These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Archer. SF Debris loves to riff that he's actually an insane homeless man Starfleet found living in a box somewhere. Given some of his orders during the show's run, Chuck's theory actually might not be too far off.
Future Guy. While Word of God says he's probably a 27th century Romulan, some fans believe he's either an alternate-future Archer or possibly the Archer from the Mirror Universe.
A common fan theory is that the only way that Archer got his job was because Henry Archer called in some favours before he died.
Alternatively, Archer has been riding on his father's name to get positions such as Captain of Enterprise.
Anvilicious: The season 3 episode Chosen Realm. Plenty of religious extremism, religion used to justify suicide bombings and other killings, etc.
"Carpenter Street" feels like an early Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, as it takes every opportunity to lecture its 21st century audience about how backward their society is. Fossil fuel, smoking, and fast food are all ridiculed.
Otherwise, despite the Issue Drift, season 3 managed to avert this trope (narrowly) with regards to the Xindi main storyline.
Author's Saving Throw: The Vulcans in Enterprise (particularly T'Pol) were criticized by viewers for acting very un-Vulcan-like, nearly indistinguishable from Romulans. This was used as the basis of a three-episode story in the fourth season involving the Syrannites, an orthodox sect of Vulcans (in contrast to Vulcan society which has "strayed from Surak's teachings"), and the discovery of the Kir'Shara (the original copy of Surak's writings).
It is said that Season 5 would have revealed that T'Pol was actually half-Romulan, which would have gone a long way toward explaining her behavior.
And by trying to explain her behaviour in this manner, this would have been an amazing demonstration of an inversion of the Author's Saving Throw trope. Firstly by bringing up huge continuity issues because Phlox's extensive surveys of her DNA - which he studied to try to find a cure for Pa'nar's Syndrome - would have picked up the genetic differences (particularly adaptive mutations) that Romulans accumulated while being separated from Vulcans. If there is enough genetic diversity between Vulcans and Romulans that it would cause a break-down in her ability to control her emotions, then it would be easily noticed at a sub-cellular level. And secondly, by insinuating that Romulans have a genetic predisposition to not control their emotions (or to have less inherent emotional control) even if they have been brought up with the same beliefs and discipline as normal Vulcans, this would not only have been a righteously stupid use of Hollywood Evolutionnote even twenty thousand years apart would not be anywhere near sufficient time to rewrite the synaptic pathways of the limbic system for an entire population but it would have destroyed so much continuity and known fact about both species that Star Trek fans would be perfectly justified in writing extensive complaint letters. To be blunt, T'Pol's emotional displays can be explained by many things. The Vulcans behaviour can be explained even more easily considering the quiet social and cultural upheavals that were going on at the time and happened between the date of this series and that of TOS - e.g. acceptance of the mindmeld which indicates an increased ability among Vulcans to temper their emotions and confront intimacy. The idea that maybe mental discipline doesn't quieten emotions as much as it should in some Vulcans actually gives insight into their mentality and can be explained and justified by any number of reasons. A half-Romulan parent would only raise more continuity questions and inconsistencies and would invalidate quite a few insights that the show has shown about Vulcans. In other words: it would be a marvelously stupid idea and one so heartily damaging to canon facts about characters and species that the author who came up with it would have been paying for it for years to come if it had been implemented.
It would not, however, have been anything new. The Wrath of Khan has a deleted scene which specifically describes Saavik as being half-Romulan in order to explain her occasional emotional displays.
This is an illustrative case of how any work that has multiple authors can develop continuity problems, thus requiring frequent invocation of the Author's Saving Throw. Established Trek canon had long stated that Vulcans are in fact very emotional, which is why working so hard at suppressing their emotions forms the core of their culture (note: they are also lying when they claim they cannot lie). So a genetic root cause for Vulcans behaving emotionally is only needed when writers come in who are not fully-versed in the canon. Romulans are just Vulcans who don't bother with suppressing their emotions and canonically left Vulcan specifically because they did not want to adopt Surak's philosophy. In this regard, Vulcans and Romulans are no different than humans, who in Trek may range from highly self-controlled (e.g. Picard) to very passionate and emotional (e.g. McCoy).
Another complaint was how the show did nothing to show the formation of the Federation. Again, this was addressed in the fourth season with a three-episode story that showed the beginnings of alliance between Humans, Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites (the Federation's four founding species) as well as the formation of the "Coalition of Planets" in the penultimate two-part story.
