There are many things in Star Trek that make a lot of sense – a lot of the science is carefully researched and the franchise’s optimistic, humanistic message is incredible. However, there are some things about the series that leave even the best Trekkie scratching their heads.
To be fair, the series creators have tried to go back into the timelines and retroactively correct these makes, but while we acknowledge these attempts, we aren’t necessarily going to accept those explanations.
It’s not surprising when you consider how many hundreds and hundreds of hours of television across seven different series and 10 feature films (not to mention who even knows how many novels and comics) that they would get a few things mixed up, but even though we love the franchise, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t examine them to death to determine exactly what is going on.
So let’s look at the things about Star Trek that just don’t add up – either because… well, they don’t make any sense on their own or the franchise has retconned and rewritten something so many times, it just fails all tests of logic.
Here are our picks for 15 Things About Star Trek That Make No Sense
15. THE TROUBLE WITH TRANSPORTERS
Transporters are used for a lot of things in the Trek universe. They get the crew from one place to another very quickly and they cut productions costs in the early days of when it would have been expensive to create sets for shuttles and landing craft. The reason they make no sense has to do with how they work.
In order to be transported, the computer analyzes every atom in your body and creates a pattern. The transporter then disintegrates you completely at the departure point and then recreates you at your destination, atom by atom. What this essentially means is that you are utterly destroyed and a new copy of yourself takes the place of the original you.
What doesn’t make any sense is why on Earth anyone would voluntarily destroy themselves just to transport a relatively short distance quickly.
14. IMPRACTICAL UNIFORMS
Star Trek uniforms have, for the most part, been well designed to look futuristic and interesting. People certainly enjoy dressing up as members of Starfleet, but there are a few aspects of clothing that people seem to have forgotten in the forthcoming centuries.
Pockets are pretty handy, wouldn’t you say? Instead of giving these people pockets to store things, the uniforms have none and the crew must clip each and every piece of equipment to the outside of their uniform. Soldiers and police today don’t even do this. Generally, they use external pouches or internal pockets, so the lack of them in the future is just strange.
Watch one episode of Next Generation and count how many times Picard has to adjust his uniform. Every time he (or anyone else) stands up, they have to pull down their top or it bunches up. The uniforms are impractical and uncomfortable to wear– but they do look cool and iconic, so what can you do?
13. THEY BREAK THE PRIME DIRECTIVE ALL THE TIME!
The Prime Directive, also known as General Order 1, is the guiding principle of Starfleet, outlining that they will not interfere with the development of a pre-Warp species. To follow this rule, they have created methods of studying pre-Warp societies and a captain’s adherence to the rule has often created issues that required a workaround.
The Prime Directive is supposedly one of those rules that can never be broken– only, it is broken all the time. Captain Kirk violated Starfleet’s unbreakable rule on 11 occasions, while Picard violated it nine times. Benjamin Sisko, the Captain of DS9, didn’t generally go out to meet new species, but through his actions, he violated it a number of times. Captain Janeway went out of her way to not violate the PD such that she wouldn’t compromise it to help her crew get home faster than was normally possible.
12. UNIVERSAL TRANSLATORS DON’T WORK UNIVERSALLY
Universal translators are amazing pieces of technology and we are even close to creating them here in our time. But it Star Trek, these so-called “universal translators” can only translate universally sometimes.
The one language that the translators seem to have the most trouble with is Klingon. Most words in Klingon can be translated, but there are a bunch that just don’t come through in English. We get that Klingon is an actual language created for the show and it sounds menacing– much more so than any translation of it, but it just doesn’t fly when something called a “Universal” translator decides to work on one word or another.
The technology involved has advanced throughout the series to even translate the language of a cloud of nanites in Next Generation, but it still struggles to knock out all the words in Klingon, which is kind of strange when you think about it.
11. STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT
In Star Trek: First Contact, the Borg finally invade the Sol System intent on assimilating Earth and the Enterprise is ordered not to take part. Eventually, they do and are able to save the day thanks to the main reason they were ordered not to: Picard was once assimilated by the Borg.
