Mohammed Ali versus Evander Holyfield. Coke versus Pepsi. Yin versus yang. Alien versus Predator. Red Sox versus the Yankees. Cats versus dogs. Vampires versus Werewolves. DC versus Marvel. Pirates versus ninjas. The Beatles versus Rolling Stones. Good versus evil.
These are just a few of the great rivalries of our time. But all of them pale in comparison to one eternal battle that began a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away: Star Trek versus Star Wars.
It is a battle that has raged for decades, with neither side ever achieving a decisive edge over the other. Both feature incredible technology that seems far beyond our comprehension. Both have fantastic alien species that live and work alongside our own, showing us that racism and xenophobia can be beaten. Both have movies, TV shows, comic books, novels, video games, and all sorts of media set in their universes, and all to millions of fans worldwide.
This global reach and passionate fan-base has led to some intense rivalries between the two factions. For many years this only manifested itself at science fiction conventions, but the age of the internet allowed this conflict to flourish.
It also gave us a bunch of hilarious memes to better understand why two grade-A nerds would spend hours debating the merits of two fictional universes.
Whatever you feel towards either Star Wars or Star Trek, you can’t deny the power of memes to prove a point. Let’s take a look at a few of them, shall we?
25 A Weapon From A More Civilized Age
First of all, I'm pretty sure it's against the Prime Directive to go vaporizing creatures with laser swords. And second of all, it's a laser sword. How primitive can a weapon be if it's made out of photons?
Second of all, why is a phaser suddenly the weapon that can incapacitate a Jedi to the point where someone can steal his lightsabre? Shouldn't said Jedi be able to just wave their sword around and deflect the phaser beams, like in every Star Wars movie to date?
And while we're on the topic of lightsabers: how exactly does a lightsaber work? Like, I get how it's a laser sword, but lasers don't just arbitrarily stop at some point - they technically go on forever. How does a lightsaber make it stop at roughly a meter? Do the photos just get tired and call it quits?
24 To Philosophize Is To Become The Divine
I have two trains of thoughts on this one. On the one hand, Star Trek is definitely my preferred universe to actually live in since it gets rid of most of the bad stuff. Outside of the occasional way with neighboring species, things for humanity are pretty darned good. There's no racism, no sexism, no homophobia, very little violence, free healthcare (along with most other things), and you can basically decide to live a life of utter hedonism if you wanted and nobody would tell you otherwise.
On the other hand, the philosophy of Star Wars makes for a simpler, more compelling story - a classic tale of good versus evil, with very simple imagery to make sure everybody knows which side is what. Although some might say a little too simple.
23 Everybody Needs A Hobby
I feel bad for that stormtrooper! He just wanted to make a model. It's not like he was planning on putting in for a transfer to another fictional universe or anything.
At least they didn't smash his model.
Speaking as someone who's built both Star Wars and Star Trek models, I found Star Trek ships to be infinitely easier. An X-Wing or a B-Wing might look more space-y, but all those jutting bits of plastic meant that inevitably something would break in the assembly process, and my flight of Rebels always looked shot to pieces by the time I'd finished painting them.
Star Trek, on the other hand, is filled with smooth lines, simple shapes, and very few designs that have more than 4 angles to deal with at a time. Although I will say they often came in sizes impractical for anything but a ready-room display case.
22 A Captain Needs A Crew, Right?
Han Solo is captain of the Millenium Falcon. He's got a crew of one: Chewie. Jean-Luc Picard, on the other hand, is captain of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D and he has a crew of over a thousand. I know it boils down the question "who was the better captain" to a numbers contest, but numbers don't like.
On top of that, Picard represented everything that was good and wholesome about the whole Star Trek universe. A lifelong scholar, he captained a ship that pushed the boundaries of all knowledge and safeguarded the galaxy. Solo was basically a self-serving smuggler who accidentally became an admiral in a galaxy-wide rebellion when some kid needed a lift off-planet. There's really no comparison here.
21 Capitalism Is More Powerful Than Either Universe
There is one force that neither science fiction universe can deny for long, and that's capitalism. Although Lucasfilm, the studio which birthed Star Wars and became a multi-billion dollar empire, was a truly big fish in the world of filmmaking there's always a bigger fish in the sea. And in that case, it was Disney.
Although it's certainly alarming to see a media conglomerate best known for classic cartoons gobble up a sci-fi icon, I don't think anybody would say that it resulted in a worse product. If anything the Star Wars films since George Lucas left have been vast improvements. Maybe it wouldn't be so awful if Star Trek were to be acquired by Disney? I mean, there could be a cute little cartoon intro before the movie starts.
