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Headscratchers: Star Trek: The Next Generation
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Characters:

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. 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.
      • 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.
    • 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.

    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 cornyness.
      • 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.

Commander William Riker

    So you want to be a starship captain? 
  • Early on it was established that Riker was supposedly an ambitious, up and coming, young officer whose goal was to become a starship captain. In fact, in the episode "Haven" this is explicitly stated as the reason why Riker and Troi broke up, so that he could pursue his career. Yet it was subsequently revealed that Riker had in fact been offered promotions repeatedly and kept turning them down in favor of remaining First Officer of the Enterprise! What was the deal with that? Did Starfleet not offer him sufficiently cool starships, instead trying to put him in command of old Miranda and Excelsior class starships like the Melbourne? Was he holding out for an offer of a newer Nebula or Galaxy class ship? Or did he really want the Enterprise itself? In that last case, wouldn't it have been a good idea to actually ask Picard if he ever planned to move on from his position and create a vacancy in the captain's chair? Riker would go on to spend a mind-blowing 14 years as First Officer on two versions of the Enterprise! How does that match up with his alleged ambition and desire to attain a command?

    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?
    • 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!
      • Rank isn't directly determined by suitability or capability, though position sure is. 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 D Emoting him.
      • 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! They were completely blindsided by how many officers decided to run off to join the Maquis for example.
    • 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 favour of someone else for no justifiable reason.
      • 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 a problem with Starfleet itself.
  • 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.

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 emphasises 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.

    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 counsellor (such as a Master's degree in Social Work or Counselling) 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.

Lieutenant 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?

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 tendancy 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?

    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.

Technology

General

    Eh, a thousand people on board, who cares if we're missing a few? 

  • Why doesn't the Enterprise computer immediately inform the crew if a member of its complement is missing? Troi and Riker had to figure out for themselves that Q had abducted Picard in "Q Who", and there were all sorts of unexplained disappearances/reappearances in "Schisms" before the crew caught on and told the computer to monitor them. This seems like a fairly standard security feature to me!
    • I'm certain Q could make the computer neglect to mention Picard has suddenly vanished and it could be that the extradimensional aliens had a similar means of bypassing that security feature.
    • Geordi mentions in passing in Galaxy's Child that the "computer is notorious for not volunteering information" after he hits on a woman whose lifestory he knew except for the fact she was MARRIED. Also could be the consideration that the combadges only measure location, not lifesigns, and there are very few methods someone could appear and/or disappear from the ship without anyone knowing about it (enemy transporters have energy signatures, local transporters have logs, hull breaches would be detected, shuttlecraft would be logged, etc). Typically, losing a combadge could simply result in a notice "Attention, Ensign Ricky's commbadge has malfunctioned. Please issue a new commbadge." Now, things such as duplicate commbadges or new commbadges not previously logged appearing in the system may generate alerts.

    Trusty Phasers Over Hokey Ancient Resonators? And About Those Romulan Psychics... 
  • Gambit. When Tallera turned the psionic resonator on Picard and told him to "Pick up the phaser. See what good it will do," and later the armed security team arrives from the Enterprise, Picard tells them to put down their weapons, but what good would the resonator do if the starfleet officers (or the mercenaries earlier) had shot first? Also why is it that the Vulcans have telepathy while the Romulans do not, when the Romulans are more prone to reading/screwing with peoples minds and this episode seems to establish that they did have telepathy before branching off from the Vulcans?
    • Possibly they still do, but don't use it. Vulcans seen on Enterprise don't use their telepathic abilities until the Syrannite movement gains influence; if they had gone a few thousand more years without interference from outside sources (which the xenophobic Romulans almost certainly did) they may have forgotten they ever existed, especially if the history was altered. Also, consider the fact that Vulcans have such strong emotions that even temporary loss of control can drive them insane. Romulans do not have this handicap; perhaps they turn their psychic abilities inward somehow to give them the control that their hat so desperately demands.
    • In my opinion, there are at least two likely reasons. The first is that Picard wanted no further casualties (particularly from his own team). That seemed to be the obvious thing he was doing. The second (and more opinionated here) is that Picard winning an intellectual victory with the security team complicit in it makes the defeat all the more crushing.
      • While Romulans are an offshoot of the Vulcans, they are not the same species. In fact, there are enough genetic differences to make blood transfusions from one to the other impossible. And other species were mentioned on Gambit that were extinct offshoots of the Romulans. Perhaps the Romulans, in their journey to their new homeworld, encountered and bred with another species. Maybe their telepathy disappeared as a result. That would also account for the ridges Romulans possess.
      • I've always figured it was some interbreeding with Klingons. It would explain why Worf of all people could give a blood transfusion to a Romulan, their forehead ridges, and their seeming differences with Vulcans (lack of psychic powers, advanced mental abilities), though not the seeming lack of greater physical abilities (Vulcans being 3x stronger than humans). It would also make sense within the context of the more brutish Remans, their former alliance with the Klingon Empire, and their eventual falling out with said empire.
    • Didn't the resonator kill people who had aggressive thoughts? I don't remember the exact sequence of events, but "the phaser won't do you any good" would reference that phaser = aggression = you die. Similarly Picard tells his security team to drop their weapons because if they acted aggressively towards Tallera, she could kill them. It's a Sheathe Your Sword solution.

    We're Fighting Wolf- 359 By the Book! Yeah, the Book the Borg Just Stole and Read! 
  • Wolf 359: After having the captain of the freaking flagship captured and mind probed for tactical info, including shield frequencies and hull composition, plus all known manuevers, why did the Federation set up its defense of earth "by the book"? They got mowed down like kittens vs. a chainsaw. Couldn't you have saved thousands of lives by having the first ship, or even the first 3 ships, abandoned by their crews and have the computers pilot them into the Borg ship at warp 9?
    • Snark that. Wolf 359 is an uninhabited star system, right? Lure the Borg cubes deep into the system using decoy emitters to look like your fleet, then nova the damn sun.
      • Warp or even high impulse probably makes such an effort meaningless, and now there is a supernova clearing out the Fed Core worlds...
      • Make a sun in a system 7.8 light years from Earth go nova? Yeah, that's a great idea ::Face Palm::
      • Like all great Borg-smashing plans, this would've worked -once. But I doubt the Borg would've sent the Entire collective (which is impossibly huge and made up of millions of worlds, don't forget) after the fleet at the same time. At most they might destroy a good percentage of the Borg in one go.
      • Oh nonsense. I am sick and tired of this masturbatory fantasy that the Borg become invincible against anything they've already encountered. It is canon fact that the Borg are only capable of adapting to ENERGY WEAPONS. Kinetic weapons like simple bullet-firing guns cut right through the Borg's much-vaunted "adaptation". And if the kinetic energy from a bullet can get through, the kinetic energy from an explosion can too.
      • Have they ever been shot with actual bullets? Also, Worf of all people was able to jury rig a defense against holographic bullets in a Fistful of Datas. I would hope the Collective could manage something similar.
      • Yeah, but a race of machines capable of adapting to energy weapons figuring out that 'Hey maybe we should build/upgrade our personal shields to do something about bullets' isn't exactly a stretch either. Also, as far as the original point goes, it's pretty easy to adapt to someone blowing up a sun on your fleet. Namely, DON'T SEND YOUR FLEET NEXT TO A SUN AND THEN WATCH IT EXPLODE.
      • If the Borg were at all capable of adapting to projectile weapons, why haven't they done so already? This idea that Borg can adapt to anything is quickly ceasing to be a legitimate technology and becoming a full-blown superpower. Any technology, no matter how advanced, has limits. The Borg are extremely formidable but they are not invincible. Their ability to adapt to weapons is not magic, it is science. More to the point, we've seen that the Borg's ability to adapt has limits in ST:FC. They were utterly helpless against Picard's holographic tommy gun. They were unable to adapt when Worf sliced a drone's neck open with a bladed weapon. And they were unable to survive the explosion of the Enterprise-E's deflector dish even though the Borg have undoubtedly been exposed to countless explosions in the past. The Borg are not invincible, the Federation is just incompetent.
      • Vulnerability to Picard's holographic tommy gun is consistent with how Borg defenses have been shown to operate. It typically requires a couple of deaths to mediate a full defense. Worf was able to jury rig a defense against a similar attack in a holodeck mishap episode.
      • Beyond the idiotic notion the Borg can adapt to ANY energy weapon - if this were true, then why the hell did they get exploded by 8472 REPEATEDLY? Oh, sorry - did their magical adaptation not work there? Oh, yes - they were using biotechnology... sorry again. How'd they manage to explode that cube in First Contact then? Yeah, even hack Star Trek writers didn't make it an amazing infinite power.
      • Borg ships have shields now? I've never seen any SFX in that regards, it's just energy weapons/torpedos hacking away at thick hull plating. Though I must concur that it was mentioned at one point or another. Then again, one TNG episodes also states that the Klingons joined the Federation (the episode in S2 where Picard needs to get heart surgery).
      • On the adaptability note: The tommy gun on the holodeck was holographic. The bullets were nothing more than a (lethal) holographic projection. Maybe the Borg reactive tech was overloaded with a simultaneous imput of data stating that the drone was assaulted with both kinetic damage and energy damage at the same time from the same source (namely, the bullet). In other words: does not compute, Borg suffers from a catastrophic short circuit.
      • No. The fact that Picard was holding it in the very least suggests it wasn't made of light. Tactile objects are replicated.
      • That simply isn't true. In Star Trek (as opposed to the real world), "holographic" objects do indeed have weight and cohesion, and are made up of (to borrow an abused phrase) "photons and forcefields." This may not make a ton of sense, but it's canon. Furthermore, note that Picard states outright "I disengaged the safety protocols. Without them even a holographic bullet can kill."
      • It only needs to work once to buy the Federation a few more years, and more importantly, keep 99% of their fleet from dying needlessly. Also, the Borg's capacity to adapt has to have an upper limit somewhere, and exploding suns should damn well be above it.
      • Keeps 99% of the fleet intact and wipes out Earth. Talk about destroying the village in order to save it.
      • Quite so - the Borg's ability to adapt seems to become irrelevant when you use sufficient fire power - First Contact and Species 8472 seem to be good examples of raw power trumping the ill defined adapting.
      • Bet this wouldn't've happened if Samantha Carter was in charge.
      • You blow up just one sun...
      • What good would a few more years have done assuming that the Borg decide to send the entire Collective after you? You might take a few more of them down with you with bigger and badder weapons, but they'd still wipe you out - all indications from the show were that the Federation was sufficiently far enough from the center of the Collective that they could let them have their small victories against one or two cubes, because that's pretty much a drop in the bucket as far as they're concerned.
      • Your entire argument is based on the completely unsourced assumption that blowing up the Borg cube without losing 99% of their fleet in the process would somehow lead to the entire Borg Collective deciding to make an immediate Zerg Rush. What was that word I just italicized?
      • That would be "without".
      • This is actually supported indirectly in Voyager. The Borg were shown to come in force with multiple Cubes against a race that had developed Quantum Slipstream technology (a tech that put them at a dangerous strategic parity with Borg transwarp tech). It appears they are willing to play with their food, (and at the cost a single Cube, the Federation now has dozens of new techs/capabilities/techniques that they wouldn't have gained when they inevitably assimilate them), but once a legit threat materializes they will bring down the hammer.
      • And for an idea of what it would be like if/when the Borg did Zerg rush the Federation, read the Star Trek: Destiny trilogy! Outstanding books.
      • Hey, not so much. The Federation had, to that point, never demonstrated the ability to do more than poke around aboard inactive Borg cubes, and run the hell away from active ones. Had Wolf 359 gone very differently, if say the cube had arrived in-system and gotten halfway through its routine status update before being blown entirely out of space by some new and heretofore unsuspected Federation superweapon, it seems very probable that the next appearance of non-rogue, non-isolate Borg would've been a lot sooner than First Contact.
        Consider it in light of the Collective's interest in assimilating newer and better technology. The way it actually did go, one Borg cube slaughtered forty of Starfleet's finest ships without even breaking a sweat, then proceeded unhindered to Sector 001, and was stopped from assimilating the Federation's homeworld by a security hole which the Enterprise crew was able to exploit only through the blind good fortune of having brought along a better hacker than the Borg had. And then the Collective ignored the Federation pretty much entirely, the special case of Voyager excepted, for the better part of the next decade. That certainly didn't happen because of Starfleet's indomitable military might, and I don't see a better explanation than that the Collective didn't regard the Federation as being worth all that much effort — hence only sending one cube to Earth. As we see from Voyager's exploration of the Collective's Delta Quadrant activities, it could just as easily have been five cubes or fifty, but it wasn't; apparently, all those other cubes had better things to do. Had Starfleet demonstrated some radically new technological capability at Wolf 359, something capable of one-shotting a vessel which previously they could barely even hope to scratch, it seems virtually certain that the Borg would've regarded the Federation as a much more valuable target, and reacted accordingly.
      • It seems the Borg like to test races with a bunch of if/then steps. If they are uninteresting in the initial encounter, they are likely ignored (probably what happened to the Kazon). If they are interesting, then send a Cube. If it assimilates them, then you have a whole planet or interstellar society that you found interesting enough to bother sending a Cube for. If it fails, then necessity being the mother of invention, you've just driven a society that could stop a Cube into overdrive making all kinds of interesting techs and developing new strategies (just look at how much more capable post DW Starfleet is compared to early TNG), all for the cost of eminently replaceable drones and a single Cube. Now if the species is REALLY feeling their oats and actually develop some Borg busting tech (like Quantum Slipstream) the Collective has been shown to send a dozen Cubes to finish the job, one of the few things Voyager did right by the Borg.
      • ^Basically this. The Borg are very efficient, they don't waste resources if they don't have to use them. With the first encounter with the Enterprise had their scans of the ship shown that the Enterprise was a match for a single Borg Cube, but could not sucessfully defend itself against three Cubes, then than Cube would have waited until two more arrived and then proceeded to assimilate the ship. Likewise with First Contact the Cube there was powerful enough to take on all those federation ships, and was only defeated because Picard got involved and informed everyone of the Borg's key weakness (which you can bet would be fixed on all future Cubes heading to the Alpha Quadrent). No matter the situation, the Borg will only send as many ships as are strictly needed for that situation and no more than that.
      • Also, the whole 'make the sun go nova' plan only works if you have a weapon that can make a star go nova - at the time of the Battle of Wolf 359, there were no indications of the Federation having any technology capable of doing so.
      • Or, for that matter, if the star in question is capable of going nova, which isn't something stars just do (and it's arguably impossible for a red dwarf like Wolf 359 to do so; they're fully convective and can't produce the "hydrogen flash" of a white dwarf going nova).
      • A starship on warp drive too close to a star has very bad effects, or so I seem to recall seeing mentioned in TOS. As to 'immediate mass assimilation', the Borg cube at Wolf 359 was already headed for Earth on a mission to do precisely that — the Federation literally had nothing left to lose.
      • There's non-canonical literature that talks about stars going nova when ships go to warp too near them, but all such literature is just that: non-canonical. Consider the 'slingshot effect', which requires a ship to travel at warp in very close proximity to a star — rather closer than one stellar diameter, judging by the photo in the linked article. Presumably, if this had a noticeably bad effect on the star, they'd have found some other place to do it than Sol. :)
      • And I don't think it's reasonable to say that the Federation 'had nothing left to lose'. Sure, all its headquarters are at Earth, plus Starfleet Academy, a couple of major shipyards — but what about Vulcan? What about Andor? Betazed? Trill? Bajor? What about the Bynars and the Bolians, like Mister Mot? What about the exocomps, and the Horta and all her kin? I'd be thrilled to see what the Federation might become in the wake of the Borg coming, wiping out most of Starfleet, assimilating Earth, Luna, and Mars...and then, satisfied they've picked the ripe low-hanging fruit, leaving. But who'm I kidding? That'll never happen...
      Picard: No, I know Hamlet. And what he said with irony I prefer to say with conviction: 'What a piece of work is man. How noble in reason. How infinite in faculty. In form and moving, how express and admirable. In action, how like an angel; in apprehension, how like a god!'
      • Soren blew up a sun in Generations, which means the Federation is technologically capable (he was using Federation technology). The problem is that a nova expands at the speed of light, and the Borg can move faster than that. If they did nova the sun, the Borg would just warp away.
      • Soren's method of blowing up a sun required stolen Romulan trilitium, which the Federation had never successfully synthesized. Well, there is the trilitium resin from the warp core, but this was probably a pure element version. Who knows? Anyway, while the solar probe was Federation tech, beyond that the materials were either stolen or designed by Soren.
      • You all assume that the "Battle of Wolf 359" actually happened in the Wolf 359 system. Just as the Battle of Trafalgar was actually fought in open water several miles from Cape Trafalgar, the Battle of Wolf 359 is probably so named because it was the nearest star to the battle site, even if that was a light-year or two away. The "Battle of X24, Y13, Z5.7" or whatever just doesn't have the same ring.
      • You can go to memorial of Wolf 359 in Star Trek Online and it is in fact in the system, although there's no good way to gauge the distance from the sun. But it's still far enough away from the star to make destroying it a futile effort since the Borg Cube can simply warp out of the system.
    • Also on the topic of Wolf 359, why did Guinan tell Riker to "let Picard go" when he was assimilated, if that would mean that the time loop that happened back in the late 1800s would have never occured?
      • I'd assume the El-Aurians use some form of the Temporal Prime Directive.
      • ...Or perhaps they're a minor version of the Time Lords of Gallifrey, and Guinan knew that telling Riker to seek the inner peace of letting Picard go was the only way to get him on the correct emotional path to achieve the victory whereby Picard ultimately was saved, and the timeline thus kept whole.
      • Guinan might not have known precisely when the Picard she met came from. It might've been a Picard from sometime over the past three seasons, and she just didn't hear about it because the mission was classified or something, or a Picard from an alternate timeline. Either way, she could've met him and he'd still be dead as a doorknob, and my guess is that she wasn't willing to presume that temporal mechanics would conspire to save him.
    • The problem here seems to be that Admiral Hanson was in severe denial about Locutus having access to Picard's mind. After learning about the plan Troi even said to him, in disbelief, "but if the Borg know everything he knows, then", and he abruptly cut her off with a story about how determined Picard was as a cadet, and how he could never be compromised by the Borg. Had Shelby or Riker been in charge of the Battle of Wolf-359, it might've gone a whole lot better.
    • To answer the question of why the Borg got owned by Species 8472, The Borg gain their resistances by assimilating the technology and people of a race. When the Enterprise first faced a Cube, it cut a nice little chunk out of the ship and pulled it into the cube, where it was analyzed and the details of the Enterprise were assimilated. That's why the Enterprise's photon torpedoes did nothing when the ship was being chased by the Cube before Q sent them back to the Alpha Quadrant. With Species 8472 (and this was explained in the two-parter "Scorpion"), the Borg were unable to assimilate either the beings or the bioships because of their incredible immune systems. Since the Borg couldn't assimilate them, they couldn't adapt to Species 8472's weapons and were easily destroyed.
      • Well, in Q Who we see the Borg adapt to handheld phasers before assimiliating any Federation technology, not to mention how unlikely it is that the section taken from the Enterprise had photon torpedoes or phasers on it (although I guess in the 'Trek universe it's plausible that you could extrapolate everything about a species' technology based on a randomly selected section of ship). While a working knowledge of how a weapon is constructed would make it easier to minimise its effects (although not entierly negate them because that would be stupid; although, having said that, the aforementioned shrugging off photon torpedo hits is also stupid because those things are antimatter warheads and the Borg never seem to be immune to big explosions in the future) it's probably not absolutely necessary in order to formulate a defence of some sort. Making assimilation the only means of adaptation just seems like example of why the Voyager writers shouldn't have been trusted to write the Borg
    • Speaking of Picard — He'd been throughly brainwashed by the Borg. Sure he apparently got better, but you have know way of knowing he won't snap back at the worst possible time, especially since (as per "First Contact") you haven't even managed to remove all of the Borg implants. On top of -that-, his knowledge and personality are presumably still bouncing around the Borg hive-mind somewhere. And yet he's given his command back as if nothing happened. I know Starfleet is only Mildly Military, but by any reasonable standard Picard would've been gently but -firmly- retired to spend more time with his archeology.
      • Trouble is Starfleet has just lost almost all of it's experienced officer cadre below commodore rank after Wolf 359, and is also about to embark on a massive upgrade (more ships, more people) they cannot afford to lose an experienced officer like Picard at this time. It isn't unbelievable him being kept on, the unbelievable part is none of his senior officers were forcibly promoted to their own commands (and why Sisko wasn't given instant promotion to Captain too). They probably thought just keep him away from the Borg if they come back, send him to watch comets in the Neutral Zone.
      • That's what happens. Borg swing by in First Contact, and where's the flagship? Staring at imaginary Romulans. Plus, he does end up taking some time off work after coming back..

