Star Trek is an iconic, long-running science-fiction franchise with five television series and twelve movies spanning three generations of characters and four decades of television.The setting in every series is about an Earth-based interstellar government called the United Federation of Planets and their fleet of starships, which form Starfleet. Every series dealt with a particular crew, mostly of various ships named Enterprise. As originally envisioned by its creator, Gene Roddenberry, the science fiction nature of the series was just a method to address many social issues of the time that could not have been done in a normal drama. As such, it was not above being Anvilicious or engaging in thinly-veiled social satire, but considering its origin during the 60's, some anvils needed to be dropped.It was, for the most part, way on the happy end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, at least partially because of its solid allegiance to the Enlightened side of Romanticism Versus Enlightenment. But it still found some sort of balance between a Dystopia and a Crystal Spires and Togas future. In general, it is a future you hope will come true, albeit after humanity endured terrible troubles like the Eugenics Wars led by the genetically enhanced conqueror, Khan Noonien Singh, and a third world war, and rose above them. All series have sought to show that while you may think the world is falling apart and there is no chance of global unity, all this crap will eventually work itself out.The series has also had a profound impact on modern culture and media. Everyone with any exposure to Western pop culture has heard of the Starship Enterprise, and the series predicted (and possibly inspired) the PC, tablet, automatic doors, cell phones, natural-language AI and more, decades before their invention. Not so incidentally, the first African-American woman in space was inspired to become an astronaut because of Nichelle Nichols' pioneering role. Also not so incidentally, the space shuttle Enterprise was named after the iconic starship, as is the first commercial spacecraft.And finally, Star Trek also gave rise to Fandom as we know it: when Star Trek: The Original Series began to pick up steam in syndication, fans organized conventions, wrote fanfiction, dressed in costume, and generally made enough noise to keep the franchise going for forty years and counting. Every fandom since has grown from that original outpouring of fannish activity and devotion.
Television Series in the franchise include:
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The Original Series
Star Trek: The Original Series ("TOS", 1966-1969) Set from 2265-2269 — The one everyone has heard of (at the time, of course, it was just called Star Trek). Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) leads the brave crew of the Cool StarshipEnterprise on a mission "to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no man has gone before."The format was pitched as a Wagon Train to the Stars, with new planets and aliens encountered every week, though the Klingons and Romulans would become regulars in the Star Trek galaxy. The original series suffered in the ratings, but gained a devoted fanbase. Un-Canceled after the second season, and then Cancelled again at the end of the third. It really picked up steam in syndication, which was about the time demographics came into play - and the Real Life moon landing happened a week after its last episode aired.The show's writing was good, the cast had great chemistry and the characters themselves were very memorable, to the point of creating three new archetypes: The Kirk, The Spock, and The McCoy. In fact, this series created so many new tropes that it has left an unmistakable mark on both television and pop culture ever since. Not to mention inspired a lot of mostly affectionate parodies.
The Animated Series
Star Trek: The Animated Series ("TAS", 1973-1974) Set from 2269-2270 — Used most of the original cast (and a few additions) to provide voices for the animated versions of their characters. The quality of the show was hit and miss, with some being mediocre cartoon fare while others were excellent, and the series got the franchise's first Emmy award. 22 episodes were produced.The official canonicity of this series has gone back and forth, but at least some elements have bled over into the rest of the franchise (most notably, identifying the "T" in James T. Kirk to stand for "Tiberius") and the addition of the cat-like Caitians to the mythos (see Star Trek 2).
The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation ("TNG", 1987-1994) Set from 2364-2370 — The other one everyone has heard of. Takes place in the 24th century on the Enterprise-D, with the same mission of exploration as the original.The new captain is Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). Introduced the holodeck (although a version of it appeared first in the canon/noncanon "TAS"), defined the Klingons as being a society of honor and war, and really hit it home with creating the cybernetic alien race, the Borg. Also, there was Q.
Deep Space Nine
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ("DS9", 1993-1999) Set from 2369-2375 — Takes place concurrently with the end of Next Generation and the lion's share of Voyager, and conceived as a Spin-Off of TNG. Set on a former Cardassian space station (formerly Terok Nor, renamed Deep Space Nine) in a politically unstable part of space near the planet Bajor, with exclusive access to a rare stable wormhole that leads from the Alpha to the Gamma Quadrant.From the fourth season onwards, former TNG character Worf joined the cast and the whole series got much darker with a massive interstellar war between the Federation, Cardassians, Klingons, Romulans, and the Dominion. Was also the first Trek series to use Story Arcs extensively, rather than persisting with a strictly episodic format. Generally considered the Oddball in the Series as far as the television shows go.
Star Trek: Voyager ("VOY", 1995-2001) Set from 2371-2378 — Another Spin-Off of Next Generation, conceived as its successor. While searching for a group of rogue Starfleet people called the Maquis, both the title ship and a Maquis ship are flung across the galaxy and stranded in the Delta Quadrant, 70,000 light years and seventy-five years' travel from home (Lost in Space a la Star Trek).Had the first main character female captain in the franchise. In the mainstream, this show is best — perhaps only — known for its Ms. Fanservice character, Seven of Nine. Among fans, it's infamous for the Villain Decay of the Borg, the obscene levels of Techno Babble, and mashing the Reset Button after roughly every other episode, but it is also notable for tackling controversial topics even other Trek series wouldn't touch.
Star Trek: Enterprise ("ENT", 2001-2005) Set from 2151-2155 — Prequel to the original series. Set a hundred years or so before Kirk and the Federation, when humans are just getting their space legs (and the Applied Phlebotinum is not nearly as reliable), aboard Earth's first, experimental Warp 5-capable starship, the Enterprise NX-01. It began with a Myth Arc involving the Enterprise crew getting caught up in a "Temporal Cold War" being fought by several rival Time Travel factions, though it gradually fell victim to the The Chris Carter Effect.The series was then Retooled twice: first with the third season introducing an ambitious season-spanning Story Arc centering around the sudden appearance of a mysterious new aggressor called the Xindi, and then with the fourth and final season consisting of several two-to-three-episode-long "mini-arcs" that laid the groundwork for the Federation in earnest. Sadly, just as it began to pick up steam, it was abruptly cancelled. Infamous for the pop song in the opening credits, and for being the first Trek series since the original to be canceled before the usual seven seasons.
In addition to these, Star Trek: Phase II was a series concept designed as the cornerstone of a Paramount Pictures-based network in 1976. A continuation of the original series and featuring a second five-year mission, it would have introduced a number of new characters in conjunction with the original crew.When the network project died and the insane success of Star Wars: A New Hope made sci-fi films profitable again, Paramount elaborated the series pilot into The Movie, which ultimately led to a whole new line of movies.
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) (2287) — After a botched attempt to rescue hostages, the Enterprise is commandeered by a radical Vulcan who intends to find God.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) (2293) — Klingons sue for peace in a near perfect recreation of the Cold War finale. Quite blatantly a rip on the Cold War and its concurrent real-life end, precipitated by a lunar equivalent to the Chernobyl explosion. (In)Famously establishes Klingon blood to be a lovely lilac colour, but only for this installment.
Star Trek: First Contact (1996) (2373/2063) — The Borg attempt to assimilate Earth in the past, with Picard slowly becoming Captain Ahab against them.note This would later lead to Patrick Stewart playing Ahab himself in a miniseries. It also shows humanity's first contact with another species, the seed from which the Federation would flower.
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) (2379) — The perpetually secretive Romulans make a surprising effort for peace, but, of course, their leader has much more devious intentions. The last film of the prime Star Trek universe which nearly mortally wounded the entire franchise, being the only one to not make its money back at the box office.
Many of the concepts from Phase II made their way into Star Trek: The Next Generation and the series itself is considered deuterocanon - not "true" canon, because it never made it to the screen, but allowed in Broad Strokes to fill a gap in Trek chronology (notice the fictional length of time between The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan).After the cancellation of Enterprise, 2006 was the first year with no new Star Trek stories on film or TV since 1985. Then, when all seemed lost, Star Trek was revived with a Film Of The Series which promises to kick off a whole new series of movies:
"Star Trek XIII" (2016) (TBD) — The upcoming thirteenth film whose release is set to coincide with the franchise's 50th anniversary.
