Headscratchers / Star Trek: The Next Generation

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Captain Jean-Luc Picard

     Picard the Celebrity? 
  • How well-known and recognizable is Picard? As captain of the flagship, he is surely a public figure of sorts, and I find it hard to believe that "The Best of Both Worlds" could have gone on without his face being plastered over whatever passes for media in the 24th century. Yet in "Gambit," he goes undercover and, luckily, nobody (even the Vulcan operative!) has a clue who he is.
    • Well, if Captain Owen Honors of the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) sat down in a bar would you recognize him? It's the flagship of the US Navy and he was in the news for a scandal (admittedly far less dramatic than something like Wolf 359) and I don't think he'd draw any attention from the average passer-by.note  Just because we watch Star Trek doesn't mean the "little people" in Star Trek know and care about the characters like we do.
      • The minute Captain Honors comes within a hair's breadth of destroying human civilization, this will be a good analogy.
      • It all depends on how much information the public is given about what happened. Even Jean-Luc's brother didn't seem to know the full story, thinking he was just captured and tortured by the Borg. It's not like Picard was responsible for Wolf 359, any more than any assimilated drone is personally responsible for what it does. The only people who suggest otherwise are Admiral Satie, who is paranoid and is trying to provoke Picard, and Ben Sisko, who was still grieving for his wife who died in that battle. So no, simply being captain of the flagship doesn't make you famous; the only way I think he would get the kind of media exposure you're suggesting is if he were portrayed as a traitor instead of a POW. Also remember that Wolf 359 happened in 2367 and "Gambit" took place in 2370. Picard was surely in the news, but not long enough for people to remember him from the headlines 3 years ago.
      • It seemed to be fairly common knowledge by 2370, at least among Starfleet officers, that the Borg forcibly assimilate individuals against their will. The crew of Voyager are fully aware of the Borg's capabilities even before they re-establish contact with Starfleet.
      • I don't think one would need to think of Picard as a traitor to be aware of his face and name after the Borg incident... after all, you'd need to know who he is to have an opinion about him either way. Who wouldn't remember the name and face of the guy who was (under compulsion or otherwise) coming to destroy your civilization? No matter how you slice it, "Gambit" doesn't make a ton of sense, especially that a Vulcan wouldn't see through him — a Vulcan! They should remember ever face they ever see.
      • Captain Honors had a distinguished career; one that deserved attention. He's an accomplished Navy Top Gun pilot who earned the Bronze Star, and before he was relieved, the Navy intended him to be the final captain of the Enterprise. Sure, the CCTV scandal got a lot of attention, but it was incredibly minor compared to other military scandals at the time. That doesn't really compare to Picard, though, because by season 7, every major event in recent Federation history involved him in some way. Let's go down the list of things Picard should be famous for prior to "Gambit" (not counting his stint as Locutus): First contact with the Q and the Ferengi? Picard was there. Invented a tactic on the fly that Starfleet cadets are actually required to study? They even named it after him. First encounter with the Romulan Star Empire in nearly a century? That was all Picard. Arthropods from beyond the stars infiltrate and compromise the highest levels of Starfleet Command? Picard cleared that right up (saving the entire Federation in the process). Found the home world of an ancient civilization that once ruled the galaxy? Okay, technically that was Captain Varley, but Picard led the away team. Civil War in the Klingon Empire? Picard's there every step of the way. Thwarting a Romulan invasion of Vulcan? Mostly Data and Spock, but Picard helped. Discovered that all humanoid life in the galaxy is descended from a single race? Jean-Luc again. Neutralized a group of rogue Borg drones terrorizing Federation colonies? It was a group effort, but Picard was part of the group. Any of those alone should be enough to make Picard ridiculously famous.
    • Basically this is analogous to the headscratcher over on the Superman page where someone kept insisting and insisting that everyone who saw Clark Kent should immediately go "Oh my god, it's Superman!" The first part of the mistake here is that you assume since you know Picard and what he's done, every individual in the galaxy knows Picard and what he's done, on sight, as opposed to, say, seeing "Captain Jean Luc Picard assimilated by Borg, almost destroys Earth" along with a couple of stock photos of him in the news feeds, maybe a couple of times, years ago. The second is that most people don't immediately recognize famous celebrities unless the celebrity is very distinctive-looking, because really a lot of celebrities just look like everybody else. That's not even tossing in race/species "All of you look the same" recognition bias in. Picard basically looks like just another bald, pale-skinned human, probably even among other humans, let alone among aliens who aren't used to picking out the nuances of human facial features.
      • But unlike Clark Kent, there's a reasonable argument to be made that Picard should be one of the most recognizable humans alive.
      • Except not for all the reasons just listed.
      • If one is actually convinced by the argument that Picard can simultaneously be the literal face of an existential threat to the Federation, a storied officer involved in numerous recent events of huge consequence, and personally obscure, that is one's own business.
      • If one is actually convinced they are smarter than someone else because of their opinion on a fictional character's in-universe celebrity that is also one's own business.
      • The Paper-Thin Disguise that Superman/Clark Kent puts on has become a Running Gag at this point. Besides, this same scenario happens in "Starship Mine". You're infiltrating a ship and you don't know what the captain looks like. Seriously?
      • There wouldn't be any reason to know any of the crew as the ship was supposed to be deserted when they arrived. They weren't infiltrating, they were break-and-entering.

    Picard's a Lousy Listener 
  • In "The Best of Both Worlds" Part II, Guinan tells Riker her relationship with Picard goes "beyond friendship, beyond family", but Picard often says there's little to nothing known about Guinan and her people. What sort of friend does this make Picard?
    • Just one who has an El-Aurian for a friend: their particular hat is listening, which probably makes them very good at subtly deflecting any question about themselves.
    • The love she feels for him is akin to what one might feel for a soul mate, but without any sexual or romantic feelings. Basically, they're friendship soulmates (or whatever you want to call it). Pardon the corniness.
      • Also given that her people are so very rare he may consider the details of her life and her people no one's damn business but her own. He's simply being confidential and protecting the privacy of his friend.
    • Considering that the El-Aurians were all but exterminated by the Borg, and that their long lifespans would not be conducive to normal relationships outside their own species, it's likely that he simply meant that, although he and Guinan are close, there is almost no information in databases and such about the El-Aurians because of the above factors.
  • In Ensign Ro, the mistrustful titular Bajoran is ready to confide mission-critical information to Picard, but Picard, who already has reason to suspect that there is more going on than he knows, shouts her down and confines her to quarters. Only through Guinan's intervention does Ro actually get to tell Picard what he needs to know.
    • Picard frequently struggles with various prejudices throughout his time as captain of Enterprise, and while we see him overcome one specific bigotry or another now and again, he never really seems to grasp the pattern. It's curious that he's drawn this way, even the very early episodes of TNG when he was still being overtly portrayed as the paragon of Roddenberry's utopia, but the fact that he actually has human flaws does make him a much more compelling character.
    • Also, Ro's fresh out of a prison sentence that she repeatedly gives the impression she'd rather go back to than remain on the Enterprise, having a second chance, a shot at redemption. Then, behind his back, she seeks out the terrorist that they were looking for. The reason that didn't blow up in her face was largely because he was being set up by the Cardassians. Picard's a bit pissed about his authority being flaunted by someone who has shown she'd sooner be in prison than the flagship of the fleet.

    The bestseller that never was 
  • At the end of "The Inner Light," Picard/Kamin is told that he was giving these memories of Kataan for the following reason: "We hoped our probe would encounter someone in the future. Someone who could be a teacher. Someone who could tell the others about us." So shouldn't Picard busy himself writing "Memories of Kataan" to let everyone about all things Kataanian? Or is he saving this project for his retirement?
    • And here in lies the problem with the Kataan's whole strategy in that there is no guarantee that you will A) get someone that gives a damn about you or your problems, B) find someone who is willing/able to help if you do, and C) that the person in question wouldn't be so pissed off by the whole thing that they don't just ignore you out of spite (imagine if Picard was a Klingon or a cardassian and you'll see the problem). Picard is the captain of the Federation flagship, the idea that he would have the time to sit down and write a concise non-fiction book using nothing but the contents of his memory is absurd. They are lucky that he continued playing his flute.
    • Considering how important family is for Klingons and how they like to write poetry and songs, I think quite the opposite: A Klingon could be better for this situation than a human. Cardassians also have a deep regard for family and history. But yes, what if it was a Borg? Or a Ferengi? The plan could not work depending on the species.
    • And as we see in "Liaisons," Picard, a private person by nature, shares his "Inner Light" experience only with people he trusts fully.
      • It's almost certain that Picard did share his experiences, at the very least in a thorough report to Starfleet, but yes he probably wrote a rather more personal treatise as well... but he may have done it anonymously, or using a pseudonym. Picard reveals what the experience meant to him only to those he's very close to. As to the ways the strategy could have failed, the whole point of the probe was that it was a last-ditch effort to be remembered, and the only thing more pointless than trying it and it failing because it found an unsuitable recipient would have been to say "Wait, this could fail, let's not even bother."
      • It's peculiar to call something "almost certain" when it's not represented onscreen in any fashion.
      • "Almost certain" may be pushing it, but it's well-established that Picard has an intense interest in archeology—to the point that he nearly pursued it as a career—and scientific discovery in general. It would be tremendously out of character for Picard, who describes himself first and foremost as an explorer, to keep the discovery of a heretofore unknown civilization and its culture to himself. If he were inclined to do so, why would Starfleet put him in command of a ship whose express, stated mission is to "...Explore strange new worlds, [and] to seek out new life and new civilizations...," if he's just going to keep it to himself every time a mission affects him personally in any way? The question then becomes, did Picard fulfill his duty to report the experiences to Starfleet and to the scientific community in accordance with the Enterprise's mission—a mission that is so important, he recites it in the opening narration of every single episode—or did he keep it to himself?
      • It's also peculiar to expect every episode to be twice as long to follow up on everything a fan could possibly want followed up on.

Commander William Riker

    You get promoted only for escaping 
  • In "Second Chances", Lt. William Riker (who later becomes "Thomas") mentions to Troi that "our" Will Riker got promoted for "exceptional valor during the evacuation of the research station on Nervala IV". Ergo, Thomas completed that mission as well, and the fact of the accidental doubling was the only reason he even existed. Since Thomas was found on Nervala IV, why didn't he get an immediate promotion to lieutenant commander? He hadn't even gotten that promotion on the Gandhi by the time he joined the Maquis.
    • Is it any wonder he went rogue? Tom Riker was egregiously mistreated by all involved. It becomes glaring when you think of him as the equivalent of an officer who spent eight years in a prison camp. He was doing his Starfleet duty to the best of his abilities all of those years and should not only be due to for that promotion but probably several others, not to mention a boatload of back leave, back pay (or the Starfleet equivalent thereof) and the like (Phil Farrand notes as much in his books). It's so bizarre that they think he can just be tossed back into the officer pool: at very least he will need some retraining since his training is almost a decade out of date, and after all those years of solitude anyone, even one of Starfleet's teflon officers, would need protracted psychological examination.
      • And you would think that upon rejoining Starfleet, they'd require him to adjust his biometrics so that the computer can no longer be fooled into thinking he's Commander William Riker! New fingerprints, or something. Or have Will do that upon Thomas leaving. It's no wonder Dukat believed that the Central Command would think Starfleet wanted Thomas to have the Defiant.
      • There's also the last scene when Will gives Tom his trombone, noting that his quarters are full of things that belong to them both. No kidding! Shouldn't Tom get half of his stuff? Maybe even get a say in what he wants and what he doesn't?
      • Maybe, except for Riker not being the sort of jerkass that would say "You're damn right the trombone is mine, give me half the rest of it too ya bastard!"
      • Got to disagree with you there. Season 1 Riker (whom Tom Riker is meant to be similar to) was a man designed to be The Ace, but frequently came off as self-righteous, judgmental, headstrong, and highly-ambitious. This is even a plot point in The Best of Both Worlds when post Growing the Beard Will and Troi are discussing Lt Selby. He wouldn't have used those exact words, but season 1 Riker would have worked out some way to do it.
      • Isn't it just as jerky on the part of Will Riker not to extend an offer?
    • This Troper thinks the second post answered itself. Thomas Riker had been equally as capable as William Riker when they were split, but that was years ago. He was out of touch with protocols, out of practice with command, possibly psychologically damaged. He would need to confirm that he still had the qualifications for being promoted, lest they find he couldn't handle the responsibility. Throwing him back in the officer pool would be one way to reaclimate him - have him do familiar tasks, learn to interact with people again. If he was equally capable, he'd rise the ranks again. Then again, this troper also thinks the writers should have had the guts to follow through with one idea - kill off Cmdr Riker, promote Data to First Officer, have Lt (or Lt. Cmdr.) Riker take Ops. Character development and a shocking twist all in one!
      • In a real military, rank isn't directly determined by suitability or capability, though position sure is; simple seniority, time in service, is often enough to move up the ranks, and an officer who doesn't receive the usual promotions at the usual intervals tends to be regarded as having done something to earn such disregard. Starfleet could hypothetically retire Tom or desk him, or even put him in a position below what his earned rank would usually entail, but they surely should not deny him promotions that he earned. As noted, the episode is specific about the fact that Will Riker was promoted for duties accomplished before he was split into Tom and Will, so Tom should share the rewards, being equally responsible for achieving that promotion. Denying it to him is tantamount to demotion.
      • What was Starfleet thinking letting him return to active duty as soon as they did? They almost guaranteed that Thomas Riker would have problems adjusting, so Starfleet really only has itself to blame for his going off the deep end. He spent eight year completely isolated, so maybe an extended debriefing followed by counseling and a psychological evaluation. After that, if he's fit for duty and feels ready, maybe some sort of orientation to today's Starfleet and then find him a field post.
      • Starfleet considers Deanna Troi a top-notch counselor! The science of psychology seems to have undergone severe regression over the centuries! (Which is a shame, because that should've been just about enough time for psychology to become a science in the first place.) They were completely blindsided by how many officers decided to run off to join the Maquis for example, and in general by the entirety of the depressing, shameful, and trivially predictable events surrounding the Cardassian treaty and those Federation citizens living in the disputed zone.
    • Starfleet has a history of screwing people over when it comes to promotions. For example Harry Kim spent seven years as an Ensign despite being a senior bridge officer, having saved the ship multiple times, frequently commanding the night shift and working closely with the Captain and the XO. Paris on the other hand gets an immediate promotion to Lieutenant after a day despite having a record of insubordination which led to the deaths of several people, later on gets reduced in rank back to Ensign for trying to commit a terrorist action only to have Janeway promote him back to Lieutenant again a few episodes later despite doing nothing more remarkable than Kim did in that time. Then there is Hoshi Sato who spent ten years as an Ensign on the most important and acclaimed ship in the fleet despite being a senior officer and revolutionizing inter-species communication by inventing the basis of the Universal Translator. Tom is joining a long list of people the supposedly fair and just Federation have just flat out ignored in favor of someone else for no justifiable reason.
      • Paris was a lieutenant before his court-martial. Since Janeway has reinstated his rank, he simply picks up where he left off. He wasn't "promoted" to lieutenant; he already was one. The second point makes more sense; he really gave no reason that he should be promoted again after his actions in "Thirty Days", but his promotion was not "a few episodes later" but almost two seasons later. (On the other hand, after having been busted back to ensign, he's lucky to have been promoted again ever, and almost certainly owes it to the highly unusual circumstances of a ship trapped in the Delta Quadrant. Absent that, and given his record, he might very well have been cashiered or sentenced to another long bid in Starfleet prison.)
      • In less Watsonian terms, this is a particular kind of bad writing that comes up again and again in the franchise. After all, I can't recall any character other than Harry ever noting that he or she was being passed up for promotion. This suggests to me that this is something the writers simply aren't paying attention to, rather than something they're intentionally depicting as a problem with Starfleet itself. (While several of the TOS screenwriters had military experience and thus at least some idea of how to depict a plausible military organization, few if any of TNG's writers are so well equipped, and it really, really shows.)
  • I'm still irked that Tom Riker was wearing a yellow uniform. It's been pretty well established that Will was always command track. It's like the yellow uniform was purely for the viewer's benefit, so people could tell them apart without looking at their pips or the shape of their beards. I'd almost have preferred they put Tom in one of the older movie-style uniforms, and imply that the current jumpsuits were brand-new at the Enterprise-D launch, to celebrate the dawn of the new era of peace and exploration.
    • Putting Tom in the "monster maroon" would go against the flashback to Beverly being taken by Picard to see Jack's body in "Violations", where Picard was wearing the first-season uniform in 2354, years before Riker's visit to Nervala IV. The "Violations" scene also backs up Picard's imagining of the Stargazer crew under the influence of Bok's thought-maker in "The Battle", as he was imagining/remembering them as they were in 2355. As for the gold uniform, changing departments is not unheard of (Worf went from red to gold, and back to red on DS9; Data went to red when Jellico made him first officer, though he returned to gold after Riker got the position back).
    • Red doesn't signify command track, it's Tactical. Riker could have been on the command track but serving it through Operations up to a certain point, as a security officer. Security would give him a much better opportunity to gain away mission experience, after all. After the promotion to Commander he may have requested a transfer to Tactical, which would have put him on a more direct path to commanding his own ship, making him eligible for First Officer positions. Or he could have moved back and forth between the two as his mentors over the years advised him. Considering his experience as an ensign (helping thwart a mutiny against a captain he quickly realized was corrupt and immoral), he may have transferred out of Tactical and into Operations for awhile specifically to get away from the man and his associates.
      • It's well established that Riker spent some time in Tactical/Security during his lieutenant years. That's actually how he met Troi; he was part of a Starfleet security detail on her planet.

     Promotion, no-motion 
  • I'm curious, especially for those with knowledge of real life militaries, how plausible Riker's serial declining of promotions is. We know that he turned down the U.S.S. 'Drake, Aries,' and 'Melbourne', and "Death Wish" implies he might have turned down the 'Voyager' too. Isn't there a point where Starfleet is just apt to say, "no more! You clearly want to be an X.O. forever, so that's what you'll be"? Conversely, you can wonder why during the Dominion War Riker (to say nothing of Geordi, maybe Data too) weren't fast-tracked to captaincies when so many officers were dying.
    • I kind of get the impression that Starfleet did give up. All of those commands were offered in the first three seasons. After that, the next command we know of (barring Voyager as it may be one of Q's jokes) came in Nemesis which is more than a decade later in-universe. This is of course the whole point behind the Riker V Shelby rivalry, because ultimately, it was a contest between the former golden boy of Starfleet and the new kid on the block that was essentially a female version of pre-beard Riker. And let us not forget Captain Jellico, who was deemed a better choice to command the Enterprise over the man who helped save the Federation from the Borg. If that doesn't demonstrate just how far he had fallen out of favour, nothing does.
      • In Jellico's case, one can rationalize that his specialized experience with the Cardassians weighed in Starfleet's decision to place him in command of the Enterprise, rather than any intrinsic objection to Riker. After all, Riker is not shown stewing about the fact that he was passed over for promotion in "Chain of Command" — his personality clash with Jellico is the issue, not jealousy over a more experienced officer getting the job.
      • In hindsight it might have been interesting to show Riker realizing that he was so attached to the Enterprise that he was content running out his career there even as a second banana, but of course the writers wanted to keep the option of him becoming captain on the table (delivering on it only at the last possible moment).
    • As for Data, I do wonder how much anti-AI sentiment there still is in the Federation. We saw in Redemption that there are people on other ships that don't trust him. Pulaski certainly didn't think of him as alive even if she did warm up by the end. Starfleet was very quick to try and lay claim to Lal. No one thought twice about dismantling Lore even though that is the equivalent of a death sentence (in a society that we know doesn't have one by the 24th century for flesh and blood people). And then we of course get into the whole issue of holograms over on Voyager and how the Doctor really isn't really that much different to Data in sapience. As noted many times, the Federation's liberal and progressive values really do not stand up to the level of scrutiny that we would perhaps like them to.
      • Conversely, one can suggest that Data simply isn't very career driven... effectively immortal, he would see no reason to climb the ranks in a hurry.

Counselor Deanna Troi

    A psychology degree does not a starship captain make 
  • In "Disaster", Counselor Troi takes command on the bridge, and it's pretty obvious she's completely overwhelmed. Why the heck is she commanding in this situation, and not O'Brien? It's true that O'Brien (as either a lieutenant or a chief petty officer— God knows which) is lower-ranked than Troi, but so was redshirt Lieutenant Monroe, and she was acting captain on the bridge before being killed. Ensign Ro's incredulous reaction when O'Brien tells her that Troi's the ranking officer around says it all, really. O'Brien is clearly far more qualified to make command decisions than Troi, who hadn't even taken the bridge officers' test yet at this point in the series.
    • Yup. Completely inexplicable. It sure doesn't help that Troi is made extra stupid in the aptly-named "Disaster," too, even infamously asking what a core breach is.
    • It leads to a nice bit of Character Development when she later decides to take the command exam in "Thine Own Self", but that just emphasizes that she shouldn't have been in command at the time!
    • Enlisted men (and this is after "Family," so O'Brien is unquestionably an NCO) don't give orders to officers, and generally don't possess the same degree of command training (qualifications aside, Troi is an Academy graduate).
      • Setting aside the overall oddities about O'Brien's rank (those conspicuous Lt. insignia on his uniform, and the fact that he was directly addressed as "Lieutenant" on one or two occasions), his bridge officer credentials are well established — he served as Ben Maxwell's tactical officer, after all. Even ignoring this, it's not like O'Brien and Troi were the only people on the bridge. Ro and other officers were there. Even if, for some bizarre reason, she is not obligated to do so, Troi should have voluntarily relieved herself for the good of the ship.
      • It is a senior NCO's job to guide junior officers in making the right decisions. While Ensign Ro, as the senior line officer present, should have had command, she would have been wise to rely on the chief's decades of experience. It would be in poor taste—and potentially dangerous—for an Ensign to countermand or ignore the judgement of a chief petty officer. Senior officers know this and tend to side with the senior NCOs after the fact.
    • The simple answer is that they were praying for a Good Troi Episode.
    • Phil Farrand makes this point really well in the Nitpicker's Guide. Command should go to the highest ranked and most qualified person for the situation they are taking command of, and to prove by example, let's say there's an emergency in sickbay and the only people who aren't incapacitated are Ogawa, Barclay, and La Forge - does La Forge make the medical decisions because he has the highest rank? No, Ogawa does.
    • A possible reason why Ro didn't take command may have been due to her having just been released from prison. Picard was already on shaky ground when he allowed her to remain an officer; it is unlikely she would ever be placed in line for command.
      • If this were the case, I'd assume she wouldn't wear a red uniform, which is established in DS9's Rules of Engagement, and ''Trials and Tribble-ations to be the color worn by command-track officers. The TNG-era, a red uniform seems to be the equivalent to the star device that identifies unrestricted line officers—that is to say, officers who are eligible for operational command—in the US Navy. Such distinction is necessary so that everyone knows who to listen to in a crisis; and if Ro isn't the person they should have been listening to, she shouldn't have been wearing something that said she was. There is precedent for helmsmen wearing other department colors: Travis Mayweather wore a operations/security uniform, Valeris wore both cadet red and science grey, Nog wore gold, Jadzia Dax wore science blue.
      • Travis didn't wear operations gold. He wore command gold, as was customary during the ENT/TOS time, so it was correct for his era.
      • The mistake here if there is one is the wardrobe department's limited coloring scheme. Science/medical blue is a reasonable one to group together perhaps, but command/operations? security/engineering? These are completely separate fields. A fourth or even fifth color or shade is desperately needed here. The red uniform featured in films 2 through 7 due to having markedly different insignia and palette depending on department is currently the only uniform that would make any real world sense.
    • Starfleet uses a military command structure. In an emergency situation, the highest ranked person there is in command. It doesn't matter what the situation is or who is more qualified. And all officers outrank enlisted. Now, like any leadership situation, that doesn't mean you are the most knowledgeable; you are just the one making the decisions. Geordi could be the highest ranked person in a medical emergency, but that doesn't mean he isn't going to ask the most qualified medical personnel for their expertise or try and dictate medical protocol. He would simply ask what their opinion is and make the determination if that advice is sound given their situation to authorize it. For instance, a medical enlisted personnel might advice that a person could die from the stress of being moved. The officer could ignore that advice if staying would put the entire group at risk.
      • Actually no, real militaries have rules in place precisely to prevent these situations from happening. You can't have the ships' psychiatrist in command over bridge officers and personnel just because they have a higher rank for admin purposes. In fact the other ensign on the bridge should be in command (everyone forgets there was a fourth person on the bridge but he was there) as he outranks O'Brien and would have seniority over Ro with his presumably earlier commission and no criminal record.
      • This actually does happen early in the series. First season episode "The Arsenal of Freedom" has Geordi, a bridge officer being in command of the ship while the captain and commander are stuck on the planet. The chief of engineering requesting that Georgi a lieutenant J.G. relinquish command to him as a lieutenant commander but not being able to take it by issuing a direct order.
    • And, in general, this is another of those endearing little quirks that only makes sense when you understand that, when it came to portraying anything that even vaguely resembled a plausible military organization, TNG-era writers mostly had absolutely no idea what they were doing. (In fairness to them, cranking out an episode a week without fail is hard and dicey work, much more so than Monday-morning quarterbacking the results. Given Roddenberry's own preference on the matter, it's no surprise this is one of the areas in which they put verisimilitude on the back burner.)
  • I always presumed that her rank was simply honorary (Riker did ask Data for that possibility in the pilot).
    • Why not? Is it intrinsically stranger than the CMO holding the rank of Commander? In fact, oughtn't the person in charge of the mental well being of the flagship's crew be a decorated specialist — surely, the best available? It's just that, due to massive writing failures, Troi was not depicted as having the qualities to make it likely that said person was her.
  • Uh, what qualifies Ro to take command? She's a freaking pilot. How is does that translate to command authority any more than counselor does? You all seem to be looking at the red uniform as proof she's in the normal chain of command. Does that mean Wesley could have commanded the Enterprise if he'd been there instead of Ro?

    What are your qualifications again? 
  • Deanna holds an astonishingly high rank for somebody with her extremely narrow set of skills. What's more, her actual qualifications in her alleged areas of expertise are highly suspect. How did she get this posting?
    • Psychology: Deanna supposedly studied psychology at both the University of Betazed and Starfleet Academy (and it should be noted that despite many years of study, she does not hold a doctorate). But it is a running gag that she is simply awful as a practicing psychologist and half the time it seems like people are giving her advice!
    • Sociology: Deanna often provides exposition about the species of the week. But it is generally at best a quick summary that anyone could deliver (and indeed Data sometimes does, albeit in a more verbose manner). When it comes to in-depth knowledge of alien civilizations she is often rushing to catch up just like everyone else.
    • Parapsychology: Aside from being one of the galaxy's worst empaths, Deanna does not seem very knowledgeable about psychic phenomena. In particular, she appears to put absolutely no effort into further training her own abilities. Her mother criticizes her for it and she defensively insists that it is because it is easier for her to not hear actual thoughts, especially of non-Betazoids whose thoughts are often less coherent. But this is a key part of why she has her job! She's essentially stating that she refuses to perfect a talent that is crucial to her core function because she finds it personally unsettling! Contrast this to Vulcans such as Spock and Tuvok, neither of whose telepathic abilities are considered crucial to their positions, but who nonetheless train those abilities extensively.
      • There might be a little logic leap here, but the ranks in Starfleet seem to be similar to those of the U.S. military (the Navy, specifically). I believe that if you have the qualifications to be a counselor (such as a Master's degree in Social Work or counseling) and you join the military as a counselor, you start out at an officer's rank (lieutenant, not ensign, as part of the Medical Service Corps). Deanna could have been promoted from there. Addendum: If The Other Wiki is correct, she's been out of the academy about five years as of the start of the series. Maybe she got her promotion from Lieutenant to Lt-Commander as of her assignment to the ship.
      • The question being: why? People on other career paths have taken much longer to achieve that rank (Data at one point states that he has been in Starfleet for 26 years!). It could leave one wondering why every ambitious officer doesn't choose Counselor as a starting point for their careers if they can expect such a rapid advancement through the ranks. However, Ezri Dax (also a counselor) started out as an ensign, and was promoted to lieutenant junior grade when she joined DS9. She apparently was not made a lieutenant automatically upon graduation from the Academy. At no point is it indicated that Deanna had a long and distinguished career behind her that would explain why she would possibly hold a rank higher than lieutenant, much less lieutenant-commander, after so short a time! The breadth of her skill set often seems awfully narrow and specialized as compared to the other main characters.
      • Maybe her mom pulled some strings. As she likes to remind people, she does hold several ill-defined but important sounding titles on Batazed.
      • Becoming a counselor likely isn't the kind of thing one just goes into for fun and transfers out. If it's like the military, there is pretty much no profession that one can just get into and then transfer on to something else as a stepping stone. The is criteria to meet just to be trained in that field, and you have to get approval from superior officers to cross train. Even then, you have to apply for those positions; and you likely aren't going to be looked upon favorably when you don't have applicable qualifications or job hoping.
      • But, going back to the earlier point, Deanna didn't have to switch career tracks to achieve the rank of Lieutenant-Commander and qualify for bridge command duty. In practical terms, she now holds the same effective rank as Data, despite being ridiculously under-qualified in comparison! O'Brien had to try to explain in small words the cosmic phenomenon that damaged the Enterprise in "Disaster" because Deanna's knowledge of astrophysics is negligible! Yet she's allowed to sit in the Captain's chair and run the ship when Picard, Riker and Data are not around! What's she going to do during a Negative Space Wedgie? Talk to herself about how she's not sensing any emotions from it? "Disaster" was embarrassing enough given that she apparently couldn't tell how many people were still alive on the ship because of all the emotional noise that (the obviously large number of) people were putting out!
      • Eye Candy. That's about it. Once the show Grew the Beard, her day-to-day work role was pretty much confined to warbling "Captain! I sense Dayn-Ger!" and wearing nice outfits on the bridge. Ironically, as stated in the folder above, her lack of knowledge about pretty much everything shouldn't have been a drawback - as long as she was trained and competent to make command decisions in the event that all the other Bridge staff were incapacitated. But she clearly wasn't, which means she should never have been allowed on the bridge in the first place - rank and position are not the same thing at all. Commander La Forge was higher ranked than some of the bridge crew, but he was based in engineering, where he could be of most use. He just didn't look as good in a clinging, V-necked one-piece (YMMV).
      • Or another case of the writers having no idea how to portray a military organization. Being attached to the medical department, Troi is a staff, not a line, officer, and would therefore never legitimately wind up in command; any circumstance in which she did would, like the loss of a ship, result in a court-martial, not necessarily from an assumption of wrongdoing but because anything that far outside the normal limes needs to be examined by a panel of senior officers in case anybody did screw up, and if no one did, to document that fact against the automatic assumption of everyone who ever hears about it afterward.
        In the case of a staff officer assuming command, though, there'd have to be some seriously special circumstances to justify the action. The situation portrayed in "Disaster" doesn't come anywhere close. Sure, Ro was an ensign and Troi a lieutenant commander. But that doesn't matter. Ro was a line officer and Troi wasn't. That's what matters. Troi could've been a full admiral and it wouldn't matter; she's outside the line of command, period.
        On the other hand, Ro was a line officer who was highly uncertain of her position and not really all that comfortable with the idea of exercising authority, especially in a crisis, and O'Brien, as a long-serving and very senior NCO known and relied upon by everyone on the senior staff, exerted a moral authority disproportionate to his grade. His diffidence in pointing out Troi's senior rank suggests he knew he was going far outside regulation to do so, and he was careful not to suggest anything actually be done with that information, leaving the suggestion that Troi take command entirely implicit. Had Ro slapped that suggestion down as peremptorily as it deserved, O'Brien might well have gone along — but she didn't, and a totally unqualified staff officer, with no authority to command, ended up doing so.
        Sure, everything worked out in the end, and the ship didn't blow up. In a real military organization, though, all three of them would've faced court-martial, and all three of them probably would've been found guilty of malfeasance — Troi for taking command as a staff officer, Ro for failing to take command as the senior line officer present, and O'Brien for his role in making things come out that way. Given the extenuating circumstance that their actions did result in the Starfleet flagship not blowing up, the penalty might have been somewhat attenuated, but the best they could hope for would be severely truncated career prospects.
      • And to think, this all could've been avoided by putting Ro in command, and thirty seconds later giving O'Brien an offhand line about how the saucer separation system was too badly damaged to use, and Ro's "let's separate the saucer and wish everyone in the stardrive section the best of luck" plan was a non-starter. Or, even better, leave the option open — and write a Really Good Troi Episode in which, with the help of O'Brien the sturdy reliable NCO, she uses her empathy and insight into people to subtly guide a young, inexperienced, frankly terrified junior officer, whose first instinct is to abandon half the crew in order to save her own skin, into making the right decision to save everyone, and learning a major lesson about what it really takes to bear the burden of command.
        After all, the whole point of ensigns is that they're baby officers, and the rank essentially serves as a post-academy finishing school; the whole point of long-service NCOs is to serve as a repository for exactly the kind of institutional knowledge baby officers need, and as instructors and mentors to help those baby officers grow up right; and the whole point of staff officers is that they specialize in support roles, part of which is supplying line officers with the information they need to do their job right. It would've been a great way to develop all three characters, an opportunity to build some genuine tension that didn't rely on a lot of painfully obvious contrivances, and it would've made a perfect excuse to lop off that tiresome Ten Forward C-plot time-filler in favor of something actually worthwhile. Ah, What Could Have Been...