Picard was assimilated into Locutus of Borg, a being designed to help facilitate the assimilation of humanity, but was freed by his crew and de-assimilated. He was even able to defeat the Borg thanks to his connection with them. Knowing that, he should have been #1 on Starfleet’s call sheet for people to deal with the invasion, but they didn’t want him there.
This made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Picard got over his assimilation and encountered the Borg on three subsequent occasions prior to First Contact, so Starfleet’s choice in this matter was nonsensical, to say the least. If it weren’t for Picard’s intervention and knowledge/link to the Collective, they would have destroyed Starfleet and assimilated Earth.
10. WE KNOW WHAT THE HOLODECK IS REALLY USED FOR
We all know what the Internet is used for these days… It’s used to read amazing articles on ScreenRant, of course! Well, we would like to think that, but SR isn’t a billion-dollar industry like the Adult Entertainment industry. Yes, we are talking about the worst-kept secret on the Internet and there’s nothing wrong with it… at least, we aren’t here to judge.
Now imagine being a couple of centuries in the future and you could not only watch your adult entertainment but partake in it as well. The average person isn’t going to recreate their favorite Arthur Conan Doyle adventure alongside Sherlock Holmes when they can punch in a few commands and fulfill their deepest, darkest fantasies!
9. JEAN LUC PICARD – BRITISH FRENCHMAN
There’s a perfectly good reason for why Star Trek: The Next Generation cast Sir Patrick Stewart for the role of a Frenchman and it’s because… he is Sir Patrick Steward. Bob Justman, a member of the production staff, heard Stewart read lines and decided he had to be the next captain of the Enterprise.
It took some convincing as Gene Roddenberry didn’t approve at first, but he eventually came around. Stewart was already a well-known and established actor so nabbing him for the part was big for the show. They had a decision to make: cast a French actor (or someone who could do a passable accent) or cast Patrick Stewart and let him do his thing. Thankfully, they saw reason and we got an amazing actor to bring Star Trek into the next generation.
8. AWAY-TEAM MAKEUP
The Redshirt: a person who is so insignificant, they are definitely going to die on an away mission. It was such an ongoing joke that the first person to die on Next Generation was a redshirt, though he was also the last. Redshirts weren’t the only thing about Away Teams that didn’t make a lot of sense, though. All the people who went on them was questionable, to say the least.
In the picture above, we have Spock and Captain Kirk beaming down to a planet. While Kirk normally ended up entangled with a hot alien lady on these missions, he should never have left the ship. It’s not a captain’s job to leave the ship on away missions, but Kirk did it all the time.
When Next Generation came about, Riker had to constantly remind his captain that he wasn’t allowed to beam down to the surface as it violated Starfleet regulations, so they did address it in later series, but back in the Original Series, it was the norm.
7. ALIENS ALL LOOK LIKE HUMANS
These days, most aliens in Star Trek and the recent movies look pretty amazing. While they are nearly all humanoid (bipedal and approximately our height and makeup), the makeup artists and computer graphics people have done an incredible job of creating new and interesting species.
But take a look at the first season of Next Generation and most of the Original Series. The aliens all look human with maybe a prosthetic or two on their faces. Granted, this was explained in an episode of Next Generation suggesting that all sentient species in the galaxy were seeded by a similar race, but that’s not a widely beloved or accepted episode.
Regardless, aliens shouldn’t look human. Of all the species on this planet, only a few share similarities in appearance with humans so it’s ridiculous to assume aliens would look like us.
6. Warp Travel
Travelling at Warp speed requires that you create a warp bubble and move an object within the bubble through space while technically leaving that object in place while moving space around it. This is one theoretical means of breaking the ultimate speed limit of light speed and it has some basis in physics, which is one of the reasons Star Trek has always been such a compelling series.
Still, even with Warp travel, an object approaching light speed – much less exceeding – it should experience time dilation. This means that time would pass relatively normally for the people within the bubble, but for everyone else, time would pass at a different rate of speed (ie: faster to those within the bubble).
