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These are the voyages...

"Space... the final frontier."

Star Trek is an iconic, long-running science-fiction franchise with six live-action television series, an animated television series, and thirteen live-action movies spanning three generations of characters and six decades of television. And it's still going, with a new series having been released late September 2017. Another new series was announced in August 2018 with Patrick Stewart set to reprise his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The setting in every series is sometime in the distant future featuring a collection of broadly similar rubber-foreheaded polities spanning (fairly small) segments of the so-called 'quadrants' of the Milky Way galaxy, with the stories centered around an Earth-based interstellar government called the United Federation of Planets and the exploits of its fleet of starships, Starfleet. Every series dealt with a particular crew, mostly of various ships named Enterprise. As originally envisioned by its creator, Gene Roddenberry, the science fiction nature of the series was just a method to address many social issues of the time that could not have been done in a normal drama. As such, it was not above being Anvilicious or engaging in thinly-veiled social satire, but considering its origin during the 60's, some anvils needed to be dropped.


It was, for the most part, way on the happy end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism, at least partially because of its solid allegiance to the Enlightened side of Romanticism Versus Enlightenment. But it still found some sort of balance between a Dystopia and a Crystal Spires and Togas future. In general, it is a future you hope will come true, albeit after humanity endured terrible troubles like the Eugenics Wars led by the genetically enhanced conqueror, Khan Noonien Singh, and a third world war, and rose above them. All series have sought to show that while you may think the world is falling apart and there is no chance of global unity, all this crap will eventually work itself out.

The series has also had a profound impact on modern culture and media. Everyone with any exposure to Western pop culture has heard of the Starship Enterprise, and the series predicted (and possibly inspired) the PC, tablet, automatic doors, cell phones, natural-language AI and more, decades before their invention. The first African-American woman in space was inspired to become an astronaut because of Nichelle Nichols' pioneering role. And the prototype Space Shuttle was named after the iconic starship NCC-1701,note  as is Virgin Galactic's first commercial spacecraft.


And finally, while there were previous antecedents (such as the case of Sherlock Holmes and The Man From Uncle) Star Trek effectively gave rise to Fandom as we know it: when Star Trek: The Original Series began to pick up steam in syndication, fans organized conventions, wrote fanfiction, dressed in costume, and generally made enough noise to keep the franchise going for fifty years and counting. Every fandom since has grown from that original outpouring of fannish activity and devotion.

The franchise consists of:

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Television Series

    "Original Series era" shows (1966-74) 
Star Trek: The Original Series ("TOS", 1966-1969)

Set from 2265-2269 — The one everyone has heard of (at the time, of course, it was just called Star Trek). Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) leads the brave crew of the Cool Starship Enterprise on a mission "to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, and to boldly go where no man has gone before."

The format was pitched as a Wagon Train to the Stars, with new planets and aliens encountered every week, though the Klingons and Romulans would become regulars in the Star Trek galaxy. The original series suffered in the ratings, but gained a devoted fanbase. Un-Canceled after the second season, and then Cancelled again at the end of the third. It really picked up steam in syndication, which was about the time demographics came into play — and the Real Life moon landing happened a week after its last episode aired. The series was also notable for depicting a racially diverse cast of characters working together peacefully; a bold, progressive move at a time when racial tensions were at an all-time high.

The show's writing was innovative, the cast had great chemistry and the characters themselves were very memorable, to the point of creating three new archetypes: The Kirk, The Spock, and The McCoy. In fact, this series created so many new tropes that it has left an unmistakable mark on both television and pop culture ever since. Not to mention inspired a lot of mostly affectionate parodies.

Star Trek: The Animated Series ("TAS", 1973-1974)

Set from 2269-2270 — Showcases the final year or so of the Enterprise crew's 5-year mission from The Original Series. Used most of the original cast (and a few additions) to provide voices for the animated versions of their characters. The quality of the show was hit and miss, with some being mediocre cartoon fare while others were excellent, and the series got the franchise's first Emmy award. 22 episodes were produced.

The official canonicity of this series has gone back and forthnote , but at least some elements have bled over into the rest of the franchise (most notably, identifying the "T" in James T. Kirk to stand for "Tiberius") and the addition of the cat-like Caitians to the mythos (see Star Trek Into Darkness).

Star Trek: Phase II

The growing syndication success of the original show and massive fanbase convention turnouts lead to the development of new series to head a Paramount Pictures-based network. The series got far enough along with a dozen scripts written plus costumes created and sets built. A combination of Troubled Production and Development Hell lead to most of those assets being transferred to Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It was to be a direct continuation of the original series featuring a second five-year mission, introducing a number of new characters in conjunction with most the original crew.

Many of the concepts from Phase II (along with some scripts) made their way into Star Trek: The Next Generation and the series itself is considered deuterocanon — not "true" canon, because it never made it to the screen, but allowed in Broad Strokes to fill a gap in Trek chronology (notice the fictional length of time between The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan). See also the Memory Alpha article.

    "Next Generation era" shows (1987-2005) 
Star Trek: The Next Generation ("TNG", 1987-1994)

Set from 2364-2370 — The other one everyone has heard of. Takes place in the mid-24th century on the Enterprise-D, with a new batch of Starfleet officers led by captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) on the same mission of exploration as the original.

Introduced the holodeck (although a version of it appeared first in the canon/noncanon "TAS"), defined the Klingons as being a society of honor and war, and really hit it home with creating the cybernetic alien race, the Borg. Also, there was Q. The same basic creative team was responsible for the subsequent three television series and often referred to as "The Next Generation Era."

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ("DS9", 1993-1999)

Set from 2369-2375 — Takes place concurrently with the end of Next Generation and the lion's share of Voyager, and conceived as a Spin-Off of TNG. Set on a former Cardassian space station (formerly Terok Nor, renamed Deep Space Nine), in a politically unstable part of space near the planet Bajor, with exclusive access to a rare stable wormhole that leads from the Alpha to the Gamma Quadrant. As a kind-of testament to the progressive ideals of The Original Series, DS9 introduced the franchise's first protagonist captain of color, Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks).

From the fourth season onwards, when former TNG character Worf joined the cast, the whole series got much darker, focusing on a galaxy-spanning war between the Gamma Quadrant's Dominion, aided by the Cardassians, and the Federation, Klingons, Romulans and more. Was also the first Trek series to use Story Arcs extensively, rather than persisting with a strictly episodic format. Generally considered the Oddball in the Series as far as the television shows go, though usually in a positive way; while there is a portion of the fanbase that dislikes it, those who do like it tend to consider it the franchise's high-water mark.

Star Trek: Voyager ("VOY", 1995-2001)

Set from 2371-2378 — Another Spin-Off of Next Generation, conceived as a more direct successor to it than DS9. While searching for a group of rogue Federation citizens called the Maquis, both the title ship and the Maquis vessel are flung across the galaxy and stranded in the Delta Quadrant, 70,000 light years and seventy-five years' travel from home (Lost in Space a la Star Trek).

Introduces Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), the first female main character captain in the franchise. In the mainstream, this show is best — perhaps only — known for its Ms. Fanservice character, Seven of Nine. Among fans, it's infamous for the Villain Decay of the Borg, the obscene levels of Techno Babble, and mashing the Reset Button after roughly every other episode, but it is also notable for tackling controversial topics even other Trek series wouldn't touch.

Star Trek: Enterprise, previously titled as just Enterprise until season 3, ("ENT", 2001-2005)

Set from 2151-2155 — The first Prequel series set over a hundred years before the voyages of James T. Kirk, when humans were just getting their space legs (and the Applied Phlebotinum is not nearly as reliable), aboard Earth's first, experimental Warp 5-capable starship, the Enterprise NX-01 led by Capt. Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula). It began with a Myth Arc involving the Enterprise crew getting caught up in a "Temporal Cold War" being fought by several rival Time Travel factions, though it gradually fell victim to the The Chris Carter Effect.

The series was then Retooled twice: first with the third season introducing an ambitious season-spanning Story Arc centering around the sudden appearance of a mysterious new aggressor called the Xindi, and then with the fourth and final season consisting of several two-to-three-episode-long "mini-arcs" that laid the groundwork for the Federation in earnest. Sadly, just as it began to pick up steam, it was abruptly cancelled. Infamous for the pop song in the opening credits, and for being the first Trek series since the original to be canceled before the usual seven seasons.

    "Discovery era" shows (2017-ongoing) 
Star Trek: Discovery ("DIS", 2017-ongoing)

Set from 2255-Ongoing — a live-action prequel series set in the prime timelinenote  roughly 10 years before The Original Series. Executive-produced by Alex Kurtzman, who contributed to the first two J. J. Abrams films, and showran by Bryan Fuller, who wrote for DS9 and VOY, the series will be streamed on CBS All Access, the network's on demand/streaming service, while also airing in syndication in the same way TNG did. In Canada, the series will be available on CraveTV and air on Space Channel. In every other country worldwide, except Mainland China, the series will be streamed to Netflix.

Unlike previous shows where the protagonist is always usually The Captain, this series mainly concerns the adventures of Cmdr. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), the Number Two on the eponymous USS Discovery (NCC-1031), during a period when the uneasy cease-fire with the Klingons unexpectedly grows tense. Also introduces Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp), the franchise's first explicitly gay characternote . Despite mostly great reception from fans and critics alike, the show is something of a base breaker — partly because it is yet another prequel, and partly because it blunders into some of the same prequel-related issues that Star Trek: Enterprise did.

Star Trek: Picard

At the 2018 Star Trek Convention, Patrick Stewart made a surprise appearance to announce that he would be returning to the role of Picard in a new CBS Access series. The show premiered in January 2020 and is set 20 years after we last saw Picard in Nemesis (only three years more than the real time gap). It takes place after the Romulan supernova seen in JJ Abrams's Star Trek (2009) and explores some of the ramifications of it.

In the first season, Picard is long since retired from Starfleet due to ideological differences but gets dragged back into space by a cry for help from a mysterious young woman who may or may not be Data's daughter. Also, androids are illegal and the Romulans are messing with a Borg cube that broke down on their doorstep.

    Upcoming Shows 

Star Trek: Lower Decks

In a radical departure from the franchise's usual output, this series is a half-hour animated comedy developed by Mike McMahon of Rick and Morty fame. It focuses on the support crew of "one of Starfleet's least important ships," and was immediately picked up for two seasons on CBS Access.

Star Trek: Section 31

A spin-off from Star Trek: Discovery has been announced focusing on the secret Starfleet agency, Section 31 with Michelle Yeoh reprising her role.

Nickelodeon is also working on a cartoon aimed at children which will focus on a group of delinquent teenagers having adventures in abandoned Starfleet ship that they find.

Movie Series

     Original Movie Series 
When the Phase II network project died and the insane success of Star Wars: A New Hope made sci-fi films profitable again, Paramount elaborated the series pilot into The Movie, which ultimately led to a whole line of movies.

Movies in the franchise include:

  • December 7, 1979 — Star Trek: The Motion Picture (c. 2273) — Kirk rallies the old crew to intercept a technological Eldritch Abomination heading towards Earth. Said to be a padded out Phase II episode script, and bears resemblance to a couple original series episodes.
  • June 4, 1982 — Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (2285) — Khan from the TOS episode "Space Seed" returns intending to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • June 1, 1984 — Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (2285) — The crew find that for Vulcans, Death Is Cheap. Kirk and crew risk everything to get Spock back.
  • November 26, 1986 — Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (2286/1986) — To save Earth from a destructive, silent alien probe, Kirk and crew Time Travel to The '80s and save the whales. Also, they need nuclear wessels.
  • June 9, 1989 — Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (2287) — After a botched attempt to rescue hostages, the Enterprise is commandeered by a radical Vulcan who intends to find God.
  • December 6, 1991 — Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (2293) — Klingons sue for peace in a near perfect recreation of the Cold War finale. Quite blatantly a rip on the Cold War and its concurrent real-life end, precipitated by a lunar equivalent to the Chernobyl explosion. (In)Famously establishes Klingon blood to be a lovely lilac colour, but only for this installment.
  • November 18, 1994 — Star Trek: Generations (2293, then 2371) — A Mad Scientist seeks to destroy billions to reach a Negative Space Wedgie that allows Kirk to meet Picard. The first movie to feature the TNG cast and was intended as a torch-passing moment rather than a final farewell to the original cast that Star Trek VI was.
  • November 22, 1996 — Star Trek: First Contact (2373/2063) — The Borg attempt to assimilate Earth in the past, with Picard slowly becoming Captain Ahab against them.note  It also shows humanity's official first contact with an alien species, the seed from which the Federation would flower.
  • December 11, 1998 — Star Trek: Insurrection (2375) — Finding that The Federation intends to pillage a Shangri-La planet, Picard actively rebels to save them.
  • December 13, 2002 — Star Trek: Nemesis (2379) — The perpetually secretive Romulans make a surprising effort for peace, but, of course, their leader has much more devious intentions. Though written as a conscious homage to every part of the franchise that had preceded it, this film almost killed said franchise, being the only one to not make its money back at the box office.

     Kelvin Timeline Movies 
After the cancellation of Star Trek: Enterprise in 2005, 2006 was the first year with no Star Trek shows or films since 1985. Then, when all seemed lost, Star Trek was revived with a Film Of The Series by J. J. Abrams that created an Alternate Timeline with new actors playing the original series characters, kicking off a whole new series of movies:

  • May 8, 2009 — Star Trek (2233 — 2258) — A mixture of Continuity Reboot and Broad Strokes showing the early steps of the The Original Series characters and how they still come together as a Badass Crew in spite of being in a different timeline. On their first adventure, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov and Scotty work together to stop an Ax-Crazy, continuity-rebooting Romulan from destroying Federation space.
  • May 17, 2013 — Star Trek Into Darkness (2259 — 2260) — Set shortly into Kirk's tenure as Captain, the crew finds themselves dealing with a powerful terrorist, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, intent on Revenge against Starfleet.
  • July 22, 2016 — Star Trek Beyond (2263) — The crew of the Enterprise fights to escape the clutches of a ruthless warlord after being stranded on an alien planet. Released on the franchise's 50th anniversary.

Invariably (and unofficially) referred to as the "Abramsverse" or "JJverse" among fans since the 2009 film's release, this new continuity was officially named the "Kelvin Timeline" shortly before the release of Star Trek Beyond. Also referred to as the "Alternate Reality" by the Star Trek Wiki "Memory Alpha."note  This also makes the original continuity referred to as the "Prime Timeline."

In total, to watch every minute of canon Star Trek would require 23 days and 25 minutes of your time. Of Science Fiction franchises, only Doctor Who and its various canon spinoffs are even within a week, and the Super Sentai franchise, which started later than Star Trek or Doctor Who, but has been running continuously since 1979.

Star Trek Expanded Universe

The Star Trek Expanded Universe consists of the expected novels and videogames; these are somewhat infamous in many circles (compared to the Star Wars counterparts) for the casual disregard the producers of the shows often hold for them.

See also the Trek Verse — a discussion of internal Trek history as viewed from a real-world perspective as well as how it affected modern culture.