Also, the greatest one of all, "Judgment", which turns the entire Klingon race from a gigantic flanderization to a retroactive Tear Jerker that shows that the warrior caste took over the Klingon's entire culture slowly over several hundred years. By the time of Star Trek: Voyager, the warriors are all that's left.
Basically, Season 4 can be seen as one really long Author's Saving Throw...because they got a new head writer, who promptly set the writers' team to cleaning up the mess of his predecessors. It wasn't perfect, but there was reasonably only so much they could do in one season, as well as devoting so much time to retconning the three previous clunky seasons.
Although re-hashing the "Augments" issue in such a predictable way after the massive attention it got in DS9 was an example of the writers of season 4 having some of the same issues that previous season writers had.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: In "Broken Bow", after Archer gets shot in the leg, he has a flashback to his childhood recalling some advice his father gave, then he suddenly sees T'Pol standing there glaring at him.
The couple of times in the first season when the crew are having casual conversations while rubbing each other down with gel half-naked in the decon chamber. It came completely out of nowhere. The only possible reason why one of the scenes occurred was because it featured T'Pol and Trip rubbing each other down while arguing, which could have been foreshadowing for their relationship developments in season 3, but even that explanation is reaching.
Broken Base: The Star Trek fanbase in general is divided up between people who think Enterprise was either an okay-but-not-perfect series and those who think it pretty much was a horrible muddle that murdered Star Trek on television. The people who think the show was okay tend to view the people who don't as nit-picking Jerk Asses who tear down and Accentuate the Negative on things that TNG, DS9 and Voyager all got away with. The people who think this is a bad series think those who like it are idiots who are easily satisfied by pathetic attempts at Fanservice and wouldn't know quality if it bit them on the ass.
There is a serious divide among fans of the series over the closing "These are the voyages..." narration in the last episode. Some fans thought it was cool that they divided the narration up among the various Captains of the Enterprise, while others saw it as a Take That to Scott Bakula, who (they argue) had earned the right to make the entire narration himself.
A similar break was caused by the 2009 reboot when Leonard Nimoy gave the narration rather than Chris Pine.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Shran—so much so that he would have joined the ship's crew in the planned season 5 as a regular character. His ambiguous status as ally/rival was played with flair by series veteran Jeffery Combs.
Epileptic Trees: A theory that existed as far back as the pilot episode was that Enterprise was actually a Show Within a Show in the world of TNG-era Trek, which explained the more advanced-looking technology and supposed continuity errors. This remained a fringe theory in Enterprise fandom for several years, until the series finale was shown to have a holonovel of the Enterprise as a framing device, and all of a sudden the theory was taken a lot more seriously.
A nice addendum to the theory would be that with the Xindi incident and the Earth-Romulan War, most of the missions relating to the NX-01 were heavily classified by Starfleet, which remained in effect even into the 24th century, out of fear that some of the Enterprise's more dubious activities might have damaged the Federation if word ever got out. As such, Enterprise is the merely the revisionist history known to the public.
Esoteric Happy Ending: In "Dear Doctor", Archer and Phlox decide not to give the Valakians and Menk a cure to their illness, likely dooming both races to extinction, and this decision helps Phlox gain new respect for Archer? This can be blamed on Executive Meddling; the episode was supposed to end with Archer and Phlox at odds with each other (Archer wanting the cure, Phlox opposing it), but the network didn't want any disagreements between them.
Not to mention the whole issue of "What timeline is it a part of?" that's cropped up since Abrams' Star Trek came out. The answer varies depending on who you ask. Word of God is the series is part of the new timeline that was created in Star Trek: First Contact.
Fanon Discontinuity: A large portion of the fanbase rejects the series finale "These Are The Voyages". Some of the actors have publicly and vocally done so as well. Some people reject it entirely, while others reject it as a historical fabrication thanks to the fact that it took place on the Enterprise-D's holodeck. The Expanded Universe novels take this latter route.
Fetish Retardant: The blatant fanservice appeal of the decontamination scenes turned away quite a few potential fans. True, there was a slight ratings bump for the especially titillating "A Night in Sickbay" — and the numbers plummeted that following week. Those viewers never returned, either.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In "Dear Doctor", Dr. Phlox and Crewman Cutler have a discussion about the heart's place as the emotional center for humans, which ends with Cutler saying "you may know about our cardiopulmonary system, but you have a lot to learn about the human heart.". Cutler's actress, Kellie Waymire, would die from a heart defect in 2003.
Growing the Beard: Season 3 or 4. Both seasons (particularly the latter) were far and away better received than what came before.
