. DO YOU SEE WHERE YOU WENT WRONG?
    • I'm playing Devil's Advocate here because I agree, but it could have been to test Earth's defences, maybe? Besides, without Daniels-From-The-Future, Starfleet probably would never have found out who sent the Earth-Zapper(tm), let alone where they live, so the Xindi were perhaps not so stupid as their choice of targets might suggest.
    • Perhaps they needed to confirm that an unmanned vessel could navigate through the Expanse's weirdness, yet still home in on Earth as intended? Plus, the Earth-analog you mention wasn't discovered by Starfleet until Kirk's day, so the Xindi couldn't have known where it was even if they'd been spying on Earth prior to the attack.


Wanton Cruelty to Tribbles

  • Okay ... at the end of "The Trouble with Tribbles", Scotty deals with the tribbles "humanely" (i.e. instead of killing them) by beaming the tribbles into the Klingons' engine room. Klingons being Klingons, don't you think it'd be a bit more humane to just beam them into space?
    • Yes.
    • Classic: Klingons and Tribbles hate each other for about the same reason Tribbles like humans. Tribbles can induce humans to like them; clearly, Klingons don't take whatever method they use any better than Kirk does.
    • Deep Space Nine: Worf states that Tribbles bring famine and plague. (Which isn't implausible, given their breeding and eating habits.) Speculation: the Tribble plague produced the evolutionary crisis which led to Klingons growing Mars-bar heads.
    • They taste good too.
    • Popplers?
    • The tribbles became far more dangerous after they were injected with the DNA of Human Augments. That's why they turned from harmless fuzzballs into the Klingon-killing Fuzzballs of the Apocalypse.
      • More likely the Klingons blew up the Tribble homeworld's atmosphere.
        • ...That was a result of the above problems, not the cause of anything.


Life Support Belts Out of Style?

  • I suppose we'll never know the answer to this, but... how come we've gone from spacesuits to "life support belts"; around Kirk's time... but afterwards, back to spacesuits?
    • Of course, as I write this, all the many, many times their supposedly foolproof gadgets broke down for various reasons come to mind. Chances are, a few too many life support belts shorted out when a Negative Space Wedgie sneezed.
    • Gene Roddenberry declared Star Trek: The Animated Series (in which the life support belts appeared) to be non-canonical. That's why the belts weren't in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
      • Yes but Roddenberry also considered TOS to be non-canon when he made TNG, but everyone still considers TOS canon. (He considered TOS apocryphal. Kirk existed, and some of the missions happened, but nothing happened the way TOS showed it.)
        • Wrong. He specifically said that where TNG and TOS conflicted, whatever TNG said was canon, but this is because of the canonical mess that was the third season. TOS is very definitely canon.
        • No, right. From Paula Block in "Voyages of Imaginiation":

Gene [Roddenberry] had a habit of 'de-canonizing' (if there is such a thing) things when he wasn't happy with them. He didn't like the way that much of the animated series turned out, so he proclaimed that it was NOT CANON. He also didn't like a lot of the movies. So he didn't consider all of them canon either... Gene's view of canon was, I think, pretty fluid. He thought of TNG as canon wherever there was confict between [TNG and TOS]. He admitted it was revisionist thinking, but so be it.... That's kind of like God telling you the stuff in that old bible...well, he [was] just not that into it anymore. Gene Roddenberry said that when another series conflicts with TOS the non TOS series wins. That's the definition of apocryphal, meaning that from his point of view TOS was not canon. The point is moot anyway since CBS and Paramount consider both TOS and TAS as offical canon.

  • If a belt can provide life support, an entire suit can provide much MORE life support. When it comes to living, I want backup systems!
  • The FASA RPG explained this by any hit inflicting over 10 points of damage would render the belt useless. This is one good punch or a grazing shot from any energy weapon.


Eat at Quark's? Why?

  • Food on Deep Space Nine; all of the crew and civilian quarters have food replicators, Ops has food replicators, and there's even a cafe-like area in the Promenade called the Replimat, which has, you guessed it, food replicators. Hell, even Quark's has a food replicator that he uses to serve customers. So, with so many chances to get free food from just about anywhere on the station, why are there so many snack shops and restaurants on the Promenade? I mean, sure, some people would prefer real food prepared by hand instead of the replicated stuff, but if Quark's has a replicator to create orders for his customers, it's likely the other restaurants and food establishments on the station have them, as well.
    • Most of it's probably for the social factor, you don't just go to restaurants to eat, do you? Speaking of replicators, why is it that human life still has the tiniest bit of value? There used to be some Hand Wave about Heisenburg compensators and transport buffers that would make the replication of human beings impractical, but that little incident with Riker basically blew that all away. Even if it's morally reprehensible, why haven't we run across somebody pumping out identical slaves/soldiers/colonists with transporter equipment yet?
      • An influx of population could make their existing problems worse. Or there are political reasons. Besides, the illusion of equal footing is worth something in itself: if Starfleet e.g. had redshirt roles filled with clones, even they would realize their situation, and what would happen if this would hold just long enough after Federation becomes dependent on them?.. Now they easily recruit and assign to redshirts people they don't want anywhere else, and everyone's happy about it.
    • That was a Freak Lab Accident, the effect's never been duplicated since then.
      • We do: The Jem'Hadar and the Vorta.
        • No, those are explicitly stated as genetically engineered clones.
        • We also have a classic ep of Next Generation called "The Measure of a Man", which establishes - in the context of how easy it would be to create an army of Datas - how seriously the Federation takes the rights of individual sentient beings for just this reason.
    • It regularly comes up that Cardassian technology is completely shitty. It may just be that crew quarter replicators aren't that good, while the ones on the Promenade would get more attention from the Engineering crew, etc. That, and presumably (since the Federation doesn't seem to have any money, except for the times when it does) the crew is getting paid by the Bajoran government, and they have no other use for that money besides wasting time in the Holosuites and food.
      • This explanation is actually confirmed, albeit vaguely, in the very first episode. Jake asks Sisko, "Dad, is THAT the food replicator?" in an incredulous, disgusted tone. Sisko tells him they'll have to rough it for awhile. Given how much retrofitting is on O'Brien's plate all the time, it's likely he never got around to upgrading the replicators, and thus the restaurant food could be considerably better. Quark could also have a better replicator in the interest of providing a better product for higher profits.
    • On Voyager, crew members occasionally talk about replicator rations (saving them up, gambling with them, restricted them when needed, and so on). Although Voyager was far away from Starfleet (and thus supplies), given that the Federation has obviously finite resources and is a basically communist society, it would be hard to imagine that they don't have some kind of rationing system. It's easy to see how someone could prefer to spend money they had obtained and save their rations, and such.
      • Given that replicator rations aren't mentioned or even alluded to in any other Star Trek series, it seems likely that their existence on Voyager was solely a result of their isolation. With both fuel and raw material for the replicators being finite, it makes sense to limit replicator use when you can never be sure when you'll be able to resupply again. And using them like money makes sense too, because in their situation actual money would be quite worthless: they're thousands of light-years away from any merchants who'd actually take whatever forms of currency they might have.
        • Actually, while replicator rations are not alluded to anywhere else, other forms of rations are. At the very least, transporter rations (on Earth) are mentioned on Deep Space Nine.
          • Transporter Rations only seem to apply at the Academy (presumably teaching discipline or some such), and it is stated on Voyager that the rations are introduced to save on fuel since they don't know where to look in the Delta Quadrant.
    • The sense I got from Deep Space Nine was that different replicators have different...recipes for lack of a better word. So you might be able to get your favourite meal from the replicator's in Quarks, but not from the Replimat. The same could easily go for every snack shop and restaurant on the promenade.
    • Trek writers have never been particularly good at following through on the consequences of their background setup and plotting. Postulating both personal replicators and something of a normal consumer economy is just one example.
    • The reasoning, based especially on the way characters describe their favorite dishes, is probably that while everyone has replicators, not everyone has the recipes that go with those replicators, which are probably regarded as intellectual property in the same way that Coke, Pepsi and KFC have their recipes copyrighted (and we've seen in episodes such as the Doc's holonovel that intellectual property rights are still alive and kicking in the Federation). Quark may serve the best synthahol around thanks to a particular replicator recipe that only he's got the right to use on Deep Space Nine, while a rival shop may serve an unbeatable version of lemon merengue pie. Both would taste better than the standard replicator menu options, since those exclusive recipes are locked out of the public database.
      • And even if your personal replicator has a really good program for, say, sausage and mushroom pizza, the word "replicator" implies that it probably produces the same sausage and mushroom pizza each time, down to the slightest detail. Even if it's excellent pizza, it could lose its appeal after a while. Loading multiple variations of the same dish would help, but it's probably easier to just go out once in a while.
    • And the Expanded Universe has references to some forms of replicator comestibles being horrible. One Data-focused book with plentiful Continuity Porn featured his Love Interest making a remark about "wine from a replicator?" as though this was the height of bad taste.
    • Some people probably enjoy the smells of real food cooking, too. Replicators can't duplicate that, or the happy anticipation it builds.
    • Who says free food is available to everyone on Deep Space Nine? Maybe replicators are only available to residents, and the various merchants and tourists who pass through are buying most of the food. It's a transport hub, remember? Plenty of those traders may not have replicator-tech.
    • The impression I always got from the dialogue, especially in Deep Space 9, is that naturally produced food prepared by a sentient chef tastes superior to replicated food. So, if you're broke but want to go out to eat, you go to a replimat. If you have some cash on you, you go to an actual restaurant. I also always got the impression that, at Quark's the food was free but drinks, which were real, and gaming cost money, and the food was just incentive for people to hang out a little longer and maybe play a few more tables.
      • This. It's like tasting the difference between something cooked in an oven/on a hob and something cooked in a microwave.
    • Maybe people just like getting together when they eat.
    • Also, you should come to Quark's 'cause Quark's is fun; come to Quark's; don't walk, run!
  • On Deep Space Nine it's canon that gold-pressed latinum (well, the latter part) is not reproducible in the replicator. Maybe there are foods that are the same?
    • Or simply require more fine tuning, while most of the stuff churned out by off-the-shelf replicators they get for free is equivalent of canned food - not bad, but mediocre, so most people would not limit themselves to it when they have a choice.
  • There's also a huge psychological component to food. It might be for the same reason fancy bottled water in an expensive looking bottle that you paid money for often appeals to people when in blind taste tests they can't tell the difference between it and tap water.
  • An early episode of Voyage has the answers, apparently there is some accounting for personal taste compared to the majority. Just because nine people like how something tastes, doesn't mean the tenth person will enjoy it as well. Tom Paris procures (with some difficulty) a bowl of hot, plain, tomato soup. Upon tasting said soup, he complains;

Tom Paris: "Ugh. Thirty varieties and it still can't get tomato soup right."

  • It's also been shown that the food created by a replicator can't always duplicate the taste and texture of the real thing. After one bite, Eddington spat his food out and lamented how he missed the taste of a fresh tomato. Next Generation showed us the troubles that the replicator had creating gagh, and that was on the flagship of the Federation. The replicators on a run down Cardassion station have to be even worse. The Klingon restaurant wouldn't last long using the replicator.

Those Meddling Feddies

  • I know that Gene Roddenberry was completely convinced for some reason or another that human beings are basically good, and that given enough time we'll eventually evolve to become even better. That said, doesn't the whole concept of the Federation seem kind of really, really racist? I mean, they don't interfere with species that aren't capable of warp, for better or for worse, but they'll willingly interfere with anyone else. That seems kind of... White Man's Burden-y to me. Prime Directive aside.
    • Hngh... it's hard to place, I'll admit, but think there's a line somewhere between "White Man's Burden" and "hey, we like to poke our noses into your problems."
      • They never willingly interfered with someone else. It was always either to save a life of a Starfleet or Federation citizen, or by accident. Granted, most of the situations were still easily avoidable in the first place, but they didn't just throw darts at a starmap and say "today I'm going to radically alter this society".
      • Yeah. "White Man's Burden" is what you get when the 'advanced' empire takes it upon itself to 'civilize' all those poor primitive natives who obviously don't know how to live because they don't have cool technology like steam engines and top hats. Starfleet has an actual policy against doing that. It isn't perfectly consistent, and it gets bent a lot by the people out on the sharp end, but the policy is there.
        • Whether or not the federation "interferes" with other cultures usually has absolutely nothing to do with that culture's species. And at least they often go out of their way to keep other cultures happy in the interest's of diplomacy.
      • A big point is that they also don't want species who have just discovered warp drive (and per First Contact, are much more likely to show up on sensors) to blunder into the middle of a situation they're woefully unprepared for.
      • Granted, but Federation culture is almost always painted as fairly ideal. Even Deep Space Nine painted a fairly hopeful look at humanity, despite the darker undertones. Other cultures aren't painted as wrong, per se, but misguided, and if you would just do things a little more humany, you'd be set. Klingons are savage and preach honor but practice dishonor. Worf, on the other hand, was raised by humans, acquired a human morality in addition to his Klingon honor, and because of that, he's the best Klingon ever. Nog and Rom joined Starfleet and the Bajoran militia, respectively, and they're painted in a much more sympathetic light than their older, more typical Ferengi characterizations. It just seems like the Federation (and provisional member worlds) make everything better.
    • The undertones of "white man's burden" is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to racist undertones in Star Trek. See this essay.
      • The essay is not a particularly good one. It's full of false comparisons. Alien cultures aren't supposed to stand in for different races, they're supposed to stand in for different cultures, and the reality is that it would be acceptable to chastise a child for acting disgusted because a French friend enjoyed escargot or whatever. And the "torn between two cultures" thing is something that really does affect people of mixed descent. It's oversimplified, yes, and not always handled as well as it might be, but it's legitimate. Honestly, I find the essay more racist than the arguments: "There's a clear allegory for the differences between people. All these people look different, therefore it must be a race based allegory! It couldn't possibly be cultural, otherwise they would look the same."
        • "Alien cultures aren't supposed to stand in for different races, they're supposed to stand in for different cultures" That's precisely the problem. In Star Trek, aspects of culture are treated as immutable characteristics, a classic form of racism. The escargot example isn't applicable because this wasn't just an example of differing food preferences. This was an example of behavior. Nog was behaving like a chauvanistic jerk. When Jake Sisko complained about it, his father basically told him "well son, Ferengi are just like that". If a black child did something mean to your son or daughter and they ran home crying, would you tell them "well, black people are just like that"? "And the "torn between two cultures" thing is something that really does affect people of mixed descent." Spoken like someone who is not mixed race and has never met someone who is mixed race. Mixed race children are not "torn between two cultures". As a teacher, I've had several mixed race students in my classes. NONE of them were ever "torn between two cultures". Yet ALL of the mixed race characters in Star Trek are routinely described as "torn" between their human and non-human (because it's always human and non-human) sides. In real life, children of mixed race marriages grow up identifying with one side of their ancestry or the other, or some combination of both. They don't grow up "torn" between the dueling cultures of their parents. One wonders how such a marriage could even function if there was so much culture clash that children were routinely "torn" between two backgrounds.
        • I'm glad you've never met any mixed-race children who had to deal with that sort of issue, but that hasn't always been the case. Cultural acceptance of mixed-race children has improved of late, but don't you dare sit there and tell me that the experiences my family has had are illegitimate because you've never seen it happen. Moreover, Sisko wasn't saying "All Ferengi are like that," he was saying, "His behavior is acceptable in his culture." And in Sisko's culture, which is the Federation, he's expected to be tolerant of other social mores even if he himself disagrees with them.
          • Another point to raise is that perhaps Sisko was indeed being a bit racist with respect to Nog -- Quark calls him out on something similar in "The Jem'Hadar." Nog earns Sisko's respect in the fullness of time, though the point remains that he does so by what could seem like an assimilationist move -- going to Starfleet Academy.
          • We're not talking about "cultural acceptance" of mixed race children. We're talking about the nature of mixed race children. In Star Trek, every child of a mixed-species union is inevitably described as "torn" between two fundamentally conflicting natures. Human/Klingon hybrids have to struggle to control their fiery Klingon tempers. Human/Vulcan hybrids struggle to reconcile the human desire to emote with the Vulcan desire to suppress emotion. They suffer physical and psychological stress trying to reconcile their mixed-species heritage. This does not happen in real life. Only in the world of Star Trek (and apparently in the mind of Gene Roddenberry) does this happen. "Moreover, Sisko wasn't saying "All Ferengi are like that," he was saying, "His behavior is acceptable in his culture."" Wrong. Sisko's exact words were: "Sounds like he's acting like a Ferengi to me. You can't blame him for that." I defy you to explain to me how that is not racist.
            • It's only racist if you're assuming that aliens in Star Trek are no more different from humans than human races are from each other. And that's not true. Other alien races in Trek have talked time and again about how their cultures all have a single defining trait, and how weird humans are for jumping wildly from one extreme to the other (in Star Trek: Enterprise, the Vulcan ambassador Soval admits that the Vulcans are deeply worried about what humans might do to the galaxy, because they're so unpredictable compared to everyone else). So, armed with the knowledge that diverse personalities are considered humanity's hat by everyone else, it makes perfect sense that the Ferengi would seem to be mostly alike from a human's perspective, and there's no reason why Sisko wouldn't point that out to Jake, just as Soval, Quark and others have pointed out that humans seem emotionally schizophrenic to them. That's not racism, that's just plain old Humans Are Special.
            • Keep in mind that different species in Star Trek are not a perfect allegory for different races among humans. Among human races, there is no biological hardwiring that makes races act certain ways; behavior is all taught through culture. A black child raised by white parents will not have a tendency to "act black" because there is no such thing as "acting black". But in Star Trek, the vulcans and klingons and ferengi are not different races, they are different SPECIES. They evolved completely independently of humans and as such their brains probably don't function exactly the same. So to say someone is "acting klingon" may actually be a legitimate statement, even if it is wrong to say someone in the real world is "acting Asian". And this means that a human-klingon hybrid having to tone back her fiery temper may be legitimate too, because who knows what psychological, emotional, and hormonal effects klingon biochemistry would impart on a hybrid child.
            • What about Worf's son Alexander (as he is in TNG)? He's got an excellent sense of himself and his identity as an individual from a very early age -- not in terms of his heritage on either side. He is himself, and he'll decide who and what he wants to be. Worf keeps pestering him about it, and he does send himself back through time to encourage his younger self to be a warrior, because he blames himself for Worf's death, but in the end Worf realizes Alexander must be what he is.
      • "But in Star Trek, the vulcans and klingons and ferengi are not different races, they are different SPECIES." If they were different species they wouldn't be able to successfully breed together. They can produce fertile offspring with each other, therefore they are different races, not different species. QED.
        • Different species CAN interbreed, right here on Earth even. No doubt you've heard of mules? A donkey and a horse are not the same species. Even species that aren't even from the same genera interbreed sometimes. Now (as with mules), such hybrids are usually sterile - but They Have The Technology to fix that...
          • Being able to interbreed is not sufficient to tell whether two specimens are one species or two: they must produce fertile offspring: their children must be able to have children as well. So: a horse and a donkey don't produce fertile offspring because mules can't breed, so horses and donkeys are different species. A Klingon and a human produce fertile offspring because their children can have children as well, so Klingons and humans are the same species. QED.
      • Actually its stated in various series that hybrid like Spock and B'lanna only exist because of technological assistance. Klingons, Vulcans and humans all evolved on different planets and have very different internal biology of course they are different species.
      • It might be worth noting that essay is from a site that is dedicated solely to unfavorably comparing Star Trek to Star Wars, so bias is heavy here. In the example of respecting Ferengi cultural values being a racist statement, cultures DO have different values. Any sane person will tell you that. It's just that when people say, "He's acting like a Ferengi" it's because the species has a dominant mainstream culture that is then synonymous with the people. You could read it that Sisko meant Nog is biologically hardwired to be chauvinist, but I'd argue you read it wrong. Unless people freak out and cry racism any time someone calls Monty Python "British humor" implying there is one monolithic British people who all find Monty Python equally funny, then saying Nog is acting like a Ferengi isn't racist.
      • This troper never got the impression that the different species in Star Trek were actually supposed to stand in for different cultures so much as they were supposed to stand in for different philosophies. Hence the hats everybody is always wearing.
      • Speaking of Star Destroyer site, there's an observation on how Federation Government works: Briar Patch is on "their territory", but they give it little thought...the natives are still not really admitted to the Federation. But they may get the natives evicted if they see a benefit in this. In other words, Federation high-ups can and will treat anyone else much like talking birds until they either become a credible threat (which requires warp travel) or are considered fit to join.
  • I think Azetbur in ST:VI said it best: "'Inalien'. If only you could hear yourselves. 'Human rights'. Why the very name is racist. The Federation is no more than a Homo-sapians-only club."
    • This is a pretty thin argument on her part. Neither "alien" nor "human" are terms specifically connected to species in 21st-century usage (i.e. Homo sapiens is one of several known species of human; illegal aliens of the species H. sapiens are often pursued by immigration authorities). It would have made more sense to assume that by the 23rd century, "human" also includes Klingons, Vulcans, etc., and... there's no logical connection whatsoever between the word "inalienable" and any species.
    • Yeah, saying "inalienable human rights" is racist to aliens is sort of like saying "niggardly" is racist to black people... it betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of what the term/words actually mean as opposed to what sounds they contain.

Why So Military?

  • In Star Trek, almost everything that happens revolves around military officers. Military officers doubling as explorers, but military officers all the same. An unintended consequence of this is creating the (almost certainly unintentional) impression that the supposedly utopian Federation is a military society. For example, in the Deep Space Nine episode "Paradise Lost," there is an attempted military coup, which has no trouble with civilian resistance, but instead is only opposed by the good military officers. Why don't more people inside the Trek-verse notice this?
    • Because they don't watch the show. They actually get to see all the behind-the-scenes civilian stuff that's not onscreen.
      • That said, this Troper was rather stunned when Star Trek VI actually showed the (civilian) Federation President.
    • Massive glorification of the military is a common theme in communist regimes. And the Federation is, by any definition, a communist regime.
      • "By any definition"? An odd statement, considering there are several definitions by which it doesn't fit.
    • Also, as said, the military officers double as explorers - so it might be safe to say that the Federations IS a military regime (just like the Klingon and Romulan Empires) but with a substantially different philosophical and social view of what that means.
  • It should be noted that Star Trek is focused on Star Fleet; the arm of the Federation that has explicitly military responsibilities, over and above the peaceful roles of exploration and diplomacy. Asking Star Trek "Why So Military" is like asking of Law and Order "Why So Police-ey?".
    • The level of militancy in Starfleet is directly proportional to the level of combat expected by its members. For example, the Enterprise and its crew in TOS was focused on exploration and were Mildly Military; the Kirk-era movies were explicitly taking place during a war against the Klingons, so operations were pretty much entirely military in nature (that time-trip to get some whales notwithstanding); TNG introduced an Enterprise where combat was considered so unlikely that the ship carried a sizable civilian population but still wasn't considered a Civilian ship; Deep Space Nine became progressively more military because, well, there was a war on; Voyager is a bad example because it operates in a vacuum and is notoriously inconsistent from episode to episode, but still follows the pseudo-military organization of Starfleet.
    • Gene Roddenberry's original vision of the future is that the people in Star Trek are 'scientists first' and 'military second'. Star Fleet was never meant to be a 'Might Makes Right' organization.
      • Which is interesting, considering the starring vessels of the show are armed to the teeth. For example, when the meeting with Chancellor Gorkon goes wrong, "We will have to count each torpedo, visually." "That could take HOURS!" Good lord, Scotty, how many antiship antimatter bombs do you HAVE onboard?
        • They're armed to the teeth because they know the galaxy is filled with actually militaristic and antagonistic species like the Klingons. With such knowledge only an idiot would go into space without being armed as heavily as one could manage.
        • Interstellar travel in the Trek setting is analogous to ocean travel on Earth during the Age of Sail. Unless you are directly adjacent to a civilized planet/coastline, space/the ocean is very wide, and your ship is very small. If you run into something hostile you are on your own - it will be days or weeks before anyone can make it to you, and that's assuming you're even able to signal distress in the first place. Under those circumstances every ship, both warships and merchantmen, travelled with as many guns strapped on as they could afford and didn't hesitate to use them on anything that looked at them funny. Any unarmed vessel was either operating solely in patrolled waters (i.e., doing the coastal/river run only near civilized nations with strong naval power, the Trek equivalent being 'only staying near Federation core worlds') or else was pirate bait.
      • They are arguably in denial, but Starfleet's self-image is that they aren't a military organization. There are several instances of characters saying as much, particularly in TNG. Notably there were objections to the Enterprise engaging in war games that basically came down to "that's not what we do." The explanation for their firepower is that it's not wise to plunge into the unknown unarmed. The Defiant is considered Starfleet's first actual warship, and it was built in response to the Borg almost assimilating Earth.
        • Even in Kirk's era, the Enterprise was designated a "Heavy Cruiser" - yes a somewhat military name but the Klingon D7 (essentially the Constitution class Enterprise's opposite number) was designated a "Battle Cruiser" and the Romulans flew "Warbirds" - much more military and aggressive names.

Losing My Communicator

  • In the Original Series, Kirk and company would constantly get their communicators taken away. This, along with transporter malfunction and "interference" were dramatic ways of keeping them being saved with a quick "Beam Me Up, Scotty". However in Patterns of Force, they introduced the extremely useful subcutaneous transponder whose purpose was to be able to lock onto the landing party if they were out of communication. In the episode, this was rendered null and void because Kirk didn't feel like faking another stomach cramp to make his escape. Instead, he and Spock used them to turn a light bulb into a laser. My question is why this little piece of technology has never been used since?
    • Perhaps it is, but it wasn't as useful later. Notice that Next Gen ships usually know where any crewmember is at any time. Anyway, without communication, you can't tell if the landing party wants to leave.
      • The whole point was it was to be used if they were unable to communicate with them. In other words, "If you can't contact us, assume we're in trouble and get us out of there." It's not applicable to all episodes but there are plenty of examples where it would have been.
      • Point: Ships only know where the comm badge is at any time, not the crewmember.
    • Wasn't something like that a minor plot point in Nemesis? Including part of the Dramatic Heroic Sacrifice scene at the end?
    • Maybe they were issued, but didn't tend to actually work very well? Like 'here, have this transponder - nine times out of ten it craps out, but on the off chance it doesn't, it'll be pretty useful'?
  • Neelix lampshades this in an novel - after the away team including him, Tuvok and the Captain are imprisoned he produces a phaser hidden in the heel of his boot and when asked if also has a communicator (their combadges having been removed) exasperatedly replies in the negative and asks why Starfleet doesn't just implant them into all personnel - their medical technology is good enough. Another novel with sequences set in an alternate future has Data using a built in communicator and if I remember correctly this is now standard practice for all Starfleet personnel.
    • I imagine one explanation for why it didn't happen in the show is that they tend to avoid "casual" implantation of devices into their bodies. Implants are mostly used only to correct specific problems. Just doing it for ease or security like with communicators or universal translators probably gets too close to a line of reducing humanity, which is a fear the Borg are supposed to represent.