     Troi's lost powers 
  • So what happened to Troi and Riker's telepathic link from Encounter at Farpoint? I can think of a dozen times off the top of my head when that would have come in useful.
    • For that matter, what happens to her empathic powers in the later seasons? They're rarely mentioned, except in contexts like "Eye of the Beholder" where they cause problems.
      • It seems to been a general trend in the show not just with Troi. There was more focus on characters' "extraordinary" abilities when the show started out. Early episodes made more use of Geordi's VISOR (even at one point having him be sent to look at something out of a window), Data's android abilities (the very first episode had him working as a tape recorder), Wesley's mathematical genius nature and Troi's empathy. While most of these things remained around, the writers realized that they weren't really needed and so they used them sparingly. Geordi became the chief engineer and his being blind was much less necessary. While Data was still an android and we'd still get the occasional gag, he could still function just as the brilliant science officer. Most people preferred Wesley just being an ordinary kid who helped out in engineering and didn't say much rather than a super genius. Troi however suffered more than the other characters, since her abilities were the main thing that justified her being on the bridge. When she started out, her abilities could have been genuinely useful and she could have been a genuinely functional part of the bridge crew. In the later years, it became less and less justified for the ship's counsellor not to simply be spending her days counseling people instead.

Lieutenant Commander Geordi LaForge

     I see engineer people 
  • How does Geordi know what Dr. Brahms looks like? His holodeck recreation of her is accurate to a T(physically, at least), yet it's established in "Hide and Q" that he didn't know what Tasha looked like.
    • Geordi had never seen Tasha with normal human eyes before, he had only seen her with his VISOR. That's what he was referring to. He probably can tell a hologram from a real person, but is able to tell who the hologram is supposed to represent and hence is able to know the real Dr. Brahms based off her holoimage.
    • It's worth noting that there has been some inconsistency as to how much information Geordi's VISOR gives him. He's a Living Lie Detector in Up the Long Ladder, but people have lied to him since without him realizing it. He sees most, if not all, of the EM spectrum, but Doctor Crusher has to tell him that a bulkhead is so hot that it indicates an incipient plasma breach in Disaster.
      • Possibly explained by the huge amount of information Geordi receives through the VISOR. He can detect lies if he's looking for them or if he happens to notice the signs, but otherwise he's got so much to pay attention to that the little heartbeat bump or whatnot that comes with lying might go unnoticed otherwise. As for the heat thing... well, maybe that was one of the days he was having migraines and he just wasn't parsing things very well. Anyway, Geordi can clearly recognize people from pictures and holos, so presumably he receives some sort of imagery on the VISOR that he can compare to an actual person. It might be like a sighted person recognizing a real person after having seen a painting or charcoal sketch of them.
    • Doesn't the computer create her physical form? Why does it matter if Geordi knows what she looks like or not?

     Geordi's rank 
  • According to the timeline, at the beginning of the series, Riker and Geordi are both 29, but Riker is a commander, while Geordi is a lieutenant, junior grade. While it makes sense that Riker would be promoted rapidly through the ranks given how good he's said to be, Geordi is shown to be an expert in his field, so why does he have such a low rank? And afterwards why does he get promoted two ranks in the course of three seasons?
    • Geordi isn't an expert in his field until Season 2. He started off as a helm officer, a more general position, before eventually specializing in engineering in Season 2 and being promoted into the vacant Chief Engineer's role with a promotion. Once he found his niche he got promoted more quickly, but it is clear it just took him a little while to find the role that suit him best. Riker knew what role he wanted right from the start, so he moved up more quickly.
    • Weird. Memory Alpha says they graduated the same year, but they never mention being at the Academy together. And I always had the impression of Geordi being a fair bit younger. But the writers are really lousy about consistency and timelining.

  • A better question might be: How did Troi make lieutenant commander before Geordi even made full lieutenant?
    • Presumably it's just easier for someone to move up the ranks as a counsellor. In the same way that Starfleet doctors only really need medical knowledge and to be in charge of other doctors, counsellors presumably only really need to be in charge of other counsellors (though if she has assistant counsellors, they certainly wouldn't be as many as other departments). Wesley Crusher and Harry Kim both more frequently ran away missions on their own as Ensigns than Troi did as a Lt. Commander. Whereas Worf is in security and has a good knowledge of systems and Geordi is an engineer who can still handle a phaser, Troi didn't need the range of skills (indeed when she wanted to get promoted to a commander, which I'm still frankly annoyed about the fact that she was able to get promoted ahead of Data who definitely deserved it more, she showed that she struggled with things most people on the ship would not).

Lieutenant Commander Data

     Contacting Sarjenka 
  • The Prime Directive, at least in the 24th century, seems pretty clear about contact with pre-warp civilizations: don't do it if you can possibly avoid it. Every Starfleet officer and every Federation citizen working in proximity to such societies has taken that vow: you will die before initiating contact with a prewarp society. So why did Data initiate a dialogue with Sarjenka in the first place? He's supposed to be emotionless and perfectly logical. It's a simple matter of "don't pick up the phone!"
    • The Memory Alpha page on the episode tries to argue that he's so childlike that he would blindly answer any question asked of him without thinking. Yeah, no. Sarjenka was sending a message out to nobody in particular, and he would know that it wasn't a question aimed directly at him.
    • Well, now we get into a popular Alternate Character Interpretation concerning Data's emotions. Namely that he has them, they are just suppressed or take on a different form to ours and that the emotion chip was merely an update or a patch that allowed him to use them properly as opposed to being a full upload. It is clear that Data does not experience immediate emotional states (fear, anger, sadness etc.) like we do. But he does appear to have traits that many of us would argue go far beyond an emotionless and perfectly logical state of being: he has a need for companionship (Tasha, Geordi, Spot), a need to live up to an ideal (humanity), self preservation (the Maddox trial), curiosity etc. He has an appreciation for art, music, theater, reading. He has gender and sexual identity. He has the need to procreate. He experiences a sense of loss on some level as we saw with Tasha. And, most importantly for this discussion, he believes in the sanctity and preservation of life. Given all of these things, I don't think its out of character that when a distressed little girl asked for help that he responded. Also just a little note on the Prime Directive - its inconsistent as hell. A season beforehand in Justice, the crew beamed down to a pre-industrial planet to have sex with the natives. You can argue Early Installment Weirdness, but it's still canon.

Ensign Wesley Crusher

     To boldly sit at the helm and do nothing 
  • OK, to define Wesley's role as "boldly sitting at the helm and doing nothing" is overstating the case a little, as he also helped out in engineering. But why was Wesley on so few Away Team missions? I can honestly remember only two— "Justice" and "Final Mission". (I wouldn't mind hearing the "real" reason, either).
    • This is probably the result of Wesley's scrappydom, people have the tendency to conveniently forget all the good and worthwhile things Wesley DOES end up doing due to the often irrational and baseless hatred that people have for him. He doesn't do any less or screw up any more than any other member of the crew does, impressive considering he's a kid.
    • Beverly objected and/or the crew found it ethically wrong to allow him to be sent on potentially life-threatening missions? He's still just a kid, genius or not.
      • And yet, as mentioned above, Wesley's allowed to play with anti-matter unsupervised.
      • That, you could argue, is at the very least under strict, controlled conditions, with Wesley having relatively firm control over what is happening and what he is doing. It's not quite comparable to a potential life or death situation seen in, say, The Arsenal of Freedom.
    • Wesley has repeatedly demonstrated that he can put the Enterprise in danger of destruction just by working on school projects! Picard doubtless prefers to have Wesley safely seated where he, Riker, Troi, Data and Worf all have an unobstructed line of sight towards him and can watch his every move. It is frankly amazing that Wesley is allowed to go to the bathroom without a security detail holding phasers drawn and set to kill if he touches anything without permission from the Captain. Actually letting Wesley go down to a planet and start poking around was likely to set off a Butterfly Effect resulting in the destruction of the entire galaxy! Picard is genre savvy enough to realize this.
    • Perhaps the events in Justice are specifically the reason for this. Keep in mind that this was in the early first season, the Enterprise-D has just started her mission. The away team took along Wesley to the Edo planet - and he promptly got himself into a situation that would have resulted in his execution, if Picard didn't intervene by breaking the Prime Directive and possibly screwing up future diplomatic relationships between the Federation and the Edo. And Beverly was probably having the worst shock since the dead of her husband. (And what if Wesley, an underage civilian note , indeed had been dead in the end? Hell, this whole affair could even have put and end to Picard's and Riker's careers! note ) So is it any wonder that Picard as well as Wesley's mother won't allow Wesley to participate in any other away team mission for a long time, in order to prevent something like this to happen again?
    • It's probably as simple as him having ship-based duties, flying the ship or spitballing ideas in engineering, were still him in a relatively controlled environment - if things got dangerous, he could be sent away with a commissioned officer taking over. Remember, Wesley only turned sixteen near the end of the first season, so he was eighteen when he was given the red uniform and the official officer's rank rather than being an 'acting ensign.' It's one thing to put the kid at the helm when there are a dozen officers there on the bridge who can take over if needed, it's another thing to send the kid down to a planet possibly filled with hostiles and put him in a combat situation.

    Congratulations! You're Being Demoted! 
  • No Wesley jokes, please: I know the fans all hated him, but in-universe Picard thought highly of him most of the time, and in "Final Mission" certainly meant it as a favor when he arranged for Wesley to enter the Academy after several hundred failures to gain admittance. But whereas in the past Wesley needed to get into the Academy because "Acting Ensign" seemed to offer no career path without the Academy as the next step, once Wesley became a full Ensign and got his red shirt . . . Why would he want to go to the Academy then? Cadets are junior to ensigns. In "Tapestry" and many another, we saw that being promoted to ensign is what happens after you finish the Academy, and even if you don't finish, ensign is still a promotion: Look at what happened to Nog, for instance. So Wesley—who could never get into the Academy when he wanted/needed to but can now that it's become a hindrance to his career path—is going to be reduced in rank, spend years in the Academy, and then be told "Congratulations, Ensign! Now you're back to where you were before you entered the Academy!" No wonder he eventually said "Fuck that noise" and went off to other dimensions instead. But at the time, why would anyone think that demoting him to cadet was a good thing? It seems like something they'd do after he fucked up royally and they had to say "That's it, you're not cut out for commissioned officer duties. Go back to the Academy and learn how to avoid that sort of thing."
    • Actually, from what I understand about Starfleet, Wesley can be a cadet and still hold his Ensign rank. Kirk graduated from Starfleet Academy with the rank of Lieutenant, so it is likely that if Wesley had hung around, he might have been promoted to at least a Lieutenant junior grade when he graduated.
    • Even when he was given his official red shirt, it can be assumed that he was still only acting as an officer with the captain's permission. Maybe the distinction was made that as an "acting" ensign, he was still only doing his duties part-time as long as they didn't interfere with his regular schooling, while as a Red Shirt ensign, it basically became his full-time job until he punches the Academy ticket. Regardless, without an official commission, Wesley's career prospects are at a dead end. As an ensign, he can stand watches at the helm and/or help Data or Geordi out with their special projects du jour, but no one is going to promote a provisional officer over those who've gone through the official career path. So he goes to the Academy, probably with a binder full of glowing letters of recommendation from most of the senior staff, does his four years (which, with his years of hands-on experience, will probably be a breeze), and graduates. Once he does, Picard all but flat out said that he'd request him for a posting on the Enterprise, where he'd probably be in the job he was at before, but on the short list for promotion as soon as humanly feasible. As for his rank while at the Academy, it's likely that his being an ensign wouldn't be recognized outside of the Enterprise, though him being thought highly enough of to have been granted it would surely be worth a few bonus points at the Academy.
    • Nog's promotion to Ensign happened during wartime, which is perfectly understandable. Wesley was only allowed to put on a uniform and pretend to be an Ensign because Picard liked him. But the uniform and the "unofficially official" promotion were just gifts from Picard, in no way an official promotion, as just "being really smart" is not, and shouldn't be, a basis for giving a teenaged civilian a field "promotion", or in this case, a field induction, since "promotion" implies he's a real Starfleet officer. He isn't, and never becomes one.
    • Janeway made a very good point to Chakotay in an early episode of Voyager when they were deciding on what jobs the Maquis crew members should fill on board ship: How can we expect seasoned Starfleet officers to take orders from someone who did not even go to the academy? And you know what? she is absolutely correct; only their desperate situation made allowances understandable. If I spent years training to earn my uniform and commission and then some kid comes along who had seemingly everything handed to him for free, I know I would resent that person. And if even a single one of those resentful people learn of Picard's relationship with Dr Crusher, good job deflecting the mass nepotism claims.
    • Where is it ever stated in canon that Wesley isn't actually an officer? In the US military, it's called a direct appointment. It's temporary—one has to attend OCS to keep the commission—but it's real.

Lieutenant Worf

     Worf's job in season 1 
  • What exactly was Worf's job before becoming security chief? He wore a command division uniform, but often was working technical jobs on the bridge. Plus, despite not being a department head or other senior officer, he still hung out with the senior staff at meetings and personal issues. Did they just like him that much that they invited him to hang out with them over the scores of other low-ranking officers, especially considering that there wasn't a consistent chief engineer to be part of the main staff?
    • For what it's worth, the Star Trek: The Lost Era novel "Buried Age" has a scene where Picard is reviewing candidates for his new senior staff, and he refers to Worf's position as the "bridge duty officer," a sort of generalist who's able to step into any bridge post when necessary—and considering how often bridge officers leave their station to attend a staff meeting, join an away team, or because they've been maimed by an exploding console, it does sort of make sense to have someone on-hand who can competently take over in a pinch. As for why he spends so much time with the senior staff, and even occasionally attends senior staff meetings; I always got the impression that Picard saw Worf as a very promising junior officer, and was grooming him to eventually become a department head. In fact, "Lonely Among Us" has a scene that really implies that Picard was subtly mentoring Worf in early season 1:
    LaForge: So, Worf, why the interest in this? It's just routine maintenance on the sensor assemblies.
    Worf: Simple, Geordi. Our captain wants his junior officers to learn, learn, learn.
     Worf's baldric 
  • So we've seen several times in Star Trek that Starfleet is quite strict with its uniform code; Riker tells Ro to lose the Bajoran earring in "Ensign Ro", Tuvok tells Gerren the same in "Learning Curve", plus Chell with his necklace and Henley's headband. Captain Jellico even has Troi put on a proper uniform in "Chain of Command" instead of those god-awful leotards she had. Yet Worf... always gets to wear the massive and very noticeable gold and later silver baldric. Why? I know starship uniform code is down to the captain, and Picard never seemed that bothered (see "Generations" for an example) by neither Sisko or even Jellico (or whoever Worf served for before the Enterprise, if there was one) had a problem with it. You'd think something that big and bulky would be more of a problem than an earring or a headband (and let's not forget that Nog even got to wear one of those Ferengi headdresses as both a cadet and an officer. In fact it caused confusion in "Conundrum" as Worf thought he was the captain as he was more elaborately dressed than everyone else. Either lose the baldric, or let the poor Bajoran wear their earrings!
    • On the other hand both Ro in Ensign Ro and Gerren, Chell and Henley in Learning Curve were seen as troublemakers or worse, and Troi wearing the leotards was apparently in line with something of a tradition of permissibility for officers in specialized positions non-specific to Picard, suggesting that Starfleet might actually generally be fairly relaxed with its uniform code (after all, while they very, very rarely were actually seen the Federation does include some members that would have problems physically complying with the code) — when Worf meets Jellico he has years of service as an able, for the most part loyal officer. Sure, there was his reprimand for killing Duras, but otherwise he has a stellar record. Ro and Gerren... don't (and you'll notice that once she has proved herself as having potential over the course of Ensign Ro, Picard does agree to let her wear the earring). There's also that Worf's duties more than once involved interacting with Klingons, for which the baldric served as a useful visual marker that despite the Starfleet uniform Worf still remembers his Klingon heritage.
    • From what we saw in DS9, wearing the Bajoran earring is not an absolutely necessary part of their religion. It's not like they'll be excommunicated or damned in the eyes of the Prophets if they take them off for long enough to be on duty. However, it's quite possibly part of Worf's culture that he will be dishonored and unworthy and possibly never get into Sto-vo-Kor if he doesn't wear his sash when he's serving his ship, so they let him wear it. It's the difference between "My religion would reeeeally like it if I wore this" and "My religion says I have to wear this."
    • Ro was the only time Picard or Riker made an issue of uniform variations. It was specifically Riker who ordered her to take off the earring, and my sense was that he was acting more out of dislike for her than anything.
      • During an episode of Voyager, Tuvok also insists that a Bajoran Maquis crewman that he's giving extra training to remove his earring. It's pretty clearly part of the uniform code. Now, Riker may be choosing to be more heavyhanded with enforcing it because of his dislike, but it was definitely in there, and enforcing it may be more of a "You can't just get away with doing whatever you want" thing than bullying.
     Not telling K'Ehleyr the details of his discommendation 
  • As his mate (or at least the mother of his child) doesn't she have the right to know about his enemies in the Empire? You'd think merely being the Federation Ambassador to the Klingon Empire would entitle her to get a briefing from Picard on the subject. If Worf or Picard had told her, she wouldn't have requested information from the Empire, and therefore Duras wouldn't have a reason to kill her.
    • Worf knows K'Ehleyr, and knows that she 1) has poor impulse control and 2) no tolerance for "Klingon nonsense", which means that not only would she not have respected his decision to bear his shame quietly and privately, she might have done something stupid like go charging right at the Chancellor to demand an explanation.

The United Federation of Planets and Starfleet

    We only follow the Prime Directive when it means we get to kill people 

  • In Season 7's "Homeward", Picard refuses to help save the Boraalan civilization, even when the crew is easily capable of doing so unobtrusively. By refusing to violate the Prime Directive in this instance, he knowingly condemns them to death (although Worf's brother, it turns out, beamed them off just in time). But since when is Picard a shining example of strict adherence to the Prime Directive?! By the mid-fourth season, he'd already violated it nine times since taking command of the Enterprise (as Admiral Satie points out in "The Drumhead"). He was willing to break the Prime Directive to stop Wesley from being executed ("Justice"), let Worf off with just a reprimand for killing Duras ("Reunion"), and let his heart be softened by a little girl crying for help on a planet that's destroying itself ("Pen Pals"). To say nothing of the numerous (presumably) non-Federation planets the Enterprise has been instrumental in saving over the years. If ever there was a justifiable reason for breaking the Directive, it's here. What gives Picard the right to serve as judge, jury and executioner in this case?
    • Further to the intricate discussions of the Prime Directive elsewhere on these Headscratchers boards, I would add that this is one episode where the Prime Directive is supposed to seem difficult and unyielding. Strictly speaking Picard does not act as judge, jury or executioner — only as a bystander. Life on this planet would be destroyed even if nobody were around to see it, and the Prime Directive says not to interfere. As you point out, it's inconsistent, most obviously with 'Pen Pals', but I actually find it refreshing to see, for once, an instance when the crew don't decide to violate their most sacred vow, even when it seems extremely tempting to do so, and indeed, cruel not to.
    • What makes it worse is that that episode and Pen Pals makes it blatantly clear that Starfleet has forgotten the purpose of the Prime Directive, despite still mentioning: to protect pre-interstellar cultures. Forgotten, because where TOS made clear that the Starfleet of the period quite sensibly does not regard a culture ceasing to be as 'natural' or 'healthy' development, and in fact has standing orders for captains to interfere, if as discreetly as possible, should a culture be at risk of extermination, TNG's Starfleet apparently has explicit orders not to interfere even then. Now, to the outside observer, what seems most consistent with the spirit of the rule (as noted, in both periods stated to be the protection of other cultures): the TOS approach of mandating extinction-averting interference (see "The Paradise Syndrome") or the TNG approach of prohibiting the same?
    • It is perhaps worth noting one non-parallel between "Pen Pals" and "Homeward." In the former episode, it was ultimately within the Enterprise's power to completely avert this planetary catastrophe and return things to normal. This seemed to be wholly successful to the point that the planet will no longer need any intervention from Starfleet (which its pre-warp inhabitants never knew about to begin with) and will continue to develop naturally. In "Homeward," this is not the case at all; there is no indication that they can do anything to help the planet (admittedly, they never even seem to think about it). The only possible option is evacuation, which hardly seem possible to do while acting in accordance with the Prime Directive. The mere choice of selecting some people to live and others to die is playing God — more literally than in most cases (note that Nikolai lists the Boraalans' "rich spiritual life" as a basis for sparing them). Nikolai picks some people he likes, including a woman he impregnated (what the hell kind of anthropologist is this guy?), which is just the kind of patriarchal act by a "superior" civilization that the Prime Directive is designed to prevent. Then they dump this tiny group of people (too bad they couldn't afford more extras, because this bunch barely looks like enough people to qualify as a village, let alone the healthy gene pool needed to preserve a species) on a quickly-located alien planet where they will have no idea of whether or not a given plant is poisonous. And Nikolai, instead of being put on trial for his crimes (which include sabotaging the Enterprise!), is allowed to go native and stay with them, continuing to impersonate one of their species and further disrupting the "natural development" of their society in all kinds troubling ways, up to and including the introduction of human DNA into their microscopic gene pool! Let's just say that the letter and the spirit of the Prime Directive are both blown to smithereens in this awful episode, and there's plenty of guilt to spread around.
      • The Prime Directive is all kinds of idiotic anyway.
      • No, not at all. The colonial history of our planet would have been much less shameful and destructive had something similar been in place.
      • Of course if something similar to what we see in Star Trek had been put in place a large portion of the world's population would also still be dying of easily treated diseases and injuries. The problem with the Federation's Prime Directive is that it seems to have been turned from a basic 'don't unnecessarily interfere, don't decide their politics and don't repeat the mistakes of our ancestors' to 'don't interfere even when any possible consequence of interference is easily outweighed by the damage of not interfering'. Either from bad writing or from writers' zeal for the Federation it's gone from being a precaution to being absolute dogma to be followed no matter what the situation is (see Voyager episode Time and Again).
      • A large portion of the world's population is dying of easily treatable diseases. And considering that the percentage of the pre-Columbian population of the Americas killed by European diseases, especially smallpox, is now estimated in the neighborhood of 90%, you can see how easily the positive medical benefits of contact are outweighed by the negative. Whenever apologists for colonialism invoke medicine as a justification, there's an edge of "the primitives would never have developed any of this on their own were it not for the civilized Europeans showing them what to do" when it's easy to see that contact caused far more problems than it ever solved.
      • This is the worst kind of Noble Savage romanticism imaginable. So contacted people are poor? People living traditional, low-tech indigenous-style lifestyles die even faster and more brutally. Yeah colonialism sucked, but that's because it was one way - a particularly special bad way - of making contact. There are other ways, such as simple free sharing in a respectful forum of equal adults. Who cares whether a culture would have developed tech on their own? You have it now, they're dying now, and refusing to even offer to share it because it might shake up their existing social structures is just absolutely disgusting paternalism. Besides, by our own subjective standards of morality, any culture that depends on a high mortality rate for whatever reason, frankly deserves to have to justify itself to its children, when they discover their elders were subjecting them to a dangerous and difficult subsistence lifestyle without necessity.
      • I am not sure why it would necessarily be Noble Savage romanticism to acknowledge that colonialism was not beneficial to the colonized peoples in the long run, or how advocating "hands off" is any less patriarchal than seeing non-western peoples as primitive and backward, merely waiting for the helping hand of Mighty White. But I think we have wandered pretty far away from the original issue here — whether it is moral to force contact on a people with no knowledge of what the repercussions would be. Western colonial powers did not intentionally spread disease to peoples with no immunity to them (a few of those smallpox-infected blankets aside), but they did, and countless millions died. Likewise, it may seem like the most moral thing in the world to distribute medicines that fight infant mortality rate, but unless this is accompanied by an overall drop in birth rate, you can end up with a massive overpopulation problem and a society that cannot feed itself. Since it's impossible to predict every variable, it appears to me to make sense to err on the side of caution as a policy.
    • A major part of the Prime Directive is "not interfering in natural development". Now, a rule that's so often bent and broken is hard to defend, but let's look at it this way. In "Pen Pals" someone on the planet has found a way to communicate with someone off-planet by initiating the contact... that's what has drawn Starfleet's interest to them (via Data), thus the Enterprise involving itself is, in a way, part of the planet's natural development. However, in "Homeward", the only reason Starfleet is involved in the planet's development is because a member of Starfleet initiated the contact, thus his attempts to change things are contrary to their natural development. If Nikolai hadn't been involved, and at the last few minutes of their existence a Boraalan had been desperate enough to spontaneously invent a radio capable of sending a signal into orbit and broadcast "For God's sake someone help us!", the Enterprise probably would have been able to beam up all the Boraalans they could, since at that point the Boralaans' natural development would have led to them initiating contact and thus getting outsiders involved on their own terms.
    • The Prime Directive is inexplicably linked to a given civilization's possession of FTL spaceflight. The Federation is often shown meddling quite openly in the affairs of planets less advanced than them. In the episode "First Contact", the Enterprise is working on preparing for first contact with the Malcorians, a species that was just about to test their first warp-capable starship, and who are as yet unaware that other sentient races exist in the universe! The Enterprise frequently participates in diplomatic affairs with non-Federation planets that are generally at a lower level of technology than them. So there is a certain elitism threshold here. If a civilization is above that threshold then the Federation will readily assist against potential extinction events (as in the episode "Deja Q") such a moon falling out of its orbit. If the civilization does not possess warp drive then they are effectively screwed under the terms of the Prime Directive. It is a highly arbitrary determinant of when to render aid and when not to.
    • It is also worth noting that, as shown in the episode "Angel One", the Federation apparently sometimes waives the Prime Directive in the case of pre-warp civilizations such as the titular planet, which was described as having "20th Century technology". Why? Because it was Class M and located strategically close to the Romulan Neutral Zone. The mission to the planet was noted as being delicate because it was explicitly stated in the episode that they were seen as being a candidate for Federation membership, despite having a rather closed culture and not being anywhere near having warp capability! Not that this is the first time. In the TOS episode "Errand of Mercy", Kirk was fully-prepared to offer technology to the seemingly pre-industrial Organians because their planet was strategically-placed relative to the Federation-Klingon border. It would appear that the Prime Directive's importance is measured relative to the needs of the Federation, and that the Federation will ignore it if, for example, the threat in question is aimed at them, rather than the planet they would normally argue would be negatively impacted by violating the Prime Directive.
    • Also some of the examples given kind of fall in the “gray area” of the Prime Directive, for example, Worf killing Duras can be interpreted as still something internally Klingon as Worf is a Klingon himself, while in "Justice" in theory the Federation was involved because one of their citizens was under trial and someone could argue that the Primer Directive do not apply if Federation’s citizens are directly involved as, then, it’s no longer an internal issue.
    • When does Picard ever say that killing Duras is a violation of the PD? In any case, Worf is a Klingon. It's an example of one Klingon killing another. No outside interference. The problem was that Starfleet officers aren't supposed to kill for revenge.

    Practicing starship combat? When was the last time we fought anyone? 