Harsher in Hindsight: In many ways, Season Two's "Regeneration" is a quintessential "in-universe" example. Part of the thrill of the episode is the fact that viewers with even a passing familiarity with the Borg are far more aware of what the characters are up against than the characters are...and thus, the fact that they're all in grave danger.
Hilarious in Hindsight: In a first season episode, someone is amazed at how far Archer and his crew have come, and asks him what things have been named after him back on Earth. Archer laughs this idea off, but it's revealed later that, eventually, two planets were named after him.
After the show's cancellation, fans attempted a campaign to fund a fifth season. Disregarding a substantial donation made by a group of people in the aeronautical industry, it only raised a little over $100,000 (enough to produce about a tenth of one episode), and was widely seen as a dismal failure and proof that the remaining Trek fans were at best overly dedicated to a franchise that was Deader Than Disco, and at worst flat-out delusional. Fast-forward to the modern day however, and various types of media (including a continuation of Veronica Mars, the show which UPN canned Enterprise to focus their resources on) getting funding through Kickstarter, it appears that the campaign to save Enteprise was actually way ahead of its time, and just lacked the infrastructure to succeed.
Not precisely hindsight, but if you've ever seen Casablanca, the "Storm Front" episodes—Humphrey Bogart was right when he told Colonel Strasser that "there are parts of New York I'd advise you not to try and invade."
Idiot Plot: "Terra Nova" could have easily been resolved long before the episode, had Earth simply asked the Vulcans to investigate, or if the colonists did not object to another hundred or so people landing on the same planet (planets are big, after all).
Iron Woobie / Stoic Woobie: Reed. Really, the guy should be given a medal for the number of times he's been shot, concussed, crushed under rocks, pinned to the hull of the ship by a Romulan mine, almost hanged, etc.
It's the Same, Now It Sucks: A major complaint about Enterprise, particularly the first couple seasons, was how strongly similar it was to all the previous Trek shows, particularly Voyager.
To the point where even though the technology won't be invented in the Federation for another two centuries, the fifth episode featured an alien holodeck, while the eighth episode has the Replic- sorry, Protein Resequencer, capable of turning human faeces into a pair of boots.
More damagingly, Rick Berman had been the man in charge of the franchise since Gene Roddenberry's death, and in the first two seasons fans got the distinct impression that his mindset was still stuck in how television worked at that time, ignoring how the format had been revolutionized starting in the late '90s to feature heavy serialization and few standalone stories.
My Real Daddy: The 4th season, with Manny Coto as showrunner, is held to higher esteem than the first 3 seasons run by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. See also Running the Asylum.
Nightmare Fuel: Tarquin in "The Exile." Someone from a planet many light-years away who invades Hoshi's thoughts, reads your entire past and all her current thoughts with total accuracy, and makes contact with her in a way that makes her think she's going crazy, hijacks her senses so she hallucinates him on all the viewscreens in the room (which you know, isn't a scene out of the horror genre or anything), and then tries to coerce her into staying with him forever by faking that Archer is going to abandon her there. (And then he attacks her ship.) Want to make stalking even scarier than it already is? Give them long-range telepathy.
Running the Asylum: Season Four alone has more explicit references to the original series then all previous Star Trek series combined. "In a Mirror, Darkly" restaged some events from a TOS episode frame by frame, also featuring a faithful reconstruction of a bridge similar to the original Enterprise.
This is also a rare case of this sort of thing dramatically improving the show on all fronts. Since the new staff really cared about making a good Trek show, they worked a lot harder at making the show good than previous teams had.
Scapegoat Creator: Berman and Braga. It doesn't help that in addition to writing some of the more notorious and critically panned episodes, they penned the much-loathed finale and believed it to be "a Valentine's to the fans".
Both Berman and Braga would later admit that they regretted the finale and understood the backlash, with Braga apologising for the latter comment on the Enterprise Season 2 Blu-Ray, believing that this was rather a narcissistic statement on his and Berman's part.
Shocking Swerve: The ending of Season 3. After a season's worth of fighting Xindi, talking to Xindi, and being informed by Daniels that the Temporal Cold War hinges on correctly resolving the Xindi situation, the crew finally stops the Xindi weapon and gets ready for a heroic homecoming only to find... Nazis have taken over the world. Because of the Temporal Cold War. Not only did this completely pull the rug out from under the dramatic finale episodes, it came with no foreshadowing whatsoever and had nothing at all to do with the Xindi.