Vulcans Behaving Badly

  • Vulcans are taught to actively try to suppress, purge, or otherwise ignore their emotions. While it does make a certain amount of sense, after a fashion (since their emotions are many times stronger than most species), why is it that they insist on perpetuating this slavish devotion to bad logic? It's been shown repeatedly that a Vulcan with his self-control broken (T'Pol, Spock, Tuvok) is infinitely more dangerous than the handful of Vulcans who nurture their emotions to keep them in check (such as T'Pol in the, oh, three good episodes of Enterprise). It would seem more logical to break with tradition and focus on safeguards for dealing with the emotions they can control than just hope it never reaches the point when they can't.
    • Plenty of humans (especially guys -- no offense!) still haven't grasped that concept.
      • Mind you, traditions are rarely followed because they make sense. They're followed because they have always been followed.
      • Hey, even more women can't grasp the concept (no offense).
    • And moreover, Vulcan privacy issues are pretty illogical as well.
    • Tuvok stated more than once that Vulcans don't "purge" their emotions or ignore them. The emotions still exist, they just work very hard to control them and keep them in check. Part of that process is acknowledging their existence.
      • This. I consider the Voyager episode "Gravity" to be the episode anyone who wants to write a Vulcan to watch because it explores this deeper than any other episode in the franchise. (I know, high praise for a Voyager episode! I'm weirded out a little too ;) ))
    • Because logic was what saved them from wiping themselves out, and those who protested it became amoral Proud Warrior Race Guy Strawman Emotionals, I guess you can't really blame 'em for wanting to stick with the tried-and-true. Also, when you run down the list of illogical (and often emotional) cognitive biases that can distort our thinking, you almost empathize with them. And as for the danger of a Vulcan who's had their control broken, maybe they're just Genre Savvy enough to realize it's Fetish Fuel. (Okay, that last point was kinda a joke).
    • Logical behaviour is an ideal they aspire to, not necessarily a state all Vulcans have actually reached. Also, in TOS, the way Spock tends to talk about logic could make one think that the use of the word 'logic' is actually just an approximate translation for Surak's teachings, and incorporates certain elements of behavior (like the whole privacy thing) which humans would consider illogical.
      • Holy crap. That makes sense. Vulcans are illogical... according to the definition of logic understood by Western Earth cultures. It's a bad translation, because some thoughts just don't translate very well between languages and cultures.
      • The Expanded Universe touches on this. In a flashback in Diane Duane's "Spock's World" there is a scene of young Amanda discussing her linguistics work in helping compile the updated Vulcan/English translator program with a younger Sarek, and he's objecting to her translation of the Vulcan word ch'thia into the English term "logic" because in Vulcan the concept translates out to something more complex involving an ongoing attempt to describe and react to reality as it objectively was rather than as it might subjectively be wished to be, approximately akin to the Confucian philosophy of Rectification of Names than a simple deductive or inductive mathematical process. (Amanda actually agrees, but points out she was only a junior member of the project team and had been overruled.)

Prime Directive, Who Needs It?

  • The Prime Directive doesn't make any sense at all. What would be so horrible about a species that hasn't developed warp drives to find out about species that do? It's not any more shocking than experimenting with warp drives and have the Federation and a bunch of aliens showing up. Something about the warp drive seems to magically make it easier, and it makes no sense.
    • Pre-warp versus post-warp makes a convenient dividing line for Starfleet. It probably wouldn't do that much harm if they made first contact with a species that already has stuff like the Internet and orbital spacecraft but no warp drive. But it could do a lot of harm if some Starfleet captain decided to bend the rules and make first contact with some culture that's still in the Bronze Age. So they just define Technology Levels with warp drive as the dividing line. It's arbitrary, but at least it protects the kind of society that would mistake Captain Kirk for a legendary demigod. Or it would, if Kirk followed the rules.
      • It's easy to tell if a civilization has warp drive or not, whereas it might be hard to tell if they're advanced enough to make contact by other standards. For example, one popular science fiction standard for dividing 'advanced' from 'primitive' civilizations is the use of atomic power. But a civilization might simply not bother to invent nuclear weapons or nuclear reactors if they didn't have to fight a big war right around the time nuclear fission was discovered.
        • On Enterprise some crew members were captured by a pre-warp society, believing them to be spies form another country. Reed suggested the idea of just telling the civilization the truth, reasoning how much contact with the Vulcans helped Earth. Archer specifically rejected the idea because this society hadn't split the atom yet. When Earth achieved warp travel right after WWIII, society was in a much more reasonable state. There is no absolute perfect strategy, and some bronze age people might be more ready then the microchip age, but the Federation wants to eliminate the gray area that's open to reinterpretation.
      • It's a pretty safe bet that any culture advanced enough to build warp drives is mature and technically sophisticated enough that the arrival of aliens in Cool Ships won't devastate or confuse them too badly. They've probably at least considered the possibility of running into aliens once they start exploring the galaxy, and they'll be familiar enough with machines to recognize that the visitors are not gods, but instead are just people with better machines than theirs.
      • More importantly, there's the fact that once they develop warp drive, it's just a matter of time before they meet you or another alien species (Probably a generation or so as they perfect the drive and ships). If they can meet you, you can meet them. That's what makes it the convenient dividing point. Once they develop warp, the Federation drops in and says hi, before the newly space-traveling species ends up running into Romulan space.
        • Exactly. To wit, from the TNG Episode "First Contact", Picard saying "We prefer meeting like this rather than a random confrontation in deep space." Basically a combination of the fact that a civilization that is warp-capable is hopefully mature enough (though not necessarily; see the Ferengi, Malcorians, and maybe others), but also because they are basically forcing the issue at that point.
        • The EU implies there are other qualifications besides 'warp drive' they can hit, species just tend to hit warp drive first. It's not stated what they are, but interstellar subspace communication would logically be one of them, as that also would also quickly have them interacting with other civilizations. And we know contact with other space-faring species counts, once they are in contact with one group of aliens, contact with another group can't hurt them too badly.
        • Cynically, if you wait for them to develop warp, they may come up with something better than you have -- and if you beam down just after they figured out the can maybe meet other cultures, you've got the whole awe thing that should keep them from challenging you, and might get them to join your space club.
    • But why worry so much about introducing yourself to a "primitive" and warp-less society? Really, what's the worst that could happen?
      • You end up getting mistaken for gods and people start trying to sacrifice people for you, etc.
      • That any jerk with a relatively cheap set of modern supplies could turn a whole planet full of sentient beings into his slaves?
      • A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court. Enough said.
        • That very example was discredited in "Time's Arrow."
      • Enterprise makes the point that by waiting until the civilisation has invented Warp technology, then 'cultural contamination' would be lessened. I suppose they want the alien culture to be itself, rather than just a mimic / parrot of the race that gave them possibly the most important technology on a galactic scale. Promotes diversity, that sort of thing.
      • More to the point of a matter - when the Federation did try a pre-Warp first contact, it ended up with the primitive culture wiping itself out. Warp tech brings a level of understanding about the universe as well as the fact that most cultures that do it have started to do away with War, Poverty, Prejudice, etc. thus are mature enough to handle interstellar relationships. Hell, Babylon 5 shows what happens with primitive races getting FTL tech rather well.
    • And all this is simplified, anyway. The Federation doesn't meddle in the international affairs of any (other) civilization at all, all the way up to their allies the Klingons. From the top to the bottom, the Federation stays out of the affairs of non-members. That is the 'Prime Directive', it's not 'Don't talk to pre-warp people'. (In other words, Sisko's tricking the Romulans into the war was a Prime Directive violation.) The Federation just consider informing civilizations that don't know about aliens (and aren't about to find out about them via their new warp drive) about aliens to automatically be 'meddling'. I wouldn't be surprised if this was actually a 'court decision' interpretation of the PD instead of actual written policy.
    • It's an arbitrary metric designed to make the Prime Directive enforceable, it doesn't have to make sense. Without some kind of concrete standard the only thing a Starfleet captain has to rely on is his/her own individual judgment. And if the number of times Picard and Janeway have foolishly plunged their ships into unknown spacial anomalies is any indication, common sense and good judgment is not a required skill for a Starfleet captain.
    • The scope of the Prime Directive seems to vastly increase between TOS and far surpass the mere notion of non-interference with pre-warp civilisation. The best example is when Picard flat-out refuses to help Gowron (the lawful leader of the Klingon Empire - who were their allies) against an attempt to overthrow him because it's apparently a violation of the Prime Directive. Not only that, Picard at another point openly admits that the Prime Directive has prevented them from helping races be exterminated. Not wanting to interfere with the development of a less advanced civilisation is one thing but they seem to treat the Prime Directive like some infallible all-knowing oracle. It's hard to say whether that's crazy or just plain stupid.
      • A rather effective demonstration of the increase in scope and dogmatification of the Prime Directive is in comparing the TOS and TNG reactions to finding a doomed world that the Enterprise can save without revealing to the world that aliens interfered - TOS had The Paradise Syndrome, in which the reaction is "Starfleet rules mandates that we save this civilization, if it can be done without revealing ourselves" while TNG had Pen Pals, in which the reaction is "Unless we can find a loophole, the Prime Directive forbids us from saving this civilization". From the perspective of a modern-day observer, it does look as if Starfleet forgot that the original purpose of the Prime Directive was to protect primitive cultures.
    • It's merely a matter of self-protection: Any civilization capable of FTL travel is technically capable of building a spacecraft designed to crash into the Star Fleet HQ at relativistic speed, turning a good chunk of Earth into molten rock. So they figured it would be better for them to introduce themselves before things get awkward.
    • It's one thing to forbid contact or trade. Perhaps that's pretty reasonable as allowing societies to develop and become reasonable enough to deal with. Where it gets stupid is stuff like not taking out a comet before it kills of a world full of people because they are too primitive. Or allowing a world that's sophisticated enough to send distress messages into space if not travel far die because of plague or natural disaster.
      • To play devil's advocate, the Federation's reasoning is probably that they can't possibly save everyone, and would wipe themselves out trying to rush around the galaxy and rescue every primitive society that faces extinction. And if they can't save everyone, then it's the height of arrogance to start picking winners and losers, choosing which planet should be saved from a purely natural disaster based on convenience, shared ideals or any other criteria. For that reason, as well as all the potential unintended consequences, the Federation's decided that it doesn't step in unless a society reaches out and asks for help. That's the rule Picard cited as justifying saving Data's pen pal; in that case, he was deliberately stretching the definition of a "call for help", but that the rule exists at all shows that the Federation isn't so much heartless as merely practical.
        • We have a trope for this line of reasoning.
          • Except the Federation has a partial solution. It helps anyone it's allowed to have contact with, and judging by all the vaccine deliveries, comet impacts to avert and other planetary-scale disasters of the week that send the Enterprise-D running ragged every other episode, that keeps them plenty busy as it is. Starfleet even saved the Klingons from extinction, and tried to save the Romulans too. Barring infinite resources, the line for delivering aid always has to be drawn somewhere, and the people on the other side of that line will always complain that it's not fair (and it's not, but it's also unavoidable).
            • "Anyone it's allowed to have contact with"... 'allowed' by whom, exactly? The Federation came up with the Prime Directive all on its own; it wasn't handed down by some nebulous higher authority. Thus, the above statement basically reduces to "The Federation helps whoever it damn well feels like", again. (The 'limited resources' argument is something of a Straw Man here; nobody, I think, is seriously arguing that the Federation should actually try to take on all the galaxy's woes all by its lonesome, especially not those it's not even aware of yet. What's being questioned is the merit of a priori denying potential aid -- as slippery a slope as that may sometimes be -- to a sizable chunk of the galaxy's intelligent population based on nothing more than their technology level.)
              • Are you out of your mind? The Prime Directive's rule against making contact with pre-warp level civilizations isn't some arbitrary piece of bureaucracy. It's because the implications of first contact for pre-warp civilizations can be disruptive at best and devastating at worse. And I'm not talking about simply "primitive" societies. If aliens made contact with Earth tomorrow it would probably trigger World War III. Imagine it from the aliens' point of view? What country do they make contact with first? Do they go through the UN? Is there intelligence about us even good enough to understand what the UN is and what role it plays in international law? What if one nation, or a hand full of nations feel threatened by the arrival of the aliens. What if they declare war on any nation that opens diplomatic relations with the aliens? What about religious fundamentalists who view the very idea of extraterrestrial life as blasphemous? There are a million things that can go horribly wrong, resulting in untold deaths, and that's with our reality advanced global civilization. Only making contact with warp-level civilizations makes perfect sense, because with a warp-level civ, it's ready or not, here they come. Before that point, the risks far outweigh any ethical duty to intervene. A case maybe could be made that if a pre-warp civ faced total extinction it would be better to accept the risks than see them wiped out, but any thing short of that, it would be the height of irresponsibility to make first contact with a civ that wasn't ready for it (though this makes some of the times Kirk et el break the Prime Directive major wall-bangers).
              • According to Star Trek: Enterprise, it's a Vulcan policy that was indeed handed down to Earth Starfleet as part of the alliance, which at the time wasn't on any sort of equal footing. The Federation probably wouldn't have been formed if Earth hadn't conceded the Prime Directive to its biggest and most important ally. Besides, the Federation does have limited resources. By the TNG era it had already spread itself way too thin trying to help everyone it has contact with, acting more like an interstellar UN/Red Cross than a defensive fleet. When the Dominion showed up, Starfleet spent the first half of the war paying a devastating price for its diplomatic and humanitarian focus. If "too primitive" seems to be a sucky cutoff point for intervention and aid, it's a lot better than "outside our borders", which is what just about every spacefaring society apart from the Federation has declared.
    • Ooh, ooh! Fridge Brilliance! Fridge Brilliance! Here's the reason for the seemingly "arbitrary" standard of warp capability: The Federation doesn't bother with non-warp species because non-warp species have no way of affecting the Federation in any way. Without warp travel, any given species is effectively limited to their own solar system. So why should the Federation bother with them? They're not a threat if they don't have interstellar travel. And if they're technologically advanced enough to build a warp drive but haven't yet, then they're obviously not interested in dealing with other races and are content to remain isolated.
    • I think it's unethical for the Federation not to make contact with primitive civilizations (in a controlled, respectful way). By not offering to share their medical advancements, the Federation is condemning countless beings all over the universe to preventable deaths.
      • The risk of disruption to the primitive civilization far out weighs any benefit they would gain. There's also a strong argument that by handing out technology to civilizations who had not developed to a sufficient degree that the Federation would be stunting the growth of that culture, and affecting it with untold unforeseen consequences. Ethically, the mere fact the Federation can prevent death is not the only factor to consider. Indeed, due to the dangers of contact with a culture unready for its implications, utilitarian calculus would dictate the ethical course of action is non-contact.
    • At the end of the day, speaking from the perspective of a pre-Warp civilization myself, the Prime Directive just comes across as rather patronizing. "We will not make contact with your planet because in our wisdom we already know, without so much as needing said contact to inform our decision, that there is just no way you primitive screwheads could possibly handle it." In other words, it's the Federation's excuse to act as Neglectful Precursors.
      • It's called a Bright Line Rule, and it's why it's illegal for a person one day away from their 21st birthday to buy beer, but legal for a person one day after his 21st birthday to do so. Warp capability makes perfect sense as a Bright Line test, since before that, the chances of the civilization is insular, but once it has warp drive it's only a matter of time before they make contact with an interstellar species, so let's make contact first before the Romulans beat us to it. Warp-capability doesn't seem to be the only standard for contact, if my memory serves, the civilization the Enterprise was observing in the episode "First Contact" was pre-warp, but the Federation was close to making first contact, so probably some sort of balancing test is also used, no doubt weighing factors like ethical advancement, political stability, lack of complicating factors like religious extremist sects or national factionalism etc. But warp-capability forces the issue of contact, because a warp-capable species just cursing around the galaxy with no knowledge of its other inhabitants is a recipe for trouble.
  • It was fair enough for Picard to refuse Gowron's plea for help. After all, Duras had not attacked the Federation so there was no reason to get involved. However, when dealing with warp-capable empires, the Federations does do the right thing by indirectly getting involved. They couldn't help the Bajorans directly because it was a "legal" client world of the Cardassian Empire. Only way they could have helped would have been to push deep into Cardassian space to liberate the Bajorans. They did manage to apply political pressure by averting a Cardassian invasion and having Picard released from prison at a time when most Cardassians were getting fed up with the occupation as well.
  • I always looked at it like the Federation didn't want to interrupt the evolution of a culture. Personally I can see why it would get annoying if some random aliens landed on my planet and paraded around with their technology. I figured that was why the Vulcans waited until we achieved Warp drive. This way you don't get a bunch of planets which are basically Federation clones by imposing your technology.
  • The Federation itself. It's a monoculture with a few clearances for physiology (e.g. Vulcan) and "silly superstitions" small enough to be dismissed. The game is "assimilate or be assimilated", and it's afraid of falling apart. It enacts frantic control-freakery to the point where communications are dangerously centralized, ship crews don't have good crypto and their reconnaissance armed forces leave the Academy so Mildly Military they are blissfully ignorant in the area of tactics, or things like signal intelligence. It already has tenuous control over anything - simply due to cowboys and bureaucrats with vastly different approach to the same stated values being both inherent parts of the system. What could happen if values and beliefs that are not variations of their own (and not that of an enemy) are introduced? Even if they don't have problems with adding extra population - which is likely - should Federation widely interact with those not ready for unification, it will be influenced bit by bit, until it develops internal factions badly compatible with each other and accumulate more internal tensions than it can hold together.
    • Jesus, take a laxative.

Kirk's Dark Side Has Amnesia?

  • At the end of the episode "The Enemy Within", Rand tells Kirk about something his negative half did and he seems surprised. Uh, his positive and negative sides have been joined back together, so shouldn't he have the combined memories of both?
    • Is it possible he was faking surprise?
    • His negative half seemed to have a primitive mind, like an animal or a very young child. Could be that Bad Kirk's capacity for consciousness and memory formation was also affected?
    • Also, Kirk didn't technically exist while his two good-evil clones were running around doing their thing. When the transporter mixed them back together, it had to smash their separate memories together into a single memory covering the same period of time. Since the two patterns would've been so different, they probably just cancelled each other out and left the mental equivalent of static.
      • Also, he may have preferred to block out memories the worst of his negative half's actions, for obvious reasons.


Kirk Has Space Syphillis?

  • In an episode of TOS, citizens of a beyond-Malthusian overpopulated planet kidnap Kirk and get him to pass some dangerous STI along to one of their women to thin out their population. Now how many Green Skinned Space Babes has the good captain mentioned this to? None!
    • Possibly he got cured of the disease aboard the Enterprise after the events of the episode? Star Trek medical technology can cure nearly anything that doesn't leave you dead or crippled.
    • It was implied the disease got transmitted through the wound on Kirk's arm which he didn't remember how he got (he was probably injured by his kidnappers). He was previously treated and was only a carrier; Odona received the same treatment at the end of the episode, so they could have their fatal disease and she could live.
    • It also wasn't an STI. It was a type of meningitis. He needn't tell any space babes, green or otherwise.


Everybody's MacGuyver

  • Anyone ever notice that every member of Starfleet is an engineering genius? I mean, yes, the chief engineer is supposed to be awesome like that, but everyone else seems to know far more about engineering than they should. When stranded on a planet, if any member of the crew has the parts, even members of Security or Command divisions, they can assemble any device. Sometimes, they don't even have the parts, just raw materials. This is generally absurd, and bugs the heck out of me. It makes me wonder why they even need anyone in engineering other than the Chief. Just have more security guys, and when they aren't needed put them in engineering.
    • There was an episode in season one of TNG where a child who looks to be about ten years old was complaining about having to go to calculus class. I think you have your answer.
    • Basically, a normal Starfleet officer is near what we consider expert level in several sciences, engineering, combat, law enforcement, and diplomacy. When you add a specialisation on top of that, you hit outright Future Badass level in that discipline. May have a slight connection to Evolutionary Levels.
      • Think about this: the Academy (as nicely shown in the most recent movie) has enough cadets around to staff approximately eight to ten ships. These cadets are drawn from the finest students on every world of the Federation. We're almost literally talking about one in a billion talents for even the lowest security officer. Out of Earth's current population, there's probably only ten people who'd be good enough for Starfleet Academy.
    • This also works the other way. In Deep Space Nine we see the main cast regularly shoot down Jem'Hadar soldiers, which are supposed to be very tough. This main cast includes a Doctor, an Engineer, and a Science Officer. Admittedly, the Doctor is genetically engineered (But so are the Jem Hadar, and they also train from birth), the Engineer used to be a soldier, and the Science Officer is several hundred years old, but it should least appear that Worf, ya know, the actual Klingon Security Officer is better than these guys, yet it is rarely the case.
      • The main cast of Deep Space Nine may be in mostly non-combat professions, but they're still members of a military organization. And like any military organization, Starfleet obviously gives combat training to all of its recruits, not just its security officers.
      • What we don't see is that the Jem'Hadar train from birth against puppies. Space puppies, but still puppies.
      • I think those are pretty big things to just count out, especially in the case of O'Brien and Jadzia. They know how to shoot a gun because of long experience, and guns are pretty equalising now matter how good Jem'Hadar are. It still stretches my ability to accept it when Jadzia beats Klingons or Jem'Hadar in hand-to-hand though, for all that Curzon was a master of Klingon martial arts...
        • Jadzia doesn't just have old memories. It's indicated from early on that she stays in practice, and is one of the best hand-to-hand fighters on the station, and, though not quite as strong as Curzon was, still a superb athlete.
    • Starfleet Academy is pretty much the U.S. Naval Academy In Space. At the Naval Academy, you automatically graduate with a bachelor of science regardless of the major you choose - in fact, they advocate choosing any major you want; you'll receive all the training you need when you get your ship assignments. So it's not too hard to imagine that the curriculum at the Academy includes basic training in pretty much everything you need to run a ship. The difference is the level of depth the technology is studied. Basically, the captain and company can make the Phlebotinum run the ship, but the engineer can make it sit up and beg.
  • Also consider that the impressive skills of Starfleet Engineers is Lampshaded on Deep Space Nine. A Vorta states that Starfleet Engineers can make rocks into replicators.
  • While the omnidisciplinary crewmembers are often taken to a ridiculous degree, especially throughout TNG, DS9 does offer at least some explanation for it, as it's often lampshaded in the early seasons that Dr. Bashir took the "engineering extension courses" at Starfleet Medical, which presumably teach engineering skills which likely includes some amount of juryrigging. Probably the most common kinds, like "Here's how to open up a standard tricorder and fiddle around with it to make it work more like a medical tricorder", or "Here's how to hook a biobed up to a power supply port that's not really designed for it", and officers then learn to extrapolate from there. Probably other Starfleet courses have this as well... tactical and engineering students at Starfleet can probably take each other's courses, and there's probably a Medical Extension Program for them as well as basic first aid training. It also makes sense that TNG would see the most of this, really... it is the flagship, thus officers there are supposed to be the best and brightest. Taking the various extension courses is probably a minimum requirement for a posting there.
  • The Starfleet is a combined exploratory/science/military/diplomatic/police-reinforcement force. The drawbacks are obvious, especially comparing Jack of All Trades with performance of units actually optimized for a task, e.g. a little Defiant class gunship packs about as much heat as a huge all-purpose galleon. This seems to be Inherent in the System, for two reasons:
  1. Logistical problems. A small number of ships spreads over vast space and rarely gets close to a friendly base. The Federation claims vastly greater territory than it can survey well, much less cover in supply bases - and barely can protect - and it still sends some to explore outside when there's no big war. The warp drives are just slow enough that ships cannot expect supplies in time and must carry everything they may possibly need for any short term mission they can feasibly run into.
  2. Political convenience. As in, plausible deniability. "We're explorers, not soldiers"(c) - or "We did not send spies! We have sent just... scientists who happened to be nearby. Honest. The vessel in question is widely known for this and that discovery."

This Universe Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us

  • In the TOS episode, The Alternative Factor, why was it necessary to trap both Lazaruses in the corridor between universes? Wouldn't destroying the ship and keeping the insane one prisoner have been sufficient? What happens if someone else develops the technology? Even if it was necessary, why did Kirk actully tell Spock and 2 security guards to "stay back" while he struggled to toss insane Lazarus into the portal? Wouldn't four guys have made the whole thing easier? Better yet, why not just stun him and throw him in?
    • "The Alternative Factory"? I don't remember that episode.
    • Typo. It was called "The Alternative Factor", it did have two Lazaruses, this troper has no answers to the above troper's questions because she hated that episode.
      • I knew that. I was making a (fairly lame) joke.


Why No Yeomen Men?

  • Is there some reason all of Kirk's yeomen are female? He had quite a few over the course of the series, so you'd think at least one would be a guy, wouldn't you?
    • You are asking why Kirk would hire as many women as possible?
    • In Corbomite Maneuver, Kirk is visibly annoyed by Rand's constant hovering, griping about the "headquarters genius" who assigned him a female yeoman. McCoy asks him if it's because Kirk doesn't trust himself with female yeomans around, to which he replies he already has a female to worry about, and her name is the Enterprise.
      • Counterpoint: The Enterprise does not have a vagina.
        • It's called the shuttle bay. :-P
          • That's a womb.
            • Ships on Earth are referred to as female. Ask any sailor. It makes sense that this would carry over to starships.
    • The guys just didn't like the uniform.


Brainwashing Fixes Everything

  • The plot of the TOS episode "Dagger of the Mind" makes no sense at all. Why was Dr. Adams established as someone who had revolutionized mental health care only to be revealed as a Mad Scientist? What was his motivation for Brainwashing everyone in the penal colony? And why in heaven's name did he think he could get away with doing it to a starship captain? What was his plan? That the Enterprise crew would get bored waiting for Kirk and just go away? That sounds like a really dumb plan.
    • At one point, Adams was a well-regarded and benevolent researcher. He just got too enamored of his new invention's potential, started using it far beyond ethical limits, became just as mad as his charges, and jumped off the slippery slope. He likely originally intended to brainwash Kirk into reporting nothing unusual, and when it didn't work, just monomaniacally kept trying.
      • My memory is hazy, but are we conflating two characters? I thought the inventor was the one who went mad because his assistant used the mind erasure machine to get him out of the way.
  • Here's how I understood the events surrounding that ep. Dr. Adams and his assistant both developed the tech together. They started testing it on patients, and it seemed to work. As they used it, Adams became more and more... unhinged at the power he had over the patients. The assistant, Dr. Van Gelder, wanted to report this to Starfleet, but Adams found out and had him brainwashed to stop people from finding it out, using the excuse of an accident. Then, enter Enterprise, who beams up the records, and Van Gelder. The ep plays out as we see and that's that. Why he became unhinged, I don't know. Could be the ol' absolute power stuff.
  • Or it was entirely acceptable until he did this to a starship captain. Then it became painfully obvious that the guy is nuts and he was "decisively condemned". His work could either start a comedy equal or greater to the one around TR-116, or turn out to have more drawbacks than it's worth even by Federation's standards.


Youngest Doctorate Ever?