Tropes common across all series:

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  • Action Figure File Card: The figures made by Galoob (for Next Gen) and Playmates Toys (for the entire franchise up to Voyager) had them.
  • Agony Beam: The Klingons have pain sticks, which are Exactly What It Says on the Tin. They are used for enforcing discipline and in certain Klingon rituals.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Self-aware computers are Always Chaotic Evil in TOS. Later series had more nuanced explorations of the concept.
  • Alcubierre Drive: Arguable Ur-Example. The warp drive is described similarly in the technical manuals and was the inspiration for Miguel Alcubierre's theory.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: Trope Codifier via General Order Number 1, the Prime Directive, that generator of so many plot devices.
  • All Genes Are Codominant: See Spock (human-Vulcan hybrid), Lieutenant Torres (human-Klingon), Ziyal (Cardassian-Bajoran), and others.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: Largely averted. Alien civilizations in Star Trek run the full spectrum, from benevolent to not-so-much. Societies are mostly guided by principles of self-preservation and/or self-improvement; they differ in means. The Federation is all about cooperation and community. Others (Cardassians, Romulans, TOS-era Klingons) are about military conquest. But even those are portrayed realistically, and sometimes sympathetically, as just groups of individuals doing what they believe to be correct. Very few (the Borg, the Pah-Wraiths) are presented as being genuinely Always Chaotic Evil.
  • Aliens Never Invented Democracy:
    • The human-led Federation is the only democratic power in the Galaxy, the others are:
    • The Klingon Empire: A feudal oligarchy with the heads of the noble houses conforming the High Council and choosing a Chancellor. They use to have fully empowered Emperors who were successors of Kahless (their culture's Jesus) but the figure was abandoned some 200 years before the first series starts. A clone of Kahless was later named Emperor but with only decorative and religious functions.
    • The Romulan Star Empire is technically a parliamentary republic, with the praetor seemingly equivalent to a prime minister. However, it's also very much a Police State where the major state security agency, the Tal Shiar, wields significant political power: they station political officers on naval vessels, and at two separate points in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the vice-chair and chairman of the Tal Shiar also sit in the Senate.
    • The Cardassian Union is a military dictatorship with a merely symbolic civil government. It has similarities with both Fascist and Soviet regimes. In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Way of the Warrior", a popular uprising overthrows the military government and restores power to the Detapa Council. Later the Dominion invades Cardassia and overthrows this government to install Gul Dukat as their puppet dictator.
    • The Tzekethi Coalition: Its leader is named the Autarch, you make the math.
    • The Dominion: Officially a Theocracy with the Founders (who are considered gods by their subjects) at the top, in reality an Ethnocracy with a species ruling collectively over the others in its Empire.
    • The Borg Collective: It's an absolute monarchy or a classless collective society depending on how you see it. The Borg Queen rules over billions of mindless collectivized drones.
    • The Ferengi Alliance: A Monarchy lead by the Grand Negus as the figurehead, all the rest of the administration is basically Corporatocracy.
    • Bajor is technically a Republic with free elections to choose the First Minister once they got rid of the Cardassian occupation, yet its religious leader the Kai (equivalent to a Pope or Dalai Lama) has excessive amounts of power and at some point one of their Kais actually held both offices.
    • The Orion Syndicate is The Mafia at the Galactic level, dedicated to all sorts of organized crime including slave trade and prostitution.
    • Even before the existence of the Federation, Star Trek: Enterprise shows that the other founding members apart from humans were not that democratic; Vulcans were lead by the Vulcan High Command, essentially a Military junta, the Andorians were pretty militaristic and their state was described as the Andorian Empire.
  • Almighty Janitor: Boothby, the groundskeeper at Starfleet Academy. Played by Ray Walston of My Favorite Martian fame.
  • Alternate History: In Star Trek, the 1980s and late 1990s were a genetic renaissance. During this time, superhuman products of genetic manipulation turned against the rest of humanity in the genetic equivalent of a Robot War and threw mankind into a dark age. However, thanks to a genius human building the first Warp Drive out of an un-launched nuclear missile, the testing of that system got the attention of a passing Vulcan starship. The Vulcans assisted Humanity in recovering, and Humanity's technology began to advance extremely quickly. All the shows take place after this.
  • Alternative Number System: According to The Klingon Dictionary, the Klingons used to count in a ternary (base-three) system, but have since switched over to decimal.
    • In DS9 the Cardassians apparently have different numbering systems for merchant and military castes, a factor which comes up in attempting to work with their technology.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Generally averted. All antagonistic races are given redeeming qualities, with the only common exceptions being creatures with little or no intelligence. Borg drones who are connected to the race's Hive Mind are examples of the Well-Intentioned Extremist, believing that they are doing everyone a favor by assimilating them. The original series portrays Klingons and Romulans as having extremely antagonistic governments, but as individuals they are generally just people living and working like anyone else. (the romulan captain from the first story to feature the Romulan Empire was very much a Punch-Clock Villain who was openly tired of war and saw Kirk as a Worthy Opponent). The Next Generation plays this mostly straight with the Ferengi and Cardassians.
    • Both TNG (particularly the two-parter ("Unification") that featured the return of Spock) and DS9 show Romulans capable of acting reasonably. In the TNG episode "The Neutral Zone" Picard and his Romulan counterpart agree to cooperate in investigating an unknown entity threatening the settlements of both powers that would later be revealed as—or at least heavily implied to be—the Borg. In Star Trek: Nemesis the Romulans actually save the Enterprise from near-destruction and render aid to the crew. DS9 showed that individual Cardassians were capable of being good and honorable people even if their society doesn't encourage it.
  • Always on Duty: Averted. There are several episodes in which the captain and some or most of the main characters are not on the bridge when something important happens, though they quickly assemble on the bridge anyway. An example of this is the very first episode of Star Trek, in which Captain Pike isn't on the bridge for several seconds while (then) Lieutenant Spock and lieutenant José Tyler discuss an incoming sensor anomaly.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The Bolians, the Benzite and the Andorians are bright blue; Bolians evolved from aquatic mammals, and Andorians hail from an icy moon. Then you have your green Orions / Gorn, orange Ferengi, the occasional bright yellow/purple background alien, and whatever the hell the Dosi were.
  • Angels, Devils and Squid: The Bajoran Prophets are the Angels, the Pah-Wraiths and Fek'lhr are the Devils, and the various Starfish Aliens (Species 8472, Devidians, etc.) and Eldritch Abominations are the Squid. Then, there are the Q, who have traits in common with all three, and can choose which one they are, depending on the day and their mood.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: What would the franchise be without this? Really?
  • Archaic Weapon for an Advanced Age: Subverted. The Klingons love their Cool Swords like the bat'leth, but Deep Space Nine makes a point of mentioning that an old lady with a phaser is worth a dozen Klingons with melee weapons.
  • Arc Number: 47, from the middle of Next Generation on.
  • Artificial Gravity: Rarely mentioned, but (almost) always present whenever the action takes place aboard a starship or space station.
  • "Ass" in Ambassador: Along with the Insane Admiral, these are a common source of vexation for every Starfleet Captain and their crews. Even within the Federation, a typical ambassador is a Fantastic Racist with an It's All About Me attitude. For this reason, the Captain often ends up pulling diplomatic duty.
  • Author Appeal: Gene Roddenberry made Star Trek as diverse and inclusive (and sexually liberated) as he could make it within the constraints of Sixties/Eighties broadcast standards, because he truly felt things should be that way. The sex stuff and the miniskirts, well, those came about because he was a notorious Dirty Old Man.note 
    • Rick Berman has admitted that he is the one mostly responsible for so much Time Travel in the various shows. He just loves the time paradox of "this is the reason this happened but that is the origin of that event and here is where we have to make a choice as to whether this or that occurs..."
    • Ira Stephen Behr apparently missed the memo about Trekkies generally not being fans of swing music. He admitted responsibility for Vic Fontaine, having spent weeks vetting James Darren (no relation to Bobby) for the role. Behr sympathizes with the fans' displeasure at the Vic episodes... kind of. Vic still sang a total of fourteen songs in Seasons Six and Seven of DS9, including the Series Finale(!).
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Chronologically, some alien species never appear again without explanation despite being prominent at one point.
    • Dr. Phlox is a main character in Enterprise and Denobulans are fairly prominent in the galaxy, but they never appear afterwards.
    • Eventually averted with the Andorians and Tellarites, who were introduced in The Original Series as founding members of the Federation but never appeared thereafter. Fortunately Enterprise came along to rectify this.
  • Cloning Blues: As a rule, clones tend not to do well in the Trek universe, often meeting bad ends. Examples include the clones of Pulaski and Riker illicitly created by the Mariposans in "TNG: Up the Long Ladder" (along with the Mariposans themselves), Thomas Riker, the Jem'Hadar and certain Vorta from DS9, Shinzon from "Star Trek: Nemesis" and Sim from "ENT: Similitude".
  • Clothes Make the Legend: The black and primary color uniform scheme. Only the first six films and Enterprise (though that did have the TOS colours on the shoulders of their all-blue NASA-style flight-suits) didn't follow this... though the uniforms with Wrath of Khan's emblematic red-vest-division-turtleneck-and-black-pants is also very popular.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • In The Original Series, the Starfleet uniform colors for the different divisions were Command Yellow, Science Blue, and Operations Red. In TNG, though, Command and Operations switched colors. Lampshaded in the TNG Blue-Rays.
      Patrick Stewart: [at cast mates] I remember when these guys were colourful. What happened?
      Marina Sirtis: We were wearing spacesuits, Patrick. We were wearing spandex.
    • By the time VOY rolled around, the cargo containers were denoted by red/blue/gold lettering depending on which department they're being shipped to. The episode "Shadows and Symbols" (DS9) debuted the one time only, Starfleet-issue Bedouin outfit! That is not a joke; everyone gets their colored stripe even if the rest of the robe is white.
    • On TNG, Cadets wore a variation on the standard uniform, but with the colors reversed: division-colored shoulderpads on black jumpsuits. This later became the attire of "lower deck" drones who labored within space stations and other departments; no glamorous Galaxy-class explorers, they! (Cadet uniforms are usually grey, although they too underwent changes.)
    • Also for many of the major races and nations, who are associated with particular colour schemes:
      • The Federation is a rich blue (on star charts, on their seal, in their warp plasma) supplemented by other light pastel shades and grey (for ship bulkheads).
      • The Klingons are red (on star charts, on their banner, their graphic displays and ship controls, their warp plasma, their transporter effect). They also prefer red lighting aboard their ships and in their buildings.
      • Romulans are deep green (on star charts, on banners and display graphics, their warp plasma, their transporter effect). Their ships also have a deep green hull colour. Interestingly Romulans have green blood (copper-based). This means the ships are blood colored.
      • Cardassians are usually yellow-ochre or pink (both colours were used for their weapons — pink in their first few appearances, later yellow, their transporter is yellow-ochre, on star charts they're either yellow or pink). Their ship hulls are ochre. Their graphics and display panels use orange/beige and green, colours that sometimes appear on their cultural emblem.
      • The Dominion is purple (their warp plasma, on star charts; their graphics are purple and green).
      • Ferengi warp plasma and ship hulls are orange.
      • Andorians, to no-one's surprise, like white and blue, along with a pale beige.
      • The Borg favours black and a sickly green.
      • Bajorans uses gold-tan and dark red.
      • The Tellarite insignia is purple and gold and looks a little like the atom symbol.
      • The Orions use purple and tan.
  • Collectible Card Game: Multiple.
  • Command Roster: Star Trek is likely the Trope Maker or at least set the standard of how this trope is used.
  • Communications Officer: Every series has one except DS9 (though in TNG, Worf gets shuffled out of the position pretty quickly and nobody really replaces him).
  • Continuity Lockout: Increases the further along the franchise you go. By the time of Enterprise you pretty much need a strong working knowledge of Vulcans, Romulans, Borg, Andorians, Ferengi, etc to fully understand the episodes. Often cited as a contributing factor in the demise of both the 1987-2001 TV franchise and the 1979-2002 movie franchise, and a reason why J. J. Abrams decided to start over (almost) from scratch in 2009.
  • Continuity Snarl: Several examples in canon. The most notorious:
    • The Klingons' forehead ridges, which are not present in the original series, but are in all later ones, including Enterprise (set in an earlier chronological era) and Discovery (set in the same time period). Gene Roddenberry always said fans could use their imagination to pretend TOS Klingons had always had ridges, if they wished. The discrepancy was never mentioned In-Universe until “Trials and Tribble-ations” was forced to address it, but didn't explain it. Eventually Enterprise did a complicated Story Arc that explained the Klingons all briefly got human DNA from a mutated flu virus. Then Discovery came along and made the snarl even more tangled by depicting the Klingons with ridges at a time when they supposedly looked human.
    • The Eugenics Wars, which supposedly devastated Earth in the 1990s. They can't simply be forgotten as they provide the origin for Khan, one of the franchise's most iconic villains, though a few Expanded Universe novels have tried to suggest that they were actually some kind of underground power struggle or conspiracy kept hidden from mainstream society. Voyager has the crew travel to 1996, and the wars are never seen or mentioned (at least not in L.A.). A DS9 episode released in 1997 apparently retconned them to the 22nd Century, although that episode's writer later claimed it was a typo. Then Enterprise and Star Trek Into Darkness went right back to the original timeline.
    • In the original series, the Romulans' development of a cloaking device was shocking because such technology was thought to be impossible. Along comes Enterprise and suddenly the Romulans, Suliban and half a dozen other powers have cloaking devices and nobody bats an eye. Discovery made the same error years later and even made it a major plot point, with T'Kuvma's possession of cloaking technology giving his forces a significant advantage in the war, and an entire episode devoted to finding a way around it.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Each leading character in each series differs from their predecessors in notable ways:
    • Jean-Luc Picard to James Kirk: where Kirk is an adventurous young captain with something to prove, being more likely to dive headlong into any situation (especially when it comes to Boldly Coming), Picard is older and wiser. While he was very much reckless and headstrong in his youth, by the time Picard helms the Enterprise, he has learned the value of caution and forethought. Also unlike Kirk, Picard has a habit of keeping to himself when off-duty and busying himself in other ventures; his joining the crew for a game of poker in the series finale is a major breakthrough in his Character Development.
    • Benjamin Sisko to Picard: Picard is a quintessential space-fairing Officer and a Gentleman who looks at the bigger picture, while Sisko is more of a front-line officer who, unlike Picard or Kirk before him, is far more pragmatic and more willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. He is also a family man; being a widower whose son joins him on DS9, he is also less stoic and more likely to act in the heat of the moment, especially where family is concerned.
    • Kathryn Janeway to Sisko: Janeway spent a lot of time as a science officer, making her more of a Science Hero than her predecessors. Also unlike Sisko's cold pragmatism, Janeway is dedicated to upholding Starfleet ideals, even when doing so in uncharted territory can prove detrimental. There is one aspect where Janeway does have some of her predecessor's pragmatism, however; she is also a cunning diplomat who is willing to work with adversarial factions, up to and including the Borg, if it means getting the job done.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: The Klingon's stasis weapon. It's a trap that uses a massive power supply and succeeds in immobilizing a single starship in a stasis field... while also immobilizing the trapper due to power drain.
  • Cool Starship: At least one for series and film from both heroes and villains. Star Trek as a whole has, quite possibly, the largest collection of these.
  • Costume Evolution: Starfleet uniforms have changed a lot in the timespan covered by the franchise. We start with the primary color shirts and black pants of the original series, to the maroon jackets and black pants of the movies, to the jumpsuits with variations of black and primary colors.
  • Covert Distress Code: "Condition Green" is a Starfleet standard duress code.
  • Creator Provincialism: From TOS all the way to the reboot movies, Star Trek is strongly American, in spite of alleged multiculturalism. Even characters explicitly from other countries, such as Picard, speak English with only a mild accent. Interestingly, while Chekov was from Russia and Worf was raised by Russian parents, only Chekov had a distinct Russian accent.note  Riker had trouble with the issue of Ensign Ro Laren using the Bajoran naming convention of family name preceding given name, even though an enormous chunk of the human population (mainly in Asia) does exactly the same thing. Kirk, Sisko, Janeway and Archer were all Americans, with Picard being the sole non-American captain. It is typically treated as quaint whenever a human character exhibits cultural behavior relating to any country except for the U.S. Virtually all popular cultural references (from the past) are American, with a smattering of English here and there. Even Deanna Troi, raised on Betazed but having a human father, claims a fondness for The Wild West genre.
  • Crossover: The various series saw many of these, beginning with The Next Generation, although events in one series rarely affected the others. The crossovers became more frequent in later years.
    • The only storyline to play a major role in multiple Star Trek series was that involving the Maquis. The reason behind their existence (the creation of the DMZ) was established in Star Trek: The Next Generation Season Seven but the Maquis were introduced in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season Two before turning up in "Preemptive Strike", the penultimate episode of The Next Generation, and forming a major part of the backstory of Chakotay and B'Elanna in Star Trek: Voyager. The destruction of the Maquis by the Dominion in Deep Space Nine Season Five comes back to haunt Chakotay and B'Elanna in Voyager Season Four when the ship finally makes contact with the Alpha Quadrant.
    • Events from one series do occasionally impact on later ones in less direct ways though. For instance, a major part of Sisko's backstory in Deep Space Nine was the death of his wife Jennifer during the Battle of Wolf 359, which occurred in TNG's "The Best of Both Worlds". The subsequent Borg attack on Section 001, which occurred in Star Trek: First Contact, is mentioned occasionally in Deep Space Nine while the Dominion War from Deep Space Nine is mentioned in Voyager's "Message in a Bottle", Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis.
  • Crying a River: One Klingon myth involves a guy named Kahless losing his dead father's sword in the ocean and then crying enough to flood said ocean.
  • Darker and Edgier: Starting with Deep Space Nine. Deep Space Nine is the darkest of the TV shows, with its plots involving petty politics and the terrible aspects of war, as well as its less rosy portrayal of the Federation. Unlike most other examples of this trope, however, the show never fully abandoned the idealism of the rest of the franchise even in its darkest moments. Also the shows which followed, Voyager and Enterprise also got more gritty and realistic in its depiction of villainry.
  • Data Pad: PADDs.
  • Deadly Training Area: The holodecks were intended to be used for training, but they're one of the most hazardous areas on the ship thanks to Holodeck Malfunctions.
  • Death Wail: The standard practice when a Klingon dies is for his/her comrades to hold their eyes open while screaming loudly to the sky to warn those in the afterlife that a great warrior is on his/her way to join them.
  • Deflector Shields: A standard feature on most starships. Also called "deflector screens", they project a defensive barrier with some similarity to a plasma wall: it deflects both matter and energy, and can be adjusted to more effectively block electromagnetic radiation. On the larger ships, there are actually multiple separate deflector screen grids on the starship's hull, set in an array, that are arranged so that they overlap and protect the entire ship. The shields can regenerate, but a sustained attack with sufficient weaponry will eventually deplete them. Also, they are not to be confused with the Navigational Deflector, which is a totally different device.