  • In "Peak Performance", Riker says to the Zakdorn strategist, Kolrami, regarding the combat drill: "I think it's a waste of time to test our combat skills— it's a minor province in the make-up of a starship captain." Picard's also insistent that Starfleet is not a military organization. While I admire Picard and Riker's idealism, those statements are coming dangerously close to naïveté. By this point in the series (late second season), the Enterprise has already been in several combat situations ("Encounter at Farpoint", "The Last Outpost", "The Battle", "The Arsenal of Freedom", "A Matter of Honor", "Samaritan Snare", and most notably "Q Who"— and those are just the examples I noticed at first glance). In fact, they admit that the only reason they agreed to this drill was because of the Borg encounter in the latter episode. They've also separated the saucer twice. If starship combat's such a "minor province" for a starship captain, how come the Enterprise fights so much? (My guess? Picard and Riker simply don't like certain Zakdorn racial traits, and are reacting negatively to Kolrami on that basis).
    • I suspect that they resent having this simulation forced on them by Starfleet as much as anything — it is an affront to their professionalism. The very fact that they have amassed a good amount of field combat experience should make the war game irrelevant.
      • Kolrami states something to the effect of "how you fare in a mismatch is what interests Starfleet." This may be a bit of a Hand Wave, but it makes it clear that there is some purpose to this exercise, even if it is a bit mysterious.
      • That's hardly a Hand Wave. The events of Samaritan Snare proved that the Enterprise crew needs to learn to not underestimate less technologically advanced ships. In real life the US Navy staged a war game with a Swedish diesel-electric submarine versus a carrier battle group. Despite being vastly outnumbered and out-teched, the Swedish sub managed to "sink" a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. It's as much an exercise for the crew on the Constellation-class as it is for the Enterprise.
      • It certainly is a Hand Wave insofar as this explanation is not provided by the episode itself, but by you. Convincing, though.
      • It's easily implied in the same discussion - they explicitly bring up the Borg, who were openly superior to the Enterprise. Trying to see how well a weaker opponent can take down a more powerful opponent is a wise tactic when they know that there is a stronger opponent out there willing to come after them.
      • Pretty much every decent military, law enforcement agency and rescue agency has regular drills and exercises. The idea is to test your methods without the risk of getting people killed. Considering how poorly Starfleet seems to handle some emergencies it seems more like the organization is simultaneously too bureaucratic and too casual.
      • We see it rarely enough, but the Enterprise does run preparedness drills (we see this in "Lower Decks").
    • Military veterans will testify that whenever a war game comes up, probably about 90% of those involved go into it whining about what a waste of time it is. Once the game starts, then they get serious about it.
    • This was further broken by the retconned introduction of the Cardassians in later seasons and the war that the Federation had apparently only just recently fought against them resulting in the treaty exchanging planets that triggered the Maquis revolt. Thus viewers who have seen later seasons or watched reruns out of order might wonder what the heck Picard and Riker are talking about, since the Federation had been at war not that long ago.

     What Measure is a Cardassian? 

  • In "The Wounded", the Enterprise is allegedly "trying everything in its power" to reach Captain Maxwell and the Starship Phoenix before it can destroy the lives of any more Cardassian citizens. Never mind for now that Picard refuses to give the Cardassians the ship's transponder code so they can track its precise location. When the Phoenix is bearing down on a Cardassian warship and a freighter, Picard assents to giving the Cardassians the Phoenix's prefix code to disable the shields, but alas, even unshielded, the Cardassians are no match for Maxwell. Picard then orders an increase in speed to Warp 9— from the Enterprise's previous speed of WARP 4! Why in the world was he previously flying at below the recommended cruising speed?! Is he really trying his hardest to preserve the peace?! And then when they actually find him and bring him aboard the Enterprise, rather than place him under arrest they let him return to the Phoenix with orders to accompany the Enterprise back to a starbase— and of course Maxwell takes off. This episode had a hurricane of bad decisions by Picard.
    • I find the speed of Enterprise constantly problematic. Obviously, you don't want to run your engines ragged, but on more occasions then I can count Picard lets the Enterprise waddle along like it's a cruise ship, no matter the circumstances. Hey, Captain? Why are you pissing around at Warp 2 (Ten times the speed of light) when you could be traveling at Warp 9 (One thousand, five hundred and sixteen times the speed of light)? At the former, you'll travel a light year in five weeks; at the latter, six hours. Do you just like taking the scenic route?
      • They did an episode about how warp drive was destroying the fabric of the universe. Picard says that higher warp speeds are restricted to vital missions. That doesn't explain why he's going around at warp 4 in 'The Wounded' but does explain why they generally stick to low speeds a lot of the time.
      • At the end of "The Chase," the Enterprise needs to pause and conduct repairs related to overuse of the propulsion system. So there are consequences to going around at high warp all the time. That being said, the ship's speeds often appear arbitrary.
      • Hasn't it been established that Enterprise's cruising speed is either warp factor five or six? If I'm correct in believing it has, then not only is Picard going slower than the situation requires, but he's wasting resources while he's doing it.
  • Speaking about The Wounded, how the crap could Data, our resident super-intelligent android, let slip that the Federation can read Cardassian transponder codes? He gave away a important tactical advantage and what was probably classified information.
    • That seemed to fall under Picard's earlier statement of how Macet was hearing everything Picard was hearing, nothing edited nothing withheld. It also worked diplomatically as a "We know more than you realize" moment so the Cardassians would be more hesitant to break the peace - what other bits of intelligence did Starfleet know?

     Starfleet Human Resources 
  • This is a very minor quibble, but in the episode Lower Decks, there is an opening for a night watch operations manager. Riker, Troy, and at one point Worf spend much of the episode trying to decide who to award the position to. There's one person conspicuously missing from these deliberations though: Data. Why is he, the department head, given so little input into the decision?
    • This is an awfully good point that had never occurred to me before. One of the things that's so much fun about that episode is that it gives us a peek at how our regulars behave as superior officers, but Data doesn't figure; what's it like to work under him?
    • Data probably was the one who gave Riker et al the list of promotion candidates in the first place. As the head of Operations, Data's job would be to oversee such things as crew evaluation reports. Thus, he would get those reports first and then, after carefully analyzing the reports along with other information like service records and promotion availability/criteria, would forward to Riker and the others a list of the crew who were able to be promoted (factoring in considerations like time in service, awards, reprimands, etc), and qualifications for the position that they would be promoted to.
    • This may just be something they decided at some point during Data's service on the Enterprise: he handles the purely logical aspects, like whose record meets the strict technical definition of being suitable for the position, contacts them to find out if they're interested in the position, arranges all the profiles, and then turns things over to the other department heads at that point. Being unemotional and often unversed in matters of personality conflicts and whatnot, Data quite logically doesn't involve himself in the part of the process that is more subjective, such as "Does her behavior indicate she'd be good in the position?", "Is he humble enough to not let this go to his head?", "Is she good with people?", "Does he really deserve it?"

    Do not interfere with my children below! 
  • What in the world is the Enterprise crew doing even going to the Edo world in "Justice"? Surely the Edo haven't discovered warp drive. And after their initial survey team comes back, and they realize there's a whole lotta lovemaking going down down there, they bring down Wesley to determine if it's an ideal place for children?! Really?!
    • As for the first part of your question, this is a good example of Early Installment Weirdness since the criteria for making first contact are not yet set. If one were inclined to give this awful, awful episode some breaks (and who would?), one might rationalize that just because this society does not possess warp drive does not mean they're not aware of it, and that perhaps they have been visited by warp capable species in the past, which would explain their lack of interest in the transporter.
    • As for the second part, that's especially intriguing. I wonder if it's a trace of the largely lost Roddenberry view of the future as a haven of free love and relaxed sexual mores (he is reputed to have envisioned the future earth as a world of nudists!). Not thinking twice about exposing Wesley and even younger children to a planet of polyamorous nymphomaniacs may be a reflection of that.
      • Considering Roddenberry was known behind the scenes for banging any hot young starlet he could get his hands on (including Nichelle Nichols), his envisioning a future of free love and nudity was probably less philosophy and more Fetish Fuel for him.
      • There's no reason why both can't be true, is there?
    • Warp drive isn't the sole criterion for making contact with a civilization. If the Edo had developed subspace communication they would have found signs of extra-terrestrial life soon enough. Alternately, some other alien race stumbled across the Edo and give them some technology, thereby negating the "cultural contamination" rule of the Prime Directive.
      • The same point was made three posts up. The point to make, I suppose, is that it's not like the episode actually says this. The Edo definitely don't seem to react like they're encountering aliens for the first time, but they're so badly written and acted that it's hard to know for sure.
    • Even in the best case scenario, it's frankly bizarre that the Federation's first contact with this species is so blasé. No ceremonies, no ambassadors, no dress uniforms... just "Hey, mind if we play in your parks and gawk at your women?"

    Silly Rabbit, Starfleet is for Kids! 
  • More serious question: why is it that, the ship is packed with civilian dependents of the crew? In the real world, when you go on a naval vessel, you don't have the crew's children underfoot. They're back on land, at home, writing cheerful letters to Daddy and/or Mommy who's in the Navy. Starfleet is a military organization, the Federation's analog of the US Navy and US Marine Corps. Granted, they are oriented more towards exploration than combat most of the time. But look at how often the Enterprise, in all incarnations, gets shot up. Exploring the galaxy is apparently every bit as dangerous as a combat patrol during the Second World War. So why have all the wives and children underfoot? Looking at it from the perspective of other spacefaring races, the fact that the Federation's favored way of making first contact is by having a gigantic military vessel that's bristling with death-rays take up "standard orbit" (whatever that may be) around the planet and say "Hey you primitive screw-heads, WAZZUP?" cannot possibly be lost on any objective observer, annoying rug-rats in the Jefferies Tubes notwithstanding; it's not exactly subtle. Did anyone keep any tally of how many of red-shirted ensigns died on board the Enterprise during TNG, out of its total crew? If the Enterprise were a military base, it'd be what the US military calls a "hardship post," which means, no civilian dependents allowed because it's on a constant war footing.
    • Did anyone keep any tally of how many of red-shirted ensigns died on board the Enterprise during TNG, out of its total crew? Well... there's Haskell ("Where Silence Has Lease"), Dern ("Genesis"), Monroe ("Disaster", she was a Lt), Singh ("The Lonely Among Us", gold shirt), Van Mayer ("In Theory", gold shirt), two security guards ("Heart of Glory"), Aster ("The Bonding", blue shirt), Fang-lee ("Ethics", unseen), Kwan ("Eye of the Beholder", gold shirt), Brooks ("The Loss", unseen), Yar ("Skin of Evil"), Corelki, Frankin and 1 other guard ("Descent"), plus the larger numbers of offscreen redshirts, such as in "Q Who" and "Best of Both Worlds" against the Borg, 8 to the Bersailles III firestorms ("Lessons"), and 3 to the Ansata terrorists ("The High Ground"), and those are just off the top of my head. Probably still not as many as Kirk, who as far as I remember lost around a quarter of his crews worth during TOS.
    • Answer: It was Gene's idea. He always maintained that Starfleet really wasn't a military organization, and that it was unreasonable to force the crew to leave their families for years at a time. As you note, this idea just doesn't work in a series where the ship is in danger almost every week. That's why the writers quietly reversed course on this one after TNG ended — there are no kids on the Enterprise-E or other Starfleet ships we've seen since.
      • More to the point, the Galaxy class starships weren't supposed to be in danger every week. (As noted in "Yesterday's Enterprise", "this is supposed to be a ship of peace.") The ship class was meant for diplomatic missions and the odd exploration or scientific run. The fact that the Enterprise kept running into more disaster than expected was just bad luck. (This still doesn't explain why they knowingly went into battle more than once without leaving the saucer section behind with all the civilians.)
      • Maybe because when you're going into battle you don't want to leave half your weapons behind? It would make sense that they'd offload the civilians at a starbase or something, but no sense at all that they'd be expected to face 100% of a warbird or Cardassian cruiser with 50% of their own firepower.
      • Actually, according to Worf's dialogue in Heart of Glory, the Enterprise is a more effective warship when it is separated from the saucer section.
      • Budget restraints, pure and simple.
      • But they already had Stock Footage of the saucer separation, a throwaway line and two seconds of film would have covered it.
      • Are you going to separate your battle and saucer sections when you have Romulans after you on every side? It's no good separating the saucer if the battle has already caught you off guard.
      • The effects weren't the expensive part; the expensive part was rebuilding the Battle Bridge in the warp section (which was actually a set from the Star Trek movies).
      • Also, Picard stated in a novel that he never liked the idea of leaving the saucer section stranded (it has no warp capability) while going off to fight a threat that was presumably dangerous enough to justify the saucer separating in the first place. As the saucer would likely be easy pickings for whatever took out the much more powerful battle section, the logic holds up.
      • One would think that any sane parent would want to get their kids off the ship after the the first dozen times they all nearly died. It doesn't really matter that it wasn't supposed to be dangerous, since it demonstrably was dangerous.
      • I could never watch a Star Trek Shake on The Next Generation without thinking about how the children on board are being horribly traumatized by having their home violently buffeted at least once a week. Imagine what the ship's parents and teachers have to deal with every time the red alert klaxon sounds.
      • Oh man, and a Star Trek Shake when there could easily be very young children about? I may never look at that the same way again...
      • You don't have to think. Star Trek: Generations, which featured one of the largest Star Trek shakes in the franchise, graphically depicted kids screaming as everything was falling on top of them.
      • A bridge is demonstrably dangerous (can collapse). Scissors are demonstrably dangerous (can stab). Living in earthquake country/ tornado country/ hurricane country is demonstrably dangerous. Do people abandon such things? No. Just when the danger is present.
      • The difference is that those things only occasionally actually endanger people. A better example would be a bridge that kept collapsing over and over again, with a few people on the bridge killed and the rest narrowly escaping each time, but parents continuing to drive over it with their kids.
      • Perhaps it's a legacy of the "generation ship" mindset. Earth may have largely bypassed the need for such vessels, between early use of hibernation a la "Space Seed" and the later invention of warp drive, but many Federation species could've established their first colonies using sub-light ships and multi-generation crews. Knowing that vessels crewed by families have successfully explored and settled upon new worlds may give Starfleet's planners a more tolerant (or romanticized?) perspective on the issue.
      • Bafflingly, the kids living on the Enterprise were directly threatened at least twice in the first season alone: first in "Justice", in which Wesley falls into a lawn ornament while playing Frisbee with some kids on an alien planet, the punishment for which was apparently execution; and again in "When the Bough Breaks", in which an alien race kidnaps several kids from the Enterprise. One would think that after these encounters, many of the parents would be of a mind to get back to Earth as quickly as possible and leave the kiddies with Grandma and Grandpa. (Granted, however, much of this was taking place around the same time that much of Starfleet command was being infiltrated by mind-controlling worms, so perhaps Earth was not perceived as particularly safe either.)
      • Maybe some did. We wouldn't have heard about it, since Wesley was the only kid on the regular cast.
      • In second season "Where Silence Has No Lease" Picard and Riker set the Enterprise to self destruct in 20 minutes. They avoid it in the end, but you can imagine all the traumatized parents and kids as they awaited their doom... for 20 minutes.
    • Answer 2: The original premise of TNG was that the Enterprise was a long-range exploratory vessel which was expected to go 20 years between refits. The crew brought their families on board because a) Twenty years without seeing your kids is a bit much, and b) they were raising the crew that would fly the ship back in time for its refit. This premise was quickly forgotten, unfortunately, and the crew ended up just dootzing around local space instead of actually going "where no man has gone before" (except by accident, of course).
      • It still doesn't work in light of historical explorers, whose crews would do their years-long cruises without refit and didn't take children on board precisely because they had no idea what they would deal with. And given what happened to Magellan (set sail with five ships and 270 men to try and circumnavigate the globe, without actively searching anything interesting and possibly dangerous like the Enterprise does. Four years later, one ship with 18 men completes the mission, and Magellan wasn't one of the survivors) and other explorers, it strikes me as wise to not embark children on that ship.
    • Answer 3: From an in-universe perspective, too many different political interests getting in the way of designing the ship (see The Pentagon Wars for a Real Life example of what I mean). An efficient design (like that of the Constitutions) would have meant having the Galaxy-class explorer as the best warship of that size with the addition of state-of-the-art sensors (comparable to the most recent dedicated scouts), a capable but non excessive stellar cartography department, some laboratories to examine the most likely phenomenons and samples they were likely to encounter and a large number of non-replicable spare parts, all of it done with efficient use of space, no unnecessary personnel (if we stretch it we could justify Guinan for the morale value, but not many more) and the most reliable systems available. What they got instead was a ship with the firepower and shields she was supposed to have but subpar shields, excessively extensive labs, extremely inefficient use of space (see the command bridge, the large luxury suites for the crews and the entire decks with no specific purpose for some examples), little to no non-replicable spare parts, tons of unnecessary personnel (including the children. This one was openly criticized by Picard himself), and infamously unreliable systems (the holodeck's tendency to malfunction, the transporters' biofilters regularly failing to detect and isolate new pathogens, the tendency of the warp core to blow up at the first hit and inability to throw it out when necessary, and the complete lack of redundancy in the safeties). I hope the responsible were thrown in a penal camp after the Yamato exploded...
    • It strikes me that the Enterprise may be one of the most advanced (if not THE most advanced) starship out there but it really hasn't been designed with all out battle in mind. Look at how easily the shields are knocked down by REAL battle-ships like Birds of Prey. It pushes more importance into other types of technology (Stellar Cartography, for example, does anyone actually know what the heck that's good for, except for predicting how galaxies will look in two million years time?) Sure it has huge weapons, photon torpedoes and phasers and the like, but it's still not exactly... designed with war in mind, I mean look at it. Does that really look like a warship? (Compare the Enterprise D to the Enterprise E, which was better outfitted for battle, to clarify what a star ship that was really designed for big battles looks like).
      • With regards to Stellar Cartography, the position of every object in the universe is constantly shifting with respect to every other object in the universe, so navigational charts need to be constantly updated. It makes sense that the Enterprise would have a department for it.
    • Uh, guys? The Enterprise-D was one of the (at the time) brand new Galaxy-class starships. It was designed to carry families along as the crew explored the galaxy. Clearly, the concept made sense at the time; when the Galaxy-class ships were first commissioned, the Federation wasn't actively at war with anything.
      • Except the Cardassians...
      • Galaxy-class ships weren't the only ones to carry family. Sisko served on the USS Saratoga, and his wife and son lived on the ship too.
      • Speaking of, why in the name of all that's holy would Starfleet allow civilians (including the XO's wife & kid) aboard vessels that they knew for a fact were going into battle?!?
      • Even worse: This was a Miranda-class starship, aka Starfleet's cannon fodder and a ship that was never designed with families in mind (it was originally designed in the late 23rd century).
      • Starfleet does not do cannon fodder. True, it's a smaller class, but probably could hold its own in a fight against anything but the Borg. And the design may be old, but I expect any new ones built had the latest technology, and the old ones underwent refits as needed.
    • I think it's a canon statement that the Galaxy class is the most successful starship class in Starfleet history. Still doesn't explain why it's that heavily armed or armored for a diplomatic/explorer vessel. Heck, it can match a Warbird, and that ship is twice in size.
      • Let's not forget the future refit, the "Galaxy-X". That thing one-shotted fully shielded Negh'Vars!
      • It's supposed to be a jack-of-all trades. Capable of fighting a battle, but not necessarily a match for a Warbird. But at the same time, it's capable of being a diplomatic ship, medical relief ship, ambassadorial ship, etc.
      • Jack of all trades, nothing. It's the ultimate Military Mashup Machine. The guns of a warship. The speed and sensors of a scout. The living and medical quarters of a hospital ship. The diplomatic facilities of a civilian cruise ship...
      • The original reason for the Enterprise-D carrying entire families was because it wasn't a warship. True, it was heavily armed and shielded, but it was fitted for *exploration*. All early Galaxy-class ships were fitted with science suites up the wazoo, giving all the crew the comforts of a hotel in space over a battleship, and it was just easier to bring families along, and Stellar Cartography is used as a navigational aide. However, after the Borg and eventually the Dominion, the Galaxy-class ship went through a major overhaul, adding extra armor and more powerful shields, as well as two extra type X phaser arrays onto the nacelles, removing the science stations, and cutting the crew down from 1,012 to 400.
      • It might be a canon statement, but it's a pretty silly one. These were ships designed to last 100 years or more, but a third of the initial run was lost in the first 10. And not even in wartime - Yamato was done in by a computer virus, and Enterprise was shot down by an antique!
      • Half. The Odyssey was rammed in the deflector dish by a Dominion raider a few months before the Enterprise's destruction.
      • Historically speaking, explorers were fully equipped ships of war that also embarked scientists and their equipment (with the cartographic part usually done by the military crew, as they were equipped for that on their own). And in fact the Galaxy-class explorers are fitted as warships even before the Dominion War (in "Conundrum" the amnesiac crew concludes the Enterprise is, in their own word, a battleship upon taking a look to the ship's characteristics). My guess is that there were too many different political interests plaguing the ship, with the end result being a ship with not enough necessary equipment (more powerful shields and non-replicable spare parts, to name two), too much non-necessary equipment (excessive labs, for example, given the existence of dedicated science ships), bad use of the space (excessively large bridge and crew quarters and entire unused decks), and children on board, with some corners cut in the wrong places (the excessively volatile warp core is the first one that comes to mind). One good thing that came from the encounter with the Borg and the Dominion War was that those interests were wiped out, resulting in overhauled Galaxies that are better equipped for all their missions, including combat.
    • Also, for the record, sixty people died on the Enterprise D in all of its seven years. That works out to slightly under nine people per year.
      • While far lower than what everyone (myself included) expected...it still made me laugh.
      Picard: Congratulations everyone! Only 8 deaths this years! A new record! Diplomacy and discussing trade embargoes has never been safer!
      Conversation from the episode "Q Who" in which 18 crew members were abducted from the Enterprise and presumably assimilated by the here-to-fore unknown Borg threat:
      Capt. Picard: I understand what you've done here, Q. But I think the lesson could have been learned without the loss of 18 members of my crew.
      Q: If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous - with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross, but it's not for the timid...
      • nearly a third of those were in one episode, "Q Who", so outside of that episode it's more like 6 deaths per year.
      • Am I the only one that read that in the voice of Stewart's character in American Dad!?
      • On the other hand, another Galaxy-class starship (the Yamato) was lost with all hands in Season 2...
      • Sixty people seems low, extremely low, and the link is 404 now. Think about "Genesis"... a population of 1000+ people in confined spaces, all de-evolved into various half-animal monsters, many of which are dangerous predators, some of which require specific environments that don't normally exist in a starship, and we only see one dead crew member? The episode doesn't give a number, but I don't see any way that was resolved without hundred of deaths. And what about the episode where the Borg tractor-beamed a section of hull away? That single incident killed, what, around 20 crew members?
      • Just think about how traumatized the kids were after Genesis, or when they all suffered hallucinations due to the alien telepathy in Night Terrors.
    • There are a lot of valid points here overall, but it seems like the Federation in general has far more risk-tolerant attitudes than late-20th/early 21st century America. Just look at the general reaction to things kids get into that have nothing to do with hostile activity. Also, my impression was always that the Galaxy class was the first to carry families not because it was a particularly non-combat-adapted ship, but because it was big enough to carry all those extra people in comfort and without taxing its supplies. Starfleet seems to be fond of making its "first rate" ships extremely multi-role; both the Constitution and Galaxy are seen doing diplomatic, combat, and exploration missions, as well as carrying high-priority cargoes. As is repeatedly cited on other matters, this reflects nineteenth-century fleets far more than modern navies. In addition, the Galaxy is not really that bad a battleship—the Bird-of-Prey in Generations was only able to take down the Enterprise by using a bug in Geordi's VISOR to read the shield frequencies. It does have two problems, but they are more design oversights than intentional compromises. First, it is a big target—its shape is rather "fat", not really presenting a small profile from any angle. Second, while it is very well-armed, its firing arcs are not designed to concentrate fire in any one direction; it cannot easily throw a large weight of fire forward or "fire a broadside".
      • Those design flaws seem to be reflective of the type of combat the Federation was expecting the ship to face - namely, single threats as opposed to whole fleets. TNG starts with the Federation at peace with the Klingons, the Romulans not having appeared for decades, no knowledge of the Borg and the Ferengi being an unknown species. It really does seem like the product of the need for a peacetime general-use ship more than any attempt to create a true vessel of war.
      • Yeah, we're far less risk tolerant in the early days of the 21st Century than we were even in the Mid-1980s. So what made sense to put on TV then doesn't precisely map to what we consider acceptable now. As to the ship shapes, that was probably intentional. The Federation wants to make peaceful contacts, to spread peace and acceptance. So something big obvious and friendly looking is going to be much more valuable in fulfilling that mission than something that looks like a warship. Park an obvious warship over someone's planet and they are liable to take offense. Whether you approve of the mission goals is up to you, but the Enterprise and Galaxy class design is well suited to that mission goal.
      • The 19th-century comparison also holds if you consider the difference in length of voyages compared to those of a 20th/21st-century navy. Given the distances in space travel, it would be reasonable to suppose that a cruise might last for years, not months. Also, Starfleet's role in protecting the frontier makes a starship somewhat similar to U.S. Army outposts in the American West, where it was considered dangerous but not unthinkable for soldiers' families to accompany them.
      • Except that even in the 18th and early 19th centuries they weren't so blasé about the risks, because even then the only 'kids' they allowed on board were cabin-boys and powder-monkeys, ie, crew members.
      • Speaking of risk tolerance, I just watched Time Squared. In the episode, Picard kills a future with a phaser he pulled from a cabinet near the control console. So, wait...this ship with children has unlocked cabinets full of guns?
      • Future guns that can probably tell when the person holding them is an authorized adult member of the crew. Other episodes show that phasers won't even fire in certain civilian-heavy areas like Ten Forward unless there's a Red Alert going on or something.
    • Memory Alpha has the answer:
      Regarding the presence of families on starships, Ronald D. Moore commented "Perhaps [still] on some Galaxy-class ships, but I think this was an experiment that failed." (AOL chat, 1997) "I think that the "family friendly" starship notion was an interesting idea, but one that didn't pan out. There was always something awkward about Picard ordering the ship into battle situations with kiddies running through the corridors. And no matter how much lip service we paid to the "our families are part of our strength" concept, it never seemed very smart or very logical to bring the spouse and kids along when you're facing down the Borg, or guarding the Neutral Zone, or plunging the ship into uncharted spatial anomalies." (AOL chat, 1997)
      • Even if having families on board the ship is justified, then why do they even allow children in the stardrive section? Each time they have to separate, there's an evacuation sequence, showing families and children scurrying to get to the saucer. Shouldn't the stardrive section be off limits to everyone except necessary personnel so when they separate the saucer they can do it much quicker?
      • Yes that one does seem like Fridge Logic to me as well, as it is implied that most of the non military amenities (holodecks, ten forward, etc.. ) are located in the saucer. As for the saucer, if memory serves there was a statement by Word Of G Od that saucer separation was originally going to be a regular thing, but was ultimately reduced to limited use for the same reason the show staff came up with the transporters, not because it was too expensive to show the saucer separating (stock footage and all) regularly, but would have taken too much TIME out of the story to show and would have unnecessarily disrupted the flow of the story.
      • About the size and shape of the Enterprise and other Starfleet ships, all interstellar spaceships in the Star Trek universe have near flawless targeting systems and all weapons reach their targets instantaneously, so designing a spaceship to be able to dodge, otherwise avoid attacks, or "fire at broadside" is largely pointless, which is also the reason we never see either ship moving about during a battle.
    • There's an amusing bit in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's "The Jem'hadar" where Dax suggests to Captain Keogh of the Galaxy-class U.S.S. Odyssey that they offload non-essential personnel (read: families) before heading through the wormhole. A bit of a Take That! at TNG, where they never seemed to do that.
  • A plot point in Peak Performance seems to indicate that Picard is actively trying to kill the children onboard; or at the very least Wesley—and who could blame him. In the preparation for a battle drill, Wesley gets an idea to improve the starship Hathaway's odds against Enterprise by enabling her to jump to warp for a split-second. All of the antimatter had previously been removed from the surplus Hathaway, but Wesley works around this by beaming an experiment involving antimatter that he had been working on from the Enterprise. So. . .Wesley's not only allowed to play with antimatter, but he's allowed to do so without close supervision? I don't care how smart he is, he's still a freaking student! Who the hell gives kids access to weapons-of-mass-destruction?
    • We did see at least one other starship with children on board... the Saratoga, destroyed on Wolf 359 by the Borg. Sisko's wife and son were on board, and this was in a combat situation.
    • Am I the only one that finds it rather bemusing that most of this section is horrified head-shaking at the thought of poor little chilluns being brought within even a light-year of possible danger, but wraps up with "KILL THE TEENAGE BOY! HE ANNOYS ME!"?
      • OP here, and while I did take a cheap shot a Wesley, I was trying to make a different point. Antimatter is beyond volatile. All you would have to do to get yourself and everyone in the vicinity vaporized is to allow it to come into contact with other matter. A matter/antimatter reaction creates the most efficient release of energy possible. How many teenagers can you think of that can be trusted to always handle it with the care and delicacy required?
      • Some people in the modern age trust their children to handle gasoline, because they feel those children are old enough and responsible enough to handle it with the proper precautions. Someone from a previous era would probably have found the idea of children handling a "beyond volatile" substance like gasoline horrifying. Antimatter is Nightmare Fuel to you because we currently have no way of containing it even if we had some... to people in the time TNG is set in, antimatter containment is positively routine.
      • Lethal computer glitches also seem to be positively routine, and unlike on Earth one mistake with antimatter will destroy the ship and all aboard
      • Of course, two episodes later, in Evolution, another one of Wesley's unsupervised science projects gains sentience, corrupts Enterprise's computers, tries to murder a man, and nearly destroys the ship...so, maybe they should at least check in occasionally to make sure he isn't lighting matches near that gasoline.
    • My wonder is; is it really a space ship that dangerous for the 24th century standards? We see space stations and colonies suffering similar treats that the Enterprise, entire colonies wipe out, and so on, seems like living outside the Solar System is dangerous anyway. Also not every episode were about the Enterprise about to be destroyed, a big chunk of episodes deal with treats that never endangered the people inside the ship, only crewmen who left (like Wesley in Justice).
      • Indeed, how many kids would have been killed in say, the Husnock attack on Rana IV, or on Omicron Theta or any of the other worlds stripped by the Crystalline Entity, Setlik III and the Cardassians, or Jurot IV or Ivor Prime that were hit by the Borg? Plus all those places decimated in one way or another in TOS? At least a starship can run away from stuff like that.
    • Living within the Solar System isn't safe. Earth has come under direct threat at least four times. Twice with the Borg, the whale probe from Star Trek IV, and V'Ger from The Motion Picture. Possibly even more. At least on the Enterprise (or any other starship) you can be proactive in sorting the problem. Planet side you just have to sit and wait and hope Starfleet makes it in time to bail you out.
      • And the Breen.