In total, to watch every minute of canon Star Trek (series and movies) would require 22 days, 16 hours and 21 minutes of your time, and that doesn't include 8 hours and 4 minutes of the Animated Series. Of Science Fiction franchises, only Doctor Who and its various canon spinoffs are even within a week, and the Super Sentai franchise, which started later than Star Trek or Doctor Who, but has been running continuously since 1979.
The Star Trek Expanded Universe consists of the expected novels and videogames; these are somewhat infamous in many circles (compared to the Star Wars counterparts) for the casual disregard the producers of the shows often hold for them.See also the Trek Verse - a discussion of internal Trek history as viewed from a real-world perspective as well as how it affected modern culture.If you'd like to try that marathon and you live in the United States, every series is freely available on the official Star Trek website.
Alcubierre Drive: Arguable Ur Example. The warp drive is described similarly in the technical manuals (though we should note they aren't considered canon) and was the inspiration for Miguel Alcubierre's theory.
All Genes Are Co-Dominant: See Spock (human-Vulcan hybrid), Lieutenant Torres (human-Klingon), Ziyal (Cardiassian-Bajoran), and others.
Aliens Are Bastards: Largely averted. Alien civilizations in Star Trek run the full spectrum, from benevolent to not-so-much. Societies are mostly guided by principles of self-preservation and/or self-improvement; they differ in means. The Federation is all about cooperation and community. Others (Cardassians, Romulans, TOS-era Klingons) are about military conquest. But even those are portrayed realistically, and sometimes sympathetically, as just groups of individuals doing what they believe to be correct. Very few (the Borg, the Pah-Wraiths) are presented as being genuinely Always Chaotic Evil.
Alternate History: In Star Trek, the 90s and late 80s were a genetic renaissance, and superhuman products of genetic manipulation almost threw mankind back into the dark ages. After Humanity's recovery from this, the Vulcans arrived and Humanity's technology advanced extremely quickly. All the shows take place after this.
In some cases this is retconned or made to be more of a Secret History, in order to keep alive the possibility that Star Trek could hypothetically still be our future (thus retaining the positive outlook on mankind's future).
And what happens when 2053 rolls around and World War III (hopefully) doesn't happen?
In DS9 the Cardassians apparently have different numbering systems for merchant and military castes, a factor which comes up in attempting to work with their technology.
Always Chaotic Evil: Borg who are connected to the race's Hive Mind (those not connected can be good). The original series and Enterprise also portray Klingons and Romulans this way, and The Next Generation does likewise with the Ferengi and Cardassians.
Both TNG (particularly the "Reunion" two-parter that featured the return of Spock) and DS9 show Romulans capable of acting reasonably. In the TNG episode "The Neutral Zone" Picard and his Romulan counterpart agree to cooperate in investigating an unknown entity threatening the settlements of both powers that would later be revealed as—or at least heavily implied to be—the Borg. In Star Trek: Nemesis the Romulans actually save the Enterprise from near-destruction and render aid to the crew. DS9 showed that individual Cardassians were capable of being good and honorable people even if their society doesn't encourage it.
Always on Duty: The main characters are always on the bridge whenever something interesting is happening. The only time across the entire franchise that we see evidence of any kind of watcj system is in a few TNG episodes where Data is shown on midnight watch (whatever "night" is in space), once in VOY when Harry Kim is on duty, and once when Captain Sulu of the Excelsior in The Undiscovered Country gets woken up by Christian Slater.
Amazing Technicolor Population: The Bolians and the Andorians are bright blue; the former evolved from aquatic mammals, and the latter hail from an icy moon. Andorians also behave like aristocratic "blue bloods", drink blue alcohol, enjoy listening to "Andorian Blues" music, and so forth.
Colonel Green, the World War III leader recreated in the Star Trek episode "The Savage Curtain" as a symbol of evil, was portrayed as A Nazi by Any Other Name in the Expanded Universe novel Star Trek: Federation, where he's the leader of the "Optimum Movement", and his symbols include geometric shapes (interlocked triangles, rather than the swastika) and black eagles. This portrayal was continued in the Star Trek: Enterprise episodes dealing with Terra Prime, with the hate-group's admiration of Green reflecting the neo-Nazi attitude to Hitler. (The Terra Prime arc was partly written by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, who also wrote Federation.) A loud thudding sound accompanied Federation making its Big Bad, Adrik Thorsen (presumably intended to be a German name, but it ended up more Scandinavian...still Middle-to-Upper Europe, though), be blonde and blue-eyed.
The whole concept of genetic augmentation is presented to reflect this trope in Star Trek. The first Eugenics Wars in which a bunch of superpowered dictators, (i.e. a "master race") conquered the Earth until they were deposed. Then after you had the Augments who fancied themselves a master race.
In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The Cardassians are a clear analogue to a Fascist dictatorship, but as a whole, they're a mix of most of the major Fascist powers. Their actions during the Occupation of Bajor, however, have clear and distinct parallels to the Nazi regime - right down to the forced-labor camps and their treatment of prisoners. This is alluded to throughout the first season and then put clearly on display in its second-to-last episode, "Duet," which deals with the labor camp Gallitep and Kira's reaction to one of its supposed former officers - the parallels to Auschwitz are undeniable.
The parallel is never more clear than during this chilling monologue showing the Cardassian attitude toward Bajorans:
Darhe'el (actually Marritza): Oh, no, no, Major, you can't dismiss me that easily. I did what had to be done. My men understood that, and that's why they loved me. I would order them to go out and kill Bajoran scum, and they'd do it! They'd murder them! They'd come back covered in blood, but they felt clean! Now why did they feel that way, Major? Because they were clean!
Angels, Devils and Squid: The Bajoran Prophets are the Angels, the Pah-Wraiths and Fek'lhr are the Devils, and the various Starfish Aliens (Species 8472, Devidians, etc.) and Eldritch Abominations are the Squid. Then, there are the Q, who have traits in common with all three, and can choose which one they are, depending on the day and their mood.
Ira Stephen Behr apparently missed the memo about Trekkies generally not being fans of swing music. He admitted responsibility for Vic Fontaine, having spent weeks vetting James Darren (no relation to Bobby) for the role. Behr sympathizes with the fans' displeasure at the Vic episodes... kind of. Vic still sang a total of fourteen songs in Seasons Six and Seven of DS9, including the Series Finale(!).
Blue and Orange Morality: The norm, really. For Humans, the Prime Directive was a means of addressing this concept. It boils down thusly: 1) There are alien cultures out there with values and customs potentially very different than ours; 2) Said values and customs are no more or less valid than our own; and 3) we have no right to change or influence these cultures, only try to understand and respect them.
Burial in Space: Ship casualties are loaded into hollow photon torpedoes (which are conveniently shaped like tanning beds) and shot into space. This is what happened to Spock in Star Trek II, before his body landed on the Genesis Planet and was mistakenly revitalized.
Gene Roddenberry, the father of Star Trek is a real-life example, as is James Doohan, the original Scotty.
Classically Trained Extra: Patrick Stewart, most famously. He even said that he considered it training for his role as Picard. But the franchise is famous for casting many stage actors over regular TV guest actors. In fact, actors who lacked theater experience (Terry Farrell) occasionally felt like the odd one out.
Klingon actors in particular are noted for their Shakespearean experience.
Clothes Make the Legend: The black and primary color uniform scheme. Only the first six films and Enterprise (though that did have the TOS colours on the shoulders of their all-blue NASA-style flight-suits) didn't follow this... though the uniforms with Wrath of Khan's emblematic red-vest-division-turtleneck-and-black-pants is also very popular.
On TNG, Cadets wore a variation on the standard uniform, but with the colors reversed: division-colored shoulderpads on black jumpsuits. This later became the attire of "lower deck" drones who labored within space stations and other departments; no glamorous Galaxy-class explorers, they. Cadet uniforms are usually grey, although they too underwent changes.
Also for many of the major races and nations, who are associated with particular colour schemes:
The Federation is a rich blue (on star charts, on their seal, in their warp plasma) supplemented by other light pastel shades and grey (for ship bulkheads).
