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Franchise as a whole

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Roddenberry's vision of Trek seems to be that in the future, Earth is a Marxist dystopia ruled by Pod-People. While it is true that the series (focused as they are on Starfleet) do not show much of civilian lifestyles in the Federation, what we do see actually implies a rather high standard of living, and quite a diversity of lifestyles, especially when the colonies are factored in. For example, Beverly Crusher's grandmother lived on a colony where everyone was basically doing LARP of life in the pre-industrial Scottish Highlands (with hidden technology maintaining things like the weather). So there is a definite absence of stereotypical Marxist conformity. If anything, people appear to cluster in "lifestyle communities" that meet their personal preferences.
    • Cracked had a blast pointing out the horrifying undertones to Federation Society.
      Dan: So Star Trek and Next Gen are about a resource rich society that is in such a creative rut they will send the Enterprise, humanity's finest ship out to unexplored corners of space just to find new life and new civilizations. Novelty is the most precious commodity there is! This is a profoundly bored people, so jaded, that they will load up their children and women onto a heavily armed warship and send it just out... just go! Just go somewhere and find me something interesting and tell me about it?!
    • Later, they used Fridge Logic to point out all the ways the show's production constraints imply terrible things about the way the whole system operates.
    • The theory that The Federation is actually The Empire, simply using the Benevolent Alien Invasion to gain new members and extend its own power. Some point as evidence of this in Insurrection, as they are recruiting races who've had warp for only a year simply to serve as Cannon Fodder for the Dominion.
    • A somewhat less dystopian interpretation of the Planet of Hats present in the show is simply that the nature of the stories being told usually means we're seeing mainly planetary leaders and members of the military, all of whom have been trained to act in a way that the elites of their society consider ideal. Notably the series that suffers the least from this trope is DS9, which takes place in a setting that attracts a fair number of civilian workers and merchants.
    • Should it be considered that even before the "time capsule" of the species from TNG's The Chase was first discovered, that the few species in Star Trek that aren't humanoid are from those rare planets where the seeding project failed, or, given that it's implied that humanoid species only exist within the Milky Way, could species like the Tholians, the Melkotians, the Nacene, be all that's left of some ancient act of aggression by the first humanoids?
  • Americans Hate Tingle: While not universal, the whole franchise is more popular in the English-speaking world than outside of it, possibly because it deals with very complex topics, some of them are taboo outside the U.S.. The main reason the Kelvinverse series of films stalled out after three movies is that foreign box office receipts have always been very low for what is budgeted and marketed as a blockbuster franchise, in an era when studios are increasingly reliant on overseas grosses. The first two movies did very well domestically, mitigating this problem, but when the third underperformed, it was curtains (although a fourth film is — at least officially — still in development).
    • The best example of this is South Korea, when not only the franchise is unpopular, the very original series was banned there because a character of Japanese origin appears there (Hikaru Sulu). The franchise isn't all that popular in Japan, either.
    • While not exactly unpopular, the franchise isn't exactly hot in Latin America, despite the two first series being very well known there, partly because of excellent voice acting of both series. The only exception to this rule is Spock, who is the most popular character of the whole franchise in Latin America, even more than Kirk.
    • In Brazil, it must be noted that the Sci Fi Ghetto was even stronger than in the USA during the 20th-century, and Star Trek being synonimous with Sci-Fi got naturally hit by this, making it (and most sci-fi outside of Hollywood blockbusters like Star Wars) a cult phenomenom at best.
  • Archive Panic: This franchise is VAST, comprising seven live action series and three animated series totalling 834 episodes of television, 13 feature films across two separate continuities, and two seasons of short episodes. Just getting through the canonical material will take you a total, as of March 2022, of nearly 629 hours, which is over 26 days. And that's not counting the 130 video games (of which Star Trek Online alone is vast enough to have its own wiki), 865 novels, and innumerable comics.
  • Awesome Music: Has its own page. Various theme songs (plus all the live-action series — with the exception of the original — have either been nominated for or won music Emmys, and there's an entire website and book about the music.
  • Broken Base:
    • Lots and lots and lots of them — count on this to happen basically every time a new series comes out; but most famously Picard / The Next Generation vs. Kirk / The Original Series, which has entered into Pop-Cultural Osmosis.
    • The old Trek fandom is absolutely split on the new movies. On one hand, the movies are critical and financial successes, and brought a renewed interest in the franchise from young people, actually making it somewhat cool to be a Trekkie for once. On the other hand, the movies were less science-y and more fantastic, something the older fans claim is "not what a real Star Trek movie should be." Expect a massive flame war if the subject is so much as touched upon on a Trek forum.