  • Earth Is the Center of the Universe: Earth is both the capital of the Federation and the headquarters of Starfleet. If an alien enemy wants to seriously conquer the Federation, taking Earth is invariably seen as key to doing so. Not only this, but Earth lies nearly exactly on the border of the Federation-dominated Alpha Quadrant and the Klingon- and Romulan-controlled Beta Quadrant, making it an extremely strategically important planet.
  • Emotion Suppression: The Vulcan culture has Emotion Suppression at its core.
    • Roddenberry once decreed that humans don't grieve in the future. "Death is natural." This was loosened up a bit after Gene got Kicked Upstairs.
  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: Romulans vs. Vulcans.
  • The Empire:
    • The Klingon Empire, Romulan Star Empire and Cardassian “Union”. The Andorians tried their hand at becoming an imperial power in ENT, but mostly just embarrassed themselves.
    • The Terran Empire rules with an iron fist in the Mirror Universe. The Alliance that overthrew them also counts.
    • Whereas the Klingons were usually confined to Space Cold War and Romulans largely kept to themselves after the Great Offscreen War, the Dominion was the first example of this trope to truly give future humanity a run for its nonexistent money. Much larger and older than the Federation, ruled by paranoid shapeshifters with a Clone Army that worships them as gods. It even took an alliance (of the Feds, Klingons and Romulans) plus La Résistance to defeat them.
  • Enclosed Extraterrestrials: The Breen who appear mostly in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: a race that is entirely hidden behind a suit and long-snouted helmet. Worf mentions that no-one has ever seen a Breen without the suit and lived to speak of it. The suit is known to be a refrigeration suit, regulating a cold environment for the wearer and the Breen are known to have no blood. The most common belief among the races of the Alpha Quadrant is that the Breen homeworld is a frozen wasteland which is why they need to wear refrigeration suits. However, Weyoun once refers to the Breen homeland as being quite comfortable, maintaining the mystery of the Breen and their suits. An Expanded Universe novel Zero Sum Game claims that the Breen wear the suit to promote equality between the different species of their Confederacy by forcing them all to have the same external appearance.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: It's an interesting thing to note as the next generation of shows progressed in special effects.
  • Everything Sensor: EVERY scanner is like this.
  • Evil Is Not Well-Lit: Of all the species, only the Borg and Cardassians have an excuse for this — the Borg's minimalism, and the latter's sensitivity to light. Incidentally, this is the excuse for Deep Space Nine being so dimly-lit, since it was built by the Cardassians.
  • Evil Me Scares Me: Trek has a decent history of Evil Twins, what with transporter accidents and the Mirror Universe. There's the example of Kirk being a Literal Split Personality with an aggressive, hot headed side and a passive, weak-willed but logical side and the passive side is afraid of the aggressive one. Major Kira Nerys of Deep Space Nine gets HIT ON by Mirror Kira. However, since the Mirror Universe normally involves plots of being swapped with the guy on the other side (presumably to avoid having to edit one actor into a single scene twice) mostly you get the counterparts never meeting and at most Evil You Scares (but sexually intrigues) Me. Or in Deep Space Nine's version, their opposite is usually dead on one side of the mirror or the other.
  • The Evils of Free Will: The Borg are amazed people aren't lining up to be assimilated. The Queen touts it as a blessing.
  • Explosive Instrumentation: Star Trek is the Trope Codifier. Consoles tend to explode in a shower of sparks whenever a ship takes damage. A frequent cause of redshirt deaths.
  • Exposition Beam: Vulcan Mind Melds are essentially this, along with a host of other Applied Phlebotinum uses.
  • Expositron 9000: The ship/station computers. ...And Data, if you think about it.
  • Extra-Long Episode: Numerous series from the franchise have had two-hour long episodes (as opposed to the usual hour long) that are later re-aired as two part episodes. This generally happens to series openers such as "Encounter At Farpoint" from Star Trek: The Next Generation and series finales such as "What You Leave Behind" from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but has also happened to episodes in the middle of seasons such as "Dark Frontier" from Star Trek: Voyager.
  • Family Values Villain: Many examples. Most notably, the Klingons, Cardassians, and Romulans place great importance on family and honoring their elders. Of course, there are numerous ugly exceptions to those rules.
  • Fan of the Past: Too many to name. You're far more likely to find a character enjoying a play, book, or movie that's a classic by our standards rather than a fictional future contemporary.
  • Fantastic Measurement System:
    • The Klingon distance unit "kellicam" is roughly equal to a kilometer.
    • The Bajoran measurement system includes hecapate, kellipate, kerripate, linnipate, tessijen and tessipate.
    • Computer capacity is measured in kiloquads, a unit that is very carefully never defined to avoid looking outdated when Technology Marches On.
    • Subspace distortion is measured in cochranes, an SI unit named for warp drive inventor Zefram Cochrane.
    • Stresses are often given units of 'isodynes'. The Dyne is a legitimate unit of measure (albeit not SI), but is a measure of force (equal to 10 micronewtons). The correct usage would be 'Dynes per some unit of area'. There is no mention of what the prefix 'iso-' might represent. The prefix 'tera-' is also used (e.g. 'Hull stress at over 30 teradynes and rising!') and is more legitimate, but if that example was per square metre, the stress would be of the order of 10 megapascals — 100 times atmospheric pressure. Not a huge quantity in the grand scheme of things if you're a starship.
  • Fantastic Naming Convention:
    • The Bajorans use their family name before their personal name.
    • The Klingons have one personal name, their father's name, and then their house name. The house name is usually omitted in introductions, but the crest is worn on their metal sashes.
      • "Worf, son of Mogh, of the House of Martok" is Worf's official name after he joins Martok's house late in DS9. Worf's son Alexander Rozhenko, who is 3/4 Klingon and 1/4 human due to his mother being half human, decided to use the human naming convention, and took the surname of Worf's adoptive human parents.
    • Vulcans have several conventions followed:
      • They seem to only have one name, no family name.
      • Female names usually begin with T and have an apostrophe, followed by a P. Notable exceptions include: Saavik from movies II, III, and IV.
      • Male names usually begin with S and do not have an apostrophe. Notable exceptions include: Tuvok from Voyager.
    • Romulans similarly tend to have only one name with no surname.
    • Ferengi also tend to have only one name, generally one syllable, with no surname.
    • Trill symbionts get their names from the two beings that make them up. The first name is provided by the host, like Jadzia or Curzon, while the symbiote's name is second like a family name. Curzon Dax and Jadzia Dax are completely unrelated except for the fact that both were bonded to the Dax symbiote.
      • Unjoined Trill apparently do have and use family names, as Ezri was Ezri Tigan before she became Ezri Dax.
  • Fantastic Racism: There will always be at least a few members of each species that has issues with humans, other species, or vice versa.
  • Fantastic Nuke:
    • The Genesis Device, a sophisticated torpedo used for rapid terraforming of dead worlds. Ironically, deploying this on an inhabited planet has the opposite effect, destroying all life to make way for the new matrix.
    • In "Chain of Command", Picard's sent to destroy a protoype metagenic weapon. Metagenic bombs wipe out all organic matter on a planet's surface, leaving only the manufactured materials intact (and the world ripe for conquest). The weapons were outlawed, in part because they were equally hazardous to the invading force; however, the Cardassians were rumored to be overcoming that problem. This turned out to be a false flag, though.
    • The Vulcans use "Red Matter" to create pocket black holes. Nero got the bright idea of using it to eat a planet (specifically Vulcan).
  • Fantastic Rank System: Everyone except the Federation has a different one. See the trope page for more details.
  • Fantastic Ship Prefix:
    • While Starfleet ships use an existing prefix, their registry numbers had various original designations which usually began with 'N'.
      • NCC: Starfleet active. Popular misconception is that it stands for "Naval Construction Contract" but the producers never assigned it any actual meaning. Production designer Matt Jeffries said he just combined the American aircraft registry (NC) with the Soviet one (CCCC).
      • NX: Starfleet experimental. Often used for the lead ships of a class, or ships that are the testbed of new technologies. The Excelsior first appears as NX-2000 while she is running trials and carrying an experimental warp drive. Later she is granted active status and her registry changes to NCC.
      • NAR: Federation non-Starfleet. Typically seen on civilian ships.
    • Klingon ships are IKS, Imperial Klingon Ship. Prior to its establishment in Star Trek: The Next Generation, various non-canon sources, including Michael Okuda's Star Trek Encyclopedia, proposed "IKC" (for "Imperial Klingon Cruiser", a term heard in Klingon radio chatter in Star Trek: The Motion Picture).
    • Romulan ships use IRW (Imperial Romulan Warbird).
    • When Kirk and company fell into the Mirror Universe, they found themselves aboard the ISS Enterprise (Imperial Star Ship).
  • Fantasy Axis of Evil: Star Trek tends to map over to fantasy races pretty well. Aside from the Five Races, you have the Klingons as orcs, the Borg are pretty close to undead, the Cardassians as xenophobic Humanoids, the Romulans countering the Space Elf Vulcans as Dark Elves, and the Ferengi much like goblins.
    • The Dominion:
      • Jem'Hadar: Savage
      • Breen: Eldritch
      • Cardassians: Humanoid
      • The Founders: Fallen
      • Vorta: Crafty
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: While not fantasy, most of the major alien species have some connection to Real World counterparts. It should be considered that there is a difference between culture and politics.
    • The Federation — The United States. Although, it's sort of a mixture of the United States & the United Nations. The Federation flag & the Federation Council are reminiscent of the UN Flag & the Security Council. However, unlike the present-day UN, the Federation is a sovereign government with elements common to a federal republic. Persons on Federation worlds are citizens of the Federation. That citizenship is guaranteed rights by way of the Federation Charter & Constitution, and the rights enumerated in the Federation Charter & Constitution have supremacy across all member worlds.
    • Starfleet — The United States Navy. Both the Earth & Federation versions of Starfleet have individual ranks & systems of hierarchy that correspond with the USN's. The color of Starfleet personnel's uniforms are based on the specifics of their job, just as its done with the flight crews aboard USN aircraft carriers. Also, during the Dominion War, Deep Space Nine has Starfleet deployed in the numbered fleet configurations used by the USN, with the 3rd Fleet referenced as protecting Earth & the 7th Fleet all but destroyed in a failed offensive.
    • Vulcans — Great Britain. Not a perfect match-up, but Enterprise depicted them as a regional superpower who eventually lose much of their realm of control as Earth increases theirs. Culturally, they share a good deal with Japanese society; a reclusive nature, emotional reserve, deep spiritualism, and technical prowess.
    • Romulans — Communist China, made fairly obvious in the original series. A secretive government who you aren't quite sure what they're up to. The Next Generation expanded on that by showing the Romulans as emerging from decades of isolation from the rest of the galactic community. They also started to become a bit like Iran, for similar reasons. There are allusions to the Roman Empire too: their two main planets are Romulus and Remus, they are called an Empire, their ruling body is the Senate which is headed by a Praetor, and low-ranking officers are called "Centurions".
    • Klingons:
      • Soviet Russia, like the Romulans the analogue was obvious enough in the original series (although in their initial appearance they were described as Vietcong — "Oriental, hard-faced" and "the Ho Chi Minh type"). They were the passive/aggressive species with whom it felt like war was always just around the corner but never quite got there. They mirrored Post-Soviet Russia in The Next Generation in terms of politics, having gotten past the "cold war" era but still not fully trusting each other. But as part of Gene Roddenberry's plan to not make them evil and a race of "black hats," they turned into... vikings.
      • There are also a lot of parallels to Feudal Japan. As if Worf's passing reference to a "Klingon tea ceremony" in TNG, the whole racial obsession with honor, combat, and dying with honor, and their love of big, fancy curved swords wasn't blatant enough, in "The Sons of Mogh" Worf's dishonored brother comes to him for help with a Klingon ceremony that's essentially Seppuku In Space.
    • The Cardassians took a few stabs at being Nazi analogues (xenophobia is inherent in their genetic makeup). After various failed attempts at democratization and improving relations with the other galactic powers, they join the Dominion and become a Nazi client state like Vichy France. Eventually a "Free French" faction emerges, though they are led by Damar, a Defector from Decadence (whereas the exile Garak was more of a De Gaulle analogue).
      • Cardassian culture is very military-center and totalitarian — in Deep Space Nine, one of the characters comments that "Cardassians have a habit of looking to strong military leadership in hard times" (Bismarck, the Kaiser etc). Parallel was apparently noted in-series, as the anti-Cardassian resistance shares a name with the French resistance of WWII.
      • Cardassians as generic colonial powers works just as well as the obligatory Nazi comparison, since Bajor is always called a colony and is run along those lines: occupy and obtain resources (with local slave labor), rather than being a matter of living space or an ideology.
      • Cardassians as a version of Japan is a popular alternative, especially among those who look at details like what food they eat. Much like Imperial Japan in the 1930's and 40's, the Cardassian Union had a nominally civilian government but was actually ruled by the military; though it was considered to be a major power within its sphere of influence, the Cardassian Union was actually smaller and less powerful than its neighbour (which in this case, is the United Federation of Planets).
    • Bajorans as generic colonized people. (Would support the Cardassians as generic colonial powers interpretation.) Rick Berman compared the Bajorans to "the Kurds, the Palestinians, the Jews in the 1940s, the boat people from Haiti — unfortunately, the homeless and terrorism are problems [of every age]." They're a mishmash of pretty much any victimized group throughout the 20th century.
    • Orions- The Mafia / Criminal Underground
    • Nausicaans- Gang Leaders.
      • Same goes for Voyager's Kazon.
    • Ferengi- The East India Companies (most closely)
      • Their society and system of government both bear some resemblance to the cities of Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Religion:
    • The Klingon religion: A warrior-based religion where honor and courage are quintessential and warriors are rewarded with an afterlife of glory fighting alongside their god Kahless in the halls of Sto-Vo-Kor. Obviously based on the [Hollywood version of] Norse religion, just change Kahless for Odin and Sto-Vo-Kor for Walhalla.
    • The Bajoran religion: Spiritual worship of the Prophets who are not gods, but (at least for the Bajoran) enlightened beings, with a well-organized religious hierarchy and a common leader. Probably a counterpart of Buddhism with some Catholicism in the mix.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Rather hard to imagine the series without it.
    1. The name "warp" was meant to imply it bends space and time. They started out calling it a "factor", which would be consistent with that.
    2. Then they got lazy and just used it as a unit of speed.
    3. Then TNG decided they needed more tech to tech with their tech, so instead of just bending real space, they're moving through "subspace", where the rules are different, and depending on the writing can be treated as pretty much an alternate universe.
    • The entire concept of subspace is to get around the apparent fact that FTL travel is impossible in regular space, so you submerge into a different dimension closely connected to it.
  • Feudal Future: Earth seems to be the only planet that ever got the hang of democracy. Non-Federation worlds are depicted as imperialist aggressors (the faux-Chinese Romulans and the Greco-Roman Klingons) or peasant societies with well-oiled guillotines.
    • Oddly, Cardassia-Prime of all places entered a new democratic age after the intelligence service folded. A brief civil war ensued, and in the wake of the Dominion War the civilian government took back its rightful place as head of the Union.
  • Fictional Geneva Conventions: The Khitomer Accords, an historic peace treaty between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. It's the prime focus of Star Trek VI, with both sides attempting to scuttle it.
  • Fictional Sport: Parrises Squares, a highly-athletic game played on the Holodeck.
  • Fiction Science: The series have produced a large number of Technical Manuals, many of them official. These fill in many details of life in the Trekkian future, especially the inner workings of the Enterprises and other starships.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: In every single series and the movies. There are an insane number of instances where at the end of an episode the protagonists have in their possession some fantastic new piece of technology, which will never be used or mentioned ever again. Often a case of the Status Quo Is God, because the Federation simply cannot be allowed to get too far ahead of rivals such as the Klingons, Romulans or Cardassians.
    • One of the most notable examples, if only because it was used so regularly for a while, is the Life Support Belt tech from the Animated Series. Of course, the Animated Series was considered officially non-canon for many years, but it's still surprising that the Expanded Universe materials don't use it more often, since they would frequently cite other elements from the Animated Series.
  • Free-Love Future: Obviously downplayed, due to television constraints. However, Roddenberry was very much a proponent of this trope. We don't see much of civilian life on Earth, but officers are allowed to cavort fairly freely aboard the Federation's flagship. Prostitution (real and simulated) has also been legalized.
    The Agony Booth: Kirk has been with a lot of women, and is presumably deeply grateful for whatever eliminated STDs in Gene Roddenberry’s universe
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Common throughout the franchise, though beam weapons move faster in later series, particularly Enterprise. Hand Waved in most instances, as the weapons used are not actually lasers (which are described once as terribly obsolete), but particle beams that move at sublight speed.
  • The Future Is Noir:
    • The original designation for DS9 was Terok Nor, which is one letter removed. It shows in the station's habitat ring, which is marked by patchy lighting and catwalk ceilings.
    • Originally, going to Red Alert merely caused red lights to flash. By VOY, every single light on the ship is dimmed. Most likely a nod to the Real Life military practice of using red and/or dimmed lights in dark environments to preserve one's night vision, though this would be counterproductive on a ship that is operated entirely using brightly-lit touchscreens. But would help conserve energy that might be needed in a red alert situation.
    • "Yesterday's Enterpise" (TNG) and "Living Witness" showed alternate worlds in which the Enterprise and Voyager are fully-cocked warships, under the oppression of permanent Red Alert.
    • Generations was shot this way mostly to disguise the decade-old sets. However, First Contact was filmed much the same way, despite taking place on a brand new ship, perhaps to illustrate that the Federation is at war again.
  • Game of Nerds:
    • A recurring motif in some episodes. Wesley Crusher mentions his father once teaching him the game, and a physicist in "Evolution" bemoans the decline of the sport in the late 20th century (attributed to commercialism and sloth).
    • Ben Sisko is a serious baseball nut. In his debates with the Prophets, an abstract species who think in non-linear terms, baseball is used as a methaphor for each crisis.
  • Gargle Blaster: The Ferengi specialize in an alcoholic beverage called a black hole. Want to get hammered fast? Try a black hole.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: We see the full effects of DNA hacking during the Eugenics and Dominion wars.
    • Bio-memetic gel, a key component of biogenic weapons. The actual effects of this gel are left up to the imagination; the Federation bans any and all weapons applications, so it must be pretty hairy.
    • "In the Pale Moonlight" suggests that it can be used to create bombs that pass for organic matter.
    • Some Expanded Universe sources imply that biogenic is the equivalent of weapon of mass destruction in current parlance. That is, this is a weapon you had DAMN well better not get caught actually using.
  • Generican Empire: The United Federation of Planets, the Dominion.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The remastered Original Series and The Next Generation got a lot of "nip and tuck" regarding for the Hi-Def release (CBS aired some episodes before the actual Blu-Ray release came out). For the Original Series they strove to attain a visual look virtually identical but simply cleaned-up. They also included a couple of brand new clips that were intended for the original episode but unable to film at the time, such as an establishing shot of Starfleet Command on Earth. TNG had a similar process done, largely for some effects that simply didn't age as well like the Crystalline Entity. The whole thing was well regarded, in large part because they were supervised by Trek production legend Michael Okuda.
  • Ghost Extras: In the hundreds and thousands, given that The Main Characters Do Everything on every single Trek show. Occasionally one will be promoted to Ascended Extra, but more often they get "demoted" to Red Shirt.
  • A God Am I: To be a Terraformer in the Trek universe is to be very lordly, indeed. See the imperious Kurk Mandl in "Home Soil" (TNG), later one-upped by nine-time author (all autobiographies) Gideon Seytik in DS9's "Second Sight." Something about creating planets gives scientists a god complex; Seytik's final words were even, "Let there be light!"
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: When heroes on Trek use transporters, the visual effect appears blue. Alternatively, Klingons use a red effect. The Borg are green.
    • Cardassians (and, by extension, the crew of DS9) have yellow transporter beams.
  • Good Old Ways: Captain Kirk in particular strongly reminisces about the time of wooden ships and iron men.
  • Government Drug Enforcement: Used a couple of times in TNG and Deep Space Nine, also used in the movie Insurrection.
  • Graying Morality: From series to series, at least for a while. TNG is grayer than the original series, and Deep Space Nine is even grayer than that.
    • The Prime Directive is often at the heart of this over the progression of the franchise, interestingly despite the fact that later series like ENT and the reboot movies chronologically predate TOS. As time has gone on, writers have increasingly treated the Prime Directive as an almost callous Social Darwinist policy, to the extent that extinction of sapient species is considered preferable to the hypothetical negative consequences of "interference" in their cultures.
    • As part of the Darker and Edgier nature of the reboot movies, Section 31, much earlier in its history than in the main timeline, is well past the Moral Event Horizon. They have gone from covert activities to defend the Federation to building super-warships and attempting to preemptively start interstellar wars to eradicate Federation enemies.
  • Great Offscreen War:
    • The Eugenics Wars (augmented superhumans vs. everybody else) and, to a lesser extent, World War III, all taking place on Earth and concerning only humanity (although the EU has retconned the former into a far less grand scale war that happened mostly in the shadows of real life events). Both are mentioned across multiple shows and films and have lasting effects (humans have banned genetic engineering, for one).
    • The Earth-Romulan War, which was first mentioned all the way back in TOS's first season. ENT was building up to it but tragically got cancelled first.
    • The Animated Series episode "The Slaver Weapon" imports Larry Niven's Kzinti, and claims that Earth fought and won four separate wars with them a full two hundred years ago.
    • The Next Generation has the war between the Federation and the Cardassians, which was responsible for creating the Anti-Federation confederates known as the Maquis.
    • As well as "brutal border wars" against the Talarians and the Tzenkethi, which happened at some point between the Original Series and the next Generation.
  • Gunboat Diplomacy: The Federation definitely believes in "carrying a big ship" to negotiations. They don't usually push their self-interest too hard with this show of force, but it still makes three things clear. "We are strong." "We are rich." "You don't start fights when we're trying to negotiate."
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Spock, Deanna Troi, B'Elanna Torres, Sisko.
  • Ham and Deadpan Duo: Kick (definitive Ham) and Spock (contrasting Deadpan)
  • Hate Fic: The Federation is frequently portrayed as a semi-communist dystopia, only averting the worst horrors of the stereotype due to their Applied Phlebotinum. The website is famous for advocating and supporting this view, as seen in this essay.
    • This fanfic(?) shows how the Federation could go from the TOS to TNG in a disturbingly realistic way.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am a Dwarf Today?: Klingons tend to do this a lot; Worf is only the most prominent example.
  • Hero of Another Story: It is implied through the various Star Trek shows that the sort of adventures the Enterprise and her crew get in is just the far side of typical. Lampshaded by Captain Janeway when she stated in Star Trek: Voyager that "Weird is part of the job."
  • Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Worf once justified this by claiming Starfleet duds are suited for a wide variety of climates, due to the special material or somesuch. ("Let He Who is Without Sin"). It also spared the makeup department from showing us what Klingons look like in swim trunks, but that's just coincidental.
    • The Klingons are the lords of this trope. At least the Romulans can claim a degree of urban camo with their checkered outfits. The Klingons are all about plate metal, spikes, and gauntlets that would make Shredder envious. And don't forget the steel-toed, spiked boots for kicking your enemy's skull in.
    • The Cardassians favor big, bulky chestplates, along with a wide neckline for the snake-like hoods on their neck. It doesn't look very comfortable or maneuverable.
  • Hollywood Evolution: The franchise is guilty of promulgating virtually every sub-trope of this into public consciousness, undoing the work of biology teachers everywhere. In particular, Goal-Oriented Evolution is extremely popular with the writers, who often incorporate the idea that the evolutionary future of any species can be predicted with comparative ease and surprising accuracy. This often forms the backbone of rationalizations of how the Prime Directive is interpreted in a given episode, with characters taking the stance that the evolution of a given species is "supposed" to go down a certain path (which may include extinction if the species is unfortunate enough to be pre-warp).
  • Hollywood Tactics: Fairly common in most of the series, particularly in firefights, where humans and aliens alike frequently fail to use cover or take evasive action. Could be partly due to early special effects limitations, as it's hard to draw phaser beams when the actors are moving around. Later shows were better about this, particularly Enterprise, which introduced actual military personnel who fought more convincingly.
  • Hologram: Starting in TNG, recreational holodecks were standard, with "hard light" holograms made of projections and forcefields. Later series also added the Emergency Medical Hologram.
  • Human Outside, Alien Inside: While most of the species that are encountered look fairly humanoid, many of them turn out to have truly bizarre biological differences.
  • Humans Are Diplomats: Especially during TOS and early TNG. Gene Roddenberry opposed the idea of a military Starfleet.
  • Humans Are Special: The Federation is a vast, multi-species, space nation — that is overwhelmingly run by humans and Human Aliens. Aliens are a definite minority in Starfleet. Many alien species use "The Federation" and "Starfleet" to explicitly refer to "humanity" and "Earth".
    • Particularly noteworthy in crew of the Federation Flagships. In TOS and TNG, the majority of the main cast was human. The remainders? Spock, a half-Human half-Vulcan. Troi, a half-Betazed half-Human. Data, an android designed by a human, with a personal goal of becoming more like a human (Not like humanoids or other biological lifeforms, but specifically human). And Worf, a full blooded Klingon, who was raised by Humans. Ironically, the one Enterprise which would have an excuse to have only humans on it, the Pre-Federation Earth vessel captained by Archer, had two alien main cast members with no particular tie to humanity.
  • Humorless Aliens: Vulcans allegedly have no sense of humor, but they all seem to be Deadpan Snarkers anyway.
    • This is a bit of Fridge Brilliance. Humor is usually about the incongruity between logic and reality. So, basically, Vulcans have spent hundreds of years watching every other race act like clowns, and they get the joke. They may not guffaw, but their sense of humor is finely honed.
    • Sulu tells a young Tuvok once, "Don't tell me Vulcans don't have a sense of humor, because I know better." True enough!