    Tea, Hot... Well Duh! 
  • Whenever Captain Picard orders tea from the replicator he has to specify that he wants it hot. Isn't this unnecessary? After all, why would you want tea cold?
    • Well, there is such a thing as iced tea, after all...besides which, your more dedicated hot-drink aficionados do worry about temperature in re: altering the taste. Between this and the 'Earl Grey' thing, Picard's basically meant to be showing off his sipping snobbery.
      • OK, so why does Tom need to declare he wants his tomato soup hot? Don't tell me there's an iced tomato soup in the 24th century...
      • Gazpacho... soup...
      • You must be thinking of the famous Klingon Iced Tomato Soup. Heating your soup is for weaklings! (Klingon tomatoes, by the way, are easily distinguished by their wrinkled tops.)
      • And people are just downright weird when it comes to food. I am an avid fan of cold pizza, for example, which is not how it's supposed to be served, obviously.
      • So why doesn't Janeway need to say whether she wants her black coffee hot? Is iced coffee outlawed in the 24th century or something?
      • Maybe Janeway has preset her replicator so that the command "coffee" tells it to make it black and hot.
      • It's also how she likes her Vulcans.
    • It's because a person from the southern USA programmed all the Federation's holodecks (and wrote the scripts). Anyone from more temperate climes would not even consider ordering Earl Grey tea cold! (Then again, a proper tea drinker, such as Picard, would not even stoop to calling it tea either - and mostly would have programmed his holodeck to respond appropriately.)
    • Another question is why the replicator doesn't remember that he always drinks the same type of tea and give him that when he asks for just "tea".
      • It's probably a habit he got into long before joining Starfleet. You can program your own home replicators to always make your tea the same way (unless you're Arthur Dent), but every time you go out, you'll run into other systems that don't know your preferences.
      • You would think that when he started service on the Enterprise, that he would just spend five minutes telling the replicator what his idea of a perfect cup of tea is, and then every time after that he could just tap the hotkey labeled "PICARD_TEA_EARL_GREY".
      • True, but tea is a complex thing with a lot of volatile chemicals in it. No two cups are exactly the same, and the chemical reactions ongoing when a fresh cup of tea is made make for the ideal taste of tea. Picard, coming from a family of vintners, would know about subtlety of good tastes, and could be deliberately trying to throw the replicator off just enough to give him that hand-steeped experience. But not too off. You do not want to repeat Mr. Dent's mistake in arguing with a replicator about exactly how you want your tea to taste; then you just confuse it by flooding it with inputs it doesn't know what to do with.
    • Lampshaded in the series finale "All Good Things..." when Data's housekeeper asks Picard what kind of tea he wants. He replies as usual, and she says "Well of course it's going to be hot, how else would tea be made?"
    • It's likely that Picard has his replicator set to recognise the specific command string and will produce a specific temperature of tea, which is different from the Starfleet "default" for Earl Grey.
      • This. In "All Good Things," during one of the pre-Encounter Enterprise time sections, Picard asks the replicator for his signature drink: the computer responds "that beverage has not been programmed into the replicator."
    • In one of the early episodes, I seem to recall either the tea not being hot, or the replicator asking an inordinately long series of questions regarding how Picard wanted his tea, prompting him to ask for 'Tea, Earl Gray, Hot' specifically, each time.
      • You're right about the questions, he asked the replicator for tea and it asked what kind, then what temperature, and I think there was another question thrown in. Him saying "tea earl grey hot" is the equivalent of us talking very slowly to voice recognition software.
    • There was that episode where a Romulan defector ordered water, and the replicator demanded an exact temperature in Celsius. Whoever programmed them must have been really anal about these things.
      • More like the computer could tell he was specificying the exact temperature, but the computer wasn't programmed with a knowledge of Romulan units of measurement, since it was built when the Federation had had no contact with the Romulans in a long time.
    • In Voyager, the computer forces Tom Paris to specify how he wants "tomato soup" rather specifically. Federation food replicators of the 24th century may just be atrociously user hostile!
      • I think it's more that, as the replicator points out, it has something like 48 different varieties of tomato soup on record. (Do you want it with some little chunks of tomato in it? Do you want it with a bit of cheese flavoring? Do you want it with little crackers in?) Tom is just being a bit self-centered and assuming the way he likes his tomato soup is the default way tomato soup should be and thus when he says "Tomato soup" the replicator ought to spit out the exact kind he likes.
    • This could also be a bit of Fridge Logic: Isn't there something in Object-Oriented Programming that, to draw an analogy, has a string of "this is a code, then this is a code plus something else, then this code plus something else plus something else"? (Note, this is what someone told me, I know nothing about it) Any programmers here who can elaborate? This would make sense if what I (only vaguely) understand DOES apply to the way Picard orders. Tea plus Earl Grey plus hot defines what he wants.

    Universal Translator Limitations 
  • In "Loud As a Whisper" tension is created when the deaf Riva is rendered mute without his telepathic assistants. Data learns the sign language to enable communication. Is the universal translator only good for audio translation, not gestures?
    • Well unless the universal translator has a built in hologram emitter...
  • In "Allegiance" Picard is kidnapped by some aliens, along with other people from other species, one from a warlike race introduces himself. "My given name is Esoqq. It means 'fighter.' So shouldn't Picards UT render that as "My given name is Fighter. It means fighter."?
    • Using the context the translator wasn't translating a proper noun, only the definition that followed.
  • In "Disaster" Picard sings a song with the children with whom he is trapped in a turbolift as a way of distracting them from their predicament. The song, "Frere Jacques", is in French. But shouldn't it have been translated by the UT?

    Universal Lip-Dubbing Translators 
  • Loud As A Whisper - so I suppose the universal translator also modifies what people see when lip-reading?
    • Yes, it also automatically figures out the conversion for units, and rounds them so the result isn't something like 5.152362 hours when an alien is giving a length of time.
  • Because no show wants to look like an old kung-fu movie?
  • This episode is one of several that spotlight the absurdities of the UT. Where is it? How does it work? What happens to the sounds produced by a person when they speak in their native language — does the UT dampen them somehow and dub in a translation in the speaker's own voice? Even if we can accept something like this in a controlled setting like a starship, how does it work on a planet being visited for the first time? The UT is, maybe above all the rest, the single biggest "don't think about this too much" technology in all of Star Trek.
  • Which is why, in any reasonable Sci-Fi setting, a standard language is used, there are no translators, and there would be (a) linguist(s) on board a starship when unknown languages are encountered. The only way translators could be REMOTELY feasible is if they were an implant that interrupted audio and visual signals and altered them for the translation. Geordi's Visor could at least handle the visual element.
    • Translation Convention: "We are meant to assume that the characters are "really" speaking their own native tongue, and it is being translated purely for our benefit". In DS9's "Statistical Probabilities" we hear Weyoun speaking in his native "Dominionese" as well as in English and the lip movements are understandably different.
      • "The only way translators could be REMOTELY feasible is if they were an implant that interrupted audio and visual signals and altered them for the translation." Mass Effect takes this route, with their Translators being a PDA, hidden computer or subdermal implant that translates all audio to the user's native language (the lip-syncing to English is just to avoid Uncanny Valley and in universe their words and lip movements don't match up). The translation is handled by a large team of linguists who are constantly updating and refining the translations which are then sent to the translators in the field. It also has logical drawbacks, as some words can't be translated into some languages because there is no word that fits that definition, and some words are translated into the nearest match even though there is key difference in meanings, and they're useless in the case of first contact into a linguist can study the language to get a good understanding of it. If I recall the Star Trek UT works in a similar way, although it's an external source. As for how it can translate first contact encounters, keep in mind that the Federation is sending out probes to monitor other races, and the UT can figure out how a language works once it gets a large enough sample size for comparison.
    • Okay, people, again, say it with me (your lips can move in any synch you want): Star Trek is not hard sci-fi. Star Trek is not meant to be hard sci-fi. Star Trek doesn't even try to be hard sci-fi. Complaining that it doesn't follow the conventions of hard sci-fi like having extreme problems with language and such is like complaining that there's too much sex and not enough plot and dialog in a porn movie.
      • I broadly agree, except for that the existence of things like the official Star Trek technical manuals demonstrate that they do pay at least lip service to being hard science fiction. The problem is that they want to have it both ways — proudly boasting that they've worked out how the warp drive or the transporter works down to the last detail (even if they are fictional details), while having other technologies that are basically magic. Certainly, one should not be admonished for pointing out that much, which is not necessarily complaining.