  • In "Where No Man Has Gone Before", Dr. Dehner's profile says that she's twenty-one. Are you kidding me? She has a doctorate at twenty-one? What is she, a child prodigy? And although Sally Kellerman was around twenty-eight at time, she looked like she was in her thirties.
    • Why shouldn't she have been a prodigy? Starfleet, especially in the TOS era, tried to staff the Enterprise with its best and brightest.
    • The current Guinness world record holder for 'youngest university professor' is one Dr. Alia Sabur, age 18. She apparently obtained her doctorate in Materials Science Engineering from Drexel University at age 16.


Starfleet's Run By Reed Richards?

  • Why can't anyone in Star Trek ever seem to take their technology and use it in remotely intelligent ways? After the episodes with the extra riker and the return of Scotty, for example, you'd think that transporters would be retrofitted to be savepoints. The borg - why do they send giant obvious ships, instead of small subtle ships with drones built to blend in with the natives, and get everybody at once, by releaseing nanoprobes into the atmosphere, or at least convert key personel, so as to undercut defenses and have all the important data, like Friend-Or-Foe identification, and shut-down codes BEFORE they start the fight. So much technology, so few people actually using it remotely intelligently.
    • The extra Riker created the same individual twice. Assuming it could be replicated, and they successfully accomplished it, it would be ridiculously immoral to actually do so. Scotty is a different case--he created a "save point," as you call it, but a) he couldn't get himself out, b) he couldn't do anything while inside it, and c) it didn't actually work--the other person locked in the transporter buffer degraded too much to be restored.
      • That, and having a 'save point' of you doesn't make the original any less dead. From a purely military standpoint the ability to photocopy a human is useful, but in practice that's the sort of thing that results in mutiny or military coup - there's a not unreasonable fear you'd be used as a Red Shirt.
    • The Borg don't care. The Borg aren't Yeerks, subtly infiltrating society in order to conquer them before they're even aware of it. They're a force. If they lose a few vessels, if they lose a few drones, no big deal. There are more. There are always more. Which is why they're effective villains. They're as malicious and as dangerous as a hurricane.
      • Actually, in Dark Frontiers, when Seven and the Borg Queen are chit chatting, the Queen suggests a method of dispersing nanobots into a planet's atmosphere as a means of subtle assimilation. Given that in Scorpion Seven proposes a multi-gigatonne weapon that could spread the 8472 killing nanobots over LIGHTYEARS. You'd think that would be pretty handy.
        • She wanted to do that nanobots in the atmosphere thing because they'd had two straight-up invasions fail. They would have happily kept sending cubes against the fleet if each one had brought them a little closer to their goal, but the complete and utter lack of progress led them to want to try other things. (Though why "other things" didn't start with "Let's send five hundred cubes through this handy-dandy transwarp corridor we've never gotten around to using" is a valid question.)
          • They may simply have some problems with organization on the level between "one ship" and "everything", so the only solution is to make a bigger ship. Which of course doesn't explain why they didn't spread a hundred ships between as many targets, so that while Starfleet stops a few, the rest would be busy gutting most of Federation's industrial, military and communication capabilities uncontested, until Starfleet is able only to supply ships it uses to defend a few key bases and is unable to react in time on hostile actions anywhere else.
    • Why rely so heavily on assimilation? Why not clone new drones with the sesired combination of traits?
      • They would stagnate. The Borg know that they don't innovate, they merely add "biological and technological distinctiveness" to the Collective. Even their upgrades that they develop upon being introduced to new and interesting ways to destroy them is a technology stolen from another species. There is no species they could create that would be "perfect" enough for Borg sensibilities.
      • Also, they do clone, or breed in vitro, new drones-to-be; at least, that was the implication of the "nursery" scene in their first appearance. Assimilating adults is just faster, and adds new information.
    • Haven't you heard? Reed Richards Is Useless, so why should Starfleet be any better?
    • Mostly because what a lot of fans consider "intelligent" uses of technology is often a game-breaker that would ruin the plot of the show just for the sake of being clever with having powergamed tech ideas, and/or not necessarily something the technology can do just because the concept seems easy to the outside observer, and/or disturbingly amoral bordering on flat-out evil.
  • Starfleet is run by the bureaucrats enough that it got turned into panopticum of ludicrously bad engineering and design.

Send Out the Clones

  • Why is the Federation filled with luddites? How can such an advanced society be so hung up about clones and genetic engineering? Whenever a genetically engineered or cloned person appears, the Enterprise crew reacts with awe and dread. Sometimes, the appearance of a clone warrants a commercial break.
    • The Star Trek universe had some very bad experiences with gene engineering. The first large-scale effort unleashed a wave of augments that took over a fourth of the planet in the mid-80s and until the mid-90s, and the results were devastating... whenever the canon remembers them. Klingon attempts at genetic engineering on similar lines resulted in a plague that nearly killed off their entire species. Military technology enhancement projects or cloning likewise tend to have rather nasty results, presumably with the local universe (or at least Federation scientists) being predisposed to such issues. This has driven those fields to the edges of space and pseudoscience, with the resulting increase in similar mistakes and further enforced prejudices. The Federation Counsel is also a rather humans-only club, so they seem to suffer from a degree of Frankenstein syndrome.
      • That's not even mentioning when TNG episode with the genetically engineered uberkinder who had immune systems so effective, they killed normal people...
    • Wait, what? What on Earth gave you the impression that the Federation, the people who put touch screens on a pair of barbells, are in any way "luddites"?
    • The problem with cloning and genetic engineering seems to be more of a fear of the past. As they said in one episode, "For every Julian Bashir, there's a Khan Singh waiting ni the wings." Given the abysmal catastrophies that cloning and genetic engineering have created in the past, no one wants to take the chance again.
    • They value their humanity more than most Star Trek fans do, apparently.

Picard's No Solid Snake

  • Where do people on Star Trek learn their infiltration skills? Whenever anyone sneaks into a facility, or up on someone, they have no silenced weapons, night vision goggles, flash grenades, or, in case things get real messy, combat knives. If a guard accidently discovers them, they don't silently put a bullet in his head or slit his throat. Instead, they take him out, from a distance, with a glowing, noisy beam of plasma. In Star Trek VI, the Undiscovered Country, for example, a sniper tries to take out the president (or kung fu master). The assasin fails but still. No self-respecting sniper would fire at a target with a noisy, glowing beam of plasma that can be traced back to the sniper's position. Every Star Trek show does this. When they're scoping tangos, they don't do it through rifle scopes. Hell, they usuaully don't have rifles to begin with. Usually, the only ordinance that they carry with them is their dustbusters which shoot noisy, glowing beams of plasma. Now, I know the Federation has a code against killing with hand weapons. Phasers are almost always set to stun, even if the other guy has a supernova disruptor pointed at them. But come on!
    • A couple points: First, when they have rifles, they don't need an optical scope, they have sensors and a display screen tied into a computer assist that lets them fire off-axis. Second, that I recall, when Starfleet crew were sneaking around, they beat down/nervepinched/sedated opposition far more often than they used phasers. (I do, though, agree that knives would have been very helpful.) Third, Colonel West's scheme in STVI, with his Klingon disguise, would only have worked if he was seen--you can't blame someone you can't (mis)identify. Following from this, he likely didn't intend to survive; if the imposture was to be maintained, suicide by disintegration would have been far more practical than evading capture after being spotted.
    • Because the Star Trek universe is populated by idiots who have never heard of the concept of "combined arms".
    • Degradation of warfare mentality due to a shift in combat norms. Most warp-capable species do the majority of their fighting via ship-to-ship combat, having found more enemies out in space than on their own worlds. Consequently, they don't employ snipers as often, and so have forgotten/neglected a lot of the applicable tactics for them.


Gone to Center of Galaxy, Be Back in a Sec

  • In Star Trek V, the Final Frontier, the Enterprise travels to the center of the galaxy in just a few hours. For the sake of my argument, let's just say they did it in 3 hours. That's, more or less, 26,000 light years in 3 hours. Now, on Voyager, Janeway and the gang get displaced 70,000 light years. And it's going to take them 70 years or so to get home. If this is the case, why in the hell didn't Janeway travel at the same speed that Kirk did in Star Trek V? She could have gotten back to earth in less than 10 hours. Plus, she's even in a more advanced ship than Kirk's.
    • You thought Star Trek V the Final Frontier was actually supposed to make sense?
    • God did it. Kirk killed him.
    • This is precisely why this editor does not view Star Trek V as canon. There has been a theory on this website, somewhere that there was a "warp highway" to the centre of the galaxy, a warp highway being a region of space where your warp engine power is enhanced so you go faster with less fuel. And the reason Janeway and co couldn't use it? They only exist for a finite amount of time.
    • Who said it was "The centre of the galaxy"? A crazy person with a messiah complex and people who had been mind controlled by said crazy person. Personally I wouldn't trust his directions to the head.
      • I know this isn't really what the movie had in mind, but maybe it can be ret-conned as saying that it wasn't the physical center of the galaxy, but what the Vulcans used to believe was the "spiritual" center, a region of space mysteriously blocked off by the Great Barrier. If there's a discrepancy in the Star Trek universe between the visible galaxy and the dark matter halo around it, maybe the Barrier surrounds the halo's center, which happens to be a whole, whole lot closer to Earth than the real galactic core.
    • This is just one of the more egregious Star Trek speed errors. TNG had the Enterprise end up over 2 MILLION light years from Earth and Data says that it would take approximately 100 years to get home. By contrast, Voyager going 70,000 light years would taken 70 years. That means the Enterprise D could go 20 times faster than Voyager... it's fair to say that writers really need to try and leave distances out because they ALWAYS screw them up and end up travelling at the speed of plot.
      • Warp 10 = 1,000c; the Designated top Speed applies WITHIN the Galaxy. 2M ly is empty space BETWEEN galaxies. Maybe you can go faster if there ain't all thse frackin stars in the way?
      • Four days from Earth to Qo'noS at Warp 5. 'nuff said.
    • Remember the TNG episode "The Nth Degree?" An alien species living near the center of the Galaxy, who just appeared as incorporeal giant floating heads, contacted a single, very special mind and gave his brain a boost, so he was able to bring the ship there in no time. Maybe "God" was an insane, criminal member of that species, imprisoned behind the Great Barrier by his fellows?


Boldly Going Where No Waiter's Gone Before

  • Why do restaurants and bars still need wait staffs? Why don't they just put food replicators at everybody's tables? It's not like Quark, Whoopie Goldberg, Neelix and Sisko's father need jobs, right? Nobody does. Because they don't use money, right?
    • Neelix they needed him because they had to cut down on replicator usage. As for Sisko's father there's a theory here that doing stuff like having a restaurant earns you prestige or something. For Quark, I think people go there for entertainment as well. For Whoopie, I got nothing.
      • You don't see why someone would want to develop a relationship with a bartender? I love my favorite bartenders, I'd miss them so much if I stopped drinking there or they quit or whatever, and they don't have a tenth of Guinan's insightfulness.
    • I always thought Sisko's father had a resturant just because he enjoyed cooking and serving people. As for the waiters i've got nuffin. Acutally what do humans do in a world where we don't need money and everthing is handed to you on a replicated plate?
      • Captain Picard said in First Contact, "we work to better ourselves". Draw from that what you will.
    • Whoopie was a morale officer, someone who you could talk to about your problems or whatever and someone who wasn't required to answer to anyone (so she wouldn't have to tell your secrets if she was ordered to). Also she was immortal, had lived for a long time, was present in events in the past that the Enterprise crew was part of, and also knows a lot of unwritten information on species and et cetera. Besides, when you go to a bar or restaurant, you're actually not buying the food (well, you ARE, but), what you're buying is the ambiance, the freedom from having to clean up after yourself, the possible chance of meeting someone new or interesting, and the chance to try food that you wouldn't be able to cook, or in this case, food that you wouldn't think to replicate on your own. If everyone didn't find a point for having social interaction over dinner where they didn't have to clean up the mess, we'd probably just see everyone as incredibly anti-social shut-ins who just eat replicated gruel in their quarters.
    • Or maybe, just like everyone else in the Federation, they were waiting table/tending bar because they wanted to. Hell, if you've got replicators and holodecks, you only ever do something because you want to.
    • Replicators just generate a whole MESS of problems - the only things that are of any value are the random things that are unreplicatable. This is presumably why Deep Space Nine dedicated an episode or two to playfully skirting around the issue of the nebulous economic mechanics... but of course, one gets to thinking that if you can replicate just about anything in a starship... and get to making a really, really big replicator, shouldn't it become possible to just put in the materials, hit the button and create a ship in a minute or two?
    • Deep Space Nine had the wormhole mined with Rom's cloaked self-replicating mines... Assuming that these mines can maintain their number indefinitely... isn't this a big ol' conservation of mass violation? Should these mines run amok, couldn't they fill the universe?!
    • On the subject of the restaurants... if there was a replicator at every table, then that would completely defeat the purpose of having a restaurant, because people go to restaurants because they want non-replicated food. Quark still tens bar because the drinks he serves are real, not replicated, and you still need a bar tender to mix them. Same thing for Guinan. And honestly, for places that use a mix of replicators and real food like Quark's and Ten Forward, it just eats up more power to have a replicator at every table than to have a half dozen and some waiters.
    • As for why people do it, other than 'because they want to' (since one might suppose that being a waitor is only the ideal job of a select few people) jobs in the service industry might be a way to earn passage into space, exploration, etc. without necessarilly joining Starfleet. Since we only see civilian ships every once in a blue moon, one gets the impression that anyone who wants to leave their planet and isn't a genius-level Starfleet recruit has to get creative about it.
      • Also, I'd imagine there's a higher work-life balance for someone with a lower level job. Someone with the aptitude and ambition can be a revered Starfleet captain, but they'll have to put off any hope of a personal life 'till after retirement. Alternately, someone who wants to spend more time with their family or pursue their outside interests could take a job like being a waiter and, though they don't get the prestige and power, they only have to work at a nearby restaurant for a few hours a day. It's much the same reason people choose different jobs today, except money doesn't factor into it anymore.
  • As for having a waiter job or running a business, why not? It gets you out of the house. Cabin fever is a bitch.
  • Why be a waiter? Because in this society where money isn't important anymore, what matters is your skill and your ability. Waiting tables at one of the most popular and successful Cajun restaurants in the city is a perfect way to learn the trade so that, when you are ready, you can go open your own restaurant, having learned at the hands of the master.
  • The real answer would be: there is still some form of currency. Despite all the idealism, no one could be relied on to do crap jobs just because they wanted to, or because they felt they were "bettering themselves" by doing it. The number of people in the world who sincerely want to be waiters probably couldn't staff a single large city's restaurants let alone the world's. And the people who sincerely want to be garbage men, or sewer technicians, or any other similarly dirty, unpleasant jobs is probably even fewer. If you want to be realistic about it at all, there are only two answers: the Federation forces some people to do these jobs against their will, or there is some form of compensating incentive for doing these jobs which translates into currency. Most likely if you want to sit around all day doing nothing but reading and discussing philosophy with your friends, society will make sure your basic needs of a roof over your head and food to eat and whatnot are met, but if you want to do things that cost a lot more energy output like using the replicator a lot or using a holodeck or transporting around the globe and eating non-replicated food cooked by a master, you're going to need to do something to earn the energy credits.

Transporters Got No Hard Drives?

  • If someone is dying of an incurable illness, why let them die? All you have to do is store them in a transporter and reassemble them once a cure is found. Equally, I love when they have to beam a severly injured person to sickbay, the medical staff runs around and acts like an ambulance is in-bound. Well, there's no reason for that. An injured person can be stored in the transporter and reassembled, perhaps weeks later, when the medical staff is ready to work on him. Therefore, all the Star Trek "ER" scenes are absurd. As long as transporters are around, there should never be more than one patient in the ER at once.
    • Case in point - Transporters come with biofilters that can apparently screen out viruses and other nasties...
    • People can't be stored in the transporter for weeks safely. (Although if someone can be stored for decades with a 50% failure rate, like Scotty and the other guy, logically a week should have about a 0.001% failure rate, which is probably worth it simply to set up the surgical room in advance.) However, that doesn't change the fact they can be stored for hours just fine, and thus scenes like what happened with the Doctor above, where two patients show up at exactly the same time and one is left to die while the other is treated, shouldn't happen. Especially since, IIRC, they were both beamed into sickbay. You'd think the transporter operator would store them and dole them out whenever the doctor asked for them.
      • Keep in mind that Scotty had to pull off a lot of jury rigged Applied Phlebotinum to make his suspended animation trick work. Most of the time, if the transporter chief doesn't either complete the tranport or send them back within a matter of seconds, they're dead. Of course, this doesn't explain why things didn't change once they'd found out how Scotty made it work.
      • Worse yet: we know they have stasis fields, so why don't they have a nice, medical stasis room, beam the extra casualties there, and then beam them out when there's room on the table? It's not like being beamed is equivalent to the normal problem with moving highly injured folks.
        • Because paying attention to the mentions of stasis tubes makes it clear the stasis isn't literally exact, perfect stasis. It's more a slowing of metabolic functions that can sometimes be effective at delaying certain problems from progressing until they can get to a specialist or necessary facilities. Certain problems clearly can't be completely stopped by stasis and some pathogens are outright immune to it.
    • Of course the fact that their bodies can be stored in the holodeck is even worse, Fridge Logic-wise. I'm pretty sure the holodeck can duplicate characters. So stick their bodies, without their minds, in there, work on them, if you save them, beam them out, if you don't, work from a backup of their body. Even if you only get an hour or so before their 'pattern degrades', it's still safer.
      • They probably don't do that because they're afraid of Professor Moriarty, Minuette, or even program Riker 6.
        • Actually the Doctor does something similar to this in the Voyager episode, "Lifesigns" (2x19)
    • This always bugged me too. Especially this: if you're beaming someone up with horribly life-threatening wounds, you're completely disassembling them and reassembling them on the transporter pad atom by atom. Well, why not simply reassemble them WITHOUT all the horribly life-threatening wounds? If fact, you could create a literal fountain of youth if you decided to reassemble them so they were physically much younger (like in TNG: "Rascals"), though maybe a little bit older, like 18 or 21.
      • Because seen from a molecular level, most organisms are extremely complex. It's one thing to dis- and then reassemble something after a template, but actively changing things? The results could be Nightmare Fuel.

Where Did All the Religious People Go?

  • What's up with Star Trek and religion? Other species seem to have it, but all humans have is some weak New-Agey Stuff. Even Chakotay's practice isn't for a specific tribe. We don't even know whether they are from Latin America or North America (the show gives evidence to both). It seems odd that in a culture where you or your loved ones could drop dead at any moment (hey, all those red shirts had families) and a good percentage of the population spends their time staring into the dark void of space, organized religion wouldn't have any appeal.
    • Well... the "real" answer is that Gene Roddenberry was a secular humanist and a Writer on Board.
    • What do you want them to do? Have Commander Goldman eating a bagel while reminding the captain he can't work on Saturday? For one, it can get offensive pretty easy just like my example. For two it's the 24th century. All religions that exist now still exist, but people aren't jerks about trying to force their religion's dogma on the rest of the universe anymore. Also we always see military installations, and usually when people are on duty. That's not an appropriate time to discuss religion. In fact, there have been religious humans in Trek. (a catholic in TOS, Joeseph Sisko quotes from the bible, and it's implied O'Brien's wife is a buddist, just off the top of my head) As a further note, some forms of Islam and Hinduism both forbid military service. That's one of the in-universe reasons that there are so few South Asian and Middle Eastern crew members on starships.
    • It's also a documented fact that religious belief (on Earth anyway) is negatively correlated with widespread scientific understanding of the universe. Put simply, in Star Trek science has advanced to the point that many of the Earth religions relying on miracles and such are simply viewed as incompatible with what's known about reality. Most people simply don't believe in them anymore for this reason. Remember, Starfleet personnel are some of the best educated people around. Education is also negatively correlated with religious belief.
      • Not negatively enough, according to the Harris Poll. Yes, there is a difference, but that still left 85% of postgraduate degree recipients having some sort of religious beliefs. Most people find their religious beliefs go just fine with their education. This troper has not found that her two science degrees have harmed her (Christian) beliefs in any way, nor do most others of her religion; it seems likely the same is true of most Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other educated religious people. No, I think we can safely say this is a Writer on Board case.
      • I couldn't figure out which of the many polls listed you were referring to, but I'll take your word for it. Harris polls of Americans are just a little irrelevant because of the off the charts level of religiosity Americans demonstrate when compared to our peers. In the broader Western world, far fewer educated people believe in Christianity or other miraculous religions. Surveys of members of the Royal Academy of Sciences (UK) and the National Academy of Science (USA) show that a vast majority of the best scientists in these two countries do not believe in a god. When you consider that the humans portrayed on Star Trek would probably be the equivalent of members of the Academies, it makes perfect sense that few are religious. This troper has found that nearly all of her friends who achieve a M.S. do not remain believing Christians. Some become deists, but most become atheists or agnostics.
      • Your experience does not equal reality. Bluntly, religion is something that's not remotely disappearing. Europe had this view for a while and now seems to be uncomfortably aware it's not just the United States that seems to have an overfondness for it.
      • "Religion = Christianity" is another strictly American POV. Europeans tend not to have the cultural assumption that you can't be spiritual or Deist. If you correct the questions to allow for a range of results rather than just asking "are you a Fundie?", you'll find them to be much more balanced regardless of education level.
    • Er, am I the only one who remembers that in Star Trek: Generations, Picard meets his (imaginary) family when they're celebrating Christmas? Or that the Hindu Festival of Lights was mentioned as one of the ship's scheduled events during "Data's Day"? Religion isn't shoved in people's faces at every turn, but it's still there.
      • This troper is an atheist and celebrates Christmas, too. Not for religious reasons but because it's nice to spend some time with the family now-and-then.
    • Real reason: Because Gene Roddenberry was a silly, silly man with an unrealistic concept of the future. As for all the new-agey/Eastern religion floating around the Trek-verse, ask yourself what kind of religious beliefs are popular in Hollywood today.
      • That can't be it, there are no Scientologists on board.
      • Okay, correction. Consider what kind of religious beliefs were popular in Hollywood back when TNG was in its hey-day.
    • Gene Roddenberry had a lot of liberal beliefs he tried to imbue in his creation. While this isn't as noticeable in TOS, by TNG he had gained Protection From Editors and set about painting his vision of what humanity could, should, and would be like in the future, if only it tried. This included things like atheism, tolerance, communism, technolgical advancement, abundance, noninterventionism (the prime directive), and other such ideas that he liked and that he thought would be great improvements to the human race (note episodes like "Encounter at Farpoint" and "The Neutral Zone," where Roddenberry's disgust and contempt for the history and present state of humanity is contrasted with his idealism and optimism that we would one day rise above it all). Thus, no religion for the Federation in Star Trek. Mind you, this has weakened a bit since his death.
      • Shatner and others had their own opinions on it. William maintains the "God" of the Undiscovered Country was actually the Devil.
  • If you were aware of beings like Q, wouldn't you question your religious beliefs?
    • Maybe, but I'd also expect our most vocal thorough-going atheists who are so sure that empiricism and rational thought (as they choose to define it) can explain everything to question their antireligious beliefs.
      • Huh? How does that logic work, exactly? Given all the God Like Beings floating around the Trek universe with rational scientific explanations behind them, why would running in to Q make any atheist or skeptic more likely to reverse their position?
      • Feel free to scientifically explain the Q for us. If you can.
      • Yes, feel free to scientifically explain a species who's very shtick is that they operate on a level of scientific understanding that is as far beyond us as we are beyond microbes. That's a perfectly logical argument. The Q aren't gods, they just have more understanding then we do. The same is true of all beings like them. See: Sufficiently Advanced Alien
        • You're basically just making the argument "It has to be science because I don't want it to be magic". Considering that there is no actual science offered to explain the Q, you are quite hilariously put in the position of having faith that there's a scientific explanation instead.
  • I don't know, but I'm pretty sure I saw some Space Fundies in the episode Let He Who Is Without Sin.... They were complaining about the sinful ways of Risa or something like that.
    • Those people were social fundamentalists, they never mention religion. There is in fact a difference.
  • I write Star Trek fanfic and myself and others on my fanfic site have written characters with religious beliefs. My theory is that they're still there; after all, Sisko's dad once quoted the Bible. They've just restructured themselves to do away with the "God made marriage for one man and one woman!", "Jesus said I can have guns!", "The path to Allah is terrorism!" soundbytes and all that crap. Now, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and others are structured to being a better person, teaching about love, understanding and tolerance, which is still important if the Federation is to keep the moral high ground.
  • In many ways, Gene Roddenberry's death opened the Star Trek canon to considerable improvement on this subject, widening the theories and interpretations available.
    • We get to see the Klingon religion that comes off sounding remarkably Judeo-Christian for all that it denies its Messianic figure is a Messiah or that its Devil is a Devil.
    • The Bajorans have their Prophets, bringing up the question of whether there's really any meaningful distinction between a Sufficiently Advanced Alien and God (or at least, gods).
    • The Dominion and its Founders took this question even further in the case of the Vorta, who considered their genetic benefactors a kind of deity. (When Odo questions whether the Vorta are genetically programmed to worship the Founders, the one in his care replies along the lines of "Well, of course; that's what gods do!")
    • Chakotay on the Voyager had his odd Native American beliefs, although he acknowledged there was a strong scientific explanation for the inner workings of most of its practices.
    • Vulcans, the Ocampa, and Talaxians all have some concept of souls and the afterlife, although Neelix has his faith rather badly shaken at one point. Also, when McCoy asked Spock about what the afterlife was like, Spock told him that basically he had no frame of reference in common with McCoy by which to explain it; if he wanted to know, he'd have to die and pay the afterlife a visit himself.
    • Even the Borg have a kind of religious reverence for the Omega Particle, though Seven of Nine indicates their idea of "worship" is to assimilate it at all costs. (They want perfection, this God particle represents perfection, and therefore they must assimilate it.)
  • Evidently, the religions and religious peoples of Star Trek haven't gone anywhere. Gene Roddenberry just couldn't see them through his biases. Moreover, the series is not committed to just one point of view: the future is neither an atheist utopia, a garden of New Age synergism, nor yet a theocratic paradise; it's more like an enormous zoo in which religion has even more competing species than biology does.
  • DS9 was the first Trek series that really examined the concept of religion, and tried to do its best to present the subject even-handedly, with both the good and the aspects and the potential of both scientific and spiritual explanations for things. How well it did this is debatable and probably varies from episode to episode and writer to writer. Of course, as one of the above commenters pointed out, trying to handle the subject of real life religions sincerely and respectfully could easily backfire, a la Chakotay and his Native American mysticism. But as to bringing up the human characters' religions, the best and most generous explanation is that it simply never became relevant. Most of them are simply not in parts of their lives where showing such things would be appropriate in the times where we see them, or where they simply might not come up. They're either on duty (and strict Starfleet uniform code apparently doesn't even allow the wearing of Bajoran earrings, despite them being a huge cultural and religious necessity for Bajorans... presumably something far more optional like wearing a crucifix necklace is right out), or on vacation or in the midst of recreation, or otherwise just not in a setting where it would come up.

Never the Continuities Shall Meet?