The Klingons are red (on star charts, on their banner, their graphic displays and ship controls, their warp plasma, their transporter effect). They also prefer red lighting aboard their ships and in their buildings.
Romulans are deep green (on star charts, on banners and display graphics, their warp plasma, their transporter effect). Their ships also have a deep green hull colour.
Interestingly Romulans have green blood (copper-based). This means the ships are blood colored.
Cardassians are usually yellow-ochre or pink (both colours were used for their weapons - pink in their first few appearances, later yellow, their transporter is yellow-ochre, on star charts they're either yellow or pink). Their ship hulls are ochre. Their graphics and display panels use orange/beige and green, colours that sometimes appear on their cultural emblem.
The Dominion is purple (their warp plasma, on star charts; their graphics are purple and green).
Ferengi warp plasma and ship hulls are orange.
Andorians, to no-one's surprise, like white and blue, along with a pale beige.
Cross Over: The various series saw many of these, beginning with The Next Generation, although events in one series rarely affected the others. The crossovers became more frequent in later years.
The only storyline to play a major role in multiple Star Trek series was that involving the Maquis. The reason behind their existence (the creation of the DMZ) was established in Star Trek: The Next Generation Season Seven but the Maquis were introduced in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season Two before turning up in "Preemptive Strike", the penultimate episode of The Next Generation, and forming a major part of the backstory of Chakotay and B'Elanna in Star Trek: Voyager. The destruction of the Maquis by the Dominion in Deep Space Nine Season Five comes back to haunt Chakotay and B'Elanna in Voyager Season Four when the ship finally makes contact with the Alpha Quadrant.
Events from one series do occasionally impact on later ones in less direct ways though. For instance, a major part of Sisko's backstory in Deep Space Nine was the death of his wife Jennifer during the Battle of Wolf 359, which occurred in TNG's "The Best of Both Worlds". The subsequent Borg attack on Section 001, which occurred in Star Trek: First Contact, is mentioned occasionally in Deep Space Nine while the Dominion War from Deep Space Nine is mentioned in Voyager's "Message in a Bottle", Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis.
Darker and Edgier: Deep Space Nine is the darkest of the TV shows, with its plots involving petty politics and the terrible aspects of war, as well as its less rosy portrayal of the Federation. Unlike most other examples of this trope, however, the show never fully abandoned the idealism of the rest of the franchise even in its darkest moments.
Death Wail: The standard practice when a Klingon dies is for his/her comrades to hold their eyes open while screaming loudly to the sky to warn those in the afterlife that a great warrior is on his/her way to join them.
Deflector Shields: A standard ship feature. Battle shields tend to get knocked down 30 - 50 percent in a few hits. Ships also have low-level shielding that keeps them from being punctured by centimeter-wide space debris at warp speed.
Development Gag: Quite a few. Jeffries Tubes were named after the visual designer of the original series (and designer of the original Enterprise) Matt Jeffries. Various shuttlecraft, such as the Justman, were also named after notable production crew. A section of Stage 16 at the Paramount studio used to portray alien planets had the nickname of "Planet Hell," which was used as a description of an appropriate planet in Star Trek: Voyager.
The ENT episode "Dear Doctor" makes a reference to sex-starved Archer's "Pillarian Slips" in front of busty T'Pol. This is a cute nod to writer Michael Pillar.
Dress Up Episode: most common in the Original Series ("A Piece of the Action", "Return of the Archons", "Assignment: Earth"), but happens inNext Generation a fair amount too ("The Big Goodbye").
Picard: Tea, Earl Grey, hot! Sisko: One raktajino with a jacarine peel! Janeway: Coffee! Black! Troi: Hot chocolate! O'Brien: Coffee, Jamaican blend. Double sweet, double strong. Rom: Snail juice, extra shells! Bashir: Red leaf tea! Worf:PRUNE JUICE! EXTRA LARGE!
Apparently, the unspoken mission of the United Federation of Planets is to distribute root beer throughout the universe.
The Ferengi specialize in an alcoholic beverage called a black hole. Want to get hammered fast? Try a black hole.
The alcohol of choice for most Cardassians is kanar, a liquor that comes in several forms, most commonly a syrupy, dark brown liquid in a spiral-shaped bottle.
Other drinks include Romulan ale, tranya (from TOS' "The Corbomite Maneuver" and later stocked at Quark's on Deep Space Nine), something called a Cardassian Sunrise, and the famous Klingon bloodwine. Actual blood is not among the ingredients, though it is served warm (to simulate drinking the blood of one's enemies). It's also twice as potent as Earth whiskey.
Doctor's Orders: The medical personnel can remove the captain from command.
The Empire: The Klingon Empire, Romulan Star Empire and Cardassian Union. The Andorians tried their hand at becoming an imperial power in ENT, but mostly just embarrassed themselves.
The Terran Empire rules with an iron fist in the Mirror Universe.
The Klingon Empire in the original series qualified until they allied with the Federation. Prior to the Dominion War however, it temporarily relapsed back to the "old ways", namely with the conquest of Cardassia.
The Cardassian "Union" is an imperial military dictatorship, run by military officials in an Orwellian body known as the Central Command, rather then one Emperor. It's more similar to Nazi Germany or the USSR then a traditional empire, controlled by a political body. The occupation of Bajor has shown the jack-booted Cardassians to be particularly ruthless.
Epic Tracking Shot: It's an interesting thing to note as the next generation of shows progressed in special effects.
Evil Is Not Well Lit: Of all the species, only the Borg and Cardassians have an excuse for this - the Borg's minimalism, and the latter's sensitivity to light. Incidentally, this is the excuse for Deep Space Nine being so dimly-lit, since it was built by the Cardassians.
Expositron 9000: The ship/station computers. ...And Data, if you think about it.
Family Values Villain: Many examples. Most notably, the Klingons, Cardassians, and Romulans place great importance on family and honoring their elders. Of course, there are numerous ugly exceptions to those rules.
Fan of the Past: Too many to name. You're far more likely to find a character enjoying a play, book, or movie that's a classic by our standards rather than a fictional future contemporary.
The Klingon distance unit "kellicam" is roughly equal to a kilometer.
The Bajoran measurement system includes hecapate, kellipate, kerripate, linnipate, tessijen and tessipate.
Computer capacity is measured in kiloquads, a unit that is very carefully never defined to avoid looking outdated when Technology Marches On.
Subspace distortion is measured in cochranes, an SI unit named for warp drive inventor Zefram Cochrane.
Stresses are often given units of 'isodynes'. The Dyne is a legitimate unit of measure (albeit not SI), but is a measure of force (equal to 10 micronewtons). The correct usage would be 'Dynes per some unit of area'. There is no mention of what the prefix 'iso-' might represent. The prefix 'tera-' is also used (e.g. 'Hull stress at over 30 teradynes and rising!') and is more legitimate, but if that example was per square metre, the stress would be of the order of 10 megapascals - 100 times atmospheric pressure. Not a huge quantity in the grand scheme of things if you're a starship.
The Bajorans use their family name before their personal name.
The Klingons have one personal name, their father's name, and then their house name. The house name is usually omitted in introductions, but the crest is worn on their metal sashes.
Vulcans have several conventions followed:
They seem to only have one name, no family name.
Female names usually begin with T and have an apostrophe, followed by a P. Notable exceptions include: Tuvok from Voyager.
Male names usually begin with S and do not have an apostrophe. Notable exceptions include: Saavik from movies II, III, and IV.
Romulans similarly tend to have only one name with no surname.
Ferengi also tend to have only one name, generally one syllable, with no surname.
Fantastic Racism: There will always be at least a few members of each species that has issues with humans, other species, or vice versa.
Fantastic Nuke: The Genesis Device, a sophisticated torpedo used for rapid terraforming of dead worlds. Ironically, deploying this on an inhabited planet has the opposite effect, destroying all life to make way for the new matrix.
In "Chain of Command", Picard's sent to destroy a protoype metagenic weapon. Metagenic bombs wipe out all organic matter on a planet's surface, leaving only the manufactured materials intact (and the world ripe for conquest). The weapons were outlawed, in part because they were equally hazardous to the invading force; however, the Cardassians were rumored to be overcoming that problem. This turned out to be a false flag, though.
