For over 50 years and through seven television series, thirteen movies and countless associated novels, comic books, and video games, Star Trek has offered a singular vision of life in the future. That vision has won the hearts and minds of millions of Trekkies (or Trekkers as some prefer to be called) around the world. Yet for all of that, the series has drawn just as much criticism from those who deride that vision as wholly unrealistic.
Despite fans of the franchise traditionally battling with Star Wars fans over how theirs is the more realistic science fiction series, given Star Wars‘ acknowledgement of a magical “Force”, many real-world scientists and science fiction fans have noted that the use of science in Star Trek is just as questionable. The series has also drawn criticism for being naive in regards to the social sciences in how its various societies are set up.
To quote Mister Spock himself, the universe of Star Trek is frequently “most illogical.” This is why various critical artists have fashioned memes that expose the series as an overrated pseudo-utopia that has no more basis in reality and serious science fiction than Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
Set phasers to “stunned.” Here are 17 Ruthless Star Trek Memes That Prove The Show Makes No Sense.
17. Russia vs Romulus
One of the key problems science fiction writers have to address is how various species from around the universe are able to communicate with each other. Star Trek attempted to navigate this problem through a piece of technology known as The Universal Translator. While not entirely effective (indeed, the translators were notoriously incapable of providing literal translations of many Klingon concepts), The Universal Translators were generally capable of quickly analyzing new languages and constructing a translation matrix on the fly when new species were encountered by Federation explorers.
While the use of a Universal Translator might explain away the perfect accents that many aliens inexplicably seem to have, it does nothing to explain why non-native English speakers from Earth like Pavel Chekov have such thick accents! Shouldn’t the Universal Translator make them sound like they’re speaking perfect BBC English as well?
16. No Display Screens In The Future
The universe of Star Trek is built around the idea of technology as a positive force for change. Many devices we now take for granted – from portable phones to tablet computers – were said to have taken inspiration from Star Trek. Thankfully, that inspiration seems to have been limited to the base concepts for technologies that make life easier and not the aesthetic designs of that technology.
As the maker of these meme points out, the tools of the Star Trek universe are not at all intuitive. Rather than offering a simple display screen – like what might be found on a modern portable phone or tablet computer – Star Trek technology requires that a series of blinking lights be properly interpreted in order to covey information.
15. Electronic Security Is A Joke
The final Star Trek: The Next Generation film, Star Trek: Nemesis, was the least successful Star Trek movie ever and essentially killed the franchise until the 2009 reboot. There were many reasons why even Trekkies found it hard to swallow Nemesis‘ story, which involved a lot of coincidences and long-lost twins/clones. One of the movie’s subplots involved B-4 – an early model of the same general design as Lt. Commander Data, who was planted on an alien world as part of a scheme to gather intelligence on the Enterprise.
As this meme points out, the Enterprise crew had already had problems with Data having an evil twin in the past and should have had precautions against such issues in the future. One also has to marvel at the Federation’s lack of basic security protocols regarding uploading information onto a strange, untested device!
14. The Federation Are The Most Violent Pacifists Ever
The Charter of The United Federation of Planets states that member worlds are expected “to practice toleration and live together in peace with one another, and to unite our strength to maintain interstellar peace and security.” The philosophy of The Federation is continually stated to be one of peaceful intent and non-violence.
The reality is that whatever lofty ideals the Federation may claim to have, their actual methods of expanding their territory are based around classic Imperialism. The leadership of exploratory ships routinely ignore the Federation’s Prime Directive not to interfere in the affairs of other worlds when it profits the Federation to do so. Worse yet, many Captains are more than happy to handle diplomatic disputes with a closed fist rather than an open hand.
13. The Engineers Do The Impossible As The Plot Demands
One thing that unites all Star Trek series, regardless of age or generation, is that the engineers will be able to do the impossible and break the laws of physics, regardless of whatever unreasonable demands their captains may make of them. Indeed, many parodies of the original Star Trek were built around Chief Engineer Scott informing Captain Kirk, in an accent that grows in thickness along with the urgency of the situation, that he “cannae dew tha’!”