    Transporter Tailors and the Fountain of Youth 
  • Rascals: Four crew members get reverted to childhood, with "a 40% drop in mass" through contact with a Negative Space Wedgie. But their uniforms and clothes still fit them perfectly? Did they get shrunk as part of the transformation?
    • Their uniforms do come out of the transport looking ill-fitting. In the next scene in sick bay, Ro mentions how she wants to be back in her old uniform- they must have replicated child-size uniforms during the credits.
      • The colothes looked fine to me when they were transported as kids. However, even if they did change once they were children, Picard does change back from a kid with his uniform perfectly fitting and Guinan and Keiko are both waiting in the wings with their child clothes on.
      • What about the rank pips and communicators? Does anyone remember if the ones they were wearing were scaled-down proportionately, or were they the same size as they usually are?
    • Forget about the uniforms for a second, what about that fountain of youth? They are able to reverse-engineer the transporter accident well enough in just one episode to return the crew to their original ages. This has staggering medical implications, but is never mentioned again. The entire plot of Insurrection could have been avoided if they could just zap people back into their twenties as soon as they hit, say, their fifties, but it's never mentioned again.
    • What about Picard's artificial heart?? Shouldn't an adult-sized heart within the chest of a child cause major problems?
      • Wow, that's a really fascinating question. I'm a layman, so I could be way off on this, but being a mechanical device rather than a natural tissue, the artificial heart is probably be a lot more resistant to pressure, and might even continue to function relatively normally if it suddenly has less room. And assuming that it's powered by some sort of super-advanced, futuristic battery, the body doesn't have to work to keep the heart beating, so it doesn't need to take in nearly as much oxygen. The lungs wouldn't need as much room to expand, so a smaller thoracic cavity might not be a huge problem. The biggest issue might be damage to the surrounding tissue as it suddenly shrinks. If Picard's vascular system shrinks to the size of a child's, but the heart it's attached to doesn't, that's probably going to damage a couple of blood vessels you really don't want to damage. But, if those blood vessels somehow stay intact, and he doesn't bleed out in seconds, he might be okay. It would still probably hurt like hell, though.

    Clairvoyant Communicators 
When a character presses his/her communicator and says something like "Crusher to Picard", it seems like the other character hears this in real time, as it is being said. How does the communicator know who you're talking to before you say their name?
  • Less impressively/buggy, communications all the way from ship-to-ship to the lowly combadge are also psychic about stopping a transmission. Automatic doors are similarly psychic throughout Trek, knowing whether you want to exit, how you are going to exit (right down to slipping through almost-closed doors?), are permitted to go through, and so forth... all before you ever approach them.
  • An even better question would be how does the computer know who you are calling, with only a last name to work with? Granted, there probably aren't too many members of the crew named 'Picard' but suppose you tap your badge and call 'Johnson'. Will you get the Johnson in Engineering, the Johnson in Astrometrics, or the civilian Johnson who works in the barber shop? Hell, it's enough of a shock that Picard never got put through to Wesley when he said "Picard to Crusher."
    • Call list priorities table. How many times did Picard want to speak to Dr Crusher? Hundreds. How many times did Picard (or anyone) want to speak to Wesley? Hardly any. Besides, I'm fairly sure that Picard called departments and got put through to the senior person there, rather than calling specific people.
      • Often he specifies 'Picard to Dr Crusher' or 'Picard to Ensign Crusher', but I can't recall how consistent that is with them both being around.
  • Ridiculously simple answer: The communicator hears "Crusher to Picard", immediately opens the comm channel, and echoes the sound clip of "Crusher to Picard" so that the recipient knows who's calling. Since we never see people using the communicators in split screen we're not really aware of this second or so of delay.
    • If memory serves, we did actually see the computer screw up in a way that supports this idea at least once. In the episode Time Squared, a Timey-Wimey Ball creates a duplicate shuttle pod who's lone occupant is an unconscious Picard. When a Riker sees the doppelgänger in the shuttlebay, he gives a shocked exclamation of 'Captain Picard?!' which causes the computer to open a channel to the Picard who is sitting on the bridge. The implication seems to be that the computer misinterpreted the exclamation as an intercom instruction.
    • There is also the inconsistency of having to press on the commincator to make it work. Sometimes, they just say "Riker to Worf" without having activated the communicator. It goes the same with replying. Sometimes they just speak when someone calls them and other times they press the communicator before responding.

    Subcutaneous communicators 
  • In the third-season episode "Who Watches the Watchers?", Riker and Troi are outfitted with subcutaneous communicators while infiltrating the Mintakan civilization. They can hear the person on the other line inside their head, and the bridge can constantly monitor them. If this technology is available, why doesn't everyone have a subcutaneous communicator? It would certainly be helpful in instances in which someone's captured and their combadge taken away, although I can also see the Big Brother aspect to it.
    • There could be any number of reasons. Maybe the subcutaneous communicators are strictly short-term (the body rejects them after a few weeks/months or something and no one wants to have a horse needle jammed into them every time their communicator dissolves). Maybe their range is limited compared to the regular badge coms. But most likely the crew just found the idea creepy. With today's technology we can implant a chip under your skin that has your entire medical history with all your allergies, all your past injuries, any pre-existing conditions you have, etc. If you got in an accident a hospital could scan the chip and instantly get everything they need to properly treat you. But almost no one ever opts for an RFID chip. There's just something inherently creepy about it.
      • Also, you wouldn't want something going awry with those things while they're in your skin, so for a limited time is the way to go if you have to do it at all.
  • The only reason I haven't asked for it yet is because I didn't know it was possible yet.
    • Not everyone is you.

    Blind chance 
  • I've always thought it odd how rarely Geordi's VISOR is commented on. You'd think that such a remarkable device — seemingly as unique as Data is — would attract a lot of interest. The oddest thing is that even people who've just met him and have no other relevant knowledge (like Martin in "The Masterpiece Society") tend to instantly identify him as blind, rather than asking "what is that you're wearing over your eyes? I recall one novel where a character asks if he wears it for religious reasons.
    • Well, he has something over his eyes. If I saw someone wearing a cloth over their eyes, and they're walking around in public, the first thing I'll assume is that the person is blind because of injuries that s/he doesn't want to show the world. Maybe this is what they assume with Geordi? Plus, this is a military setting, so they're not of the mindset to bug Geordi about his VISOR. If he has problems with it, he'll take care of it himself.
    • I never got the impression that Geordi's VISOR was unique, it's just we never see anyone else who is blind. It could be one of several treatment options for congenital blindness that some people decline because of the sensory confusion of seeing the entire EM spectrum at once. As for being a lie detector or otherwise clued in to people's emotional states, Geordi say it only works on humans. And while he probably can tell what a girl thinks of him just by giving her a quick lookdown, that doesn't mean he knows how to be more charismatic. He freely admits he doesn't know what to say to make women like him.
      • It's never stated that the VISOR is outright unique (indeed, we see something comparable used by Miranda Jones in TOS), but "Encounter at Farpoint" implies that it is at least highly uncommon (Dr. Crusher rhapsodizes about the VISOR like she's never seen its like before). If it is (fairly) unique device, that raises some questions about why Geordi gets one and why they're not standard issue for blind children of the 24th century.
      • Probably most forms of blindness are curable with that level of technology.
      • In the Expanded Universe novels about Geordi's time at the Academy, Geordi responds to someone who claims the VISOR gives him too much of an advantage in a survival game by saying that the VISOR isn't restricted to blind people, and that the guy can probably take his concerns to the instructors running the game and have a VISOR replicated for himself to even the odds. He even offers to let the other guy try his on... which results in a near-migraine for the poor sap. Basically anyone could use a VISOR, but the sensory overload is incredibly difficult to deal with, which is why Geordi has implants to help him deal with it and is still mentioned as getting regular headaches and other problems. So no, it's not unique, it's just that no one but Geordi probably wants to use it. As to no one commenting on it more, as someone says above, all he's doing is wearing something over his eyes, in a setting where lots of different alien races and technological advancements coexist, it's probably just not all that remarkable.

     Not until Tuesday 
  • Why doesn't the computer ever tell the crew that a critical feature such as the tractor beam has been maliciously sabotaged until they have the misfortune to find that out the hard way?
    • Because the first rule of sabotage is to do it in a way that people won't find out immediately.
    • Also, as Geordi says, the computer tends not to volunteer information. Computers period don't. Take your computer for example, does it tell you it's missing a driver that's necessary for a specific program to run when you first start up the computer, or does it wait until you actually try to run the program before going "Oh, wait, no, crap, I can't do that Dave"? Basically it's not psychic, if someone enters a fake access code to get at the tractor beam (as they'd need to), the ship's computer assumes "Oh, they're doing maintenance", and the fact that the maintenance never seems to end doesn't factor in. How does the computer know someone took the part out and disintegrated it instead of taking the part out and is just taking a long time to fix it or find a replacement? That's why the computer says "The tractor beam is offline" rather than "Someone done sabotaged your tractor beam, Frenchy."

    The U.S.S. Pasteur has the same deflector pattern as the U.S.S. Enterprise? 

  • This horse has probably been beaten to death, but I didn't see it here, so here it goes: The U.S.S. Pasteur fires a tachyon pulse to scan for the anti-time anomaly, and is destroyed by the Klingons shortly thereafter. The crew is rescued by the Enterprise and, when they return later, discover that the anomaly has formed and is based on the convergence of tachyon pulses from 3 different versions of the Enterprise. How is that possible when the Enterprise in the future timeline never fired a tachyon pulse of it's own?
    • Like you suggested, this is a widely recognized continuity snarl, and there have been a couple of different hand waves proposed. Probably the best one says that since Mr. Data programed the pulse in all three timelines, he must have programed all three with the same signature.
    • You present the same theory that SF Debris did when giving the episode "an unplayable ball and a one stroke penalty." Seems to be the most logical conclusion based on the evidence.
    • The other question is why wasn't there any anomolies in the future. An anti-time explosion goes in reverse so there should have been something there.

    Is Enterprise's computer capable of sentience? 
  • This occurred to me originally while watching the episode "Elementary, Dear Data". In that episode, Geordi instructs the computer on the holodeck to create an adversary "capable of defeating Data". This results in a self-aware hologram. If the computer is capable of maintaining a self-aware, sentient artificial intelligence as just one program which takes up a mere fraction of its resources, would that not mean the computer itself as a whole is capable of being a self-aware, thinking artificial intelligence? Also in the same episode, the computer can create extensive scenarios just with a couple of sentences of instructions. I find that a frightening capacity for creative thought for a computer. Now, I have seen it argued in tangentially related discussions above that Moriarty was merely a complex simulation of a person, not a person in itself. However, I would argue that he displays attributes which qualify him as a sentient being. The chief among those would be that he soon re-evaluated his goals and the function he was originally created for (besting Data) fell to the wayside, unless you interpret it very creatively.
    • That's a great question. Measure of a Man, gave us the Federation's criteria for sentience, so let's apply that standard here:note 
  1. Intelligence: Does the Enterprise computer have the ability to learn, and understand, and cope with new situations?
    • Sort of. We have seen that the computer is able to access the ship's sensors to gather information for various reasons without prompting from a member of the crew, and it seems to be able to analyze that data and use it to come to conclusions on its own. Outside of directing the ship's autonomic functions, however it is almost never seen to take action on its own; simply relaying information to the crew when action is necessary.
  2. Self-awareness: Is the computer aware of its existence and actions?
    • Again, yes and no. The computer never really seems to distinguish itself from the ship, often identifying itself as 'this ship' or 'this vessel'. It does occasionally use personal pronouns such as I, but I get the impression that this is for the benefit of the user. It is certainly aware of its actions, but it does not seem to meet this condition.
  3. Conscious:
    • I would say no. Again, there is very little evidence that the computer understands itself distinctly from the USS Enterprise. It probably doesn't consider itself as a separate entity, or even as an entity at all. If it does distinguish itself from the ship, it probably thinks of it self as a tool rather than a life form.

    • As a "sideways" answer, out in the real world the Enterprise computer would most certainly be considered sentient/sapient/whatever by all the standards we currently apply, because it can pass the Turing Test apparently effortlessly, and that is the test of such things. Apparently this isn't good enough in-universe, but they never say why. Later computers are even more advanced: the Deep Space Nine main computer would volunteer information to the crew on its own initiative and sound terrified when the station was in danger; the Prometheus computer could plan and complete an entire combat mission against meat opponents on its own.
    Note also that the writers love terms like "consciousness" and "self-awareness", which sound great but in the real-world are ill-defined to the point of being completely meaningless, and thus avoided like the plague in serious discussions of such matters. We have the Turing Test because you can't measure subjectivity, and have to give the machine the benefit of the doubt out of courtesy.
    • You're very right. When I wrote the above, I watched the relevant scene in Measure of a Man to paraphrase Starfleet's definitions. The dialogue is such that their definition for 'conscious' is not given—making it kind of hard to finish. That episode actually makes Starfleet's policies far more ambiguous on the issue of sentience than you would expect. Starfleet does not recognize Data as a sentient life-form (despite clear evidence that he is). The presiding judge actually kind of avoids that question in her summation, ruling only that Data is not the property of Starfleet, and that he does have the right to choose. She never once declares Data a sentient being.
  • The dissonance here derives from the definition of the word "capable". It has been shown repeatedly that programs (e.g. Moriarty, the Doctor) running on the ship's computer are capable of full sentience, and of meeting all the criteria used by Starfleet to define such. In the modern world of computing, we draw a much clearer distinction between hardware and software than most people did in the 1960's. A computer without any software is a piece of decor and nothing more. By simple virtue of having so much memory and processing power, starship computers can run sentient programs. However, perhaps as a safety feature, such programs are not supposed to be able to directly control the entire computer. Especially after the Moriarty incidents, the need to limit just how much control a sentient program can exert over the computer (and the ship) in the absence of at least a quasi-physical interface (i.e. a holographic projection) was taken into account. Another interesting contradiction that arises from that though is that while it could be argued that holograms require holographic emitters to sustain their existence, biological crews likewise require life support or else they would cease to exist (i.e. die) as readily as a deactivated hologram whose program was subsequently erased from the computer.
     Starfleet: Riker! Go help sentence your friend to death or else! 
  • In Measure of a Man, why was the judge so dead set on having Riker be Data's prosecutor, to the point of threatening to rule in favor of Maddox right then if he doesn't? Doesn't that mean the judge is allowing into the proceedings a prosecutor with a rather blatant conflict of interest especially since Riker is being forced into it? Last, and most importantly, why didn't the judge just call in some Starfleet yes man from somewhere on the starbase to be the prosecutor instead of tormenting Riker by forcing him to basically help to make sure his friend is executed?
    • Regarding all arguments below about Riker being the only command-level officer available: Admiral Nakamura was shown earlier in the episode as being on base; therefore, shouldn't he have been available to act as the prosecutor?
    • The JAG officer mentions that, as remote as the station is, it would take weeks (at least) to get another JAG sent out there to prosecute. Riker, as the next ranking officer, would have to fill in. Presumably, since the ship is self-contained for long periods of time, the senior officers have the authority to act in legal matters such as a court martial, otherwise a crew member in trouble would have to wait until the next time they wander into a starbase to have his trial. Riker just wasn't expecting to have to act as the prosecution against someone that is a close friend and associate.
      • That's not the point. There are HUNDREDS of people on any given starbase, it's hard to believe there wasn't at least 1 person that was serving on that starbase able to act as Data's prosecutor that hadn't been serving on the Enterprise. At the very least, she could have chosen someone on the Enterprise that didn't serve directly under or over Data to avoid as much of a conflict of interest as much as it was possible. It seems rather petty and vindictive of the JAG officer to force one of Data's closest friends to basically try to kill him.
      • Rule of Drama aside (because that's the only reason I can think of on the writer's part for doing this), the only reason I can think of is that since Riker would have the first-hand knowledge of Data's performance and capabilities. Honestly, it would have made much more sense to have Maddox acting as the prosecution, as he had prepared his arguments years in advance (having been in a position to vote down Data's Starfleet application) along with negating even a whiff of conflict of interest.
      • With some of the more common duties of the Enterprise: first contacts, treaty negotiation, mediating disputes, and that sort of thing—it seems like a stretch to believe that the ship wouldn't carry its own team of legal experts. Perhaps not experts in the sort of military property law that is the subject of this case, but at least someone who freakin' went to law school.
      • It's never said that the Enterprise's diplomacy efforts cover the fine contractual details of the diplomacy they do... they could be stuck in one place for months or years if that were the case, which is sort of inconvenient for one of your most advanced science ships and the flagship of your fleet. Whenever they handle diplomacy they probably make very "broad strokes" agreements, basically finding the general area where everyone's going to be happy, and then let an actual Federation legal team come in. Anyway, Riker serving as the prosecution in this case is meant to highlight the pain of following one's duty when it clashes with one's personal feelings, the episode loses pathos without it. Remember, this is fiction produced for entertainment, not a hypothetical produced to show an accurate depiction of legal proceedings... entertainment comes first, accuracy comes second, as it should.
    • Perhaps an even more fundamental problem, only someone like Riker with a conflict of interest would have been motivated to do it. A prosecutor who actually wanted to win could have had the case summarily decided in their favor.
    • Riker being prosecutor was a Necessary Weasel. The judge\arbitrator's justification was that there were no legal specialists at hand and only a commanding officer (or whichever term includes Picard\Riker but no one else on base) could act as such in special circumstances. He prosecuted in good faith to the point of feeling bad about it. If the conflict-of-interest was at any point apparent, the judge\arbitrator would cancel the trial in Maddox's favour, and you can be sure that Riker would get career trouble over it (formally if his bias could be proven, informally otherwise). If he left anything out, Maddox is on hand to speak up. Even if they waited for an actual legal specialist, they probably couldn't prosecute as well as Riker did, even if Riker is holding back in ways that he think he can get away with, which he doesn't seem to be.

