Star Trek has always been a show for the fans. It started as a kind of love letter to fans of sci-fi literature, as they had very little in the way of good sci-fi television or movies. Eventually, the show had an immense fan-following of its own right, and write-in campaigns helped keep the show on the air much longer than it otherwise would have lasted.
And, of course, the fans were what brought it back. The show’s fanbase grew during its syndication in the 1970s, and the public’s love of both Star Trek and big budget sci-fi (hello, Star Wars) helped bring Trek to the big screen.
Part of being a fan of Star Trek, though, means looking past its flaws. There are lingering issues with characters and sometimes with the entire series that threaten to take you out of the moment and ruin your enjoyment. However, true fans keep on keeping on, whistling past the graveyard of everything wrong with their favorite shows.
Don’t believe us? Fortunately, you don’t have to ask an all-powerful alien or an all-knowing android to find your proof. Instead, just keep scrolling to check out 15 Things Wrong With Star Trek We All Choose To Ignore!
15. Do they have money or not?
On paper, the Federation is a post-scarcity society that has no money. If you had any doubts, Captain Picard gives a nice, long speech about this in First Contact. While having no money in a world where you can replicate anything you want makes a certain amount of sense, Star Trek is all over the place regarding this topic.
For instance, the Kirk of Star Trek IV discusses how they no longer use money, but the Kirk of The Original Series offered money for things like dilithium. We see Dr. Crusher buying scarves and Captain Picard buying a Horga’hn on Risa. And Deep Space Nine is filled with instances of Starfleet officers somehow buying things from Quark.
14. Uniforms make no sense
It’s an open secret that the uniforms of Star Trek have never made much sense. First, the uniforms typically offer no real protection. This gets especially weird when we see the war with the Dominion, and Starfleet is basically fighting armored warriors while wearing pajamas. Second, they offer no real convenience— it’s not until we see prequel series like Enterprise and Discovery that the uniforms have so much as a pair of pockets.
The uniforms are inconsistent.
This has been notable lately because Star Trek: Discovery, which takes place only slightly before Kirk’s famous voyage, has completely different uniforms. But even the Original Series had Kirk and crew wearing different variant outfits from season to season. As for Picard’s crew, we saw them wear no less than four different kinds of outfits in a ten-year span! Maybe fashion is the final frontier after all.
13. The Klingons Keep Changing
Sometimes, Star Trek is so inconsistent with something that the shows have to spend an episode later giving a retcon explanation. This is what happened to explain the difference in appearance between the Klingons of the Original Series and the Klingons that we see in The Motion Picture and Next Generation. However, their look has kept evolving (and sometimes devolving) with no real explanation.
The Original Series Klingons had smooth foreheads and the later ones had bumpy foreheads.
An episode of Enterprise explained how the descendants of Klingons who were treated for a mutating virus would have smooth foreheads. However, we get a different look for the Klingons in their brief Into Darkness appearance, and a very different look for Klingons in Star Trek: Discovery.
12. The Prime Directive is meaningless
The Prime Directive is ostensibly the most important rule in Starfleet. This is why it’s known by another name: Starfleet General Order One. The Prime Directive is the rule that keeps Starfleet from interfering in the development of other cultures. While it’s a good rule to have, it’s an open secret that our favorite characters violate this directive constantly and receive no punishment.
To be fair, there are justifications for the violations. We see Picard violate the Directive to save the life of an alien “pen pal” of Data’s and to save the life of Wesley Crusher from a planet’s arbitrarily lethal justice system. And we see Kirk doing things like shutting down a computer that periodically makes an entire planet do their best The Purge impression. We cheer for these moments, but they also prove the Directive is something to be ignored when something more important comes up.
11. Data has always had emotions
Before he gets a special chip designed by his creator, the android Data is unable to feel emotions. And if we ever forget it, Data’s every other line of dialogue is about how he doesn’t feel human emotions. However, anyone who has seen an episode or two of Next Generation understand that Data has always felt emotions.
It’s true that we don’t see overt things like laughter or tears until he gets the chip. However, he is driven by an ongoing quest to become human. Furthermore, we see him hold onto special Starfleet commendations and even a memorial hologram of his one-time lover, Tasha Yar. Hell, he even longs for companionship enough to get a pet cat!
Looking back, the “emotionless” Data was inspired, proud, motivated, and driven. These qualities cannot come from the algorithms that drive him and help prove he’s had emotions (of some stripe) all along.
10. It’s filled with awful stereotypes
Star Trek has always been known as a progressive franchise. This goes back to Gene Roddenberry deliberately ensuring that the Original Series had characters representing various races, ethnicities, and nationalities. Admittedly, Trek’s stories have gone a long way towards spreading its progressive message, but the franchise has been filled with some awful stereotypes along the way.
The most obvious example is in the Next Generation episode “Code of Honor”, where the crew encounters an all-black planet. This was already a problematic conceit, and then the show went and made the planet seem culturally backwards and primitive. Meanwhile, the Ferengi were introduced with the solo trait of greed, and many felt their earliest appearances uncomfortably drew upon Jewish stereotypes. Finally, the show has a long-running strain of sexism stretching back to The Original Series, a show which made Uhura a bridge officer but explicitly stated that women could never captain a ship!
9. How many ships do they have?
Despite all of the encyclopedias, technical manuals, and internet debates, certain things about Star Trek remain kind of fuzzy. One of the big questions that still remains is how big a fleet Starfleet is actually supposed to be. While this number is never explicitly stated, we get onscreen clues that make it seem like the size of the fleet is constantly expanding and then shrinking again.
For instance, when the Borg first attack Earth, Starfleet loses thirty-nine ships. This is treated like a massive loss, and characters discuss how it will take a year to recover from this loss. Later, during the Dominion War in Deep Space Nine, there are battles where Starfleet loses hundred ships at a time.