Star Trek: The Next Generation was just as guilty of this when Chief Engineer La Forge and Captain Picard were concerned. Nevertheless, the series did try to explain it when Scotty appeared on the show and confessed to La Forge that he routinely padded his repair estimates so as to appear to be far more of a miracle worker than he really was.
12. The Klingons Keep Changing
Star Trek: The Original Series was notoriously low budget. As such, the make-up used to render various alien races was usually a simple change of skin coloration. Unfortunately, in the case of the original Klingons, this equated to white actors in black face with fake bushy eyebrows.
By the time of the third Star Trek movie, Klingons were portrayed as truly alien, with ridged foreheads. Rather than leave well enough alone, Trekkies demanded an answer as to why the appearance of Klingons had changed in-canon. The TV series Enterprise eventually provided one, saying the ridge-less Klingons were the descendants of the victims of a eugenics experiment that morphed into a plague.
The Klingons’ appearance changed yet again in the movie Star Trek: Into Darkness and has been changed a fourth time for the latest Star Trek television series, Discovery. Trekkies everywhere are still waiting for an explanation.
11. Sometimes Violence Is The Answer
Alien beings with phenomenal cosmic powers that defied the laws of physics were a common enemy in Star Trek but none of them were quite so annoying a Q.
A member of The Q Continuum, Q was basically a more tactless version of Mr. Mxyzptlk from the classic Superman comics. Q would manifest several times on the Enterprise, delighting in causing trouble and tormenting the crew, particularly Captain Picard, who continually tried (and failed) to reason with Q.
By contrast, Captain Sisko, commander of the Federation star base Deep Space Nine, had no time for Q’s shenanigans. The minute Q got out of line on his station, Captain Sisko simply punched him. Omnipotent or not, Q took the hint and never bothered Captain Sisko again.
10. The Prime Directive Is A Joke
The intention behind the Prime Directive (aka Starfleet General Order One) was a noble one, prohibiting Starfleet personnel from interfering in the affairs of non-affiliated worlds and civilizations. The problem is, like many rules, it was vaguely worded enough to allow (and indeed encourage) individual Captains to do whatever they wanted provided they could find a loophole.
Usually these loopholes were military in nature, with Prime Directive breaches being justifiable if they were initiated to block the militaristic ambitions of a rival empire, like the Klingons or the Romulans, who had already begun interfering in the development of a more primitive society. It says a lot about the Federation’s ultimate goals that they outlawed giving food replicators to starving worlds but were perfectly okay with Captain Janeaway’s working with the Borg to develop advanced weapons.
9. Medicine In The Future
Medical technology in the Star Trek universe is truly magical. The Original Series depicted devices like the tricorder, which could be used to scan a living being and render a diagnosis within seconds, without having to draw blood or even initiate physical contact with a patient.
By the time of The Next Generation, surgical techniques had advanced to the point that heart-transplants – one of the most complicated and risky procedures of 21st century medicine – were considered to be routine procedures.
Unfortunately, this state of development is at odds with the state of medical research funding in the real world, where potential profit drives research into areas that offer more financial benefits then medical ones. As such, it’s wholly unbelievable that geneticists hadn’t found a cure for Captain Picard’s baldness before open-heart surgery became an out-patient procedure.
8. Seat belts and airbags
The star-ships of the Federation – including the Enterprise – were marvels of theoretical engineering. Federation vessels made use of special engines called Warp Drives that facilitated faster-than-light travel by folding space around the ship. With this accomplished, the ship could then ride the resulting distortions to their destination at ludicrous speeds.
As the maker of this meme points out, the engineers who built the Enterprise were so busy focusing on improving engine performance that they didn’t think about basic safety protocols. While the ship’s energy shields probably helped to protect the Enterprise itself from damage, they did nothing to stop the crew on the bridge from being tossed every which way whenever the ship was attacked!
7. Everything about The Holodeck
In his book The Dilbert Future, Scott Adams singled out The Holodeck as the single most unrealistic aspect of Star Trek. Adams cynically asserted his belief that advanced hard-light holograms and virtual reality would be mankind’s last great technological advancement. Who is going to explore the universe when they could stay at home romancing their holographic dream partner guilt-free?
Ignoring the insinuation that the Holodeck would inevitably be used for personal entertainment more often than LARPing and that nobody would get any work done, the Holodeck posed another danger – the illusions it created could become real.