  • Common Knowledge: Transporters are frequently cited as Fridge Horror because they vaporize and create a perfect copy of you, spawning tons of discussion on whether this is actually suiciding and a clone taking your place. Transporters actually convert your mass into energy, send it to your destination, and turn it back into physical form, so regardless of one's views on the Theseus' Ship Paradox it doesn't apply here - people who have been transported are still made up of the exact same matter. Though it still dissassembles you and reassembles you, so even if you are made of the same stuff, you can argue it kills you and then brings you back to life.
  • Complete Monster: Now with its own page.
  • Contested Sequel: Star Trek XI (referred to by some fans simply as "the Abrams film" or similar) has caused a Broken Base within Star Trek fans between people who only like the old Trek, people who only like XI, and people who like both.
  • Creator Worship: The Great Bird of the Galaxy himself. Rick Berman, Ronald Moore and J. J. Abrams are a bit lower on the hierarchy. Brannon Braga is, unfortunately, often villainized for what happened with Voyager and Enterprise.
  • Escapist Character: Captain Kirk is a bold space adventurer that leads a life of excitement that involves discovering new worlds, romancing sexy aliens and outwitting all sorts of alien baddies. Further enforced in the movies when his retirement from active captaincy is treated like a mid-life crisis and in his final adventure, he admits to Picard that his life only had meaning when he was captain of the Enterprise, driving home how liberating his life of adventure and excitement is.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Famously, with Star Wars, pretty much from the moment the latter debuted. Both are similar in name, popularity and influence, while frequently differing wildly in tone, making comparisons almost inevitable; each franchise also frequently resurges in popularity around the same time the other reaches a period of decline, leading to perceptions that the one has stolen the other's thunder. Although an official crossover has never happened (yet), entire fandom sub-groups such as have been dedicated to exploring the possibilities of the two universes colliding, as have numerous fanfiction, and the eternal battle between fans has been explored in media like Fanboys. All that being said, the two have influenced each other quite a bit (again, pretty much from the start- George Lucas has admitted to enjoying Trek when it began, and the huge success of Wars led directly to the series' return in the form of The Motion Picture), frequently pay tribute to each other, and there are certainly plenty of those who are big fans of both, making it - if not precisely Friendly Fandoms (never!) - perhaps something closer to a Worthy Opponent.
    • The rivalry entered a unique phase when JJ Abrams revived both franchises and brought them into the modern era in the 2010s. While the rivalry ultimately remained intact, JJ Abrams' presence on both franchises brought both closer to to the level of Friendly Fandoms; although the reasoning strongly varies and largely depends on one's opinion towards JJ Abrams' contribution to both franchises.
  • Fanon:
    • Given the Planet of Hats treatment that the various alien races get, fans like to speculate on what they perceive the human hat as being. One widely-circulated Tumblr post opined that it's more or less a proclivity for the Zany Scheme—e.g. humans not being content to simply copy Romulan cloaking technology, but to engineer a version that could also fly through solid matter at the same time, and Picard defeating highly-adapted Borg on the Enterprise-E by trapping them in a Private Detective holonovel, shutting off the safety, and slaughtering them with Hard Light bullets.
    • T'Pau being Spock's grandmother is a pretty popular subject in fanfics, even though there was no indication of this.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Most of the faults found Voyager and Enterprise were already very present in the much-lauded middle seasons of The Next Generation, and some can even be found in The Original Series; things like the anomaly of the week, the malfunctioning holodeck, the evil versions of regular characters, the shuttle crash plots, and the B-plots that feel like a soap opera. But it wasn't until later in the franchise that they really started to grate on viewers, since it finally started to seem like the same thing over and over again.
    • The spinoff series tend to grant focus and development to all, or most, of the regular characters. In particular, the Berman era of Trek tended to have the main plot of each episode give focus to one, or perhaps two characters, or have the A-plot focus on one, and the B-plot on another. When the newer series, particularly Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard, started focusing primarily on one character, with the supporting cast mostly there to support that character's story, there were complaints from fans about changing the longterm structure of giving development to all characters. The fact is that the Original Series largely focused on just Kirk and Spock, with Kirk edging out Spock overall, while McCoy was a tertiary focus and mostly was there to be the voice of down-to-earth wisdom for both stars. The other characters hardly ever got any focus or development beyond their thumbnail personalities and Sulu and Uhura didn't even get first names for several decades.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: As noted above, a problem with Star Trek's profitability in the new millennium (which killed off the film franchise) is its general lack of popularity overseas, but there are exceptions:
    • Trek sometimes seems to be more popular elsewhere in the Anglosphere than it is in the United States. Canada in particular is known for fostering a devoted fandom of Trekkies and sustaining it through the decades. There are many reasons for this:
      • The original series saw its world premiere in Canada on September 6, 1966 — two days before it aired on NBC.