    Enlightened, Utopian Society... Minus the Captains 
  • Before he was assimilated and Psychologically Damaged or whatever, it seems like Picard was the only human who actually ever measured up to the Federation ideals of humanity. Aside from a blind spot regarding the Borg, Picard was a moral superman (especially compared to Kirk, who was sexist; Sisko, who committed countless crimes against the Romulans, Maquis, etc. to serve his own needs; Janeway, who made too many moral compromises to count). Where are all the other really good people?
    • Kirk was a product of his time (the 60s), Sisko was a product of Deep Space Nine's Black and Gray Morality (he didn't do this things for his "own ends" - Eddington was a dangerous criminal, and the Romulans being in the war did save billions of lives) and Janeway was a product of being in a difficult situation. What makes Picard different? He was the only one written with Gene's utopia specifically in mind, on a show with a bigger budget and less Executive Meddling than the Original Series. Picard is Star Trek, as envisaged by its creator.
      • Eddington was a dangerous criminal, but the episode made it fairly clear that Sisko was gunning for him for very personal reasons. Besides which, for all his claims of moral superiority, there was basically nothing that Eddington did that Sisko wasn't willing to stoop to, and further. If the Maquis had been recognized as a legitimate organization rather than a terrorist group, Sisko would have been brought up on war crimes along with Eddington.
      • Eddington out and out SAYS that Sisko made it personal and it's pretty clear that Eddington's betrayal was something that Sisko wasn't going to forgive or forget.
      • And at what point did Eddington, or the Maquis, ever set out to endanger the Federation? It's quite clear in the series that Eddington meant everything he said about he and the Maquis having no quarrel with Sisko or with the Federation, but simply wanting the freedom to go their own way, especially after they'd already renounced their Federation citizenship en masse in order to avoid being forcibly resettled when their planets were ceded to the Cardassian Union. The treaty making that concession also stipulated that the Cardassians would respect the autonomy of the Federation exiles, and the Maquis-Cardassian war started when it became clear that that Cardassian promise was worth about as much as...well, as a Cardassian promise. It was only after Dukat brought Sisko and the Federation into that war that the Maquis began targeting Federation assets — and I've yet to hear anyone offer much of an explanation as to why the Federation was fighting on the side of its current enemy, against people who until very recently had been Federation citizens themselves.
      • I'll give you a short list off the top of my head: Mr. Eddington Sabotaged a joint Bajoran/Federation starbase that had a significant civilian population, assaulted that base's second officer and illegally assumed command, stole Federation equipment that was intended for humanitarian relief, once again assaulted a superior officer, sabotaged a Federation starship, fired on same while it had no deflector shields or ability to defend itself, sent a false distress signal with the intent of firing on yet another Federation starship, left that ship and its crew adrift and defenseless, engaged in piracy by attacking merchant vessels to steal their cargo, used that cargo to manufacture chemical weapons, poisoned the biosphere of a foreign planet in a demilitarized zone to displace that entire planet's civilian population, fired on an unarmed civilian ship carrying refugees from the planet he poisoned with chemical weapons, and endangered the already uneasy peace between the United Federation of Planets and the Cardassian Union. I think by any measure, Mr. Eddington was a dangerous criminal who needed to be stopped.
      • Because the Maquis former colonists were endangering many millions/billion with their attitudes. If you think about it the Cardassians did honor their promise. They treated the Maquis as an individual group, not members of the Federation running around in their territory, which would have theoretically violated whatever treaties they had and started up hostilities.
      • That's not much of an explanation. The Maquis were endangering the Federation by defending themselves against Cardassian treaty violations, because the Cardassians chose not to take the view that the Federation was at fault? Which choice, incidentally, doesn't do anything to exonerate the Cardassian abrogation of their treaty obligations to the Maquis; in light of that, it's hard to believe they upheld the Federation treaty out of the goodness of their hearts, rather than the recognition that open war against the Federation would cost them dearly and be of uncertain outcome.
        One might argue (and I think Sisko did once argue) the realpolitik justification that it was necessary to try to prevent an alliance between the Dominion and the Cardassian Union, and that the mostly-successful Maquis resistance left the Union little other option than to sign a treaty with the Dominion; but the Maquis resistance, however successful, amounted to little more than a pinprick compared to the all-out Klingon invasion which at that time was rolling up whole Cardassian star systems and whatever else lay between Gowron's fleets and Cardassia Prime. If the Union needed a powerful ally against anything, it was the existential threat they faced from the Klingons, not the guerrilla warfare they forced upon the Maquis — not that this would likely be news to Sisko, who not long before had worked alongside Dukat to rescue, by their very fingernails, the entire Cardassian governing council from a Klingon attack intended to capture or kill them en masse.
      • Oh, and speaking of the Maquis — has it occurred to anyone else that, as with Israeli settlements in Gaza, the establishment of these Federation colonies in contested territory might have been a political maneuver against Cardassia in the first place? Perhaps some high Starfleet admiral in early-mid-TNG days, some time before the first Cardassian war, had the rather cold-blooded thought of putting some Innocent Bystanders in harm's way to see what happened; either on the one hand the territory would be de-facto ceded to the Federation, or on the other hand the Federation would get a bloody shirt to wave, a handily manufactured casus belli in the run-up to what may well have been a widely unpopular conflict driven as much by political intrigue within Starfleet as by any genuine cause of opposition between the two involved parties.
        Of course, as we all know, the first Federation-Cardassian conflict ended with a compromise treaty in which concessions were made by both sides, a result regarded by contemporary political observers as deeply unsatisfying to both parties. In such a situation, perhaps it seemed politically necessary to abandon the civilians who had colonized contested planets to strengthen the Federation's pre-war claim; while this may seem a stunningly cynical allegation against the supposedly idealistic and morally enlightened Federation, it is perhaps not so shocking in light of the fact that the Federation eventually chose to carry out exactly such an abandonment. It's also not such a shocking claim in light of Starfleet's established willingness to callously throw non-combatants into deadly danger — even the Great Picard blithely dragged a shipfull of families including minor children into armed standoffs, booby traps, spatial anomalies, temporal vortices, skirmishes just shy of outright warfare with the Klingons, the Romulans, the Cardassians, the Borg — hell, at one point everybody on the whole ship was horribly mutated into a monstrously twisted amalgam of human and animal features like something out of H. P. Lovecraft's nightmares, and what's that going to do to a ten-year-old? And it still took years before anyone got the idea that maybe having your kids with you on a combat posting, or a posting that could suddenly become a combat posting at any instant, isn't such a great thing after all!
        And of course that's all just speculation, or at best circumstantial inference without a shred of unequivocal canon evidence to back it up, but it sure would do a great job of explaining how Sisko managed to get away with using massively, internationally illegal chemical weapons to depopulate a Maquis planet, without so much as a hiccup of indigestion from his chain of command. After all, by that point, Starfleet was deeply embroiled in a de-facto alliance with Cardassia against the Maquis, and while the Federation public seems endlessly tolerant of its government's misbehavior, it's possible even that infinitely flexible patience could be strained by a military partnership with a recent enemy against one's own recent fellow citizens. Once Sisko, at Dukat's urging, had put them into the situation, the political admirals would undoubtedly want nothing less than to see it turn into an ugly, deadly, drawn-out struggle, in the way guerrilla wars tend to do; there's little which can turn a polity against a war so quickly as that — and having all the facts about this little mess come out in the media, in such a hostile domestic political context, very likely could result in some of Starfleet Command's political weathervanes toppling off their high perches for good. Those same political admirals would naturally find nearly any result preferable to that one, hence Sisko's being given carte blanche to do whatever was necessary to put a quick, quiet end to the conflict — even extending to such hideous acts as using highly toxic engine waste to poison an inhabited planet's biosphere; let's not forget that Eddington used an agent specific to Cardassian physiology, while Sisko indiscriminately slaughtered an entire ecosystem — which, judging by the outcome, was entirely acceptable to Starfleet's high command, just so long as it didn't make the news.
        I think the next person who starts to tell me about the Federation's evolved sensibilities and Starfleet's high moral standards, I might just have to puke on their shoes.
      • Sisko's obvious pain at some of the moral choices he makes is as much an exploration of the Federation's ideals of humanity as Picard's constant adherence to them. I don't find it particularly negative, like the Black and Gray Morality page seems to suggest, but interesting and powerful.
      • Sorry, are we talking about the same Sisko here? The guy who feels himself in grave moral peril when he's had an extremely indirect hand in the false-flag murder of a Romulan senator with the result that the Romulans enter the war against the Dominion and make a decisive difference — the same guy who also uses outlawed chemical weapons to depopulate an entire human planet, without the slightest hint of a qualm from either him or his superiors in Starfleet? Even Kira had to ask him to confirm that order! And, yes, Eddington had used chemical weapons first in order to deny the Cardassians a disputed planet, but that's pretty much the backwards of exoneration for what Sisko did; in fact, it's the first Trek episode I ever saw where the plainly shown moral of the story was that the ends really do justify the means, with a hefty dose of "if they do it first, it's okay for us too". It's not the exploration of that theme with which I have a problem; it's the fact that Sisko's actions were presented in a totally uncritical light that sends not just him, but the whole show, shooting past the Moral Event Horizon in my eyes.
      • Both men committed the same crime: ethnically cleansing an entire planet using illegal chemical weapons. Eddington did so to free his people, Sisko did so because Eddington was making him look bad.
      • Its important to note that neither Eddington or Sisko used the sort of chemical weapons that killed on contact. Lines of dialogue make it very clear that their attack will simply make it impossible for Cardassians or humans to inhabit the affected worlds for several decades. Both populations have time to evacuate, and the Cardassians even are shown to be doing so—Eddington goes so far as to fire on one of the refugee ships as a distraction while he escapes. While its clear that both mens' actions are in fact crimes, these crimes are not on the order of mass murder.
    • I think you're falling into the pit of a certain trope with regards to the captains other than your favorite.
  • It only gets worse when one gets promoted out of captaincy! The Insane Admiral trope is so common in Starfleet that one would get the impression that it's actually part of the psych evaluation for the job! (Prerequisite 3, subsection 2: Must be able to make Betazoid counselor cower under furniture babbling about "darkness, terrible darkness..." simply by being in the same building or starship.).

    Somebody Get Worf a Chair! 
  • Why do the stations on the back of the bridge have no chairs? Poor Worf always had to stand. I mean everyone had chairs in the original series. The Enterprise-D was supposed to be a luxury ship that could accommodate people's children and yet they can't give everyone a seat?
    • Lack of chairs is nothing, lack of anything regarding a pop-up shield for the window ought to have been a hanging offense (which says nothing about the fact that the ship even 'has' windows, I mean it's not like the people have anything to look at).
    • Nothing to look at? What about the pretty nebulae and space phenomena they encounter on a weekly basis?
      • They're not glass windows, if that's what you mean. They're transparent aluminum alloy, one inch of which was equivalent to 6 inches of plexiglass. Pop-up shields would be a bit superfluous.
      • Not so much Applied Phlebotinum, some aluminum compounds are indeed transparent.
      • Actually, it's a "view screen", as in "a ginormous computer monitor". It's not a window, it recreates stuff that the sensor arrays (or probes, or relays, whatever) are scanning. Turn it off and all you'll get is black, or a recreation of a starfield.
    • Presumably he has to stand because his job requires him to be more mobile. As security officer he may have to move around or leave the bridge at any moment to deal with a security situation. On the other hand, Picard's whole job is to sit there and tell other people what to do. You don't need to stand up for that.
      • Which in turn raises the question of why the weapons officer should have anything to do with internal security anyway...
      • Presumably because they couldn't find anyone else to replace Yar.
      • It seems that technically the Security Chief and Tactical Officer are separate jobs, it just so happens that they usually are held by the same person.
    • Even if it's assumed he'd be standing during an Alert, it's ridiculous that he didn't have a chair to occupy during routine bridge watches. Standing still for too long at a stretch will make a human light-headed — never a state you'd want your Tactical officer to be in — or even cause them to pass out, and Enterprise was built for a human crew, long before anyone knew a Klingon would occupy that spot.
  • He finally got one after 7 years, he sits down in Generations. Presumably the luxury of sitting at Tactical is reserved for Commanders...
  • Also, knowing Worf he would consider it an honor to stand while on duty, that's what warriors do, stand and fight.
    • Which doesn't explain the lack of a chair.
  • Actually, while it is true that the tactical station doesn't have a chair, all of the aft stations have fairly comfortable looking seats stored in alcoves underneath the control consoles, but for some reason, they were rarely used. Data can be seen sitting in one in this clip.
  • Especially ridiculous when one considers how much the ship shakes when it takes various kinds of hits, and the legendary exploding control consoles. The weapons officer is by far the person you most need to be at their position focusing on their job during a battle situation. You do not need them clinging desperately to the tasteful, handle-free, faux wood decor trying not to go hurtling across the bridge. Although, given that everything is viewed on display screens anyway, it has also never been clear as to why the bridge is not located deep inside the ship somewhere instead of being the topmost deck, nor why the weapons controls need to face the main viewer.
    • We have to remember two things. One is that taking hits and shaking is not the norm, even on the Enterprise (Starfleet's most exciting ship) but tasks involving free movement are. So there is the tradeoff of having to cling on tightly during Klingon attacks versus not having free movement on the bridge. The second thing, especially as relates to the bridge being on top of the ship and not inside, is that Starfleet ships are most pointedly not warships. In fact Starfleet seems to go out of its way to hammer home their ships are mobile diplomatic and science facilities that only occasionally are meant to go into combat when all else has failed. Everything is designed to remind its captains and crew that they are not on a warship, and to show to possible first contact races that they are not warlike but come in peace. In that respect shoving the bridge right up top with a nice open structure is right inline with those principles. It is open and honest, and definitely not designed for war.
      • The tactical officer need to be no more free than any other bridge officer, unless you're talking about Worf filling dual roles, which is stupidity in itself.
      • The addition of a handrail to the bridge arch would be a trivial modification, but clear nobody wants to drill into the pretty wood. As for Federation starship designs, they have been at war often enough over the last couple of centuries that it can be safely assumed that putting the bridge right on top does little to sway truly hostile enemies. Also, the oft-forgotten Battle Bridge is deep inside the Drive Section of the Enterprise, making it clear that somebody did think about this. While it is understandable that a "friendly" design might be adopted on multi-purpose ships like the Galaxy and Nebula classes, it is interesting that it is also retained on dedicated warships like the Prometheus class.
      • Actually the Battle Bridge is only deep within the ship while the two parts are connected, it being located on Deck 7 or 8, which form the very top of the separated drive section. So even the warship drive section has an exposed bridge. D'oh.
      • In Yesterday's Enterprise, the alternate timeline's Enterprise-D actually was designed to be a warship, and that ship's bridge was far more utilitarian than the one we're used to. It's actually rather cool to see what the Galaxy-class would have looked like if it were a purely military craft: crowded corridors, ubiquitous PA announcements, and a Ten-Forward that's less of a bar, and more of a place for the crew to gather and eat the 24th century Starfleet equivalent of B-rations.
      • Which raises the separate question (also applicable to "Mirror, Mirror")... why would the exteriors of the ship look exactly the same when the interiors are so different?
      • The mirror ISS Enterprise didn't look the same as our USS Enterprise on the outside as that episode reused shots of the pilot version of the Enterprise for the mirror version, so it had nacelle spires, vents on the nacelle aft ends (as opposed to the balls), a larger deflector and slightly different bridge structure.
      • Because the dramatic impact of the episodes would be less if the ship looked completely different. Plus they would have to pay for new models. Seriously though, it is a very good question. The Galaxy class was a poor design for warship as compared to an exploration and diplomatic vessel. The huge saucer section presented a large target from almost any direction except along the ship's midline. The Romulans went for size as an intimidation tactic with the D'deridex class, although if you look at the ship it is mostly empty space between sections and a lot of the structure looks unused by crew (no windows). When the Federation did actually got around to building true warships like the Defiant and Prometheus classes they instead compacted the form factor and reduced the amount size of the ships, as opposed to making them bigger.

     You can't touch me! 
  • The Treaty of Algeron — 60 years old at the time of TNG — forbids the Federation from using or researching cloaking technology. In "The Pegasus", we discover that the Federation secretly broke that treaty by developing a cloaking device of its own, and got a generous slap on the wrist for having done so.

    But this wasn't just a cloak. It was a phasing cloak. It not only made the ship invisible, it allowed it to pass right through solid matter.

    So: Why has the Federation avoided phasing technology every bit as much as they've avoided cloaking technology? There's nothing in the Treaty of Algeron that would prohibit the Federation from developing a device that made a ship intangible but still kept it visible.
    • How do you know that there is nothing in the Treaty of Algeron that forbids such technology? Can you point us to the text of the treaty?
      • There was the episode where Ro and La Forge were phased out of normal existence (by a Romulan device, no less) - they were completely invisible to the Enterprise crew. The cloaking aspect may have been part and parcel of the phasing technology as light has a difficult time reflecting off of things it can't interact with.
      • How, exactly, do you both bring something out of phase with normal space and completely visible? I think we can pretty safely assume that the treaty legislates against what the device does, rather than what the device is. The Romulans would have known that they were committing themselves to a three-way Cold War-style arms race between themselves, the Klingon Empire, and the Federation over cloaking vs. sensor technology; and that there was no way to predict future breakthroughs in either field. Banning specific devices would be very short-sighted. The language of the treaty would probably be something like, "The United Federation of Planets shall make no attempts to develop or field technology that would render military equipment undetectable to sensing devices or invisible to the naked eye. Any attempt by the UFP to do so shall be considered an act of war."
      • Why wouldn't it be possible to take a ship out of phase but remain visible? In The Next Phase although nobody can see Geordi & Ro, they can see everyone just fine (however nonsensical that is). So clearly the "Out of Phase" technology does not necessarily mean they're invisible.
      • Probably the reason why Geordi and Ro became invisible and intangible it’s because when out of phase photons of light can’t touch them either, so it makes sense that while they do can see the other people and the rest of the ship (they are not affected by the effect and photons touch them normally) Geordie and Ro are both invisible and intangible. The real question is why aren’t they audible, after all, the waves of sound they produce by their vocal cords should still be functional, and if not, then they won’t be able to hear one another. And, scratch that, the real question is why they don’t fly around in space if they’re out of phase why they can still remain in the ship at all. So, again, it is impossible to make a ship intangible and visible at the same time, because visibility depends on physics, or put in another way, depends on the object be physical and able to be touch by light particles.

     These are not the transhumans you're looking for; we can go about our business 
  • As far into the franchise timeline as DS9's fifth season, the Federation is sending people to prison for performing genetic augmentation just to increase intelligence. But Unnatural Selection has a Starfleet-sanctioned station (one would presume based on the use of Starfleet vessels for resupply runs) dedicated to producing children with enhanced intelligence, physical prowess, resistance to disease - oh, and they're all telepaths and telekinetics. Now, granted, at the time the Enterprise crew were knee-deep in figuring out the whole mysterious premature aging thing, but still - how is this ridiculously casual revelation from the Darwin station staff not greeted with utter horror by the crew? A few hundred years ago a relatively normal band of genetically-engineered humans sent Earth careening into world war, the aftereffects of which are still felt in the 24th-century Federation. Now we find a group of literal super humans, and everyone's just, "Oh. Neat. So, about that aging virus..."
    • Well first of all, Unnatural Selection was a 2nd season TNG episode, while the DS9 episode where Bashir's father goes to prison for genetic engineering aired almost ten years later. I think it's safe to call Unnatural Selection a case of Early Installment Weirdness, at least on the subject of genetic engineering. Second, just because it's illegal for civilians to get genetic enhancements doesn't mean the Federation can't conduct legitimate scientific experiments with it. This is Truth in Television. In the real world plutonium is illegal to own but it's still used in government-sanctioned scientific experiments. Mind you, that's not to say that Unnatural Selection doesn't have some huge and glaring faults. For one, they completely failed to address the fact that they were performing these experiments on children.
      • It wasn't just Early Installment Weirdness, it was basically a recycled, unused script for a TOS episode with the names swapped. Basically it was written back when people thought less about these things and there wasn't a thriving nerd subculture dedicated to picking apart Star Trek episodes looking to Accentuate the Negative. If it helps, think of season two this way: there was a Negative Space Wedgie that caused the Timey-Wimey Ball to curve in on itself, and substitute the NCC-1701-D for the NCC-1701 or the NCC-1701-A. Thus "Unnatural Selection" actually took place involving Kirk's Enterprise and with McCoy in place of Pulaski, back in the previous century, once the weird temporal effect was resolved. So the events of "Unnatural Selection" might have actually led to the Federation's disdain for genetic manipulation in the 24th century proper. I know, I know, it's just a Wild Mass Guessing but it's as good an in-universe explanation as any for why that season was so off.

     We're an enlightened government! Just don't ask for specifics. 
  • Exactly what kind of government does the Federation have in Star Trek? The highest ranking civilians we tend to see are diplomats. Alpha Wiki and the Other Wiki mention a democratic government but in any of the shows have we ever heard about elections, political parties, candidates, legislative bodies or anything else that might suggest representative government?
    • Rarely enough. We meet several UFP presidents, but whether or not there are parties is never revealed. Jaresh-Enyo was the UFP President on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and we are later told that he left office, but not whether it was through resignation or being voted out. The often-mentioned Federation council is seen a few times (like in Star Trek IV) but its composition is never quite explained. Part of the confusion seems to be that the writers vacillate between the Federation being modeled on the UN and on a modern nation-state, especially the USA (the fact that Jaresh-Inyo can place Earth itself under martial law suggests that Earth's relationship to the Federation may be more analogous to Washington D.C.'s to the USA than the USA's to the UN, for example).
      • I believe one of the DS9 crew (either Wolfe or Moore) said that they envisioned the Federation as analogous to the US before the Civil War, but with the individual 'states' (i.e. worlds) having greater autonomy, all managing their own internal affairs and having their own sovereign governments, while the Federation government deals with matters that affect the Federation as a whole, or disputes between member worlds.
    • There is more than a little disturbing evidence to suggest that whatever the Federation nominally claims to be, it is in actuality a stratocracy. Starfleet Command and command rank officers seem to exercise disproportionate levels of power, often encompassing governmental, judicial and diplomatic functions.
      • In the cases of Data (an android) and Julian Bashir (an Augment), the issue of their civil rights (and whether or not they really had any) was in both cases decided by Starfleet Judge Advocate Generals, not civilian courts. At least in Data's case it was strongly implied that had the JAG ruled against him there would have been no avenue for appeal.
      • Starfleet captains routinely act as diplomats, and handle negotiations with foreign powers. This is interesting because it is shown repeatedly that the Federation does have formal ambassadors (e.g. Sarek, Lwaxana Troi). But they mostly seem to handle diplomatic relations between Federation planets or with species that require very specialized skills (such as Lwaxana working with the exclusively telepathic Cairn). The captains, on the other hand, not only handle foreign relations, but also seem to have final say over whether or not a planet is suitable for Federation membership. While some Starfleet ships, such as the Enterprise-D are huge and have enormous crew complements, there are no full-time civilian diplomats or government representatives aboard (even though they do allow children and spouses of officers!).
      • Starfleet often seems to make decisions independently of the Federation President and Council, consults with them after the fact, or finds loopholes to circumvent their instructions in the rare cases where the civilian government is shown to take a proactive stance.
      • Section 31 may seem like an illegal conspiracy, but their very name refers to the section of the Starfleet Charter that justifies their existence. Generations worth of senior Starfleet officers, including Jonathan Archer (who would eventually become the Federation President), knew about their existence and either tolerated them or outright aided them.
    • Really this is just Law of Conservation of Detail at work here, as well as "never mention politics", even Star Trek Federation politics.

     Secessions, Civil Wars and Rape Gangs 
  • Tasha Yar came from the human colony world of Turkana IV, which had apparently seceded from the Federation, devolved into civil war and eventually anarchy becoming a classic 80's post-apocalyptic dystopia where rape gangs roamed around and residents lived in fear and terror of the "Alliance" and the "Coalition", two former political parties that had now become basically giant, high-tech, street gangs. Now, it has been shown in several cases, most notably in "The Masterpiece Society", that the Federation and Starfleet do not consider the Prime Directive to apply to human colonies, even if they are not actually a part of the Federation, or even are old, lost colonies that do not even know the Federation exists. Yet over the course of decades Starfleet never opted to undertake a serious military intervention on the planet, even knowing first-hand from Tasha what conditions were like for the people living there? In "The Masterpiece Society", a mere 23 citizens out of thousands from the Genome Colony demand transport off their planet, against the wishes of their government and in full knowledge that their departure will cause a social and genetic disruption in the carefully-planned colony. Picard makes it clear that he has no right to refuse a human's request for such refuge. Was Tasha seriously the only person that was unhappy with life on Turkana IV and wanted to leave? Or was Starfleet so averse to the prospect of armed conflict with the gangs that they were willing to just abandon any citizens of the colony that did not have the good fortune to make direct contact with a starship crew?
    • Tasha's colony seceded, meaning it was a colony that voted to leave the Federation. And it was made clear throughout the series that the Federation does not go where they are not wanted, most clearly spelled out in the episode "First Contact" where Picard and Durken (the leader of that episode's world of the week) have this discussion on Federation membership:
    Durken: And if my wishes should conflict with yours?
    Picard: There'll be no conflict.
    Durken: And if I should tell you to leave and never return to my world?
    Picard: We will leave and never return.
    • Pretty cold, but yes that is the way it is. They voted to remove themselves from Federation law and jurisdiction and if they can get a message off saying "help I want to leave" then a starship will pick them up, if not then that is their problem not the Federation's. If they chose to stay after the Federation withdrawal then they chose a path that had a lot of pain in it, but it was their choice to make. Until the colony unites and votes to re-apply for Federation membership, it is really on its own.
    • The Malcorians from "First Contact" are not a valid comparison because they are not humans, not Federation members and technically not yet an interstellar civilization. Thus they are covered under the Prime Directive. Turkana IV, on the other hand, is a human colony planet, not an alien civilization. As shown in various episodes, for example "Up the Long Ladder" and "The Masterpiece Society", Starfleet is perfectly willing to behave unilaterally towards human colonies should they deem it appropriate. In "The Masterpiece Society", Picard also asserts that he is obligated to defend the rights of individual humans, even in defiance of their governments. This makes for something of a Broken Aesop, because inhabitants of a ruined world like Turkana IV may not have access to communications such that they can call for help. But in the previous case of the planet Mariposa in "Up the Long Ladder", the Enterprise did not wait to be contacted. Upon learning of the colony's existence they immediately went to investigate, learned of the clones' reproduction problem and imposed a solution on them. There was nothing obliging Picard to dump the Bringloidi on Mariposa. He could have transported them on to some other colony. Instead he shamelessly used them to resolve a secondary problem with a colony whose cultural paradigm he disapproved of. This seems more of a case of Starfleet just not wanting to get it's hands dirty, and that they will intervene in the affairs of human colonies so long as no significant degree of violent conflict is required.
      • That is not accurate. In "Up The Long Ladder" Picard laid out the benefits of uniting those colonies to the leaders of both of them. While he definitely actively promoted that solution, he didn't force them. When they had concerns, Picard addressed those concerns and explained how the positives would outweigh the negatives and then the leaders of both groups willingly gave their assent. If they had stuck to their guns then Picard would have had to haul the Irish colonists off somewhere else. Yes, Picard wanted rid of them as they were really annoying and, yes, he was really ticked off at the clones, but no he did not force either of them to accept any solution. In the case of contact, the Irish colonists were sending out an active distress call and with the problems they had, Picard checked up on the other colony to ensure they weren't suffering too.
      • Actually, it is accurate. He and the rest of the command staff hatched the plan to dump the Bringloidi onto the Mariposans entirely amongst themselves, almost cackling with amusement and fully acknowledging that, as Riker put it "It may have to be a shotgun wedding"! Also important to note: there are tens of billions of humans spread out across numerous worlds in the 24th Century. But nobody on the Enterprise even suggests sending out a general inquiry to the Federation at large of whether just a handful would be willing to be cloned. Picard simply asserts that Riker's distaste for the concept would be universal (the gods of Trek would get back at Riker for this later on) as if the opinion of the people in the conference room was equivalent to asking all of humanity (and they say the Borg have a collective mentality?)!
      • Also as SF Debris pointed out, Picard and co just laugh off the fact that the Mariposians are disgusted by the concept of normal physical sex in a you'll find out how fantastic it is after the fact kind of way. If enough of the Mariposian women actually decide that they don't enjoy sex after experiencing it with a drunken Irish farmer, then this colony will once again fall in on itself. What are they going to do if she refuses? Force her? Make her carry a baby that she doesn't want? For all of its problems it is situations like this that the Prime Directive was invented for. I've long held the theory that the end result of this scenario is that the Mariposians would probably end up locking the Bringloidi up after a while and cloning them regardless.
      • Except that, ironically, the Prime Directive does not apply to the descendants of humans from Earth (stated outright in "The Masterpiece Society"), even if they have been out of contact for centuries. Which is why the Enterprise crew felt free to meddle without any compromises here. Heck, Pulaski goes so far as to intimidate the Prime Minister of Mariposa by stating that if they don't accept the Bringloidi then the Federation will happily claim their planet, conveniently already developed complete with cities, in a few generations when they die off! The simple fact that they are humans removes the issue of "cultural contamination" and is treated as giving Starfleet the right to completely overhaul the Mariposan's societal paradigm rather than even consider any other option. Again, Picard asserts with confidence (and without asking) that nobody will volunteer to be cloned. Thus his personal disapproval of Mariposan culture gets free reign, especially since the Prime Directive is not an obstacle for a change. But yeah, how this experiment in social engineering turns out never is revealed.
    • I would surmise there was some big political issue in the 2350s that caused the Federation to not come to the aid of all its colonies. Turkana IV broke away from the Federation at roughly the same time as the Cardassian Wars, whose unsatisfying resolution ultimately led to the Maquis. The Klingons would have gone to war with the Federation had the Enterprise C not been destroyed fighting Romulans at Narendra III in 2344, so the tensions might have been high with both of those powers too. The Galaxy-class won't be built until the 2360s, so Starfleet was lacking the muscle it needed to respond to these threats. It could be that the Federation had so much on its plate that Turkana IV wasn't a high enough priority to merit a timely intervention. Basically, "As long as there isn't an interstellar war or alien invasion, sort it out yourselves." By the time the quadrant had stabilized somewhat the two factions on Turkana were too heavily entrenched for Starfleet to do anything about it without a lot of people getting killed.
  • I think some people forget what the Primer Directive really it’s about; it prevents interfering with the natural development of an alien race. That’s why it doesn’t apply to human colonies, the interference was already done when they left Earth, the Federation’s intervention it not illegal because they are human. People tend to think that the intervention is something like if Russia attacks Georgia then the US can’t intervene, when is more like if there is a tribe living in the Amazonian jungle that beheads people for infidelity they can’t intervene.