The Vulcans use "Red Matter" to create pocket black holes. Nero got the bright idea of using it to eat a planet (specifically Vulcan).
Fantastic Rank System: Everyone except the Federation has a different one. See the trope page for more details.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: While not fantasy, most of the major alien species have some connection to Real World counterparts. It should be considered that there is a difference between culture and politics.
The Federation - The United States. Although, it's sort of a mixture of the United States & the United Nations. The Federation flag & the Federation Council are reminiscent of the UN Flag & the Security Council. However, unlike the present-day UN, the Federation is a sovereign government with elements common to a federal republic. Persons on Federation worlds are citizens of the Federation. That citizenship is guaranteed rights by way of the Federation Charter & Constitution, and the rights enumerated in the Federation Charter & Constitution have supremacy across all member worlds.
Starfleet - The United States Navy. Both the Earth & Federation versions of Starfleet have individual ranks & systems of hierarchy that correspond with the USN's. The color of Starfleet personnel's uniforms are based on the specifics of their job, just as its done with the flight crews aboard USN aircraft carriers. Also, during the Dominion War, Deep Space Nine has Starfleet deployed in the numbered fleet configurations used by the USN, with the 3rd Fleet referenced as protecting Earth & the 7th Fleet all but destroyed in a failed offensive.
Vulcans- Great Britain. Not a perfect match-up, but Enterprise depicted them as a regional superpower who eventually lose much of their realm of control as Earth increases theirs.
Romulans- Communist China, made fairly obvious in the original series. A secretive government who you aren't quite sure what they're up to. The Next Generation expanded on that by showing the Romulans as emerging from decades of isolation from the rest of the galactic community. They also started to become a bit like Iran, for similar reasons. There are allusions to the Roman Empire too: their two main planets are Romulus and Remus, they are called an Empire, their ruling body is the Senate which is headed by a Praetor, and low-ranking officers are called "Centurions".
Klingons- Soviet Russia, like the Romulans the analogue was obvious enough in the original series (although in their initial appearance they were described as Vietcong — "Oriental, hard-faced" and "the Ho Chi Minh type"). They were the passive/aggressive species with whom it felt like war was always just around the corner but never quite got there. They mirrored Post-Soviet Russia in The Next Generation in terms of politics, having gotten past the "cold war" era but still not fully trusting each other. But as part of Gene Roddenberry's plan to not make them evil and a race of "black hats," they turned into... vikings. They also had no analogue to the KGB, where the Romulans have the Tal'Shiar (Ministry of State Security), and the Cardassians have the Obsidian Order (The Gestapo).
The Cardassians took a few stabs at being Nazi analogues (xenophobia is inherent in their genetic makeup). After various failed attempts at democratization and improving relations with the other galactic powers, they join the Dominion and become a Nazi client state like Vichy France. Eventually a "Free French" faction emerges, though they are led by Damar, a Defector from Decadence (whereas the exile Garak was more of a De Gaulle analogue).
Cardassian culture is very military-center and totalitarian - on Deep Space Nine one of the characters comments that "Cardassians have a habit of looking to strong military leadership in hard times" (Bismarck, the Kaiser etc). Parallel was apparently noted in-series, as the anti-Cardassian resistance shares a name with the French resistance of WWII.
Cardassians as generic colonial powers works just as well as the obligatory Nazi comparison, since Bajor is always called a colony and is run along those lines: occupy and obtain resources (with local slave labor), rather than being a matter of living space or an ideology.
Cardassians as a version of Japan is a popular alternative, especially among those who look at details like what food they eat. Much like Imperial Japan in the 1930's and 40's, the Cardassian Union had a nominally civilian government but was actually ruled by the military; though it was considered to be a major power within its sphere of influence, the Cardassian Union was actually smaller and less powerful than its neighbour (which in this case, is the United Federation of Planets).
Bajorans as generic colonized people. (Would support the Cardassians as generic colonial powers interpretation.) Rick Berman compared the Bajorans to "the Kurds, the Palestinians, the Jews in the 1940s, the boat people from Haiti — unfortunately, the homeless and terrorism are problems [of every age]." They're a mishmash of pretty much any victimized group throughout the 20th century.
Orions- The Mafia / Criminal Underground
Nausicaans- Gang Leaders.
Same goes for Voyager's Kazon.
Ferengi- The East India Companies (most closely)
Their society and system of government both bear some resemblance to the cities of Hong Kong and Singapore.
Feudal Future: Earth seems to be the only planet that ever got the hang of democracy. Non-Federation worlds are depicted as imperialist aggressors (the faux-Chinese Klingons and the Greco-Roman Romulans) or peasant societies with well-oiled guillotines.
Fictional Geneva Conventions: The Khitomer Accords, an historic peace treaty between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. It's the prime focus of Star Trek VI, with both sides attempting to scuttle it.
Fictional Sport: Parrises Squares, a highly-athletic game played on the Holodeck.
Fiction Science: The series have produced a large number of Technical Manuals, many of them official. These fill in many details of life in the Trekkian future, especially the inner workings of the Enterprises and other starships.
Free-Love Future: Obviously downplayed, due to television constraints. However, Roddenberry was very much a proponent of this trope. We don't see much of civilian life on Earth, but officers are allowed to cavort fairly freely aboard the Federation's flagship. Prostitution (real and simulated) has also been legalized.
The Agony Booth: Kirk has been with a lot of women, and is presumably deeply grateful for whatever eliminated STDs in Gene Roddenberry’s universe
Frickin' Laser Beams: Common throughout the franchise, though beam weapons move faster in later series, particularly Enterprise. Hand Waved in most instances, as the weapons used are not actually lasers (which are described once as terribly obsolete), but particle beams that move at sublight speed.
The Future Is Noir: The original designation for DS9 was Terok Nor, which is one letter removed. It shows in the station's habitat ring, which is marked by patchy lighting and catwalk ceilings.
Originally, going to Red Alert merely caused red lights to flash. By VOY, every single light on the ship is dimmed. Most likely a nod to the Real Life military practice of using red and/or dimmed lights in dark environments to preserve one's night vision, though this would be counterproductive on a ship that is operated entirely using brightly-lit touchscreens. But would help conserve energy that might be needed in a red alert situation.
"Yesterday's Enterpise" (TNG) and "Living Witness" showed alternate worlds in which the Enterprise and Voyager are fully-cocked warships, under the oppression of permanent Red Alert.
Generations was shot this way mostly to disguise the decade-old sets. However, First Contact was filmed much the same way, despite taking place on a brand new ship, perhaps to illustrate that the Federation is at war again.
Game of Nerds: A recurring motif in some episodes. Wesley Crusher mentions his father once teaching him the game, and a physicist in "Evolution" bemoans the decline of the sport in the late 20th century (attributed to commercialism and sloth).
Ben Sisko is a serious baseball nut. In his debates with the Prophets, an abstract species who think in non-linear terms, baseball is used as a methaphor for each crisis.
Bio-memetic gel, a key component of biogenic weapons. The actual effects of this gel are left up to the imagination; the Federation bans any and all weapons applications, so it must be pretty hairy.
"In the Pale Moonlight" suggests that it can be used to create bombs that pass for organic matter.
Some Expanded Universe sources imply that biogenic is the equivalent of weapon of mass destruction in current parlance. That is, this is a weapon you had DAMN well better not get caught actually using.
George Lucas Altered Version: The remastered Original Series and The Next Generation got a lot of "nip and tuck" regarding for the Hi-Def release (CBS aired some episodes before the actual Blu-Ray release came out). For the Original Series they strove to attain a visual look virtually identical but simply cleaned-up◊. They also included a couple of brand new clips that were intended for the original episode but unable to film at the time, such as an establishing shot of Starfleet Command on Earth. TNG had a similar process done, largely for some effects that simply didn't age as well like the Crystalline Entity. The whole thing was well regarded, in large part because they were supervised by Trek production legend Michael Okuda.