  • For as much completely awesome (and completely stupid) stuff the writers from the shows come up with, aside from a few major events and the races, they never really like to cross-link the series. Obvoiusly, within each series there are exceptions, and while TNG referenced the most of TOS (what with all the original crew showing up and doing stuff), I really expected them to do more with things from the past, especially during the Voyager run. In particular, even though he's a Creator's Pet, ...Wesley. The last we see him (in the series) is when he goes off with The Traveller, which is who he should have stayed with. But to bring him back for an episode of VOY just to show that he is kickin' around subspace and travellin', that'd be a nice treat. Not to mention the guys who sent the probe out in IV.
    • Voyager bump into a TNG plot in False Profits... and Deep Space Nine had the Mirror Universe and used the Riker clone from TNG... Not to mention that TNG talked to Quark once or twice and TNG, Deep Space Nine and Voyager all started with increasingly gratuitous guest stars.
    • Deep Space Nine also revisited the Iconian gateways from an early TNG episode, and made reference to TOS's episode "Arena" through Kassidy Yates (she came from the same colony that was attacked by the Gorn back then, implying that the Gorn and Federation have put aside their differences). Deep Space Nine, oddly enough, often seemed more prone to casual continuity nods than the other series.
    • For the most part, writers like creating new stuff better than pandering to continuity porn. It's also rumoured that more than once writers and directors were either chosen because they weren't hardcore fans, or specifically instructed to come up with new stuff, because new material tends to be better received.
      • On a related note, Deep Space Nine seems to contain more nods to TOS because some of the main writers (such as Ron Moore) were big hardcore TOS fans, while VOY writers such as Brannon Braga weren't. In the Deep Space Nine Companion book, Ron Moore says that it was easier to remember obscure facts from TOS episodes he watched as a kid than main plot points of TNG episodes he'd written only a few years previously.

USS Stands for United States... Wait, What?

  • Why the names of Federation starships start with "USS" (USS Enterprise, USS Voyager, etc.)? USS is the shortcut for: "United States Ship", right? But in the Star Trek universe the USA is only a part of the planet, which is only a small part of the Federation. Why not name them like: "UFPS Enterprise" (United Federation of Planets Starship Enterprise)?
    • I think it's been said somewhere U.S.S. stands for "United Space Ship" or "United Star Ship".
      • United Star Ship. The distinction between a "Starship" and a "Spaceship" is important in TOS (moreso in the early EU. In Best Destiny, Enterprise is revealed to be the first starship. IIRC, spaceships bear names using just "S.S." instead of "U.S.S.". Also, the dedication plaque next to the bridge turbolift says that the Enterprise is "Starship Class". 'Course, this got totally dropped in the TNG era.) What I want to know is: What does 'NCC' mean?
        • Naval Construction Contract. In other words, it indicates a ship built for (and presumably by) Starfleet, as opposed to a ship built for some other purpose (like a cruise liner or a cargo carrier). The NX prefix used in a couple of ships that are first of their kind is Naval Experiment.
        • Just a guess but maybe the ships are registered in the same numbering series as Federation (or maybe Earth) civilian ships, "NCC" happened to be the next full 0000-9999 block of numbers available and the equivalent of the DMV found it easier to hand it over to Starfleet than register each new ship individually upon completion.
          • The Excelsior is NX-2000 when it's brand new and the Transwarp testbed, but when it's still in use 80 years later in various TNG episodes (and I think when Sulu commands it in Undiscovered Country) it's been reclassified NCC-2000.
    • Possibly they did: United Federation of Planets Star Ship.
    • Outside of the storyline, the naming mimics American ships-- this troper served on the USS Essex, LHD-2, and is still impressed at how many folks can rattle off ALL of the Enterprises from the USN.
    • Note that it's not mandatory to put the name of the country in a ship's designation—for example, the British use "HMS", which stands for "His (Her) Majesty's Ship" with no indication of which Majesty is being referred to. On the other hand, "United Space Ship" is actually a pretty odd term, unless they sometimes refer to The Federation as "(The) United". Bottom line, though, the real reason they used "USS" is almost certainly for the sake of familiarity to an American audience.
      • Maybe it is not the "United Space Ship", as in "Spaceship of the United", but rather "United Space Starship", meaning Starship of the United Space, wich makes mor sence for me.
    • United Starfleet Ship
    • USS doesn't seem to be used for every ship, either... it seems to be mostly used for starships named after Earth ocean-going vessels. Though whether other ships actually don't have it or they just don't mention it every time (just saying "the Enterprise" versus "USS Enterprise") is probably harder to tell. Some of the ships definitely do have alien names, like the T'kumbra, though not sure if it's technically the USS T'kumbra, which would probably answer that question handily.

Spock's Indestructable Casket

  • At the start of Star Trek 3, Kirk finds out that McCoy has Spock's Brain in his head and they need to do something about it. But crucially he has no idea that Spock's body has been 'resurected' on Genesis, and neither does Sarek or anyone else. As far as they know the body was incinerated when they fired it off inside a torpedo and there is nothing left, Saavik was surprised to find it was intact on the surface and later on Kirk was certainly surprised to find that Spock was alive. So why do they feel the need to steal the Enterprise and travel to Genesis? If you forget about the Klingons, the Grissom, Spock boffing Saavik and all that other stuff that they don't know is happening, what were they planning to do when they arrived? The most sensible thing to do, given the information they have available, is to get a few tickets on a commercial trip to Vulcan so someone can extract that annoying Katra and let McCoy get back to being grumpy. There is no reason to even consider going to Genesis, well except that the film would be pretty brief without it.
    • For the sake of argument let's say that Sarek explains offscreen that the dead body is required for the katra ritual (even though Spock speaking through McCoy first says "take me to Vulcan", not "we need to go back to Genesis", and if the body is crucial you'd think Spock would have made sure to slip a "take my body back to Vulcan" into his final conversation with Kirk rather than risk driving Bones insane). This raises another question - what the hell is Starfleet's problem? You've got a top-level diplomat from one of the Federation's most important worlds, who's understandably upset that his son's body has been dumped on an alien planet rather than brought home in accordance with his culture. Even if you can't agree to another ship going into that sector to go get him, why not contact your ship that's already in orbit and tell them to take ten seconds to beam the tube aboard?
      • The problem is probably that the Genesis Incident has set off a diplomatic shitstorm and they don't want just anyone marching down there for any old reason, basically. But probably more likely just story fiat.

No Romulan Ale For You!

  • Why is Romulan ale illegal?
    • Possibly an embargo against Romulan goods. Or because it's clearly not at all healthy: even the mighty Klingon can't really handle it that well.
      • It was explicitly stated in Deep Space Nine that it was an embargo, when they lifted it. And there are solid reasons for it. Crossing the Romulan Neutral Zone (if you're caught, which gives an unfortunate advantage to the Romulans with their cloaking devices) means an international incident, possibly full-scale war. The Federation has good reason to discourage its private traders from going there; sooner or later one would take the short way, instead of cutting through a third party's territory (especially when the most notable such party is the Klingons), and that's a very stupid way to start a war.
        • The Neutral Zone is only off-limits to the Federation and the Romulans (and often not them, either, it seems). Even the Jem'Hadar were allowed to use it before they found themselves at war with the Federation and the Romulans. So there should be neutral species at peace with both powers who can carry ale into the Federation. Of course, if the embargo is strict enough, a third-party middleman wouldn't be legal, either, as with Cuban products in the United States.
        • And it is, amusingly one of the most loosely enforced laws on the books. Every time they break out the Romulan Ale, someone remarks that it is illegal, yet it is given as gifts amongst officers, a Federation starship on a diplomatic mission has it in stock to serve to foreign dignitaries, and it is even brought up during Kirk and McCoy's trial on Q'Onos in Star Trek VI the Undiscovered Country. Notably, it wasn't brought up to discredit them because it was illegal, but merely to bring up the possibility that McCoy was drunk. If there was a great time for anyone to use Romulan Ale's illegality against the heroes, that would have been it. So why didn't they? Even in a sham trial, nobody cared. Presumably both the Romulans and Federation turn a blind eye to traders carrying the stuff back and forth, because the humans like to drink it and the Romulans like to sell it. Hell, the traders might even double as low-profile spies and couriers, discretely carrying information (and booze) back and forth, giving both sides further reason to laxly enforce the embargo: If one side cracks down, their own information flow from the other side gets clamped off too.
        • The tie-in novels state that the main conduit for Romulan Ale to the Federation is via Orion space... which makes sense, as during the TOS era the Orion Congeries are the only interstellar polity in the Alpha Quadrant that have trade relations with both the Federation and the Romulan Empire.
    • Presumably it's a deliberate parallel to Cuban tobacco products being illegal in the US.
    • Because it should be (owwww).

United Federation of Nutcase Bureaucrats?

  • On that note, why is it that everyone in Starfleet who isn't a main character is either an Obstructive Bureaucrat or a nut case just waiting for the opportunity to go rogue?
    • The same reason why holodecks malfuntion almost every time we see them. It doesn't really happen all that much. It's just that the invisible cameraman who is us is always around when it does.
    • You're forgetting the redshirts and token love interests, too.
    • It's a highly hypocritical collectivist utopia that seems to adopt absurdly unsafe technical solutions evry day or three. How could it possibly not be run by a huge (and mostly parasitic) bureaucracy? And how can people living like they do not get a little nutty?


Star Trek 3: The Search for Baby Klingons?

  • Why weren't David and the Klingons killed on the Genesis Planet turned back into babies like Spock?
    • If we take the novelisation at its word, Spock was regenerated because he landed while it was still forming.
    • Furthermore, who says David and the Klingons weren't resurrected? Certainly we never saw them but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. Remember too that the planet broke apart and exploded not long thereafter, and there ain't no coming back from that.


The "Beam Me Up" Paradox

  • The main page for Star Trek lists Beam Me Up, Scotty as one of the tropes it named, yet, as the trope page points out, the phrase was never uttered within the show (at least not in the central canon). How can it be the Trope Namer for something it never said? Or is that the point?
    • I think that's the point - it was never said in the show, but through Popcultural Osmosis or whatever, that's what everyone thinks it said. I don't know how the phrase "Beam Me Up, Scotty" came about in the first place though.
      • It's a variation on what was actually said - something akin to "Two to beam up, Mr. Scott" - that became associated with the show as something that you might hear being said.
        • "Scotty, beam me up" was used. Flipping the order so you start to say "Beam" first lets the listener know exactly which reference they're in for.
          • Valid military radio procedure is that an initial communication starts with the call sign of the recipient, precisely so that everyone listening immediately knows who the message is intended for.

Kirk's Bad With Dates (Not That Kind)

  • On the subject of film chronology: the given time gaps between "Space Seed", "Wrath of Khan" and "Generations" don't add up. "Wrath of Khan" takes place when Kirk is turning 50 - that's the year 2283. They say that "Space Seed" happened fifteen years ago - officially, it happened in 2267, which is OK assuming they're rounding off. But then the Kirk-era part of "Generations" takes place in 2293... and in Kirk's Nexus fantasy, Kirk says "This is nine years ago!" Nine years ago, Kirk would have been commanding the Enterprise-A. If they wanted the fantasy scene to be of a time just prior to "Wrath of Khan" (which it seems was the intention), they should've said "eleven years ago".
    • A mistake, plain and simple. But if you want an explanation, I've been saying that things that happened in 1990 happened "ten years ago" for the past nine years, even in 2009. Possibly something happened two years ago to Kirk that made the number stick in his head, so he just said it without thinking, and no one wanted to correct him.

Time Cops Are Useless

  • Remember those various groups of Time Police that kept on showing up in Voyager and Enterprise (and that Deep Space Nine tribble episode) to ensure that history didn't get changed? Um... where were they?
    • Stuck in two series vastly inferior to this movie, evidently.
    • Chasing down a certain Time Lord.
    • There might be a cute gaiden-story about a time agent arriving in the twenty-third century just in time to see the Kelvin get blown up, then shrug, say "Crap." and pop out of existence.
    • Ever notice how they didn't show up when Kirk was in 1930s New York, or when he was in 1980s San Francisco, or when he met Gary Seven in the sixties? They seem to have some kind of policy about leaving the original crew alone.
      • This is practically canon, given that in the Deep Space Nine episode, their reaction to Sisko telling them where he'd ended up was almost literally "Aw crap, Kirk? We hate Kirk cases."
    • Repairing the damage the Warden did to the Space-Time continuum.
    • They show up when a temporal incursion will change their timeline. For whatever reason, this temporal incursion created a new timeline not in line with previous canon. In essence if there are Time Cops in this world, all these events are what happened, to them. (The real world reson it created a second timeline was so they could, in essence, do a reeboot but leave the old timeline in tact.)
    • Why didn't the Time Cops show up and bitch slap Janeway in the Voyager finale? WHY?!
      • Because anyone that frightens the Borg is the last person you want to try to bitch slap.
    • The time cops only show up if the alterations to the timeline create a dangerous paradox or threaten to unravel the whole Federation or cause truly massive destruction, basically. And then only if they don't detect that there's already someone working to set it right. So if Starfleet personnel are in the middle of solving the issue anyway, the time cops let them have a try at it. And if the changes to the timeline are mostly on a personal scale (the Voyager's early return really only matters to the Voyager crew and the people connected to them), it's not worth fuxxing with the timeline to undo them.

Complaining About People Not Complaining About Enteprise?

  • Not so much about the show as much as people who hate it. If so many people really think Enterprise broke so badly from canon, why aren't there any just bugs me questions for Enterprise?
    • Check under Star Trek/Wall banger.
      • I did. It's just a list of episodes people don't like, not actual complaints about how it fits into canon.
      • User:Crazyrabbits: To explain just how several episodes violate the previous continuity of the franchise would take an amount of space that no one is willing to give here. It's best to just note the biggest canon screw-ups and move on.
        • User:Triassicranger: I will attempt some. In one episode the Ferengi show up, 200 years before they're meant to. Alright Capt. Picard encountered them on the Stargazer a few decades before Star Trek: The Next Generation, but centuries? And unless I'm mistaken, the episode "The Last Outpost" had the Enterprise-D crew show much unfamiliarity with them. (This one you can argue is a violation of Fanon rather than Canon, though; a lot of Enterprise complaints fall into this.) Another episode features the Borg, in which among things Dr. Phlox nearly gets assimilated. So why in later seasons is Starfleet not prepared for the Borg, given that they have encountered them up close and personal? Why do the transporters seem to work as fast as the TNG era? Why does the NX-01 look more advanced than Kirk's (better VFX)? This website lists a number of them as well, and even scrutinises over fandom explanations.
          • Typical of most complaints about alleged "disregard" of Enterprise for established canon, these examples misstate the canon in question and/or totally ignore fridge logic. The Federation had limited knowledge of the Feringi since well before "Last Outpost". I believe they were first referenced in "Encounter At Farpoint", and rumors about them proceeded official first contact by the Enterprise; clearly, there had been contact between humans and Federation members and the Feringi preceding "official" first contact in the Last Outpost. That a lone raiding party of a half dozen Feringi could have made contacted with a Human vessel two centuries prior is hardly canon-busting. The identity of the raiders the Enterprise NX encountered was probably never confirmed until the Enterprise D made contact. Likewise, the Enterprise NX encounter with the Borg does nothing to disrupt continuity. The incident would have obviously been highly classified by Star Fleet, and not common knowledge in the 24th Century. Due to secrecy and two centuries of obscurity, there may not have even been a record in the Enterprise D's computer, and even if was, the circumstance of the encounter were so widely different that even a walking search engine like Data might not have been able to put together the pieces in time. No doubt after the Enterprise D returned from its first encounter with the Borg and filed their report with Star Fleet, some analyst at Star Fleet HQ probably started digging into every file Star Fleet had involving cybernetic lifeforms and came across a 200-year old log from Captain Johnathan Archer, but obviously we wouldn't have seen that and since it wouldn't have provided much, if any new information, it's unsurprising it was never brought up.
      • Well as for the Ferengi, Deep Space Nine had retconned that before. The Ferengi Alliance is one of the great civilizations that borders the Federation and has had contact with their allies for decades/centuries. The only thing they did "wrong" was sticking to the Deep Space Nine retcon. (And making an idiot plot episode.) The Borg ordeal was classified, and mostly forgotten about since it was 200 years later. (How much do you think remains of classified documents from 1800 today?) Plus, the Federation had fought numerous wars between ENT and TNG that were a slightly higher priority than a threat that may or may not come in 200 years (off the top, the Earth-Romulan war, the multiple Klingon wars, the Cardassian war that went on for 20 years, and there's more that aren't coming immediately to mind.) Any one of these wars enough might be enough to explain why they didn't do anthing about it, and all of them coupled with all the time that passed should more than explain it. Transporters have always been inconsistent in speed besides, Artistic License. What do you want the NX-01 to look like? It just had a better model (again Artistic License), as far as an actual ship, I'd rather be on NCC-1701. It clearly has more advanced tech. (Tractor beams, variable yeild photon torpedos, a Warp 8 engine). In fact, my girlfriend has the opposite complaint and hated the look of the NX-01 because it seemed too present day and not as futuristic as NCC-1701. Heck, in "In a Mirror Darkly" the crew of the mirror universe's Enterprise seems to think a 23rd century ship is a marvel of science.
        • Apparently at one point Enterprise was going to be something approximating a nuclear submarine, a lot more cramped and such - which would have been a lot cooler.
        • What, design aesthetics aren't allowed to change over the centuries? It could be that the ships from TNG were intended to look retro to in-universe observers, emulating the vessels of Archer's "Dawn of the Federation" era.


Kirk and Spock... They're Just Friends, Honest!

  • Possibly a prime example of "One Troper's Squee is another troper's Squick, but what is up with all the K/S shipping. To me it seems like Canon Defilement of the worst kind.
    • That was my reaction for a long time, but now it either makes sense, or I'm desensitized to it. I think it's about their enduring, rock solid friendship. After all, I presume K/S fics aren't just one of them dropping trou and begging the other for penis. Quite a few of them are probably If It's You It's Okay.
    • You do realize this sounds a little homophobic, don't you? If you were talking about, for example, Kirk/Uhura, you wouldn't call it Canon Defilement. It's just some fans seeing romance where others don't. It's natural for any fandom.
      • Besides, it's traditional by now. The need to describe the Kirk/Spock pairing is the Trope Namer for Slash Fic.
      • It's possible to be squicked out purely by the Canon Defilement aspect of that ship without any implication of homophobia; if it's any consolation there are definitely gay Trek fans out there who find this pairing unsettling for that reason
    • Blame Saturday Night Live, their geriatric Trek sketch helped start it.
      • The slashing actually started while the original series was still airing. There are fanzines devoted to this pairing that date all the way back to 1968.
    • Two guys, one a Chivalrous Pervert playboy hero and the other an emotionally desensitized telepathic Woobie, who run around saving one another's lives, sharing charming banter, failing at all of their romantic relationships, pressing their hands together through transparent-but-insurmountable barriers, and spending the majority of their screen time with each other... whether or not you feel that it's Canon Defilement, it's not like you can't see where the slash fans would get their ideas from.


Super-Special Holodeck Batteries?

  • Here's one - why do the holodecks run on a different and incompatible power source than the rest of the ship? Voyager sometimes barely had enough power to keep the lights on and the air recycling, but there was plenty of juice for Tom Paris to play "Captain Proton". And even with that, you're telling me nobody' in Starfleet has figured out how to fix this problem? I mean, Voyagers crew built a quantum slipstream drive from scratch and yet can't make a converter to turn holodeck power into ship power?
    • That was a Voodoo Shark to explain why they could let the writers play with the Holodeck when they were otherwise rationing power, especially replicator power. Their power troubles eased off after a while... your call whether that made it better or worse.
    • Possibly unintended Fridge Brilliance - with so many holodec disasters such as Moriarty any whatnot in the past, the incompatible power source may have been a deliberate move on Starfleet's end so that power to the holodec could be cut off immediately if necessary, without any rogue programs being able to divert power from another part of the ship in order to sustain themselves. The real problem could be less converting the power than overriding whatever system was put in place to keep the power source seperate from the rest of the ship's systems. What's more confusing is that the EMH doesn't run on the same juice, or if he does, why they don't ration holodec usage anyway so that they don't burn through his time too quickly.
      • Rogue programs or... humans suffering holodiction?..


We've Been Boarded! Oh well...

  • Any time a starship gets boarded, it annoys the heck out of me. Only occasionaly do they use force fields. Also, couldn't they evacuate those areas and shut off life support or something? Or maybe shut the turbolift to the bridge? Or beam them into space (or if that's not cool) into the brig? The amount of times where intruders (or really anyone) can just walk in on the bridge like that is hillarous. And also, I noticed security never ever runs. They just walk there.
    • Shutting off life support to a whole deck wouldn't instantly suck all the air and heat out of the area (unless it's the main bridge or an area with an exterior door like the shuttlebay). Even when it has happened elsewhere on the ship, it takes hours to get to the point where it would be incapable of supporting life. As for beaming them into the brig - having a holding cell that you can beam people into and out of would kinda defeat the purpose of having one in the first place. I mean, any ship that can get close enough could just beam the prisoner off.
      • Transporters can be blocked, scrambled and jammed with trivial ease, so just keep some low-level jammers around the brig unless you're moving prisoners around. Hell, if I were designing a brig for ST (or any universe with teleportation tech for that matter), I'd build it so you can only get in and out via transporters. Good luck breaking out when there's no door.
      • Shutting off life support might not instantly kill everyone who wasn't in a spacesuit, but trapping the boarders in a forcefield and sucking their air out sure would. So would adjusting the temperature to a level of unendurable heat or cold. Then there's the option of pumping poison or knockout gas into that section. Given that the Enterprise has a fire control system that works by setting up a forcefield around the fire that kind of thing should be pretty easy. Then we have the canon tactic of turning up the gravity in one section so high your opponent can't stand up from Enterprise: In A Mirror Darkly. There are tons of nasty things you could do to any (living, organic) hostile fool enough to board your ship without a space suit with Star Trek technology, but for some reason hardly anybody ever seems to do them.
      • When Data shut down Bridge life-support in "Brothers", he had to bypass multiple independent safety systems to do it. Considering how easy it is to take over or corrupt Federation computer software, the risks aren't worth the rewards.
    • What about, say, increasing the gravity in a section? You could even have safeties in place so that the gravity can be increased beyond the ability of a boarding party to operate as an effective fighting force, but well short of the point where short exposure would cause serious permanent health effects. I'm not sure where the respective thresholds are exactly, but I'd imagine five or six G-forces would do the trick. Then the redshirts stand just beyond the affected areas and stun the intruders, who are too busy trying to stay on their feet even to think about returning fire. Then as soon as everyone's been neutralized, you restore the regular gravity to be extra-sure there are no lasting effects on the people you've trapped.
      • If it's Deep Space Nine or ENT, and we're fighting the enemy like we mean it, make it fifty G's instead of five, record the boarding party going splat, and send the video to the deceased enemies' superiors with instructions not to fuck with Starfleet.
      • Used in William Shatner's "Totality" trilogy. The alien beings from the invading "Totality" are made of Dark Matter, and don't really like gravity fields. They can barely stand one G, and disintegrate under higher weights. As they can impersonate people similarly to the Founders, Starfleet quickly institutes a policy of regularly turning up the gravity all over the ship, and keeping officers' quarters constantly on high.
    • Also, you can play with temperature. Humans can function just fine at temperatures well below those at which Klingons curl up into shivering balls. Since Klingons are humans' greatest enemies in TOS, the movies, and a season of Deep Space Nine, you'd think they'd have used it to their advantage once or twice. The same thing would work on Cardassians, too; they're comfortable at temperatures which are too warm for most other species, even non-humanoids like the Founders. So chances are they wouldn't be able to fight effectively if they boarded Deep Space Nine and O'Brien lowered the temperature to, say, 273 K (the freezing point of water).
      • I can't think of any point while facing Klingons or Cardassians where it would have been either feasible or useful to use cold against them. During points where the station would have been theoretically (or was actually) under siege by either, it's not like turning down the temperature would have done much... the Klingons wouldn't instantly curl up into balls, and all the besiegers'd do is start handing the second wave coats.

Emergency Redshirt Holograms

  • Related to the above - why do unarmoured, flesh-and-blood security officers respond to boarders, instead of hundreds of Emergency Security Holograms? The computer might only have enough power to manage one medical program at a time, but surely repelling boarders can't be much more demanding than what the holodeck gets up to every day.
    • Those might just be a slow-in-coming development. During TNG, getting a hologram to exist outside of the holodec is something of a challenge. In Voyager, the EMH is confined to sickbay or the holodec until he gets his mobile emitter. Once that technology spreads to the wider Federation, it seems more plausible that we'd see things like holographic security officers. In the meanwhile, they probably don't have them because they'd have to put holographic projectors all over the ship, and such officers would be useless for away-missions and whatnot.
      • The Prometheus had holo-emitters on every deck, and while that was an experimental ship, Andy Dick seemed to be saying that that aspect at least had become standard. We never saw it on the Defiant (or the new Defiant after the original got destroyed at Chintoka) or the Enterprise E, but then we never really saw a situation where it would have come up. "Vic Fontaine to the bridge, please."
    • Starfleet learned its lesson from the "Ultimate Computer" incident and doesn't give deadly weapons to artificial intelligences any more. Except Data.
      • And the Emergency Command Hologram.
      • Holographic crew is a sizable part of your redshirt crew in Star Trek Online


Ferengi Speech Impediment?

  • Why do the Ferengi consistently mispronounce "human"? They always overstress the second syllable, like "hugh-MAHn". They never have any trouble saying Bajoran or Cardassian or Klingon. In fact why are there pronunciation difficulties at all?
    • Possibly they're saying it in such a way that it's a subtle insult to humans--the term could be a reference to Ferengi anatomy or bodily functions. On the other hand, it could be that the word "human" itself is the bad word, and Ferengi pronounce it differently to differentiate from the Ferengi word for "scrotum" or whatever.
    • On occasion, there has been a usage of 'human' instead of 'hew-MON.' Nog and Rom seemed to both use the mispronunciation less and less as the series went on. Likely it is just a Ferengi insult - Humans in Star Trek have given up the pursuit of monetary wealth, which is the basic foundation of Ferengi society.
    • Probably for the same reason that universal translators don't translate DRAMATIC Klingon words into English - racial affectation.
    • The Ferengi probably have words for the other species which the Universal Translators render into English (or Federation Standard Speech or whatever it's called.) When they say "hew-MON," they're actually sounding out the English word, which the Universal Translator doesn't or can't overdub.
      • Fridge Brilliance! Have we ever actually heard Ferengi language? Maybe for some reason the word for "human" is more closely from English (or Federation Standard), while other race names have assimilated better or had more time to assimilate. "Human" may be an incredibly foreign sound in the Ferengi tongue, so they take extra care with it. [1]
        • We hear the Ferengi language for a bit in "Little Green Men". It definitely sounds like "hew-MON" might be how the word would sound with a Ferengi accent. That still doesn't rule out it being a slur of some kind. Maybe the act of sounding it out so it doesn't go through the translator is a slight against the listening? Like "I'm going to show you that your language is simple and primitive by deliberately speaking without my translator when I say your species name, Hew-MON" That would be consistent with the times we hear Ferngi over-pronouncing the word as opposed to the times they say it without affectation.
    • Could just be a racial slur. Notice that Rom and Nog slow down their usage of it as they start to become friends with humans, but Quark keeps it up as hew-MONS are always interfering with his profits (in his mind, at least).
  • More support for the "slur" theory comes from our own language. The most racially insulting term there is for a black person in English comes from accumulated distortions to the Spanish term for "black" which is negro. For all we know, "hew-mons" may even be a politer term than some that the Ferengi have for us (the way "negroes" is not entirely an offensive term, though it does raise eyebrows if you use it these days).