    With that in mind, then why to choose some colonies to intervene and some not, probably more an issue of resources, it’s not the same to take a few dozens of unhappy settlers in a mostly pacific world than to intervene in what it’s basically a war zone suffering probably many casualties in a very expensive process.

     What is the normal, planned First Contact procedure? 
  • In the episode First Contact we see what happens when something goes wrong: Picard and Troi beam into a senior government member's office and ask her to introduce them to her leader. But there is an impression that normally they would do it differently once they had completed their investigation into her world's culture. Would they have beamed into Durken's office instead? Show themselves clearly to the entire planet by coming into orbit and publicly announcing their presence? Contact the government by subspace radio? Or is how they did it in the episode exactly how they would have done it a few weeks later, and they're just accelerating the process?
    • IIRC Picard does mention that they reach out to the leaders of the scientific community first, as they're more likely to react with an open mind. We've seen hints of the intense surveillance that the Federation conducts prior to first contact, so I'd imagine that they put a lot of effort into finding the best candidate to approach. I'd be curious to know if, under normal circumstances, they quietly extract their covert teams and equipment before they make contact to avoid the sort of hostile situation in this episode if the natives react poorly.
    • It depends on what series and what season. In TOS, it was simply a matter of Kirk grabbing Spock, a few red shirts and beaming straight down to the planet of the week to poke around with little concern about how the locals would react to aliens. In the early seasons of TNG, the same rule seemed to apply. For example, the Federation had apparently made contact with the planet Angel One, which had a roughly 20th Century level of technology, more than 60 years before the Enterprise-D showed up for another visit! Indeed, TNG started off on this note, the Bandi from "Encounter at Farpoint" were definitely not spacefaring and actually came across as rather primitive once you discount the alien they forced to turn into a starbase. Yet the Federation was more than willing to have a starbase on their planet. Later seasons of TNG would tighten up the rules of first contact quite a bit.
    • My guess is they would've hailed the first warp-capable Malcorian ship with a "Hi, welcome to interstellar space! Can we get you anything?" sort of message. A conversation between nerds in space, eager to learn about each other, before the complicated political realities set in. This would then reach the leadership through normal channels, and the contacting ship would give the local leadership the time they need to compose a dignified response.
    • Interestingly, in Star Trek: First Contact, all that humanity had to do was test a warp drive in near-Earth space in order to attract a Vulcan survey ship that had been passing through the solar system (the Vulcans later regretted this little slip-up). The Phoenix, with about as much cabin space as a sedan, was by no means equipped for a long-distance flight. Just a quick jaunt to prove that the warp drive actually worked. This is in stark contrast to the Malcorians' prototype starship, which Minister Yale explicitly stated was intended for an expedition to a nearby star system. It can be inferred that the Malcorians had already conducted test flights similar to that of the Phoenix, as this is probably what attracted the Federation's attention to their species. Humanity, as usual, was a special case in that they received first contact under what were apparently much looser protocols observed by the Vulcans at the time (or at least the Vulcan commander of that survey ship).
      • Well, do remember that at the time the Federation doesn't even exist yet, much less the Prime Directive.

     Captain’s pets, senior officers, poker night and mourning 
  • Naturally, the casting will dictate some interactions and it was already like that in TOS. That’s why Scotty could resurrect contrary to other Nomad’s victims or Chekov could make almost all jobs in Journey to Babel. In my opinion, these kind of oddities are sometime bigger in TNG. The main characters are sometime on a parallel circuit, not only Wesley the underage helmsman. Being a senior officer means to be a main character.
    • Worf and Geordi are both initially Lieutenant junior grade serving to the bridge who are quickly appointed chief of departments that they weren’t even members of. Instead of giving Tasha’s job to one of her fellow tactical officer, Picard chooses Worf. The engineering section is full of working engineers, but a helmsman is their new boss.
    • It was initially planned the Enterprise-D would not need any engineering room. It probably explains why the chief engineers in season 1 are underused in comparison to Geordi.
    • In Insurrection and First Contact, Lieutenant Daniels seems to be the security chief of the Enterprise-E. Why is he not even present at senior officers meeting? Is Picard always waiting for a Worf’s comeback? Worf’s not filling in empty chair, contrary to Spock in the Motion Picture and Chekov in The Wrath of Khan.
    • The Enterprise-D is an exploration starship, but its science department is quite under involved. When Data was believed dead, he’s replaced by Worf, who seems to have the usual scientific background of a Starfleet officer but not the one to lead the science department. Data is the science officer. His position has simply been renamed for cosmetic reasons: the white make-up didn’t fit well with the blue uniform.
      • Worf replaces Data as head of Operations, not as Chief Science Officer. Operations is basically the coordination of all the departments and various ship's functions, and Worf would be qualified by dint of managing the security department. They were probably deciding on a new CSO behind the scenes but it never came up since it wasn't relevant to the episode.
    • Are the main characters all too shy to befriend their other crew mates except O’Brien and Ro? It’s not so frequent to see an “outsider” at their poker night.
    • Ensign Haskell is pronounced dead as quick as he appears on screen and is killed by Nagilum. If we replace him by Geordi, Troi or Riker, we can be sure that Pulaski will spend ten hours in the sickbay to reanimate the victim. Picard and the others are shocked because it was a gratuitous death, but not by the lost of a comrade who used to serve on the bridge.
    • The 18 victims are dead because none of them is a main character. Otherwise, Picard is for the next ten hours on his knee and imploring Q to bring them back.
  • There really needs to be a trope about this! I've seen this in a handful of other shows, (Lost and Once Upon A Time come to mind), where everything bad and dramatic happens to the main cast, and the main cast is upset about that, but when ten people are eaten by the Monster of the Week... crickets. Especially when the main cast is supposed to be a part of a much larger group.

     Betazed, the Federation's own planetary Cougar Town, and other little-known civilizations 
  • Creating opportunities for characters (especially Data and Troi) to act as Mr. Exposition is obviously a major writer goal. But "Manhunt" raises a significant question. The "Phase" experienced by middle-aged Betazoid females (which quadruples their sex drive...or more) seems like something that would be even more widely known than Vulcan pon farr. Especially since it would make Betazed as big of a tourist destination as Risa! But the fact that Picard was unaware of this suggested Starfleet Academy does not provide much in the way of education about the sociological and biological quirks of Federation member worlds and species. Perhaps they are expected to learn about them the same way they do non-Federation alien cultures?
    • I dunno about Betazoids, but Vulcans are known to be intensely private about pon farr. They super don't want to talk about it even amongst themselves, let alone to outsiders.

     Betazoids and their powers 
  • Does anyone in the Federation or Starfleet have a problem with a species that can casually read minds and emotions? Does no one have any privacy concerns?
    • Considering how rare Betazoid Starfleet personnel appear to be, it may be that they do. It is an interesting point that Betazoids are potentially of tremendous use. For example, they can detect cloaked ships by homing in on the thoughts of those aboard. Yet, for some reason, Deanna is the only (half-)Betazoid serving on the Enterprise (D or E), and she is generally limited to being The Empath. Now, we know that on Trek The Main Characters Do Everything, and they did not want her (already weak) character Overshadowed by Awesome. Which she would most certainly be if there were any true telepaths aboard. Noticeably, they never show Deanna mind speaking to anyone on the crew who might be able to hear her, such as any of the Vulcans we have seen. One episode of Voyager established that they had a Betazoid crew member (besides the mind blind Lon Suder). But she was never mentioned before or after, and there were plenty of times when Janeway could have used a better telepath than Tuvok or Kes! Given how little real privacy there is on a starship (the Master Computer basically knows where you are, what you eat, what entertainments you enjoy and can even hypothetically eavesdrop on you via the ship's communication system), it says a lot about the fact that telepaths are such a rarity and that Starfleet does not appear to be actively recruiting Betazoids.
      • Voyager initially had two Betazoids on the crew; Stadi (killed in "Caretaker") and Jurot (the blue shirt seen in "Counterpoint") yet in "Dragon's Teeth", Janeway bemoaned the lack of a Betazoid! Same as that female Vulcan that appeared in one episode, who could have helped both Tuvok and Vorik through their Pon Farrs but didn't and who wasn't there in "Counterpoint" when all the telepaths were being hidden.
      • Three Betazoids. Lon Suder was one.

    A captain's first duty is to his ship 
  • The episode "Thine Own Self" has Troi taking an engineering test to get her qualified as captain, except it turns out it's not engineering and just to see whether she could order someone to their death to save the ship. Good message and all, but why not just use the escape pods and abandon ship?
    • Geordie actually tells us exactly why that's not an option:
    LaForge: We've just lost contact with everything above deck twenty-one, including the Bridge.
    (Moments later)
    LaForge: Commander, the neodyne relay isn't holding. Ten seconds to containment failure!

    So part of the problem is that there's a chance that at least 20 decks—that's the entire saucer section, where the majority of the crew, including the civilians and children are housed—might not even hear the order to abandon ship. Then there's time frame; I don't know how long it takes to evacuate a Galaxy-class starship, but with 1,014 people aboard the Enterprise, it's safe to say that 10 seconds will not be nearly enough time.

Other Civilizations

The Borg Collective

    The Borg Hate M.C. Escher 
  • They were going to wipe out the Borg with an impossible shape?
    • With a Reality-Breaking Paradox. The shape was necessary because the Borg would normally recognize such a mathematical error and cut it off. The image was specifically designed to trick their eyepiece processors into trying to analyze it without ever catching the paradox, which would cause it to keep getting booted up to higher and higher levels of the collective and eventually crash the whole network. It wouldn't have worked, though - Hugh's individuality had a similar effect (as Picard speculated it would), but it only hit the cube that picked him up.
    • We saw two other species try similar plans on Voyager. Each managed to take out one cube, but it got no further than that because the Collective realized something was screwed up on those ships and cut them off from the Collective.
      • Which also presumably happened when Hugh's individuality affected the group he was returned to.
  • The Borg have assimilated thousands of worlds and taken their knowledge and technology. None of them had discovered optical illusions yet when assimilated?
  • How come they believed this would work when it seemed to have no effect on Data, who helped come up with the picture in the first place? Data doesn't even have any biological components like a human brain that may help the Borg cope with the paradoxical image, yet he is unaffected. You think that Starfleet would realize that if something doesn't Logic Bomb an android, it probably won't Logic Bomb a race of cyborgs.
    • I believe the explanation given was that they would upload the image directly into Hugh's optic implant, making the Borg believe that he'd actually seen the impossible object in reality, which would cause the desired Logic Bomb.
    • Data knows that it's a trap, so he can either not waste time analyzing it (he knows it doesn't exist, therefore it holds no lasting interest for honest analysis), or if it has some kind of infectious property, sandbox his visual centers in advance and delete the memory or something. The Borg don't know this.
  • Related question: Why was this shape never brought up as a potential method of attack in later encounters with the Borg? It wouldn't have to even solve anything, just spend 30 seconds of screen time to bring it up, send it with no effect and then have Data or other science person theorize the Borg may have since assimilated technology which led them to alter their visual processors and render the shape ineffective.
    • Because it wouldn't have worked? Firstly, as a semi-AI race the Borg probably have to have a much better understanding of computer security than Starfleet (who are pretty consistently shown to be absolutely, stunningly incompetent in this respect), and would never have let it out of the initial safe testing environment: if it kills the first drone, you tweak the second one and keep sending them in because you have more, not let it infect the entire network. Secondly, Hugh and the individuality experiment demonstrate that the Borg do indeed cut off dangerous networks rather than let them spread, although still not as promptly as they really should (maybe whole ships are just that cheap?).

    And should we call them "the Lorg?"... 
  • What do you suppose became of the Borg under Lore's leadership after they were liberated? Is the Federation under moral obligation to protect them, having liberated them twice over at this point? At the end of "Descent, Part II," the Enterprise seems to leave them to their own devices. Would the Collective make it a priority to re-assimilate them (they live in close proximity to a transwarp corridor, so one assumes they could do so easily) or would it not bother to expend resources in such a way? Are the "Lorg" actually capable of reproduction — what are their long-term prospects for survival (especially since they don't have access to space travel any longer, now that their ship has been destroyed)? Their planet is 65 light years away (more or less) from Federation research station on Ohniaka III, so it's not massively remote.

The Ferengi Alliance

    Wacky Ferengi Misogyny 
  • What reason would the Ferengi culture have to oppress females? A society of rampant capitalists, and they're wasting time (and losing MONEY) by effectively cutting their customer base in half? Ferengi women with equal rights would be free to make money, and more importantly spend money.
    • removes competitors
      • But it also removes potential investors and buyers. The average wage slave Ferengi could be worried about competition, but the rich ones should be pushing for equality since it'll let them target more people and make more money. To be fair, this ended up happening in Deep Space Nine with Nilva, but even he had to have the simple logic spelled out by Quark.
      • Remember, though, that the Ferengi aren't the only participants in the economy. If you divide everyone into sharks and suckers, the Ferengi obviously expect themselves to be the sharks and everyone else to be the suckers. From that perspective, removing the women from the equation makes sense, as it's cutting the number of competing sharks in half. Anyway, since when does bigotry have to make sense? Back in the early 20th century, many white business owners would have sooner spit in the face of a black customer than make money from them.
    • I suppose the most honest answer is that the Ferengi are straw men. A clever and observant critique of capitalism does not play out through them — just crass obviousness. One might as well ask why they prohibit unions. Unions can be as profitable and as manipulative and exploitative as corporations. However, as far as the sexism goes, one might rationalize that the Ferengi aren't as good capitalists as they think they are. Perhaps the oppression of women pre-existed the rise of mercantile behavior in Ferengi society, and values never quite "caught up."
      • This is the most likely explanation. The Ferengi love making money above all else but that doesn't mean they don't have other cultural baggage aside from it. Their culture is shown essentially "catching up" in DS9 anyway... when the Grand Nagus falls in love with Quark's mother because of her business acumen and personality, he begins pretty quickly repealing all sorts of the laws that restrict females from participation in Ferengi society. He even appoints Rom his successor instead of Quark, because he wants Rom's kind and caring approach (while still caring about profit) to shape the next generation of Ferengi.
    • Ferengi males are in charge of the rules, and benefit from them (they can get more for less from slaves than from customers), so barring the females revolting, they're not going to change them. Also, while the details are vague, Quark (Deep Space Nine) rants more than once about how primitive Ferengi society was better than primitive human society. Perhaps some of the Rules of Acquisition helped relieve some of the "pressure" that caused wars back on Earth, so when Ferengi compares histories, they come to the conclusion that the rules have been good for them so far, ignoring that they may not be good at this point of time, and some of them weren't any good to begin with.

The Klingon Empire

    Klingon/Romulan "Empire", Yeah Right! 
  • Empires: Isn't it weird how the Romulan and Klingon empires seem to consist exclusively of Romulans and Klingons? I mean all we ever see of these "Empires" are their own ships crewed by their members of their own race. We never see planets under their control or members of other races in their ranks, even as slaves. You would think that an empire that has been so long established would have integrated its subjects somewhat better by now. And considering how long these respective empires are supposed to have been in power, you would also assume that some other races would be willing members, and thus allowed to serve with them. Or at the very least we could have seen the Federation encounter non - Klingon or Romulan ships crewed by people who were no less members of one of the empires. Vulcans are in the Federation and they have their own ships. Which brings me to another point: Are the federation style ships specifically earth ships? If the Vulcans have their own style of ship design and their own fleet, one would assume that other Federation members do as well. This would explain why all the Federation ships we see seem to be exclusively crewed by humans. With Federation headquarters and Starfleet Academy located on earth, and the ships crewed by humans, one would assume that the only reason other races are ever seen is some kind of affirmative action program. Maybe all the other races don't really give a damn about the Federation, and just humor the silly humans, while we keep telling ourselves we're the greatest.
    • There are two points here. Firstly, the Klingon and Romulan Empires (and the Cardassian Union, for that matter) don't actually consist of several races under one banner. They are made up of dozens of planets they have colonized. In some cases there may have been intelligent sentients already there, but none of those three groups sound like the kind of people who'd be interested in peaceful cooperation. There are some references to conquered peoples in the Expanded Universe, but that's about it. Also, all the ships we see in the series are military vessels - even if there are subject peoples, it's entirely possible they are not permitted to join the military. As for the second point, it seems that, overwhelmingly, humans are the main volunteers for Starfleet. After all, there is no conscription or social obligation to serve, and it is probable that many or even most member civilizations contribute in some other way than by volunteering their teenagers for the military. There's also mention in at least one episode of an all-Vulcan crew. Perhaps most ships have a predominance of one species, and we only see the human ones.
      • This actually makes sense as an official policy. Preferences for all the environmental factors a ship would have to simulate - gravity, atmosphere ratios, temperature, humidity, brightness, etc. - would vary widely from species to species. So they have human-friendly ships, or vulcan-friendly ships, and the "token" minorities seen in the predominantly human ships are those who have chosen to cross over.
    • Worf mentions that if the Klingon Empire has truly returned to their old ways that they will land troops on Cardassia and neutralize the ruling government. Given that info it seems that the Klingons HAVE invaded other worlds, but at best the populations are slave workers or even complete nonentities in the Klingon government/military/culture and their world is squeezed for natural resources. Remans apparently featured in some measure during the Dominion War according to Shinzon's backstory possibly in some way similar to all-Vulcan crews in Starfleet, so it's entirely possible subjugate races DO exist even in the military, they just are never integrated with the ruling species. Given TOS had the Federation flagship with just 1/2 an alien on the entire crew, the other species might be behind the times, but not entirely without precedence (and for being authoritarian dictatorships being a mere 100 years behind the utopian Fed ain't entirely terrible).
      • Maybe I was naïve, but I interpreted Worf’s words as if the Klingon Empire has invaded and conquered other peoples, but they eventually freed their worlds, even when keeping the word “Empire”, something like the British Empire when it started to release all its colonies. Probably maintaining a certain political influence, like the British Commonwealth, but that’s a WMG. In any case, both TOS and ENT do show the Klingons as conquerors and having some subject races or intending to conquering someone (Kirk implied that to the Organians before he knew they were god-like aliens).
    • The aforementioned ship would be theUSS Intrepid, and it's the same class as the original Enterprise.
    • DS9 establishes a 24th century Starfleet Vessel with an all-Vulcan crew, the USS T'Kumbra, and the Starship Hera's crew consisted of mostly Vulcans, despite having a human captain.
    • We don't know if the non-Starfleet Vulcan ship(s) are actually ships operating under the banner of the government of Vulcan, or ships that happened to be owned and operated by private or corporate interests on Vulcan. We do see a few human ships that are privately owned—freighters, transports, the like—so it's not impossible that the Vulcan Science Academy or what have you simply send out their own ships sometimes to study things that the Federation hasn't gotten around to yet.
    • Classic Klingons were civilized, swarthy Humanoids. Movie and Net Gen Klingons are Rubber-Forehead Aliens savages. Science and Technology are not part of modern Klingon culture. The civilized, swarthy Klingons built all the space-ships and then the Rubber-heads genocided them. tlc
      • The movie Klingons weren't savages, except maybe the younger one in ST V. But everyone in that movie acted like a dick. The problem with that theory (and yes, I know you mean it in jest) is that we saw three swarthy Klingons TURN INTO rubber-headed Klingons. And, while TOS Klingons tend to be fondly remembered as more civilized than their successors, we often saw them fighting very, very dirty, in "Errand of Mercy," "A Private Little War," "The Trouble with Tribbles," and "The Savage Curtain." The rubber-heads usually don't resort to tricks like poison, proxy wars, and ventriloquism, and when they do they tend to be uneasy with behaviors which the TOS Klingons took in stride.
      • Its probably just a case of different centuries = different outlooks. The ST:ENT era Klingons came off like selfish thugs, honestly. The TOS-era Klingons were living under a fascist military dictatorship. After the Khitomer accords, Klingon culture probably turned to a romanticized idea of their ancient warrior traditions, probably as a way to deal with the fact that they made peace with the Federation rather than conquered them. You can't expect a civilization to stay static. (these aren't the Kree, after all)
      • TOS Klingons, MORE civilized? According to The Other Wiki, Klingons were conceived as brutish, scheming, and murderous, without any redeeming characteristics, and it wasn't until the first movie that the Klingons are 'evolved' *cough*retconned*cough* into the rubber forehead aliens with a defined language, writing and culture.
      • Fridge Brilliance: The TOS Klingons weren't necessarily more "civilized" (for a certain value of "civilized"), but they were definitely less restrained by honor than their successors. Because they'd been stripped of their proper head-ridges by that engineered virus from Enterprise, they might've believed their honor already sullied beyond redemption by their deformities, so they might as well use every dirty trick in the book. The TOS movies' Klingons hadn't been affected by the virus, and acted more honorably than the ones on the show; by TNG, the virus has been cured, so the former smooth-heads are able to rejoin society and regain honor, thereafter looking and acting like the rubber-foreheads.
      • Between the Klingons first appearances in TOS and their appearances in TNG, they'd had their original home world devastated in ST VI and a massive, humiliating defeat at the hands of the Romulans at Khitomer, leading to their decline as an empire and their forging an alliance with the Federation, which probably ended their territorial expansion. This lead to a period of stagnation in the Empire, leading the people to look backward and make a big deal about their past glories — so scheming, conniving, bullying modern Klingons now pretend to be just like their ancient warrior ancestors, like a bunch of right wing nationalists in, say, Sweden, might latch on to the identity of the Vikings. I mean, aside from Worf and Martok, no Klingons on any series actually practiced what they preached.
    • Deep Space Nine sorts this out a little with the conflict between Kor and Martok. Kor, and the other TOS Klingons represented an era when aristocratic blood was paramount to prestige within the Empire. Martok and presumably other TNG/Deep Space Nine era Klingons represented a time when more common-born warriors had ascended to positions of power within the Empire (Martok was a common soldier who rose from the ranks and gained his own house after being rejected as an officer candidate by Kor). The difference between the TOS Klingons and the TNG/Deep Space Nine ones is likely a difference of class within Klingon culture.
    • THANK you! Huge problem, yes. The Federation has 150 members or something like that and a bunch of prewarp civilizations living within its territory. The Alpha Quadrant seems more or less evenly divided among the Federation, Romulans, Cardassians, and Klingons. (For simplicity's sake let's forget the Ferengi and Breen and one-off species like the Tzenkethi and Son'a for now.) The other three are not ENTIRELY one-species: The Klingons had a few races they'd enslaved in TOS and ENT, but only a handful. The Romulans had the Remans, and the Cardassians had the Bajorans for a while. Still, they've got nothing to resemble the diversity of the Federation. Here are some explanations, but every one is hugely problematic:

      • One: All four powers have the same number of M-Class planets in their territory, more or less, but for some stupid reasons, the ancient humanoids—who knew nothing of how the Quadrant would be divided politically billions of years later—seeded eventual Federation space much more heavily. There would be no reason for them to do so, though.
      • That's assuming each species territory is the same size and contains the same number of Class-M worlds. There is no evidence that either supposition is correct.

      • Two: They all have the same number of M-Class planets and they all had roughly the same number of planets seeded, but for some reason planets in the Federation proved to be much more hospitable to evolving humanoid life than the others. That's going to require a damned big [[handwave]].
      • All these speculations are base on the idea that the Federation’s space is both uniform to the other four and that the Federation apparently has always existed. The original Federation had FOUR members; Earth, Vulcan, Andoria and Tellar, they have 150 members centuries later and it’s unlikely that all the members are located around the same area.

      • Three: Klingon, Romulan, and Cardassian space all used to be as diverse as Federation space, but the Klingons, Romulans, and Cardassians all went on a rampaging genocide and eradicated life on every world they wanted to colonize. But, while all three species did their turns as bad guys, they all wound up as good guys. So our good guys are more evil than the Borg, much more evil than the Dominion, and much, much more evil than the Mirror Universe Terrans? Great. . . .
    • If you want to blame an entire species for what their ancestors did in the past, sure.
      • Perhaps the T Kon, Iconians, or Hur'q races razed Romulan and Klingon space well before. Maybe the reason Federation space has so many populated planets is because that's where the Preservers deposited the beings they tried to save.

      • Four: The Federation has many more M-Class planets than the other three, either because its territory is much more vast or because habitable systems are much more tightly clustered. Either way, that gives the Feds exponentially more resources to draw on than any of their neighbors. They'd be a Quadrant-striding superpower. The problem is that they deal with the Klingons, Romulans, and Cardassians as equals—and I don't mean they're benevolent in time of peace, I mean that when each of those powers wants to fight the Federation they come off every bit as strong as the Federation itself. If this is the solution, the Federation is every bit as great a power in the Alpha Quadrant as the Dominion is in the Gamma Quadrant, meaning that the fraction of the Jem'Hadar fleet the Founders sent to Cardassia before the wormhole got cut off would get swatted aside like a fly by Starfleet. Instead, even with the Klingons' help, the Federation was barely keeping its head above water, and when they learned that Damar had figured out how to bring the main Jem'Hadar fleet through, they were puckering their assholes in terror.
      • First, from where do you take the idea that the Federation is at the same level than the Klingon Empire? We have seen in at least two occasions that the Klingon Empire can kick the Federation’s ass, one in the parallel universe when the Khitomer Accords never happened and Tasha Yar didn’t died, Picard says explicitly that the Federation is losing the war, and then in Deep Space Nine when the Federation and the Klingon are in war, when it’s clear that the Federation is in a precarious situation. If the Klingon didn’t suffer from the destruction of their moon and some other political and economical changes, they wouldn’t made peace with the Federation. Regarding the Romulans and the Cardassians, yes the Federation seems to be more powerful, especially with the Klingon’s aid (let’s not forget that the Klingon were also enemies of both Romulans and Cardassians making even easier the alliance with the Feds).

        Besides that, we should remember that even when the Federation is the combination of more than a hundred worlds, most of this worlds are very peaceful and not really a military treat to anyone if they won’t be members. Probably the four founding members; Humans, Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites, could be powers in their own right, but what about the Betazoids or the Bolians or the Benzites? Clearly most of the Federation member’s are something like the “third world” of the Galaxy joining the Federation for protection, especially from the big bad powers around, a little bit like the Non-Aligned Countries Movement.

      • Five: Just during the voyages of the starship(s) Enterprise, the Federation alone has stumbled across numerous planets populated by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens so powerful that even though their worlds nominally lay within portions of the star charts that are labelled as "The United Federation of Planets" there is no way in hell that the Federation can tell them what to do. Just the opposite, both the Federation and the Klingon Empire got told to stop fighting and go to their rooms by the Organians just as one example. Is there any reason to assume that the Klingon and Romulan Empires, or the Cardassian Union for that matter, do not likewise have huge chunks of "their" space occupied by excessively powerful species that really do not care what names are put on the star charts of the lesser species so long as said species remember to keep their noses out of the affairs of the higher beings?