A God Am I: To be a Terraformer in the Trek universe is to be very lordly, indeed. See the imperious Kurk Mandl in "Home Soil" (TNG), later one-upped by nine-time author (all autobiographies) Gideon Seytik in DS9's "Second Sight." Something about creating planets gives scientists a god complex; Seytik's final words were even, "Let there be light!"
Good Colors, Evil Colors: When heroes on Trek use transporters, the visual effect appears blue. Alternatively, Klingons use a red effect. The Borg are green.
Cardassians (and, by extension, the crew of DS9) have yellow transporter beams.
Great Offscreen War: The Third World War and Eugenic Wars, all taking place on Earth and concerning only humanity. It was actually one war in the Original Series, but was later split up into two.
There are EU novels dealing with both, with The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh being the most-read. Also, in the interest of reconciling the Eugenics Wars with the real life passage of the era in which they are said to have taken place (1990s), the Eugenics Wars were retconned into a far less grand scale war that happened mostly in the shadows of real life events.
The war between the Federation and Romulan Empire, which forms the backstory for the episode "Balance of Terror".
The Next Generation has the war between the Federation and the Cardassians, which was responsible for creating the Anti-Federation confederates known as the Maquis.
As well as "brutal border wars" against the Talarians and the Tzenkethi, which happened at some point between the Original Series and the next Generation.
The Earth-Romulan war ended as this, because ENT was canceled before it could cover it. The continuation novels have since stepped in to flesh it out. When first mentioned in the original series, this war was fought entirely at extreme ranges with nuclear weapons (and with neither race ever actually laying eyes on the other).
Gunboat Diplomacy: The Federation definitely believes in "carrying a big ship" to negotiations. They don't usually push their self-interest too hard with this show of force, but it still makes three things clear. "We are strong." "We are rich." "You don't start fights when we're trying to negotiate."
Humans Are Diplomats: Especially during TOS and early TNG. Gene Roddenberry opposed the idea of a military Starfleet.
Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Worf once justified this by claiming Starfleet duds are suited for a wide variety of climates, due to the special material or somesuch. ("Let He Who is Without Sin"). It also spared the makeup department from showing us what Klingons look like in swim trunks, but that's just coincidental.
The Klingons are the lords of this trope. At least the Romulans can claim a degree of urban camo with their checkered outfits. The Klingons are all about plate metal, spikes, and gauntlets that would make Shredder envious. And don't forget the steel-toed, spiked boots for kicking your enemy's skull in.
The Cardassians favor big, bulky chestplates, along with a wide neckline for the snake-like hoods on their neck. It doesn't look very comfortable or maneuverable.
Hollywood Tactics: Went up and down depending on the series and the point in the series, but pretty much everybody is woefully under-equipped and fights very poorly in land combat.
Hologram: Starting in TNG, recreational holodecks were standard, with "hard light" holograms made of projections and forcefields. Later series also added the Emergency Medical Hologram.
This is a bit of Fridge Brilliance. Humor is usually about the incongruity between logic and reality. So, basically, Vulcans have spent hundreds of years watching every other race act like clowns, and they get the joke. They may not guffaw, but their sense of humor is finely honed.
Sulu tells a young Tuvok once, "Don't tell me Vulcans don't have a sense of humor, because I know better." True enough!
Inertial Dampening: Occasionally mentioned by the characters, Inertial Dampeners allow an Impulse-drive-powered starship to accelerate from a dead stop to a substantial fraction of the speed of light in under a minute, without turning the crew into crepes. The technology isn't quick enough to compensate for random, unexpected impacts, however, which can result in the Star Trek Shake.
Inexplicable Cultural Ties: In Roddenberry's Star Trek pitch, he explains how culturally (and biologically) familiar aliens would make Science Fiction feasible for TV. Star Trek has since been true to what he called the Parallel Worlds concept that prescribes that alien civilizations will usually be very much like humans culturally and therefore not too foreign to the audience.
Insistent Terminology: Back in the days when "geek" was a bonafide insult rather than a badge of honor, fans considered "Trekkie" insulting and belittling. It was Trekker, thank you very much. As times changed and being a nerd became cool, the diminutive came to be embraced as more like a term of endearment.
Ironically, this later success ended up jeopardizing the series' future. When news hit of TNG, fans were up in arms, and the original cast members weren't shy about voicing their displeasure either. The show flailed about for two seasons trying—and failing—to distinguish itself from its parents series, recycling plots and characters, having actors defect and leave the show, and nearly losing Patrick Stewart (who saw the shadows lengthening and opted not to renew his contract). Were it not for the cliffhanger ending in "The Best of Both Worlds", TNG might not have been renewed and the franchise would have ended there.
Just a Machine: Star Trek in general draws a distinction between the special cases like Data and the Doctor, and the ubiquitous ship computers responsible for getting everything done in the background. Despite the fact that ship computers can pass the Turing Test with ease, act on their own initiative, and occasionally even display signs of emotion, this is never investigated or even mentioned in-story: ship computers are always just-machines and limited to being background elements (this is doubly notable since some of the special case characters, such as the Doctor, run on a ship computer).
Large Ham: Pops up a lot, but becomes near-certain whenever a Klingon is on screen.
Made of Explodium: When a computer blows up in Star Trek, it BLOWS UP. This extends to either independent computer equipment or even the consoles on the bridge. Sometimes characters even die from the exploding bridge consoles.
The Main Characters Do Everything: Trek seems to have a problem with keeping crew members at their designated stations, probably because it would become monotonous to the actors. It's a running gag that during a ship-wide emergency, the last place you'll find the Chief Engineer is in Engineering. (In TNG, Geordi could simply "transfer Engineering control" to the bridge, whatever that means, and thus justifiy his presence there.)
The drone-like Lawgivers in "Return of the Archons." In that case, the drone-like humanoids were controlled by an intelligent supercomputer.
The original builders of the Androids on Exo III were also stated to have been a society of biological creatures who ruined their homeworld and retreated underground where they became a more mechanized, machine-like society.
The Kelvans from the Andromeda Galaxy are implied to have a culture like this; they are completely organic beings, but in their true form they experience none of the sensory distractions of humanoids, and consider themselves much more efficient. They go about trying to take over the Milky Way with very straightforward methods (transforming Kirk's crew into vulnerable dust-cubes that only their technology can restore to human form, for example) but without any of the typical Trek villains' hamminess. The Federation is saved from them by the fact that, when in artificial humanoid form, the Kelvans become Sense Freaks and can be incapacitated in a variety of ways, such as by the effects of alcohol or unfamiliar emotions like pleasure or jealousy.
The Eyemorg (humanoid female) society in the infamous episode "Spock's Brain" were totally reliant on a mechanized underground industrial complex run by advanced computers (for which purpose they tried to steal "Spock's Brain," because they lacked the knowledge to maintain this infrastructure themselves unless); this was in contrast to the primitive, Ice Age-like culture of males that lived on the surface.
The Fabrini who lived aboard a generational asteroid ship, which they all believed was actually a planet, were similarly run by an advanced, tyrannical computer called The Oracle. The Fabrini were less "rigidly mechanical" and more "rigidly traditional" though, the rigid traditions being enforced by The Oracle.
The Borg are a Hive Mind of Hollywood Cyborg aliens that otherwise follow this trope, using cybernetically augmented humanoid bodies only as cannon fodder and servitor units.
Vulcans sometimes have elements of this, but their culture is much more complex. Their education system, however, as briefly shown in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and more extensively in Star Trek (2009), is very much in line with this trope and plays like a callback to the uber-intellectual, emotionless aliens of older science fiction.
The Iyaarans, a species from a Season 7 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, play this trope absolutely straight, and also like a callback to aliens from older Sci-Fi: They are Ditto Aliens with rubber foreheads and jumpsuits; they lack cultural concepts like antagonism, love, joy, pleasure, crime, etc; they all appear male and reproduce asexually by something called post-cellular compounding, the exact mechanics of which are, fortunately, never detailed. Their diet is extremely bland, consisting of nutrient wafers, because they consider their need to eat as matter of sustenance only, not pleasure or enjoyment, like many other humanoids consider meals. Unlike most examples of this trope, however, they are very curious about other cultures, though they struggle to understand diverse cultures like the Federation.
