Star Trek has been around since 1966 and some incarnation of it has been going on ever since. Sure, it had a brief pause of new material between 1969 and 1977, but with syndication, it never really went away. We're talking about over 50 years of storytelling with a rabid fan base constantly fuelling it to keep it alive.
Star Trek: The Next Generation was the first live-action spin-off of the series, and it didn't star any of the original cast or characters. Its premise was fresh and exciting: a Star Trek universe set literally a generation after the events of the original series with a brand new crew on an entirely unique set of adventures.
The series was not a reboot— it kept the original continuity established in the classic series and movies. This meant that fans had two generations of folklore to draw from when discussing and, in some cases, living out the Star Trek universe.
Though catching a lot of flak at the beginning by some ("Captain Kirk will always be better than Captain Picard!"), the series quickly won over fans and went on for over seven seasons, four more seasons than the original series. This resulted in an astounding 178 episodes.
True Trekkers (not Trekkies) have a reputation for having near encyclopedic knowledge of the show, and like any other fan base, have come up with some bizarre theories related to characters and plotlines throughout the continuity— and wouldn't you know it, some of these actually make a whole lot of sense.
After digging around Starfleet records, here are the 20 Crazy Fan Theories About Star Trek: TNG That Make Too Much Sense.
20 Trelane From The Original Series Is Part Of The Q Continuum
The villain known as "Q" made a big splash in the pilot episode as a malevolent being who wielded omnipotent power, like a Genie. Instead of outright destruction, he preferred to sadistically toy with Picard and his crew as playthings.
This is remarkably similar to the character of Trelane in the original series, who kidnapped Kirk and his crew against their will, and just like Q, was able to transform his thoughts into energy and matter.
Trelane also appeared as a judge and put Kirk on trial for imagined crimes, just like Q did to Picard.
Ultimately, Trelane was reigned in by his "parents," who apologized for his behavior. In later episodes of Next Generation, Q was also punished for misbehaving by the Q Continuum.
It seems like a strong possibility that they may be related.
19 It Was The Borg Who Upgraded V'ger In Star Trek: The Motion Picture
The major "villain" in Star Trek: The Motion Picture turned out to be a misunderstood artificial intelligence that had somehow evolved from Earth's own fictional deep space exploration probe, Voyager 6. It called itself "V'ger."
Some fans theorize that Voyager 6 was intercepted by The Borg, and assimilated into one of its vessels.
The Borg is a sentient machine/organic hybrid race with a hive mind that debuts in Star Trek: The Next Generation. They are known for violently "assimilating" other living things and technologies into their own hive with the proclamation "You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile."
The fact that V'ger is a sentient superior technology that effortlessly destroys nearly everything in its path, just like the Borg, seems to support the theory.
18 V'ger Created the Borg
The crew of the original Enterprise communicates with V'ger through a proxy named Ilia, a member of the crew whose body and mind it took over.
This, in combination with Spock's mind-meld of V'ger, helps them discover that Voyager 6 encountered a planet made of living machines.
This differs from the Borg in that the Borg are technically cybernetic organisms with both machine and organic parts. As far as we know, Ilia is the first organic being that V'ger takes over.
Near the end, V'ger wishes to merge with "The Creator" (a human being) to evolve. Commander Decker, who had a romance going with Ilia, volunteers and they both disappear in a flash of light.
Some theorize that this is the union that kicks off the cyborg race, and thus the Borg are born.
17 The Original Humanoid Race Was First Referred to in The Original Series
In "The Chase", Captain Picard is almost recruited by his former archeology professor on a find he claims to be extraordinary.
Later, events lead Picard's crew to recover and decode the professor's findings, which reveal a holographic recording of an ancient humanoid race. The recording claims it seeded humanoid DNA all over the galaxy. This means that all humanoids in the galaxy share a common ancestor.
Fans recall "The Paradise Syndrome" of the original series, in which Kirk suffers amnesia on a paradise-like planet with beings just like humans while his crew attempts to recover him.