      • The Cardassians specifically appear to not be quite equals to the Federation. They frequently lose engagements to Fed ships (Maquis ships in TNG, the Phoenix taking out a Cardassian warship pretty handily, the Defiant under Thomas Riker). Given Starfleet had fought at least two other major engagements with hostiles (Tzenkethi, and...) and the general drive for peace in the TNG era, relative parity with the Cardassians seems more of divided disinterest more than actual military/political parity.
      • Now I can easily believe that the people who ran the Federation in the first few TNG seasons were such shrinking violets that they could be bested by rivals a fraction of their size, but after the first Borg invasion, the Romulans meddling in the Klingon Civil War, the barely-averted war with Cardassia, the border war with the Klingons, the second Borg invasion, and the Cardassians getting in bed with the Founders, the Federation began throwing around its weight a bit more each time. By the time the war with the Dominion got hot, they were clearly going balls to the wall, yet they were still facing challenges that would only come up if they were just one power among many in their quadrant, no stronger or weaker than the others.
      • This ignores the fifth option of just forcing the subject races to stay on their own planets.
      • Six: Earth, Vulcan, Betazed and K'tari are specifically stated to be Fed members. We assume the other races are Fed members. Suppose Cardassi genocided the Booleans? All the Booleans we see are Fed citizens. Suppose the Booleans we see are refugees who escaped to Fed planets and took citizenship? Suppose Boolean home World is a poisoned desert that Fed ceded to Cardassi? If there be canon that Boolea is a member state of the Fed then apply this system to some other alien species.
      • Maybe. That could be somewhat consistent with what we saw of the Cardassians on Bajor, and of the Remans, whom the Federation had never encountered before Nemesis. But, while that's not as bad as genocide, it's still pretty nasty coming from aliens who are often portrayed in a positive light. Does good old Martok seem like the sort who would keep zillions of people locked up in astronomical ghettoes?
      • Also, how is it that the Klingons, Romulans, and Cardassians are so much stronger than all their neighbors that they're able to dominate them utterly while still being international great powers? In the pre-Federation days as portrayed on Enterprise, the Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites might have hated one another enough so that each would have happily conquered and subjugated the others, but none of them were able to because the others were strong enough to keep them from doing so. So either our corner of the Alpha Quadrant produced many species intelligent enough to become Class II civilizations able to expand to other solar systems, but the other neighborhoods only produced one apiece, which is hardly any more likely than Options 1 and 2. Or else the species on these other planets are intelligent enough to develop advanced societies, but their home worlds are too resource-poor to allow them to do so. If that's the case, the Klingons, Romulans, and Cardassians are ruling some very economically unimpressive empires. It might not even be worth attempting imperial adventures in these resource-poor planets at all. It would be somewhat comparable to China 110 years ago, when all sorts of imperial powers were biting off spheres of influence, but no one bothered with the resource-poor provinces in the interior like Shaanxi.
      • It's clear from ST:Enterprise that the Vulcans COULD have in fact taken over their region of space, they were just not motivated to do so. Humanity to that point could not have resisted a militant Vulcan, the Tellarites were somewhat more capable but freely admitted that Andorians (currently engaged in hostilities) outclassed them in direct combat, and the Central Command Vulcans were perfectly confident in their belief that they could eliminate the Andorians as a threat. The entirety of the Fed is basically based on the fact the dominant species of the region (the Vulcans) were not expansionistic, which seems to be very rare. In fact, between that and their impression on a war ravaged Earth, that might be the central difference explaining the existence of the Fed Utopia and many other sci-fi operas.
      • The Humans were the more powerful force in Federation territory. Remember, once the Federation gets started, only the Vulcans are shown as being a serious power of those three, and most Federation ships have an all-Human crew. The flagship of the Federation had no non-humans onboard except for Spock, who was a half-human, half-Vulcan who disavowed his Vulcan heritage.
      • The TNG episode 'The Empath' dealt with a who was subject to the Klingon Empire's rule.
      • Option two above isn't as far-fetched as it may seem. All manner of astronomical phenomena can impact the habitability of regions of planets (park yourself within thirty light-years of a supernova and see what happens; if the Earth were, that would mean that at the very least the ozone layer would be toast, and that doesn't bode well for life), and then there's the fact that clustering (here, clustering of worlds that happened to favor/disfavor the existence of life) does not preclude randomness.
    • 'Nother option: the Federation is dozens of times larger than any of the other powers in the Alpha/Beta Quadrants. The Klingons, Romulans and Cardassians aren't actually that much larger than the Ferengi and other one-shot races, but because they have strong military cultures they're vastly overpowered for their size; in contrast, because the Federation has a pacifist culture, Starfleet is vastly underpowered for its size. The Federation government is also clearly much looser than the Empires - even the full member worlds aren't really very homogenized, and colonies can go for years without official government contact judging by early TNG - so it probably doesn't have nearly as high a per-capita budget compared to the tightly-managed states around it. A lot of its military power might even be locked down as individual worlds' planetary defense forces (we know that Vulcan still has an independent one, for instance).
    • Perhaps there are numerous species who used to live in Klingon, Cardassian, and/or Romulan territory but escaped to what is now Federation territory instead of letting themselves be conquered.
    • The Federation's treaty to not develop cloaking devices (or install Klingon cloaking devices) in their ships is a massive, massive strategic weakness on their part. They only have two methods of detecting cloaked ships, one involving being within torpedo range (and already knowing the cloaked ship is nearby), and another requiring the cloak ship to pass through "tripwires" that their sensors could easily detect. Frankly, if there were a war, the Romulans could do a ton of damage with basically no risk. Of course, this doesn't explain why the Cardassians were considered such a threat, since they do not have cloaking technology.
      • A Romulan Captain, a person in the know, seemed pretty confident that entering Federation space undetected was IMPOSSIBLE. While hit and runs along the border or the rare super spy efforts might breach borders, it seems any large scale invasion depending on cloak is apparently impossible and those few methods are actually very effective.
  • There is one other possibility that you're all side-stepping. Starfleet's General Order One, better known as the Prime Directive. The Federation is huge in size, but there are all these little worlds that they allow to develop, peacefully, with duck blinds and so on, and they even set aside planets for those people to colonize and mine. The Klingons don't have that rule. Remember that whole bit about a boy being a man when he can wield a knife? It's the same thing to them. They don't believe in the need for a fight to be what the Federation would call fair - remember Organia (Errand of Mercy), Friday's Child, or A Private Little War? Klingons overwhelm primitive societies, use the planets, and colonize. By contrast, the Federation is made up of a group of relatively equal planets, defended fiercely by a fleet of starships from outside aggressors. That's the reason the Federation is on equal footing, despite politically being huge. They claim space that they then blockade and put under Prime Directive controls. The Klingons and the Romulans would never waste time like that. Neither would the Cardies.
  • Guys, you're missing another option. It's not like these groups are the ONLY powers in the galaxy. They're just AS powerful as the Federation. It's just that the Federation is the ONLY power that advocates peaceful cooperation.
    • They're probably not the only power, but certainly the biggest. The Ferengi aren't conquerors, for example; commerce is definitely a form of cooperation. (YMMV)
  • From Friday's Child: "Their[[Klingons]] empire is made up of conquered worlds." We just never see the others.
  • Maybe a far-fetched comparison but, let’s say that the Federation is like the European Union and the Klingons like Russia and I guess the Romulans can be China. Why? Well the Federation seems to be a parliamentary system (the president is elected by the Council that is like a parliament) and their policy is very similar to the EU; members retaining a lot of internal autonomy but with a somewhat central government that establish certain regulations, as for example no member of the EU can have death penalty, as similar no member of the Federation can have a caste system (according to Sisko), and so on, they also are more based on democracy, human rights and peaceful cooperation (yes the EU sometimes is hypocritical about it, but also is the Federation). So, even when the EU has some very powerful members that are powers on their own, like Germany and France (the Federation’s equivalents to Earth and Vulcan), but the question is; if the EU and Russia go to war, can the EU really stands a chance? Or what about a war with China? They’ll be even at best. So kind of the problem is to think that the Federation is the United States, it is not, it is more like the European Union of the Galaxy. So we can see how in real life one single country like the USA, Russia and China can defeat relatively easily a group of countries just because they have more military power at hand, so the whole debate is wether the Klingon and the Romulans, alone, can be a match for 150 planets; well yes, can Russia win over the whole African Union? Well, probably.

    Vorcha-doh-baghk, Kahless! 

  • In "Rightful Heir", Kahless reminds Worf of the vision he had of him when Worf was a child, in the caves of No'Mat. Worf had mentioned the vision to Data earlier that season in "Birthright, Part I", but didn't go into the same level of detail as Kahless did here. If this Kahless is actually a clone... how could he possibly know about Worf's vision?
    • Presumably the monks of Borath gave him that information along with all other programming they gave him (having in turn been told about it by Worf himself). After all, it was their decision to make Kahless appear to Worf (an interesting bit of political calculating in itself).

     K'mpec's murderer 

  • In "Reunion", Chancellor K'mpec died from being slowly poisoned over the course of several months. He believed that one of the two strongest challengers to leadership— Gowron or Duras— was his killer. The Son'chi ceremony was interrupted by a suicide bomb implanted in the forearm of one of Duras' men. Duras killed K'Ehleyr and died in disgrace at Worf's hands. But wait: It was never conclusively proven who actually killed K'mpec! In fact, the evidence points to Gowron; he was the one who angrily told K'Ehleyr that K'mpec had been stubborn and refused to listen. Just because Duras was guilty of something, it doesn't mean that Gowron was innocent! And indeed, Gowron is quite the shrewd manipulator; I wouldn't put it past him.
    • The evidence pointing in Duras's direction was that suicide bomb was of a Romulan make. But then, isn't it equally possible that Gowron, having heard the rumors of the House of Duras colluding with Romulans, planted it?
      • That's such a great point that I wonder if the question was left open intentionally. Worf killed Duras, which immediately ended the Rite of Succession, and with Picard's role as arbiter ended, the investigation became an internal Klingon matter. Starfleet's prime directive prevented Enterprise from interfering in any way, and Gowron could have the issue swept neatly under the rug as chancellor.
      • That would actually fit well with how much of a Machiavellian Jerkass Chancellor Gowron was portrayed as in DS9.
    • It was supposed to be Duras according to word of god. They genuinely forgot they hadn't said it onscreen.

     Klingon/Federation Treaty? 

  • The introduction of the Federation's Great Offscreen War with the Cardassians was itself a Retcon of course. But it raises an interesting question about the fact that Federation and the Klingons were supposed to have a formal alliance at the time the war happened. Why weren't the Klingons, whose goal in life is to die in battle, practically shoving Starfleet out of the way in a desperate bid to fulfill the mutual-defense aspects of their alliance, and not coincidentally indulge in "glorious battle"? The generally pacifistic Federation might not have been overly-enthusiastic about fighting the war, but the Klingons would have been ecstatic about it! As it was there were already Klingons grumbling about having been at peace for too long. You would expect that they would have been tripping over each other in their rush to get to their warships when the opportunity for a just war defending a major ally came up! Was the Federation so soft-hearted even towards the Naziesque Cardassians that they did not want to unleash a horde of bloodthirsty Klingons on them?
    • There was the Betreka Nebula Incident, an 18 year Noodle Incident mentioned in DS9's "Way of the Warrior." We have no idea what happened or when, but it does imply that there was an extended period of hostility between the Klingon Empire and the Cartesian Union at some time prior to the TNG era. Since we know so little about both conflicts, you might even speculate that it was the Klingons who drug the Federation into their already in-progress fight with the Cardassian Union. Or even that the Cardassians attacked the Federation in hopes of disrupting any material support that the Federation might be sending to their Klingon allies. We just don't have enough information about the war for anything more than idle speculation.

     Toral's Claim 

  • Why is Toral's claim to be Duras' successor a threat in the first place? Remember, Duras never gained leadership of the High Council in the first place; he and Gowron were considered the two strongest challengers to the position, and the way it worked was they were going to fight for it. This was rendered moot when Worf killed Duras. Everyone seems to think that if Toral's established as being Duras' son, which he is, he inherits the top job. Again, from his father who never had it. Seems like all he could accomplish, if Picard accepts his claim, is to be where his father was — dueling Gowron to the death. How'd his aunts think that would go? You'd think Gowron would be like, "Sure, let's fight." He'd kill the scrawny kid in two seconds, and that would be that. Duras' sisters try to influence Picard to validate Toral's claim, but it looks like he does them a favor by not setting up their puppet to die, so they can have a fight between fleets and armies instead.
    • It was indicative of the corruption on the Council. Because females could not be members of, much less lead, the Council during this time period their house had to put forward a male candidate for chancellor even if it was understood that Toral would be a figurehead. Remember that the Duras faction was also willing to ally with the Romulans. If Gowron had to fight Toral it would not be surprising if Gowron had an "accident" that Duras supporters on the Council would refuse to investigate. Basically, a civil war was going to happen regardless and Toral being a controllable puppet was seen as a feature not a bug by Lursa, B'Etor and their backers.
      • I get that the Duras family and their supporters would have happily cheated in a duel, but the writers seemed to think that the legal question is whether Toral goes straight to the throne without a duel, instead of inheriting his father's position as a contender. Like Duras won leadership and Picard has to decide whether it passes on to Toral. As I pointed out above, Duras never won leadership of the Council; he died before he could. And if Toral had died dueling Gowron, Lursa and B'Etor would have been shit out of luck with no puppet and them not able to be on the Council themselves.
      • Which is the point. This was never about a legitimate succession, merely the pretense of one. Lursa, B'Etor and their various Klingon and Romulan supporters, were never going to allow an honorable duel between Gowron and Toral. This is why they were arming for civil war. The matter of succession was going to be decided by warships, not a one-on-one fight. Toral merely needed enough of a hereditary claim as a contender for the chancellorship to serve as a figurehead for the House of Duras. Because absent a male candidate they had no claim. Picard (not a Klingon) of course dismisses Toral's candidacy on the logical basis that he was not an adult or a warrior. That a large chunk of the Council backed the House of Duras anyway was meant to show just how far from its ideals the Empire had fallen.
      • I don't think you're reading me here. Yes, the legal wrangling was just window dressing. They probably expected to fail in that area and fight it out in a civil war, which is what happened. But my point is, why was the legal wrangling about whether Toral would be the new leader instead of whether Toral had the right to fight a duel with Gowron for it? At that point, everyone was at least pretending that Klingon law mattered. It's like the writers didn't even watch "Reunion" and thought Picard's role was to choose K'mpec's successor, even though K'mpec specifically said it wasn't.

The Romulan Star Empire

    Sela 
  • That Sela is a contrived character goes without saying, but several aspects of the character deserve special comment: that she is a Commander of a whole fleet of warbirds despite only being 24 years old (despite being played by an actress well into her thirties), and that the Romulans trust such a position to someone who is half-human.
    • Let alone to someone whose human mother was executed!
      • I've always had the feel that Romulans were more of a Darwinian meritocracy than explicitly racist. Sela might have been seen as having the zeal of the converted, plus she was raised on Romulus all her life, so it's not as though she'd really be considered an outsider. There is another episode that features a fully human turncoat Starfleet officer that lived in the Romulan Empire for something like twenty years and rose to a pretty decent rank in the Romulan military before turning himself over to the Enterprise.
    • I have often wondered if the writers had further plans for Sela that never got off the drawing board. Considering the fanfare with which the character was introduced, she was used very rarely. Another thing I've never understood about Sela is Guinan's insistence to Picard that, since he sent Yar into the past, "then you are responsible for this whole situation." Um... why? Even setting aside that fact that it was different version of Picard, it was Yar's own decision to go into the past, and in any event Picard can hardly be held responsible for what her offspring is doing decades later. It seems like a classic moral false crisis.
      • Especially since it was actually Guinan herself that motivated Tasha to go into the past by telling her that she died a senseless death in the original timeline! Picard, not being aware of the changes in the timeline, would not have even known about Tasha'a fate. Guinan was the one with Ripple Effect-Proof Memory. By the same token, Starfleet in general was unaware that there had been any captives taken from the Enterprise-C. Their belief that all hands were lost in the battle with the Romulans. So it is not as if Picard were negligent in any way that would place any kind of accountability for what happened on his shoulders. Now, Guinan herself on the other hand...
    • Simple answer: Sela's father is an extremely powerful member of the military. She proved she loved Daddy more than Mommy from a young age. He probably molded her in his own image and had anyone that said something disparaging about her mixed ancestry poisoned. Her father was powerful and politically connected, she was his darling, he conspired to get her placed in high position and she kept that position by being a cruel, callous bitch worthy of the rank. Makes perfect sense.
  • Before Star Trek: Nemesis, when all we knew about the movie was that it was going to involve Romulans, this troper was convinced that Sela would be either the Big Bad of that movie, or perform a Heel–Face Turn. Then, the movie came out, and Sela wasn't even alluded to.
    • IMDb trivia for Star Trek: Nemesis claims that including Sela was discussed but nixed; not sure if there's corroborating evidence for this. Could the Donatra character have been written for Sela?
      • Possible. As for Sela's current status, after the destruction of Romulus she used the confusion and the further conflict caused by the renewed Federation-Klingon hostilities to ascend to the head of the Tal Shiar and declare herself the Empress of the New Romulan Empire. She's currently trying to play the Federation and Klingons against each other even further as well as attempting to pressgang any unaffiliated Romulan she can and squash the New Romulan Republic. The original actress voices her (and some other clips) in Star Trek Online.
    • Maybe they just realized that Sela wasn't any better a character than Tasha.

    Romulans Fail Invasion Planning Forever? 
  • In "Unification" there is subplot that Romulans have stolen the Vulcan vessel to carry invasion troops after false statement of reunification. Why, if reunification was successful, there would be Vulcan vessels on Romulus? I mean Starfleet could just ask Vulcans if they sent any vessel which would be a bit suspicious if they stated that they hadn't. Also what was the reason of saying Spock that reunification is false instead of just tricking him to the last moment - ok. it was spoiled but see next question? Also what is suspicious in that Romulan intelligence have top-secret informations even if it is 4 digits? Even if it was the time of meeting of second in command of Romulan Empire? I mean - if there was an important talk with vice-president/vice-prime minister (depending on country) I'm sure security would know every detail.
    • On another note, maybe if the Romulans stopped being such a totalitarian regime, they could spend a lot more resources in planning successful raids and invasions. You know, instead of trying to screw over and suppress their own population. Or executing a Xanatos Gambit on on of their top admirals to see just how loyal he is. Sure it's useful to find the truly loyal ones and/or get rid of the less loyal ones, but really, it wastes time and makes people paranoid.
    • I was more curious about how they were planning on taking over a whole planet with "over 2,000 troops." They might take a few cities with that, but holding them against Federation troops would be a nightmare.
      • They drop photon torpedoes from orbit until the planet surrenders, then the "2,000 troops" beam down to do the paperwork.
      • And then said 2,000 soldiers have the interesting job of holding the planet once the ships are gone.
      • I know this is a huge leap, but after I saw the episode for the first time, I wondered if the Romulans wanted to invade a core-world of the Federation to draw Starfleet resources away from another target.
      • I believe the 2,000 soldiers were special forces sent to cause sabotage and stage a rigged vote for secession from the Federation and unification with Romulus. That's the only way I can think of that 2,000 Romulans could conquer a whole planet.
      • Which would have just worked so well against 8,000,000,000 hyper-intelligent locals who know their planet and its infrastructure far better than the Romulans, and who are in every way their physical equals!
      • 2,000 of the Tal Shiar and Romulan armed forces' very best arrive and, in a complete surprise attack, beam into strategic locations across the planet. In minutes they've taken over the planetary defense net and taken key government and social figures hostage. They keep the population pacified by threatening to kill the important figures and detonate irreplaceable cultural landmarks, and keep the Federation from retaking the planet immediately with the defense net. Now, this likely wouldn't work for a long-term conquest and annexation of Vulcan into the Empire, but it would be enough for Romulus to demand some sort of concession from the Federation.

    Equal-Rights Romulans? 
  • I seriously can't figure the Romulans out. They're xenophobic and treat everyone else as shoot-them-dead inferiors, and yet a human can live relatively peacefully with them for decades, with the only danger being that the Federation will charge you with treason if they catch you doing it.
    • Because they weren't completely evil in the TNG series. They were xenophobic and very distrusting, but the Federation wasn't exactly friendly towards the Romulans either. Given the history between the two sides, the whole thing is kind of understandable. Plus, it was shown from TNG onwards that the Romulans were actually very sensitive, emotional beings and cared deeply for one another — in fact, they were fairly similar to humans in numerous ways. They wouldn't kill him solely for being human.
    • The Romulans are (or were originally) a thinly-veiled allegory for Red China, just as the Klingons were originally a thinly-veiled allegory for Soviet Russia. One assumes that an American who defected to the Chinese government and was proven trustworthy would be treated relatively well. The same rationale probably applies to Human-Romulan defectors as well.
    • Besides, most of the Romulans the Federation deals with on a regular basis are military/government types. It seems to me that, if the government didn't kill or imprison a human outright, the reactions of your Average Joe Romulan on the street would vary as much as with any culture, from accepting to downright hostile. Civilians might be more accepting of strangers, once they got past the cultural bias that they've grown up with.
  • You mean DeSeve? He made me think of Joe Dresnok. The North Korean government is xenophobic and treats everyone else as shoot-to-kill inferiors, but they've apparently let Dresnok live among them in relative peace for almost fifty years.
    • Indeed, dictatorships usually place high value on defectors since they constitute a walking, talking endorsement of the superiority of their ways.

    Warbirds 
Throughout TNG's run it appeared that the Federation's Galaxy class, the Klingon Vor'cha class, the Romulan D'deridex class, and the Cardassian Galor class all appeared to be roughly equal in their capabilities, both in battle and in various non-combat roles. Starfleet makes mostly smaller ships, the Klingons have the birds-of-prey and the old TOS cruisers in service alongside the Vor'chas, and the Cardassians use a different ship some of the time. The Romulans, though, never use anything other than the Warbirds, not in TNG. In Deep Space Nine the only other Romulan ship we see is Vreenak's shuttle, and Nemesis and ST XI show the Romulans having graduated to something even badder. Do they have far more resources to put into shipbuilding than the others? Do they spend the resources on a few large ships instead of many small ones? (Unlikely; they always seem to have more ships in the area than Starfleet and th Klingons do, at least in TNG.) Did the other powers choose to make smaller, weaker ships than their resources allow?
  • In TNG, we saw a Romulan scout ship and a Romulan science ship (both modified from the same studio model).
  • Up until the 2009 film brings them down to normal, the (TNG-era) Romulans seem to be portrayed as the most powerful faction in the Alpha/Beta region. So yes, they probably just have the resources to build more and bigger ships than anyone else. In contrast, we know that Starfleet and the KDF do field underpowered and outdated warships, the one because they don't like war so much and the other because they don't have the money to afford a full fleet of modern vessels.
  • The Federation seems to keep ship spaceframe designs in use for a long time. For example, Excelsior and Miranda class ships still seem to be in use by Starfleet in the late 24th Century, most likely with an emphasis on internal upgrades. In the possible future 26th Century Battle of Procyon V five glimpsed in the ENT episode "Azati Prime", the Federation is fielding a fancy, super-advanced Enterprise, but also Nova and Prometheus class ships that date back to the 24th Century as well. Now, being a militaristic society with a bit more scientific emphasis than the Klingons, the Romulans may be prone to retire and scrap older vessels in order to maintain a more uniform fleet despite the huge expense involved. It should be noted that the Romulan D'deridex class ships are huge and scary looking. But their design seems to involve a vast amount of empty space (you could fit most Federation starships into the open area between it's sections) and they do not seem to significantly exceed the capabilities of the Galaxy class in any real way (they are in fact slower). The prototype Prometheus was able to destroy a warbird easily with its Multi Vector Assault Mode, which is probably why the Romulans tried to steal it.
    • The Prometheus was probably the biggest reason we never saw this model of Warbird again after Nemesis - there is no point continuing to field capital ships that can be blown up without effort by your biggest rivals. The Scimitar, despite being called a Reman Warbird, probably was just a design stolen from the Romulans and that it is in fact the next evolution. Shinzon may even have been lying as no matter how sympathetic you may be to the flaws of that film; the prospect that a bunch of uneducated miners could build a ship that can rival a Sovereign Class is just ridiculous.
      • It didn't rival the Sovereign-class, it outclassed Sovereigns in almost every way. To a ludicrous degree, in fact. It took a beating from three advanced battlecruisers without sustaining any significant damage, before utterly curb-stomping two Romulan warbirds. It had fire superiority over Enterprise by an insanely wide margin—and keep in mind that Starfleet's mandate for the Sovereign-class almost certainly contained the phrase, "capable of engaging and defeating Borg vessels"—and redundant deflector shields that remained active even while the ship was cloaked. Finally, while a D'deridex-class warbird was not capable of keeping up with a Galaxy-class starship (one that tried ended up damaging its engines so badly that it had no hope of returning to Romulan space), the Scimitar was able to overtake the Enterprise-E, which was even faster than her predecessor. There's no way that the Remans could have built that ship, in secret, right under the Romulan government's nose.
      • This is really Fridge Logic, but the Romulans probably used Reman slave laborers and raw materials from the planet to actually build the Scimitar. Given the Deadly Decadent Court that is the upper echelon of Romulan society, the ship's existence was probably being kept under tight wraps in order to prevent some Romulan faction like the Tal Shiar from doing what the Remans actually did do — steal it and use it to hold Romulus hostage. Because of their arrogant disdain for their slaves, they may have underestimated the Remans. Especially the fact that Shinzon's aid/mentor was a telepath, and probably stole all kinds of valuable information about the project from the minds of the Romulan overseers.

Q and the Q Continuum

    What about those 18 people Q got killed? 
  • Over the course of the series, we're supposed to accept that the character Q softened from being the judgmental asshole of 'Encounter at Farpoint', to being more of a benevolent trickster god who's [Vitriolic Best Buds] with Picard and only engages in his shenanigans to teach the Enterprise crew a lesson in arrogance (which, granted, after the first season and a half, they needed desperately), and someone we're supposed to grow to love. There's just one problem: In 'Q Who', Q's actions led to 18 members of the Enterprise crew getting killed by the Borg, offscreen, and then never referred to again. We're just supposed to forget all this? Were those 18 lives really necessary just to make a point?
    • Well Q did say "If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous - with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross, but it's not for the timid..." By allowing those 18 to be killed, Q has, in fact, allowed Starfleet to learn about a mortal danger earlier than they would have naturally and has indirectly saved the Federation from assimilation.
    • You could make an argument that Picard is far more responsible for those deaths. He arrogantly asserted that they were ready to encounter anything, he decided to poke around rather than head back to Federation space immediately despite Guinan's warning, he didn't take the Borg threat as seriously as he should have at first despite Guinan's second warning, and his damned pride kept him from asking Q to send them back until it was already too late for those eighteen crew members.

    Give the Genie what it wants Jean-Luc 
  • In the episode Qpid, why didn't Picard get rid of Q by simply allowing it to repay its debt to him? I mean sure all of Q's suggestions were "immoral" to the stuck up curmudgeon, but he could've asked for things like insights into Borg technology, or maybe something like... say a diary from the Precursor civilization. It really seemed like Picard was wasting a serious opportunity for defense, or research.
    • Probably because he knew Q would mess it up, somehow. Even well-meaning, Q is prone to going overboard.
    • Q is probably the running candidate to star in the live-action "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie" holonovel. Giving that omnipotent jackass an inch is on par with giving him a parsec.
    • SF Debris pointed out Picard should have just asked for something simple if he was so desperate to get rid of Q — like the best bottle of wine ever made, or to never have to go to the bathroom again. "Give Q what he wants, and he will kindly leave!"
      • Q being the drama queen he is, he probably would have balked at being asked for something simple and mundane, but all things considered it would have been worth asking. (Note I do not say it wouldn't have hurt to try. It might well have. But it probably wouldn't have been more problematic than having Q hanging around looking for an opportunity.)
    • I've always liked to think that Picard, being a fan of ancient literature, is very familiar with JackassGenies and assumes that any favor that Q does for him will somehow bite him in the ass in an ironic way.
      • Indeed, this whole headscratcher is contingent on the concept that Q is not a jerk. And considering that whatever else he is, Q is definitely a jerk, the idea that Picard should just accept his seeming beneficence with nary a second thought begs the question of "I'm sorry, have you ever seen a Q episode before?"
    • The best option for Picard would probably be something that would stroke Q's ego — something like a complete map of the universe, or a database with the full text of every book ever written anywhere, or creating a true universal language, or a replicator pattern library with medicines to cure every known disease, or plans for device that can be dropped into planetary orbit and will expand to a fully functional Starbase ready for occupation. Sure, Q could screw with the request like any other, but it would mean giving up a terrific opportunity to show off — and Q loves showing off. (Of course, it would require Picard to swallow his pride and actually give Q a properly impressed and thankful response afterwards, which may be more impossible than all of those put together.)

    What's With the Double Standard Q? 

  • What is it with the Q Continuum and the need to judge humanity? Do they ever show any interest in judging the Klingons, Cardassians, Romulans or any other species? Then why do they keep going after humans?
    • While Star Trek tends to vacillate wildly between Humans Are Bastards and Humans Are Good (mostly coming out for the latter), the common denominator is some version of Humans Are Special... in this case, especially worthy of notice, good or ill.
    • Maybe there are other Qs involved in judging those species, or maybe they just haven't gotten around to them yet. Or there aren't any Qs as interested in those species as Q is in humanity. Or they do set up "tests" for those species, they just don't do it in such a flashy way like Q does.
    • Let's be fair: We've never seen any indication that any Q aside from John DeLancie's Q has any interest in testing humanity. In any event, the (obviously non-canon) book trilogy Q Continuum may shed some light on the subject for us: The entity known as 0 first got Q into the "testing" thing with the Calamarian and the Tkon Empire. And during the battle between the Q Continuum and 0-and-Associates, Q saved his future wife from 0's attempt to throw a meteor at her by reflexively creating a wormhole right in front of her, causing the asteroid to hit Earth. Later, Q was given charge of fixing up the "miserable little planet" as punishment, which Picard finds a bit hard to believe, to put it mildly.
    • Same poster as above with an alternate theory. Maybe Q does test other species, but because the Star Trek series focuses on the Federation, we don't see these instances.
      • One can further speculate that, since the Q's method of dealing with humanity in "All Good Things" is set to utterly erase its existence using the anti-time anomaly, the species that fail the test will never be seen because they have similarly been "struck from the record."
    • The question really is why there are so many "grievously savage" races around if the punishment is extinction? Surely the Founders, Cardassians, Hirogen, the Douwd (based on the one that killed all 50 billion Husnock in retaliation for one of their ships killing his wife) and many others are more guilty of continuing to do the things humanity stopped doing hundreds of years before. I can't fathom why an omnipotent race would need time to "get around" to try all the other species in the galaxy. The best I can figure is that it was all made up by Q as an elaborate prank on humans.
      • The Q are omnipotent beings (or the next thing to it), so it stands to reason that their motivations may not be entirely clear to we mere mortals. In "Hide and Q," Q implies that humans are on some sort of evolutionary fast track and may some day even outdo the Q; perhaps the test is all the more important because of humanity has a vast potential that other races may not share (Humans Are Special, after all!).
    • Possibly it's not so much humans' capacity for savagery that Q has issues with, but the fact that we combine that capacity with the conviction that we're morally justified in what we do. The various villain races tend to be eminently practical about why they cause harm to other species, whereas humans have a dangerous tendency to make a moral crusade out of their current agenda, that makes compromise far more difficult.
      • There is plenty of evidence that the Q are not omnipotent they just claim to be. For example during the Voyager episode Q2 Q Snr tells Q Jr adamantly that you do not antagonize the Borg. Why? Unless or course the Borg have weapons capable of attacking beings as powerful as a Q - we do see in Q and the Grey that it is indeed possible to create weapons a human can wield that can mortally injure a Q. The same goes for other supremely powerful beings such as the Prophets, Douwd, or the Organians that, whilst the Q may or may not win, they would suffer a lot of casualties in the process. It's really not wise to risk confronting someone that can fight you on even terms no matter how much you may disagree with them.
      • The Borg canonically do not possess infinitely powerful weapons. Quite the opposite, they got their cubes handed to them by Species 8472, a purely biological species whose capabilities do not even approach those many other higher beings in the Trek universe. There is no evidence that the Borg have ever successfully assaulted or assimilated any race of Energy Beings, certainly not ones with Reality Warping powers. Indeed, they almost seem to have hit a technological plateau, where they have powerful capabilities, but are unable to impose assimilation on similarly advanced races. The Voth also occupy the Delta Quadrant for example, yet the Borg do not appear to have ever been able to assimilate them.
      • Another example comes from Encounter at Farpoint - Q freezing Ens Torres. Why freeze him immediately? Wouldn't a far more effective demonstration of omnipotence simply be to let him fire and be unable to stun Q THEN freeze Torres as punishment? Q demonstrates omniscience, but it still implies even he would be vulnerable to a stun blast. He even says to Picard that he wouldn't want to be rendered helpless amongst humans. Anyways, Q tells Riker humanity has the potential to even eclipse the Q, it's debatable whether or not the Continuum are acting to either help humanity advance, scope out a potential enemy/competitor, or are simply curious about a resourceful people. (or simply seeking a plaything to distract themselves from the boring emptiness of the desert road...)
      • The answer to this question, and any question along the lines of "Why did Q do A instead of B?", is quite simple: It's Q. He did it that way because he felt like it, and he doesn't need any other reason because he's friggin' Q.
      • If you really think the Borg can provide some plausible threat to the Q, recall that Q casually suggests changing the gravitational constant of the universe — basically remaking all reality on a whim.
      • Everything is impossible until it isn't. We've seen in Trek that you can create little pocket universes (happened to Crusher in Remember Me) so who is to say you cannot create some form of shielding to reality changes? In essence that is what the Krenim do in Voyager's "Year of Hell" to make their time weapon work. Combine the two and suddenly the Q are not so all powerful. Or what the heck, just evolve into a higher plane of existence like the Zalkonians are doing in TNG's Transfigurations which amounts to meeting the Q on an equal footing. Remember the Borg have unimaginable processing power to work on problems. Give them enough info on the Q, and there is a risk, no matter how small, that they might hit on a trick that works.
      • It's kind of fun to speculate about such things though it can easily pass over into fanwankery... after all, no episode has ever, EVER presented any credible threats to the Q except for other Q (or humans basically temporarily empowered by the Q, in "The Q and the Grey"). A statement like "The same goes for other supremely powerful beings such as the Prophets Douwd or the Organians that, whilst the Q may or may not win, they would suffer a lot of casualties in the process" is simply made with insufficient evidence — since no episode ever comes close to pitting such forces against each other, there's no basis for making such a proclamation. Thinking of such powerful, enigmatic and inscrutable beings in terms of "who would win in a fight?" like two random superheroes is simply not accepting the premise for what it is.... that these are enigmatic and inscrutable beings, beyond conventional comprehension.
      • Ah, but one episode does have Q angrily chastising his son not to provoke the Borg, and seeming quite sincere when he does it. Apparently not needlessly poking the Collective is one of the few rules he has. (And before someone brings up the fact that he did that in his second appearance: no he didn't. He didn't "provoke" the Borg, he just exposed the Enterprise to them, something that was going to happen very soon anyway, considering the Borg had already made ventures into the Neutral Zone.) But if Q leaves someone the fsk alone, you can bet he's got a good reason for it.
      • It's a giant leap from "don't provoke the Borg" to "Don't provoke the Borg because this might have directly negative consequences for the Collective," rather than it simply being poor form. After all — Q certainly had it within his power to stop humanity from existing by manipulating space-time. It should be a cinch to do the same with the Borg, just by preventing the circumstances of their origins.
      • For me it was pretty clear that what Q meant was: Do not provoke the Borg [because they can cause a massive massacre and engulf the entire Galaxy destroying all civilizations in it, except us] and not Do not provoke the Borg [because we are afraid of them]. It is clear that the Borg cannot do anything to the Q, but they are the second most powerful life form in the Galaxy. It will be the equivalent of having a garden with all sorts of insects and poking at the anthill of Brazilian fire ants.
      • Building on the above: we also know that the Q police their own (as in "Deja Q") — perhaps messing with the Borg is just the kind of thing that can bring about consequences, not from the Borg, but from other Q.