To put it simply, zipping across the galaxy at Warp Nine should shoot the Enterprise and her crew into the future. The reason this doesn’t occur in the series has been addressed with the explanation that since the ship isn’t moving, but space is moving around it, it doesn’t experience time dilation. Tenuous at best.
5. NO SUCH THING AS A CIRCUIT BREAKER?
Star Trek fans are well aware that the most common way to die in the series is to be too close to a panel when something goes wrong. For some reason, when panels overload in Star Trek, they don’t short out like they would in any other setting. Instead, they explode.
We use a device called a circuit breaker these days to ensure that our televisions and lamps don’t blow up in our faces when they get overloaded with too much electricity. This can happen thanks to lightning, but if the circuit breaker does its job, it should trip the circuit and block the path of electricity to the device, thus saving it.
With all the advanced technology on board the Enterprise and other vessels in Starfleet, we have to wonder why nobody thought to install a circuit breaker. It would have saved a lot of lives over the years.
4. DEUS EX MACHINA IS THE RULE, NOT THE EXCEPTION
One of the biggest complaints some people have about Star Trek is that the franchise overuses the Deus ex Machina plot device to tidy things up in a nice and easy fashion.
The Next Generation character Q was a walking, talking example of this. He would come in and stir things up only to fix them by the end of the episode (and the end of the series as well).
It wasn’t just used in Next Generation either. Deus ex Machina was the name of the game for pretty much every Star Trek series, and while it can occasionally be an example of a fun and interesting way to get out of something, it’s often3 a lazy writing technique.
We often see this play out as the last minute technique Spock suggests that can’t possibly work, but always does, or simply a ship appears out of nowhere at the last moment and mops things up nicely. It’s also seen in Discovery’s ability to travel anywhere in space instantaneously.
3. PHYSICS AND THE DEFLECTOR SHIELD DON’T GET ALONG
Imagine a shield as if it were a bubble surrounding you. Now, let’s put you in space and make that bubble impenetrable. Now imagine what would happen if an asteroid slammed into the bubble, which doesn’t move, but destroys the asteroid.
What happens to you within the bubble? In reality, you wouldn’t move or even feel anything– that’s what the bubble is for. In Star Trek, you would be flung all over the place and possibly killed as your console explodes in your face.
Star Trek gets a lot right about physics, but absolutely no part of their deflector shields make sense. They are designed to absorb the impact of whatever strikes them, but in the series, the impact the shield should “deflect” is passed onto the ship, often to devastating effect.
2. ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY IN PREQUEL SERIES
Star Trek originally aired in 1966 and we get it, technology was much different then than it is now. That being said, we still don’t have FTL travel (or interstellar spacecraft), transporters, tricorders, and phasers, so it’s not like they had trouble coming up with futuristic technology.
When the series was brought back with Next Generation, Voyager, and DS9, it wasn’t an issue that they were using more advanced technology because it took place even further in the future. The issue we have is with the decision to launch the prequel series Enterprise and Discovery in an era where we can simulate anything imaginable thanks to CGI and talented artists.
Nobody wants to watch a modern take on Star Trek and see them using clunky old technology, but the result is that it looks like the poor crew of the USS Enterprise got their equipment from the bargain bin at a pawn shop while the ships that came before them were stocked with the latest and greatest.
1. DAMAGE REPORTS ARE DONE FASTER THAN HUMANLY POSSIBLE
Have you ever noticed that the second after everyone finishes throwing themselves this way and that after an explosion rocks the ship, the captain orders a damage report? It makes sense that the captain would want to know what was wrong with his or her vessel, but there are parts of it that don’t make a lot of sense.
If we can take for granted that advanced technology could detect faults and errors throughout a ship’s systems and instantly convey that in a report, there’s still the issue of casualty reports being given two seconds after an incident. Someone would have to enter that information into the computer and it takes a little bit of time– not to mention, most people would be evaluating and treating injuries rather than worrying about reporting something they couldn’t possibly have assessed so quickly to their captain.
In later series, we can assume that the communicator badges have some way of tracking this information along with the computer, but not in the era of stitched-on Starfleet emblems.
Did we miss any aspects of Star Trek that don’t make any sense? Let us know in the comments!
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