      • The original series also starred two Canadians — William Shatner and James Doohan.
      • Canadians were able to actively participate in the convention circuit and burgeoning fan communities of The '70s due to the porous border with the United States (passports were not even required until after 9/11) and (relatively) short travel distances between major population centres.
      • Beginning in The '80s, Toronto-based channel CityTV (which cable providers allowed to be seen nationwide) aired TNG first-run and labelled itself "the Federation Station," even hosting a filled-to-capacity live broadcast of the series finale at Toronto's SkyDome, a stadium which seats over 50,000.
      • The Canadian multichannel network SPACE, which began transmitting in 1997, is often facetiously called "the Star Trek channel" for its incessant reruns of all the shows, despite the lack of any "CanCon" quota which might otherwise explain its ubiquity.note  This continues to the present day (the channel has since been rebranded as "CTV Sci-Fi").
      • CTV Sci-Fi also airs Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and Star Trek: Lower Decks first-run, making Canada the only country in the world where these shows can be legally seen without signing up for a streaming service. CTV Sci-Fi was also the only known international buyer of the Short Treks vignettes.
    • The UK is no slouch either, although there Trek must compete with the homegrown Doctor Who, a rivalry which has endured for decades. The prominence of British characters (starting with Scotty in TOS, who despite his broad and somewhat stereotypical portrayal, is beloved by actual Scots), of course culminating in Patrick Stewart who played the ostensibly French Picard as I Am Very British, is a major factor.
    • Speaking of Germany, it's the one market outside of the Anglosphere which has taken to Star Trek in a big way. The most common explanation for this is that the franchise is reminiscent of homegrown Space Opera such as Perry Rhodan, making Trek and its concepts accessible to Germans in a way it isn't to many non-English-speakers. Symbolically, the core concept of a previously destructive and warlike race becoming "enlightened" and leading a peaceful Federation based on progressive ideals is also very appealing in Germany, for obvious reasons.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Home Grown Hero: A classic example — a multi-planetary Fictional United Nations ship being commanded by the American Captain Kirk.
  • Ho Yay: Every series has at least one hugely popular slash pairing, and sometimes more than one. Slash fans will insist these characters want nothing more than to do each other, no matter how heavily contradicted by canon.
  • Magnificent Bastard: See here.
  • Memetic Mutation: : A Long Runner like Trek has spawned more than a few. "To boldly X where no one has Y'ed before", Resistance Is Futile, green chicks, Picard's facepalm, and KHAAAAAAN! are some of the more memorable.
  • Misaimed Fandom: In the 2020s, there has been a conservative backlash against the newest series like Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Lower Decks, and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, complaining about various liberal notions in them, asking "When did Star Trek go 'Woke'?" The usual answer is "1966", as Trek has always had a humanist, liberal outlook on the future.
  • Moral Event Horizon: See here.
  • Newer Than They Think: Casual fans often assume that elements of the setting that were introduced in the movies or later series were present in the Original Series. Usually, it's reasonable to assume that these are changes that happened to Federation society over time, but fans tend to assume they were always present. One of the most notable is the idea that the Federation is a moneyless society. The first mention of this is as a throwaway joke in Star Trek IV.note  There's no evidence of it in the Original Series, and several episodes (Mudd's Women, The Trouble With Tribbles, The Devil In the Dark) would make no sense or at least have gaping plot holes if this were true.
    • This also applies to the Roddenberry "No Conflict" rule. All Trek fans know that Roddenberry didn't want his humans fighting with each other (although really it was "petty bickering" he didn't want to see) because he wanted to portray us as an "adult race" rather than the child race we are now. But the application of this rule has fans confused. Most seem to think it applies to Star Trek as a whole, while the fact is that Roddenberry came up with this rule while creating Star Trek: The Next Generation. The rule does not apply to the original series or any series set prior to it, making it much ado about nothing when the rule was tossed out for Star Trek: Discovery.