Marriage in the 24th Century

  • WHY are pretty much all women, 200-300 years in the future, STILL automatically taking their husband's names? Does this bug the heck out of nobody but me?
    • Umm... examples? The only ones I can think of is Kiko O'Brian and Dr. Crusher (see below). Troi didn't change her name (see below), Jadzia didn't change her name (she's a Trill and she married a Klingon, so who knows what the name convention is), and in the case of most of the other married couples we meet, there's actually nothing to say for sure that the husband didn't take his wife's name.
    • Not necessarily true. In Star Trek: Voyager B'Elanna says to Tom that perhaps he should now be known as "Tom Torres" as "it's the 24th century, after all" (though for the rest of the season neither of them change their names). In Star Trek: Nemesis Picard says to Commander Riker "You have the bridge Mr. Troi" (though most likely out of humour). And in "Sub Rosa" it's implied that Beverly's family have been keeping their maiden names and Beverly was apparently the first to break it. Then again, said episode was a Transplanted Character Fic of something else best taken with a pinch of salt.
      • Betazoid culture is matrilineal; Deanna's father took her mother's surname. Will probably won't, but Deanna is unlikely to insist upon it as much as her mother would have to Ian Troi.
        • They can probably just switch it up. When visiting Betazed Will can go by "William Troi", elsewhere in the galaxy it's "William Riker", and their personnel files can just contain a note about it.
    • Same reason pretty much all women 200-300 years in the future still grow their hair long and wear make-up, I suppose.
    • Pretty much it does bug the heck out of nobody but you, yes.

Humans New and Busted, Vulcans Old Hotness?

  • So, we all know Enterprise introduced a mess of continuity issues - depending on how liberal you want to be with bending the rules of common sense - but surely one of the strangest things is: The Vulcans have been flying around in space for hundreds of years, and their ships in Enterprise are a lot faster, a lot more powerful and just generally better in pretty much every conceivable way. Yeah, it seems clear that Starfleet follows the presumably inferior design of the NX-01 style ships. Given that Starfleet is part of the Federation and Vulcans are pretty much the first people to sign up with the humans, you'd think it would have been smart to go with the Vulcan awesomeness.
    • It was likely a compromise issue. Each of the inagural species of the Federation all had issues with one another, except for the "common thread" that they were all friends (or on friendly terms) with Earth. Likely the biggest reason Vulcan tech wasn't primarily used was because the Andorians would pitch a major fit. Ditto for some of the other species that joined initially. But, since everyone was cool with Earth, use their design, and incorperate the tech from each civilization into the design. Silly, but sometimes a must in diplomacy. It's also the biggest reason why the Federation capital is on Earth and not on another planet too.
    • Possibly Warp Five was as far as the Vulcans, Tellarites, and Andorians had gotten as well. The Vulcans were better than humans because they already had Warp Five ships while we were still fumbling with warp. Further FTL research was done under the heading of the Federation rather than the respective governments of Earth, Vulcan, Andoria, or Tellar, and given that there's a marked aesthetic change from the early Earth Starfleet ships to the Federation ships of the future, one assumes that other races had a hand in the design.
      • In Season One a Vulcan ship showed up and its captain came aboard the NX-01 as a show of support for the alliance, or something. Since he was an ENT Vulcan, and Archer was Archer, it quickly devolved into a pissing match. Before it did the Vulcan captain mentioned that his ship could push Warp 7. Shran's ship had a similar maximum speed, and in "Proving Ground" Tucker's mourning for his Dead Little Sister proved enough of a Tear Jerker that Shran ordered his engineer to give Tucker one of the Treknobabbles that let them break Warp 5.
      • And in the finale they said they routinely exceeded Warp 6 and that the next class of starship that the NX's were being phased out in favor of could break Warp 7.
    • In The Forge Soval gave an awesome speech in which he basically states that the Vulcans noticed the fast progress the humans have made regarding space travel (from first space flight to warp 5 in ca. 200 years, whereas the Vulcans needed much more centuries for all this), and are impressed, but above all frightened by this. Perhaps the humans indeed did technologically draw level with the other Federation founders within the decades after Enterprise, or even surpassed them. In this regard, consider the episode In a Mirror, Darkly, in which a time-travelled TOS-era Federation ship is able to wreak havoc because it is indeed more advanced than the big 22nd century Vulcan and Andorian ships! (Although granted, mirror-universe ships may not be at exactly the same technology-level as their prime-universe counterparts.)
    • It might also be that, much as some Trekkies among us like to mock Archer's leadership, Starfleet had the best reputation of all the Federation members' services. The one little ship had beaten not just the Xindi but the superbeings from another dimension who had backed them (making them the only pre-Federation power that can claim to have won a major war in living memory). It also led the international force that prevented a major Romulan incursion into what would soon become Federation space. It figured out how to stop the Romulans and only requested assistance from the others because it needed a lot of ships. Two ships turned back an entire Klingon fleet intent on destroying the Klingons' own colony. Et cetera.
    • By contrast, the Vulcan High Command didn't do one damned impressive thing in the entire series. The Andorian Guard only had one Badass, and they fired him. Combine that with the fact that by the 2160s Starfleet's ships were able to keep up with the top speeds of their Vulcan and Andorian counterparts and they're looking more and more worthy of taking the lead in the new government's military.


The Gorn Had It Coming

  • So in the TOS episode "Arena," are the writers seriously trying to make us believe there's any moral equivalency between Kirk and the Gorn? Do they actually think the wholesale slaughter of all colonists, including women and children, while they're trying to surrender and begging for their lives, is a perfectly reasonable and understandable response to people encroaching, knowingly or not, on your territory? Adding this to the fact that the Gorns then lured the Enterprise to the planet and ambushed them, Kirk was right in trying to destroy them.
    • You have to remember that this show was made in the hippie era with its mantra of "killing is wrong, man".
    • Considering how the being who set up the scenario considered a Celebrity Deathmatch to be a valid way of judging which race is more worthy, it's abundantly clear it was a Jerkass whose judgement had no connection to morality.
      • But it wasn't the being who set up the battle between Kirk and the Gorn captain who suggested that the Gorn had a legitimate grievance--it was Kirk who suggested that maybe the Federation had accidentally encroached on Gorn territory.
        • For the most part, I think the implication is that the Gorn didn't understand humans well enough to know what was going on, and didn't realize they were trying to surrender. They saw an armed outpost of strange furry creatures in their territory, they attacked it, the creatures attacked them right back, so it must be a military incursion. The problem with this is that amazingly faked, fully interactive message the Gorn sent to the Enterprise, which the rest of the episode ignores. If I had to justify it, I'd say the Gorn have computers as advanced as the TNG-era Federation, capable of running complex simulations with just a vague instruction. The Gorn captain may have said something like "computer, lure that alien ship here" and the ship's computer did so by creating a fake message.


A Pon Farr with Rosie Palms?

  • About the whole Pon Farr Mate or Die thing, why doesn't A Date with Rosie Palms work?
    • It's probably not just a question of release. Consider when Tuvok went into pon farr. Tom Paris was able to rig up a hologram of his wife that allowed Tuvok to blow off steam, but the implication is that nothing else would have worked. It might be an emotional thing. There are multiple episodes that suggest that the Vulcan emotional suppression is not good for them. Pon farr could very easily be a consequence of that.
      • There was a prior Voyager episode where Ensign Vorik entered pon farr and the holoprogram failed to work for him.
      • Vorik had another option: B'Elana. Pon farr basically had him obsessed with her. Perhaps if Tom had thought to make a B'Elana hologram for Vorik to bang, he would have been able to pull a Tuvok.
    • In the first Star Trek: New Frontier novel, we see a pretty explicit Pon Farr between two Vulcans, where they mind meld in the middle of coitus. Presumably doing this (combined with the physical act) is what causes the Vulcan's internal sex clock to reset.
      • Hormones. Very specific ones, too-where you NEED the hormones produced by your matched partner. Also why The Oldest Profession doesn't work for them.
    • It probably is specifically something to do with the emotions. While a mind meld would help facilitate an emotional release, Tuvok and Vorik certainly couldn't have melded with holograms. The reason the hologram worked for Tuvok (once he was able to get it to stay online) is that he really did love his wife, and could express his love for her with this reminder of her. Vorik, on the other hand, only got temporary relief from T'Pera because she was a purely fictional holodeck character and he couldn't really fool himself into loving her the way he would love a real person. Each of the three known ways to resolve pon farr also show signs of being related to emotional release:
      • Mating is the most direct method of demonstrating one's love for another, of course.
      • Ritual combat for one's mate is somewhat less direct, but is much-romanticized in many cultures. Certainly, a man would have to love a woman quite a lot to be willing to fight for her, possibly to the death.
      • The intensive meditation, which did not prove effective for Vorik, probably focuses on one's intense love for an absent mate. As Vorik acknowledged, his betrothed had probably already given him up for lost. Tuvok, on the other hand, knew his wife was waiting for him at home, and he had the hologram to help remind him of that further. She presumably had some similar thoughts of him to comfort her through her own intensive meditation, knowing he was alive and on his way home.


Anti-Vulcan Discrimination?

  • I know it was the 60's and all, but every time I watch TOS, I am stunned by the casual bigotry that the human members of the Enterprise crew display towards Spock. The backhanded comments about his Vulcan background and culture are not only constant (I'm looking at you McCoy), but completely unremarked upon by Kirk, not only the authority figure, but Spock's supposed BFF. I mean seriously WTF? And, if you want to chalk that up to Values Dissonance, fine, but how about the way the Enterprise crew behaves towards T'Pol? Yes, the Vulcan GOVERNMENT has been a bit patronising towards humanity (for good reason from what I can tell by watching the series), but T'Pol never did anything to them. Why is it okay for the crewmembers to have an open dislike towards her just because she's Vulcan? Isn't this the humanity of the 22nd century that's evolved past all that? That wouldn't be cool in our backwards 21st century culture.
    • When it comes to McCoy comments, that's just the way that the Spock-McCoy friendship expresses itself. In various episodes, McCoy shows that he truly DOES care about Spock, but to an outsider, their way of interaction implies that they don't like one another. As for T'Pol, the Enterprise crew was meant to be a more 'they're like us' crew than the crews we'd seen before. T'Pol is basically the designated target for the crew, being a Vulcan, who are the ones responsible for 'holding humanity back,' on a ship full of humans. The fact that it's not right is the whole point - it's human behavior that we DO engage in, even today, even when we know it's wrong to do so.
      • Yeah, but if I had an ongoing relationship with a co-worker which invovled me refering to them using racial abuse and slang all the time, I don't think I'd get very far with the HR dept by saying 'thats just how we express ourselves, we're friends really'.
      • Kirk was the captain, and he was close friends with both Spock and Bones. If the captain says it's okay, then it's okay. In order for it to become an issue, someone would have to care. There seem to be no other Vulcans on the Enterprise, so they're not around to object, and maybe the humans just don't care, or don't think it's their place to say anything.
        • Dr. McCoy is a ship's department head. In the chain of command there's only two guys who outrank him -- and one of them is the guy he's insulting and the other one is Kirk. If neither of those two guys cares, then nobody else onboard is going to butt in.
      • Large organisations like the military or big companies just don't work like that, not even today never mind in our enlightened tolerant future. Try going to a modern warship and have the chief medical officer routinely call the single black officer on the ship, who happens to be the first officer, a 'Black skinned, inhuman freak, etc, etc' as a term of 'endearment' and see how long it lasts, irrespective of whether he's offended by it or the Captain says 'its ok'. Firstly no Captain would say that and if they did they would probably end up in an enquiry as well.
        • Fridge Brilliance: In most military units, the guy in day-to-day charge of administrative discipline (that is, actually doing the paperwork on disciplinary offenses) is the executive officer. The reason McCoy's behavior towards Spock is not being written up is because its Spock's job to do the writing up, and he doesn't care.
      • That's not really a fair comparison. For one thing, Spock is inhuman. For another, there's hundreds and hundreds of years of black-white relations to be considered in the real world, whereas Vulcans and humans have been living side by side peacefully for centuries (at least until Enterprise fucked it up, but that doesn't count). And Vulcans in general aren't even capable of being offended, or at least strive not to be.
        • Spock is, in fact, half human. Much of McCoy's disagreement with Spock stems from Spock's rejection of his own humanity. On the occasions when he meets full-blooded Vulcans, McCoy is properly respectful and polite. For that matter, Spock pulls no punches when it comes to criticizing his human crewmates for their humanity.
          • You raise an excellent point. McCoy doesn't have any visible problems with other Vulcans. He doesn't even have any problems with humans who choose to immerse themselves in Vulcan culture -- he's always been a perfect gentleman with Amanda, for example. McCoy's problem is with Spock, as an individual, because Spock is trying to force himself to be something that he's actually not, and Bones is the reigning champion of calling a spade a fucking shovel. Whenever Spock actually accepts himself as he is (that is, a child of two worlds rather than just one) instead of what he wishes to be, McCoy's a lot friendlier to him.
    • You should try watching Enterprise, Trip and Archer engage in a four year long game of "who hates Vulcans the most?" with occasional
    • As for your question about T'Pol, Archer and Tucker may have been dicks to her (no one else seemed to have that much of a problem with her being Vulcan) but she was pretty racist herself. Criticizing our omnivorous diet because it goes against Vulcan morality (suddenly they're all vegetarians, a fact which Spock and Tuvok and Saavik and all the others never mentioned) in the same scene where she chides Archer and Tucker to stop applying their morality to alien species. All that stuff about the smell. Pissing on Hoshi, who never did anything anti-Vulcan to her, unlike Archer and Tucker, and generally being obnoxious all around.
      • A minor nitpick here, but Vulcans have been vegetarians since at least the animated series. It is a plot point in "The Slaver Weapon".
        • Even earlier, in "All Our Yesterdays," it is a plot point that Spock eats meat in the past due: "I have eaten animal flesh and I’ve enjoyed it."
  • As Uhura nicely noted: "In our century, we've learned not to fear words."
  • What gets me is how the people who complain about "casual anti-Vulcan bigotry" never seem as outraged about the identical anti-human comments most of the Vulcans make, condescending about emotions and illogical behavior and so on. Spock made as many disparaging anti-human remarks as McCoy ever made disparaging anti-Vulcan remarks, and usually didn't restrain it to "friendly" arguments and banter.

Spock's Got the Timey Wimey Ball

  • In a late season 3 episode when Kirk, Bones and Spock get sent to a planet's past, we learn that everyone wasn't modified (or something) before they were sent through the time travel thing. So if that's the case why did Spock start acting like an emotional Vulcan?
    • There was some Hand Wave about temporal potential energy or something, wasn't there? I'm guessing the modifications were to prevent changes like that.
    • Each Vulcan has a faint telepathic connection to all other Vulcans, no matter how distant. When Spock was sent to the 'distant' past, he was connecting with the primitive Vulcans (before they learned to control their emotions) and in response started becoming more primitive himself.


Edith Keeler Banned from the Future?

  • City on the Edge of Forever: in the simplified manner in which time travel and its consequences via the Guardian was presented to the viewers, it should have at least entered Kirk's or Spock's mind some time in the weeks they were there that perhaps they could have taken her with them instead of letting her die. Maybe the Guardian would have been a Jerkass and disallowed it, or maybe it could have been a timeline-altering move, but what Bugs Me is that (unless I missed it) the possibility wasn't addressed, even though Kirk would ostensibly have been trying to think of some way to avert the tragedy. A perfectly good Tear Jerker ruined by my ability to over-think. Hrmph.
    • We don't see the method by which they get back. One moment they're weeping on the street, the next they're just coming back to the Guardian's planet side of the Guardian. It probably only opened a portal when there was no possibility of the timeline being skewed again.
    • Likewise, the future had already been changed before they left, so, due to the way the Guardian's portal works, they probably couldn't return to their own future until after Edith had died. They had to restore the past to make the portal lead back to the Enterprise.
    • The impression I got was that they never had the chance to really plan. She's killed only seconds after they reunite with McCoy, before they have a chance to do anything.

Balok's Puppet... Brr...

  • Why did they need to have that Nightmare Fuel still image of Balok's puppet in the end credits of the original series?
    • You have a show about fighting space aliens. Your end credits show exciting stills from previous episodes. Puppet!Balok is the most alien, most threatening-looking creature your show has put on air. That's why.
    • Producer Robert Justman was known for being a jokester; the credit accompanying the image of Balok is that of Desilu executive Herb Solow. It was probably funnier at the time.


Why Don't Ya Just Beam Him?

  • When site to site, or point to point transports have been demonstrated in multiple series, why have we never seen the following scenario:

Hostile Boarding Party Member appears on Federation vessel. Random Federation Crewmember: "Computer, execute Defense Protocol Epsilon 7 Alpha." Hostile Boarding Party Member reappears in space. Or, Weapon appears in every Federation Crewmember's hand. Or, Federation Crewmember disappears to safety. Or, Hostile Boarding Party Member's heart appears a meter to the left of Hostile Boarding Party Member. In short, why do they not have set protocols to arm and distribute the crew strategically via the transporter?

    • Site-to-site transporting is extremely power-intensive. Not to mention that the targeted crewman would have to be standing perfectly still or else the phaser would end up transported into their body by mistake.
      • The transporter-to-the-brig idea above is much more convenient, especially if you custom make the brig to have a transporter pad built in. Then it becomes point-to-pad, not point-to-point. Confiscating prisoner weapons? It's canon that a transporter can be preset to selectively choose what to transport, so that's no issue. (one running gag in any Academy-Days storyline is cadets infiltrating the transporter room immediately before its use by an intended victim, and setting it to not transport anything matching the molecular structure of nylon, rayon, or other common synthetic fibers found in cadet uniforms. Cue the victim appearing at his destination in falling-apart rags if not outright naked.). You can make that "transporter-to-the-escape-pod" if you prefer to run away from a fight.
        • You still need to be still for a few moments, and it's not as easy to lock on to someone that's not wearing one of your own communicators. (As seen in "Rascals" when they stick Starfleet comm badges on the Ferengi boarders to do exactly what you're saying.) Plus any boarders that are prepared to be boarders probably have something on them to make getting a transporter lock more difficult. To make your idea work you'd probably have to shoot the boarder with one of the transponder tags they use in "Insurrection", and at that point if you're shooting them may as well shoot them with a stun beam.

I Want to Be a Federation Janitor When I Grow Up!

  • Okay fine: the Federation doesn't use money. Are you telling me that jobs like sanitation worker, janitor, pest control and other unglamourous non-military jobs are either done by volunteers or are completely automated? Targ droppings!
    • Why shouldn't they be completely automated? They have teleporters that can move anything halfway around the planet in the blink of an eye, and machines that can manufacture everything from food to electronics out of thin air. And antimatter-based power sources. They can pretty much do anything. Sanitation for an entire continent could be five technicians sitting in a room with a big computer panel somewhere, programming a transporter network to beam the contents of every trash can in every driveway into a giant direct-matter-to-energy incinerator each evening. And they'd have plenty of time left afterwards to go off to the opera and pursue other wholesome and personal-growth-supporting activities... or to go make out with holographic hotties. :P In addition, they don't necessarily have no money. Credits are occasionally mentioned, in some cases credits for specific things (transporter credits you have to spend to teleport yourself around Earth, for example). I think the main point is that Earth culture is no longer founded on greed or the pursuit of wealth for its own sake; doing certain unpopular jobs might still get you more transporter/replicator/whatever credits to provide incentive, it's just that people don't take up jobs just to be rich, and everyone is provided with everything they need to lead a happy life, so work is done mostly because you want to do it, not because you have to.
      • Why wouldn't they be? Because they're not on starships, where such a thing would be an advantage. And even if they weren't, you're telling me that no one ever has to go fish Sewerbot #242 out of Junction 1234X because it's jammed or some stupid kids have covered a statue of Admiral Archer in Ferengi graffiti? Even if they have machines for that sort of thing, no one 's running them? Even by remote control? No sale, sir!
      • No matter how shitty a job is you can always find someone who honest-to-god-actually enjoys doing it. It's like Rule 34 of employment. Plus jobs aren't just about money, there is a social element to them as well. People enjoy getting out of the house, doing stuff, mixing with others, and feeling useful in society at large. I bet there is an employment ladder thing there too, y'wanna do #cleannicejob, well there is four hundred people wanting that, so we'll only give it to you if you've done #dirtynastyjob first.
        • You can find these people, that doesn't mean you can find enough of those people. Maybe you can find a dozen people who honestly enjoy cleaning out the future equivalent of a septic tank, but are they then going to clean out the septic tanks of the entire world?
          • Additionally, even if you find someone who enjoys doing X that doesn't necessarily mean they enjoy doing X on your schedule. If a person does something purely for enjoyment then, sorta by definition, they are doing it only when they feel like it and leaving it sit by the wayside whenever they don't feel like it. If you need job X done for circa 40 hours a week, with neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night deterring the person doing it from their appointed rounds, then some kind of employer-employee relationship above the level of a hobby is going to need to be involved. Which implies somebody is gettin' paid in something.
      • In one episode, it is mentioned that the Enterprise-D has some ability to clean itself (specifically, someone gets told that they don't have to clean up something, the ship will do that for them). And running the machines, well, that changes the nature of the job.
    • I got the impression that officers were paid, but, as Picard said, "The acquisition of wealth is no longer our primary goal." So they get paid, but the majority of people don't care about the amount, just that they're contributing to society.
      • Alternatively, Picard and other Starfleet personnel are trumpeting the official Federation line, but many individual Federation citizens do care about money.
      • You can care about contributing to society all you want, but when your job is as a food service employee and your only reward for a long day of work is sore feet, a sore back, and a fuzzy feeling of vaguely contributing to the social contract? Yeah, not gonna last, eventually those aches are going to overcome the fuzzy feeling and people don't feel like getting out of bed and coming to work when they're scheduled. Paying someone isn't just about material wealth, it's about creating a concrete obligation between individuals and giving a more concrete reward than just "Well somebody needs to do it, I guess somebody is me". The idea of the exceptional getting to go out into space and own businesses and develop technology while the less gifted should feel rewarded for serving their betters is pretty ugly, really.
    • Adding a strange twist to it all is that, in "In the Cards," Jake Sisko explicitly states that humans don't have money -- not the Federation, per se. So maybe humans just refrain from making money. So... Starfleet pays Dax but doesn't pay O'Brien or Sisko?
      • It could be a planetary government thing, with each member of the Federation having its own economic system (in fact, it'd almost have to be that way, unless abandoning money is a requirement for joining the Federation, which doesn't seem to be the case). Earth government doesn't use money, but let's say the Trill government does, in which case each one handles its own reimbursement for citizens serving in Starfleet; Earth would cover the moneyless O'Brien and Sisko's expenses with "Federation credits," as Quark called them, while Dax would just get a paycheck from the Trill government.
      • Jake could also theoretically mean that they don't have physical money, or a banking system, or concepts of going into debt, or whatever, but they do have some form of currency, like using Federation credits or energy rations or something that limit your use of energy-intensive technology like replicators, holodecks, and transporters for personal reasons.

Antimatter Matters

  • We've seen how powerful anti-matter is in the Trekkiverse? Why is that no one seems to have weaponized the stuff? Even in a "we used to do that, but the stuff is way too dangerous" manner?
    • Photon torpedoes use antimatter warheads. There's been other references too, like the Vulcan civil wars being fought with antimatter bombs, and the Enterprise-D using an antimatter spread to attack a Borg cube. And the planet killer used an antiproton beam to slice through planets.
    • Kirk did weaponize antimatter. And doing so almost killed him.

Those Ships Need Seat Belts!

  • Why are there no seat belts on the Bridge? They get knocked around often enough that you'd think some sort of restraining device would be only logical.
    • This is addressed in a deleted scene/alternate ending to Nemesis where Picard is shown some new features they've installed on the bridge, including a seat belt. Picard's response is along the lines of, "It's about time!"
    • Ongoing fan theory is that due to all the potential factors that might come up in such a situation, like needing to take over someone else's station, quickly get up and leave, or access an area for repairs, that someone decided mobility was a bigger benefit to survivability of crisis situations than restraints were. Besides, if people are actually getting thrown around hard enough to be injured, that means the inertial dampeners have failed, which is a serious bit of damage... at that sort of speed then you might wind up with whiplash or something if you were restrained, as opposed to just getting up and sitting back down.

Unbeatable Cloaking Devices?

  • Why is it that, 28 years after the Romulan Cloaking Device was discovered and reported by James Kirk, Starfleet still didn't have any countermeasures? During "Undiscovered Country," Spock and McCoy should not have had to jury-rig a torpedo to track the Klingon ship. Such devices should be standard. I know "Rule of Drama" and and what have you, but come on: Starfleet is responsible for protecting the Federation. One of its main enemies has a device that makes its ships invisible to the naked eye. They pass that device to Starfleet's other main enemy. And yet, Starfleet does nothing about it. Starfleet should have had countermeasures in place within a couple of years.
    • 1)To paraphrase Reed Richards: What makes you think they haven't tried and just couldn't?
      2) I imagine it's pretty hard to counter technology when agreed not to pursue your own version. It's like agreeing not to pursue radar technology and trying to perfect jamming and stealth tech.
      • They wouldn't even need to counter the technology. A cloaked starship may be essentially invisible, but it is still there. It still has mass, and it still moves through space. It still gives off exhaust emissions of some sort as it moves. It is still generating all sorts of energy. It might even have a magnetic signature. There are all sorts of ways they could hit it without having to take a wild ass guess, or having to Jury-rig a torpedo at the last minute. I know this way is more dramatic, but it just seems to me that Starfleet dropped the ball. It's just not well-thought out, in my view.
    • I recall reading in one of the books that the treaty between the Federation and the Romulans forbade the Federation from building their own cloaking devices.
      • I believe the episode with Riker's old ship, which hides by phasing inside of stuff...with predictable results.... mentions that ALL cloaking technology for the Feddies is disallowed by treaty; the Klingons, not being bound by that treaty, have their cloaks. The treaty was a pretty big plot-point in Deep Space 9, with the Defiant. (I think that's generic enough to not be a spoiler.)
    • Also, maybe they did, and in response the Klingons & Romulans improved their cloaking technology.
    • This non-canon website suggests that the additional mass of the Enterprise-B's engineering section houses a more powerful sensor array and targeting system designed to counter the type of Klingon bird-of-prey that so ravaged the Enterprise-A. Firing while cloaked was no longer a viable strategy. As for countering cloaking technology in general, one would assume that just like anything else there's escalation: they make stronger weapons so we make stronger shields, we make better sensors so they make better cloaks. And while the first cloaking devices might have just been invisible on the EM spectrum, later models hide pretty much all traces of a ship. Plus, stealth planes now still have mass, heat, velocity, magnetic signatures and still have SOME radar reflection but unless you're close enough to touch the plane, you're pretty much looking for a honeybee a mile in the air going 500MPH. Star Trek cloaks are never wholly foolproof but they usually require you to be pretty close to detect them, like in The Undiscovered Country where Chang's ship is so close to the Enterprise that Spock thinks its radiation signature is coming from their own ship.
    • By the time of DS9 they're good enough at detecting cloaked ships to at least say "We're pretty sure there's a cloaked ship in the area." The cloak at that point is more about blurring the details (what kind of ship it is and its exact position) and hiding from people that aren't specifically looking for you or expecting you.