Similarly, the cauliflower-headed humanoids that abducted Picard for study in an earlier episode were all identical with no concept of individual identity or leadership. What little was revealed about their society hinted at something like this trope.
The Bynars from the first season episode "11001001" are closely dependent on their computers for survival. They have implants that connect them to their planet's central computer, have "digital" names like One Zero and Zero One, live and work in binary pairs, have a language based on binary, and when their planet's central planetary computer is fried by a nearby supernova it almost wipes out the entire species.
The Hierarchy from Star Trek: Voyager are a callback/parody/possible deconstruction of this, with their heavily regimented, computerized society, costume design, and snotty behavior.
Mildly Military: Starfleet combines the swashbuckling and relative independence of ships from the Age Of Sail with a preference for a fairly relaxed, "enlightened" attitude, and a portfolio split between defence, science, law enforcement, and diplomacy.
It is now Canon that NCC-1701 is a ship's classification number, however with that lead "N" it could be taken as a civil aircraft registration number.
Not unintentional, as Roddenberry reportedly based the Starfleet hull-numbering system after the US civil aircraft registration system deliberately referencing the "N" or "NC" numbers used on US aircraft.)
The placement of the insignia on the uniforms is reminiscent of a police officer's badge. Roddenberry was a Los Angeles police officer prior to his entertainment career, so perhaps this usage was intentional given Starfleet's law enforcement/community service role.
Military Maverick: Almost expected of Starfleet captains, it would seem. Picard, for all his careful, deliberate, and knowledge of the the regulations (backwards, forwards, and sideways), has many moments of this, and the others even more. One gets the impression that, away from central planets and main trade routes, the captain is the Federation, with all the discretion and responsibility that implies.
Considering that the original concept for the series was Hornblower in deep space, and that ship captains during the Wooden Ships and Iron Men era usually were their respective country's highest representative in any area where they were stationed...
Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager once made a comment about how strongly she had to hold onto Starfleet regulations so far from home, but also admired the gung-ho attitude of earlier Starfleet captains ("I would have loved to ride shotgun at least once with a group of officers like that!").
Miracle Food: The replicators can recycle matter to synthesize almost anything, including food and drinks. Several episodes have seen the crew replicate food and other provisions for people in need.
Star Trek: The Original Series:In SF author David Gerrold's book about writing the episode "The Trouble With Tribbles", he recounts seeing the first episode broadcast, which featured a creature that sucked all of the salt out of people's bodies, thereby killing them. He hoped Star Trek wasn't going to turn out to be a Monster of the Week show, which ironically for him, it did.
Monumental View: Every iteration puts Starfleet academy on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco (and directly across from Starfleet headquarters.) There's a bit of a problem with that as the land there is almost exclusively deep, steep, hills.
On the other hand, the chronologically earliest series takes place a century and a half in the future. Plenty of time for the hills to get bulldozed.
Those same hills where the academy would be placed if it were a real place are actually home to a large network of abandoned US Naval fortifications, which presumably could be used by Starfleet, with additions for things like hangers or storage making it a fairly logical placement for the purpose of a base/training station.
Kirk, McCoy, and several others were transported to a Mirror Universe in the "Mirror, Mirror" episode of the original Star Trek, in which a dark Earth-based empire ruled the galaxy. This was very much an In Spite of a Nail universe, since everything was much the same except the moral/ethical bent of the Federation's counterpart and its citizens.
Years later, the cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine returned to this universe to discover that the revolution Kirk had encouraged its native Spock to foment had happened; unfortunately, its effects were not necessarily for the better.
Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: Occasionally, when something particularly strange was in the transporter room or something, the officer present just asks the captain to come look. Sometimes justified, as with Scotty in Wrath of Khan.
No OSHA Compliance: Various parts of the ships have handrails a-plenty, but virtually no seat belts (the reboot films being a notable exception.) Across multiple series and movies, time and again in the franchise, you'll see the ship rocked by explosions and characters thrown hurtling all over the bridge while the camera shakes, sometimes being hurled from one end to the other. You'd think that seat belts would become a priority after decades of this. Poor Worf doesn't even have a seat.
Fridge here but maybe all that being tossed around is what lead to Worf's Badass Decay. He probably broke every bone a few times over, and even in the future that has to take a toll.
It gets worse when you consider how everything on the bridge tends to explode and occasionally kill various redshirt crewmen whenever the ship takes a hit. Do they store nitroglycerine in their computer consoles? Did they never invent fuses?
Referring back to the handrail, it came to a head in Enterprise when a crewman actually calls something a handrail, then when its pointed out that where it's placed on a lift would actually sever fingers, is clearly confused and asks why anyone would put their hand there. Considering its Trip of all people, who's asking the crewman this, its even more baffling?
No Such Thing as Alien Pop Culture: Occasionally subverted or averted, it's still the rule rather than the exception. Notably, Klingons have opera and something resembling heavy metal.
No Such Thing as H.R.: A common point of confusion in the otherwise enlightened future of Star Trek is Mc Coy's humorously treated Fantastic Racism towards Spock , along with the number of physical altercations the crew get into without really getting into trouble. Justifiable in the original series since the ship's on the edge of known space; by the time the franchise moved closer to Earth with Star Trek: The Next Generation, a more established bureaucracy seemed to be in place (though occasionally characters like Worf seem to be allowed a huge amount of leeway as a Proud Warrior Race Guy).
Away teams, the futuristic equivalent of a boarding party, are typically composed of several senior officers, plus one or two Red Shirt characters as cannon fodder. In TOS, Kirk himself frequently led the away team.
Inverted by Miles O'Brien. He's essentially the chief engineer, but he's just a petty officer. Granted, there don't seem to be that many Starfleet officers under him, so he technically does still outrank his staff. Most of them seem to be Bajoran civilians (and Rom).
Planet of Hats: Most planets visited have exactly one government, one language, and one culture.
The Plague: The disease that killed all the adults in "Miri". (TOS)
Rigelian Fever in "Requiem for Methuselah".
The disease from "The Naked Time" (and its sequel "The Naked Now") is apparently non-fatal, but is highly contagious and, in both episodes, turns the entire crew into oversexed, drunken boobs who threaten to destroy the ship.
The macrovirus in the Voyager episode "Macrocosm". Especially nightmarish because of the monsters that exist solely as vectors, and are produced by the welts on its victims' skin.
Also in VOY, an entire alien species is struck with the "phage", a flesh-melting disease which adapts too fast to be treated. The aliens are forced to graft skin and organs from assorted species onto themselves.
In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Dominion infected an entire planet which resisted them with a plague called "The Quickening" (after the final deadly stage of infection). Everyone is born with it, most die in childhood, but enough people survive to adulthood to keep their population stable, turning what was once a space-faring civilization into something resembling the Dung Ages. Dr. Bashir beats his head against the wall trying to find a cure, but can only come up with a vaccine. The upshot is that future generations may yet stand a chance.
The Federation's "Section 31" also created a plague to kill the Changelings and win the war. It was ultimately successful, as the Changelings ended up bartering peace in exchange for a cure.
The plague that nearly depopulated one of the Dramians' two planets in the Animated Series episode "Albatross."
Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Voyager, of course. Virtually nobody on the ship has any business being there, including the ship's Doctor.
Deep Space Nine also has a fairly motley crew, considering that some belong to species who are avowed enemies of the TNG crew. Moreover, nobody on the station really wants to be there: Sisko originally wanted to transfer to civilian service; Quark was planning to split town altogether; Worf is back to square one, surrounded by even more people he doesn't understand; Kira resented working with Starfleet and was only comfortable blowing things up; Garak is barred from returning to his homeworld and, to add insult to injury, constantly shivering from the (comparatively freezing) temperature.
Reactionless Drive: Every ship's warp drive is propelled by the cylindrical nacelles on the sides of the ship. There is no apparent ejection of matter, so what force is propelling the ship is unknown to our primitive understanding of physics. Most theorists who dissect the Techno Babble have settled on the idea that warp technology distorts space-time in a way that a) makes the ship capable of Faster-Than-Light Travel and b) requires the engines to work in a way analogous to terrestrial transport (à laSpace Friction).