     Accept only my orders from the Bridge even though I'm not there 
  • In Brothers, Data imitates Captain Picard's voice and issues and bunch of orders and codes to prevent anyone from stopping what he's doing. However, wouldn't the computer have detected that Capt. Picard wasn't on the Bridge (and in Engineering at the time)? Shouldn't it have not accepted Data's orders due to that discrepancy?
    • Yeah, the security of computers in the Star Trek universe is completely governed by the Rule of Drama. A number of crises in each series could have been prevented by security measures that we take today as a matter of routine. Data, himself, clearly needs to upgrade his firewall.

     Two heads are better than one 

  • I don't think the ship got separated nearly enough. Obviously it'd be rather crazy to separate the ship every time they went into battle, but in situations where the Enterprise has to be in two places at once, why not use the feature? (I'm not suggesting that by doing so, the story would have worked better; I'm simply referring to in-universe logic). To wit:

  • "The Enemy". The saucer section would remain at Galorndon Core so they could beam Geordi back up at the earliest opportunity, while the stardrive section would take the injured Romulan to the Neutral Zone.
  • "The Best of Both Worlds" and "Descent". The Enterprise was quite deliberately seeking out the Borg. It would have been very prudent to leave the saucer section off at a starbase so the children could be safe.
    • In the latter two, as well as "Chain of Command" where the Enterprise was being sent into a delicate situation with the Cardassians, the Enterprise met up with an Excelsior-class starship for the pre-mission briefing. The civilians could have been transferred to the other ship then. Also, in DS9: "The Jem'Hadar", the Galaxy-class USS Odyssey was explicitly said to be offloading its civilian population to Deep Space Nine before entering the wormhole to confront the Dominion (a good thing, too, considering what happened to the ship).

    • The "battle bridge" of the star drive section was a set from the Star Trek movies, and the expense of rebuilding it after each shoot killed the idea of saucer separation as a regular thing. Make up all the story stuff you want, but that's the real reason.
      • That's an argument that always confused me a little, because that set was redressed and used all the time. A short list of episodes that the modified movie set was used for rooms that were not the battle bridge includes (as listed on Ex Astris Scientia) The Measure of a Man, The Battle, Pen Pals, The Samaritan Snare, The Emissary, and Peak Performance—and those are just examples from TNG's first two seasons! Why would it cost more to build the battle bridge than it would to turn it into a completely different room when the set design and necessary props are all on hand? Also, the lighting for scenes on the battle bridge was always much darker than most other rooms on the ship, so wouldn't it be easier to mask imperfections rather than having to burn budget having them fixed?
    • That, and the slowing down of storytelling. I've also always wondered if the fact that the stardrive section alone makes a pretty clunky model was a factor. It sort of looks like a headless chicken.
  • I never understood the "too time consuming" part of why they stopped doing it. It only takes one 5-second shot of it separating (the actual shot we see is longer than that, but it could be cut down to 5 seconds and convey the same thing). It's doesn't impact the plot much either way, but it would be nice to see once a season or so.
    • I take the point, but it would at least require some conversation about making the decision, lest the audience be confused.
      • You mean like: Picard: Separate the saucer section! Helmsman: Aye sir! *sound effect* The next shot of the exterior, the two halves are separated and acting independently. Of course, if they did that, we'd be here debating that "Gee, they moved the civilians to the saucer pretty dang quick" or "Did they even seal all the turboshafts and jeffries' tubes before cutting the star drive section loose?"
      • So do it just as they are going to cut to commercial break. Then after the break, have some stock footage of the sections separated. The show routinely used that as means of jumping the action ahead a bit.

    Ferengi pirates on old Bird-of-Preys are dreadful as a Borg Cube 
  • ”Rascals” has the more shameful battle and takeover of the Enterprise D’s history. Recycling “Yesterday’s Enterprise” wasn’t appropriate. In this battle, the D had to cover the C. In “Rascals”, Riker and Worf don’t have any similar limitations and still manage to get heavy casualties and the ship crippled in two minutes. Then, they have to surrender to a dozen of Frengis who kick their ass as the Borg did when they abducted Picard in The Best of Both Worlds. Yes, a bunch of Ferengi pirates can easily TAKE BY FORCE the Federation flagship and the thousand of people on her.

    Don't bother deleting old records 
  • In "Second Chances", when the crew discover Riker's twin, Picard asks to have the transporter records from Riker's old ship sent to the Enterprise. Why would Riker's old ship still have the transporter records after such a long time?
    • Why wouldn't they? In the post-scarcity future, replicating functionally unlimited amounts of computerized storage is trivial. Why bother ever deleting anything when it's just as efficient to make more storage space than free it up by deleting old files?
      • You've got to remember, though, the unfathomably huge amount of data that would be contained in a average-sized human's transporter pattern. A 70kg human body is made up of more than 7x1027 atoms, and the computer has to keep track of where they all go. That's probably literal, too: There's a longstanding argument among Trek fans about whether or not a person who steps out of the transporter is the same person who went in, or is just a copy. If the person isn't just a copy, then the transporter has to put him or her back together in a very specific way (all the while sidestepping a couple of laws of thermodynamics as well as the uncertainty principle). No matter how big your storage capacity is, a few years worth of transporter patterns is going to take up a gargantuan amount of space.
      • It's been a while since I've seen the episode, but I didn't get the impression that they were storing the entire transporter pattern, just records on the order of "Stardate XX.XXX, XX:XX ship's time: Beamed up away party. Transport of Commander Riker failed due to atmospheric interference. Subsequent attempt was made using secondary containment beam to boost transporter signal. Secondary beam failed, however primary beam held its integrity on second attempt and Commander Riker was beamed up safely." Based on those records, Geordi speculated that the secondary beam did not fail, but was reflected back to the planet's surface.
    • Perhaps the transporter records aren't 1:1 records of each transport but a checksum-style algorithm to ensure all the molecules went where they should have gone, just as how when downloading a large file, one uses a mathematical operation to give high probability all the bits are in the correct location. (This is what the person looked like before transport, is that the same as how they look after transport?) Also - Data had an ultimate storage capacity of "800 quadrillion bits" located somewhere inside a humanoid shape - imagine what a starship-class computer core spanning several decks could store!

    Order your food awkwardly 
  • In many episodes of the show, various Starfleet officers order food from the replicator in a weird order e.g. Picard says "Tea, Earl Grey" as opposed to "Earl Grey Tea". Why do they give their orders in that way? Correct me if I'm wrong, but the replicators are still able to do the order if its given as "Earl Grey Tea" so why the Starfleet Officers do it that way?
    • Because they are ordering off a computer database. Tea is the type of drink, earl grey is the variety, and hot is the temperature (strength unspecified, presumably).
    • Maybe the computer's ability to parse natural language is a relatively new feature, so some people are just used to ordering the "old" way, similar to how many Windows users will customize the UI to resemble a previous version as closely as possible?

    How do I open doors? 
  • In "Datalore", there is a scene where Worf and a couple of security guards are accompanying Lore (thinking that he is Data). When Lore ordered the turbolift doors to close, why didn't the security guards (who got locked outside) order the doors open? Lore didn't set the turbolift in motion (he started taunting Worf as I recall) and he didn't use any security codes to lock the doors.

    We can't transport people off the Holodeck? 
  • The episodes "The Big Goodbye" and "Elementary, Dear Data" both feature people stuck inside the holodeck. Why did no one think to use the transporter to beam people out? The episode with the Bynars showed you can beam people inside the Enterprise.
    • That episode was either Early-Installment Weirdness or Forgot About His Powers. When the Enterprise was leaving Spacedock and they realized that the antimatter containment was not actually breaking down, they asked where the transporter room was so that they could beam to the ship. The station commander said there was no time. Nobody even considered a site-to-site transport. However, on the original topic, it may be that the complex energy fields inside the holodeck, which include a mix of projected light, replicated matter and force fields, make getting a clean transporter lock difficult, much as beaming through shields doesn't usually work.

Data & Other Androids

    Data Can't Say Can't? 
  • Why can't Data use contractions? One of the simplest models of computation, a finite state transducer, is capable of applying the morphological rules of English correctly (although not the syntactic rules, for that you need recursion). The fact that Data can do the unsolved problem of reasonably converting natural language into logical statements, planning what to do based on these and then converting his thoughts back into natural language with not much more error than the average human but can't use contractions is on the scale of saying your computer can solve complex fluid dynamics equations but can't flip a bit.
    • This one was actually dealt with on screen. Doctor Soong created another android, Lore, first. Lore was capable of using contractions and idiom, as well as human emotion. However, since A.I. Is a Crapshoot, Lore was also evil. Soong shut Lore down and built Data, intentionally limiting his ability to mimic humans because Lore's capacity for evil was due to his being too human.
      • Which makes my 2003 Word spellchecker more advanced than Data in that field, since not only can it use contractions, it has an expandable vocabulary.
    • Lal could use contractions, so she anvilicioiusly died. There are things with which androids must not meddle. Mwah hah hah!
      • The Uncanny Valley - the people on whatever planet Soong inhabited didn't take to Lore because he unnerved them. Data is obviously a machine, so people accepted him more easily.
    • Like so many other fields in which Data decides on personality quirks and ends up still being clearly robotic (that grey stripe! agh!), this may just be another one of them.
    • Soong was (even by his own admission) a bit eccentric if brillaint. After the failure of Lore (who started out rude, moved on to arrogant, and then outright psychotic and evil) one of the things he decided in the construction of Data was to make him much more polite as part of a very rigid ethics program. Data's speech pattern is a relfection of that, it's formal and until he finishes his human development (a desire also programmed by Soong, even if may never be fully realized) it will remain that way.
      • Of course, he had used contractions before, and occasionally since...
      • Data does indeed use contractions at various points in the series, but we can treat these as mistakes (or Early-Installment Weirdness, as the case may be). The fact that he cannot use contractions is indeed raised in dialogue several times ("The Offspring" and "Future Imperfect" come right to mind).
      • Aside from mistakes, Data can use contraction when he's quoting a phrase that uses them.
      • ...which makes about as much sense as anything else.
    • An interpretation I've seen elsewhere is that Data can use contractions, but he has trouble using them in a manner which sounds natural. A human native English speaker sometimes says "I am" and sometimes "I'm", depending on subtle nuances with each instance. Data still trying to figure out such nuances seems like it fits neatly into his ongoing journey to become more human. In the meantime, he considers it best to err on the side of caution.
      • Again, this would be fine except that Data has outright stated that he cannot use contractions (as in "The Offspring").
    • In a sense, this is a case of Flanderization. In the series Bible, it is stated that Data "usually avoids contractions" not that he is outright incapable of using them on the level of programming. By "The Offspring," he says "She can use contractions. I cannot."
      • If inclined to get around this, we can say that Data meant that he cannot use them effectively (doesn't know when to use them naturally).