Spock discovers an obelisk and decodes its message to reveal that an ancient race called The Preservers rescues endangered humanoids and transplants them on other worlds for their survival.
Many theorize that the Preservers and the original humanoids are the same.
16 Tom Paris From Voyager Is Actually Nick Lacarno
At Starfleet Academy, Wesley Crusher gets into a heap of trouble when he's involved in an aerial stunt that causes a fatal casualty.
Worse, he lets cadet Nick Lacarno talk him into covering it up at trial. Wesley eventually relents due to his conscience and implicates himself, the other cadets, and Lacarno.
Lacarno confesses that he was the ringleader, and he is expelled from Starfleet.
The actor who plays Lacarno is the same person who plays Tom Paris in Star Trek: Voyager.
Paris, who was serving time for being a mercenary for the Maquis, was recruited from prison by Captain Janeway, who offered him early parole in exchange for information on the Maquis.
Some speculate that Paris changed his name from Lacarno due to the dishonor of his expulsion from Starfleet.
He later turned to the life of a mercenary.
15 The Borg Send One Vessel At A Time Because They Are Using Different Species
The Borg Collective destroys everything it touches, assimilating everything in its path. However, if this is so, why has it not taken over the entire galaxy yet? Why only send one ship at a time instead of overwhelming all of the Federation with a fleet?
One possibility that fans often theorize is that they are using the different races as research and develop farms to assimilate their technology.
If they take over everything at once, they will exhaust the new technological breakthroughs as different races develop. It seems like the Borg cannot innovate on their own unless they literally absorb other beings and machines.
It would be the equivalent of a livestock farmer cutting down all of their cows at once, preventing any new ones from being born.
The Borg need to keep other races going in order to advance.
14 The Opening Credits of Next Generation is a Depiction of how Solar Systems Evolve over Time
This one is a bit of a mind-blower.
The opening credit sequence for Star Trek: The Next Generation (starting in season 3) is actually a chronological representation of how solar systems, planets, and life develop.
Starting with a dusty nebula with the arm of the galaxy in the background, and then a comet en route to a protoplanetary disk. It cuts to eons later, where the disk has coalesced into a ringed planet (which isn't actually Saturn) with an orbiting moon, and then the Enterprise.
Many scientists believe in the theory of panspermia, which is the belief that organic materials are transported to planetary bodies, sometimes by comets.
These materials later develop into lifeforms, who might end up building a starfaring civilization that will return to the cosmos.
13 Star Trek V Actually Takes Place Entirely Within the Nexus in Star Trek: Generations
The Nexus, seen in Star Trek: Generations, is an extra-dimensional wave where people trapped within experience anything they desire.
Captain Kirk is trapped within the Nexus at the beginning of the movie, where he later encounters Picard who tries to recruit him to stop the Nexus from destroying everything in its path.
The theory goes that before he meets Picard, Kirk lives out a fantasy of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier where he goes rock climbing and camping with his best friends, flies his sparkling new Enterprise to the center of the galaxy, and destroys a supreme being pretending to be God.
His adventure culminates with roasting Marshmallows with Spock and McCoy.'
Doesn't this sound like an idyllic utopian fantasy for Kirk? It should be, Shatner co-wrote and directed.
12 Picard Doesn't Make it Out of the Nexus Either
There's an argument to be made that Picard never makes it out of the Nexus either, as the following movies seem to give Picard everything he has ever wanted.
In Star Trek: First Contact, Picard gets revenge on The Borg Collective for assimilating him in the series by destroying their ship and Queen.
He also gets to witness mankind's first warp drive and first contact with aliens by going back in time.
In Star Trek: Insurrection, he gets to violate the Prime Directive with zero consequences, and ride around in dune buggies like a kid.
In Star Trek: Nemesis, he beats up a younger version of himself while forging peace with the Romulans.
Finally, swelling with pride, he gets to see his surrogate son Riker assume his own command on The Titan. It couldn't really end better for him.
