Should We Have This?
The scientist isn't evil or anything, he or she just always has something to prove, and always ends up putting the ship in danger by ignoring some rule, limitation, or design flaw.
It happens like a billion times in the various Star Trek shows. For real, if the captain's log at the start of any Star Trek episode contains any phrase resembling "we've welcomed aboard Doctor Bob, who will be performing an experiment," I guarantee you that Doctor Bob will have totally fucked up and put everyone's lives in jeopardy by the end of the show.
I'm super curious whether this is a Star Trek specific phenomena, or if this exists outside it. It might just be a super specialized instance of the Icarus story.
I find myself in the position of not really being able to make a good comparison or verification when it comes to a lot of the examples being proposed outside of Star Trek (which are really the examples that would make this an actual trope and not just a "thing they did once in original Star Trek that gets referenced a lot in later Star Treks"), so feel free to add or remove non Star Trek examples directly to or from this here original post. Well, feel free to add, but if you're inclined to remove, make sure you explain your reasoning in a comment, I guess.
- Star Trek: The Original Series
- Larry Marvick, one of the original designers of the Enterprise, comes aboard, goes mad from sneaking a peak at an Eldritch Abomination ambassador, and sabotages the warp engines, throwing the ship through the galactic barrier and possibly into another dimension.
- Dr. Richard Daystrom, designer of most, if not all, the computer systems on the Enterprise, is invited to test out his newest invention, an AI capable of replacing the entire crew of a starship, on board the Enterprise. The AI's thought processes turn out to be modeled after Daystrom's own, which ends up being a huge problem when it becomes apparent that Daystrom has basically been driven insane by the pressure he feels from the scientific community to prove his worth. Of course, the AI goes rogue and nearly destroys a bunch of spaceships.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation
- Warp specialist Kosinski and his alien companion, the Traveler, accidentally send the Enterprise first to a distant galaxy, and then to another dimension (or the far end of the universe, where thoughts become real- it's never really specified)
- Dr. Marr from "Silicon Avatar" is supposed to help the crew find a way to communicate with the Crystalline Entity. She does, but before any meaningful communication happens, she sabotages the communication method and turns it into a weapon against the Entity, which she blames for the death of her son on a colony it once attacked.
- Dr. Paul Stubbs started a war between the Enterprise crew and newly sentient nanites in "Evolution" because dealing with the nanites was delaying his critical experiment, an experiment that could only be performed once every 200 years. He was desperate to prove he was more than a one-time child prodigy, and took matters into his own hands when it seemed that his chance was slipping away from him.
- The scientists at Darwin Station from "Unnatural Selection" genetically engineered psychokinetic children with immune systems that are lethal to normal humanoids. Dr. Pulaski (main character) almost dies from old age before she is restored by the transporter.
- Star Trek: Enterprise
- Farscape: T'raltixx comes aboard Moya supposedly to install stealth technology to help the Leviathan and her crew hide from their enemies, but in actuality seeks light to 1) make himself more powerful and 2) drive the crew insane.
- Interesting inversion from Farscape: Linfer, once of Scorpius' alien scientists working on wormhole research, defects from the Peacekeepers and seeks out Moya, offering wormhole theory in exchange for command of the ship. No one trusts her, and it turns out her wormhole equations were just as wrong as all the other attempts, which turned the pilots into warm goo. Linfer dies as the others died, only after a time delay of a couple hours. Fortunately, the crew of Moya (with the exception of John Crichton) were Properly Paranoid and refused her offer of wormhole knowledge for command of Moya.