Lily-White Starfleet?

  • The biggest question of them all: where are all the ethnicities? This becomes a major head against wall moment for this troper, because the timeline of the Star Trek universes includes several major wars, including a nuclear World War III that supposedly killed 600 million people. It would be fair to assume that most of these casualties occured in the world's most powerful nations, namely, the United States, Europe, Russia, and China. So why do white people still make up 90% of Starfleet? The world population has always been overwhelmingly non-white, so any world government/military would reflect that one-fifth of the the world population is Chinese, one-fifth Indian, one-fifth African, and two-fifths various other ethnicities. Starfleet also seems to prefer rather Anglo names for its ships. Star Trek in all its incarnations has been noted for being progressive for showing different ethnicities, and has gotten better at doing so over time, but it always bugs this troper how it appears all non-white populations are minorities in the future.
    • Because the Americas won the third world war or at least survived it best. India, the middle east, and Asia got nuked to hell and back, Khan was in India, suggesting the wars were against him. At least that's Fanon attempts to explain it, and why all non whites tend to be Americans still. Some suggestions of discrimination in Starfleet as well as the preferred cadets are all from the Western Hemisphere. Only three major human crew members are suggested from being from Earth and not from the Americas: Picard, Uhrua and Malcolm. Possibly, some Fanon has held, parts of Asia and so forth are still more or less uninhabitable. (Chekov is Russian, and Worf is a non-human Russian.)
        • Most humans should be African, then. If Asia got wiped out, that would make Africa the most populous continent. Discrimination in Starfleet, you say?
        • Geordi LaForge is an African, not an African-American. Miles O'Brien is Irish, and Dr. Bashir is most likely of Middle Eastern descent. Presumably a fair amount of the humans aren't Americans but just sound like they have American (or English) accents due to the Universal Translator.
        • Uhura is also African.
      • If I were required to make a canon explanation, I'd have a bio-engineered plague that responded poorly to cold-- probably have it originate in Russia-- as part of the response to the wars that gave us Khan. That would explain the lack of Africa, South America, Australia, etc-- if you also assume that the Universal Translators remove accents and the only reason Picard, Scotty, O'Brien, Bashir and such have accents (while Keiko, who's Japanese, doesn't) is because they're speaking Federation standard. Most of the rest of the world being royally screwed would also explain why so much happens in San Fran. (Would you base your Space Fleet there? It's crowded as heck NOW!)
    • Another demographic oddity: Japanese are hugely overrepresented in Starfleet compared to Chinese. On Earth today, there are 10 times as many Chinese as Japanese, yet virtually every major Asian character in Trek is Japanese: Sulu in TOS, Keiko in TNG and Deep Space Nine, and Hoshi in ENT. The only exception, Harry Kim in VOY, is Korean. I don't recall seeing a single character in any Trek series with a Chinese surname, except for some Academy instructor in an early season ep of TNG.
      • It possibly has to do with China being decimated by World War III. Maybe the population loss was so much that they really are proportionally represented in Starfleet? Or Japan imposed their culture on China during WWIII, liked they tried to do in WWII, so some people of Chinese descent ended up with Japanese names?
        • Along those same lines, it's also noteworthy that the eastern half of the United States is almost never mentioned in Trek, and cities like New York and Washington DC don't seem to exist. Characters from North America usually hail from the rural midwest or the west coast, and the Earth government's based in San Francisco. It may be that the nuclear war was fought between China and the U.S., and both mainland China and the eastern U.S. were hit so hard that their populations fell permenantly behind everyone else.
      • There are Klingons with Chinese surnames for names, though! Maybe lots of them emigrated to the Empire?
    • Given that regions such as China and India are so densely populated, it could be that those ethnic groups were among the first populations to migrate en masse to colony worlds. Their colonies would therefore be the longest-established human settlements outside our solar system, which would make them the best-defended and most-civilized ... hence, the least likely planets to require a visit from an exploratory vessel like the Enterprise. They do exist, we just don't see episodes about them.
  • It should be noted that as a television series, the casting of all the Star Trek series is dependent on the average population makeup of the city in which it's produced, so what appears on screen is not indicative of the population of Earth, but the population of LA-based Paramount Studio's casting calls. So for all we know the crew of the Enterprise should be more, er... brown than normally shown, but when you make a casting call for extras and only Caucasians show up, are you really going to hold up production until you've found more extras of the appropriate ethnic makeup?
    • Err... is there any actual evidence that "only Caucasians showed up" to casting calls for extras? May have been truer in the 1960s, but from the '80s onward?
      • Also, the names of ships and planets in Star Trek are still Anglo- and Euro-centric, which has nothing to do with filming location.
      • It's a show made by Americans for an American audience. Ships have Anglo- and Euro-centric names because the core audience for the show at the time of it's production did... In America.
    • As SF Debris pointed out in his review of TNG's "Code of Honor", it is entirely possible to cast an entire planet filled with black people, so they certainly could be more ethnically diverse if they wanted to.
      • It's interesting that your and OP's definitions of diversity seem to be less "showing a variety of different ethnicities" and more "having fewer white people". Comes off sort of racist if you think about it.
        • When the issue is that there there is a larger proportion of white people in the cast than there is in the population at large, the only ways to remedy the issue are to increase the main cast or to have fewer white people. And the cast was pretty big already.

Spock's Fabulous Makeup

  • I just wanna know why Spock cakes his eyeshadow on like that. Oh, honey, you'd better be grateful you've almost got the bone structure to work that. Seriously, is that supposed to be natural, or do Vulcans consider thick eyeshadow to be a unisex sort of thing? And if it's natural, why isn't it green?
    • Because Spock is half-human, duh, which probably screws up his pigmentation.
    • Seriously? Because they put make-up on him to try and indicate that he was brown-with-green-underneath rather than brown-with-pink-in-some-places. Troubles with the day-to-day make-up jobs were a large part of the reason why there weren't more alien-looking aliens on TOS. Unfortunately, it just came off like he was trying to be illogically Fabulous.


Thanks for the Memories, Uhura

  • In "The Changeling" Uhura has her entire memory erased by the space probe Nomad. She is then simply re-educated and this event is never referenced again. What about her family? What about her life? She's just lost everything she ever was and they just re-instruct her on her abc's and send her back to work? Not even a letter home to her parents to let them know that their daughter is effectively dead?
    • Eh, she's a woman. As long as she keeps her baby-making equipment, nothing of value was lost.
    • She might have just been hit with aphasia rather than amnesia (which would kinda make sense: Nomad was probably lots more interested in deep-scanning her technical skills than her personal experiences). So Uhura might've had all her memories intact, but she had to be retaught how to speak, read, write and so on so that she could express them again. She seemed exactly like her old self in later episodes and the movies, so however they did it, they did completely restore her.
    • The earlier draft of the script specified this.
    • Notice how quickly she was reeducated. She was all better by the next episode, as I recall. Pretty good, considering she was starting from scratch (ie, kindergarten) and it presumably took about twenty years for her to acquire her education the first time.
    • It's TOS. Consistency and depth of thought with plotting were not strong suits. For all we know the writers of that episode decided that all members of Starfleet upload their brains onto tape each night in the box beds they sleep in (it gets hot sometimes, in the box Starfleet built) and that this was totally obvious technology for the future to have and they didn't even need to mention it.

Always Keep a Spare Bridge Crew in the Trunk

  • Whenever the bridge crew assembles an away team, we see some of the main characters leave their stations while others walk in from the off and man the vacated stations. Are there special 'secondary crew lounges' right next to the bridge where the replacements sit, twiddling their thumbs, until a senior officer goes on an away mission?
    • Kind of like an On Call area, probably.
    • Possibly those stations just aren't ever supposed to be left unmanned unless there's no alternative, so the nearest qualified person takes them until the 'official' replacement shows up.
      • Yeah, I'd guess there are some stations more vital than others and the bridge crew has some cross-training on them, so if one's vacated they can just switch what they're doing to "autopilot" and run over to the other one.
    • Various novels and supplementary materials specifically mention such lounges on some ships.

Holographic Doctors Ain't Got No Soul?

  • Starting with the EMH on Voyager, and continuing with Vic Fontaine on Deep Space Nine (or maybe it's the other way around, I don't remember), we see that self-aware holograms are starting to become, if not commonplace, then at least not totally unheard of. This raises a huge issue: Doesn't the creation of self-aware computer programs to do your bidding more or less amount to slavery? Think about it. The EMH and Vic are both fully aware that they're holograms, yet neither (at least initially) is allowed to do anything except perform whatever function they were designed to do. Only the Doctor seems to see a problem with this; he complains all the time that crew members talk right past him as if he's not there, forget to turn him off before leaving sick bay, and any number of other indignities. Did nobody think about this when the idea of giving holograms consciousness was first floated? More to the point, what happened to the much-touted evolved sensibilities that the Federation is supposed to embody? Data was specifically stated to be a conscious, free being despite being artificially created rather than born; why doesn't anyone extend the same courtesy to holograms until they're beat over the head with it? Hell, the EMH program was even repurposed to produce menial laborers; if that doesn't scream Unfortunate Implications, I don't know what does.
    • Bear in mind that no EMH was ever supposed to be self-aware, the Doctor becoming so was an accident, and as the crew come to understand that he has become self-aware, they start to allow him time off, to upgrade his program with other abilities, and so on. The end of "Author, Author" is problematic, though, because it implies that all the menial labour holograms have become something close to people, which would make it slavery, and it doesn't make sense anyway: the Doctor becoming sapient was a result of a combination of the crew overcomplicating his program by trying to get him to do much more than he was supposed to be able to, and the fact that he was left on for far too long. The menial labour holograms, by contrast, were presumably reprogrammed for a very simple task, and not left on for extended periods of time. They shouldn't really have gained sapience.
      • Nope. The Doctor knew from the beginning that he was a hologram, and it was in the very first season that he started complaining about being mistreated by the crew. So the original point still stands. Plus, you still haven't addressed the problem of Vic Fontaine, who also knew he was a hologram; he just didn't complain about it because the crew treated him relatively well. The closest he came was when Nog was using the Holosuite as his rehabilitation facility, and Vic complained that he wasn't used to being on 24/7 (or whatever the hell clock they used on Deep Space Nine), and even then he didn't seem to hold it against Nog.
        • We're getting into P-zombie issues at this point, though. The Doctor said he was a hologram and complained about the crew, but a computer could be programmed to say "I'm a computer, and you guys suck" without being sentient. It's later revealed that the Doctor's program was mimicking his creator Dr. Zimmerman at first, and only later started branching off into things Zimmerman wouldn't have approved of, like raising a family and singing opera. So even though a hologram's saying things that make him sound sentient, that could just be a very advanced but still mindless AI running a "what would this character do" simulation. Though now we're getting into solipsism and the question of how to prove that anyone's really sentient at all, which is the kind of philosophical nightmares the Federation's probably trying not to get legally sucked into (which is likely why the court in "Author Author" ruled that the Doctor can be an author while specifying that the ruling does not necessarily mean he's sentient). On the other hand, they'll have to deal with it sooner or later...
      • What bugs me is the idea of sentient holograms in general, going all the way back to Moriarty. It's not that these weren't great characters and some great stories, but it just raises too many issues. First of all, there's Data. Data is made out to be this very unique, highly sophisticated android, the product of one man's entire life's work; a truly sentient form of artificial life. Data is something so special that top researchers can't duplicate him. But then the holodeck accidentally succeeds in creating an artificial life form more sophisticaded than Data, with a full range of emotion and personality, who then goes on to create another program like himself. This very idea completely undermines Data's uniqueness. Secondly, consider that the holodeck is a part of the ship's computer, and all holodeck programs are stored there. So now we're suggesting that the Enterprise itself is capable of creating multiple living entities by itself, within itself. Doesn't it stand to reason that the Enterprise itself is capable of sentience? And thirdly, this bugs me because by the time we get to Author, Author (if you even count Voyager, which you shouldn't) we're now dealing with the issue of Hologram rights. This was just one of those things that I think got out of hand in Star Trek. Suddenly there's an entire race of accidentally created lifeforms. It just stretches my suspension of disbelief too far. One of the fundamental problems with Star Trek is that if you consider every episode, there's always some idea or piece of technology lying around that the characters never consider, like the way the transporter could essentially solve every single problem if you really think about it.
        • It's arguable that Moriarty was never fully sentient, but rather the computer using a more complex set of interaction protocols to make him appear to be. The show has shown other holograms that are aware they're holograms and interact with their users on that basis, but they're never implied to be sentient even in a vague way. The problem with all of Moriarty's actions is that they can be traced back to the command "Give Data a real challenge"... the computer having him attempt to seize control of the ship and escape could easily be tracked back to that. He'd have to be able to express some desire or action that was completely and utterly unconnected to that command to prove he was sentient. The holodoc is more easily proven sentient because things like having a holographic family, singing, and wanting to have command protocols implemented have nothing to do with his original reason for existing, which is to provide basic medical care.

The Motion Picture Has No Fashion Sense

  • What in the bleeding hell are those black things on the crewmembers' tunics supposed to be in ST:TMP? I've never even seen any behind-the-scenes info on what function they're supposed to serve, and they look like they'd be hideously uncomfortable.
    • The belt buckles? They're supposed to be "Perscan" medical monitoring devices. But you're right about the uniforms being uncomfortable, George Takei stated that because of the way it was designed it required assistance to be removed even for minor things such as using the restroom. The redesigned uniform featured in the rest of the films with the original series cast was brought about because of the cast's reluctance to film any further films with this version of the uniform.


The Future's Into Retro?

  • Other than a few isolated examples, why does pop culture in the Trek universe seem to have completely stopped after the Sixties? Tom Paris is the self-proclaimed expert on the 20th century, yet we get the impression that if someone were to ask his opinion of Pearl Jam (which existed and was quite popular when the show was created), he'd have no idea what they were talking about. As far as literature goes, it's even worse; we almost never see anyone reading anything written after about 100 years ago (from the viewer's perspective). In three or four centuries, not one writer's managed to produce a novel that's considered a classic? That would be like us in the 21st century disregarding everything written after early 1700's.
    • Things went down hill so bad that we had literal warlords with control over most of the earth by the early 90s. By 2024, folks have been caged up long enough to trigger the Bell Riots. The music never was created, and the things that may have become classic were overpowered by the influx of alien lit. Or the writers just aren't that creative.
      • I'm gonna have to go with option 2. If indeed everything after our (the viewers') present got destroyed in the turmoil of the early 21st century, then how did anything before our present survive? And if indeed "alien lit" supplanted everything, then why are people still so in love withg Charles Dickens?
    • There's enough novels from the many printings over the years that some survived the destruction so they were reproduced.
    • Thanks to expanded Copyright law, overly-aggressive DRM and inadvertent EMP blasts in the Eugenics Wars, all post-1920's pop culture, music, film, and literature are locked behind an inoperative region coded Content Scrambling System.
      • Of course, one of the real-world explanations is that because of copyright law, they often had to use public domain stuff in the first place when they didn't make things up. In addition, the reason that the only "old" music used was classical and jazz because because the creators considered it universal where as rock music would make the show dated.


Supersize Those Starships

  • I'll be the first to admit that the starships in Star Trek look awesome, but is there any logistical reason why they have to be so huge? What are all those personnel for, anyway?
    • Not an exhaustive answer but, after the prequel Enterprise and before the Defiant, Starfleet had this strange policy of never building any true warship. Insteed, every starship is designed as some kind of flying city, with an emphasis on scientific research.
    • In TOS, various claims are made that the facilities on board the Enterprise alone pretty much match anything available at a starbase, that the ship can wipe out an entire planet easily, and that the dilithium crystals were virtually inexhaustible as long as you weren't stressing the ship. Really, the ship often does provide a technological solution to Kirk's risky god-defeating habit; it was supposed to be the limitless pinnacle of imaginable human accomplishment. Therefore, the large ship makes a bit of sense... a lot of inspiration was taken from WWII-era U.S. naval ships in the design (Jeffries designed the TOS bridge to be kind of spartan) and sheer prodigiousness of the power a "starship" packs. And even though "starships" are supposed to be the biggest and baddest machines available to humans, the complement of the NCC-1701 doesn't come close to its 19th-21st century equivalents. The Enterprise-D does, it should be noted, but still cuts it on the small side compared to, say, a nuclear aircraft carrier (not a fair comparison because the Enterprise is more like a battleship than a carrier, which needs more crew to take care of the planes, but Star Trek IV the Voyage Home did it first so nyeh nyeh).
      You have to bear in mind that a lot of these things were designed with the idea that Space Is an Ocean. For actual warships in real life, there is a lot of redundancy required so that parts of the crew can take shifts (sleep), and so parts of the crew can die in a war situation without leaving the ship helpless in any one of its capacities. And there are also a lot of things that require crew to keep an eye on, too; any given part of a ship might keep one to several people busy non-stop if the ship's operation demands it. Add a command structure on top of that. That's how you get the huge complements on ships with a wide field of capabilities--many of those capabilities will have specialists, and then there's necessary redundancy.


Chekov Hates the Letter V?

  • Kind of a minor question: Why can't Chekov pronounce the letter V? There's three of them in his own name, and he pronounces them just fine when introducing himself. Then he suddenly loses the ability in every other word. Most egregious in the reboot.
    • Reaches wall banger status in a minor way when the computer is unable to understand Chekov giving his authorization code because of the "Wictors"... nevermind that he's using the phonetic alphabet, which is specifically designed so that each letter sounds different regardless of pronunciation or interference.
    • For whatever reason, Walter Koenig had a really odd idea what a Russian accent sounded like. The scene in the reboot is just a Lampshade Hanging / Mythology Gag.
    • To an extent there is a bit of Truth in Television though. Russian does not contain W sound, and Russians who don't bother with right pronounciation would avoid it. But those Russians (this troper included) who did learn this sound tend to forget (at first at least), that the letter V is also exist in English, and they replace all Vs with Ws. This troper used to say "woice" instead of "voice" just because the latter didn't sound English enough for her. Still it is strange in the case of Chekov, who daily deals with native english speakers and most likely would correct his mistake once he heard the right version.
    • Maybe he has a speech impediment?


Scotty's an Old-School Mac Guy?

  • In Star Trek IV, how does Scotty get the computer to work so quickly? It has to be explained to him that it doesn't have a human-language-parsing voice interface like he's used to, but once he's told that the I/O is via keyboard, he not only figures out the interface with no difficulty at all, but manages to construct a 3D graphic on a Mac without touching the mouse.
    • TNG offers a truly shocking blink if you miss explanation as to just how Scotty might have come by those mad keyboard skills. In the Enterprise's computer core, the interface isn't one of the standard 24th century touch screens. It's a CRT monitor and a standard keyboard (although the keyboard looks slightly high tech by today's standards and probably looked more futuristic back when the episode aired in 1989). So, even in the 24th century where every command function on the bridge is controlled by touch panels, at the heart of the computer controlling it all is a terminal that seems to deliberately be intensely old school. I wouldn't be surprised if the damn thing has bios and a command prompt.
      • Which makes sense. The one workstation that has to keep functioning above all else is the base station, because your sysadmin has to be able to access and fix this shit even if everybody else's station is broken. And so it has the most rugged, least fancy, interface that's possible to use and still do the job.

Working Day and Night?

  • Why do Starfleet ships and installations have a day/night cycle? It makes little enough sense on ships, where hostile aliens or spatial anomalies could show up at any time; it makes no sense whatsoever for Deep Space Nine, which is permanently attached to a planet, and therefore in constant contact with local authorities (which don't sleep - planets are round), as well as managing dozens if not hundreds of ships docking and departing all the time. Even worse, in that situation why would Quark of all people ever want to close the bar and turn away paying customers?
    • Because people have a day/night cycle built into their genes and tend to go a little Janeway if the environment doesn't reflect that. All the essential tasks are covered, but non-essential stuff is only run during day-shift (or if there is a crisis).
    • As for Quark, three possible reasons. First is that even in the future a public establishment needs downtime to clear up, run maintenance, etc. There is a lot more to running a bar than just serving booze and a lot of this stuff can't be done unless you clear the customers out. Also remember Deep Space Nine and inhabitants has a day/night cycle so there will be a period where even Morn has gone home and it isn't cost effective to keep paying staff to work when wages would cost more than income. If you run a cost-benefit analysis it works out cheaper to close down for a few hours to do the back of shop properly and let the staff sleep than just try and keep running. Second, Deep Space Nine has to work under Bajoran laws and there is probably a licensing restriction about how long bars can stay open that Odo loves to enforce to the second. Third, even Quark needs to sleep and he isn't willing to trust any of his underlings not to try and screw him on the finances if he leaves them in charge.
    • Besides, he also needs to have it closed some of the time so he'll have a largely private place to conduct shady business deals.

Omnidisciplinary security forces

  • Why do the same people seem to be responsible for internal shipboard security, ground combat, and ship-to-ship combat? Admittedly there's probably a fair bit of overlap between security guards and marines, which explains part of it, but the really glaring issue is the choice to always make the chief of security also the main weapons officer - these roles don't overlap in any way besides letting Worf attempt to shoot more things with different weapons. Really "Starfleet security" ought to be at least three separate corps (as using unarmoured security guards as ground troops is also just wanton cruelty to the common redshirt).
    • They've tried to deal with this on a few occasions, like Worf and Tasha Yar's dual roles during the first season of TNG, and then Worf and Odo in Deep Space Nine, and Malcolm Reed and the space marines in Season 3 Enterprise, but it usually results in the characters who are in charge of intraship security and combat stations butting heads. The creators are probably just trying to conserve characters by making one of them "the action guy". It's not realistic, but when they do split the roles up, one character often starts to seem redundant.
    • The concept is really largely covered under the idea that the characters are "department heads". While Worf on the Enterprise was ultimately responsible for all security operations, he probably had people directly under him that were predominantly in charge of setting up internal security sweeps, training people for ground combat, and doing ship-to-ship combat drills. It's just that as the head of security, if something was really important Worf would obviously want to handle it himself, such as going to check out something the Captain told him to, going on an away mission to protect the first officer, or fighting space battles with the entire ship at stake. Presumably if something petty like two ensigns getting in a shoving match in Ten Forward happens, one of Worf's subordinates handles it.

Watch me pull a new race out of my hat

  • Trek has a tendency to pull new "old" species out of its hat... like why didn't we hear of the Cardassians before "The Wounded" if they supposedly fought a war with the Federation? It would be easy to reuse old species, especially since most aliens in Star Trek have only been named and not seen. The writers could have taken the name of a group already mentioned. Just Bugs Me.
    • A lot of these aliens really just weren't that memorable. They would introduce new alien species as needed. Those who really captured the audience's imagination (Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, Bajorans, Founders/Vorta/Jem'Hadar, Borg) got called back for increasingly prominent roles. Those who were all right but uninteresting (Nausicaans, Breen, Vidiians) were used sparingly in supporting roles. Those whom the audience disliked (Kazon) or just didn't get (Suliban) were quietly written out after a few tries at rehabilitating their image (except the Ferengi; they went from an unpopular antagonist to an even more unpopular attempt at comic relief, then finally they let the species's two most respectable specimens, Quark and Nog, do most of the talking, and we stopped minding the others quite so much.) The dozens of one-off aliens were very often quickly realized to be bad ideas. Do you really think "The Wounded," and for that matter all of Deep Space Nine, would have been better if, rather than invent the Cardassians, they had reused those catatonic fish people from "Manhunt"?
    • Some of the one-off aliens were used to tell very good stories, either in bottle episodes (Tamarians in "Darmok," Devore in "Counterpoint") or in metastories, like the Xindi; but were more or less written to be one-trick ponies.
    • My complaint was more about why don't they just reuse a set number of random species names instead of making up fifteen in a single episode, and why don't they also reuse random alien names when they need to introduce a new one-trick pony race. That would be a lot more plausible. After all, after Starbases started getting incredibly high numbers, Gene Roddenberry himself stated they shouldn't go above a certain number.
      • They started doing that in Enterprise, though more with place names than with species. On the rationale that it is possible to have more than one thing happen in the same system or nebula over the centuries, they would retcon unrelated events into the same location. For instance, after Soong steals the augment embryos, he plans to hide out with them in a nebula that was the setting of Insurrection AND whose Klingon name is also the name of some offscreen battle from their history that someone mentioned once. It all felt rather cheap to me, especially given how ENT kept having to deal with accusations of kicking canon to the curb.
    • Sometimes it's justified. Essentially the Cardassians are explained because the war with them happened before TNG started, in essence between shows. We don't hear about them through the initial run of TNG because they've pulled back behind their own borders to lick their wounds, and we don't hear about them in TOS because they hadn't encountered them yet then, they're way out on the "frontier" of ships with a cruising speed of warp seven or eight, let alone the old ones that had, say, a comfortable cruising speed of warp five and could hit seven or eight if they pushed it.

What does the Alpha Quadrant Look like?