    We'll court-martial you and then take you apart 

  • In "Clues", Data has been stonewalling the crew's attempts to find out what really happened to them during the missing day. He states that he's apparently guilty of falsifying the Enterprise's records, interfering with an investigation, and disobeying Picard's orders: "Your duty seems clear."
    Picard: Do you know what a court-martial would mean? Your career in Starfleet would be finished.
    Data: I realize that, sir.
    Picard: Do you also realize that you would likely be stripped down to the wires to find out what the hell went wrong?
  • Whoa, whoa, whoa! That would be a staggering overreaction on Picard's part. To say nothing of the fact that Picard was Data's defense attorney in the case that decided Data's fundamental human rights! Data has been recognized as a sentient being, and therefore Starfleet has no right to strip him down to the wires. I understand Picard's angry and desperate here, but damn!
    • "Descent, Part II" has a comparable problem when Data unilaterally decides to deactivate Lore. True, rights were only specifically extended to Data and not to similar Soong-type androids, but considering the extent to which Data believes in the spirit of this ruling, it seems incredibly odd to me that Data would just decide to, in essence, murder his brother... especially considering that at that point in the episode, Lore is contained and no longer an immediate threat.
      • Immediate being the operative word. Remember, the first time they encountered Lore, they beamed him out into space and he still showed up again later. Perhaps Data feels that the only way to stop Lore from popping up again is to essentially euthanize him.
      • By "euthanize" you mean "murder"... Lore is not asking for mercy or an end to suffering. Do you really think that a Starfleet officer would sanction executing a humanoid prisoner in the brig, no matter how dangerous they are? The implication is very much that androids are less than people — it's extremely strange to see Data himself acting like this was so.
      • Human prisoners can't be put back together. Lore is described as "permanently disassembled", but that could simply mean that all his parts are locked down in secure locations on Earth, not destroyed. Data has been both switched off and disassembled without obvious lasting ill effects (what happens to an android's "soul" when the power is turned off is probably a similar question to who comes out at the other end of a transport, but both happen and nobody complains much).
      • What you're describing would be analogous to capturing a dangerous human prisoner, putting them in permanent stasis where they are not per se dead, but will never again have consciousness or agency. As good as dead, in other words. Does that sound like something the Federation would sanction? Is there some reason that Lore is not entitled to a trial for his crimes, incidentally? Do androids not get such things?
      • It does make sense as an alternative to arresting him, prior to a trial. As for actually getting said trial? Probably not, judging by the state of AI rights in the Federation at that time. Hopefully in a few decades when things have warmed up a bit, he will.
      • Think of it this way. Data, as a properly functioning Soong-type android, was barely granted legal rights by Starfleet in a tentative, "we don't really know if he's sentient or not but we're erring on the side of caution" way. But does that ruling cover a malfunctioning Soong-type android? Data could argue that Lore's fundamentally a broken machine, incapable of making his own choices or controlling his own actions, and it's certainly true that Lore is so dangerously superpowered that putting him on trial almost guarantees him an opportunity to break loose and wreak even more havoc. I'd imagine Data did face some legal grilling from Starfleet offscreen, but unilaterally shooting Lore isn't inconsistent with his character. We've seen before that he's willing to kill someone if he thinks there's no legal way of stopping them: he nearly did the same with Fajo in "The Most Toys."
      • I actually find that explanation pretty convincing. It would have been nice, however, to see Data vocalize some of this at the end of the episode, and maybe even express some regret about having to kill his brother, instead of making it all about himself (and the emotion chip). Mind you, "Descent, Part II" is so breathless and clunky that it doesn't give us a Hugh/Geordi reunion scene despite making Hugh's friendship with Geordi a major part of his motivation.
      • You know, The Disaster shows that Data's head is able to operate completely independently of the rest of his body, and he still retains his personality. If they wanted a trial, couldn't they just have removed Lore's head or a select number of his other, equally detachable limbs and render him completely harmless? The Federation could imprison him in a cat carrier after that if they wanted to.
    • You're all applying human laws and morality to this situation. Is it logical to permanently remove the threat Lore poses? Yes. If Soong-type androids are considered a race then Starfleet regulations cannot interfere with their codes of justice. And as for ceasing to be conscious or aware being too extreme a punishment for the Federation to consider, remember that that is exactly what happens when an Emergency Medical Hologram is turned off. The Doctor never complains about ceasing to be when he's deactivated and in fact requested that he be given the ability to do that himself. It's simply a part of what it is like to be an artificial being.
      • As "descendants" of human colonists they are de facto Federation citizens, so Starfleet has every right to interfere. Also, race does not have anything to do with culture, no matter what the script repeatedly says (Star Trek as a franchise has a lot of institutionalised racism, but that's just bad writing).
      • Just because Omicron Theta was settled by humans doesn't mean they were Federation citizens, especially since it was never called a Federation colony. While Data probably could have earned citizenship through his service in Starfleet had he been organic, I don't think it was ever established that his legal status as "not property" went as far as giving him citizenship. And in real life I would agree with your assessment of race and culture, but remember that in Star Trek "race" means "alien being" and thus not only are there biocultural differences to consider but the possibility of Blue and Orange Morality. But even discounting the murkiness of member planet rights vs. Federation law, it may come down to whether or not you can try a malfunctioning android—sentient or otherwise—at all.
    • Go back and take a look at Measure of a Man and pay careful attention to the ruling. The question of weather or not Data is sentient isn't actually settled, and in fact, the presiding judge seems to go out of her way to avoid that issue in her summation. The only questions settled by her ruling were, 'Is Data the property of Starfleet', and 'Does Data have the right to choose'. The closest she came to saying that he is sentient is when she asked, "Does Data have a soul," but she quickly dismisses the question and admits that she has no idea.
  • Alternate idea - Picard was attempting to "intimidate" Data by appearing to threaten something Data valued - his existence. He was trying to get Data to re-evaluate the situation, re-run the variables, Data was prepared to lose his commission, but was that all he was prepared to lose? Best case result: "I see, Captain. *head tilt* I had not considered that possibility. I will comply." Whether or not that was a viable tactic or a frustrated shot in the dark is anyone's guess.
    • It's also likely Picard's saying that someone at Starfleet who wanted an excuse to dissect Data would see it as the perfect opportunity to do so. Picard's not threatening to do it himself, because we all know he'd probably fight it tooth and nail (and eventually phaser rifle) all the way, he's trying to make Data aware of the danger.

    Non-Sentient Slaves Are the Best Kind! 
  • In "The Measure Of A Man", the concluding argument is "We can't mass-produce androids because that would be slavery." But what they were trying to prove is that Data is sentient. Since they never proved that, how could they make the argument that it would be slavery? And if they did prove it at some point (I don't believe they did), why would they need to make the slavery argument?
    • Picard didn't need to prove Data's sentience. All he needed to show that Data's sentience couldn't be disproved.
      As the JAG officer said, "This case has dealt with... questions best left to saints and philosophers. I am neither competent, nor qualified, to answer those. I've got to make a ruling... Is Data a machine? Yes. Is he the property of Starfleet? No.... does Data have a soul? I don't know that he has... But I have got to give him the freedom to explore that question himself..."
      As long as the possibility exists that it is slavery, they will err on the side of caution.
      • How does "slavery" even have any clear meaning when applied to tireless machines who gain fulfillment from work in a society without money?
      • "Gain fulfillment" assumes Sentience which is the whole issue. My kettle is not sentient. If the Federation wants to dissect my kettle or my kettle's daughter, the only moral issue is the evil Government stealing my stuff = £5 tax. My pig is not sentient, neither is her daughter; if the evil Fed government wants to dissect them, the moral issue is £80 tax. My kettle and my pig are things. Treating people like things = slavery. Data and Lal are people, they are NOT things. That's logical, Captain (tlc) Hitchikers' Guide, the sentient animal that WANTED to "gain fulfillment" by being eaten was creepy.
      • Because they would be property and yet fully in possession of free will. Whether they enjoy the work or not, they didn't choose it, and thus, are slaves. Moreover, it's not that it would definitely be slavery, it's just that it could be slavery. And it was a step too far.
    • The very fact that he objected to being dismantled and tried to resign should have been proof that he wasn't just another computer. Even though Data was programmed to obey his commanding officers, he essentially disobeyed them & fought against the legal proceedings out of a sense of self-preservation. He contradicted his programming, demonstrating free will. As was said in the episode, a replicator doesn't ask you to stop if you dismantle it, and the ship's computer doesn't try to resign when it's ordered to self-destruct. Basically, anything that is capable of choice and self-interest is more than mere property.
      • Not really, as a computer could be programmed to object to dismantlement - and self-preservation isn't a sign of sentience anyway. The very first reply on this one answered the question. You don't have to know for sure that Data is sentient, you just have to not know for sure that he isn't.
    • The argument was not about Maddox mass-producing Data, it was about Data's status as the property of Starfleet, and thus his right to resign, aka, to choose. But you know what bothers me here? Data could never be considered the property of Starfleet. As far as I can see, Dr. Noonian Soong created Data of his own volition—Data was not commissioned by Starfleet—and so payed for all the necessary parts himself. If Data was going to be anyone's property, it would be Soong's.
      • But Soong was at the time believed to be dead, and Starfleet ostensibly “found” Data on that planet where he was built, so it is reasonable for them to assume they can own him if he is to be considered a non-sentient machine.
      • A salvage expedition legitimately owns all the things it finds. but Data ain't a thing, he is a person. Owning people is wrong. Fed had already recognized Data as a Citizen, he went to the Academy he was commissioned an officer, he was awarded medals and now the evil Fed wants to cancel his citizenship on a whim. They did the same in DS9, Eddington wanted an illegal search versus Cassidy. Sisko: You can't conduct an illegal search against a Federation Citizen. Eddington: She ceased to be a Federation citizen when she sold medical supplies to the Maquis.
      • The "evil Fed" doesn't want to do anything. One Starfleet officer wants to do something. Starfleet is willing to entertain the idea he might have the right to do that thing because it's not certain of the answer itself. They decide they don't have the right to do that thing, so they don't. Hardly a bunch of cackling mustache-twirling monsters.
  • What gets me is: shouldn't this all have been resolved years earlier when Data first joined Starfleet? Presumably there's got to be a rule on the books stating that only sentient life forms need apply to Starfleet Academy. By giving him a rank that includes command authority over human and other sentient life forms and the responsibility, in an emergency situation where no one of higher rank is around, to possibly have to make life-or-death decisions for them, aren't they kind of assuming by default that he's sentient himself? If I were a Starfleet ensign, I wouldn't look too kindly on being told, "Here's your commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Toaster. It is an object without true intelligence or self-awareness, a THING owned by Starfleet. Obey its orders without question."
    • But these are just the kinds of strange scenarios created when laws are slow to catch up to society. Famously, in Canada, Emily Murphy was a Senator before women were actually defined under the law as persons. Heck, in the U.S., Victoria Woodhull ran for president a full 48 years before women could vote (ie: they could not vote, but could be voted for). "Measure of a Man" implies that there was some resistance to Data's entry to the Academy; perhaps at that time, they didn't want a protracted legal challenge and passed the buck, but ultimately paid for it later. Note too that we do see a Starfleet officer objecting to serving under Data in "Redemption, Part II."
      • It's still rather surprising that nobody pointed to Data's acceptance into Starfleet and being awarded the rank of Lieutenant Commander as legal precedent for his being legally considered a sentient being by the Federation.
    • Great, now I'm imagining Talkie Toaster on board a ship, constantly asking the crew if they want some sort of toasted bread product.
    • Starfleet did have such a rule, and it was discussed briefly when Data applied for entrance. (It's in the Expanded Universe.) Basically they did decide that wanting to enter Starfleet of your own accord demonstrated enough sentience to be in Starfleet, but they didn't actually make an official pronouncement saying "Data is a sentient being" because 1) they didn't really feel it was necessary and 2) it was beyond the scope of the original decision, which was more limited to "Can Data enter Starfleet Academy?" than "Is Data a sentient being?" The trial in the episode is the first time the question of Data's sentience was directly addressed in a legal fashion.

    Data's Emotional About Emotionlessness? 
  • Data claims to have no emotions, but desires to have them. Desire is an emotion, but no one points this out. Maybe if another Enterprise crew member made this argument, Data would stop pursuing something that he already has. Yes, Soong may have programmed him to feel a need to be given more complex human-like emotions later in his life, but it still counts as a state of mind that presumably would be altered by being given an emotion chip. According to my mental dictionary, that would be a good example of an emotional state.
    • Data was programmed with the drive to improve himself. He's decided that his goal is to "be human," and humanity is practically defined by emotion. It's probably less "desire" than ambition, perhaps.
    • Desire is only an emotion if you define it as one.
      • Yeah, I think the writers only defined things like happiness, sadness etc. as emotions. Saying "If I had emotions I would be a superior being to what I am now," and wanting that is more an opinion.
      • And in psychology it's usually not defined as one.
    • It's also been suggested that Data was somehow capable of 'evolving', and that his programming had the capacity to write a subprocess that would induce subtle emotions such as desire. There are even a few examples from the show that might support this, such as him correcting people when they said his name wrong or choosing to disobey his own programming and exercising free will. Then there was that episode where Lore managed to cause Data to feel emotion...
    • Data CLAIMS to have no emotions, yet in many parts of series, he obviously displays them ie his treatment of his cat. Unreliable narrator perhaps?
      • I think that, in areas of humanity that he wasn't able to internalize, he copied the behaviors through which we express our feelings so he could get a better understanding of them through reverse-engineering. Pet ownership was one such example, and the most common. Others include time perception (He flat out said that's what he was doing when he experimented with "A watched pot never boils"), relationships (In that episode where he had a girlfriend he was pretty open about the fact that he was approaching it as an experiment), and possibly reproduction (He's a life form, so his reproductive urge might have been genuine, but it might not have, and certainly his parenting relied on copying behaviors of which he didn't have a deep understanding).
    • In regards to his cat, it's reasonable to assume that the care and ownership of a pet is a fairly large milestone in Data's emotional development, given how much time and effort goes into taking care of Spot. He writes So Bad, It's Good poetry about her. While making out with a love interest of the week, he tells her he's thinking of changing Spot's food supplement. And when he asks Worf to take care of her for a couple days, his ridiculously long list of instructions include telling her that she's a nice cat and a good cat. He puts a lot of thought into his interactions with his cat, but actual emotional attachment? I just don't see it. If Spot died one day, I'd imagine he'd take the body to Sickbay for burial/disposal/whatever they do with pets on starships, make a note in his personal log, talk to/accept consolations from his friends, maybe do some research on pet deaths in various cultures, and that's about it.
      • I think Data would "feel" more than that. Remember, he still has that little holo of Tasha, and it's brought up in a few episodes. If he "feels" enough to keep a holoprojection of a dead friend — as pointed out, Data can perfectly remember every moment he ever spent with her, yet he keeps a physical keepsake of her — then surely he would remember Spot in a similar way.
    • Desire isn't necessarily an emotion. Imagine an artificial intelligence trying to solve a complex problem, programmed to come up with an answer as close as possible to the perfect solution. It could be said (if it spoke English like Data) to "desire" the solution.
  • One theory circulating around the net (including This Very Wiki) is that he does have emotions but has no physical feedback to provide him with a point of refrence and thus is simply ill-equipped at expressing them. Numerous times in the series he has shown things very similar to bravery (even recieving several commendations for it) annoyance, happiness at the successes and safe returns of his friends, and even sorrow at the loss of his father and daughter. He's also shown deep affection for his crewmates and especially his cat, almost to the point of spoiling her. Concerning Data and his emotions or lack therof it is very much a case of actions speaking louder than words.
    • This can be borne out in "The Next Phase". When reminiscing about Geordi's "death", Data remarks that his neural processors become used to certain kinds of input over time, which are then noticed when absent. He says this about Geordi, noting that he is used to having his "input" after several years working together and, now that it's absent, it will be missed. So in his own roundabout, mechanical way, Data shows that he's capable of missing someone if they're dead or gone.
    • Bravery isn't really an emotion. It's a response to an emotion (fear) that Data can't have/feel, namely not letting it get in the way of what has to be done. So bravery is kind of a default for him. But on the others you're right.
  • I always thought that he had emotions, but they weren't the same as human emotions. He reacts to events around him more than Spock does, with facial expressions (varying from obvious confusion to interest) and comments. Androids must have something like emotions (let's call it "Emotion.1"), but Data's been too busy searching for human emotion to notice that he has them. Emotion.1 is probably less complex than human emotion, and also less obvious on the outside, but it exists. If another android like him (not uber-human like Lore) were to show up, they could probably relate through their Emotion.1.
  • This was a major headscratcher for me also; my personal Hand Wave was to divide emotions into two kinds: Intellectual Emotions (like curiosity) and Emotional Emotions (like happiness). This solved a lot of the conflict over this particular issue (Data "wanting" to want things?) but didn't solve related Headscratchers. In particular, when Data told Geordi, "I cannot stun my cat," no further reason given, it was obviously the writers trying to avoid giving Data, a highly sympathetic character, an unintentional Kick the Dog moment. But in context, it makes little sense; Data can't feel empathy, compassion, worry or regret; why, on purely intellectual level, would he object to disciplining a pet in a mostly harmless fashion?
  • I've had it explained to me that Data is simply unable to interpret the things he experiences as emotions. He frequently describes his thought process and stimuli to other people and is told that they're emotions—he can become self-reflective at a funeral or desire to engage in a Sherlock Holmes-themed holodeck adventure, but can't grasp that those are products of sadness and happiness, respectively. Hell, his "grandpa" outright tells him that the real problem is that he's too hung up on the questions to accept the answers, and even this doesn't connect for him.