11 The Show "Hell on Wheels" is Actually a Holodeck Fantasy
The theory goes that Chief O'Brien gets lonely and bored when his wife, Keiko, spends three months on Bajor. Keiko, if you recall, was a botanist and was assisting the Bajorans to help their ecosystem recover after the long Cardassian occupation. O'Brien suddenly had a lot of free time on his hands over on the Enterprise D.
Similar to how Patrick Stewart becomes the fictional detective Dixon Hill, O'Brien might get involved in a little elaborate fan-fiction to become Thomas "Doc" Durant (also played by Colm Meaney) during the era of the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad in the US.
It's a juicy character, as he would get to be a railroad tycoon wheeling and dealing with assorted characters of the Wild West.
Why not? It beats hanging out in the transporter room all day.
10 Sarek's Past Overuse Of His Telepathic Abilities Causes His Mental Breakdown
Sarek, Spock's father, is known for using the Vulcan mind meld quite a bit. It's a major plot point in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
In the movie, he mind melds with Captain Kirk in an attempt to find Spock's living spirit and relive the final Spock's final moments.
We find out much later in the recent television series Star Trek: Discovery that Sarek uses his telepathic abilities to reach out even further to contact his foster child, Michael Burnham, while she is jumping around the galaxy.
Reaching out telepathically this far without a mind meld is an ability we've not seen from Vulcans before, and could stretch his limits.
This could explain his appearance in the future on the Enterprise D, where Sarek is suffering a telepathic breakdown known as Bendaii syndrome.
9 The Next Generation Culture is Much More Peaceful Than The Original Series
When the original Star Trek series aired, it was arguably the most progressive show on television.
With a mostly peaceful vision of the future where humans got along, it had people from many cultures, ethnicities, and nationalities working together in harmony.
Having a Russian on Enterprise's bridge indicated that in the future Earth had resolved its political problems from the 20th century.
Star Trek: The Next Generation took it even further, bringing a Klingon on the bridge in an apparent nod to the fact that the Federation was no longer at war with the Klingon Empire.
For good measure, a sentient synthetic life-form also worked on board, along with many other alien races. Picard's penchant for diplomacy contrasted hard with Kirk's "shoot first, ask questions later" approach, and cemented the idea that the universe had become much more peaceful as more alien races joined the Federation.
8 The Borg Held On To A "Copy" Of Picard
The Borg completely assimilated Picard, an act so vile and violating that Picard suffered post-traumatic stress for years before he finally got his revenge in Star Trek: First Contact.
However, he by no means exterminated the Borg completely, and the Borg show up later in several of the Star Trek universe's novels and games.
Because the Borg is a collective hive mind, any information they gather is shared with the rest of The Collective.
This means that somewhere out there is enough data and DNA information from Picard to recreate a clone of him, should the Borg desire that.
Given that Picard escaped and destroyed the Borg that assimilated him, however, the Borg may think that's probably not a good idea to try again.
7 Worf Is Actually Kahless the Unforgettable
Kahless is a legendary figure in Klingon folklore, the first Emperor who united his people. He is largely regarded as a kind of Messiah what will return again.
In the episode "Rightful Heir", the Klingons clone Kahless and install him as Emperor.
Despite this, many fans theorize that it is actually Worf who is the true reincarnated Kahless, and point to his Messianic history.
Like other messiahs, he was born of conflict and raised by foster parents. He is resurrected from a spinal injury that should have destroyed him.
He also had a significant impact on Klingon politics and he is a disciple of the Klingon ideals and a legendary warrior.
If that's not enough, hehad a vision to join Starfleet, and just like Kahless promised, he returns to the Empire from the stars— as the first Klingon in Starfleet.
6 Dr. Noonien Soong Was Trying To Build Immortal Bodies So People Could Live Forever
As seen in the episode The Schizoid Man, Data meets the terminally ill Dr. Ira Graves who claims to be the mentor of his creator, Dr. Noonien Soong.
Later, Ira Graves double crosses Data and undergoes a procedure to transfer his consciousness into Data's body before he passes away. However, the transfer has unpredictable and violent side effects, so he relents and transfers his knowledge, but not his soul, into Enterprise's computers.