  • When the dust had settled, you pretty much had four great powers in the Alpha Quadrant: the Federation, the Klingons, the Romulans, and the Cardassians. Then there are secondary powers like the Ferengi, the Breen, and the Nausicaans, and one-off species like the Tzenkethi and the Son'a; but dealing just with the Core Four, this is complex enough, so let's leave them be.
  • At different points, each of the four powers is referred to as sharing a border with each of the other three. Assuming they all have contiguous territories--which I guess they might not--there are only two possible explanations: There's a point where the borders of all four come together at a ninety-degree angle and they meet in some center, like Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico; or three of them have borders that would come together and meet at a 120-degree angle (like an equilateral triangle divided into thirds) and the fourth one being plunked down in the center of this and extending out from the central point.
  • Actually, the former doesn't work, either: The Federation had a Klingon Neutral Zone and a Romulan Neutral Zone and a Cardassian DMZ. So it had borders with all three extending for a good while. For the Square States model to work, it would only touch one of the three at a geometric point.
  • As for the latter setup--I guess it works, but it's pretty stupid, isn't it?
    • Allow me to introduce you to a concept called "3 Dimensions". Space is not a flat map where 4 regions can only meet at a single corner. Granted, this *is* Star Trek which adores the Space Is an Ocean trope. The boundaries can wander and roam all over the place, and it would be pretty easy for all 4 empires to share stretches of contiguous border.
    • The relevance of the third dimension depends how big the empires are: the Galaxy is much narrower along its "vertical" axis (its thickness is only 1% of its diameter). While this is still an enormous distance, and it's reasonable to expect overlap, we're also dealing with incomprehensibly-huge nations here that may well extend far further than that in the "horizontal" plane. Assuming they each spread evenly from a central point, the borders would reasonably tend to line up when viewed from above.
  • And another thing: Federation space includes a bajillion species, both Fed members and pre-warp civilizations whom they ignore under the Prime Directive but protect from foreign interlopers by maintaining their own territorial integrity. The Romulans have only the Remans. The Cardassians had only the Bajorans until they got thrown out. The Klingons tried to enslave two races in TOS and had one whom they had enslaved in ENT. But for the most part all three species had their space to themselves.
  • Now assuming that the likelihood of a Class-M planet will develop an intelligent race is pretty much the same anywhere (and I can't see any reason it wouldn't be) that means that the Federation is either much larger territorially than the others, or it has a much denser concentration of inhabitable planets, which one assumes mean many more resources to exploit. Either of those factors would give it a huge advantage over the other civilizations, would make the the Alpha Quadrant's dominant superpower. But it deals with each of the other three as equals most of the time.
    • In the first half of TNG I could easily imagine the Federation being run by such shrinking violets that they can be bested by enemies a fraction of their size. Then the Borg came along and gave them a wake-up call. It's kind of like the United States in WWII: In 1940, despite being much larger than Germany, the US army was severely outnumbered, outweighed, and outclassed by its German counterpart, because the Germans were on a war footing and the US wasn't. In 1943, the US war machine was going all-out, and even without the rest of the Allies would have had every advantage over the Germans in a one-on-one fight.
    • Where this breaks down is that the Federation had had a ton of Pearl Harbor moments, starting with Wolf 359, the near-war with Cardassia in "Chain of Command," the war with the Klingons in Season 5 of Deep Space Nine, the Dominion alliance with Cardassia, the second Borg invasion... Eventually, the Federation certainly created the impression that it was going balls-to-the-wall to deal with all these threats. But if it were, and if it's as much a potential powerhouse as you suggested, it couldn't help being as strong in the Alpha Quadrant as the Dominion was in the Gamma -- In which case it would have beaten the Cardassians and the fraction of the Jem'Hadar fleet that got through before the wormhole got cut off like a rented mule, even without the Klingons' help, and would have faced the entire Gamma Quadrant Dominion force on an even footing. Instead, it's barely keeping its head above water with the fraction of the Dominion fleet in the Alpha Quadrant, and at the beginning of the sixth season everyone's puckering their assholes at the thought the rest of the Jem'Hadar will show up and give the Dominion an insurmountable numerical advantage.
    • Remember the Federation supposedly has no military, that most of Starfleet's ships are equipped for research and humanitarian aid and that most of the crew signed up for the engineering or scientific opportunities. Starfleet simply doesn't operate on the level of the Cardassian or Klingon militaries; it seems reasonable that the Federation must be many times larger and more (economically) powerful if it's even able to maintain an equal relationship. Even when they get onto a "war" footing, they're still mostly using obsolete ships (notice the Excelsior-class appears a lot in Deep Space Nine), crewed by personnel with woefully inadequate combat training, as they have no dedicated military academy or warship production facilities. The few instances where a ship or crew is up to scratch militarily (the Defiant, any Galaxy-class with the children offloaded) they're normally portrayed as being able to tear through enemy ships by the dozen, with the exception of the very first battle with the Dominion.
    • While this is pure fanon, it is also possible that the Klingons, Romulans, and Cardassians have enough worlds and subject species under their control to have comparable resources to The Federation, but the fact that they are Empires that conquered these territories instead of democracies that formed alliances with them along with a healthy dose of institutionalized racism means that the races who these Empires are named after are the ruling class and are the only ones to rise to the possitions where The Federation deals with them (i.e.: Government and Military)

Rank Structure

Why do they even bother? I don't mean the insubordination; that's a separate issue. But they have actual procedures specifically devoted to working around rank structure. From "The Doomsday Machine," when Spock cites regulation that allows a captain to countermand a commodore if he uses his "personal authority," to "Harbinger," when Major Hayes said he didn't have a problem taking orders from Reed despite the fact that a major outranks a naval lieutenant--outranks everyone on that ship except Archer and Tucker. And in "Zero Hour" the same major says he wants a corporal to take command of his unit after he's gone. Harry Kim got screwed out of promotions all the time, but was still fifth in command despite being junior to every single Starfleet officer on the ship as well as however many Maquis were either made lieutenants or had previously had Starfleet commissions which predated Kim's own. Department heads with lower ranks than members of their departments. Acting captains and especially acting first officers of lower rank than some of the people under their temporary command. Inconsistent rules over whether a person could be promoted to captain and/or admiral without transfering to the Command department. Inconsistent rules about how the Bridge Officer test was applied. Officers from foreign services (Kira Nerys, T'Pol) pulling rank on Starfleet officers on Starfleet ships (not Deep Space Nine, of course, but the Defiant.) It just . . . grr!

  • Pay grade? As long as you choose to ignore the claims about not having salaries, because they're silly.
  • The "personal authority" thing probably has to do with who is captain of what - the personal authority cited is Kirk's as "Captain of the Enterprise.". Presumably, a captain of a ship has some authority over even higher-ranked visitors, which technically is what Decker was. As for T'Pol, she was an exchange officer. Starfleet might just have given her an acting rank while she served as part of the Enterprise's crew.
  • Considering the importance of the chain of command is highlighted numerous times, and cited by name, it sounds like you're just latching onto a handful of anomalous instances and making an issue out of them.
  • The real-world military has 'procedures to work around rank structure'. Pay grade is actually one of the last things used to determine relative seniority in a situation, with chain of command being the first. The main purpose of rank is to standardize assignments (a person of X rank is normally assigned to jobs of Y seniority whenever possible, and X-1 rank if we're out of X rank, and X-2 rank virtually never, etc., etc.), determine who gets paid how much, and hash out who's in charge in a situation where there isn't a defined chain of command. When there is one, then that's what you follow, even if it means a first lieutenant (who happens to be headquarters company commander) is disregarding the orders of a captain (who happens to be battalion supply officer, and thus, not in his direct chain of command for operational matters).

Vulcans and Romulans

Romulans are the descendants of Vulcans who left Vulcan about 2000 years before Kirk's time and yet they're treated as separate species who are sometimes genetically incompatible with one another. In the past, human populations have been reproductively isolated from one another for 2000 years (mostly) yet we're all the same species and far more genetically compatible with one another than, say, a bonobo. Passionate Vulcans are regarded as an oddity in the Trek universe, but that's basically what Romulans are. Of course, that also suggests that Romulans can mind-meld but just like the "evil" Vulcans of Enterprise they don't pursue this potential. It also serves to cast the Vulcan aversion to emotions in a new light: they believe that allowing themselves to feel emotions will result in their being consumed by them and become violent and destructive (see any episode where a Vulcan loses control) but if Romulans are just passionate Vulcans then they're not so different from humans. Sarek's teachings seem less like the only means his species could survive and more like a flawed, Equilibrium type of dogmatic belief.

  • Vulcans and Romulans can't interbreed? Since when? Since they're genetically close enough to pass all but the most rigorous genetic testing, that makes no sense--especially since we know that both are able to cross-breed with humans and Romulans can cross-breed with Klingons. That would be like telling this white male troper that he can't have a child with a black woman but he can have a child with a turtle. And weren't there Vulcan-Romulan hybrids? Supposedly they were going to work that into T'Pol's backstory in the mythic Enterprise Season 5.
    • I never said they can't interbreed, I said they're sometimes genetically incompatible. I should have been more clear since the specific example I was thinking of was in the TNG episode "The Enemy" where a Romulan needs some sort of transfusion and the only compatible donor is Worf. They even mention that the Vulcans onboard are not suitable donors. So even though they ought to be the same species, a Klingon is the best match. Obviously Romulans and Vulcans can mate, as Saavik and T'Pol are part Romulan, but this seems to follow the more whimsical connection of alien hybrids rather than what we might call "interracial coupling."
      • Blood types and genetic markers. All humans aren't compatible with all humans for transfusions either. Those specific Vulcans weren't compatible with him. It doesn't mean they never are. This does bring up the question of why a Klingon and Romulan would have compatible types and markers, but this is a universe where species who evolved on different planets (and in the case of humans and Vulcans even have completely different processes for circulating oxygen through the blood) can mate, so it's probably not worth thinking about.
  • As for the rest, I always thought perhaps Vulcans weren't able to access their latent telepathic abilities until they'd fully embraced the teachings of Surak. I guess there would be no stopping the Tal Shiar from infiltrating an agent into a monastery to spend years and years learning all the secrets of Vulcan mental discipline until he was able to access those things himself, but there's a high risk that the agent would either be discovered or flip in such a rigorous setting. I guess that part's kind of weak.
  • I always wondered if they go through Pon'Farr, myself.
    • I assumed that Pon Farr was a side-effect of repressing all emotions rather than something that any Vulcan/Romulan went through biologically. How would an overpowering urge to mate only every seven years evolve on a planet as hostile as Vulcan?
  • My WMG: Romulans have no telepathic ability, and were the victims of some kind of race-war with the pre-Surak Vulcans. They ran away and set up an ultra-paranoid state out of fear that the Vulcans would come looking for them. WMG part 2: Vulcans are broadcasting on a "background frequency" all the time (as in Sarek, or another interpretation of Sybok's ability), and the suppression of emotion means they don't incite each other to violence and were able to move on as a society; Romulans don't need to do this.
  • Star Trek Online establishes that when the Romulans left Vulcan, they stopped on one planet for possibly as few as only a couple of generations, and that something happened there. What it is isn't made clear because they're still trying to piece together this bit of lost history, but it's implied that this planet holds a lot of the secrets of why Vulcans and Romulans are so different despite being practically the same species.

Do Not Use Toilet In Spacedock

Fridge Logic time. In Star Trek V, there is a toilet in the brig that warns: "DO NOT USE WHILE IN SPACEDOCK". So... why would there be a problem with this? Maybe it's just sadistic Schmuck Bait for the rulebreakers in the brig? And nobody gives a crap when they need to take a crap, of course. I'm wondering if it's All There in the Manual.

  • I never noticed this. However, this might be a joke. I don't know how it is in other countries, but here in the Netherlands you are prohibited to use the toilet in the train while it is parked at a station. Because of the fact that you are crapping down a tube down straight onto the tracks.
  • Possibly that's when they detach and clean the pipes which would otherwise connect the ship's toilets to a replicator/recycler.
  • Once you get to Spacedock, whoever is in the brig is taken to the Spacedock's brig. There shouldn't be anyone except maintenece in there anyway, so not flushing could mean the difference between sucking Ricky Redshirt out into space.


Single Parents

This doesn't really bug me per se, but it does strike me as odd. Just about every child character who's got a remotely prominent role is being raised by a single parent. The reasons for this vary and are all unrelated, but it does seem an unlikely coincidence, especially since we're given every indication that the nuclear family is still the norm.

To review:

  • David Marcus: Raised only by his mother, who went out of her way to keep him from his father until he was an adult. (Which gives us the Fridge Horror of realizing that while Kirk was warping around the galaxy earning our respect and admiration, he was arguably a deadbeat dad, though it's not exactly like he was receiving and ignoring repeated requests from Carol for child support, or anything.)
    • In point of fact Carol Marcus hadn't even told Kirk she'd had a child by him until David was already grown. Kirk quite understandably felt upset about this and angrily informed Carol that he'd have been delighted to have been a regular part of his son's life if only someone had bothered to tell Kirk that said son existed.
    • Kirk is in Starfleet. As all of us ex-military people know there is only one way to keep Defense Finance from dinging your paycheck for child support whether you want it or not, and that's for nobody to ever tell the military about the kid's existence in the first place. Being a deadbeat dad while on active duty takes either unbelievable negligence on the part of the admin pukes or else a deliberate effort on the mother's part.
  • Wesley Crusher: Raised only by his mother. His father died when he was very young.
  • Alexander: Raised only by his mother at first; she pulled a Carol Marcus on Worf for a few years, then introduced father and son. No sooner had this happened than she died, meaning that the poor kid only had a couple of days of knowing both his parents.
  • Lal: Okay, she was a special case.
  • Jake Sisko: Raised only by his father. His mother died. He was old enough to remember her, but she didn't come anywhere close to seeing him as an adult.
    • Also, he gets the Alexander treatment, in that his dad finally marries Kasidy Yates (making her Jake's stepmother), only to be whisked off to a higher plane of existence a short time later. Given the events in "The Visitor" and the final shot of the series, the future doesn't look too happy for poor Jake Sisko.
      • The future shown in "The Visitor" was an alternate timeline created by the accident. When Ben Sisko returned to his own time, that Jake Sisko's life was overwritten with whatever he would have done without having a father trapped in a temporal bungee cord.
      • True, but Jake at the end of the series was only a few years older than he was in that episode (the beginning part, anyway), and the situation was very similar. The point being that "The Visitor" showed the level of obsession Jake was capable of to bring his father back, and the fact that that future didn't actually happen still doesn't mean that Jake isn't the type of person that'd become obsessed about it again, especially since we've seen it in him already.
        • In "The Visitor," Ben was removed from Jake's life by an accident that Jake hadn't thought to try to reverse until Ben started coming back from the "dead." Yes, he could technically be considered KIA until he returns, but presumably Kasidy will pass the word along to Jake that this is supposed to be a good thing and that he'll be back in due time. Besides, Ben points out that the Prophets could very well deposit him back yesterday. Since they barely have a concept of time, they'd probably let Ben guide them in what time to send him back to, and he'd select the very next day, or next week.
  • Nog: Raised only by his father. No one seemed to notice that his mother was absent. I can only remember one instance of any of the Ferengi characters (or any of the non-Ferengi characters, for that matter) even mentioning her: Rom frets that Leeta will grow tired of him, as Nog's mother had. From that I assumed she'd left Rom for being a loser, which, given how emphatically Ferengi men hold all the cards in their marriages, is really saying something. I suppose that explains why Rom kept Nog, though: Fathers are probably the default custodial parents in cases of divorce.
    • Nog's mother probably got sick of Rom's lack of ability to earn profit, contacted her family, and had them buy out her marriage contract, or something like that. Nog probably stayed with Rom because he counts as an asset of the marriage, and since females are forbidden from possessing profit, she naturally wouldn't have any right to him. (And possibly didn't want him. After all, while we're shown that Ferengi women can be just as smart and calculating as Ferengi men, they're not really shown as any more moral than Ferengi men.)
  • Molly and Kirayoshi O'Brien: As of the end of Deep Space Nine they're being raised in a two-parent household. That makes them unique among the kids, though.
  • Naomi Wildman: Raised only by her mother. Presumably would be in a two-parent household had Samantha Wildman not been on a ship whose three-hour tour turned into a fateful trip.
  • Icheb: Was raised by both his parents, but only if your definition of "raised" is "infected with a cybernetic STD and abandoned at the Borg's doorstep; miraculoulsy survived, returned to them, and then they tried to do it again."
  • New Coke Kirk: Raised by his mother. Father died on the day he was born. The real Kirk was raised by both parents, but we only know this because the real Spock pointed it out by way of contrast with New Coke Kirk.

Also common for adult characters: Of the TNG regular cast members other than Wesley (see above), Worf, Beverly, and Tasha Yar were orphans; Riker and Troi each lost one parent in childhood; and Data was abandoned by his parents when the Crystalline Entity struck. Geordi's parents both survived into his adulthood, though he lost his mother during the show's run; and Picard's parents were both dead before the show started, though we don't know when they died. His father apparently lived long enough to try to talk him out of joining Starfleet. Over on Deep Space Nine, Sisko's mother left him and his father after the Prophets stopped possessing her. Kira's mother faked her death when she became Dukat's concubine, and her father died when she was young though not quite a child anymore. O'Brien and Bashir had both parents still living during their Starfleet careers. Quark's father died when he was and adult, Worf I already mentioned, Jadzia's parents we never heard of, Ezri's family was apparently led by a single mother, Jake I mentioned above, and Odo . . . We don't know how the Founders reproduce, but whoever was responsible for bringing up new Founders decided he'd be fine just floating around on his own. On VGR, Janeway's father died when she was fourteen, Belanna's father walked out on her, and Seven's parents were assimilated when she was little (as was she). On ENT, Archer's father died when he was twelve. T'Pol's father died before the show started, though we don't know how old she was. Everyone else seemed to have a complete set.

On TOS, Kirk and Spock were both raised by both their parents, and I don't think they ever mentioned the parents of the other five. We know McCoy's father died when Bones was a young man. We also know Bones had a daughter, and when we first met New Coke McCoy, he's complaining that he's going through a tough divorce, which means we're probably looking at yet another broken home for his girl.

    • From a writer's point, it creates more drama and opens up more potential storylines (Deceased parent comes back, last parent dies, etc). But logically, you are watching a series about military ships floating around in space and poking their noses in every last nook with a "Oh hello, I see you are being wiped out by an insanely dangerous threat, you want to join our society and we'll save you" theme on going. What do you expect when nearly every action episode contains the line "Casualties being reported from decks X through Y"?

Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Exposure to the vacuum of space will kill you instantly. There are many ways of doing so: asphyxiation, the sudden drop in air pressure forcing everything in your body to push out to reestablish equilibrium, sudden exposure to temperatures of three degrees Kelvin. Hell, we all know that the very, very mild cousins of any of these will be deadly even within the Earth's atmosphere; why else would our airplanes be airtight and include oxygen masks in their emergency equipment?

Yet in Trek vacuum exposure is survivable as long as you're holding onto something that's bolted down. If you're not you'll blow out the airlock and that can kill you, but if you're holding onto something you'll be just dandy. Take the Borg: First Chakotay in "Scorpion" and again Archer in "Regeneration" kill of a whole boatload of them by sealing sections that they're in and popping open the airlock. Dead. But in First Contact they walk around on the outside of the ship without EV suits--and when the redshirt that Picard and Worf take out there with them gets assimilated, he can have the mask of his helmet broken and survive. What sets these Borg apart seems to be that they've magnetized their feet, so they're anchored. Keep in mind that the whole plot of that movie hinged on the fact that destroying the biological component of a drone would leave the technological component unable to function. So the takeaway message is clear: As long as you're anchored, you'll live.

And it happens to our heroes all the time. In TNG's "Disaster," Crusher rattles off a list of negative health effects that vacuum exposure will cause, but none of them include instant death. A few seconds' exposure for Archer in "Augments" takes him out of commission for the rest of the episode, but in other episodes, like "Dramatis Personae" and "Deadlock," everyone's fine as soon as the hatch is sealed. We hear people threatening to beam people into space or throw them out the airlock, but even when we see it, the only thing apparently wrong with them is that they've been blown way out into the cosmos. (And by the way, when you're watching a battle scene, notice that a preferred way of saying "This ship is screwed" is to have some crew members blown out a hull breach.) As long as you're staying physically connected to something that's anchored down in or on the ship, relax! I'm half-surprised they didn't offer balcony seating in Ten Forward.

    • You can actually survive a surprisingly long time in vacuum, with training/preparation. How many examples do we have of people who were exposed more than half a minute without ill effect? It's prettied up somewhat for the story, but the longest outgassing I can think of is in "Disaster," and after they get the air reestablished, the next time we see them is after medical treatment.
    • Exposure to the cold of space is hardly instantly fatal, as there is no convection.
    • This only accounts for the Borg, but: Star Trek has invisible atmospheric force fields as a staple, so if you're not scared of power failure you probably don't need a space suit. The ones on the outside of the hull presumably had something like this built in. No idea why the ones in Regeneration and Scorpion wouldn't have it though. In fact, you'd expect the Borg not to care much about air or pressure either,

but...


Superspeed Evolution

  • The Rigel system is home to several alien species, despite the fact that Rigel itself is a B-type star. Those stars only have a lifespan of less than 400 million years.
    • Are they explicitly indigenous? The Expanded Universe asserts that "Rigelians" are another offshoot of the Vulcans; like the Romulans but less warlike.
      • The canonical basis for the Vulcan/Rigelian link is the reference in "Journey to Babel" that they have similar blood chemistries. It's not clear if that makes them an offshoot like the Romulans or some case of covergent evolution like the Mintakans. But the other 'Rigelians', the ones from "The Cage," seem to be native to Rigel in any event.
    • TNG uses the term "Vulcanoid" like it's one that's not altogether unique. It's possible that beings with copper-based blood develop along similar lines to Vulcan in most evolutionary settings, which would make sense if we assume TNG's explanation for humanoid life, gene-seeding precursors, is still canon.

We Will Not Use Army Tactics In The Future

  • Can somebody explain to me why the Federation (and Dominion for that matter) has forgotten about such things as tanks, IFVs, personal armor, ground attack aircraft, helicopters, artillery, squad automatic weapons, barbed wire, digging trenches, offensive tactics that did not involve imitating Leeroy Jenkens, and other things we did not see at the Siege of AR-558? Really, has everybody forgotten about all but the most basic ground tactics?
    • Because that would have completely busted the show's budget.
      • And yet they had enough money for several CGI space battles. They could have diverted some of time and cash to show a long range CGI tank duel, or if the budget was already over the limit, at least mention that "our armor divisions were overwhelmed". Plus, there's the matter of body armor. Why not reuse something from TNG, TOS, or even a non-Trek show? And really, there is no excuse whatsoever for the hilariously poor infantry tactics. Was it too much trouble for the writers to consult with somebody in the armed forces or at the very least rent a WWII movie? Sure, any of these sujestions would have probably cut into other parts of the budget, but Starfleet probably wouldn't have ended up looking like total idiots.
        • A CGI tank battle would have looked completely ridiculous. And saying "they've overwhelmed our armored divisions!" would have sounded ridiculous. The viewers would have immediately asked why they didn't get to SEE those armored divisions being overwhelmed (the old "show don't tell" rule). And their tactics weren't that bad. In the Siege of AR-558 they did at least hunker down under cover and herd enemies into a choke point. It just broke down into a melee fight when the Jemhadar overwhelmed them with superior numbers. What you asked was why the Federation didn't use, and I quote, "tanks, IFVs, personal armor, ground attack aircraft, helicopters, artillery". True they could have afforded some body armor (though in the Siege of AR-558 they were explicitly low on supplies so it's somewhat understandable) but all those other things you listed would have drained the budget completely even if it was just for one episode.
    • Apart from the budget, what kind of space armada would bother with ground equipment for most of its engagements? All the real battles would be fought among the stars. Over in the Mirror Universe, I recall the chilling ending to the Star Trek: Enterprise two-parter which had the Terran Empire's new Empress introducing herself to Earth by declaring "Surrender now or we'll begin targeting your cities." In other words, if they don't surrender, she's going to start blasting whole cities into oblivion with phasers and photon torpedoes from a Constitution-Class starship of the kind available to James T. Kirk in his time. If one of those ships has roughly the firepower of a nuclear-armed submarine fleet, it stands to reason that all the real action in these wars takes place between these starships. The only time to send in troops is while attempting to occupy a place, and once you've destroyed the other guy's shields, you can send them in directly with your transporters. Equipment intended for use in two-dimensional warfare is obsolete.
    • For the same reason that armies don't make rectangular formations on open fields and take turns shooting at each other anymore. Combat evolves over time, and what was once the most innovative tactic in the book is now obsolete.
    • Most ground engagements in the show are fought either around or near towns, or small areas of ground such as rocky areas riddled with caves or canyon passes.
    • By the look of it, they are severely crippled from political and social sides.
    • The end result, though, is that Starfleet marines are underequipped light infantry using support of starships for almost anything a hand phaser can't do, i.e. completely relying on air/orbit superiority. Apparently there's no standing army in Federation other than them. The level of "respect" enemies tend to have for them is, well... didn't Romulans expect to take the whole Vulcan with 2000 troops? Of course, without ships and their transporters overhead, even their rocket launchers [dead link] couldn't compensate for the shortcomings, and a modern army would massacre an equal amount of Starfleet troops during the next day after learning capabilities and limitations of their weapons (or how to mess with their sensors, if in urban or forest combat), but that's just not the sort of opponents and conditions they usually face.


Rejecting Your Heritage is Illogical

  • In TOS Spock always acts as though he's not half human. Remarks like "Your Earth" and puzzlement over human nature are common occurrences. Clearly he favors his Vulcan heritage over his human side, and there's nothing wrong with that. I have to wonder, though, how absent a parent would his mother had to have been for him to be completely befuddled by humanity? I can't think of any "logical" explanation for this other than he doesn't particularly like his human ancestry and deliberately plays it down at every opportunity.
    • Given that many of the Star Trek movies, not just the reboot, have suggested he faced discrimination by other Vulcans, his own father spoke in disappointment at his birth saying “so Human” in Star Trek 5, he may have compensated and became a little self-loathing of his heritage. There are stories of African Americans who were able to hide their Black ancestry in the 19th 20th centuries joining White Supremacists groups and being some of the most hate filled members.


The Roddenberry Hagiography

  • One of the most irritating tendencies on the part of Star Trek fans (not that Star Trek fans are the other guys!) is reacting to anything they don't like (especially any "darkening" of the texture or introduction of cynicism of any sort) is to cry "Roddenberry would have hated this!" "Thank God Roddenberry didn't live to see this!" -- something to that effect. I remember hearing this a lot during DS9's war arc, for instance. While I am prepared to give Roddenberry full credit for giving Star Trek the humanistic values that make it Star Trek, he did not make the show alone (although he appears to been quick to take credit for other people's contributions). And even if we are prepared to ignore his personal foibles (see any number of books, perhaps Justman's Inside Star Trek for the best dirt -- my favourite is taking film cells from Paramount's vaults and selling them through Lincoln Enterprises, which is actual theft), his professional sins are many. Every bit of evidence suggests that his production is in large part the reason why the first season of TNG is next to unwatchable: he and his lawyer (in violation of Writer's Guild rules, might I add) freely rewrote screenplays to remove any trace of conflict of friction between characters. Oh, and there's the fact that he continuously wanted to do a story about the JFK assassination for one of the movies and had to be shot down (no pun intended) by Paramount again and again.
  • It would appear to me just about everything that was successful about latter-day Star Trek (including the extent to which it reversed the original series' sexism) was in spite of, not because of, Roddenberry's 'vision.' But even if you don't want to go that far, it still amazes me how easily people are willing to say "Roddenberry would have hated this" -- it's not like we personally knew the man.
  • Every fandom whose creator has died and had their work continued by others falls into this. Hell, look at Disney fandom and see how many times "Walt would have hated X" is brought up. It's a safe and unverifiable way to have your opinions "validated" by a "higher authority".


The Uses and Misuses of the Metric System

  • Star Trek as a whole has a strange relationship with the metric system. TOS wavers between metric and imperial measurements seemingly at random. TNG seems committed to the notion that the metric system prevails in the future, but sometimes the writers get the details hilariously wrong. In "Attached," Crusher and Picard act like going two kilometers to the Kes border is a significant distance. In "Gambit, Part II," Picard is described as being about two metres tall -- which would make him a man Michael Jordan would look up to!
    • Possibly referenced in Star Trek: Nemesis. Shinzon (Picard's clone) says "I had hoped I'd hit two meters." Picard responds "as had I."