  • Identical Grandson: naturally pops up a couple of times in a franchise that spans over 300 years of in-universe time…
    • Besides Data and his two brothers, Brent Spiner also played their creator, Noonian Soong, in an episode of TNG. Fast-forward (rewind??) to Enterprise and Spiner appears in a few episodes as Noonian's ancestor Arik Soong. He's a geneticist with a shaky grasp on ethics, so one wonders if perhaps he cloned himself…
    • Worf's actor, Michael Dorn, appeared in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country as a Klingon colonel also named Worf. It's never confirmed onscreen, but Word of God affirms the character is supposed to be Worf's grandfather (retroactively making Worf a Dead Guy Junior).
    • Captain Janeway and her ancestor Shannon O'Donnel are both played by Kate Mulgrew in the flashback episode "11:59"
  • Inertial Dampening: Occasionally mentioned by the characters, Inertial Dampeners allow an Impulse-drive-powered starship to accelerate from a dead stop to a substantial fraction of the speed of light in under a minute, without turning the crew into crepes. The technology isn't quick enough to compensate for random, unexpected impacts, however, which can result in the Star Trek Shake.
  • Inexplicable Cultural Ties: In Roddenberry's Star Trek pitch, he explains how culturally (and biologically) familiar aliens would make Science Fiction feasible for TV. Star Trek has since been true to what he called the Parallel Worlds concept that prescribes that alien civilizations will usually be very much like humans culturally and therefore not too foreign to the audience.
  • Insistent Terminology: Back in the days when "geek" was a bonafide insult rather than a badge of honor, fans considered "Trekkie" insulting and belittling. It was Trekker, thank you very much. As times changed and being a nerd became cool, the diminutive came to be embraced as more like a term of endearment.
  • Intelligent Gerbil: Lt. M'Ress, the felinoid alien from the Animated Series; the Gorn/Cardassians/Xindi, basically Lizard Folk; the Bolians are based loosely on dolphins.
  • Insane Admiral: Probably the Trope Codifier. If a visiting guest, alien enemy or a spatial anomaly wasn't behind the Problem of the Week, it was almost certainly one of these.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device: Transporters can act this way under certain circumstances (which occur accidentally in the original series, and then are intentionally reproduced in Deep Space Nine).
  • Interspecies Romance: A staple of the show, and interestingly many species are genetically-compatible and can produce viable offspring, even if their anatomy and biochemistry are dissimilar. Several main characters such as Spock, Deanna Troi and B'Elanna Torres are Half-Human Hybrids born from marriages between humans and aliens.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Gene Roddenberry's first pilot episode didn't sell. He had to recast the Captain and shoot it all over again, and it was still smoked by Gunsmoke's ratings.
    • invoked The Original Series was, famously, Un-Cancelled after college students had a chance to catch up with it in reruns.
    • Ironically, this later success ended up jeopardizing the series' future. When news hit of TNG, fans were up in arms, and the original cast members weren't shy about voicing their displeasure either. The show flailed about for two seasons trying—and failing—to distinguish itself from its parent series, recycling plots and characters, having actors defect and leave the show, and nearly losing Patrick Stewart (who saw the shadows lengthening and opted not to renew his contract). Were it not for the cliffhanger ending in "The Best of Both Worlds", TNG might not have been renewed and the franchise would have ended there.
  • Just a Machine: Star Trek in general draws a distinction between the special cases like Data and the Doctor, and the ubiquitous ship computers responsible for getting everything done in the background. Despite the fact that ship computers can pass the Turing Test with ease, act on their own initiative, and occasionally even display signs of emotion, this is never investigated or even mentioned in-story: ship computers are always just-machines and limited to being background elements (this is doubly notable since some of the special case characters, such as the Doctor, run on a ship computer). A.I. is a fairly infrequent thing in the Star Trek 'Verse, but recent addition Star Trek: Picard shows the Federation was beginning to use android workers… only to turn around and ban them when things went horribly wrong.
  • Large Ham: Pops up a lot, but becomes near-certain whenever a Klingon is on screen.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority: The gold uniform worn by Kirk (and later, Archer).
  • A Lesson in Defeat: The Kobayashi Maru test is an Unwinnable Training Simulation designed specifically to invoke this, as it cannot be beaten without cheating.