20 Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad
This one's displaying the internal bickering that happens in every geeky franchise. To be fair to William Shatner, he looks real good for 86. Patrick Stewart just stopped aging after he turned 60, so I suspect we'll never actually see the end of him. And to be fair to Kate Mulgrew, the captain of Voyager, I think she was putting on a few pounds for her role in Orange Is The New Black where she plays a Russian chef and prison matron.
Now let's compare to Star Wars. Mark Hamill is still pretty fit well into his 60s, Harrison Ford is managing to keep up in his 70s, and Carrie Fisher is... um. No longer with us.
Okay, Star Trek, you win this round.
19 The Force Versus A Force Of Nature
Some people think the character Q jumps the shark a bit in Star Trek. I think he plays an important role in the franchise. He proves that no matter how advanced a species humanity becomes there will always be a bigger fish. Q just happens to be the biggest fish of them all. Plus, being able to snap your fingers and do literally anything can make for some pretty interesting changes in scenery.
Now let's compare to The Force from Star Wars. While it's certainly cool to move things with your mind and convince your server to give you an extra slice of pie without paying for it every now and then, it sadly doesn't really compare to being able to birth and collapse a universe in the wink of an eye.
Really, if Q wasn't an incorrigible rascal he'd be a terribly boring character.
18 Space Communism: The Only Kind That Works
Oh, Carrie Fisher. If only you were still around you could have put an end to the threat of space communism once and for all.
Actually, the whole idea of space communism sounds pretty good to me. For those of you who haven't actually taken the plunge into the more Bill Shatner-esque fictional universe, Star Trek mostly takes place in a post-scarcity utopian society that can best be described as communism. The government controls most things, money doesn't really exist, and everything works out perfectly because of technology. If only the Soviet Union had a replicator, they might still be around.
Princess Leia, naturally, cannot abide communism as it'd be the end of her royal aristocracy, so Captain Kirk has to eat it. Sorry, Kirk.
17 The Better Villain, The Better Geometry
There's one surefire way to tell if you're dealing with a villainous faction in either Star Wars or Star Trek: if their ships are the most geometrically simple shapes in space, then they're the bad guys. In Star Wars, the bad guy's ships are all wedges and circles and planes, while the Rebel ships are all a complicated mishmash of antennas and engines. In Star Trek things are even simpler, with the good guys flying disks that have sprouted warp nacelles and the bad guys flying giant cubes.
To be fair to Star Trek, the Borg just always seemed the better villain. An inexorable, all-consuming species that spreads through the galaxy like a plague of locusts is way more terrifying than a bunch of guys in white Halo armor that can't even shoot straight.
16 We Get It - Q Is God
While we're on the subject of Q versus The Force, let's talk origin stories. The Force came about when George Lucas tried to create a sort of spirituality in the world of Star Wars without being overtly religious (even though the Jedi were arguably an order of warrior monks). The Force then served as proof of the existence of God, or a god, or a higher power, without actually giving it a name.
Now let's compare to Q, who is not really a god per se, but possesses god-like powers which he uses to usually land humanity (or at least the crew of whatever Star Trek series he appears) in trouble and then just as quickly deus-ex-machina them out of it. He's more of a plot device than a character, and in this sense, he's basically the same as The Force.
So your preference really says a lot about you: would you rather godlike powers be disseminated among the populace, or concentrated all in one spot?
15 A Terrible Shot Versus An Unmissable Target
How each franchise handles their expendable characters really tells you all you need to know about each of them. Star Wars has an army of white goons in armor shooting randomly without ever really hitting anything, and Star Trek has an army of dudes in red shirts who exist merely to die in the most dramatic ways possible.
The only question is, who would win in a fight?
Upon first glance, you'd think it might be the Redshirt since if it were just the two of them in a room the Stormtrooper would never strike his target and the Redshirt doesn't have enough drama to support his own demise. But don't be fooled: Redshirts are like lemmings. Even if there's no drama in the script he would be compelled to create some to support his own expiration. Point for Star Wars.
14 The Next Generation Will Decide This Battle
For most of human history, your parents determined what your movie franchise was. Very few parents would even allow their children to watch more than one franchise. It just wasn't done.
Nowadays people are a little wiser, a little more open to science fiction, and so parents are letter their kids decide which is the better universe through open and honest viewings. We've come a long way since the 70s, and I think it's good that we as a species allow our children to decide for themselves which is the better sci-fi franchise.