Where did all these ships come from?
8. Starfleet’s not very tolerant
Just as the various crews are intentionally diverse, Starfleet is supposed to represent the ideals of cultural tolerance. After all, you can’t really explore “strange new worlds” if you are trying to impose your own cultural values on every alien race you meet.
Star Trek has a weird history of its characters being fairly intolerant.
We see multiple officers weirded out by Data (and especially Data in command), and there’s even a special trial to determine whether he’s anything more than Starfleet property. We see extreme pushback to the idea of a Ferengi joining Starfleet Academy. We see all Vulcan crews with open contempt for humans. We see captains using the racially-charged term “Cardies” to refer to Cardassians. Sometimes, it makes sense for a given character, but taken altogether, it seems evidence that the super-tolerant future is pretty darn intolerant.
7. Those crazy admirals
Nominally, the chain of command is very important in Star Trek. Everyone has their own duties and responsibilities, and the higher up people are in the food chain, the more subordinates they have. However, Star Trek subverted our ideas of the chain of command with one of its weirdest tropes: the insane admiral.
It seems like the main requirement to a promotion is to insanely evil.
Seriously, there are so many insane admirals in Trek. Admiral Satie tries to go after Picard and his whole crew in a weird witch hunt, Admiral Pressman blatantly violates treaties with Romulans, Admiral Dougherty tries to forcibly remove an entire planetary population, and so on. Admiral Marcus unleashes Khan and murders people to cover it up, and Admiral Leyton attempts a coup of Starfleet.
6. Shuttles are insanely dangerous
The shuttles are a pretty natural invention for Star Trek. For times that the transporters don’t work or that crew members need to go on a road trip, there’s always the faithful shuttlecraft. There’s just one problem: every time a crew member steps inside, they are putting their lives at risk!
Travel by shuttle is the single most dangerous thing to do in the Star Trek universe.
In the Original Series, we see Spock barely survive crashing onto a hostile alien planet. In Next Generation, characters like Geordi LaForge and Deanna Troi are kidnapped by Romulans when traveling to conferences. On Deep Space Nine, a conference trip for Bashir resulted in him being kidnapped and replaced by a Changeling. The worst offender was Voyager, a show in which no less than ten shuttles were lost, forcing fans to wonder where they kept getting new ones!
5. Intergalactic taxi service
Star Trek typically goes out of its way to tell us how special the show’s ship is. For instance, the Enterprise is the flagship of the Federation, and they are regularly entrusted with missions that could determine the fate of countless people. However, they have another mission they take more seriously than anything else.
They are basically Uber for the entire galaxy!
Think about it: how many plots start out with the Enterprise having to ferry an ambassador or a scientist from Point A to Point B? Sure, these are important people, but it seems insane that ships like the Enterprise-D (with over a thousand souls onboard) are regularly sent to be a taxi service. It also seems irresponsible, as every week-long trip carrying some random official is a week that the most powerful ship of the line cannot do anything else! And in a moneyless society, they can’t even get surge pricing…
4. The holodeck makes no damn sense
Part of what makes Star Trek fun is seeing technology that really brings the future to life. The best example of this is the holodeck, which is basically virtual reality taken to its logical extreme. With a simple voice command, our characters can use a combination of holograms, tractor beams, and replicators to bring any scenario to life.
There’s just one problem: the holodeck makes no sense!
We see instances of characters stepping outside of the holodeck and it takes a long time for them to disappear. Shouldn’t they go away immediately? We see other instances of characters eating inside the holodeck, which implies some things are replicated and some things are not. How does the holodeck figure out how to do that without breaking the illusion? When we factor in that the right commands create sentient creatures like Moriarty, this is the most unbelievable tech ever seen on Trek!
3. Klingons aren’t actually honorable
The Klingons on Star Trek: The Original Series did not have a lot of detail as an alien race. They were mostly mustache-twirling villains. Later portrayals of Klingons in Star Trek: The Next Generation added the new dimension that they were obsessed with honor.
Even if you discount earlier portrayals, we can see that they aren’t honorable at all.
We see warriors like Duras betray their race to the Romulans, and we see the Klingon Council try to hide his crimes. We see a pattern of Klingon ships conducting sneak attacks on everyone from the Ferengi to the Federation. Of course, these bold warriors constantly hide behind cloaking devices. Worf sarcastically comments on this at one point, saying that nothing is more honorable than victory. This makes the “win at all costs” race completely dishonorable!
2. Transporters are deadly
Transporters are some of the most revolutionary bits of technology in all of Star Trek. Sure, warping around the galaxy is cool and all, but being able to travel thousands of miles with a simple voice command is the kind of technology we all dream of every day. Despite being a staple of Star Trek since the beginning, though, this technology continues to be rather horrifying.
We are meant to laugh at Dr. McCoy and other characters when they are scared to use the transporter. However, the technology literally works by destroying your body and then creating a copy of it (complete with your mind and memories) somewhere else. This means that, on a real level, committing to Starfleet means committing to killing yourself countless times.
1. Every alien looks too human
Fans put up with a lot of Star Trek silliness because of their sheer love of the show. However, there is one issue that the franchise has had since the beginning, and because it’s tied to budget, is not likely to go away. Here it is: almost every single alien they meet looks like a human who put on a sampler of Party City clearance supplies.
The whole mission is to explore “strange new worlds,” but to look at the aliens, these worlds are pretty damn familiar. Almost everyone has two arms, two legs, one head, and so on. Even the most iconic aliens like Spock can be visually described as “human with some pointy ears.”
Maybe if enough fans write in, the money that goes to the annual Klingon redesign can go towards making other aliens look more alien!
What else do fans ignore about Star Trek? Let us know in the comments!
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