  • Made of Explodium: When a computer blows up in Star Trek, it BLOWS UP. This extends to either independent computer equipment or even the consoles on the bridge. Sometimes characters even die from the exploding bridge consoles.
    • In some situations, the consoles are shown to still be operational even AFTER exploding and killing some unfortunate redshirt. That's a durable design. Usually when this happens, it's a main character that takes over the station and they are immune to death from exploding consoles (at most they'll have minor injuries).
  • Magic by Any Other Name: Humans are absolutely militant about this. No matter how scientifically-inexplicable something is, or if that something can outright change the laws of physics at will, it is still not "magic". Referring to it as such will provoke an immediate negative response and denial. Technobabble, even if it is completely unsupported by evidence, will invariably be accepted as an explanation before "magic" will. Things which would be considered "supernatural" in real life such as Psychic Powers or Reality Warpers are still regarded as scientific in nature, even though Federation science cannot explain them. Which is why talking about the limitless power of "thought" is acceptable, but using the m-word will get you an earful of Flat Earth Atheism.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: How is it that Doctors in the future are able to radically change your appearance so you are a different species with a head twice the size? We see Kirk, Troi, Picard, and Data [!] as Romulans, Kira as a Cardassian, Dukat, Seska and Dax as Bajorans (actually that one isn’t much of a stretch), Sisko, O’Brien and Odo as Klingons, Neelix as a Ferengi…and Chakotay is a Vidiian with a big scabby bloated head. Quark is even made female and then turned male again, still capable of male reproduction afterward. It seems such a stretch that you can effortlessly change somebody’s face and body to such a degree and than put you all back together again afterwards with no perceivable differences. This all becomes something of a moot point when Janeway and Paris "evolve" into a pair of copulating lizards in a later episode and the Doctor simply manages to devolve them back into human beings .... "Go big or go home" is Brannon Braga's motto.
  • Magical Security Cam: Happens so often and so early in the setting that it can be considered a technological standard. At this point, anything else would be a deviation from canon.
    • Taken to its logical extreme in Voyager, where the ship recorded all of the crew's brainwaves.
  • Magnetic Plot Device: The various starships. The Holodeck. The Bajoran wormhole in Deep Space Nine. The Temporal Cold War in Enterprise.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Trek seems to have a problem with keeping crew members at their designated stations, probably because it would become monotonous to the actors. It's a running gag that during a ship-wide emergency, the last place you'll find the Chief Engineer is in Engineering. (In TNG, Geordi could simply "transfer Engineering control" to the bridge, whatever that means, and thus justifiy his presence there.)
  • Master Computer: Ironically, TOS presents the Master Computer as a dangerous, dehumanizing thing that will inevitably threaten human lives. In particular, the episode "The Ultimate Computer" makes an automated starship Enterprise into an uncontrolled killing machine. However, by TNG, the ship computer on the Enterprise-D is shown to be fully capable of running the entire ship without a crew as early the first season episode "11001001" and this is generally treated as a good thing. But one of the most common Failsafe Failure scenarios recurring across the later series is for some problem with the main computers to cause malfunctions, including potentially lethal ones, to happen throughout the starship or space station over which they control every last mechanical system, with the crew struggling to regain control without being killed.
  • Matter Replicator: The matter replicators (called material synthesizers in the Original Series) function much like extremely advanced 3D printers: they can recycle matter to synthesize almost anything, including toys, clothing, money, food and drinks. Several episodes have seen the crew replicate food and other provisions for people in need.
  • Meat Sack Robot: The Borg assimilates various species (via injecting Nanomachines into their victims) into its AI's unifying conscious called "the Collective" whether their victims consent or not.
    • In Star Trek: First Contact, the Borg queen grafts living skin tissue onto Data's arm (Data being a purely artificial android), allowing him to feel human sensations, something he has longed to do but was not capable of. This was an attempt to lure him over to her side. (A more limited example than most others, in that we're talking about a small patch of skin, and Data was fully functional without it, but it still fits the "reverse cyborg" definition)
  • Mechanistic Alien Culture: Several aliens, primarily from the original series:
    • The drone-like Lawgivers in "Return of the Archons." In that case, the drone-like humanoids were controlled by an intelligent supercomputer.
    • The original builders of the Androids on Exo III were also stated to have been a society of biological creatures who ruined their homeworld and retreated underground where they became a more mechanized, machine-like society.
    • The Kelvans from the Andromeda Galaxy are implied to have a culture like this; they are completely organic beings, but in their true form they experience none of the sensory distractions of humanoids, and consider themselves much more efficient. They go about trying to take over the Milky Way with very straightforward methods (transforming Kirk's crew into vulnerable dust-cubes that only their technology can restore to human form, for example) but without any of the typical Trek villains' hamminess. The Federation is saved from them by the fact that, when in artificial humanoid form, the Kelvans become Sense Freaks and can be incapacitated in a variety of ways, such as by the effects of alcohol or unfamiliar emotions like pleasure or jealousy.
    • The Eyemorg (humanoid female) society in the infamous episode "Spock's Brain" were totally reliant on a mechanized underground industrial complex run by advanced computers (for which purpose they tried to steal "Spock's Brain," because they lacked the knowledge to maintain this infrastructure themselves unless); this was in contrast to the primitive, Ice Age-like culture of males that lived on the surface.
    • The Fabrini who lived aboard a generational asteroid ship, which they all believed was actually a planet, were similarly run by an advanced, tyrannical computer called The Oracle. The Fabrini were less "rigidly mechanical" and more "rigidly traditional" though, the rigid traditions being enforced by The Oracle.
    • The Borg are a Hive Mind of Hollywood Cyborg aliens that otherwise follow this trope, using cybernetically augmented humanoid bodies only as cannon fodder and servitor units.
    • Vulcans sometimes have elements of this, but their culture is much more complex. Their education system, however, as briefly shown in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and more extensively in Star Trek (2009), is very much in line with this trope and plays like a callback to the uber-intellectual, emotionless aliens of older science fiction.
    • The Iyaarans, a species from a Season 7 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, play this trope absolutely straight, and also like a callback to aliens from older Sci-Fi: They are Ditto Aliens with rubber foreheads and jumpsuits; they lack cultural concepts like antagonism, love, joy, pleasure, crime, etc; they all appear male and reproduce asexually by something called post-cellular compounding, the exact mechanics of which are, fortunately, never detailed. Their diet is extremely bland, consisting of nutrient wafers, because they consider their need to eat as matter of sustenance only, not pleasure or enjoyment, like many other humanoids consider meals. Unlike most examples of this trope, however, they are very curious about other cultures, though they struggle to understand diverse cultures like the Federation.
    • Similarly, the cauliflower-headed humanoids that abducted Picard for study in an earlier episode were all identical with no concept of individual identity or leadership. What little was revealed about their society hinted at something like this trope.
    • The Bynars from the first season episode "11001001" are closely dependent on their computers for survival. They have implants that connect them to their planet's central computer, have "digital" names like One Zero and Zero One, live and work in binary pairs, have a language based on binary, and when their planet's central planetary computer is fried by a nearby supernova it almost wipes out the entire species.
    • The Hierarchy from Star Trek: Voyager are a callback/parody/possible deconstruction of this, with their heavily regimented, computerized society, costume design, and snotty behavior.
  • Mildly Military: Starfleet is both a military and an exploration and research organization, also acting as top-level law enforcement and the advance scouts and bodyguards of The Federation's diplomatic corps and intelligence network. It is a conglomeration of the US Navy and Coast Guard, the USMC, the FBI, the CIA, the Department of State, the United Nations, NASA and a few research universities; a captain may need to think like Colin Powell or like Jacques Cousteau—or all of these may apply at once. Gene Roddenberry suggested something like the civilian space program (if it were operated by the military.) Since he was in the Army Air Forces during World War II, it's very likely that some part of his experience had a part in shaping Star Trek. Nicholas Meyer was proudly made military sci-fi, while J. J. Abrams has it stated verbatim in his film that "Starfleet is a peace-keeping military armada". Sometimes characters within the story will comment on Starfleet's ambiguous position. However, all in all, Captain Kirk says it best:
    CHRISTOPHER: "Must have taken quite a lot to build a ship like this."
    KIRK: "There are only twelve like it in the fleet."
    CHRISTOPHER: "I see. Did the Navy-"
    KIRK: "We're a combined service, Captain."
    • Star Trek: Enterprise takes place before Starfleet became combined with the military. As a result, Starfleet resembles a military service less than it does in any other incarnation of the franchise. The MACOs (Military Assault Command Operations), however, are essentially the 22nd century answer to the Marine Corps. While taking a few minor liberties, the MACOs observe military protocol, wear camouflage uniforms, and use real-world small unit combat tactics. In their debut episode, the MACO commander even points out why having The Main Characters Do Everything is a bad idea; insisting that his team handle a combat situation on a planet surface so that Starfleet security personnel are available if Enterprise gets boarded.
  • Military Maverick: Almost expected of Starfleet captains, it would seem. Picard, for all his careful, deliberate, and knowledge of the the regulations (backwards, forwards, and sideways), has many moments of this, and the others even more. One gets the impression that, away from central planets and main trade routes, the captain is the Federation, with all the discretion and responsibility that implies.
    • Considering that the original concept for the series was Hornblower in deep space, and that ship captains during the Wooden Ships and Iron Men era usually were their respective country's highest representative in any area where they were stationed...
    • Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager once made a comment about how strongly she had to hold onto Starfleet regulations so far from home, but also admired the gung-ho attitude of earlier Starfleet captains ("I would have loved to ride shotgun at least once with a group of officers like that!").
  • Minovsky Physics: Star Trek has a very long list of fictional substances and their properties. Very rarely is any material given new abilities to fill a plot need: instead, the writers invent entirely new materials. Whenever a material is reused in a later story, it retains its specific properties.
    • Star Trek's technical manuals all try to provide consistent explanations for the science and technology of the series.
  • Monster of the Week:
  • Monumental View: Every iteration puts Starfleet academy on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco (and directly across from Starfleet headquarters.) There's a bit of a problem with that as the land there is almost exclusively deep, steep, hills.
    • On the other hand, the chronologically earliest series takes place a century and a half in the future. Plenty of time for the hills to get bulldozed.
      • Those same hills where the academy would be placed if it were a real place are actually home to a large network of abandoned US Naval fortifications, which presumably could be used by Starfleet, with additions for things like hangers or storage making it a fairly logical placement for the purpose of a base/training station.
  • Moral Dissonance: Often comes up with regard to the Prime Directive. Exactly how seriously the Federation (and the protagonists) treats this is often directly connected to how much it benefits their interests, and they have been known to make first contact with pre-warp (TNG "Angel One"), or even pre-industrial (TOS "Errand of Mercy"), societies that happen to be conveniently situated near borders with hostile powers. Somewhat hypocritically, Earth was the beneficiary of first contact (with the Vulcans) prior to the establishment of United Earth purely because an individual scientist and his followers successfully tested a warp drive without government sponsorship during an anarchic period immediately after World War III (Star Trek: First Contact). Not too far into the TNG timeframe the Federation would almost religiously avoid dealing with similar planets.
  • More Hero Than Thou: Any time one Starfleet officer says I Will Only Slow You Down.
  • Most Common Superpower: In recent years, various actresses have let slip that most, if not all, of Star Trek's females have had to wear padded bras. Notable exceptions are Nana Visitor (DS9) and Kate Mulgrew who, according to legend, took her stuffed bra, stomped straight into the writer's room, and slammed it on their desk saying, "I'm not wearing that."
  • The Multiverse:
    • Kirk, McCoy, and several others were transported to a Mirror Universe in the "Mirror, Mirror" episode of the original Star Trek, in which a dark Earth-based empire ruled the galaxy. This was very much an In Spite of a Nail universe, since everything was much the same except the moral/ethical bent of the Federation's counterpart and its citizens.
    • Years later, the cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine returned to this universe to discover that the revolution Kirk had encouraged its native Spock to foment had happened; unfortunately, its effects were not necessarily for the better.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise revisited this again in "In a Mirror, Darkly", just to hammer it home that Humans Are Bastards.
    • Star Trek: Discovery spent half a season there and even hinted at the For Want of a Nail that might have caused the split between the universes ("Terrans" have a higher sensitivity to light than humans in the prime universe).
  • Narrating the Present: The Captains Logs.
  • National Weapon: The Klingon bat'leth.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The Trope Namer is a well-known parody.
  • Never Give the Captain a Straight Answer: Occasionally, when something particularly strange was in the transporter room or something, the officer present just asks the captain to come look. Sometimes justified, as with Scotty in Wrath of Khan.
  • Nonindicative Title: As discussed in Community, the crew never went to a star hence the show should have better be called 'Planet Trek'.
  • Non-Standard Kiss: The Vulcans have a finger-touching gesture that seems to be used as a kissing analogue. The basic motion is simply extending the first two fingers of the right hand and touching fingertips, but finger-stroking motions can be added for greater intimacy.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Mostly averted. Various areas in the ships have handrails, but considering the various space battles they find themselves in, it's odd that there are virtually no seat belts at workstations, and the chairs are easily toppled over. This is corrected for the first time in the films: Starting with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, every seat has restraints. The seats are now firmly fixed to the floor, and the armrests on the seats can be pulled inward to secure the crewmembers in place. Unfortunately, this development went completely ignored in the later Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • No Such Thing as Alien Pop Culture: Most cases avert this. The pop culture largely depends on the alien in question. Vulcans love music, Klingons have various popular war operas, and Cardassians literature includes the "Repetitive Epic" and "Enigma Tales". The Borg, however, have no pop culture.
  • No Such Thing as H.R.: A common point of confusion in the otherwise enlightened future of Star Trek is Doctor McCoy's humorously treated Fantastic Racism towards Spock , along with the number of physical altercations the crew get into without really getting into trouble. However, it's justifiable in the original series since the ship is on the edge of known space. The franchise moved closer to Earth with Star Trek: The Next Generation, a more established bureaucracy is in place.
  • No Such Thing as Space Jesus: Due to the incredible number of Sufficiently Advanced Aliens that Starfleet comes across just within the immediate vicinity of the Federation, skepticism levels are off the charts. Even in cases such as the Q, where the aliens in question actually are omnipotent. This was averted in DS9, where the Bajoran Prophets were increasingly accepted as having a religious mystique even by some Starfleet personnel, despite the fact that they are actually pretty mediocre by the standards of godlike beings in the Trek universe.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed: To an almost militant degree. A recurring theme across series is that trying to augment existing species or individuals beyond their natural capabilities is morally wrong. Even treatment of genetic defects is questioned in some circumstances, with genetic engineering overall being greatly feared due to the so-called "Eugenics Wars" of Earth's 1990's which were the result of the creation of human Augments. Somewhat ironically, actual Eugenics however would be legally possible within the Federation, as Interspecies Romance, often involving species possessing superhuman abilities, is very commonplace.
  • Now Do It Again Backwards: A standard way of handling various Phlebotinum.
  • Obligatory Earpiece Touch: Uhura would often touch her earpiece when concentrating on an incoming communication.
  • Officer and a Gentleman and/or Cultured Warrior: To some degree, almost all Starfleet personnel are one or the other of these. Even the Closer to Earth types have scientific and literary interests. Many enemies are Wicked Cultured as well.
  • Ominous Cube: The Borg Cubes, they're the definition of The Dreaded Dreadnought when compared to the Federation's much smaller, lighter-colored, and more rounded vessels; they're color-coded with evil's Sickly Green Glow; the music often shifts to a battle theme or the Drone of Dread when they appear; and they tend to silently ignore anything they don't deem to be a threat or interesting enough to assimilate.
  • One World Order: Are there any planets in that future that don't have a solitary, planet-wide government?
    • It's stated in the TNG episode “Attached” that being a united world is generally a requirement for Federation membership. The Federation feels odds are a world that hasn't even resolved the differences among their own people and brought them together isn't ready to join an interstellar community. This feeling is proven correct in the episode.
  • Our Dark Matter Is Different: Used frequently from The Next Generation to Enterprise as part of technobabble, most frequently in the form of dark matter nebulae. See the pages for individual series for specifics.
  • Our Doors Are Different: Sliding doors everywhere. Everywhere. The foley effect for Trek doors is the sound paper makes when removed from an envelope. Then there are the heavier, Whirrr Ka-CHUNK sliding doors.
  • Outranking Your Job: Seemingly every crewmember aboard both Enterprises is an officer.
    • Away teams (known as landing parties in TOS), the futuristic equivalent of a boarding party, are typically composed of several senior officers, plus one or two Red Shirt characters as cannon fodder. In TOS, Kirk himself frequently led the landing party.
    • Inverted by Miles O'Brien. He's essentially the chief engineer, but he's just a petty officer. Granted, there don't seem to be that many Starfleet officers under him, so he technically does still outrank his staff. Most of them seem to be Bajoran civilians (and Rom).
  • Palette-Swapped Alien Food: Romulan and Andorian Ale is blue.
  • Pelts of the Barbarian: Starting with the films, the Klingons are normally dressed in leathers and furs, as befitting their status as the archetypal Proud Warrior Race.
  • Photoprotoneutron Torpedo: Photon torpedoes are the Trope Maker. There are also quantum, plasma, and polaron torpedoes, just to name a few.
  • The Plague: Earth may be free from disease, but step out into space and these are everywhere. Starfleet crew are constantly catching them so the ship's doctor can race against time to find a cure.
    • The disease that killed all the adults in "Miri". (TOS)
    • Rigelian Fever in "Requiem for Methuselah".
    • The disease from "The Naked Time" (and its sequel "The Naked Now") is apparently non-fatal, but is highly contagious and, in both episodes, turns the entire crew into oversexed, drunken boobs who threaten to destroy the ship.
    • The macrovirus in the Voyager episode "Macrocosm". Especially nightmarish because of the monsters that exist solely as vectors, and are produced by the welts on its victims' skin.
    • The Vidiians had this as their hat, if you can belive it: an entire race infected with a deadly phage, forcing them to steal organs and skin grafts from other species.
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the Dominion punished an entire planet for rebellion by infecting them with a plague called "The Quickening". Everyone is born with it, most die in childhood, but enough people survive to adulthood to keep their population stable, turning what was once a space-faring civilization into something resembling the Dung Ages. Dr. Bashir beats his head against the wall trying to find a cure, but can only come up with a vaccine. The upshot is that future generations may yet stand a chance.
    • The Federation's "Section 31" also created a plague to kill the Changelings and win the war. It was ultimately successful, as the Changelings ended up bartering peace in exchange for a cure.
    • The plague that nearly depopulated one of the Dramians' two planets in the Animated Series episode "Albatross."
  • Plain Palate:
    • Vulcan culture favours food and drink with little to no seasonings and which is generally plain. This is likely because Vulcans value stoicism and don't see the point in eating and drinking for fun. Additionally, they're vegetarians so there's no need to use spices as a preservative as that's generally done with meat.
    • Emergency rations are not meant to be tasty, but O'Brien likes a particular type.
  • Planet of Hats: Trek is legendary for this, and has applied the trope throughout the various series.
    • TOS had, among other things, a planet of Space Nazis, a Mafia-run planet and a planet inhabited solely by transplanted Native Americans.
    • TNG had things such as a planet with gender-flipped mid-20th Century social values and a planet where everybody's role was defined by a Eugenic master plan. Also, Dr. Crusher's grandmother lived on a colony that was deliberately wearing a Scotireland hat.
    • Vulcans are all-logic, all-the-time. Their siblings, the Romulans, are all-treachery, all-the-time. Klingons are all about warfare and glory. Ferengi are all about capitalism. Cardassians are obsessive nationalists. Bajorans are spiritual, etc.
    • A popular theory is that the pervasiveness of this trope is to highlight the Humans Are Special theme of the series. Each of the other races in the galaxy showcases a facet of human nature (our materialism, our warlike nature, our lack of feeling or indifference), and their rocky relations with humanity symbolize us coming to terms with those facets.
  • Planetary Nation: Most planets visited have exactly one government, one language, and one culture.
  • Planetville: Often paired with Planet of Hats. A planetary population smaller than that of an urban apartment building is commonly considered to constitute a "civilization", to the extent of being subject to the Prime Directive. Perhaps the most glaring example was presented in the ENT episode "Terra Nova", where the roughly 200 settlers of Earth's first interstellar colony decided to declare independent sovereignty, and Earth let it go!
  • Post-Scarcity Economy: In TNG and chronologically later media the Federation is portrayed as such whenever Roddenberry could get away with it.
  • Power of Friendship: The franchise features a lot of this; especially in The Original Series and in The Next Generation. Many episodes revolve around one of the crew being kidnapped, threatened, or otherwise in danger, and having the rest of the crew band together to save them. Has resulted in plenty of Big Damn Heroes.
  • Primary-Color Champion: applies to Starfleet as a whole in TOS and the Kelvin Timeline (see Color-Coded for Your Convenience, above) with brightly coloured uniform shirts of yellow, red and blue. Downplayed in the rest of the franchise, with the colours being restricted to ever-smaller portions of the uniform, teal gradually supplanting blue and red getting swapped for a more subdued shade of purplish maroon.
  • Psychic Powers: Many species have them, ranging from minor extrasensory perception to godlike powers.