    Teenage Android Girls Scarier Than the Borg? 
  • In the episode, where Data creates his android daughter, why is Picard and Starfleet more scared of her than the Borg?
    • Why do you say they were more scared of her than of the Borg? In all the TNG Borg episodes except "Q Who," when they didn't know what the Borg were, they started looking for ways to kill and/or flee the Borg as soon as they saw one. In VGR they usually didn't have that option, but they puckered their assholes until serious Bad Ass Decay set in. With Lal they did no such thing.
    • This model has demonstrated itself to be capable of presenting a significant danger to a Galaxy-class starship and every man, woman, and child on said ship, while being innovative and responsive. 50% of the encountered copies of this model have been evil. It now is capable of reproduction with minimal equipment and supplies, and you don't really know where the off switch is.
    • Still, with that being said, it was never explained to my satisfaction why Data needs the Captain's permission to procreate, given that no one else on the crew is subject to that requirement.
      • Because Data does not have the smug gene. Kirk, Ryker and Paris all get lots of hot Green Skinned Alien Space Babe action. When Harry Kim gets Green Alien Babe action, Janeway screams and invents fake Space Corps regulations. Suppose they were real Space Corps regulations? Star Fleet operates a eugenics program. Only smug people are allowed to breed. Picard is not smug, so he rejects all the space babes who throw themselves at him.
      • Objectively Data did not need anyone's permission, but people when confronted with an unknown get scared and look to pre-existing structures for guidance and this was a relatively new situation. In this case, as the episode showed, there were two conflicting social models neither of which exactly fitted. One was the construction of powerful autonomous machine, the other was a biological procreation. The episode explored the conflict derived from what happens when those two approaches came into direct conflict.
      • Also part of Picard's concern is that Lal would be taken away from Data based simply on the fact that they were androids and thus not true "people" and that's eactly what happened. Picard is simply being prudent because he's seen how easily Data's rights can be opressed and taken away.
    • Also, think of how people reacted to finding Data's head in the past in "Time's Arrow". Constructed beings though they may be, there's still human emotion to consider — would you want to have to be in a position to kill your trusted friend's only daughter, even if you know that another could theoretically be built?
    • One more consideration is that Starfleet had wanted to take Data apart for some time to learn how he functioned. Starfleet was reacting as they were concerned that this technological marvel may leave their sphere of influence and fall into the hands of others who would not give any consideration for the entity's life - they'd disassemble the machine, learn its secrets, and possibly weaponize the technology. Data was an upgraded Mk II Soong-type android, the subsequent Mk III was virtually indistinguishable from humans. What could the Romulans or other hostiles do with such a creature? Infiltration, warfare, etc.
      • This sounds like a bit of a WMG to me; not entirely implausible, but not substantiated by evidence from the show either. In fact, Bruce Maddox opposed Data's entry to the academy; if there was some conspiratorial desire to place Data in Starfleet's palm, wouldn't he have eagerly welcomed Data's entry into Starfleet?
      • Data joining Starfleet meant Data was a "person" on some level. Maddox did not want to grant Data such a title. He felt Data was just a machine, nothing more.

    Where Are All the Androids Hiding? 
  • Are Data and his family the only androids in the galaxy? There are at least 5 instances of androids with separate origins in TOS: 'What Are Little Girls Made Of?', 'I, Mudd', Requiem for Methuselah', 'Shore Leave', 'Return to Tomorrow'. Why is it in TNG, Data, his brother(s), his daughter and his 'mother'(???) are the only androids ever mentioned. Artificial Intelligence is a standard of sci-fi. Doesn't this seem a bit inbred?
    • There were other forms of AI, but Star Fleet didn't have the technology to build an adroid as sophisticated as Data.
    • Original series androids had that fatal flaw of being destroyed by illogic. It makes sense that they would not be used.
      • Not quite: Ruk and the other androids in "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" had no such problem (and that's just for starters). Besides, most androids are benign beings whom nobody would set out to destroy with logic, even if they could. Strangely, the Voyager episode "Prototype" actually showed us other A.I. constructed by aliens, which is more than TNG ever did (even making reference to Data in the process).
    • Well, given all the crap that Data has to put up with over the course of the series, maybe they really are living in hiding, to avoid having their programming hacked, being threatened with disassembly, etc. etc.
    • I've heard it brought up before that Data is the only sentient android in the existence, so maybe after he came along and showed just how far the science could be taken most other androids fell out of use while various labs tried to (unsuccessfully) re-create him.

     Incapable of Lying? 
  • In The Most Toys, Data attempts to use a very lethal disrupter on Fajo, only to be beamed away at the last second. O'Brien detects Data's weapon during transport, and informs Riker it is in a state of discharge. When Riker asks about this, Data tells him that the readings must have been a transport error, but the audience is left to infer that Data intended to kill Fajo, and lied to Riker about it. By most measures, killing Fajo would seem to be an acceptable use of force under the circumstances. Why, then, does a character who has claimed to be incapable of telling lies lie about what seems to be an entirely justified homicide?
    • He doesn't lie. Riker says "that the weapon was in a state of discharge," to which Data responds "Perhaps something occurred during transport." As we saw in "Clues," Data is capable of refusing to answer a question; in "The Most Toys," he deflects the question. So he hasn't actually lied, he's found a loophole and used it.
      • Yes, but the question is, why does he evade the question at all? Perhaps because he does not want people to know that he is capable of deciding to kill. No matter how you slice it, it's a very important character moment.
      • Data had ethic subroutines programmed due to the fear that he could have turned out like his brother Lore. His sense of morality would likely have conflicted with the idea of using a weapon that causes a torturous death, even if it was against someone like Fajo who most definitely deserved it. His comment of "Perhaps something occurred during transport" was likely his attempt to deflect that line of conversation while he tried to figure out for himself why he would have murdered a man in cold-blood if not for an act of nearly miraculous timing on the transporter's part.
      • Or, being an intelligent sort, Data decided saying "The murderous bastard really pissed me off so I was going to vape his ass" to your superior officer when you're a member of an organization that values peaceful resolution is not the smartest thing to do.
      • If I recall correctly, Data held fire until there was an imminent threat to life—either his own or Fajo's wife/girlfriend/secretary/whatever. I think that would be consistent with what any other member of the crew—except maybe Worf—would have done in that situation as Starfleet Officers. Picard, for example, would hold fire until he absolutely knew that deadly force was the only option to defend the innocent, but when pressed to that extreme, he would open fire. I think within the morality of the show, Data acted perfectly normally, and the "something happened in transport" line was the writers running out of screen time to address that in dialog.
    • When was it ever established that Data is incapable of lying? Vulcans understand the necessity of lying when in the performance of duty, so it seems unlikely that an even more logical being wouldn't grasp the concept. Besides, it would be an extraordinary liability taking him to Romulus in "Unification" if some bystander asked him, "New in town, eh? So what brings you here?" and Data would be compelled to say, "We are Federation spies."
      • It was probably in one of the earlier episodes. Speaking of lying, in "Clues" Data lies to the crew for most of the episode, but it turns out Picard had ordered him to do so (the crew, sans Data, had had their memories changed). Data may be incapable of lying, but he's smart enough to find loopholes and abuse them to lie without triggering the subroutine preventing him from lying. If he had to always tell the truth, "Clues" probably would've ended with Data shutting down or trying to kill the crew to follow orders and follow his programming. Telling a machine that can't lie to lie is going to have bad consequences no matter how you slice it.
      • I'm pretty doubtful it was ever stated that Data cannot lie. The closest thing I can think of is in "Hero Worship," when Data himself tells Timothy "Androids do not lie," which is a slightly different claim and in any event is a tactic to get Timothy to admit the truth. Data obviously can and does lie.
      • Indeed, when he was stuck in the 19th century he was banging out about being French. I think his psychology/personality is that he prefers not to lie (and may not do so in 'smaller' situations when someone else would), but is perfectly capable of it when it's called for.

     Why is Data incapable of emotions? 
  • While it's true that Data lacks any built in emotion program until his emotion chip is installed, shouldn't he have been able to try to least mimic them? As an android he has a knowledge of pretty much everything, one would presume that would include not only the dictionary definition of anger, happiness, sadness, etc. but also any philosophic and psychology texts on the subject of every emotion, and thus be able to fake them fairly well if not perfectly.
    • He does try to mimic emotion several times throughout the show, and every single time it comes off as exactly that; him simply mimicking it. It probably doesn't matter how well he reads up on the subjects, so long as he's unable to experience it himself, he lacks the fundamental knowledge of how to do it.
      • Then why did he need a chip in order to feel emotions? Data's programming is supposed to be able to adapt itself, and yet it can't create some sort of emotion subroutine or whatever? For instance, Data could find himself in a situation where he's supposed to be angry, and with this program Data would automatically recognize that he should be angry and to what degree he should be, and then act accordingly. Data has thousands of automatic programs that require no conscious effort on his part to function, and said emotion program could be one of them.
      • Because he can't actually experience emotions without it. He constantly tries to experience emotion throughout the series through his hobbies, but more or less fails, so no, it can't apparently cannot adapt itself to such an extreme degree. Simply creating a subroutine to essentially fake having emotions won't actually cause him to have emotions.
      • Data's programming adaptability must be pretty poor then, to not be able to adapt into feel emotions, which is probably a major step if not the only step that really matters in completing Data's primary objective, to become human. I think it would make more sense if Soong put some sort of block into Data's programming that prevents or deactivates the results of any attempt by Data's program's adaptability to create emotions in him, as a method to prevent Data from becoming like Lore, and that the Emotion chip removes said block or places said programs in Data.
      • And risk it getting disabled by whatever monster of the week Data'd run across, or Data himself potentially removing it? It's apparent that after Lore, Soong didn't think he had ironed out all the kinks related to emotion in his androids, and wanted to avoid Data turning emotionally unstable as well. That's why he worked on developing and ironing out the chip for nearly twenty years before trying to give it to Data. Soong clearly that it wasn't worth opening that can of worms by leaving emotions in the mix, and intended on adding it at a later date, probably when Data had learned enough to be relatively stable when he got them. It's just that the whole 'Crystalline Entity' thing probably fouled his plans up a little.
    • There's also the theory that Data does experience some form of emotion, but not quite the same as a human would. He "misses" people once he becomes accustomed to their presence, he values and appreciates the loyalty and self-sacrifice his crewmates show towards him. He decided that Kivas Fajo was too dangerous to live but rather than, say, snapping his neck he was going to give him a painful death by shooting him with a disruptor, which strikes me as motivated by a desire for revenge.
      • Data displays a number of behaviors that seem to imply that he experiences emotions—many of which are listed above. Many of these behaviors could be explained as Data mimicking humanity, but several—such as in the Fajo example—cannot. I think a good rule of thumb for telling the difference between the two is what I call the 'Vulcan Test:' In any given situation, would a Vulcan do what Data does? Data attempts to kill Fajo, but I firmly believe that if the roles were switched, Spock would have opted to subdue and arrest Fajo; and he certainly wouldn't have lied about it afterwards as Data did. That would imply something beyond pure logic made Data pull that trigger. Also mentioned above, the killing would, under the circumstances, appear to be a justifiable use of force—so there seems to also be something else motivating Data to mislead Riker.
    • By any reasonable standard, a computer as advanced as Data should have no trouble miming the emotions he's observed in others, but then, such a computer shouldn't be hamstrung by contractions either. Data wouldn't be Data if he were not perplexed by the behaviors of others.
    • It's never made explicit, but the business with Lore would indicate that Data's lack of emotion is an after-market addition to a basic design that can otherwise experience them (ab)normally. The emotion chip may well be more like a security dongle or a Mac's SMC; to provide some un-fakeable, un-replicatable permissions system to gradually disengage the restraining bolts on something that was already there.
    • Data is likely programmed to feel emotion, just like Lore was. However, Soong most likely put a program in place to supress those emotions after the debacle that was Lore. Whenever we see Data show a sign of emotion, that is when the block hasn't overridden the emotion fast enough. The emotion chip could have been designed to override that block and allow Data to feel unfiltered emotion.
    • Regarding the above, Lal's positronic brain was based on Data's and she died shortly after beginning to experience emotions. This was probably the result of a second failsafe by Soong: If the blocked emotion program is activated despite its protections, the entire neural net crashes and thus prevents another Lore.

     Picking on Data 
  • Don't get me wrong, I love Data; he's one of my favorite characters in the whole franchise. After the events of Brothers, in which Data is easily able to seize control of the Enterprise and completely lock out the rest of the command staff, this question needs to be asked: Given the number of times his android nature has posed a threat to the security of the USS Enterprise (Brothers, A Fistful of Datas, Clues, Masks, Datalore, Star Trek: Generations, and arguably Quality of Life), the United Federation of Planets (Descent, Parts I and II, Star Trek: Insurrection ), and passers-by (Thine Own Self), why does Starfleet allow him to serve as second officer of its flagship, at a critical bridge post, when that ship is routinely sent on Starfleet's most sensitive and critical missions?
    • One can easily say the same thing of Troi. How often are her empathic powers turned into a security risk?
    • Human nature has proven to be a much larger detriment to the ship's wellbeing, overall. Geordi was brainwashed by the Romulans into and aided the Klingons in destroying the Enterprise-D, Riker lost his everloving mind and got trapped in a play/asylum while undercover, Picard decided to throw away a chance to genocide the BORG just because he made friends with a single member of the Collective, and let's not even talk about Wesley, shall we? However, Data's pros outweigh his cons, just like with the other members of the crew. He managed to abort an attempted Romulan invasion of Vulcan, he killed the Borg Queen, broke Picard free of the Collective's stranglehold, deduced the nature of Q's anti-time paradox (thus allowing Picard to save all of existence), and was able to break out of a temporal causality loop, freeing both the Enterprise-D and the Bozeman.
      • True, and almost every main character in the franchise has, at one time or another, done something that would probably get him kicked out of any real-world military, but we accept that they aren't because human nature is one of the overall themes of the franchise—also because they're main characters and TV doesn't work like that. But, Data's a much bigger threat than probably any other Starfleet officer. Brothers shows that Data is capable of hijacking the Federation's most powerful starship single-handedly at a moment's notice, and his mental state can be controlled from lightyears away, as both Lore and Dr. Soong have demonstrated. And while Data was invaluable in solving the anti-time paradox, he shares much of the blame for creating it in the first place. Depending how you feel about the morality of Star Trek: Insurrection, you might also argue that his malfunction on the Ba'ku home world was indirectly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Allied personnel fighting the Dominion in a war that the Federation was loosing badly.
    • There are numerous beings in the galaxy which possess telepathic abilities that could allow them to compromise the security of and/or outright seize a starship from the possession of an entirely biological crew. Vulcans can plunder people's minds while touching them. Betazoids are even scarier, since it has been shown that they can read minds across great distances. An unscrupulous Betazoid with a lot of skill could rummage freely through the minds of Starfleet Command while sitting in a cafe in San Francisco! More powerful telepaths can alter people's perceptions or control them outright. Technological means of controlling people's minds have also been shown. So essentially Data is basically in the same boat as everybody else. Except that in his case he is often immune to means of control that affect biological beings. In many ways, he is actually an asset. There are repeated instances of him serving as a safety feature because he is specifically unaffected by things that affect the rest of the crew. It is really more of a case that Starfleet needed tighter security protocols. Picard often gives commands to the computer, including security codes, verbally in front of other people. It tends to be variable from episode to episode as to what degree of biometric verification is required to do certain things. For example, in "11001001" activating and deactivating the self-destruct requires both Picard and Riker to scan their hand prints and give a verbal command.
      • I object to that characterization of Picard's decision not to use the anti-Borg virus. Picard was objecting to the concept of genocide, even against the Borg. He wasn't objecting to it because he liked Hugh, but the fact that Hugh was likeable made him realize that the genocide was wrong, those aren't the same thing. Picard realized that there was basically some hope for drones to be rehabilitated into individuals, and that it was thus wrong to kill all of them off without giving them that chance. Which sort of contradicts his stance in First Contact, but people like that movie and they bitch about Picard's anti-genocide decision so no one really cares about the inconsistency.