Even the slower-than-light Impulse Engines appear to be some kind of reactionless drive. Although they glow an ominous red color while in operation, there's no apparent ejection of matter, and no mention is ever made of the need for propellant storage. (The top speed under impulse drive is supposed to be 0.25c, which even for antimatter-powered Newtonian engines would require a substantial amount of propellant mass to be expelled.)
The Borg Collective is an interesting aversion of this. Though it has no compunction sacrificing drones to adapt to phasers and forces individuals to act against their will, it would not outright order individuals like Picard/Locutus or Hugh to die when they became a threat... it prized them too much, like limbs. It was effectively a hydra that liked some of its heads. Part of this is because, at least in earlier depictions, the Borg - despite appearances - value diversity. Uniqueness allowed it to expand its own capabilities. However, born and raised Borg like Hugh that undergo a period of individuality can grow to reject the Collective's absolute stranglehold on them, and even infect other drones with The Evils of Free Will.
However, the Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact and Voyager is a straight cyborg example of this trope. She sees herself as the pinnacle of perfection, knowingly enslaves her drones to make them fit her view of perfection by squashing any individuality and will thoughtlessly sacrifice thousands of drones to capture and coerce individuals like Seven of Nine or attacking the invincible aliens in Fluidic Space.
Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: Voyager cruising over a planet's rings in the opening credits. Why does it take sixty years to fly back to the Alpha Quadrant? All they have to do is walk from one side of the ship to the other.
The Dyson Sphere in TNG's "Relics." The outer shell is built around a star to absorb its power. If you constructed a Dyson Sphere around our sun, for example, the surface area would be about 550 million times the entire surface area of the Earth.
On Deep Space Nine, the producers rolled out a new invention: a portable 3D holocommunicator. Instead of conversing via a viewscreen, two actors could share the same room and still appear to be talking over great distances. Ironically, this looks even cheaper than the viewscreen did, despite being more time-consuming and expensive (due to various camera trickery to make the 'effect' look less blatant.) The device only shows up in two episodes, "For the Uniform" and "Doctor Bashir, I Presume?"
Trek holograms have always been cleaner than Star Wars holograms, so flickering or static wouldn't be keeping in canon. Instead, they tried surrounding the 'holographic' actor in blue light (so as to appear to be transmitting from a different room), but the actor confusingly looks like a ghost(!).
Screen Shake: The usual method of showing impact. Shake camera, shimmy actors.
Self-Made Orphan: Uses this trope in Klingon mythology. According to it, the gods created Klingons, who then turned around and killed them for the trouble.
Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Many characters quote the Bard. Alien cultures tend to admire him too, even claiming him as their own.
Space Fighter: Fighters are rare, but did turn up now and then — especially in Deep Space Nine. Later Trek series started having a stronger military influence and ships like the Defiant and the Delta Flyer are surprisingly battle-hearted fighters.
Starfish Aliens: While the series is often mocked for excessive use of Rubber-Forehead Aliens, special mention must be made of the Tholians that appeared in the original series episode "The Tholian Web", who were so strange, while visible only partly through the main viewscreen during negotiations, that the writers themselves (like anyone else) couldn't figure out what they actually were implied to be for the better part of 30 years, even while being passingly mentioned once or twice in different series. Only toward the end of Enterprise did they finally settle on the head being a carapace, and the Tholians as a race of advanced arachnids.
For a show with a limited budget, even the original series had a decent number of nonhumanoids. Apart from a bunch of Energy Beings, we also had the Horta, Yarnek, the Melkotians—and a few shapeshifters like Sylvia & Korob, and the Kelvans, whose real forms were nonhumanoid. Each of the later series added a few more to the list. The show that far and away had the most nonhumanoids was the one where budget limitations could not hinder creature design: Star Trek: The Animated Series.
State Sec: Romulans and Cardassians both got their own little versions in the form of the Tal'Shiar and Obsidian Order respectively. Arguably Starfleet's Section 31. The Ferengi's FCA might also qualify given their cultural bias.
Stealth in Space: The Romulans developed a Cloaking Device in the timeframe of TOS, which was soon stolen by the Federation; subsequently, the Treaty of Algeron prohibited the Federation from using or developing any cloaking technology of its own.
There have been some grisly accidents in each iteration of Trek: two Enterprise crewmen died agonizing deaths (TOS: The Motion Picture), Riker unwittingly twinned himself when he tried beaming through a distorted atmosphere (TNG, "Second Chances"), Scotty's transporter pattern was stuck in limbo for a century (TNG, "Relics"), and another crewman's body was mixed with rocks and foliage while attempting to beam out during a fierce windstorm (ENT, "Strange New World"). Sabotage of the transporter platform is not uncommon, either.
Humans in the future, being generally agnostic and pro-science, have come to peace with the discovery that "matter and energy are interchangeable." They don't seem to fret much over the philosophical implications of (technically) dying and being replaced each time they beam out. Not to mention there seems to be some Continuity Snarl on how exactly transportation works, since in some episodes it's literal molecular destruction, while in others we see people being transported who maintain a consistent stream of consciousness even while they're being "blended," so it usually comes down to a case of Depending on the Writer.
Teleport Interdiction: Since the transporters are such an integral part of the Star Trek franchise, it has a lot of this. For example, it's not possible to transport through a ship's deflector shields. Usually this is used as a way to add drama — with the ship having to drop its shields briefly in the middle of battle in order to beam back an away team — but it also means transporter-enabled boarding parties aren't a major part of battle tactics.
Tie In Novels: A huge range of novels based on all eras of the franchise (and the spaces in between) exists, including novelizations of several episodes and Star Trek: New Frontier. Other than the novelizations, these are all officially declared non-canon by Paramount and Gene Roddenberry. When Jeri Taylor was the Word of God on Star Trek: Voyager, her original novels about the crew's history were considered canon. They aren't any more.
Pre-Nemesis, authors had a standing order not to kill any character that had appeared on-screen. Afterwards, because Nemesis is likely the last time the original timeline will be seen on-screen, all bets are off. (Still non-canon, however.)
Janeway is described as casually flaunting the timeline so frequently it actually managed to drive Captain Braxton 'insane''. He comes up with something called "The Janeway Factor," meaning that you can fully expect her to blunder into any time-sensitive activities going on.
Also, the time police hate Kirk; when Sisko gives his report about "Trials and Tribble-ations," and first mentions Kirk, the two operatives exchange a look which says, "we hate the Kirk cases."
Time to Step Up, Commander: A frequent device (often in the disaster episode) is to have a member of the secondary bridge crew or even the counselor forced to take command when the captain is knocked out or cut off from the rest of the ship.
Token Enemy Non Human: Most of the "Big Bad" species produce a black sheep who sees the light, defects to the good guys, and becomes a bridge officer. With Seven of Nine (a discarded Borg), this trope reached its apogee.
Only the Romulans have proven implacable enough to resist this.
We occasionally get to see the Translator in action, such as in "Sanctuary" where the aliens' gibberish gradually turned to English.
And of course, "Darmok" famously subverted it by having the aliens talk in allegories, which aren't so easily translated.
Trouble from the Past: We have the Eugenics Wars of the mid-1990s, the "sanctuary districts" of the early 21st century where the homeless, jobless, and mentally ill were left to rot, and the post-atomic horror following World War Three in the late 21st century.
Uniqueness Decay: The Borg start out in Next Generation as a mysterious, frighteningly advanced and implacable species from beyond known space. Then Enterprise has them show up about 300 years before that, while their Villain Decay on Voyager makes them seem distinctly nonthreatening.
Unusual User Interface: Data was regularly plugging himself into various bits of the ship. Once they even attached just his head to a console after his body was misplaced.
In some cases (particularly in TNG), computers were reprogrammed by rearranging "isolinear chips" (green, plastic spark plugs). Back in the 1940s and before, this was a legitimate way to program computers. Why they return to it in the 2360s is anyone's guess.
At least for robotics, the technique is quite valid and is experiencing a rebirth. And military electronic hardware has long consisted of interchangeable modules (the theory being that replacing an entire module is easier—particularly under combat conditions—than restoring the code).