  • Ragnarök Proofing: In Living Witness, Season 4, Episode 23 of Voyager, the Doctor's program was bootlegged onto a storage device, and wakes up 700 years in the future on a planet where the survivors are unhappy over past events, where all of the devices that had been left behind from Voyager, tricorder, the Doctor's holo emitter, etc., which had lain buried and forgotten for over 680 years, until found in archeological digs, all work perfectly.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits:
    • Voyager, of course. Virtually nobody on the ship has any business being there, including the ship's Doctor.
    • Deep Space Nine also has a fairly motley crew, considering that some belong to species who are avowed enemies of the TNG crew. Moreover, nobody on the station really wants to be there: Sisko originally wanted to transfer to civilian service; Quark was planning to split town altogether; Worf is back to square one, surrounded by even more people he doesn't understand; Kira resented working with Starfleet and was only comfortable blowing things up; Garak is barred from returning to his homeworld and, to add insult to injury, constantly shivering from the (comparatively freezing) temperature.
  • Random Transportation: In the Verse wormholes can be used in principle for very long distance interstellar travel, but in practice aren't because they're unstable and can land you at any random location in the galaxy with no guarantee that they'll open up again to bring you back.
    • The wormhole in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is notably stable, taking you from point X in the Alpha Quadrant to point Y in the Gamma Quadrant and back again every time; but that's because it was artificially created by the Prophets/wormhole aliens instead of being a natural phenomenon.
  • Ray Gun: Phasers and disruptors.
  • Raygun Gothic: The Original Series solidly fits this trope. By the Next Generation era the Federation is in transition between Ray Gun Gothic and Crystal Spires and Togas.
  • Recycled In Space: The franchise itself is, in the words of its creator, Wagon Train TO THE STARS!
    • In TOS, the Klingons are Russians IN SPACE! while the Romulans are the then-inscrutable Chinese...IN SPACE!
    • Vulcans are Elves. IN SPACE!
    • Romulans are Dark Elves/Drow, Klingons are Orcs/Orks, Borg are Undead, et cetera.
      • Borg are more like Horror Film Zombies in space!
    • Nicholas Meyer, director of Star Trek II and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, describes the series as "Horatio Hornblower IN SPACE!"
      • Gene Roddenberry described James T. Kirk as a space-age Horatio Hornblower in the book The Making of Star Trek (1968).
  • Red Shirt: The Trope Namer! Members of the Operations Division (engineering and military services) were particularly likely to be used as the "victim of the week", as their jobs made them particularly likely to fall afoul of traps or the latest alien monster and this was an easy way to build drama by killing off nameless or clearly-minor characters. Strictly speaking, the name of the trope is only accurate in The Original Series; whilst differing shades of blue were standard for the Science/Medical Division throughout all the series, Operations and Command were red and gold in TOS and then switched colors from The Next Generation onwards.
  • Rejection Ritual: The Klingons have Discommendation, in which a Klingon is ceremonially shunned and reduced to an honorless pariah in their society. In the ceremony, the Klingons present cross their arms in front of the discommendee and turn their backs on him.
    • In the Next Generation episode "Sins of the Father", Worf was subjected to this as a result of the charges brought against his family by the Duras family.
    • Star Trek Online deconstructs this in the episode "Warzone", mission "The House Always Wins". Chancellor J'mpok orders Councillor Torg to be discommendated and the House of Torg dissolved for conspiring with the Romulan Star Empire to destroy the rival House of Martok. The Klingons present ritually turn their backs on him, but Torg decides on Taking You with Me and attempts to backstab Worf. Worf's son Alexander jumps in front of the knife and bleeds out in Worf's arms.
  • The Reptilians:
    • The Gorn.
    • The rarely-seen brandy-making Saurians.
    • The Cardassians. Though they're the least reptilian, looking pretty much like humans with scales tacked on, they also happen to be the most villainous of the reptoid lot.
    • The Reptilian Xindi in Star Trek: Enterprise.
    • The Voth were descended from Earth hadrosaurs. Which is at least a new one, as far as Dinosauroids go.
    • The Hirogen (modeled on a gila monster) and the Jem'Hadar at least look the part, and are the villains in most of their appearances. However, the latter's makeup was based on a rhinoceros.
  • Revisiting the Roots: For better or for worse, Star Trek: Voyager was this for the franchise: A lone Federation starship exploring the dangerous unknowns and meeting new life and new civilizations.
  • Robots Enslaving Robots:
    • The Borg Collective is an interesting aversion of this. Although it has no compunction sacrificing drones to adapt to phasers and forces individuals to act against their will, it would not outright order individuals like Picard/Locutus or Hugh to die when they became a threat... it prized them too much, like limbs. It was effectively a hydra that liked some of its heads. Part of this is because, at least in earlier depictions, the Borg — despite appearances — value diversity. Uniqueness allowed it to expand its own capabilities. However, born and raised Borg like Hugh that undergo a period of individuality can grow to reject the Collective's absolute stranglehold on them, and even infect other drones with The Evils of Free Will.
    • However, the Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact and Voyager is a straight cyborg example of this trope. She sees herself as the pinnacle of perfection, knowingly enslaves her drones to make them fit her view of perfection by squashing any individuality and will thoughtlessly sacrifice thousands of drones to capture and coerce individuals like Seven of Nine or attacking the invincible aliens in Fluidic Space.
  • Sapient Cetaceans: A frequent theme in the series.
  • Scifi Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: Voyager cruising over a planet's rings in the opening credits. Why does it take sixty years to fly back to the Alpha Quadrant? All they have to do is walk from one side of the ship to the other.
  • Screens Are Cameras:
    • All viewscreens behave like this, in each the show's incarnations.
    • On Deep Space Nine, the producers rolled out a new invention: a portable 3D holocommunicator. Instead of conversing via a viewscreen, two actors could share the same room and still appear to be talking over great distances. Ironically, this looks even cheaper than the viewscreen did, despite being more time-consuming and expensive (due to various camera trickery to make the 'effect' look less blatant.) The device only shows up in two episodes, "For the Uniform" and "Doctor Bashir, I Presume?"
    • Trek holograms have always been cleaner than Star Wars holograms, so flickering or static wouldn't be keeping in canon. Instead, they tried surrounding the 'holographic' actor in blue light (so as to appear to be transmitting from a different room), but the actor confusingly looks like a ghost(!).
  • Screen Shake: The usual method of showing impact. Shake camera, shimmy actors.
  • Secular Hero: Gene Roddenberry firmly believed that humanity would eventually abandon religion, so this is the default status for human characters in the franchise, although various alien characters (particularly Klingons and Bajorans) are shown to have religious or spiritual beliefs and practices. The only major human exceptions are Sisko, whose major character arc is his gradual acceptance of his status as a religious figure to the Bajorans, and Chakotay, who has some Magical Native American tendencies thanks to series co-creator Michael Piller's interest in New Age spirituality (in general, Native Americans in the Trek franchise seem to be the exception to the "humans are secular" rule).
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: They must teach the "destroy your ship rather than let aliens take it" method at Starfleet Headquarters, seeing as every single Captain uses it at least once in a series. Janeway must have threatened to use it 30 times.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Uses this trope in Klingon mythology. According to it, the gods created Klingons, who then turned around and killed them for the trouble.
  • Sexy Dimorphism: The Orion women are Green Skinned Space Babes considered among the most beautiful of all humanoid woman, and their men are big bruisers (sometimes as much as twice the size of their women), usually ugly and not very smart.
  • Shakespearean Actors:
    • Patrick Stewart was briefly the butt of jokes in England for putting his career on hold to do Star Trek; the press assumed he was having a mid-life crisis and just wanted a fat pension and swarms of fangirls all over him. Most charmingly, he retorted he considered his years in the "training" for his role as Picard. But in reality, the franchise is famous for casting many stage actors over regular TV guest actors. Actors who lacked theater experience (Terry Farrell, Kate Mulgrew) are sometimes disparaged in fandom and even felt like the odd man out on occasion.
      Joe Ford: I have heard people dismiss Mulgrew’s performance in the past because she is a TV veteran and not a Shakespearean actor or from an impressive theatrical background, but in all honesty she is one of the strongest actors in the Star Trek universe. I would happily squeeze Mulgrew into the arsenal of talent that fronts DS9 because she is far too good for a show like Voyager and I do feel they were lucky to have her.
    • They all seem to do their best work when immersed in the Shakespearean politics of the Klingon Empire. According to J.G. Hertzler, "They tend to go with people who can operate in a strangely heightened reality and somehow make it as close to reality as you can. That's sci-fi; that's what you need."
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: Many characters quote the Bard. Alien cultures tend to admire him too, even claiming him as their own.
  • Sighted Guns Are Low-Tech: Hand phasers, at least. Heavy-duty phaser rifles usually have a sight.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Star Trek is a fairly idealistic franchise.
  • Slow Electricity: The console displays always go on/off in sequence around the bridge. If there's a ship-wide outage, expect an outside shot of windows lighting up/going out one at a time.
  • Smart House: The ships behave much like this from TNG onward.
  • Society Marches On: Most prominent in TOS, which was limited by network standards and very heavy on Cold War allegory, with the Federation (the United States), Klingon Empire (the Soviet Union) and Romulans (China) being very obvious expies of real world nations. Real world social values from the time also crept into the show in a variety of ways, such as consistent gender roles, and fashions paralleling the real world. The pilot episode, however, had a powerful female second-in-command, who was reportedly disliked by female viewers because she was "too domineering".
  • Soldier vs. Warrior:
    • Starfleet approaches warfare as a professional military with soldiers; this is what gives them an advantage over aggressive alien races like the Klingons who are self-described warriors who lust for battle. While the Klingon military might be the fiercest offensive fighting force in their part of the galaxy, they have no stamina whatsoever for fighting a war of attrition. Starfleet by comparison will fight and never lose hope until the last soldier is dead. A Ferengi character points this out, that a Starfleet soldier is more dangerous than the most bloodthirsty Klingon warrior when pushed to the cliff edge and forced to fight for the lives of all the innocents who are depending on him.
    • The first time the legendary Starfleet resolve was nearly shattered in a full scale war was when the Federation faced off against the Dominion: an empire with the one mission of sunjugating all of known space, that has literally engineered its soldiers to be little more than biological robots who fight because it's their only purpose.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: Characters are always touching the force fields to show the audience that they are there.
  • Space Fighter: Fighters are rare, but do turn up now and then — especially in Deep Space Nine, where they were used by the Maquis before being adopted by The Federation. They are generally avoided because typical starship defenses are both fast firing and extremely accurate, making it difficult to justify using them.
  • Space Navy: Starfleet.
  • Spaceship Slingshot Stunt: A common trick for time travel no less.
  • Special Effect Branding: This trope is avoided in most cases: for instance, both Klingon and Romulan ship-mounted disruptors use green effects, and both Cardassian and Federation phasers are the same yellow/orange color. (despite their similarities, "phasers and "disruptors" are different technology) However, transporters generally follow this trope, having similar but distinct special effects: blue transporters for Star Fleet, red transporters for Klingons, green transporters for Romulans, and so forth. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine made a special point of this, as the titular station, though operated by Star Fleet, was of Cardassian origin and used Cardassian transporter effects.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Army: Codified the use Security personnel. Follows the visual media model of focusing mostly on Infantry.
  • Standard Sci-Fi History: Earth's history follows this.
  • Standard Sci Fi Setting: One of the most famous Trope Codifiers.
  • Standard Starship Scuffle: The Trope Codifier, especially the final battle in The Wrath of Khan.
  • Standard Time Units: Stardates.
  • Starfish Aliens: While the series is often mocked for excessive use of Rubber-Forehead Aliens, special mention must be made of the Tholians that appeared in the original series episode "The Tholian Web", who were so strange, while visible only partly through the main viewscreen during negotiations, that the writers themselves (like anyone else) couldn't figure out what they actually were implied to be for the better part of 30 years, even while being passingly mentioned once or twice in different series. Only toward the end of Enterprise did they finally settle on the head being a carapace, and the Tholians as a race of advanced arachnids.
    • For a show with a limited budget, even the original series had a decent number of nonhumanoids. Apart from a bunch of Energy Beings, we also had the Horta, Yarnek, the Melkotians—and a few shapeshifters like Sylvia & Korob, and the Kelvans, whose real forms were nonhumanoid. Each of the later series added a few more to the list. The show that far and away had the most nonhumanoids was the one where budget limitations could not hinder creature design: Star Trek: The Animated Series.
  • State Sec: Romulans and Cardassians both got their own little versions in the form of the Tal'Shiar and Obsidian Order respectively. Arguably Starfleet's Section 31. The Ferengi's FCA might also qualify given their cultural bias.
  • Stealth in Space: The Romulans developed a Cloaking Device in the timeframe of TOS, which was soon stolen by the Federation; subsequently, the Treaty of Algeron prohibited the Federation from using or developing any cloaking technology of its own.
  • Stock Star Systems: Used most famously with the battle of Wolf 359, a red dwarf star so close to Earth the battle also goes by the name "the Battle of Sector 001."
    • Janeway's father drowned on Tau Ceti Prime.
    • The Andorians and Vulcans come from Procyon and 40 Eridani A respectively.
  • Subspace Ansible: All of the space-faring civilizations have this. (Radio is explicitly referred to as "old-style" because transmission speed is only the speed of light.) The exact speeds are never explicitly given, but it's implied to be measured in Warp factors and it definitely takes days to send a signal across several parsecs. Signals also degrade long before they travel across the galaxy.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Star Trek has probably the largest and most diverse variety of these out of any science fiction franchise, including a multitude of races of Energy Beings, Physical Gods and the flat-out omnipotent Q.
  • Super Doc: Any Sickbay doctor.
  • Super Weight:
  • Technical Pacifist: The Federation aspires to peace above all and will always take a diplomatic solution to conflict where possible, but is fully prepared to defend itself if attacked. Deep Space Nine deconstructs this with revelation of Section 31, a shadow organization that does the Federation's dirty work for them in secret.
  • Technobabble: More or less the Trope Codifier. In the script it would be labeled as [TECH] and they had a separate writer to put in whatever seemed appropriate.
  • Technology Porn: A staple of the series.
  • Teleporter Accident: Transporters work by literally disassembling an object (or person) into energy, shooting it some distance away, and reassembling that object at the new location. Contrary to popular opinion, the transported object is indeed the original, but the reintegration process can be rather dangerous. There have been some grisly accidents in each iteration of Trek: two Enterprise crewmen died agonizing deaths (TOS: The Motion Picture) after being re-integrated incorrectly, Riker (somehow) unwittingly twinned himself when he tried beaming through a distorted atmosphere (TNG, "Second Chances"), Scotty's transporter pattern was stuck in limbo for a century (TNG, "Relics"), and another crewman's body was mixed with rocks and foliage while attempting to beam out during a fierce windstorm, though he survived (ENT, "Strange New World"). Sabotage of the transporter buffer is not uncommon, either. If you hide a remat detonator (described as being 2 square millimeters in size) on their person, you can disrupt the passenger's transporter pattern as they beam up, leaving a smoking, half-finished corpse on the pad. Yech.
    Weyoun:: You were supposed to be on that transporter pad with him.
    Damar: I was called away. An urgent meeting with the Central Command.
    Weyoun: How convenient.
    Damar: I always was lucky.
  • Teleport Interdiction: It's not possible to transport through deflector shields. This is used as a way to add drama — with the ship having to drop its shields briefly in the middle of battle in order to beam back an away team, or the away team not simply being able to flee danger because there's a shield between them and.
    • The original Enterprise NC-1701 had an "old-style" senor array which acted as a sonar. By waiting for the right point in a scan cycle, a ship could de-cloak and beam over to the Enterprise before cloaking again, without being detected. This only works when the ships are parked and the deflector array is down.
  • Tie In Novels: A huge range of novels based on all eras of the franchise (and the spaces in between) exists, including novelizations of several episodes and Star Trek: New Frontier. Other than the novelizations, these are all officially declared non-canon by Paramount and Gene Roddenberry. When Jeri Taylor was the Word of God on Star Trek: Voyager, her original novels about the crew's history were considered canon. They aren't any more.
    • Pre-Nemesis, authors had a standing order not to kill any character that had appeared on-screen. Afterwards, because Nemesis was seen as the last time the original timeline was to be seen on-screen before Discovery was announced as being set there, all bets are off. (Still non-canon, however.)
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Transporters work by literally disassembling an object (or person) into energy, shooting it some distance away, and reassembling that object at the new location. It consists of the following parts:
    • A de-materializer, which breaks down the object in a controlled fashion
    • A buffer, which holds the disintegrated object until transmission
    • A transmitter, which transmits the disintegrated object as a beam of energy
    • A re-materializer, which reintegrates the object in a controlled fashion
    • Contrary to popular opinion, the transported object is indeed the original object from the start, but as you can imagine, transporters can be rather scarily dangerous if some part of the process were to be interrupted.
  • Time Police: The Federation of the 29th Century and Daniels' faction from the 31st Century. They aren't very effective at this.
    • Janeway is described as casually flaunting the timeline so frequently it actually managed to drive Captain Braxton 'insane''. He comes up with something called "The Janeway Factor," meaning that you can fully expect her to blunder into any time-sensitive activities going on.
    • Also, the time police hate Kirk; when Sisko gives his report about "Trials and Tribble-ations," and first mentions Kirk, the two operatives exchange a look which says, "we hate the Kirk cases."
    "Seventeen separate temporal violations! The biggest file on record!"
  • Time to Step Up, Commander: A frequent device (often in the disaster episode) is to have a member of the secondary bridge crew or even the counselor forced to take command when the captain is knocked out or cut off from the rest of the ship.
  • Time Travel Taboo:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: A series Ur-Example of the Time Travel Taboo involves the planet Gateway, from the episode "City on the Edge of Forever". After the Federation was nearly wiped out by McCoy saving a 1930s woman who delayed the US' entry into World War II, the planet was placed under strict quarantine. Some non-canon licensed works upped the ante to the same death penalty used for Talos IV.
    • Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: These two concurrent series simultaneouslynote  introduced a the timeline current Department of Temporal Investigations and the future Temporal Prime Directive. The former is relatively flexible and informal, but it introduces a taboo to the series canon. The latter is enforced by 29th century officers who work to preserve the timeline, and will go so far as to eliminate people from history to do so.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Across the franchise as a whole the exact nature of Time Travel and its relationship to The Multiverse is never really clarified. Are Alternate Universes the result of time travelers changing history? Naturally occurring phenomena? The creations of bored Q entertaining themselves at the expense of Starfleet captains? No definitive answer is ever given despite the fact that travel through time and between parallel universes is far from unusual, and in many cases used as Applied Phlebotinum for solving otherwise unsolvable problems.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: One of the most common sources of conflict in the series. The Prime Directive produces seemingly endless cases of characters having to decide whether to follow the rules and allow an atrocity to occur, or ignore them and abandon the Federation's principles. Often made more complicated by the fact that the Federation and Starfleet Command are not above Moving The Goal Posts when it comes to application of the Prime Directive.
  • Token Enemy Non Human: Most of the "Big Bad" species produce a black sheep who sees the light, defects to the good guys, and becomes a bridge officer. With Seven of Nine (a discarded Borg), this trope reached its apogee. Only the Romulans have proven implacable enough to resist this.