    Data vs. Troi in chess: The ultimate mismatch 

  • Troi has absolutely no business beating Data in chess.
    • Data had discovered just that morning that humans will sometimes intentionally lose or disadvantage themselves as a show of courtesy and figured he'd try it out.
    • Perhaps Data has an easy setting.
      • As Tasha discovered.
    • Maybe he saw her performance report and decided to give her a win out of pity?

    Deja Q 
  • At the end of the episode when Q decides to give Data a gift (which turns out to be a few seconds of laughter) why does Data begin to tell Q that he doesn't want to transformed into a human? Isn't that his greatest ambition? In real life that would be like a man with gender dysphoria refusing a chance to be transformed into a woman.
    • If the man in question was the only man in existence, he might think twice before deciding to deprive the universe of that uniqueness, whatever his personal feelings. Besides, I get the feeling that Data doesn't want to be human so much as to become human, if that makes sense. He wants to get there through growth and self-improvement, not a magic wand.

    Data's Mother 
  • In Inheritance we learn that Dr. Soong made an android copy of his wife, Juliana Soong, who later left Noonien because he took her for granted. We learn this because Noonien implanted a chip in her head containing a holographic program. My question: How did Noonien implant the chip, complete with the information that she had left, if she was leaving?
    • Remote uplink?
    • Like this:
    Juliana: I'm leaving you, you neglectful bastard.
    Noonien: Command Protocol R U R One Nine Two Zero.
    Juliana: *whir* Debug mode engage.
    Noonien: Record the following to removable storage. Hey Data, I built you a mom but she left me. Rough old world, right? End recording.
    Juliana: Recording complete.
    Noonien: Engage breakup sex protocol.

Holodecks

    Weaponized recreation 

  • In "The Big Goodbye", Wesley comes up with a solution to getting our people out of the holodeck, "but if it doesn't work, the program could abort and everyone inside would vanish." Real people included. Jeez, Louise. It's bad enough when the holodeck's safety routines malfunction, as they so frequently do, but a badly-aborted holodeck program could cause real people to discorporate? One wonders why people don't just play computer games or fight in anbo-jytsu rings for entertainment, or why they don't lure their enemies into the holodecks so they can purposely badly abort a program.
    • This falls under Early-Installment Weirdness; as the holodeck does not work that way, as seen in the tech manual released later.
    • SF Debris actually made this a plot point in his Unity Saga. Holodecks have to be able to clean up all the shed hair, sweat, blood and any other organic matter left behind when the program ends. He rationalizes it by explaining that it's standard holodeck safety procedure to summon the arch, stand under it and then deactivate the program. It's not that the holodeck is really that unsafe, it's just that there's always a tiny chance if all the redundancies happen to fail and you turn off the holodeck without wearing a commbadge (that's my WMG insertion) or standing under the arch there's a risk you'll be "cleaned up" with the rest of the organic matter. The holodeck designers aren't incompetent, the Enterprise crew just never read the manual.
      • I'm sorry, but no. If the holodeck can kill anyone who isn't wearing a combadge or standing under the arch when a program is deactivated, then the holodeck designers are either incompetent (if they failed to foresee this humongous flaw) or sadistic murderers (if they saw it, but didn't care). The scenario you describe would be like if you turned off your Xbox while it was in the process of saving, and as a result your arm was blown off. And no, the fact that the holodeck has "redundancies" and "safeties" doesn't justify it. Not after the many, many times we've seen those safeties fail catastrophically.

     I'd Like to Order One Invincible Ally, to Go 
  • In the episode "Elementary My Dear Data", Geordi foolishly told the holodeck to "Create an adversary capable of defeating Data,". And it did. So um, why didn't the Federation say "Create an adversary capable of defeating our current enemy", since the holodeck must have that kind of magic power?
    • Eventually there was the Emergency Command Hologram. He was pretty cool.
    • Well, yeah...but it only has it within the confines of the Enterprise computer system, only if the contest in question is one of intelligence or reasoning ability, and that only in reference to information already stored in the databanks of same...all of which severely limit its utility against the Random Monster of the Week.
      • Yeah, the computer already knew everything about Data, allowing it to figure out exactly what an opponent would need to defeat him. How can it figure out how to oppose a Negative Space Wedgie whose readings are Off The Scale?
      • Still doesn't fly. If the computer created Moriarty, then it knows everything about Moriarty. Therefore it should logically know exactly what's necessary to defeat him.
      • Go look up a little song about a woman who swallows a fly and then comes up with a brilliant plan similar to that one.
    • More to the point, this shows the computer can create sentient life if you just ask it.
      • In the episode "Emergence", the computer/holodeck creates (apparently) sentient life and nobody even asked it to
      • Everyone seems to assume that the computer's Moriarity-simulacrum was actually sentient, but nothing (at least in the first of the two episodes dealing with Holo!Moriarity) seems to make that a necessary conclusion; a computer with such demonstrated natural-language processing facility as that one could certainly be excused for inferring that it had been asked not for a simple and ordinary holodeck challenge game, but rather something with a bit more meta-level play — after all, the request was for an adversary capable of defeating not Sherlock Holmes, Data's character in the holodeck, but Data himself. And for a computer which can directly do as many things in the real world as the Enterprise-D's can, we've seen plenty of times that there aren't any particular security protocols or sanity checks against, say, making a holodeck detective game more interesting by giving the villain character full knowledge of the true nature of his situation, and the ability to understand and directly affect ship systems.
      • Of course, we're also talking about a computer which is shown in 'The Game' to be trivially capable of simulating a working human brain, so maybe assuming sentience on the part of a holodeck character isn't such a stretch...
      • Right, and let's not forget how in "Booby Trap" and "Galaxy's Child", Geordi used the ship's holodeck to simulate a renowned Starfleet engineer Dr. Leah Brahms, which he used to brainstorm engineering problems (perhaps among other things). While the computer greatly exaggerated her sensual nature as per Geordi's specific request, its simulation of her intellectual capacity was apparently so spot-on that Geordi and the Dr. Brahms simulation actually independently reached the same solution to a particular engineering problem as Dr. Brahms had reached in her own private research back on Earth. That the computer can simulate an engineer to the point of solving engineering problems speaks volumes to the computer's capacity to mimic human intelligence. Of course, when he does meet the real Dr. Brahms, the episode turns into a bit of an absurdity, as she is pretty much a complete bitch to the point of criticizing Geordi about every modification he'd made to the ship, including the one that she had already been planning to implement. She was mad at Geordi for coming up with the same solution as she had.
      • The computer actually warned Geordi that any "personality" given to the Dr. Brahms simulation would be based solely on guessing and not an accurate representation of the woman's actual personality. The computer actually did get a lot of things right about her, just not in the particular order that would make the simualtion an exact duplicate of her. Furthermore since it was created from the get-go to assist Geordi in his engine simulations it can be assumed that the computer tried to make her as helpful as possible while the real Dr. Brahms simply doesn't have such an accomidating personality..
      • Well... who knows, she might have been more accommodating in an actual crisis situation; as long as there's no outside problem, she has time to be annoyed at what she perceived as a problem.
      • This was made all the more farcical when just a few episodes later in the same season they had a story about a Starfleet scientist who wanted to disassemble and study Data in order to figure out how to make an artificial intelligence, with everyone apparently forgetting that the Enterprise computer seems to be able to create an artificial intelligence on demand.
      • Which makes it all the more strange as to why Data is "unique". Sentient holograms were a staple of Voyager and would theoretically be a great deal more versatile and one would assume the hard part of an android like Data was the sentience - not the robotic stuff...
      • Data is unique because he's capable of the same degree of sentience in a much smaller package. Moriarty may be a sentient holographic life form, but he needs an entire holodeck matrix (possibly an entire ship's computer) to exist. Data is all that hardware compressed into a human-sized package. It's like the difference between a refrigerator-sized computer from the 70s and a modern laptop.
      • Not really; in a later episode (yes, TNG actually returned to a previous episode's hanging plot line and resolved it, try not to faint) it develops that a briefcase-sized device can contain enough computing power and memory not only to run the programs for Moriarity and his newly created love interest, but also to simulate an entire galaxy for them to explore, and enough battery power to last at least as long as the remainder of the characters' natural lifetimes.
    • The holodeck doesn't have that kind of power. The Data's opponent was created as an intellectual adversary. When Geordi told the computer to create an opponent capable of "defeating" Data he really meant for the computer to create an opponent capable of outsmarting Data.
      • That doesn't make any sense. It wasn't sentient because it was only smart? What I found quite interesting was that this Moriarty seemed much more human than Data. Data would probably fail a Turing-Test.
      • But non-sentient computers can pass a Turing Test, so what does that prove? Sentient or not, Moriarty was designed to perfectly mimic a human being, which Data was purposely not designed to do.
      • No, they can't. The whole point of the Turing Test is that if the machine passes, you void the right to call it non-sentient because passing the Turing Test requires the machine to demonstrate human-like intelligence in a general form. That the computer can simulate convincing characters on the holodeck should properly be interpreted as meaning that each and every one of them, and the main computer, are reasoning beings that can be shut off on the whim of uncaring humans.
      • No, you misunderstand what the Turing Test is. If there were no computers today that could pass a Turing Test then it would be a thought experiment instead of an actual test. A better way to address this is by framing it with the "Chinese room" thought experiment: does a holodeck program that perfectly mimics the nuances of a face-to-face conversation with a human grant the holodeck character understanding or is it just a very good simulation?
      • There are very, very definitely absolutely no computers anywhere in the world as of 2012 that can pass a Turing test or even come close. (Besides, how is it necessary that it has to be possible to pass before something can be considered a "test"?) Meanwhile, the Chinese Room thought experiment is considered logically incoherent by most philosophers (if you're not going to explain how the Room works, the experiment is worthless, among various other problems). If a machine passes a Turing Test, it is thinking. This is what the test is for.
      • Not necessarily. If a machine passes a Turing Test, it could just be doing a great job of appearing to be setient.
      • As is well-said lower down (let's add it here too), passing the Turing Test means all evidence is in favour of sentience. Sure it might later turn out to be be wrong, but the person standing next to you might be a clockwork ninja with a rubber skin, or road signs might all be put up by practical jokers (silly rabbit, Europe isn't a real place!). The reasonable assumption is that other people aren't clockwork and that public information is accurate, though, and therefore basic courtesy is to treat the machine that responds like a thinking creature as though it is a thinking creature.
      • I thought that was an obvious bit of horror actually, you'll notice that the Federation is actually quite Fantastically Racist against any and all artificial life. Oh, not silicon based life that "evolves" naturally, those guys are perfectly fine. But any created form of life, well, it took Picard talking to Guinan to realize that their plans for Data in "A Measure of a Man" amounted to mass slavery. What scares me the most about that episode is that the JAG, in a court of law, says that the real question is whether Data has a soul. I thought the Federation was secular? It doesn't help that every interaction The Doctor (not that one) had with Starfleet in general in Voyager involved him having to prove, and not easily, that he was a sentient being with rights. And they didn't even rule that he was! The amount of times I've heard "He's just a hologram" gives me a chill. The main Computer of a ship, or most Holograms above a certain level of complexity would easily pass a Turing Test. It's almost as if the Federation tried this, and realizing that all their technology was proven sentient by this test, they designed a harder test. They are very deathist as well, considering the ease with which most of their technology would enable biological immortality. They seem to de-age people on a regular basis.
      • Moving the Goalposts must be hugely tempting to any society capable of creating life-like artificial people. Much of the value of sentience is in its mysterious quality, in our inability to recreated it or control it. Once you build a machine that can pass a Turing test, you would realize just how many tricks you put into it, how much cheating you had to do. If you did manage to pass a Turing test, it would probably seem like you'd do it by tricking people rather than making a really sentient machine, since all the mystery of sentience would be absent. To the person who understands the algorithm which produces the doctor's bedside manner, becoming emotionally attached to the doctor would seem foolish, like trying to give human rights to a fictional character. The doctor isn't a real person; he's a pretend person. That Moriarty was created as a real person was presented as an incomprehensible fluke, something which could not be recreated no matter how many times you ask the computer for another one.
    • You're all forgetting an important question: Why wasn't this request denied by the computer's mortality failsafe? It shouldn't be able to create anything remotely dangerous at all!
      • The computer interpreted Geordi's request to override all failsafes, including that one. You can construct a reasonably logical backstory for this - Geordi got sick of having the computer cancel requests not specifically stated to override (like what happened to O'Brien in Emissary) and told the computer to interpret all his requests to override safety protocols.
    • This is a minor point, but why did Moriarty insist on calling the Enterprise computer Mr. Computer? It was done insistently enough that there was probably a good reason, but I've never been able to figure that reason out. I doubt that Majel Barrett-Roddenberry's voice could have been mistaken for masculine. Moriarty seemed to be aware he was on a ship of some kind, and probably would have been aware of the tradition of applying feminine pronouns to such vessels, so why Mr. Computer?
      • Before the advent of electronics, "Computer" was a job description, not a machine. Either he's unaware that he's not speaking to an actual person, or it's just part of his programming.
      • An in-universe Woolseyism? In the 24th century "Mr" has become gender-neutral ("Mr. Saavik", etc.), so Moriarty is using correct English as spoken by the holodeck users.
      • It seems likely to me that he doesn't register the fabricated voice as being gendered at all, and goes with "Mr." by default.
      • Perhaps he attaches more importance to the Enterprise's non-humanity than to its speaking voice, and therefore refers to it by what (in Victorian English terms) would be the 'highest status' gender honorific. Attaching an honorific at all shows that Moriarty, at least, is not falling into the trap his creators have about dehumanizing an artificial being.