Speaking of Star Trek: TNG, you kids today may be all jaded and stuff, but those touch screen Okudagrams on the Enterprise were freaking awesome in 1987.
An episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has older versions of the crew having trouble adapting to the Defiant's antiquated interface, being used to a three-dimensional projection. ("The Visitor")
In the VOY finale, Janeway returns from decades in the future to change the present, and she is implanted with a standard issue neural computer interface from the future.
There's another episode where Tom Paris gets too close to an alien shuttle with a neural interface.
One episode of DS9 featured a guest character with a data port behind her ear, which she could use to bypass security systems. The dialogue made it sound as though they were relatively freely available... which only raises questions about why we never saw one again.
The Hirogen ships' interface works looks like sticking metal toothpicks into a gigantic sphere.
The Borg can also do this with their assimilation tubes. Said tubes inject nanites into anything. Those nanites then infect and reprogram the target system to resemble that of a Borg ship.
Unwinnable Joke Game: Ironically subverted in Starfleet Academy on the Super Nintendo. You are given The Kobayashi Maru scenario as a graduation requirement. It's supposed to be unwinnable. However, due to the way the video game is designed, it's entirely possible to engage the Klingons and beat them.
The Ferengi have their own variation: The Rules of Acquisition, which they quote like scripture.
Values Dissonance: There is some of this between the Star Trek shows, spanning decades, and the audiences of various generations, but this trope really comes into its own in universe, with the majority of plots being about or involving inter-species and inter-cultural values dissonance.
Villain Decay: In addition to the Borg (mentioned under Uniqueness Decay above), the Ferengi were originally intended to be major villains in Next Generation. Although their first on-screen appearance (Picard speaking to a close-up headshot of a Ferengi on a viewscreen) was extremely intimidating, the diminutive Ferengi were not taken very seriously as bad guys by most fans. The Ferengi were subsequently rescued by being retooled into comedy relief and often sympathetic characters with the Romulans and eventually the Borg becoming the heavies after the first two seasons. And don't get us started on the Kazon...
Klingons love the letter K. The Original Series gave us the iconic triumvirate of Kang, Kor, Koloth, and Kahless; and the movies have Kruge, Klaa, Koord, and Gorkon. In the Expanded Universe, their home planet used to be called Klinzhai, but the official canon later renamed it Qonos (pronounced "Kronos", with a K sound).
In particular, Sarek said upon Spock's birth, "He looks...half-human." Disapproved of Spock's entry into Starfleet Academy and the two are only fully reconciled in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (keep in mind that Spock had died two movies earlier—perhaps this was a jolt to the old man's conscience?) Spock expresses only partly-veiled annoyance that Sarek had engaged in a mind-meld with Picard when he had never done so with his own son. Sarek is however played far more sympathetically and the relationship between him and Spock is quite a bit better in the 2009 reboot.
Picard's father, Maurice, was a wine-maker who insisted on living his life as though it were the 1800s. Fittingly, he abhorred technology and disapproved of his son joining Starfleet. In fact, when Picard briefly died in "Tapestry", he saw a vision of his father berating him for yet another "disappointment."
This is averted with Joe Sisko, a traditionalist restauranteur and cook who nonetheless supports his son with raising his family in space.
Riker is the chip off the old block: his old man is a glory hound who must compete with his son at every opportunity. This is evidenced by Riker's childhood memory of a fishing trip, in which Kyle Riker took credit for Will's big catch.
Tom Paris' instructor at Starfleet, Admiral Owen Paris: By no means a pleasant or easy tutor to have so keenly on hand. Owen gave his son a "B-Minus".
Malcolm Reed's father basically disowned him for not joining the Royal Navy.
Odo has a bristled relationship with his surrogate 'father', Dr. Mora. He mentions that when Mora tried to get an infant Odo to take the shape of a cube, Odo resisted the first two times out of defiance. Mora was very proud with himself for helping Odo mature as a humanoid, but Odo resented being paraded around Cardassian officials to impress them (always being asked to perform the 'Cadassian neck trick', which Odo hated). Odo even felt jealousy when Mora took over the education and training of another baby Changeling.
Elim Garak and his father Enabran Tain had an icy cold relationship, even by the standards of other characters appearing on this list. He's the reason why Garak became an agent of the Obsidian Order, had claustrophobia as an adult (from being locked into closets as a child), and was also partially responsible for his exile to Deep Space Nine. On his deathbed in a Dominion internment camp however, Enabran Tain then revealed to Garak that his uncompromising attitude was mainly due to his position as the head of the Obsidian Order, and admitted that he was actually proud of him.
Ezri's mother manages to take this further by not only thoroughly disapproving of her only daughter, but also by her domineering attitude towards her other two children. She forced Ezri's brothers into helping run her failing mining business, which subsequently led to the entire family's involvement with the Orion Syndicate, and then to Ezri's brother committing murder on the family's behalf.
Averted with Benjamin Sisko, whose father is nothing but supportive and very proud of his son. Benjamin in turn is a firm but loving father to Jake, although he's far from perfect, but given the circumstances even before the Dominion War this is understandable. Also averted with Data's creator, Dr. Noonian Soong, who considered Data his crowning achievement. Lor, on the other hand...
What the Hell, Hero?: Every Captain. In every series. And not infrequently either. Either them at the crew for their crap, or the crew to themselves for their own crap.
Wordof God: Per Paramount Studios (owners of the franchise) and Gene Roddenberry (creator of the franchise) from the late-80s/early-90s, only live-action Star Trek TV episodes and films are considered canon. This has been hotly debated by fans, and occasionally ignored by scriptwriters.
Worthless Yellow Rocks: The reigning currency in the Alpha Quadrant is gold-pressed latinum. Denominations of gold-pressed latinum, in order of increasing value, include the slip, the strip, the bar and the brick. The imprinted gold is merely a casing for the latinum, which carries real value.
You Keep Using That Word: The later series are notoriously bad for using the word "Ancient" to describe things from the 19th and 20th Century, which would be like describing Roman Chariots and Nuclear Weapons as close historically speaking. Made further ridiculous considering they are only a few hundred years downwind from the things they are describing.
'Ancient' as a legal term is used to refer to any document or artifact more than 100 years old. Perhaps the legal definition prevailed over time?
The second Doctor of TNG played a girl du jour in the original series.
Armin Shimmerman and Max Grodénchik played seven distinct Ferengi characters between the two of them, in addition to a handful of non-Ferengi roles.
Jeffery Combs, Vaughn Armstrong and J. G. Hertzler have set records for portraying no less than five alien species over the course of the "next generation" series of shows (including Combs playing two separate characters of different races in THE SAME EPISODE of Deep Space Nine).
From Voyager, Tim Russ (Tuvok) and Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris) both played villains in episodes of The Next Generation. In fact, McNeill was supposed to reprise his role originally, before it was re-written as Tom Paris. Both are notable because there's practically no makeup involved between the two roles (Russ only gained pointy ears).
This was played with in the Deep Space Nine episode "Far Beyond The Stars"; once Ben Sisko began thinking he was Benny Russell, the people in his life looked like the people Sisko knew - except all human. But then the show would tap the fourth wall by making them appear in makeup for a moment. It's also the only time Marc Alaimo, Jeff Combs, JG Hertzler, Rene Auberjonois, Armin Shimerman and Michael Dorn got to appear on-camera without their makeup in the entire run of the series (for poor Michael Dorn, it was the first time in eleven years that he was on-camera with no makeup).
At the end of the series, a scene at Vic's featured almost every single actor who had some sort of major speaking role in the series in the bar without makeup on (except for the actors who played the main characters, who appeared in character.)
Marc Alaimo appeared as the first TNG-era Romulan and the first Cardassian on TNG before being cast as Cardassian Gul Dukat on DS9.
Zeerust: A given for the original series because of general budget restrictions of the time. Caused no shortage of Fan Dumb with Enterprise and the 2009 Star Trek movie because of an attempt to update. Next Generation mostly averts this even though it is over 20 years old now, mostly due to having an excellent—and Genre Savvy—visual designer in Michael Okuda.