Will it ever lead to a cessation of hostilities? Will we ever see a Star Trek & Star Wars crossover television series where the Federation come across a far away galaxy filled with bizarre laser swords and talking robots and aliens with butts for faces? Only time will tell.
13 JJ Abrams Doesn't Need Your Stupid Continuity
There's one thing that both franchises got equally, and that's the JJ Abrams treatment. This guy does not let a silly little thing like continuity get in the way of telling a good story. Once Abrams is at the reigns it's all lens flares and explosions from beginning to credits roll.
That's not to say I disliked any of Abrams' movies. Far from it! I think the reboot of the Star Trek franchise is the best thing to hit that universe in decades. Same for Star Wars, which definitely felt like it was stagnating after Lucas released the first three films (or second three, depending on how you prefer to order things). But could he have at least even nodded at the expanded universe for both franchises rather than tossing them all to the curb?
12 Man, Shatner Is Heavy
The caption doesn't really say it, but I'm pretty sure this is a fat joke. I mean, it's taking five Stormtroopers to carry Shatner away, and look at them! They're still struggling! They're gonna need to bust out a Jedi or a blurrg or something to move that ex-Starfleet captain.
While we're on the subject - you ever wonder why Jedi don't just start a moving company or something? Being able to lift everything with your mind would be super useful for movers. Just float your sofa, bed, and refrigerator into your home without worrying about throwing your back out. Plus you can easily flip things over a railing or into the top floor without pulleys, levers, or expendable family members.
11 A Stunning Comparison
Let's talk non-lethal force. In Star Trek, pretty much any weapon has a "stun" setting that will incapacitate most creatures (although crucially not all creatures) with a single blast. How that stun effect works is never really explained, but it looks neat and seems to work well.
Now Star Wars. In the most recent film, The Last Jedi, you see the rebels use a stun setting on their blasters which had thus far only ever really been seen in Star Wars: A New Hope when those Stormtroopers knocked out Princess Leia in the opening scene. It also seems to work well, but it also has no explanation for its function.
And then there's lightsabers, which although stunning to look at, have no setting other than horrifically lethal. Point to Star Wars.
10 A Technological Edge
Actually, Star Destroyers do have shields. In Return of The Jedi, the general guy on the Super Star Destroyer specifically calls for all power to forward deflector shields to prevent a crashing A-wing fighter from plowing into the bridge. It didn't work, so maybe they just have really bad shields.
Also, they're not firing lasers - they're blasters. Blasters are... not explained. For some reason, they have the appearance of some kind of energy-based weapon, but they fire a projectile that has an absurdly short range and pathetic velocity for a space-based armament. In fact, in The Last Jedi, blaster shots are seen to arc like a bullet despite the fact there's no gravity in space.
That said, I'm pretty sure the Enterprise could take out a fleet of Star Destroyers if for no other reason than the Star Fleet ship can actually hit what it shoots at.
9 The Better Crossover
If Star Trek can have their one-off, then Star Wars can have theirs too! And let's be honest, this one is really cool.
Why is Darth Vader walking around a ship infested with aliens and predators? And why does he seem to think the Predator is an "old friend"? Is it because they're from roughly the same era, cinematically speaking? Or did Darth Vader not only receive his training from then Emperor Palpatine but also from a deadly race of alien hunters who use stealth and guile (and a terrifying set of chompers) to win honor and glory in hunting other sapient species?
The answer may be closer than you think. Note the similarities in their space masks, the shape of their eyes and mouths. Same space-tailor, or is it something more sinister?
8 How To Handle An Impressionable New Species
While I've always considered the Prime Directive to be a noble goal, it's also kind of impossible. Whether you want to or not, stuff from outer space is going to interact with stuff on the ground, and sometimes with disastrous results. Just think - maybe the reason the dinosaurs died out is that some noble alien culture was watching an asteroid plummet to Earth and said to themselves, "Oh well, guess that primitive lizard species is gonna get totally clobbered."
On the other hand, I think weaponizing a species for your own selfish goals is reprehensible. To be fair to Star Wars, the Ewoks seemed to really enjoy rigging up the entire forest like an entry into the Home Alone franchise, and I suspect the Empire were uninvited guests on their homeworld anyway.