Several Star Trek episodes centered around the safety protocols of the Holodeck being shut down and the fictional characters in a simulation becoming real and violent. This begged the question of why the safety protocols could be shut off in the first place!
6. Miniskirts on Female Starfleet Uniforms
Star Trek: The Original Series was notorious for fan-service driven costuming, with the uniforms for female Starfleet officers consisting of tight dresses with mini-skirts and go-go boots. This blatant pandering was the result of network interference and in defiance of Gene Roddenberry’s original pilot for Star Trek, where the female officers dressed in loose tunics and pants.
Strangely enough, The Next Generation briefly tried to justify its sexist past by suggesting that the miniskirt uniforms were one option of many. Several men in the miniskirt uniforms were seen in the background in season one, but it was eventually decided to allow women to have more sensible uniforms as the standard.
5. The Most Important Crew Are Constantly Put at Risk
The chain of command is a core concept in most organizations. Less experienced employees are brought in at entry level positions, with increased training seeing them promoted to specialist positions or command posts. This helps new employees to gain needed on-the-job experience and allows specialists to focus on their areas of expertise while managers and officers oversee the big picture aspects of the organization.
Star Trek, on the other hand, seems to routinely send all of its command staff on routine missions, despite the dangers that could (and frequently did) result from the Captain, Chief Engineer, Chief Medical Officer, and Chief Science Officer all being incapacitated at the same time.
4. How To Handle Evil Robots
While less fierce than the fighting between fans of Star Wars and Star Trek, the 2004 reboot of Battlestar Galactica has its own devout fandom, which has been quick to criticize Star Trek for its stock characters and simple plots.
While the realism of both series is up for debate, Battlestar Galactica is certainly darker than the relatively optimistic vision of the future promoted by Star Trek. It’s set in a future where humanity has been virtually destroyed by the robotic Cylons and there are only 50,000 people left in the whole universe.
The makers of this meme pointed out that when it came to dealing with The Cylons hacking the technology on his ship, Commander Adama did not take chances. Compare that to Captain Picard, who, despite being assimilated by the robotic Borg, did nothing to protect his ship or crew from the same thing happening again.
3. The Holographic Doctor
Star Trek: Voyager attempted to examine the question of artificial intelligence’s personhood with the character of The Doctor – a holographic entity intended to be used for short-term emergencies only, who found himself press-ganged into acting as the Chief Medical Officer of The Voyager for several years.
Over time, the Doctor found himself going far beyond the confines of his core programming – developing an independent personality, hobbies, and even falling in love. As this meme maker points out, it is ironic that, for all the effort Voyager‘s writers put into developing yhe Doctor’s character and exploring the fine philosophical questions regarding what makes someone a person, they failed to give the same consideration to some of the show’s human and alien characters.
2. Technobabble and Tech Support
Technobabble is the catch-all term for any scientific jargon used in a work of science fiction that sounds impressive without conveying any useful information. The reason for this was once conveyed in the Doctor Who episode “The Girl In The Fireplace”, where the Doctor explained that he fabricated the phrase “spatio-temporal hyperlink” when asked to identify a strange portal purely because he did not want to use the phrase “magic door.”
Star Trek is filled to the brim with technobabble, as the meme above demonstrates in regard to Chief Engineer La Forge’s technobabble-infused dialogue basically being a round-about way of asking whether or not something is plugged in.
1. Spock’s Brain. Just… Spock’s Brain
Still widely regarded by many as one of the worst Star Trek stories ever, “Spock’s Brain” – the first episode of Star Trek: The Original Series‘ third season – is a stinker by any standard. The plot centers around Captain Kirk and Doctor McCoy having to recover Mr. Spock’s brain, after it is stolen by an alien society that has grown too dependent on technology and requires the brain of a superior being to run their world for them.
Ignoring the conceits that an entire brain can oversee every aspect of a world’s management or that Spock’s Vulcan body can somehow survive with the brain detached, there are many aspects of “Spock’s Brain” that just don’t make sense.
The anti-technology message of the episode was antithetical to Star Trek‘s pro-science ethos. The alien society also has its genders segregated for no reason that is ever adequately explained.
Is there a Star Trek meme we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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