Strawman Has a Point: In Fortunate Son we're obviously supposed to disagree with the humans on the freighter who are trying to attack a base of Nausicaan pirates because the humans tortured a prisoner for information and the man in charge, Matthew Ryan, is clearly obsessed. However Ryan has a point. So far Starfleet and the Vulcans haven't done a single thing to stop the pirate attacks and the freighters have to endure constant attacks by far stronger pirates. The episode itself seems to unconsciously admit this when Archer can't think up a good counter to Ryan's complaints.
It gets better. Just two episodes after this episode is "Silent Enemy". A bunch of alien repeatedly attack Enterprise without provocation, injure their crew members and make it very clear they aren't going to stop. Archer's response to someone doing this to his ship? Righteous anger and threatening to fight back with everything they've got! Why does that sound familiar?
Archer in "The Hatchery." He decides they have to keep it running; when the crew protests, Archer says it's the same as if they'd found a nursery full of humanoid babies and saving the hatchery could serve as a point of truce between them and the Xindi, relating a story where soldiers in the Eugenics War called a truce so they could move the battle lines away from a school. Pretty in-line with Star Trek's themes of respecting life even in forms we're unfamiliar with, right? NOPE. This is irrational behavior that leads to Archer genuinely jeopardizing the mission and T'Pol has to mutiny against him. The only reason Archer wants to save the babies (weird, alienbug babies, guys!) is because he got some egg gunk on him that made him reverse-imprint. Once Phlox fixes it, he's perfectly happy to ditch the hatchery with the Hand Wave that "they'll survive until a Xindi ship finds them."
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Could go for many characters, but Travis Mayweather in particular stands out. Born and raised on a space freighter, he had the most practical space experience of the entire crew, despite his relative youth and low rank in Starfleet. The writers never seemed to grasp the inherent hooks of this however, and the poor ensign had more or less nothing significant to do during the show's entire run. Indeed, this even led to an unintentional subplot in the second series, where it seems that every other episode Travis was injured and sent to sickbay, simply to give him a reason to appear in the episode.
Malcolm Reed, who served in freaking Section 31 before joining the Enterprise crew. For the unaware, this is the branch of Starfleet that is roughly on par with MI6 in terms of undercover operations. In other words, James Bond was the weapons officer of this ship, and he wasn't even a part of the Power Trio!
Hoshi Sato being reduced from bridge officer with a vital role and Archer's old friend... to the ship's unofficial errand girl and glorified intern.
To a lesser degree, perhaps one of the few interesting characters in "Broken Bow" was Sarin, the Suliban Cabal defector who is killed after only a few minutes of screen time. One could imagine that she could have made for a great recurring character and foil to Silik, as well as emphasising the threat of the Temporal Cold War dividing entire races into factions, especially if could happen to Humanity as well.
Emory Erickson from "Daedalus", the inventor of the transporter, first human to be transported and like a second father to Archer when he was growing up. The episode could have been far more powerful and tragic if it was revealed he was simply hallucinating his son Quinn being trapped mid-beam, a delusion caused by Transporter Psychosis that was common during this time period due to the imperfect technology. Likewise it would be tragic for Archer, being forced to watch yet another father-figure slowly lose his grip on reality.
During the finale, there's a subplot about the epic speech that Archer gives that will go down in the history books. Don't expect to see it.
It probably isn't an exaggeration to say that most fans expected to see the groundwork being laid for the future series; specifically the Romulan war and the leadup thereunto, as well as the infancy of the United Federation of Planets. There was the odd first encounter with an established race, but this happened incredibly infrequently, and usually didn't lead to much in the way of development. It didn't help that Brannon Braga apparently only set the series that far in the past so that he could get the franchise back to what he thought was its roots; the idea of deep space exploration. According to him, Star Trek was meant to be about exploration but the latest Trek series had gotten away from that.
The entire Temporal Cold War idea was completely wasted. This idea had a huge amount of potential. There could have been crossovers with the TNG DS9 and Voyager crews in order to save the timeline, going back to help ancient humans, explaining myths and legends from earth itself and different cultures. An insane amount of good ideas were just sitting there inherent in the introduction. Even the Suliban could have been made into a great plot. And all of it gone to waste, and in such a way that fans were practically begging for the Time War plot to end because it was so irritating. We never even found out who the Suliban's future sponsor, the guy originally set up as the series' Big Bad, really was...but the Temporal Cold War had gotten so boring by the time it was ditched that few cared anymore.
SF Debris went even further with this, saying the conclusion to the story could have been Archer's crew solving everything at the cost of being erased from the timeline themselves, creating a very moving story about heroes no one would ever know about, and also neatly explaining why such apparently massively important historical figures had never been mentioned in the franchise until now.