Like Graves, some fans believe that this was Soong's original intention with both Data and his "brother" Lore.
Lore contained a "scanned" copy of Soong's personality as a first attempt but was unhinged and psychotic.
Learning from his mistakes, Soong shifted course an instead created a sentient being with ethical and moral subroutines in Data. Lore survived to plague Data and even led a Borg splinter group.
5 The Ferengi Were Pretending to be Weird At First to Confuse the Federation
The original portrayal of the Ferengi in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation was quite different than we saw in later seasons and in the spin-off, Deep Space Nine.
Fans definitely noticed this and wondered why there was this obvious discrepancy. Sure the Ferengi were self-centered and capitalistic, but they weren't insane and histrionic.
There are two explanations for this.
One fan theory says they were pretending to be crazy as a diplomacy tactic, to see how the Federation would react and to disguise how smart they actually were.
Another more likely rumor holds that the writers intended the Ferengi to be the main enemy of the series, but held off when they realized how ridiculous they came across.
They then shifted the focus to Romulans and others, including the Borg, and toned down the Ferengi.
4 "Bluegill" Parasites From The First Season Are Related To The Trill
In "Conspiracy", perhaps one of the most disturbing and goriest episodes in the entire run of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picard and Riker confront a dangerous conspiracy of upper echelon officers being possessed by malevolent parasites.
When finally discovered, they are forced to destroy a Starfleet officer by blasting his torso and the parasite with phasers until disintegrated. This episode ran with a warning in the UK.
Fans speculated that this parasite was related to the benevolent symbiont race known as the Trill.
This was later confirmed to be canon, and it was explained that the Bluegill race was a failed genetic experiment intended to combat a specific Trill disease, but ended up being a psychotic species.
Though "Conspiracy" ended implying that the Bluegill would return, they never have— at least not yet.
3 "Lore” Is Meant To Be The Opposite Of “Data”
The names of Data and his evil "brother" Lore seem straightforward enough, but as many fans point out, it actually has a much deeper meaning.
Data, representing pure information and logical thinking, is also governed by higher ethical subroutines built in by Dr. Soong. Data is literal data.
Lore represents folklore— meaning traditional myths handed down orally in a culture. However, it also has an alternative meaning, that of something that seems to be true but is actually based on deception or a fallacy. This fits Lore's character to a tee, the kind of "person" you could trust as far as you could throw.
True to his namesake, Lore gave Data no end of dangerous trouble in their every encounter.
2 The Q Continuum Are Actually Descendants Of Humanity
There's a fan joke in message board circles that says Q is so omnipotent that he's the only one that knows its only a TV show, but we digress.
Some fans think that Q's fascinated interest in us is because he and the entire Q Continuum are actually descendants of the human race.
Traveling through time, Q is curious about us but also wants to ensure our survival, so that we eventually evolve into what they have become.
This partially explains why he never just outright destroys Picard and his crew, but would rather see how they solve obstacles and challenges, like putting a block in the way of an ant's path.
Q even seems to take a shine to Picard as the seasons go on, perhaps because he enjoys seeing where he came from.
1 Starfleet Changes Its Uniforms To Let Time Travellers Know What Era They Are Visiting
Even casual fans will notice that Starfleet tends to change its uniforms a lot. Using the US Army as a comparison, which hasn't really changed the uniforms much at the officer level in over 50 years, Starfleet has changed all the officer uniforms at least five times in a comparable time period, and six if you count the reboot movies.
Star Trek is full of time travel, and by association, time travelers from all kinds of different eras.
Perhaps to prevent time paradoxes and other associated confusion, Starfleet might be changing its uniforms as a visual marker to help temporal tourists realize when and where they are.
Though this seems like a stretch, it also could be a reasonable precaution. One wrong move and all of a sudden you've created the Kelvin Timeline, aka the JJ-verse.
Can you think of any other crazy Star Trek: TNG fan theories that make too much sense? Sound off in the comments!