Other

    Here's a conundrum for you 
  • Keiran MacDuff has to be the world's worst villain. Never mind the fact that if the Satarrans had the ability to wipe the memories of the computer and crew (including Data) and insert one of their own among the crew, it makes you wonder why they needed the Enterprise at all. (Which Riker is kind enough to lampshade for us at the end). But MacDuff could have given himself any position aboard the ship. Why did he deliberately make himself first officer and not captain?! For that matter, what was stopping him from replacing the entire Enterprise crew with his fellow Satarrans?
    • Because he wouldn't have the first idea of how to *run* the ship. All he had time for prior to the scan was a basic idea of weapon complement and functionality and uploading his dossier into the computer, he would have no idea how the crew operated - which the memory wipe conveniently left behind in the crew. If he had tried to command the ship, Picard and the others would have quickly relieved him of command, attributing his behavior to an acute case of whatever wiped their minds - Captain's incapacitated, who's next on the chain of command? By being first officer, he could suggest and advise Picard, have complete access to the ship, act as liaison to the crew under the guise of reducing work for Picard - keeping the big man free to handle the BIG concerns, and delegate any actual job requirements to Riker, who did them anyways. It would give him time to familiarize himself with the crew and starship and, if necessary, incite a mutiny to get what he needed. Basically, he was the power behind the throne.
      • Great point, I'd never thought of that one before.
      • It's convenient that the first officer on TNG seems to have relatively few actual job duties.
      • That is pretty much the idea of any second-in-command position in any kind of field; they're there to take over if for whatever reason the person above them isn't there to perform those duties.
      • Riker has a lot of job duties, it's just that most of them besides leading away missions and acting as backup Captain don't come up a lot in the more memorable episodes (which are generally more memorable because they're action-packed). Most of his references to the paperwork-and-interviews aspects to his jobs are throwaway lines in the buildup or quiet parts of episodes so people tend not to remember them.
      • The XO is responsible for keeping the ship running smoothly, sweating the little details that are beneath the captain. He has a ton of shit to do besides waiting until he's needed for away missions or taking command.
    • As for why he needed the Enterprise, maybe his race had powerful mind technologies, but not a lot of resources (so could only mind control a few enemies) and basically nothing in the way of conventional weapons to match their enemies.
    • The episode would make a lot more sense if MacDuff were not a Satarran at all, but a solo renegade mercenary from a more advanced species who was hired by the Satarrans. This would explain both his advanced technology and his limited resources. Unfortunately, that explanation doesn't appear on screen.
  • WM Ging here, but maybe it's as simple as the Satarrans' mind control technology not working on their enemy species (who's name escapes me for the moment) for whatever reason. As for having Satarrans take over the Enterprise and use it themselves, that would likely take weeks, months or even years of work studying it in order for their much more technologically primitive society than the Feds to not only run the ship, but not blow it up trying to. The Satarrans may not have had the time for it, either because they were on the verge of losing or because they realized that stealing the Federation's Flagship would have brought the full force of the Federation down on them pretty quickly.

    Spot oddities (Spottities?) 
  • Even if we ignore the obvious points of strangeness related to Data's feline friend (he/she switched genders in the seventh season, changed appearances from a longhair to a shorthair (yeah, the first cat is not explicitly identified as Spot)), certain other questions nag about her (let's go with "her") pregnancy. In turn:
    • Data does not know who the father is, but plans to run a DNA analysis of the kittens once they're born. With all of the fancy technology at his disposal, can this really not be done in utero?
      • Possibly, but it may be a process that takes longer and is more intensive than he wants to get into. He's got a lot of projects he works on, kitten paternity might have low priority. And even if it's a 0.1% chance higher that the kittens could be hurt by testing in utero, why take the chance when it can be done so easily once they're born? It's not like Spot needs to get a child support payment lawsuit rolling as fast as possible.
      • The tests may not be equally easy to use. A DNA test on a sample from a kitten probably only requires a standard tricorder with the right software, since a test like that is within the normal parameters for an Away Team. An in utero paternity test would probably require sickbay, and Dr. Crusher might not take kindly to Data recalibrating her obstetric scanners for Felis catus just to satisfy his curiosity.
      • It probably wouldn't be done in sickbay. Between Enterprise's mission of exploring strange new worlds (including, presumably, their fauna), the semi-canonical Cetacean Ops, and the pets belonging to other crew members, Enterprise probably has at least one veterinarian on board. Failing that, though, Data probably has some sway in the exobiology lab, which would be equipped to study lifeforms in utero. Best guess wold probably be an inherent risk to the feti, or that Data would consider it a misuse of ship's resources.
    • The idea that Spot can regularly get out of Data's quarters without his knowledge really tests suspension of disbelief. My cat has never gotten out of my apartment once, and I don't live on a starship.
      • Expanded Universe says it's not just Spot that can do this, but all cats. And your apartment probably doesn't have an automatic opening door, which is the running theory on how cats manage to get out... they've figured out some way of jumping, pressing, or moving that tricks the door into thinking a person is there wanting to go out.
      • Wow, so all cats on the flagship of the Federation can exit their quarters more or less at will and then meet up for furtive mating rituals multiple times (Data says Spot has gotten out on "several" occasions), and that's supposed to make things better! Security aboard the Enterprise has never been too impressive, but this is a new low! Another indication of how an old-fashioned lock and key works better than what they have in the 24th century!
      • Most of the public spaces aboard Enterprise are child-safe by design. Cat-safe isn't that much further a stretch, what with all the automatic doors and smoothly paneled surfaces and such. There's no overriding reason, aside from convenience and decorum, why every cat aboard should not have an implanted RFID chip which the computer can track, and a corresponding list of permissible places. Maybe Spot doesn't have to open the door to Data's quarters, because Data's told the computer to open the door for her if she wants to come in or go out. We see a variety of corridor lounges in the early seasons, and it's reasonable to assume they still exist despite not being shown as often later on. Maybe cats like to use them every bit as much as people do. If Jonesy in Alien could deal with a space tractor-trailer and a deadly xenomorph, why shouldn't Spot and her fellows be able to cope with a space battleship-slash-luxury resort?
      • Data says, in this episode, "Spot has escaped from my quarters on several occasions" — "escaped." He does not let her leave the quarters on her own.
      • Jonesy probably acts as a mouser on the Nostromo, and besides, it's more like a cat wandering a warehouse than a cat in a crowded office building. I'd just love to see a scene where an Enterprise crew member is rushing to a key post during a ship wide crisis... only to trip over one of the cats that apparently wander the halls with impunity.
    • Data did not spay his cat. Bob Barker would not approve.
      • I'm sure Data is heartbroken at the disapproval of his centuries-dead idol Bob Barker. But also he may have intended to actually breed Spot at some point, so why spay her? It's just that she took matters into her own... paws.
    • He says there are twelve male cats on the board, implying that any one of them may be the father. So does he mean that there are twelve un-neutered cats on the Enterprise? Why on earth? Is somebody running a kitty mill?
    • It seems likely that the other cats on board are simply pets for other crew members. If they can bring kids, why not cats? As for Spot changing gender, well...Maybe Data's nickname used to be Lennie?
      • The fact of there being other cats on-board is no mystery; the fact of them being unfixed and potentially interacting, though...
      • It's very likely there are fixed cats, just twelve aren't, some owners opt to not fix their pets for various reasons and some may have been adopted while on-board the Enterprise, I don't know about you, but I don't imagine the Enterprise has an on-board Veterinarian who could do such procedures and it would be unlikely the crew who have male cats would go out of their way to find a Vet when they land.
      • They do. She's called Dr. Crusher. We see Crusher at one point doing medical checks on Spot as she would anyone else on board. And besides, in the world of 24th century medicine, would caring for a cat really be that much different and/or harder than dealing with any of the myriad of humanoid and sometimes non-humanoid aliens the Enterprise runs into each week?
      • Or most people just assume that their pets can't really get out of their quarters, being unaware of cats' apparently unique ability to work the doors, so they don't bother. Or they don't figure that an extra few kittens or whatnot are really all that big of a deal in a post-scarcity society.
      • Possibly by the 24th century dogs and cats don't need to be spayed or neutered - there might be a simple and reversible way of preventing them breeding until a more convenient time. Data might well be aware that there are twelve male cats aboard; there's no reason he should know which of them are currently capable of reproducing at that particular moment.
      • If you thought the tribble infestation was bad, wait until they're mobile and even more cute...

     "Darmok": Gilgamesh and Enkidu at Uruk? 
  • How exactly is the Tamarian language supposed to work? Okay, so they express everything through metaphor and historical allusion, and the universal translator can't understand it because it lacks the historical context to parse the allusion. Good so far. Except that they obviously have a syntax capable of expressing things without allusion, because they have words like "and," "at," etc. (Or whatever words or syntax they're using, which the UT is translating only partially, leaving the proper nouns intact.) How do they teach history to children so that the children will understand the allusions, and why don't they speak to Picard in the same way as soon as it becomes clear he's having trouble understanding them? If I said to you, "Hey, we're like Gilgamesh and Enkidu at Uruk," and you gave me a blank look, I'd say, "Oh, they were two enemies who became friends a long time ago." Why can't they do that with Picard? And at the end of the episode, it's decided that "Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel" will be the new "word" in their language for "successful first contact" or something, right? But when that shipfull of Tamarians goes home, how do they explain what this new word means to everyone else when everyone else doesn't know what went down? It's frustratingly circular.
    • Good, good question. I'll hazard a guess that the Tamarians, amongst themselves, have some kind of inefficient "memory transfer", and that their entire oral language is just a faster 'shorthand' that uses concepts already transferred much earlier through telepathy, or pheromones, or sharing nerve cells, or whatever.
    • SF Debris (yes him again) bent over backwards in an attempt to explain this; ranging from limited telepathy, to the more simpler, their written language is more straight forward. Of course that just raises the question as to why they didn't just send Starfleet a letter. Link.
    • It seems amazing that such a language could ever evolve. Some things just need to happen in a certain way in real life and one of those is language that not only has a common frame of reference but one that allows the distribution of thoughts and ideas in an efficient and timely way. Imagine pre-internet an American trying to understand what a Japanese man means by Emperor Euraku at Mimana. In any normal language it would take five seconds to explain that it was a rebellion on the Korean peninsula in 463. Using the Tamarian way however it would take an unfeasibly long time to try and find some kind of reference that one could draw from. And that's before we get into things like: what weapons were used? How long did it last? How many deaths were there? What was the infrastructure like? What was the medical care like? Were there any unforeseen complications? what were the lasting implications of the conflict? etc. This is perhaps the most inefficient way to communicate imaginable and even with some kind of telepathic link or simpler written language (none of which is even remotely hinted at) it is ridiculous that a warp capable species couldn't adapt their way of speaking to meet the needs of the rest of the galaxy.
    • Actually something similar happens in Real Life; the Mapudungun, the language of the Mapuche Indians in Chile; its grammar is very alien and one single word can only be translated as entire phrases in English or Spanish, and those phrases can only be an approximate because the language is heavily influenced by the Mapuche lore and mythology. Or take the piraha tribe in Amazonia for example, they have no math, they can’t count more than three, the concept is to foreign for them because they instead of numbers only have words for “many” and “few”. They also have no names for colors, only words for “dark” and “light”, this has make very difficult for them to learn other languages. So the TNG example may be too exaggerated but is clearly not at all implausible, we have similar situations in real life.

     Picard and Dathon, in danger, needlessly 
  • 'Darmok' is one of this troper's favorite episodes, and a beautiful story. One thing has always bugged me though: The Tamarians put their captain and Picard together in the "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" cooperation situation intentionally, where they were both in danger of being killed by the Beast, just in the hopes of being able to communicate. Is this how they normally say hi to new people, by putting them in mortal danger? How do the Tamarians not come off as [Jerk Ass]es here? Or was the whole thing just a training simulator and the Beast a hologram? And even if it was, how would Picard and the Enterprise crew know this in the end? By all rights, they should be royally pissed that they put their captain in harm's way (or appeared to) just to try to make friends. Could they not have beamed them into a situation where they'd have to work together to solve a non-lethal problem?
    • They surely could have, but the fact that they didn't seems significant. The Tamarians' motivations are not fully knowable, but we can guess that, from their perspective, the tests needs to be one of life and death to be meaningful. These stories from their history that structure their language are more than just stories to them: they need to be reenacted. In a sense, it's not so different from "Liaisons," in which the aliens also wreck havoc on Picard because of a radically different sense of what constitutes a fair test.
    • Necessity is the mother of invention. When you're on a time limit it tends to speed things up.

     The "ancestors" of humanoid life 
  • In the season 6 episode "The Chase" the woman speaking says that they made the program using DNA so that their species would be remembered,... but she made no mention of what her species was called. It would be a hell of a lot easier to remember them if you knew how to refer to them.
    • I should think the first humanoid species in the galaxy should be memorable no matter what. Let's call them "the Firstborn" in homage to Arthur C. Clarke.

     The Starfleet skirt 
  • What is the in-universe reason as to why we never see any guys in dresses after season 1? The very existence of that uniform skirt would imply that there is no longer any social stigma towards it and yet no man ever wears one in a casual off-duty situation ever again. The rush by the producers to lose a piece of clothing that looks stupid to our twentieth century eyes has created a plot hole; and thinking about it, if the taboo around dresses has vanished, then logically male make-up should no longer be that controversial either.
    • None was ever given. Much like the fact that Deanna initially wore this same outfit in "Encounter At Farpoint", complete with the blue coloration indicating that she was a Science/Medical officer and collar pips indicating her rank, only to switch to Future Spandex civilian clothes without anyone commenting on the change. Obviously, the meta reasons were that the sensibilities of the late-1980's were not receptive men wearing "skirts" (although "kilts" are increasingly popular circa 2015), while Deanna was Ms. Fanservice for the show and they wanted her in clothes that showcased her buxom body better than the uniforms did, skirt or no skirt. You will notice that females in general also abandoned the skirt, and subsequently wore the same unisex jumpsuit as male characters. This is actually Hilarious in Hindsight, because a mere two episodes later in "The Naked Now", Tasha Yar (affected by the polywater) remarked that Deanna always wore "such beautiful clothes off-duty", without noting that Deanna was dressing like an aerobics instructor while on-duty! The Starfleet Skirt, for both genders, just seemed to quietly get phased out.
    • It was not a skirt, just a ceremonial/dress uniform coat, somewhat similar to the Victorian-era frock coat or Indian sherwani (only shorter). (Although it did look a bit like skirt, and The Other Wiki even calls it "robe-like coat".) They were occasionally seen later during the series, during some ceremonial occasions (e.g. Chief O'Brien's wedding ceremony), and appeared even in some DS9 and Voyager episodes.
      • Oops, sorry - my mistake. There really was something like unisex-minidress (i.e. worn without trousers) in early episodes of the season one.
      • Troi wasn't the only one to wear the skirt uniform in "Encounter at Farpoint". In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it bit right at the end of the episode, you'll see Yar at tactical, in one. I can see why she never used it again, wearing a skirt doesn't exactly scream "authoritative security chief who will shoot you if you misbehave" does it?
      • The point still remains, why couldn't guys wear dresses when out of uniform? I guess it was a bridge too far in the late '80s/early '90s.

     The J'naii and gender 
  • Okay, granted, "The Outcast" is widely recognized as a Very Special Episode that ended up with a Broken Aesop. But the Aesop stuff aside, there are unanswered questions about the J'naii society, and how their discriminatory attitudes even work. Among humans, there are two genders (and a small minority of intersex individuals). Concepts like "heterosexuality" and "homosexuality" are thus defined in terms of anatomical biology. The genders of the participants in a romantic and/or sexual relationship defining whether or not some cultural transgression has taken place.
    • The J'naii are all supposedly the same gender physically, with Bizarre Alien Reproduction in which both participants effectively perform identical roles in the sexual act. This much makes sense, since if they all have the same anatomy, including reproductive organs, then there can be no asymmetry to the sexual act.
    • However, there is apparently a sub-culture among the J'naii who identify as having a gender along the male/female paradigm followed by many other humanoid species. This is an apparent metaphor for homosexuality, as opposed to transgenderism, inasmuch as these J'naii, such as Soren, do not apparently have any anatomical differences that would have been noticed by others long before they reached adulthood. Nor does Soren express an explicit desire to have any kind of surgical or genetic modification in order to give "her" a gender comparable to a human, although she does express interest in Riker and wonders if their anatomy would be sexually-compatible.
    • So, how is this sub-culture even identified in J'naii society? Absent anatomical differences, how would anyone even know that a J'naii couple consists of one individual that self-identifies as female and another as male? In humans this determination is made based on anatomy. Unless a J'naii were some kind of evolutionary throwback that had physical gender traits there would be no way to tell them apart from any other J'naii, and they could just as easily claim that their relationship is based on "shared interests" as much as anything else.
    • Just to make all of this even more complicated, many alien species in Star Trek from the TNG era onward often embrace unisex fashion. Romulans and Cardassians are both good examples where their species has two genders, but both genders seem to wear very similar attire and have similar hairstyles. Humans and Human Aliens are far more prone to follow present-day real world expectations of significant gender differences in appearance. Otherwise, a female Romulan hasn't looked much different from a male one since the "The Enterprise Incident"! So in this regard the J'naii simply seem to be sharing a trend in personal appearance that some species that do have gender also follow as well.
    • Hence Soren's entire predicament becomes rather perplexing. "She" does not seem to be seeking gender assignment surgery. Nor does "she" appear to want to raid Troi's wardrobe. Thus, her interest in Riker, and the J'naii's revulsion to it, could just as easily be chalked up to Fantastic Racism as to discrimination based on sexuality. Other than a self-identification as a "female", Soren doesn't appear to want to be stereotypically "feminine" as humans would define it. And since the J'naii are all one gender anatomically how exactly would one define an "alternative sexuality" if everyone has the same reproductive organs?
    • Perhaps the J'naii episode is easier to understand if you look at it as a moral on individuality versus collectivism rather than one involving gender. The J'naii were so eager to have a society lacking any and all forms of discrimination that they did away even with gender... not biological sex, but gender. Thus yes, some J'naii could possibly be physically male and physically female, but are socially engineered to refuse to acknowledge themselves as actually different from other J'naii, because different is bad, we all have to be the same. Thus it has nothing to do with Soren's gender, really, so much as her desire to express an aspect of her individuality (the fact that she is female) that has caused the reaction.
    • Just to add to the above, this society did once have two sexes. The general social concept now is that it's "primitive". I definitely think this is more representative to transgenderism than homosexuality. As said above, this was about individuality. In this case, she identified as female. Of course, to the audience you have a character played by a woman with a female identity and it's naturally easy to accept that she should be allowed to identify herself as a woman. Her society however believes that she should identify herself as the neither male/neither female biological sex which they see her as being (and which biologically she is). It's just like how any transgender person can look to those around them as one sex (which physically they are) but have a different gender identity. Even if they don't seek to change how they dress or to have surgery, they may just want to be able to openly acknowledge who they are.

     Another Gender Issue 
  • In "The Perfect Mate", if Kamala becomes the fulfillment of the fantasy of any man she's around, what happens if she's in the company of a gay guy, does she turn into a man?
    • Maybe she becomes the perfect "fag hag."
      • In all honesty, probably this. If she becomes the ideal female for any man she's with, with a gay man she'd probably become the ideal female friend, with no threat of her ever pressuring him sexually or falling in love with him.
    • Most empathic metamorphs are male, with female ones being very rare (and valuable). Make of that what you will...

     Pulaski Spazzing Out 
  • In "Where Silence Has Lease," a godlike being mentions noticing a difference between males and females. And Pulaski freaks out. WTF? Is she some kind of super-prude?
    • You mean this exchange?
    PULASKI: Yes, well, there are minor differences. I'm what we call a female.
    NAGILUM [on view screen]: I understand. The masculine and the feminine.
    PICARD: It is the way in which we propagate our species.
    NAGILUM [on view screen]: Please, demonstrate how this is accomplished.
    PULASKI: Not likely.
    • Where's the freaking out part?
    • Watch it. After "feminine", she gets this panicked look and jerks around, like Nagilum was looking up her hoo-ha.
      • No doubt she was imagining what the fanfic reworking of "Where Silence Has Lease" would be like.

     Armus (Or, Why You Should Dispose Of Your Evil Black Slime Properly) 
  • In "Skin Of Evil," the villain-of-the-week, Armus, is a by-product of a species of "dazzling, perfect beings" cleansing themselves of all that's "evil." Fine, whatever. Once shed of him, they pretty much dump him on some remote planet to spend eternity in isolation. Baffling though, these "perfect beings" don't even bother to take the most basic measures to insure no innocent people will blunder across him and end up at his mercy. Even if we assume they didn't want to get their hands dirty destroying him (which probably would've been the best thing for all concerned), they should've at least had the decency to warn everyone else in the galaxy to steer clear of that star system. Hell, It's Captain Picard and the Federation who finally do what the "perfect ones" should've done in the first place and put the planet under quarantine; after a valued member of the Enterprise crew is killed by this oil slick with an attitude.
    • Is it said how long has been since he was left there? No technology can survive millions of years, even the Federation's beacon warning other ships of the danger on the planet will someday be gone. On the other hand the source that the beings where perfect was Armus itself which can be a Unreliable Narrator, we as an audience don't really know what happened, Armus can be just lying or maybe is crazy at that point.
      • I never said anything about the "perfect ones" relying solely on beacons and buoys, anyone with any sense would tell you that's insufficient. I said they should've done everything in their power to warn others to stay away from that planet; have their ambassadors pass that information on to as many people as would listen. At least if someone willfully ignores the warning, then that's on them. Plus, it also would've been better for all concern that they euthanize Armus rather than just leave him lying around at the ass-end of space. Hell, I even got the impression that Armus himself wishes they had just killed him and got it over with.
      • I might be wrong cause I saw the episode long ago, but IIRC there's no indication of how long time passed and judging by the state of the planet (with almost no remains of civilization) I personally was under the impression that the perfect ones abandoned the planet millions of years in the past, so, again, any warning or diplomatic endeavor was lost.

     Angel One 
  • In Angel One we are introduced to a race of aliens who are basically identical to humans with the exception of the fact that the females are larger and more aggressive than the males and thus we have a matriarchy instead of the patriarchy that (YMMV) has existed throughout our history. But realistically you would have to change a lot more than just physical strength to bring about such a change. Even today, that are countries with maternal mortality rates of 1,000 deaths for every 100,000 live births. That's about a 1% chance of dying each birth. That figure would skyrocket if women lived the same kind of rough and violent lives that men had to endure for for the majority of history - you certainly couldn't fight an ancient-style battle with the statistical levels of dismemberment, disease and inadequate food, water and shelter and remain at peak childbearing health. And even if we ignore the stats and say that the Angel One women have safer pregnancies than humans, we run into a second problem as for pretty much the entirety of human existence our lives were so nasty, violent, brutish and short that we would have risked extinction if women didn't spend a great deal of their adult lives doing nothing but being pregnant. Unless you are going to go the Mr Seahorse route (which would mean that Riker was about to have the shock of his life when he bedded Beata as they couldn't possibly have similar genitals), Angel One would have had to be an absolute paradise free of armed conflict and dangerous animals when their people first evolved to have had a world where its men nested and its pregnant women went out hunting and fought with other tribes (because that ultimately is the most logical reason for the strength difference between men and women). In my opinion, such a premise actually sounds as if it would have led to an equal society not an oppressive one, with the otherwise physically stronger women being routinely forced to have the weaker men take on their responsibilities and look after them whilst in this far more vulnerable state.
    • Your interpretation is possible of one way a society with stronger women could developed. The issue is that, as you point out, by necessity the episode doesn't work with an "exact swap" between the sexes as was proposed unless you do go the Mr Seahorse route. There are species on Earth where the female is physically stronger (the angler fish being the classic example) but for it to make evolutionary sense the idea of the sex which carries the children being vulnerable for the amount of time that human women are while pregnant wouldn't be sensible if their mate was much weaker and unable to act as a protector, suggesting that some Bizarre Alien Biology could be in play (maybe they have babies much quicker than humans or maybe other women of their species have a natural compulsion to protect pregnant women). In either case, there are practical possibilities which may simply not have been touched on in the episode which could make it work for the women to be the dominant gender. I think the whole idea of the episode was that it was supposed to have a pro-feminism message by reversing the gender roles in this society, exaggerating them somewhat and then arguing that having the masculine sex (in this case actually the women) dominating the feminine sex (in this case actually the men) was wrong (intentionally reversing the roles so that people who might not see an issue if it were a society of men dominating women question it). Unfortunately I think a lot of people take it the other way as having an antifeminist message because they think the women represent feminist groups (I read somewhere that the writers later tried to argue this episode was about apartheid but this seemed suspiciously to have been done after it was poorly received). In either case, by trying to make the parallel more "exact" they couldn't exactly go too much into the detail around ways that the characters' biology would need to be different to humans.

Medicine, Psychology, and/or Worst Aid

     As an expert I say you should try expressing your homicidal tendencies? 
  • Is Troi a real counselor? In Descent Data admits to her that the only emotion he has felt in the episode is anger and pleasure at killing an enemy. Please note that in this episode Data lifted a Borg off the ground by its throat and snapped its neck. So what does Troi do with a physically powerful android that has access to the entire ship? She encourages him to explore his anger.
    • Maybe the "With a stress ball" was implied?
    • WMG: Troi is the Sith Lord the Jedi spent half the Star Wars prequel trilogy running around to find.
    • I think she was recommending he try constructive means to understand the emotion and integrate it, rather than retreat and hide it until he freaks out.
    • A real counselor WOULD encourage him to experience the emotion that he knew he had experienced, with 'in a neutral and controlled environment' implied. Obviously, she wasn't encouraging him to go out and kill crew members just to explore his anger, but she rightly points out that a) he had been trying without success to elicit other emotional reactions and ignoring the one that he actually HAD been experiencing, and b) emotions themselves are not positive or negative, it's the way we react to them. Especially in Data's case, it seems reasonable to want to make sure that he can, as the above Troper points out, understand and integrate it into himself, rather than lash out unexpectedly or, as we see in Star Trek: Generations with his newfound fear, lose his control in the middle of a dangerous situation and get others hurt. Data was already using the holodeck to explore those other emotional reactions, she simply suggested he use it to explore the one he knew he'd experienced.
    • One supposes that part of being a counselor is sometimes "not insulting your patient", thus yeah, Troi doesn't really need to tell Data "Explore your anger. Oh, but don't snap my neck. Or any crew members' necks." Troi knows Data, she knows that even if he's not exactly Three Laws compliant he isn't a cruel or psychotic individual, and will explore the concept of anger in a way that will be as safe as possible for others. All this leaving aside that "Find an outlet for your anger" is something therapists actually do tell their patients, which is basically what Troi's telling Data... it's just that he'll need to find out if he can feel anger before he finds an outlet for it.
    • Yes, but given the (literally) unique circumstances, Troi really ought to have told Data to report back to her immediately whenever he felt any further emotions. On VOY the Doctor was barely willing to let people leave sick bay without medical monitors attached to them! Troi has a habit of releasing her patients back into the wild so that she can check up on them periodically like casual experiments. It was much the same as in "Suddenly Human", where she foists Jono onto Picard, the officer least qualified to actually manage a teenager boy, and her only subsequent involvement was to order Picard to stick it out. That one led to Picard getting stabbed while in bed! In retrospect it's amazing he didn't demote Troi and assign her to a similarly thankless task that she would have equally hated!
    Picard: Counselor, we'll be taking on a group of Klingon cadets. I'm assigning you to oversee them and show them every aspect of working on a Starfleet ship.
    Troi: But isn't this something that would be better suited to Worf?
    Picard: Absolutely! Just like that Jono situation would have been. But nevertheless, I am assigning you because I think it will be good for your personal development and educational for them. Qapla', Counselor!

