The best quality of the Star Trek franchise might be the series' ability to get the mind racing. All of the shows and movies under the Star Trek banner make you wonder about space, the future, and the human condition. The series has inspired numerous real-world art pieces and inventions - created by Trekkies whose curiosities were piqued by the franchise.
But like any long-running, narrative-driven franchise, Star Trek occasionally raises questions that it can't answer. A lot of these questions don't even relate to weighty topics like 'the fate of humanity' or 'the meaning of life' either. Sometimes, you wish you knew why Spot's gender kept changing throughout TNG? Come along and get confused with us as we muse about ten unsolved mysteries from the Star Trek canon!
10 How Robust Is The Universal Translator?
The Universal Translator is one of the coolest pieces of tech in the Star Trek canon. In theory, this device allows users to understand alien languages on the fly. Essentially, the UT is a super-advanced version of Google Translate. Only the UT works on an intergalactic scale and seems to have zero issues with syntax.
Most questions about the Universal Translator center around its limits. For instance, can the UT aid with interpreting sign language? Kirk once said that the UTworks by analyzing the brainwaves. However, various episodes throughout the series call the validity of this explanation into question. The UT's full capabilities tend to vary depending on the needs of an episode. Thus, a definitive explanation of the UT's functionality remains a mystery in the Star Trek canon.
9 The 'Jettison Pod' Button
Starfleet's starships also could one day become a reality, once the science behind these beauties gets worked out. Should that dream become a reality, we hope the engineers and designers who build them carefully consider their ships' layouts. In 'Court Marshal,' an episode from the original series, we learn that there's a precariously placed Jettison Pod button.
It's mere inches away from the buttons that put the ship into Yellow and Red Alert. Why super-intelligent humans hailing from a near-perfect Earth would design a control panel so poorly is beyond us. Well, not really - this is probably the result of an oversight by the show's art department or set designers. But the jury is out concerning an in-universe for this potentially hazardous console layout!
8 Why Play Amazing Grace At Spock's Funeral?
Spock's death in The Wrath of Khan stands as one of the saddest moments in cinematic history. Decades have passed, and cataclysmic events have changed our world - yet the emotional impact of this scene hasn't waned one bit. According to legend, producer Harve Bennett asked that 'Amazing Grace' play at Spock's funeral - with Scotty providing the musical accompaniment.
To this day, it's not entirely clear what the in-universe reason is for the choice of song. Some fans theorize that this is a custom for numerous Starfleet funerals. Others, including Bennett, chalk it up to Scotty's heritage. The 'Amazing Grace' mystery is explainable - we just don't have an official in-universe account to end all debate so far.
7 Wesley's Bizarre Adventure
Star Trek: The Next Generation received unanimous praise for its terrific writing, fascinating storylines, and fantastic acting performances. But in every garden, there's always one snake slithering around. For TNG fans, that character was Wesley Crusher. No one else on the show sparked as much controversy as the Ensign boy genius.
Over the years, Wesley developed into a more likable and human character. Crusher even stopped idolizing the Federation and began thinking for himself. After the meeting an alien that's known as the Traveler, Wesley leaves for a long time. To this day, fans wonder what sort of adventures Wesley and the Traveler embarked on.
6 Spot The Shapeshifter
The mysteries surrounding Spot are so infamous they've spawned an uncountable number of funny memes. Initially, Spot was a male Somali cat that befriended Data. As time progressed, fans noted that Spot's appearance seemed to change on a whim. There are certainly shapeshifters in the Star Trek canon, but Spot isn't supposed to be one of them. Later in the series, Spot even gives birth!
The real-world reason for Spot's changes are easy enough to explain; the showrunners probably couldn't get the same cat each episode. Concerning Star Trek canon, however, fans may have to accept that this mystery is unsolvable.
5 What Happened To The Warp Speed Limit?
TNG introduced the idea of a Warp Speed limit to 'preserve space' or something along those lines. In the TNG episode 'Force of Nature,' the Enterprise-D crew learns that warp drives could potentially destroy the universe! A speed limit is imposed, preventing anyone from exceeding Warp 5 unless a situation called for it.
In reality, the writers probably wanted to slow things down to preserve dramatic tension. Okay, fair enough. Problems arise with the Star Trek canon, however, when the ban is lifted later in the series. "Force of Nature' presented plenty of compelling evidence to get most fans onboard with the idea of dangerous warp drives. Then, what, one day they aren't? Que the endless sea of theories created by dedicated fans.
4 The Borg's Actual Origin Story
The Borg is one of the deadliest factions in the galaxy - no hyperbole, just pure facts! Picard and his crew faced off against this race of parasitic cyborgs numerous times. Moreover, the Borg made of habit of pulverizing the Enterprise-D more often than not. You can count the times that Picard and his crew convincingly beat the Borg one hand - with fingers to spare!
For all of our run-ins with the Borg, we know little about them. Their origins remain one of the greatest mysteries of the Star Trek canon. However, ambiguity surrounding these cyborgs is intentional - the TNG writers believed that nothing is scarier than the unknown. The Borg's uncertain origins ought to make us wary of all technology - and less dependent on it.
3 What Became Of The Independent Borg?
Not all members of the Borg are bad; most follow the will of a collective conscious, but a few go against the grain. Hugh and other independent drones like him suggested that the Borg could change their ways. Unlike the shackled drones, Hugh didn't want to assimilate anyone. His individuality even helped him emancipate a slew of his fellow drones - turning their cube into a free-thinking colony.
By the end of TNG, we never learn what becomes of Hugh and his colony. Hugh helps the Enterprise-D crew out in 'The Descent,' but we never see him again afterward. The Star Trek canon could do with some closure in regards to Hugh's story arc.
2 Why Do Klingons Look Different In Star Trek: Discovery?
Two seasons in and Star Trek: Discovery is already making massive changes to the Star Trek canon. Your mileage will vary on whether you appreciate or abhor these retcons. The general reaction to the Klingons' appearance in the show is proof of that. Interestingly enough, this isn't the first time Klingons received a facelift in the series. TNG explained that a mutation caused the first wave of changes.
The real world reason for this change is simple enough - Discovery's showrunners wanted to make their Klingons look distinct. We're sure the writers will explain themselves when the time comes. For now, the Klingons' appearance boggles the Star Trek canon.
1 Could Humanity Someday Rival Q's Species?
Humans might not be the fastest, strongest, or smartest race in the galaxy, but we're adaptable. We also learn from our mistakes - as evident in the improvements made to human civilization as a whole. We went from banging rocks together to exploring space because we never stop learning and growing.
But would we ever reach the same level as the Q someday in the future? Star Trek isn't the only work of Sci-Fi/ Speculative Fiction to suggest that humans might become OP later in our development. The Q that Picard's crew encountered even teased the Enterprise-D about their latent potential. Was it speaking seriously, or was it acting coy? Only time will tell - time that our generation likely doesn't have.