    • The existence of a Security Chief as a main character began with TNG. Only once in TOS did an episode feature a Chief of Security (Giotto in "The Devil in the Dark"), and it was one of many shipboard roles that showed up once for plot-relevant reasons and then never appeared again (like Ship's Historian in "Space Seed" or Astrobiologist in "Return to Tomorrow"). Since TNG, no bridge crew is complete without a Chief of Security. This (as with so many other things) was referenced in Galaxy Quest: the opening credits for the revival series give Guy Fleegman (ex-"Crewman No. 6") this position.
    • Similarly, the position of "Operations Officer", a nebulous role (see "What Exactly Is His Job") that seems to exist just to have an extra person on the bridge. Kirk never needed one of those, but it's present in nearly every starship-based series since, including those set prior to Kirk's time (ENT being the one exception).
  • Older Than They Think: Interstellar transporters were featured as early as the TOS episode "Gamesters of Triskelion."
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Addressed on its own page now.
  • Sequel Gap:
  • Sequelitis: it began with the very first episode of Voyager, but by the time Insurrection rolled around, even major critics were noting that the franchise was taking a fairly serious and noticeable dip in quality. Enterprise and Nemesis are "credited" with coming within a whisper of killing the franchise (Nemesis being the only Trek film in history to not turn a profit); the reboot salvaged it and its sequel received very good, but not as great reviews than its predecessor.
    • The films are famous for going back and forth (see Star Trek Movie Curse.) The series, however, follow a much more consistent path. The Original Series was something of an uneven novelty, thanks to inconsistent writing. Next Generation was considered an Even Better Sequel. Deep Space Nine was "different, but still good." Voyager is where the franchise started to unravel, and Enterprise is where it finally came apart.
  • Sliding Scale of Social Satisfaction:
    • Categorized as "Heaven on Earth". Roddenberry's vision of the United Federation in The Next Generation is that of peaceful humanity in a post-scarcity society — nobody has to worry about lacking money for food or medicine, nor there is overpopulation. This is true for humans of every race and gender. To boot, freedom is not restricted. Quite the opposite, in fact.
    • Or it can be categorized as "Outside is Burning, Inside is Safe". Roddenberry's utopia comes with a cost. Outside the United Federation, there's war and a helping of hostile aliens whose societies are not as idyllic. Even if they change their minds later, the Federation's government is shown to be ready to do anything to ensure their utopian lifestyle.
    • Alternatively, it can be categorized as "Sweet with a Help of Sour". The United Federation aspires to be utopian and is mostly successful at it. However, hatred, crime, and bigotry still slip through the cracks. Humans of the XXIVth century try their best to deal with injustice, it's just that some issues seem unavoidable to even the best of societies.
  • Viewer Name Confusion:
    • While everyone knows how to spell Data's name, some people think "dah-tuh" is an acceptable pronunciation, which he debunks in an episode.
    • B'Elanna Torres has a Klingon first name, and so some people think it's spelt B'Lanna or Be'Lanna.
    • Deanna Troi's surname is sometimes misspelled as "Troy", and her first name is sometimes mistaken as "Deana", "Diana", or even "Dreanna".
    • Some viewers unfamiliar with Japanese names think Hoshi Sato's first name is Yoshi, Toshi, or Hoshy. Additionally, some people call her "Ensign Hoshi", but "Hoshi" is her first name and when officers are addressed formally in that manner, they address them by rank and last name, so it should actually be "Ensign Sato".
    • Worf's name is sometimes misspelled as Warf.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Watching a later Star Trek episode is almost like watching a movie in television show form. The best examples would likely be "The Best of Both Worlds" (TNG), "The Way of the Warrior" (DS9), "Scorpion" (VOY) and "Twilight" (ENT). Of the movies, the favorites are Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness.
  • What, Exactly, Is His Job?: Generally it's easy to tell what a shipboard role is, and what the officer's duties may entail. However, there has never been an onscreen confirmation on what exactly the Operations Officer does. Several characters have occupied this role over the years, including Data, Kim, Owosekun and others. What their duties entail seems to be whatever the episode needs it to be. Data tended to operate the scanners, and was the one always asked to scan for lifeforms or bring up something on long-range scanners, which on TOS was one of Spock's jobs as Science Officer. Kim's duties sometimes included that but primarily he acted as the Communications officer (his station even read "Operations/Communications"). Owosekun's duties are even more nebulous, especially since she is the only officer clearly defined as Operations Officer to co-exist with a Science Officer. However, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds seems to have retconned the Navigation station into "Ops", as one line of dialog suggests, but as this is traditionally Number One's station, and she's usually seen leading Landing Parties or acting as captain herself, this position seems even less clear.
  • You Look Familiar: Numerous times. But in this case putting a different alien makeup helps a lot in distinguishing characters played by the same actor.