     Just cut off his leg! 
  • In Shades of Gray, Riker gets poisoned on a survey mission of an uncharted planet. After examining the wound, Dr. Pulaski finds out that the poison has infected the nerves in the leg (which prevents her from operating to remove the poison) and if they do not discover a cure soon, the wound will reach his brain and kill him. So, why doesn't she just amputate the leg? It's been a standard medical procedure for years that if you can't remove the poison (usually due to not knowing the correct cure to use), by removing the limb, you save the patient. So since Pulaski had no idea what the correct cure was, she should have just amputate Riker's leg before the poison got anywhere near his spine. Also considering in the run of the show, we barely saw Riker out of uniform, they could have easily given him a prosthetic leg and we never see it.
    • Because it's a bad episode, written because of a writer's strike, and that would have required more imagination and daring than I give the second-season TNG writers credit for possessing. (Also, it was written with almost no budget, hence the "clip show"). Even in the episode where Worf is paralyzed, dies, comes back to life and learns slowly how to walk again, he's all better next week and it's never, ever mentioned again. And that was much later in the series, when the writing was better. TNG, as good as it was, didn't take nearly the kinds of interesting chances that DS9 would, later, which is one reason I like the latter series better.
    • A simple throwaway line that the poison had already gotten past the leg would have solved the issue, but they didn't for no apparent reason. Also, having Riker with a prosthetic for the rest of the series wouldn't even have been necessary, maybe for the episode, but since 24th century medical technology apparently has the ability to saw off limbs and reattach them fairly easily, (hell, we can do it right now, but with some uncertainty still in it) they could have just cut off the leg, killed the virus, reattached it, done. Riker goes about his business and doesn't have a torturous nightmare.
    • And really, you'd think growing new limbs would be something they could do. Stem cell research might be decades away from making it happen, but it's likely to be possible within the next century, let alone three centuries.

     Barclay's Protomorphosis and Hermaphroditism Syndrome 
  • In "Genesis," main engineering is full of spider webs and we learn that Barclay is transforming into a spider. It is certainly implied that he was doing the spinning, but (mostly, at least) only female spiders spin webs. Perhaps this might not be true of the ancient spider that Barclay is becoming, but it's fun to speculate. Another thing for Troi to deal with afterwards, perhaps.
    • Mmm. And the syndrome seems to have made Spot pregnant, too, when I was always under the impression that Spot was a guy.
      • Nice theory, but Spot's mysterious gender change happened a bit earlier, in "Forces of Nature."
      • Lets be fair nothing about this disease makes sense to anyone who has any knowledge of genetics whatsoever. Frankly temporarily changing sex is pretty sane compared to mammals containing the dormant DNA of reptiles.
      • Or becoming spiders, I’m not a scientist but I think we don’t have any spider ancestor. At least reptiles and mammals have common ancestors.
      • We do have reptile ancestors, though that's waaaaaay back, over 200 million years ago. It's incredibly implausible that enough DNA from back then exists in a cat's genome to turn it into an iguana. And no, we have no direct relationship to spiders. The writers really failed hard at biology on this one.
      • All life on Earth is related (as far as we know) - the problem here is more about what would be the last common ancestor of arachnids (phylum Arthropoda) and mammals (phylum Chordata) - and it would for sure look like nothing of the both. Then again, the evolution in general seems to be working in mysterious ways in the Star Trek verse....

    The infallible autopsy 
  • In "Suspicions", Crusher's Ferengi scientist friend supposedly commits suicide, but obviously that's not true. Crusher wants to do an autopsy to prove it, but that would be against his family's wishes. She does it anyway, and finds nothing. Why did she ever resort to that in the first place? Did she forget about all the super-advanced medical equipment that can provide hyper-detailed imaging of the entire body and its internal structure? It's not like she needs a direct look at his organs. We've seen sensors identify scarring from surgical procedures on bone tissue. Are dead people impervious to sensors or something?
    • Could be that she took samples of things like skin, blood, and other fluids/tissues from his body to perform tests on. Running tests on a piece of the body would be more conclusive than mere scans, since the tests could break down the tissue and detect things like chemicals or other abnormalities.
    • Even in Star Trek the scanners aren't omniscient. They can tell if you have a broken bone, a malignant mass, elevated blood pressure, etc., but certain things may still require cutting the body open, at the very least to scan it from close up rather than through a lot of layers of flesh. They sometimes can do scans that even go down to the molecular level, but this is always portrayed as a very long, very computer-intensive process... which Crusher couldn't do because she didn't have the time and she didn't want to tip anyone off that she was doing it.
    • According to Dr. Bashir in DS9's The Passenger, yeah, tricorders do kind of suck at scanning dead people.
    • More general inconsistencies in technology and methods in the show, I suppose. It was also a bit of early installment weirdness, since the episode implied the Ferengi had a very sacred ritual involving death and handling of bodies, whereas DS9 simply said their bodies are freeze dried into a powder and sold off in containers, meaning that an autopsy on a body would not matter one way or the other to anyone.
      • I like the potential that different Ferengi have different death rituals; it turns them from the profit-at-any-cost-and-we-hate-our-women monoculture that they would develop over on Deep Space Nine into a race with layers. Flanderization is unfortunately Trek's
biggest weakness.
  • No, actually, it makes sense that an autopsy would upset the Ferengi; it means potentially less flesh to chop off and sell as souvenirs. Maximize the profit!

     So...We're Not Going to Talk About the Crewmen We Just Killed? 
  • In “Cause and Effect,” Enterprise depressurizes its main shuttlebay as an emergency means of maneuvering to avoid a collision. We’ve never seen the main shuttlebay on-screen, but it is, by all accounts, huge—and that must be true, because jettisoning the atmosphere in that facility was enough to propel a huge starship a significant distance in a very short amount of time. One question’s been bugging me, however, and I think the episode intentionally avoided alluding to it: were there people in there, and what happened to them if there were?
    • Presumably if there had been people in there, they could have transported them out on the quick. Since we don't hear anyone give the order to do so, we are left to presume that it happened to be unoccupied at the time... we hope.
    • This is what being a Red Shirt is all about! Seriously, the Enterprise-D is so heavily automated that Data can basically run the entire ship in a pinch! The thousand or so extra crew members are mostly just sacrificial lambs waiting to be offered to the Gods of Negative Space Wedgies! If Janeway hadn't been stuck with a non-replaceable skeleton crew she'd have been blowing them out of the shuttle bay for kicks on a regular basis!
      • Several episodes of Voyager have strongly indicated that most of the crew of a 24th century starship are there to maintain it. Whenever the ship gets abandoned for some reason, it seemingly begins to fall apart almost immediately.
      • Voyager was dispatched on a Maquis hunting expedition. Thus, it did not have the full complement of scientific and support personnel a ship like Enterprise has. It was intended to hunt down the Val Jean and then return to base. Getting dragged to the Delta Quadrant was not in the mission plan. Enterprise has more crew performing a wider range of tasks.
    • The ship was in deep space at the time, nowhere near any planets or anything, just going from one system to another. It's likely that in such a situation all three shuttlebays would be on standby, empty and locked, because there would be no need for the shuttles to actually be doing anything.
      • On the other hand, they knew that there was a good chance that they were flying into situation that could destroy the ship. They could have easily decided it would be prudent to keep their shuttles on hot standby for a potential evacuation.
    • Isn't this implicitly explained by Picard initially choosing Data's option over Riker's? Riker immediately thinks of an option with a high risk of killing people in the cargo bay. Moments later, Data suggests the tractor-beam. Picard, being more experienced than Riker, immediately sees the flaw in Riker's plan and so chooses Data's. But as it turned out, Riker's plan was the necessary plan, possibly killing several crewman to save the ship.
      • Uh, not really. Picard just seemed to think the tractor beam was more likely to work. And it would have if Data had cut "Captain, I suggest we use the tractor beam to alter the other ship's trajectory" down to, "Sir, suggest using the tractor beam on the other ship," and said it quickly instead of ponderously.

     Clone of a clone of a clone of a clone... 
  • So, the Mariposans... What I don't understand is what made them think that cloning clones was a good idea? Why not just make clones purely from the original humans instead of cloning from the last clone? Is there some flaw in their cloning process that makes it only possible to get a certain number of clones from a particular donor instead of the literally billions they should have been able to get? In fact, fiction in general seems to have this sort of thing happen a lot.
    • As far as I can remember the Mariposians do not have warp travel capability and all of the original members of the expedition are dead. They had no choice but to clone the clones.
    • No, I mean why don't they just clone from the original five? Since the human body possesses billions of cells most of which could be used to clone from unless they have the most inefficient cloning technology ever they should've been capable of getting literally billions of viable clones out of a single person, and then billions more out of the resulting clones.
    • It would depend on how their cloning technology works. From the look of things, they were fast-growing the clones directly to adulthood. This would make sense. The original five survivors would not have been able to care for lots of kids. The accelerated growth may be a factor in their genetic deterioration. Likewise, they might not have not retained the necessary technology to preserve the cells of the original templates at the time. Contrary to popular belief, cellular material does break down when frozen. This is why science-fiction technology is necessary to do the Human Popsicle thing. Depending on what equipment survived the crash, they may not have had certain technology for the first few generations, and by the time they had started to advance again they had become culturally inclined to produce "offspring" by taking samples from one generation and using it to make the next. When the problems became chronic, it was too late and they no longer had any viable cell samples from the founding generation left.
    • Yeah, but preserving the original cells wouldn't be necessary. The problem is that after many generations of copies, errors would have set in, and the errors would be passed on to the next generation with more to be added on. Eventually, there would be too many errors to make viable babies. BUT this presumes the errors can't be corrected. Genetic engineering is a thing in the 24th century. Even if the Mariposans don't have it, the Federation does, and while using it to enhance a kid's abilities is strictly verboten, I wouldn't think they'd have a problem with just correcting damage. So you just need a blueprint that shows what the clones' DNA would look like without errors. Like a complete genetic scan kept on file from the original five Mariposans.
      • Incidentally, it's implied in TNG: "Genesis," and confirmed in DS9: "Doctor Bashir, I Presume" that genetic engineering is allowed in the Federation to treat genetic diseases and defects. Presumably, that means using it to stabilize or correct the Mariposan's genetic drift would be legal.

Negative Space Wedgie/Timey-Wimey Ball of the Week

     Temporal Anomaly Goes Up, Temporal Anomaly Goes Down 
  • In "All Good Things", if the anomaly is some sort of backwards-traveling collision between time and anti-time, why does the Future Enterprise need to go back to the Devron system to see it form ~10 minutes later when they can't see it the first time? Wouldn't this magical backwards growing anomaly be bigger when they first got there than when it had only just formed?
    • The best explanation is that is travels backwards *and* forward through time and they initially got there when it was still too small to be seen then when the Futureprise came back it had grown to a detectable size.
    • I always thought the anomaly was observed as increasing in size in all three time periods, despite the fact that it's actually growing backwards in time, partly because we can't observe it properly with our limited senses. That may be why they couldn't see the anomaly at first, because it hadn't "started" yet.

     He doesn't go on the away mission, but they still meet anyway 
  • In Time's Arrow, we learn Guinan came aboard the Enterprise in the first place because she met Picard in Earth's past. However, in Yesterday's Enterprise, in the alternate timeline the Enterprise-D gets shot at by the Klingons to the point of destruction (yes, the worst we saw was the bridge going up in flames, but it's implied the ship was about to be blown up) and it's unlikely anyone would have survived that (and if they did, the Klingons would either have taken them prisoner or killed them). So if Time's Arrow never happened in that timeline, why would Guinan come on board the Enterprise to meet Picard in the first place (aside from the real world reason that they hadn't made Time's Arrow yet)? Or maybe I'm just assuming too much.
    • In a season 2 episode, Wesley asks Guinan about her past, mentioning one rumor that she previously knew the Captain. She responds that she didn't know the Captain until she came onboard, though whether that's misdirection or the truth is debatable. This Troper took it to mean that Guinan simply came onboard the ship as a bartender or other support staff and it simply happened to be Picard in command. They obviously had some sort of chemistry, based on how Guinan described their relationship to Riker in The Best of Both Worlds.
    • That is a seriously interesting question. It's hard to get one's head around these temporal mechanics questions, but is it possible that Guinan met the Picard from the uninterrupted/corrected timeline that includes "Time's Arrow" even in the "Yesterday's Enterprise" timeline, since their divergence point of those timelines was 2344 and thus left the 19th century untouched?
    • Perhaps one of the strange abilities the El-Aurians are implied to have is ripple-effect-proof memory.
    • Times Arrow wasn't when they first met. Oh, this was when they technically met; but Picard had no idea about the events of this mission until years after she first came on board. They must have encountered each other for a second time - and for the timeline to work in both universes it would have been on the Stargazer in my opinion. Klingon War Picard was incredibly gruff compared to his Prime Counterpart but nevertheless I just can't imagine him refusing to help a woman in need. After he helped her out they both went their separate ways until she was either coincidentally assigned to the Enterprise or she deliberately sought him out to complete the time loop (although both are not mutually exclusive).

     Why kill Yuta? 
  • In "The Vengeance Factor", Riker finds out his sex bunny of the week, Yuta, is going around killing descendants of the clan that wiped out hers. He goes to stop her with a phaser. Alone. Without, say, Worf or Data. He tries to get her to call the vendetta off. She refuses, and keeps going after her target until Riker shoots her with a blast that vaporizes her. There was no middle ground here? Like wrestle her to the ground to keep her away from the target? Does she have super strength? Literally her only weapon was a virus engineered to kill members of the other clan and no one else. Even if touching her would have given Riker the virus (and he already had touched her), he'd just need to avoid touching this guy he'd never see again. No other option is considered. While the lower level phaser blasts don't knock her out, they do slow her down. How about getting the target away from her while keeping her immobile? Riker tells him not to move! And he doesn't! Neither does literally anyone else. Picard is right there — he doesn't try to tackle her or anything. Or...beam her to another location? Beam her victim away? There's at least a dozen ways to resolve this that don't involve killing her. It's almost as if the writers wanted Riker to have to kill her, but didn't want to create a situation in which there was no time to find another way, because then they wouldn't have been able to look tearfully into each other's eyes as Riker begs her to stop.

     Radiation on the Sutherland 
  • In "Redemption" Data orders the Sutherland's phasers to be brought on-line. His first officer, Hobson, objects that this will flood three decks with radiation and accuses Data throwing people's lives away. The rest of the episode makes no mention of people having died. It seems to me that if they had, Data himself would have said it when submitting himself for disciplinary action later, but he instead focuses on his having broken orders from Picard. I remember being confused by this plot point when first watching this episode as a child, and it was just as confusing on re-watch recently. So, what's the deal here? Did Data actually kill people in this episode? It seems to me that whether he did or didn't significantly changes both the morality of his actions and the justification of Hobson's objections. And why didn't the episode bother specifying either way? Was it just bad writing, something carelessly dropped during editing, or was it left ambiguous on purpose?
    • We see in Counselor Troi's bridge exam that part of being a commanding officer in Starfleet is the right to sacrifice crewmen for the greater good. If that was deemed to be the case here, then not only would Data be fine, but in Starfleet's eyes, Hobson was in the wrong. I agree that it should have been mentioned though and honestly it seems to me something that may have been added as an afterthought given how irrelevant it is.
    • It's not well telegraphed, but I think we're meant to infer that Data believes there's a very good chance that the Sutherland is about to find herself in one hell of a firefight with the Romulans. With the rest of the fleet moving away, Data absolutely needs what are simultaneously the ship's primary anti-spacecraft, and primary point defense weapons ready at a moment's notice, or he might not be able to get anyone out alive. Data's a living calculator, so he's probably run the odds and determined that he's safeguarding more lives than he's endangering by arming phasers. It's also likely that Hobson is using a bit of hyperbole to make his point. He doesn't expect the radiation to literally kill everyone on those decks, but he's understandably appalled at the notion of those crew members getting a huge dose of radiation—which, remember, is still dangerous, but with proper medical care, seems to be pretty treatable in the Trek universe.

Meta

    Star Trek: The Next Two and a Half Generations 
  • Why do they call the Next Generation, the Next Generation? A generation is thirty years. If the show is set eighty years after Kirk, it should be called the Next Two-And-A-Half Generations.
    • Because it was a generation later (roughly) in Real Life.
      • 'Generation' isn't a term applying only to humans, eg, the Nimitz class carriers use '4th generation' reactor cores, even though it's been a lot fewer than 100 years since the nuclear reactor was invented.
      • But that doesn't work either, because the next generation of ship after the original series was the Excelsior-style ships, which are still in-use during TNG but obviously more-than-a-little old and creaky by that point.
      • And the Ambassador-class represented another full generation of capitol ship between the Excelsior and the Galaxy.
      • Bear in mind that the show is not called: Enterprise: The Next Generation (thank God).
    • Maybe they were thinking of Vulcan generations...
    • A generation is ''generally considered" thirty years. Obviously they were using the term "next generation" somewhat informally to mean "the next stage in the process".
    • Because The Next Generation sounds better than The Next Two-And-A-Half Generations. Plus, humans live longer in the TNG future, so their generations could be longer than ours.
    • If it's any consolation, the Germans caught on to that and named it Das nächste Jahrhundert (The next century).
    • For that matter, why call it Star Trek? Only twice did they come close to a star, with that special Ferengi shield. They spend most of their time in empty space, should be called "Space Trek" or something.
    • Perhaps because in the Trek 'verse, the human life span is longer than it is in the real world today? Or perhaps because the 'Next Generation' part refers to being the 'next generation' of star trek (the show itself not the in verse characters)?
    • I think it's the Enterprise. If I remember correctly, the Original Series's Enterprise was the C and TNG's is the D, so it's the Next Generation of the ship's crew.
      • You're not correct. The TOS crew was in the Enterprise (and later the Enterprise-A)
    • This is one of those odd discussions where somebody gets it right first thing, and nobody seems to notice. The generation in reference is ours, not that of the characters. Whether it is meant in terms of human generations or generations of a product (like, "Star Trek 2.0") it makes perfect sense.
  • A generation isn’t automatically defined by a thirty years period. You can talk about a generation if you have a group whose members (not necessarily human or living beings) have enough similarities between them and enough dissimilarities with those of the prior generation. The baby-boomers are usually identified as people born between 1945 and 1962, this is not a gap of thirty years. “The Next Generation” was the new generation on screen, not in-universe.
  • Spock is still alive in the time of TNG (Scotty too but they don’t know that and he is officially considered dead) so let’s suppose that all the members of the original TOS crew are (in some cases recently) dead for that moment, except Spock, so it makes sense it’s call the next generation, because the old generation was still alive until a few years before. Yes, Spock is alive, but Spock was an ambassador for that point and not a Starfleet official.

     Sonia Gomez 
  • Were there plans for Sonia Gomez that did not get realized? It's strange that she's introduced with fanfares of dialogue in "Q Who" and then appears more incidentally in "Samaritan Snare" like she's there for the long haul. Then, she disappears forever.
    • I think there was a conscious effort by the writers to establish a well-rounded 'C'-cast, for TNG. They were fairly successful with some characters like Chief O'Brien and Nurse Ogawa, but for whatever reason, Sonia Gomez just didn't stick around like some of the others did. Memory Alpha doesn't have much background information about the character, so it's probably safe to assume that there was never a grand plan for her.
    • Geordi told her "she wouldn't last long if she keeps bumping into walls." Perhaps she made a habit of spilling hot beverages on senior officers.
      • At least she's not on a Klingon ship; then her ultimate fate would be rather less ambiguous. (And rather more messy).
      • "The new officer spilt raktajino on me again, so I challenged her to a bat'leth duel. She will not trouble us again."
    • There is very little doubt that she was put off the ship not long after - the flagship is supposed to be the final destination of the best of the best. Someone who drinks around the control console for a reactor, spills said drink on the captain and then spends the rest of the time going to pieces over the situation is not someone who was going to manage to survive on a craft as dangerous as the Enterprise for long. She was apparently a good engineer according to Geordi so she most likely wasn't fired outright just transferred to another ship... which leads to a certain amount of Fridge Horror in that most of the fleet was destroyed at Wolf 359 not long after.

    Worf's Growing The Beard? Hole-y View screen Walls! 
  • This is actually more behind-the-scenes, but are still nagging questions
    • Worf's facial hair is shaped a LOT like a human's it makes me wonder why Michael Dorn didn't grow actual hair and bring down his makeup budget a bit.
      • A fake beard and a little spirit gum does not cost very much in a show with a budget like Star Trek. Besides which, it would mean that Michael Dorn would have to go around like that all the time, and he would look ridiculous. And finally, you try growing a beard like that and see how it works out for you.
      • I did. It looks great, and the hair too.. Difference is, I'm white. Worf has the kind of hair that I doubt Mr. Dorn could grow without a lot of straightener and a bit of peroxide..
      • My guess is Michael Dorn simply didn't want to. Perhaps he thought it would make him too recognizable in public, another theory is that his facial hair simply doesn't grow as smoothly as Worf's possibly being more curly and bushy and the constant upkeep would just be a chore.
      • It doesn't cost very much period. I can go to my local theatrical-supply store and pick up a beard that looks realistic from a foot away, with enough spirit gum to last a year, for less then twenty bucks (retail). It takes five minutes to put on, and less than that to remove. Given the amount of time and money they were throwing at his makeup, this is absolutely negligible.
    • If the front of the Enterprise-D set is just a big hole, how DID they did view screen shots, especially ones with a character in them?
      • Green screens? A different set?
      • When they need the view screen in the shot, they wheel in its proscenium and raise a blue screen (probably green screen later) behind it. If there aren't any actors interacting with it, they probably just use a stock matte over the transmission video.
    • Was it really necessary to have a big hole in the front of the set, when they could bring in equipment and stuff through the set's doors? There should have been more than enough room for the front camera.
      • It's not just the cameras. There's lighting equipment, for one thing. Plus the director needs to see everything that's going on, which would be difficult if the set were closed off. Makeup people would have to be there to do touchups for the non-human characters (and even the human characters). And there's more than one camera, so they all need room as well. Not to mention all the cables running to everything.
      • It's also noteworthy too remember that the series started in the mid-1980s. In 1987, television cameras looked like this. It would have been difficult to move those around the set, even with the amount of room that was shown to be in the front of the bridge. A modern television camera looks like this, and that allows for enclosed sets to be used more easily, with the director monitoring remotely in real time thanks to wireless broadcast of the signal. Combine the smaller camera with a steadicam mount, and you can have the camera operator roaming the set as needed. And if even that's too much, you can set up small remote-controlled cameras where the operators don't have to be in the same room either. But in 1987, that was still years away for television production.

    Geordi's VISOR Headaches 
  • We're told that Geordi has a headache almost all of the time. We're also told that he sees practically the entire EM spectrum basically all of the time. Would it have been possible to give the VISOR a "visible light only" mode and filter out the extraneous, pain-causing wavelengths (at least filter out most of the pain), perhaps with a temple button to toggle between the two modes?
    • Didn't he refuse several such options because he fount all that extra information useful?
    • Was it the extra information he was being fed, or just the fact that he had devices implanted in his temples? It's also funny to note that Le Var Burton's eyepiece was actually screwed to his temples which caused him actual pain. Adhesives or straps wouldn't work, somehow.
      • Uh, no, they were glued on.

    Making Picard French 
  • Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against the French but why did they go to the trouble of establishing Picard as a Frenchman and then cast a British Thespian who makes no effort to put on a French accent? He drinks English tea, he celebrates no French holidays, he eats no French food, he makes minimal reference of French culture and history. I'm not asking for some croissant eating stereotype who spends his free time in a beret and a necklace made of garlic but at least some effort would have been welcome. The only time his ethnicity is ever important is in Family and even then they could have set it anywhere else on the planet if they removed his vines.
    • The Live Action tv page of Reality Is Unrealistic provides an explanation. "It's common for French people who know English well to speak it in a British accent - Britain is, after all, the nearest English-speaking country to France. A French person speaking English with a British accent is no more unrealistic than is, say, a Mexican person who speaks English with an accent from the American south."
    • It's a couple hundred years in the future. I just assumed that by that point the French and English have spent so many centuries either invading or screwing each other that they're basically indistinguishable.
      • Isn’t he using the Universal Translator anyway? As far as we know he is speaking French.
      • The UT is integrated into the comm badge and as a passive system on Federation starships and facilities. That is probably also true of aliens with equal technology. If he was speaking French, then we wouldn't be able to understand him when he clearly doesn't have access to such things.
      • Then translation convenience applies, like when we see him speaking with his family in France (obviously they’re speaking French) or when Worf talks to other Klingons or Troi with her mother, in none of those circumstances are they speaking English.
    • They were going to, but Patrick Stewart said that he would sound ridiculous speaking with a French accent for 7 seasons.
    • The character was conceived before Stewart was cast. That's not an entirely adequate explanation (heck, they changed "Macha Hernandez" to "Tasha Yar" to reflect the ethnicity of the actress they cast) but I guess by the stage of production in which he was cast, they weren't inclined to change it. It's interesting to note that the first season made more out of him being French (his message "bon voyage, mon ami" to the Hood in "Encounter at Farpoint," his exchange about the French language and culture with Data in "Code of Honor," Minuet addressing him in French in "1001001"... he even says "merde" in "The Last Outpost"); it sort of plays like Early Installment Weirdness now.

    Gates Mc Fadden's departure and return 
  • Why did Gates McFadden (Dr Crusher's actor) not return for season 2? Did she not want to return or did the people in charge tell her to go away? And how/why did she return for season 3 and onward? Fans demanding her to return?
    • There was apparently disagreement between her and some of the higher-ups about the direction her character was to go, so the producers let her out of her contract early. She left, took a bit part in The Hunt for Red October and another in a play and then returned to teaching. Fan response to her replacement (Doctor Pulaski) was poor and there was a letter-writing campaign asking for her to return. Patrick Stewart and executive producer Rick Berman were also in favor of her returning. Presumably whatever creative differences led to her leaving were worked out. Read all about it.
      • Apparently there was one specific higher up that didn't like her, and he left by the end of season 2. Between that, the fact that Pulaski wasn't received well (plus the fact the actress herself didn't enjoy being on the show either), and that Berman and Stewart wanted her back, she was offered the role again.
      • Just for the record, it has been alleged that the producer in question, Maurice Hurley, was in fact sexually harassing her. This is according to writer Tracy Tormé; to the best of my knowledge McFadden has never commented on this claim either way. Everyone does seem to agree now that, one way or the other, Hurley was the reason and that his departure allowed her return.

    Wot no Tasha Yar in Parallels? 
  • Given Denise Crosby has returned to make guest appearances as Tasha on at least two occasions (as an alternate universe version of her in "Yesterday's Enterprise" and as her in the past before she died in "All Good Things..." given the fact "Parallels" seems to play on minor differences in the TNG timeline, couldn't they have her make a cameo in which she hasn't died? Did the actress not agree to take part at that point? Or with her being the old security officer, would it perhaps have made things too awkward/noticeable for Worf? Or what?
    • The people in charge said that they decided against bringing Tasha back for "Parallels" as it was too reminiscent of "Yesterday's Enterprise".
    • They did try to make up for it by bringing back Wil Wheaton instead.

    Alt!Worf promoted ahead of Alt!Data? 
  • In "Parallels", Worf ends up in a timeline where he is First Officer and Data is still Ops Officer. How did that happen? Data has a higher rank than Worf.
    • In the real timeline, even Troi gets promoted above Data. Either Data is just not ambitious enough to put himself forward for promotion, or that Starfleet still has some lingering robophobia.
      • Troi getting promoted to Commander in the first place, let alone rising to the rank before Data, Worf and La Forge is one of the biggest oh come the fuck on moments in the entire franchise. And frankly that is a provable fact considering this promotion eventually ends up with her destroying half of the Enterprise by aiming the saucer section directly into the path of a planet instead of flying up, down, left or right to easily escape the exploding secondary hull.
      • Troi's Bridge-Commander test does contain some hilarious foreshadowing for Star Trek: Generations though, when in all her attempts prior to Riker dropping some pretty big hints on how to pass, she does destroy the Enterprise.
      • This is a variation of the Affirmative Action Girl trope. A long-standing issue with Trek was the tendency of command officers to be male. The trio on the Enterprise was Picard, then Riker, then Data, the latter two having been proven in action to be qualified for command (and Riker having turned down repeated offers of a captaincy). But this resulted in the female characters occupying stereotypical gender roles (Crusher and Troi) or having low rank or no rank (Ro Laren, Guinan and Keiko O'Brien). Thus there was a sense that things needed to be better balanced. Unfortunately, Troi had been written very poorly for so long that it simply stretched credibility. Especially since the test was being administered by her ex-boyfriend. Given the obvious favoritism that such a situation makes possible, it was ridiculous that Starfleet would consider the test results valid. Also, Troi had been written as a semi-civilian for most of the series run, not even wearing a uniform. It would have been better if they had written her as a civilian psychologist/sociologist working on the Enterprise as a representative of the Federation (and not just Starfleet). At the very least, the writers got better with writing credible Action Girls in future series, with Kira Nerys and Jadzia Dax in Deep Space Nine, and Janeway (and to a lesser extent Belanna) in Voyager.
    • It could be that Data rose quickly through the races and got to Lt. Commander quickly (look how quickly Geordi managed this), and from there was relatively happy with where he was. Data is not one for ambition for its own sake, after all.
      • For the record, Data graduated the academy in 2345 and then became a Lt. Commander by 2360. He still held the same rank by 2379. Troi graduated the academy in 2359. In 2370 she became a Commander. So, even if we ignore the 19 years of Data at the same rank, it took Troi less time to make Commander than it did for Data to make Lt. Commander.


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