On a variation, there are a lot of episodes early in season 3 which were completely unnecessary. The Xindi plotline was - despite the Issue Drift - really rather good, and the episodes which dealt explicitly with it were engaging and interesting. But there were a good fifteen or so episodes that could have been used to flesh out the Xindi and the Sphere-Users. Instead we have things like humans being abducted from the Old West and the crew finding an almost exact recreation on an alien planet where they were prejudiced against aliens instead of Native Americans. Yeah, what stunning and original racial commentary.
In regards to the above "North Star", it's even more bizarre that Mayweather doesn't appear in that episode, nor do we see any black characters on the planet? You'd think that the scenes where the natives defend their belief that Aliens Are Bastards for enslaving humans, only to be shot down when it's pointed out that at the time of their abduction (the 1860's), humans also practiced slavery against other humans?! Furthermore, are there other ethnicities on the planet and if so, are they still prejudiced against them as well? The scenes practically write themselves, yet these things are never addressed?!
The Enterprise XCV-330, the early Starfleet vessel with a ringed warp drive is never shown, despite being alluded to in the design of the Vulcan starships, which evidently inspired the Human engineers to build their own version. "These Are The Voyages" similarly wasted a good opportunity to show the Daedalus-class as being the new Warp 7 vessel replacing the NX-series, since TNG revealed the class was in operation during the 2160's.
Unfortunate Implications: In "Terra Nova" a colony made of white people with only one black person seen in the original roster, devolved into subterranean cavemen played by mostly black actors.
Apparently in "Shockwave Part 2" we're supposed to be happy that Enterprise is able to continue its mission... and forget the whole plot of the first part, was that 3000 colonists were horribly vaporised when they hadn't been in the original timeline... Daniels seems to think time travel is only apparently useful to stroke the ego of Captain Archer.
Many have openly wondered what it says about Tucker's personality that when he's exposed to the inhibition-removing toxin in "Strange New World," he starts going off on rather inflammatory anti-Vulcan rants. However, it's also been pointed out that not only are these rants not really any worse than the ones that Archer spews put practically Once an Episode, Archer indulges in his rants without being under the influence of any such intoxicants.
The aliens from "Unexpected". Technically, what the female engineer did was rape Tucker, even having the gall to lie to his face about what she was doing, calling it "a game". The reason Tucker was on the vessel in the first place was because they had broken down and they needed someone to fix their engines. This takes a rather creepy undertone that later in the episode, no more than a couple days after this, Enterprise finds them tailing a Klingon vessel, seemingly suffering the exact same mechanical problem. Coincidence... or the modus operandi of a bunch of serial date-rapists
"Dear Doctor," where letting an entire sapient race die is what makes Phlox respect Archer. Let us go over that again: They had a cure that would save the aliens... and withheld it, because "Evolution has fated these aliens to die." And this is what will give Archer Phlox's respect? Letting an entire species die out?
Duras waits until Enterprise reaches the solar system until he attacks, allowing Starfleet to quickly deploy reinforcements and drive him off.
The Xindi attack Earth with the prototype superweapon for no apparent reason. They didn't have any way to predict Future Guy cheating and telling Archer about them, but if they hadn't attacked at all, there never would have been any search for the weapon and Earth would have been destroyed.
How about the fact that Starfleet didn't seem to mobilize its Solar System Defense Forces until after the weapon was destroyed! The twenty or so ships we saw welcoming Enterprise back would have been helpful against the Xindi weapon and the ONE ship escorting it!
Alternate!Archer from "E2" had over a century to meet with the Xindi, offer them aid and rebuild their civilisation (Xindus had only just been destroyed), and gain their eternal gratitude. Instead, he pisses the opportunity of a lifetime away, ordering them to fly around the Delphic Expanse. It's not like he cared about trying not to change the timeline either! Several crew members are from races he went on to make contact with whilst in the past, including the woman who would become his wife! But hey, its not like anyone died as a result of your sitting on your hands, right? How are Tucker's sister and those 7 million people, again?
What The Hell, Costuming Department?: The bowl-cut that T'Pol sports is frequently derided by fans, particularly since female Vulcans seen in the TOS-era had a variety of hairstyles, making longer hair hardly canon-breaking. And her wardrobe in general. (We can see Jolene Blalock is a beautiful woman; you don't need to paint on her catsuits to prove it, or make her change multiple times an episode.)
Many fans have also cited her longer hair in "Twilight", "E2" and "In A Mirror Darkly" as being a vast improvement, wondering why it has to take a Bad Future and Alternate Reality for her to get a decent hairstyle?