    Interestingly, we do see Romulans and Cardassians among Starfleet's uniformed ranks, but only in alternate realities. On rare occasions, Starfleet officers turn out to have Romulan ancestry as well (If Saavik had appeared in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, this would have been her reason for supporting the conspiracy.)
  • Touch Telepathy: The Vulcan mind meld:
    • Spock touches the heads of the listed people in the following episodes while doing a Mind Meld with them.
      • "Dagger of the Mind". Simon van Gelder, to find out what deviltry is going on at Elba II.
      • "The Devil in the Dark": The Horta in order to communicate with it.
      • In "Requiem For Methuselah": Kirk, in order to remove his memories of Rayna Kapek.
      • "Spectre of the Gun". Kirk, McCoy and Scotty, to convince them that the situation they're in isn't real (so the simulated bullets can't kill them).
      • "Mirror, Mirror". Evil!Spock does it with Dr. McCoy so he can find out what's going on.
      • "I, Mudd". He tries it on Norman, but fails because Norman's a robot.
      • "The Return of The Archons". He tries to do it on McCoy but fails because of Landru's Mind Control.
      • _Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home_. He melds with the humpback whale, Gracie. He learns that Gracie is pregnant.
    • Several other characters do it too: Miranda to Spock in "Is There In Truth No Beauty?", T'Pau to Spock in "Amok Time".
    • The lack of a Vulcan main character on TNG and DS9 reduced the frequency of the mind melds, but they still occasionally crept in. Sarek to Picard in "Sarek", and Spock to Picard in "Unification". Additionally, a failed attempt was made by a Maquis rebel on Gul Dukat in the DS9 episode "The Maquis"
    • The reintroduction of a Vulcan main cast member in VOY and ENT reintroduced frequent melds. Tuvok on VOY did it in the following episodes:
      • "Ex Post Facto", to Tom Paris to learn the secret of the crime for which Paris had been accused
      • "Meld", with Ensign Suder, to try to understand what drove the man to commit murder
      • "Flashback", to Captain Janeway, to let her help investigate his own memory
      • "The Gift", to Kes, to attempt to help stabilize her powers
      • "Random Thoughts", to a black marketer who traded in violent thoughts
      • "Infinite Regress", to Seven of Nine, to help cure her induced multiple personality syndrome
      • "Unimatrix Zero", to both Janeway and Seven of Nine, to allow Janeway to enter the Platonic Cave that Seven had recently remembered.
    • In the prequel series Enterprise, the idea of Melds are "first" discussed in Vulcan society as something of a taboo, that only heretics and rebels would ever perform. Nonetheless, it was performed at least four times, two of which involving main character T'Pol (once by her, once to her against her will)
  • Translator Microbes: The Universal Translator. We occasionally get to see the Translator in action, such as in "Sanctuary" where the aliens' gibberish gradually turned to English.
    • And of course, "Darmok" famously subverted it by having the aliens talk in allegories, which aren't so easily translated.
  • Traveling at the Speed of Plot: While numerous fans, as well as authors of RPG's and other supplementary materials, have tried to translate Warp Factor into a firm measurement of speed, actual writers of episodes and films tend to ignore such efforts and simply have ships take however long the plot requires to get from place to place. This is paralleled by the many conflicting maps of the galaxy that have been produced over the decades, which inconsistently depict the locations of major planets and non-Federation space nations.
  • Treachery Is a Special Kind of Evil: The three pillars of Klingon philosophy are duty, honor, and loyalty. Officially, the Klingons play this trope straight.
    • Worf does, but he's a particular case. Firstly, his parents died in a treacherous attack by the Romulans who had Klingon accomplices. Secondly, since he has been adopted by human parents, he developed an idealized conception of the Klingon way of life.
    • This aspect wasn't yet established during the original series, but the trope is still Played Straight by Kang. He has always respected scrupulously the Organian treaty, so he's pretty angry when his ship's disabled by what seems to be an unjustified attack from the Enterprise.
    • Overall, a lot of treacherous Klingons appear on screen. Sometimes, their strategy is accusing the adversary of treachery.
    • In Klingon society, losing honor is officially worst than being killed and traitors are usually stripped of their honor. Actually, honor and dishonor are tools for political manoeuver. That's why Worf's family, the House of Mogh, is dishonored, then vindicated and dishonored again.
    • There's also the episode "The Drumhead". Of course, that starts with a Klingon who did an espionnage job for the Romulans, so Worf is personnaly engaged, but there's also the fight between Admiral Satie who considers the end justifies the means to find imaginary traitors and Picard who point out her methods betrays the principles on which Federation justice are based.
  • Trouble from the Past: We have the Eugenics Wars of the mid-1990s, the "sanctuary districts" of the early 21st century where the homeless, jobless, and mentally ill were left to rot, and the post-atomic horror following World War III in the late 21st century.