Babble, comma, techno

  • My jaw dropped the first time I heard someone say they liked technobabble. I wonder if someone can articulate for me the upside of technobabble. To me, it's a cancer which eats away time for proper dialogue and character interaction. It's always great to see characters solving problems, but not when the whole process is a string of incomprehensible jargon. Used sparingly, technobabble can be fun (there's not much of it in TOS) but latter-day Trek, especially Voyager, bathes in it.
    • Ok I'll do it. "I reversed the polarity" may sound ridiculous, but it's much less grating than things happening and being handwaved. They go too far with it sometimes, but it has a purpose.
      • In his autobiography, James Doohan says he hated having to the technobabble scenes from 'Relics' and makes what I think is a good point: engineers talking shop would not use the most tongue-twisting technical language available to them. Rather, they would speak in a kind of disciplinary shorthand that would be linguistically simple and efficient. It seems to me that Star Trek would have done well to develop such a thing for its characters to use; after all, it doesn't matter if we don't understand it, so long as we accept that the characters do.
    • That's just, like, your opinion, man.

Lifesigns

  • Here's a genuine headscratcher present across all of the multiple series: what the heck are life signs? How can you scan for something as nebulous and ill-defined as "life"? And how come the scan normally returns only intelligent life rather than every animal, plant, single-celled organism, etc.?
    • They have different ways of scanning for life and sometimes they have to alter their scans to be a bit more precise. Sometimes they can't read human lifesigns to locate a lost away team so they scan for Vulcan lifesigns instead. It's not perfect—like when the Reliant mistook the crew of the Botany Bay for "preanimate matter"—but they can usually adjust their scans from broad to specific depending on the needs of the mission. As for why they normally pick up intelligent life, they often scan for humanoid life forms so it be as simple as "Is it alive and shaped like us?" Another more outlandish WMG would be some real-life technobabble: according to physicists like Eugene Wigner the simple fact of being a conscious being influences reality. Since the "Schrödinger's cat" thought experiment requires a conscious being to make the cat either dead or alive, maybe Star Trek uses quantum scanners to detect wave function collapse, which would be a telltale sign of some form of consciousness.
    • If your sensors are strong enough, it wouldn't actually be that hard. You look for a mass of interconnected heat with both the rhythm of a heart near the first heat center and a secondary heat center where the brain should be.
      • Yet when they first encounter the Borg, they fail to detect lifesigns from them, and the Borg presumably have hearts and brains.
        • As it is possible to un-Borg someone and get back an intact original (paging Captain Picard, paging Captain Picard), they most definitely still maintain their original biological functions. At this point we're going to have to assume they use some kind of sensor masking.
    • Bioelectrical signals. Heartbeats. Heat signatures of a certain size that are within a typical range for living creatures. Certain types of motion. Particular chemicals or substances that mostly only show up in life forms. Basically they're scanning for all of it and when you start getting hits on multiple factors you figure that's probably a life sign. Also the Borg might have hearts and brains but they no longer work like a normal life form's. The heart might only beat when it needs to pump repair nanites through the body, or it might have been replaced by a pump that's just constantly cycling blood through, like a fishtank filter. In essence the Borg don't show up because despite their biological parts they function like machines. That's why they sometimes show up as "Possible lifesigns". Besides, by First Contact they've clearly figured out how to scan for Borg lifesigns as well, as Data's able to determine the Earth's Borg population.
    • The second part of this question answers the first: they look for signatures of humanoid (often enough to count as Human Subspecies) lifeforms.

I claim this planet in the name of...

  • One thing that has never made much sense to me is the colonization and border procedures of the Federation (et al). Early in First Contact, Admiral Hansen relates that the Federation colony on Ivor Prime has been destroyed (he even describes it as "our colony"). A scene later, Picard states that the Borg ship "will cross the Federation border in less than an hour." So: Federation colonies lie outside the Federation's borders. This follows in a Space Is an Ocean kind of way... but does it really make sense? If the Federation has colonized a planet, why do the Federation's borders not then extend to claim it? This question touches on a set of broader issues: how does one claim a planet in space? How does one claim space itself? We have certainly seen examples of different powers disputing ownership of given worlds (Cestus III, for example, and the various border conflicts with the Cardassians, and the business with the Sheliak), which reminds us that there is no one agreed-upon way of claiming interstellar territory. So: just what constitutes the Federation's borders? And why establish colonies outside of them (especially considering that habitable yet uninhabited, M-class planets always seem to be in such plentiful supply)? And do said colonies outside of the Federation's borders not enjoy the Federation's protection... at least not the same degree as worlds within its borders?
    • Could be they're non-contiguous borders or an exclave and you have to fly through, say, Ferengi space to get to Ivor Prime. Or borders aren't perfectly even, but are a bit more "jagged" so a Borg ship flying straight for Earth would pass through Federation space when it hit Ivor Prime, then fly into Ferengi space and come out the other side into Federation space again.
    • DS9 establishes that there are some parts of space that aren't claimed by anybody (as the Klingons like to hover in some unclaimed space just outside of Bajoran territory and harass people heading to the station). Apparently you can't just claim some particular bit of space is yours because you like it, there has to be an establishing factor. So it's possible that the Federation settled some colonists on a world in unclaimed space, and once the colony had established itself to certain standards, it would probably make a token petition for Federation membership, be admitted, and the Federation border would now extend to cover that system as well. Basically: "This space is mine." "Oh yeah? What's your claim to it?" "Got a planet right over there with a bunch of my people on it." "Ah. Okay."

Where has all the writing gone?

  • At least in TOS, it seems that there is next to no written text. No labels to any of the (numerous! Very, very numerous!!) switches and levers on all the ship. No keyboards. No labels to doors, nor on the uniforms. How in the bloody hell does everyone know what key to press? Okay, I can understand that the more experienced crew members know their stuff by heart - but there are bound to be newbies somewhere in starfleet. How does one write a book, or a poem, or a love letter?
    • Handwritten letters are very uncommon in the 24th century. One episode of Voyager has Chakotay writing a letter to himself about an alien woman he fell in love with whom—because of her physiology and her race's deliberate tampering with the ship's computer—he will soon be unable to remember. He's visibly struggling with writing since it's something he's likely never done before, not to mention the "pencil" is the size and shape of a D cell battery.
    • Actually, most of the stuff is labeled, it's just not at an angle and visibility suitable for us to be able to read it at home. As for the completely unlabeled stuff like the insides of complicated panels and really hidden away machinery, 1) look inside your piddly little early 21st century computer, how much of what's in there is really labeled with exactly what it is, what it does, and what it should be hooked into and what should be hooked into it? 2) much like the inside of your computer, most of the stuff that's not labeled is probably done so with the understanding of "If you don't know what this is, you shouldn't be messing with it."

What about all those dishes?

  • Whenever they eat something, they just ask the replicator for it. And it always comes with fitting dishes. But you never see them washing, throwing away, or recycling any of those. What exactly happens to all those dishes? Are they automatically dissolving somehow? Are they edible?
    • I believe there was an episode of DS9 where Keiko mentions putting the dishes back in the replicator. Presumably the replicator can also vaporize the dishes or convert them back into energy to be used again or something.
    • This is also mentioned on Voyager, during the Year Of Hell episode. Janeway orders Chakotay to recycle a replicated gift so that the energy can be put back into the ship.


Boarding Party Massacre

  • Given the amount of control over the environment that we see on starships, it beggars belief that any hostile boarding party could ever seize one... yet they do with some regularity. As people have suggested elsewhere, if somebody beams on, beam them back. Or beam them to the brig. Or if you're feeling nasty, decorporalize them and leave them that way. Transporter not working? Turn off the lights. Turn off the heat. Turn off the gravity... or ramp it way up. Drop force fields wherever you feel like it. Worst comes to worst: open an airlock. Some of these strategies would be more drastic and risk more collateral damage than others, but the point is that there should be about a billion strategies to stop or at least slow down intruders, yet in episodes like "Rascals," "Basics, Part I" and too many others to count, our heroes just lean back as the bad guys waltz in.
    • 1) Transporters don't work like "snap your fingers, thing A is suddenly in place B" and they never have. Someone needs to be standing still long enough for you to get a lock and initialize the beam, which boarding parties obviously don't want to do. 2) Remarkably, people who want to break the law tend to come up with technology that helps them thwart the technology that lets people enforce the law, so a really dedicated boarding party probably has devices that inhibit getting a signal lock on them. 3) Generally the first thing a successful boarding party does is either capture the systems that would make all that transporting, climate alteration, and gravity control possible, or take a bunch of hostages. While you might be willing to risk turning up the gravity on a roomful of people to get at the boarders holding them hostage, most Starfleet captains take their duty to their crew a little more seriously.

Genetically engineered half-humans

  • A fairly big point in star trek is genetic engineering being highly, highly illegal. Yet, genetic engineering is neccesary to produce half-human (or other) hybrids, which is fully accepted. But no one ever brings this up. And it also presents a massive loophole for everyone who wants to circumvent the anti-genetic engineering law. Why would Bashir's parents do it the illegal way if they could have just combined their son with alien DNA instead?
    • It's not genetic engineering that's illegal, it's genetic augmentation. Genetic treatments to fix birth defects are fine, and probably cross-species mixing are also fine, but making a Space Marine is not. Also, mixing in alien DNA after the kid is born is probably going to be very, very difficult.
      • Sort of makes one wonder how the genetic engineering project underway in "Unnatural Selection" is legal, given what we later learn about Federation laws.
        • Unnatural Selection is basically a TOS episode translated into TNG. It's really easy to imagine McCoy in place of Pulaski, and it still works. It can probably be written off as Early Installment Weirdness, due to being one of the early seasons where TNG was still floundering about trying to recreate the style and feel of TOS.
    • Feel free to correct me, I can only recall one reference (in Enterprise) to genetic engineering being required to make a hybrid baby. It makes sense, but there are too many hybrids who were clearly the product of accidental pregnancies to assume that this is the case all the time (Tora Ziyal comes right to mind).
      • When Worf and Jadzia were discussing having children, Jadzia went to Dr. Bashir to get some sort of medical procedure done to make it a possibility. The episode doesn't say outright whether genetic engineering but it might've been, or it might not have been. Also, regarding hybrids at least in the case of Bajorans and Cardassians, there is a discussion on the DS9 page about how those two races had been interacting for millenia and neither had a taboo against genetic engineering, so it's possible that, either through natural or artificial sources, the two species were interfertile (who knows if their offspring would've been, though; since we never saw Ziyal or any other Bajoran/Cardassian have kids it's a matter of speculation). With humans, was there ever any hybrid we see that was explicitly an illegitimate or at least unplanned child? I can think of at least one (Alexander), suggesting that, as ludicrous as it may sound, maybe the major Alpha Quadrant races are interfertile in the Star Trek universe, possibly having something to do with the "shared DNA" mess from the TNG episode "The Chase". In that case, genetic engineering has nothing to do with producing hybrids, and therefore they wouldn't violate humanity's genetic engineering taboo.
        • In Jadzia and Worf's case, the complication was the symbiont. And most races being interfertile is explained by the TNG episode that reveals that most sentient life in the galaxy was seeded by the same humanoid precursors, meaning that they all share some amount of genetic similarity. Arguably being interfertile isn't a story bug, it's an in-universe feature.

holo-program production times

How is everyone able to create new holo-programs at the speed that they do? In many episodes, like Tom Paris in author, author, it is implied people write holo-programs in a matter of hours. But those things have a ridiculous amount of complexity, and I doubt that every single model or person could have been pre-programmed, given the versatility in creating these things. It's simply absurd how little time it apparently takes to write a program.

  • Part of it is a lot of automation. The example you reference, Tom's edit of Photons Be Free, is also implied to be just one or two scenes, which are half ripped off from the Doctor's work and half jammed together with something comparable to RPG Maker. Most holonovels are implied to take at least weeks. Individual Captain Proton episodes seem to take that long to make. Tom's Photons Be Free scene is probably heavily railroaded through the narrative he wants to write, as is the original PBF, because the Doctor is a hack. As for the character models, they're living in a world where people are scanned on the quantum level, taken apart in one place and put back together in another several times a week. Doesn't take much time to say "access transporter records for Crewman Doe and apply physical parameters to Character Jones."
  • I was referring more to, say, the Talaxian resort model Neelix creates rather than the model of a person. Voyager never went to that place, nor has any other federation spaceship, so they wouldn't have the advanced scans. Yet Neelix is able to freely replicate the entire resort. Also, railroading would actually take more work than a open world in a sufficiently advanced engine; you would need to set up all the triggers rather than just inserting characters and locations. The closest proximation of this in current times seems to be editors or modding utilities for computer games, and even those that are simple to work with would take a lot more time to create a similar scenario.
  • Lots of stock textures and fantastic natural-language voice control. That's not even a story, so it doesn't need narrative input. You can just say "I want a bartender behind the bar, and a surf instructor by the beach." If you don't like the stock appearances and personalities, you can say "no, more like this...". As I recall, he wasn't reproducing the staff in much detail, just the location. He probably spoke the whole thing into existence like how the TNG crew reconstructed the alien lab in "Schisms": "Show me a table. No, a metal table. No, this height..."
    • But with any custom objects, that would take a ridiculous amount of time. Again, the bar was a place voyager never visited, so the computer wouldn't know what anything looked like.
      • Given that the ship archives seem to hold ridiculous amounts of information about a wide range of things, it's not at all unreasonable that relatively detailed information about the bar (on Earth, regularly visited by Starfleet cadets and therefore a part of Starfleet culture) would be included simply For One Hundred Percent Completionism (it wouldn't be the most obscure thing by a long shot).
      • Even in the case of the Talaxian resort Neelix programs, just because Voyager never visited it, who's to say Neelix couldn't feed the computer information about it in other ways? Could be pictures, video footage, something of the sort, from which the computer then extrapolates textures, dimensions and other program elements, which Neelix can then tweak to get details right.
      • With the wonders of twenty-first century technology we can reconstruct 3D scenes from still camera frames. Considering that the Voyager crew are armed with holo-cameras (whatever those are) and tricorders, it's highly likely that holonovel authoring software can so something similar, but at much better accuracy and capturing more detail (including things like sounds and materials).
    • Maybe the most egregious case of this is in "Unification Part II" where Data, using an unfamiliar Romulan system, is able to whip up a fully realistic hologram of Commander Riker and two other Starfleet officers, seemingly in no time flat. The only flaw is that he doesn't get Riker's hair right! Okay, it is Data, but it stretches belief in any case.
      • Basically, "It's Data" is the explanation. Data knows Romulan, quickly figures out the system, and does it all at speed. Someone else probably could have done it if they had an hour to study the system and get everything just right, but Data can cut that down to a few minutes.
    • Basically, the computer is just extremely user friendly. "Okay, I need a wood deck. No, bigger than that. Make the planks of the railing further apart and thicker. The wood should be a lighter shade. Also the waves are quieter than that." And so on. The simulation probably isn't a perfect replica of anything, but it's good enough that it satisfies the person who made it and thus the others that come in to play it.

Why so human, borg?

Why do all the borg always look like humans? While there are admittedly a pretty large amount of ridiculously humanoid aliens (back from the TOS budget), but most have at least forehead ridges. Yet all the borg we ever see have flat foreheads and otherwise human features.

  • In First Contact, the design teams actually went out of their way to show Romulans, Klingons etc. among the drones. We can probably assume most of them look the same because most of them will be biologically descended from the original Borg species... which was introduced during the early period full of Human Aliens.
    • But that's when it would make the most amount of sense to have human-Borg, as the Borg would be assimilating from mainly human stock.
  • Related question: just how many humans have the Borg assimilated? It's hard to imagine the number is all that high. When Picard famously says "They assimilate entire worlds... and we fall back." Does he mean Federation worlds? If so, when did this happen? Not in "The Best of Both Worlds," and while there's an quick reference in First Contact to the colony on Ivor Prime being "destroyed" (which may or may not coincide with assimilation), it's hard to fit large-scale assimilation campaigns close to home into the timeline. Even Wolf 359 is inconsistent in this regard: "Emissary" certainly does not seem to show the Borg stopping to assimilate, just destroying, yet in the Voyagers episode "Unity" and "Unimatrix One" there are Borg who claim to have been assimilated at Wolf 359. Other times, especially on Voyager, it is heavily implied that a huge number of humans have been assimilated by the Borg. At one point the Doctor points out to Seven that she represents hope for those whose relatives have been assimilated. "Unimatrix Zero" shows at least one human other than Seven the titular matrix, while simultaneously claiming that only one in a million Borg manifests there, so unless humans are really statistically irregular, there should be at least a million assimilated humans. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that the Borg have assimilated Federation citizens en mass on other occasions, forcing one to wonder why? When? How were they stopped?
    • There's also the matter of why Borg assimilated at Wolf 359 are still around at all, considering that that particular cube blew up not long afterwards. Yet twice Voyager went back to that well... why not say that they were assimilated at Jouret IV or one of the missing Neutral Zone outposts, which would make a lot more sense (if you can buy that the Borg both scooped up entire colonies and assimilated their inhabitants)? The presence of a number of Romulans in "Unity" suggests the writers haven't entirely forgotten about that detail.
      • I never understood why it's so hard for people to accept that some drones assimilated at Wolf 359 would survive. The Borg Queen says, "You think in such three dimensional terms" which in the context of a time travel movie suggests they used time travel to send the queen and some drones back in time somehow. They could have easily folded space with some kind of transwarp escape pod and gotten out that way.
      • The Borg Queen says "You think it such three dimensional terms" to explain why she was still alive, when Picard (suddenly!) remembers having seen her on the cube of old. She could well be chiding Picard for not considering that they were in contact through the link, rather than meeting in the flesh (for what it's worth, that's always how I took it). The line is ambiguous. I don't think that playing the time travel card to explain everything away makes sense. If the Borg had time travel at their disposal during "The Best of Both Worlds," they could have easily prevented their defeat and destruction, not just swept in to pick up a few measly drones.
        • Having the ability to time travel is not the same thing as having the ability to travel as far in time as you want at will, any more than the fact that just because you have a car that can transport you from one place to another means that you can travel to the moon in it. At that point the Borg may have had just enough of a command over time travel to use it as an "oh fuck" contingency.
    • It's not implausible given the size of the Federation that there could be small colonies of several million. The Borg could have scooped up highly populated cities and easily gotten a million humans that way. As for why? It's what they do. When? Just before the events of "The Neutral Zone" would be the likely timeframe. And how were they stopped? They weren't. The Borg got what they wanted and after the cube was destroyed over Earth via cyber-warfare the Borg decided we weren't really interesting enough to attack again for another few years. Of course, the real question is if the colonies that were scooped up had a combined population of at least one million, why did Starfleet seem mildly apprehensive about these abductions and not freaking out about the disappearance of millions of Federation and Romulan citizens?
      • It's also noteworthy just how early bad continuity sets in with the Borg. In "Q Who," there is an overt reference back to "The Neutral Zone," but it ends with Picard saying "So they will be coming?" and Guinan answering "You can bet on it." Um... they've already been at your door, so "coming" is probably a bit too generous. From then on, everyone forgets all about "The Neutral Zone" and follows the party line that Q introduced the Federation to the Borg.
        • That's not bad continuity. "The Neutral Zone" is the first time the Borg doing something is mentioned, though we don't know it's them at the time. Q is the one who actually shows them the Borg, basically informing Starfleet of what they are. No one meets any Borg in "The Neutral Zone", so Q does in fact introduce the Federation to them.

Power Perversion Potential & Star Trek Sex Crimes.

To be sure, we know Captain James T. Kirk did some serious womanizing in his time, but managed not to leave too many illegitimate children behind thanks to those monthly contraceptive injections that (although rarely mentioned) are apparently standard issue for the fleet. Consider, however, two issues:

  • Both biologically and culturally speaking, the Federation and more importantly the entire Milky Way is teeming with diversity. Star Trek: Voyager in particular managed to show some really bizarre races that matured backwards (that little kid is actually 96 years old and has grandkids), aged exceedingly rapidly (the Ocampa, with their 9-year lifespan, look and act 12 years old by the time they're 6 months old), and achieved sexual maturity and started whole families by age 3 (the Breen, according to the Doctor). What must the Federation's age-of-consent laws be like, and how are they keeping some major perverts from engaging in sex tourism?
    • Maybe they just define the age of consent per species? Though I'd love to know whose job it is to assign ages of consent to newly discovered species.
      • The most likely answer is 'the local legal code of that particular species'. You don't get admitted into the Federation as a member unless you have a functioning planetary government, after all. And if they're not a Federation member, or at least a species legal to contact under the Prime Directive (which also implies a functioning and relatively advanced culture), then your dick should damn well be in your pants because otherwise you're the Great White Hunter abusing the local aborigines.
        • Which makes you wonder about Edith Keeler, although Kirk can point out a) she's the same species he is and b) she was well into adult age by Earth law in both her time period and his own.
    • One can imagine the species itself might have some laws concerning that subject. What really starts raising questions is hybrids. In Star Trek: Voyager: "Before And After" for instance, Kes marries Tom Paris and has a girl named Linnis Paris. A few years later, Tom's friend Harry Kim marries Linnis and they have a son named Andrew. It's not clear how much the hybridization with humans slowed the maturity rate and increased the lifespan of the part-Ocampa children, but presumably (this being shown as having happened only a few years into the future), they still grew up amazingly fast. All the same, had this alternate timeline not been erased, Tom and Harry would each have had a lot of explaining to do when they got home.

[Hypothetical situation]
Owen Paris: You married a five-year-old!?
Tom Paris: Oh, come on, Dad, it's not like I robbed the cradle! She looked thirty. She was at her adult height. She was quick learner, and she'd had a boyfriend before. We were even able to have a daughter.
Owen Paris: Next thing you'll be telling me is you married her off when she was five too!
Tom Paris: Yeah. To Harry Kim. They had a son named Andrew, and he married Naomi Wildman when she was ten. Come on, Dad! Give it a rest already. We were all adults. Ask Admiral Janeway; she presided over our marriages. I think she's as qualified as anyone to say whether they were legal.
Owen Paris: Hmph! Well I still think the Voyager was a ship of perverts!

  • Even leaving that aside, just imagine what kinds of perversion must be possible using holodecks. Is any spectacularly perverted use of the holodeck illegal, and if so, how does the Federation (or the Romulan Star Empire or the Dominion or anyone else, really) enforce these laws?
    • Probably nothing short of creating an actual AI to do the deed with is illegal. There would be no victims after all.
      • One would imagine that child pornography laws would still apply to holodeck sex even if no actual children were involved. Outside of things like that, yeah, can't imagine anyone caring how you get your freak on in there.

I hate having women on the bridge, right female first officer?

A fairly minor one from the first pilot, but... what is up with Pike's reaction when the female yeomen visited the bridge to deliver a report? He complains about having a woman on the bridge, to his female first officer! When she asks what the hell is up with that, he just claims that the first officer is different. No explanation given on what or why. And it's not even like the yeoman was going to permanently stationed on the bridge, she just delivered a report! What, are women supposed to wait until you leave the bridge to deliver reports? And aside from that, its not like he has anything against women in the command structure, since the yeomen was in the meeting room later in the episode.

  • An EU novel states that it wasn't that she was a woman, but the fact that his previous yeoman, a male friend of his, had just recently died, so he was feeling a bit bitter.


His face is on the cover of "History of the Eugenics Wars", dumbasses.

Why isn't Khan immediately recognized as Khan Noonien Singh in "Space Seed"? From the briefing room scene, it's obvious Khan is a mjor historical figure whom everyone's heard of. They have photographs of him, know the guy they found is from the right time period, and he freakin' said his name was "Khan". That's like, "We just unthawed this German guy from the 1940s who has a toothbrush mustache and says his name is "Adolf" -- I wonder who he could be."

  • In James Tiptree Jr.'s great short story "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" an astronaut is thrust into the distant future and is surprised by how little is known about his time. But then thinks to himself: "Who do I know of the hideous Thirty Years' War that was three centuries back for me? Fighting devastated Europe for two generations. Not even names." This is a case of the same.
  • Yes, but here's the thing: You know Adolf Hitler is dead. Now, if you knew that there were probably tons of German guys named Adolf in the 1940s and you knew that the most famous one was dead, would you really immediately leap to "It's Adolf Hitler!"? Especially if it meant you might be accusing some completely innocent random German dude?
    • Errr, if Adolf Hitler was in the historical record as having buried himself in a hidden time capsule that was never found, and I dug up a German dude looking like him in a time capsule, I would totally conclude that I'd found Adolf Hitler. Given that Khan is on record as having vanished on a lost spaceship, and they found Khan floating in suspended animation in the middle of space on a lost spaceship, you really do wonder why nobody rubbed two brain cells together here. The only reason finding 'Adolf Hitler' in a time capsule would lead to a first hypothesis that it was a body double is because Hitler left behind a corpse. If he'd vanished mysteriously under circumstances that positively screamed 'I intend to live again to fight another day!', there'd be more sightings of him than Elvis.

Why did they invent synthehol?

Alcoholic beverages are a cultural staple of humanity and have been so for thousands of years. Then along comes synthehol, a chemical substitute for alcohol that most people seem to think tastes worse than alcohol and is seemingly incapable of giving you a buzz. Now sure, there are plenty of times when you don't want to be impaired by alcohol, but there are plenty of other drinks you can have in those situations. Are we supposed to believe that while in the 23rd century people still enjoyed getting drunk but by the 24th century they're so squeaky clean that they're going to come down to Ten Forward after a hard day of saving the galaxy and enjoy a glass of nonalcoholic scotch just for the taste?

  • There's a novel in the EU that proposes that synthehol does give you a buzz, it's just an easily-shaken buzz, so when Red Alert sounds, you can rub your eyes or whatever and be crystal clear at your post. Also don't forget the main selling point, no hangovers, no addiction.
  • Another question about synthehol - a few early TNG novels were weirdly consistent in claiming that synthehol was invented by the Ferengi, including a "To the Ferengi!" toast when you knock back some of it. Where the heck did this scrap of lore come from? Was it part of the TNG bible that never actually made it into an episode?
  • The only person who ever expressed distates with synthehol (aside from the Klingons) was Scotty, who was very much used to having the real deal on hand (remember, the Enterprise once greeted the Klingon Chancellor with Romulan Ale that they just 'happened' to have on board. Also, given that there is every chance of a battle or a Negative Space Wedgie at any time, its a bad idea for 1/3 of the crew (those off duty) to be blitzed. Think of it as the equivilent of NA beer given to servicemembers in combat zones: it simulates the taste and aids in morale and relaxation without the side effects that could impair mission capability.

Why do Star Trek fans hate Star Trek so much?

  • "The height of this stupidity-", "Why would they do something so nonsensical?", and so on are the way practically every Star Trek headscratcher starts. I can understand occasional criticisms of things you like, but it seems like Star Trek fans on tropes websites think it's a stupid show written by idiots for complete buffoons. Why are they even watching?
  1. Though my money's on the slur.