The notional border marking the difference between Applied Phlebotinum which is a cool and interesting adjunct to the story being told, and Applied Phlebotinum which is the story being told. Story quality plummets dramatically the further past The Roddenberry Line you get.
What side of the Roddenberry Line you're on can often be determined by the amount of Techno Babble you have to wade through before you can find a real plot point or a believable character.
The term was coined by Ben "Gryphon" Hutchins of Eyrie Productions, Unlimited, and named (of course) for the late Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, whose enthusiasm for the gimcrackery of The Future occasionally overwhelmed his training as a writer. (Some of his successors were better about this... and some were significantly worse.)
- Episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series fell all over the spectrum. "The City on the Edge of Forever" had cool and interesting Applied Phlebotinum that was necessary for the story to be told at all, but wasn't a part of the story. "The Ultimate Computer" was right on the Roddenberry Line - the Applied Phlebotinum drove the story, but the story ultimately wasn't about the gadget of the week. "Spock's Brain" was all about the Applied Phlebotinum.
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