  • Ultimate Universe: With the amount of Continuity Nods and Broad Strokes picking and choosing certain elements from every show and movie, the movies following on from the Star Trek (2009) Alternate Timeline could possibly be one.
  • Uniqueness Decay: The Borg start out in Next Generation as a mysterious, frighteningly advanced and implacable species from beyond known space. Then Enterprise has them show up about 300 years before that, while their Villain Decay on Voyager makes them seem distinctly nonthreatening.
  • Unusual User Interface: Data was regularly plugging himself into various bits of the ship. Once they even attached just his head to a console after his body was misplaced.
    • In some cases (particularly in TNG), computers were reprogrammed by rearranging "isolinear chips" (green, plastic spark plugs). Back in the 1940s and before, this was a legitimate way to program computers. Why they return to it in the 2360s is anyone's guess.
      • At least for robotics, the technique is quite valid and is experiencing a rebirth. And military electronic hardware has long consisted of interchangeable modules (the theory being that replacing an entire module is easier—particularly under combat conditions—than restoring the code).
      • Think about this the next time you use one of those tiny 64-gig storage cards in your communicator, er, phone.
    • Speaking of Star Trek: TNG, you kids today may be all jaded and stuff, but those touch screen Okudagrams on the Enterprise were freaking awesome in 1987.
    • An episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has older versions of the crew having trouble adapting to the Defiant's antiquated interface, being used to a three-dimensional projection. ("The Visitor")
    • In the VOY finale, Janeway returns from decades in the future to change the present, and she is implanted with a standard issue neural computer interface from the future.
    • There's another episode where Tom Paris gets too close to an alien shuttle with a neural interface.
    • One episode of DS9 featured a guest character with a data port behind her ear, which she could use to bypass security systems. The dialogue made it sound as though they were relatively freely available... which only raises questions about why we never saw one again.
    • The Hirogen ships' interface works looks like sticking metal toothpicks into a gigantic sphere.
    • The Borg can also do this with their assimilation tubes. Said tubes inject nanites into anything. Those nanites then infect and reprogram the target system to resemble that of a Borg ship.
  • Unwinnable Joke Game: Ironically subverted in Starfleet Academy on the Super Nintendo. You are given The Kobayashi Maru scenario as a graduation requirement. It's supposed to be unwinnable. However, due to the way the video game is designed, it's entirely possible to engage the Klingons and beat them.
  • Useful Book: The Teachings of Surak, aka the Gideon's Bible of the future. Only much weightier.
    • The Ferengi have their own variation: The Rules of Acquisition, which they quote like scripture.
  • Values Dissonance: There is some of this between the Star Trek shows, spanning decades, and the audiences of various generations, but this trope really comes into its own in universe, with the majority of plots being about or involving inter-species and inter-cultural values dissonance.
  • [Verb] This!: In First Contact:
    Worf: Assimilate this. *cue Borgsplosion*
  • The 'Verse: Widely recognized as quite possibly the most coherent, internally consistent fictional universe ever created.
  • Villain Decay: In addition to the Borg (mentioned under Uniqueness Decay above), the Ferengi were originally intended to be major villains in Next Generation. Although their first on-screen appearance (Picard speaking to a close-up headshot of a Ferengi on a viewscreen) was extremely intimidating, the diminutive Ferengi were not taken very seriously as bad guys by most fans. The Ferengi were subsequently rescued by being retooled into comedy relief and often sympathetic characters with the Romulans and eventually the Borg becoming the heavies after the first two seasons. And don't get us started on the Kazon...
  • A Villain Named Khan: The iconic Khan Noonien Singh is an Evil Overlord from Earth's distant history, put in suspended animation and revived during the series to become one of Captain Kirk's greatest enemies.
  • A Villain Named "Z__rg":
    • Klingons, Kazon, and Borg.
    • Klingons love the letter K. The Original Series gave us the iconic triumvirate of Kang, Kor, Koloth, as well as their culture's founder Kahless; and the movies have Kruge, Klaa, Koord, and Gorkon. In the Expanded Universe, their home planet used to be called Klinzhai, but the official canon later renamed it Qonos (pronounced "Kronos", with a K sound).
  • We Will Not Have Pockets in the Future: Subverted in ENT, which overcompensated with more zippers than is necessary.
  • We Will Use Lasers in the Future: Okay, fine, phasers. Ubiquitous lasers variety, as far as the Federation is concerned.
  • We Will Use Manual Labor in the Future: Romulans and Cardassians are heavy into dilithium mining, and employ untouchables (such as the Reman caste) or subjugated aliens to dig it up for them. Enterprise revealed the Vulcans are operating like a modern-day hegemony: the Andorian colonies are operated by tinpot dictators who funnel dilithium to Vulcan and leave the workers, who work for a pittance in company-owned shantytowns, with nothing.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: This is Star Trek, and proud fathers are not welcome here. Just ask Sarek.
    • In particular, Sarek said upon Spock's birth, "So human." Disapproved of Spock's entry into Starfleet Academy (TOS, "Journey to Babel") and the two are only fully reconciled in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (keep in mind that Spock had died two movies earlier—perhaps this was a jolt to the old man's conscience?). Spock expresses only partly-veiled annoyance that Sarek had engaged in a mind-meld with Picard when he had never done so with his own son. Sarek is played far more sympathetically in the 2009 reboot and has a much better relationship with Spock.
      • However, Sarek strikes again in Star Trek: Discovery as we find out he let his adopted daughter Michael spend her life thinking she wasn't good enough to make it into Vulcan NASA when actually Vulcan racists forced him to choose between her and Spock. He chose Spock—which sheds new light on his disapproval of Spock's decision to enter Starfleet.
    • Picard's father, Maurice, was a wine-maker who insisted on living his life as though it were the 1800s. Fittingly, he abhorred technology and disapproved of his son joining Starfleet. In fact, when Picard briefly died in "Tapestry", he saw a vision of his father berating him for yet another "disappointment."
    • Riker is the chip off the old block: his old man is a glory hound who must compete with his son at every opportunity. This is evidenced by Riker's childhood memory of a fishing trip, in which Kyle Riker took credit for Will's big catch.
    • Tom Paris' instructor at Starfleet, Admiral Owen Paris: By no means a pleasant or easy tutor to have so keenly on hand. Owen gave his son a "B-Minus".
    • Data's brother Lore has daddy issues out the wazoo, since he was basically a Flawed Prototype that their creator-dad Noonian Soong mothballed in favour of building Data. Soong claimed he meant to go back and "fix" Lore but never got around to it, and Lore ends up straight-up murdering him. Though considering Lore deliberately fed all their neighbours to a giant snowflake monster, maybe Soong had a point…
    • Malcolm Reed's father basically disowned him for not joining the Royal Navy.
    • Odo has a bristled relationship with his surrogate 'father', Dr. Mora. He mentions that when Mora tried to get an infant Odo to take the shape of a cube, Odo resisted the first two times out of defiance. Mora was very proud with himself for helping Odo mature as a humanoid, but Odo resented being paraded around Cardassian officials to impress them (always being asked to perform the 'Cadassian neck trick', which Odo hated). Odo even felt jealousy when Mora took over the education and training of another baby Changeling.
    • Elim Garak and his father Enabran Tain had an icy cold relationship, even by the standards of other characters appearing on this list. He's the reason why Garak became an agent of the Obsidian Order, had claustrophobia as an adult (from being locked in closets as a child), and was also partially responsible for his exile to Deep Space Nine. On his deathbed in a Dominion internment camp however, Enabran Tain then revealed to Garak that his uncompromising attitude was mainly due to his position as the head of the Obsidian Order, and admitted that he was actually proud of him.
    • Ezri's mother manages to take this further by not only thoroughly disapproving of her only daughter, but also by her domineering attitude towards her other two children. She forced Ezri's brothers into helping run her failing mining business, which subsequently led to the entire family's involvement with the Orion Syndicate, and then to Ezri's brother committing murder on the family's behalf.
    • Averted with Benjamin Sisko, whose father is nothing but supportive and very proud of his son. Benjamin in turn is a firm but loving father to Jake, although he's far from perfect, but given the circumstances even before the Dominion War this is understandable.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Every Captain. In every series. And not infrequently either. Either them at the crew for their crap, or the crew to themselves for their own crap.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: From the Horta in TOS to Data in TNG to Odo and the Founders in Deep Space Nine to holograms in VOY, every series has at least one story struggling with this topic. In fact, there are so many that the series itself has its own page under that namespace.
  • White and Grey Morality: Most of the five series heavily favored this trope. The show tended not to have very many truly evil people and the ones that seemed to be would get fleshed out or retconned later to be more sympathetic. Typically most people could be reasoned with and almost everybody was just looking out for their own if they weren't motivated by nobler intentions. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine skews furthest from this trope with the Federation becoming a bit greyer and the Dominion being darker than is typical of the other series.

    The one exception would be the Next Generation-era Ferengi. They were universally motivated by greed, embodying the worst of capitalism on a show that tended to favor socialist utopias. Ironically, while Deep Space Nine was overall darker, they pulled the Ferengi into the gray range by allowing Quark to express his worldview. He noted that the Ferengi never had a world war or genocides even close to Earth's history because it only reduces their customer base. He was even at the forefront of a number of social reforms and the Alpha Quadrant was saved by a Ferengi.
  • World of Ham: Star Trek: Go big or go home.
  • World of Snark: Everybody loves to argue. And it's usually a delight.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: The reigning currency in the Alpha Quadrant is gold-pressed latinum. Denominations of gold-pressed latinum, in order of increasing value, include the slip, the strip, the bar and the brick. The imprinted gold is merely a casing for the latinum, which carries real value.
    Quark: Someone's extracted all the latinum! There's nothing here but worthless gold!
    Odo: And it's all yours.
    Quark: NOOOOOooooooooooooooooooo--
  • Worthy Opponent : The Romulan captain in Balance of Terror most notably. Used on other occasions.
  • You Don't Want to Catch This: Occasionally used by the ship's doctors to buy time or get in somewhere they shouldn't be.
  • You Keep Using That Word: The later series are notoriously bad for using the word "Ancient" to describe things from the 19th and 20th Century, which would be like describing Roman Chariots and Nuclear Weapons as close historically speaking. Made further ridiculous considering they are only a few hundred years downwind from the things they are describing. 'Ancient' as a legal term is used to refer to any document or artifact more than 100 years old. Perhaps the legal definition prevailed over time?
  • Your Size May Vary: The franchise has made efforts to convey their ships in the appropriate size, but have made some size errors due partly to no two models being made at the same scale and also some deviances to make the best looking image. In particular smaller ships like the Defiant, Voyager or a Klingon Bird of Prey are hard to compare with massive ships like the Enterprise D and E. This became a point of controversy with the Kelvin Timeline, as the Enterprise was designed at one size close to the original but arbitrarily doubled in size in official reports, making every other FX shot disproportioned.
  • Zeerust: A given for the original series because of general budget restrictions of the time. Next Generation mostly averts this even though it is over 20 years old now, mostly due to having an excellent visual designer in Michael Okuda.

...To boldly go where no one has gone before.


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