7 A Selective Misremembering Of History
That's the problem with science fiction: typically you set it to happen in the future so that you can use the excuse of progressively more advanced technology to tell whatever story you want. But the problem with future settings is that they eventually become present settings, and some science fiction franchises badly miss the mark
Let's take Star Trek as our example. It didn't take centuries to invent the cell phone - it took a few decades. And according to the Star Trek timeline, we're due to have World War III in about eight years, which I am not looking forward to. Although Star Trek only estimates a nuclear holocaust will result in 10% reduction of the global population, so even when it's trying to be horrifically depressing it still manages to be blithely optimistic.
Star Wars doesn't have that problem since it happens "a long, long time ago." Another point for Star Wars.
6 Battle Of The Babes
I'm kinda glad they stopped making the female crewmembers of Star Trek wear those ridiculous mini-skirt jumpsuits. First, I have no idea how they managed to keep them down long enough to be on camera, and second, they kinda showed a delineation of the genders that are supposed to not exist in the future.
Star Wars never gave up the whole "scantily clad women sells movie tickets" thing. At least, not until the most recent string of movies, but even then whenever the franchise needs to show a place that's supposed to be downtrodden or otherwise rotten they'll bust out the dancing aliens wearing very little clothing to sell the idea.
As for which would make the more potent warrior, that's a little harder to say.
5 Jar Jar Ruins Everything
Star Wars will never live down one thing, and that's Jar Jar Binks. He's universally reviled by everyone, even the most die-hard Star Wars fanatic, to the point where most people try to forget he was ever cooked up in George Lucas' substance-induced fever dream. What substance that is I'm not allowed to say, but it must have been potent to think of Jar Jar as a character.
First off, there are arguments to be made he's a sort of racist character with a bizarrely Carribean patois. Second, he was a comedic relief in a movie that never required comedic relief. It was like Lucas had a formula in his head that included the words "comedy relief" and there was no way a movie would be made on his watch without those words made manifest. And he wasn't even funny!
To Star Trek, I'll just say one word: tribbles.
4 A Battle Of Wits And Neck Pinches
So you're telling me that a guy that can sense life from hundreds of feet away and move objects with his mind is going to let some big-eared alien walk up behind him and pinch him on the neck? Sure, buddy. Sure.
While we're on the subject, what's up with Vulcan nerve pinches anyway? It was originally supposed to be a way for Spock to take down bad guys without using violence (well, much violence) and its action is explained with those weird Vulcan mindpowers. But then everybody started using it: Data, Captain Picard, Seven of Nine, Odo, and even a bunch of lesser characters too numerous to name. None of those jokers ever had weird Vulcan mind powers, so how does this nerve pinch actually work?
I still don't think you can take down Vader with a pinch though.
3 In The End, The Fight Boils Down To Numbers
As the infographic shows, if you were going to boil down this silly rivalry to numbers there's a clear winner. Grossing over three times as much cash worldwide as Star Trek, Star Wars has long since won the economic battle between these two great franchises.
That doesn't necessarily mean Star Wars has more fans, mind you. It just means that Star Wars has been better at monetizing its fanbase. Star Trek has way more TV series and full-length feature films than Star Wars does, so the number of people viewing Star Trek at some point in their lives clearly goes to the Trekkers.
There's also the fact that money shouldn't always be a gauge of success. Tobacco companies made billions of dollars for decades, but would anyone consider them successful today? I thought not.
Alright, there's a lot to unpack here. First, we have the usual assortment of Star Trek and Star Wars ships killing nearly every inch of this meme, but there are a few notable exceptions. Lower left we have a space shuttle, which I'm quite certain will accomplish absolutely nothing, and in the middle right we have the Serenity, the ship from Firefly, that as far as I'm aware was completely unarmed. There's also some Battlestar: Galactica fighters in the top left, and a faint image of the Silver Surfer and Galactus over the right horizon of Earth doing whatever it is they do.
In this grand melee, who would win? The answer: the Futurama ship. Cartoons always win in battles between live-action and animation.
1 Can't We All Just Get Along?
Seriously, guys. It's science fiction. Both factions are totally off base in a number of ways. First, Star Wars isn't even science fiction; it's science fantasy. Nothing in the franchise is explained beyond "space magic", and the one time they even tried to nobody believed them (remember midi-chlorians? Me neither).
Second, Star Trek is this hippie-version of the future that is becoming ever more apparently wrong. We still don't have a world-spanning central government, we still don't have technology creating an abundance from which all strife can cease to exist, and we still don't have meaningful space travel or aliens.
So can't we all just stop this fighting and agree that neither franchise is better than the other?
No? Well, fine then. I always preferred BattleTech anyway.