    Holographic Water Feels Wet? 
  • In one episode, Wesley Crusher gets soaked after falling into a swamp in the holodeck. If all the simulated matter in a holodeck can't exist outside it, then why is Wesley still dripping wet when he comes out?
    • Because that was the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint" and the "rules" for the holodeck were not yet established.
    • Apparently holodecks are capable of replicating foodstuffs, such as water and tea, and simple objects, such as the picture of the Enterprise Moriarty drew in "Elementary Dear Data".
    • "Emergence", the third to last episode of the series, finds characters still holding champagne glasses after a holodeck program ends, despite being given the drinks as part of the simulation. So the series apparently never established "rules" for the holodeck.
    • And don't forget the snowball in "Angel One."
    • I seem to remember somewhere that the hollodeck technology was described as a combination of holographic projections and replicator technology to add a bit of realism to the hollodecks.
    • It must make use of replicator technology, because it would classify as Fridge Horror in my opinion if one eats a huge banquet in the holodeck, yet as soon as they leave the room, all the food disappears. The stomach could not handle that.
    • Honestly, it makes sense to incorporate real water into holodeck programs. If you want to go swimming at a pool on the holodeck, then exit the holodeck and walk back to your quarters, you want to stay feeling refreshed right? You don't want to completely dry out the moment you step out of the holodeck; you want to retain some of that moisture, that fresh feeling. And on a related point: human skin does absorb water—it's the reason your fingers and toes get all pruney when you swim or bathe—so it could also be potentially hazardous for a pruney person to walk out of the holodeck and all that holographic water just instantly disappear.
    • This may fall as WMG, but this Troper believes he remembers hearing that the arch was supposed to solve this. To exit the program, call for the arch, everyone gathers under the arch as a "Safety zone" and when the program is terminated, the holodeck dematerializes everything else in the room. Thus, people are safe, the food they consumed is safe, but the deck is still cleared. (This would seem to be why Wesley was so worried about dematerializing people in "The Big Goodbye" and things like snowballs, drawings of the Enterprise, and the occasional mobster could exit the deck, as they physically did exist, though the more complicated objects were unstable due to their dynamic nature).

     Holodeck!Stephen Hawking being paralyzed. 
  • Why was the Stephen Hawking in Data's poker match still paralyzed? I mean, I know he was played by the real Stephen Hawking, but that doesn't explain it in universe. Steve and the other geniuses seemed to be self aware, so at some point wouldn't Mr. Hawking have said "Hey, thinks for including me, considering me so highly even after centuries of other super smart people, but could I please have the use of my body back?"
    • You'll have to forgive me, but this is one of the oddest complaints I have ever heard. This is a program that Data designed. Hawking only has self-awareness within its parameters, and presumably would never even think of such a thing, since it does not involve playing poker.
      • It isn't really a complaint, just...well, a headscratcher. I mean, the way they reference the apple that fell on Newton's head makes me think they tell stories and talk to each other like real people, not simple drones.
      • Yes, that's what they're programmed to do. Holodeck characters are designed to act like they're self-aware. Only on very rare occasions does that mean they are self-aware.
      • Well, think of it this way. On Futurama, one of the commentaries describes them debating whether or not Hawking's head should appear as it does today, or as it might if he were cured. They decided that the heads all have to appear as the person was when they were most famous (whether or not this makes a ton of sense). The same logic applies to TNG, even when you think of it in in-universe terms (this is a presentation of Hawking, not the man himself, and why would Data think of not interacting with Hawking as he was most famous?)
    • As it is, the episode's presentation of Professor Hawking is still not consistent with how Hawking is in real life. In real life, it takes him an extremely long time to write (and therefore have his computerized voice say) even a single sentence. From That Other Wiki:
      In Hawking's many media appearances, he appears to speak fluently through his synthesiser, but in reality, it is a tedious drawn-out process. Hawking's setup uses a predictive text entry system, which requires only the first few characters in order to auto-complete the word, but as he is only able to use his cheek for data entry, constructing complete sentences takes time. His speeches are prepared in advance, but having a live conversation with him provides insight as to the complexity and work involved. During a TED Conference talk, it took him seven minutes to answer a question.
    • But obviously no one would want to watch a TNG episode in which there's a seven-minute pause between Hawking's poker quips; that'd be your whole episode right there. So, some concessions were made to make the holographic Hawking's condition "better" than in real life.
      • Makes perfect sense: If you were making a computer simulation of Stephen Hawking, you'd proabably make him, well, look like Stephen Hawking. You'd probably also take advantage of the fact it's a simulation to speed up his speech, probably by having the computer make the holo-synthesizer speak directly without going through holo-Hawking at all.
      • This is also indicated in the DS9 episode Badda-bing badda bang - where an early 1960s Las Vegas lounge which is otherwise incredibly detailed and period-specific is specifically described as not discriminating based on skin-color (despite the civil-rights movement in it's early stages in the U.S.) so that everyone can enjoy the program. They enjoy historical realism, but they aren't above making various conceits for the sake of user enjoyment.
    • By the same logic, you could also wonder why the computer is portraying Einstein as old man with Einstein Hair in this scene, even though holo-Einstein could just as well look like this. The answer is that the appearance of Einstein later in his life has become the Theme Park Version of him, the way most people imagine him when he gets mentioned somewhere. The same is true for Hawkings and his wheelchair.

    You're through ducking me, Hill! 
  • In the Dixon Hill program featured in "Manhunt", the computer changes scenarios from a guy pointing a pistol at Picard to someone grabbing him by the lapels to rushing into his office with a Tommy gun! This despite Picard's insistence on less violence. Is the computer just screwing around with him, or what?
    • Rule of Funny is the real reason, but in-universe it's probably just that the computer isn't sentient, because of that while it's capable of more or less accurately following most commands most of the time, sometimes it's incapable of perfectly following what it's user ACTUALLY wants. It's kind of how voice recognition software will frequently fail to understand you unless it's capable of learning your distinct speaking voice.
      • While this is unlikely to be the case, it's worth noting that a lot of the computer's less user-friendly moments make a lot more sense if you assume that the computer is just dicking with people. One of the best examples I can think of is The Mind's Eye, in which Gerodi tries to pass the time by playing a game with the computer, which seems to go out of its way to make the game un-winnable. It's probably just a result of a quirky user interface, but sometimes it can seem downright vindictive.
    • That is addressed in the episode, the computer tells him that as he's in a Dixon Hill program those we the only scenarios it can give him. Picard is going the equivalent of complaining that he has to shoot the enemy to win COD.

     The Enterprise flunked creative writing 
  • So in Elementary, Dear Data, after Data easily solves a preexisting Sherlock Holmes mystery, Geordi tries to get the computer to make a new story In The Style Of Sherlock Holmes that he wouldn't know the answer to, but it just ends up being made up of parts from existing stories, which Data is able to recognize. Geordi's next attempt to create a mystery that Data can't solve winds up creating a sapient intelligence, and yet the computer can't come up with an entirely original Sherlock Holmes mystery?
    • An original Sherlock Holmes mystery that can challenge Data.
    • The program is limited by the order it is given. Geordi wants a Sherlock Holmes mystery that can stump Data. The computer can create any scenario, obviously, but it can only go so far before it strays from the concept of a 'Sherlock Holmes' story. A normal person would probably be tied up if you were to mishmash 4 different stories together coherently, but Data has his android-level pattern recognition skills, which forces the computer to take a villian Up to Eleven in order to challenge him.
      • Neither of those two follow from how I remember the episode (though I might have to watch it again to be sure). The first program Geordi and Data attempt is one specific mystery, which Data solves easily because he knows the ending already. Then after discussing it with Data and Pulaski, Geordi starts a second program which is supposed to be original (but isn't). He doesn't try to tailor this one specifically to beating Data, presumably because he thinks that just having an original mystery would be enough to force Data to play by the rules. The third attempt is the one where he wants the program specifically to beat Data, which results in Moriarty, but that's not the one I'm talking about. I'm talking about the second attempt, which Geordi requested to be original, but it didn't do that even though, again, the computer is powerful enough to create a sapient intelligence (and thus, theoretically, could recreate Arthur Conan Doyle to the best of its ability behind the scenes of the program and have him write an original story!)
    • Yes, the nonsentient computer that can only use what's been fed into it by sentient creative people isn't that great at being creative on its own. This really isn't all that shocking. Really all it did when Geordi requested a villain who could challenge Data was put Moriarty in "free range" mode like we see some other holograms, like the Lea Brahms one, do. He stopped just speaking lines the computer fed him and went "Oh, hey, look at that." It's quite possible he's not really sentient and just that the computer's no longer having him fail to react to things like Starfleet uniforms and the Arch like it has most of its holograms ignore them.
    • This probably isn't the case (another troper could probably a dozen holes in this theory with a little thought), but I've always wondered if maybe Moriarty was never sentient, the computer just wrote a story in which Moriarty becomes self-aware and takes over the ship. And later, when Barkley accidentally accessed the program, the computer quickly wrote a sequel. Starfleet computers, being slightly less secure than the average doggy door, don't seem to mind putting ships in danger for no good reason, so messing with critical ship systems for the sake of its story doesn't seem all that out of character.

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 discretely 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 Boraalan's "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 in 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 neighbourhood 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.

    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.
      • What makes the war game irrelevant is that they are pitting one of Star Fleet's best ships, under the command of an alleged tactical genius, against a barely functional wreck being run by a skeleton crew. What does Star Fleet expect to learn from this exercise, exactly? The ship Riker commands isn't even supposed to have warp capability! Is the point to simulate a badly damaged ship fighting a vastly superior enemy? In which case, why is the tactical genius on the superior enemy vessel, and not proving that even a badly damaged ship can win if it's handled right? I call Idiot Plot on the whole episode.
      • 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 travelling 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 everying 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.
    • 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 suacer 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 the how the children on board 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...
      • 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.)
      • 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 traumatised 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 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 actally 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.
      • 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).
    • 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.
    • 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 crewmembers 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...
      • 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 traumatised 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.
      • 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 instantanously, 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.
      • 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.

    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; and Archer, who was outright evil on occasion). 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), Janeway was a product of being in a difficult situation and Archer was a product of shitty writing. 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 shipful 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 offence (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 "viewscreen", 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...
    • 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.
  • 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 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.
      • 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?
      • 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.

    Best Captain Debate Thread 
  • I score Kirk, Sisko, Picard. Janeway, Archer.
    • Sisko occasionally does evil, against the Maquis, but so does Picard and Janeway hates La Résistance worst of all.
      • Really? Janeway never came across as hating the Maquis, she just disagreed with them on how to handle the Kazon. They arguably got off easy under Janeway; Sisko definitely wouldn't have allowed any Maquis officers.
  • The best is Captain Spock, the man that trained half of Starfleet, who gave his life to stop Khan, who initiated actual peace talks with the Klingons after Praxis, who commanded the Enterprise in a complex rescue from Klingon space, and then went on to start peace talks with the Romulans which ended in him carrying out a doomed mission to stop a quantum wibbly thing. Sadly lost down a quantumn wibbly thing and Never Seen Again. Worst Captain, let Janeway and Archer have a Thunderdome match to find that out, two idiots enter one idiot leaves!
    • I give it to Sisko. Kirk and Picard are tied for second and are close behind Sisko, occasionally surpassing him on their best days. Janeway and Archer are a considerable distance behind these three, but I still think they're all right. Archer is better than Janeway in my book.
    • How does this belong under Headscratchers? I suppose it is a question...
    • I think it completely depends on the mission. If Starfleet needs someone to fix a screwed-up culture or defeat a rampaging computer, they send Kirk (if Kirk had made first contact with the Borg, he would have Logic Bombed them back to the stone age). You need someone to settle a dispute between cultures, kick someone's ass with diplomacy, or explore the hell out of uncharted space? That's right in Picard's wheelhouse. It would be insane if you picked anybody other than Sisko to fight a war, infiltrate a foreign government, or beat Cthulhu unconscious. Ring Janeway if you have a deadly situation that requires someone to throw themselves in without thinking, and somehow come out on top in defiance of all logic, common sense, or physical laws. And Archer...um...well, he might have skills that we were never shown on-screen.

     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 existance (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.

     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 superhumans, 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 DS( 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.

     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 Masterpeiece 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.
    • 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.

     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?
    • IIRCPicard 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.

     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, this kind of oddities are sometime bigger in TNG. The main characters are sometime on a parallel circuit, not only Wesley the underage helmsman. Beeing 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 department that they weren’t even member. Instead of giving Tasha’s job to one of her fellow tactical officer, Picard choses Worf. The engineering section is full of working engineers, but an 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 Enteprise-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.
    • Are the main characters all too shy to befriend their other crewmates 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.

     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?

Other Civilizations

The Borg Collective

     The Borg have assimilated hundreds of races! You just never see any of them! 
  • Seriously, every Borg drone has a smooth forehead, small round ears (if you can see them), curved eyebrows, is of average height and generally looks like they started as a human rather than any of the humanoid races who don't look like that. We know they've assimilated Klingons, Ferengi, Romulans and presumably lots of Delta Quandrant races. Where are they all?
    • This is discussed on the main Star Trek Headscratchers page.
    • For a quick answer consider that there are different kinds of drones and different races make better specific kinds of drones. So, naturally races with similar biologies are going to fill the same roles more often and since we typically only see certain areas of Borg vessels we're going to see a lot of similar looking drones. Plus Borg remove limbs so any racial indicator that was deemed irrelevant or inefficient would be removed and likely replaced with some implant.
    • The short, realistic answer: They're already probably spending several hours on every single Borg drone that shows up on screen, they don't need to add the extra six or so hours that it takes to do a proper Klingon or Ferenghi forehead.

    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.
      • Hmm... Try (Resolve Star Fleet mindfuck) // On error (Give up) // End try.
      • But the Borg wouldn't be willing to give up that easily. This is new information that must be absorbed, processed and assimilated into the collective.
    • 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.
    • It was a Borg BLIT.
    • 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 analysing 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 centres 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 screentime 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?).

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.
    • 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 behaviour 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 colonised. 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).
    • 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 homeworld 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]].

      • 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.

      • 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 homeworlds 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 defence 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 Ferrengi 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.

    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 rumours 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 Gawron 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.

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.
    • 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 preform 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.

    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 send any vessel which would be a bit suspicious if they stated that thay 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 inteligence 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 succesful raids and invasions. You know, instead of trying to screw over and supress 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.

    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 it's 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.

Q and the Q Continuum

    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?"

    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 Q's involved in judging those species, or maybe they just haven't gotten around to them yet. Or there aren't any Q's 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. Its 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 Quandrant 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, beyond conventional comprehension.

Other

    Here's a conundrum for you 

  • Keiran MacDuff has to be the world's worst villain. Nevermind 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 liason 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 preform 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.
    • 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.
  • WM Ging here, but maybe it's as simple as the Satarran's 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 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!
    • 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.
      • 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 shipful 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.

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 crewmembers' 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.

     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 pass 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.

     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.

    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.

     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!

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.
    • If you don't mind a bit of cross-fandom handwaving, I believe The Doctor (Doctor Who) summed it up when he said "People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly...timey-wimey...stuff." Time paradoxes don't always make sense.
    • 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).

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 thoses of the prior generation. The baby-boomers are usally 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.

     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 Viewscreen 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 viewscreen shots, especially ones with a character in them?
      • Green screens? A different set?
      • When they need the viewscreen in the shot, they wheel in its proscenium and raise a bluescreen (probably greenscreen 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.
    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 Varr Burton's eyepiece was actually screwed to his temples which caused him actual pain. Adhesives or straps wouldn't work, somehow.
    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.

    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 Hunt For The 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.

    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".

    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).
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