When I was a wee nipper, Friday nights on BBC Two were the highlight of my week. Not only did we get a double bill of The Simpsons, but at 6:45, we got an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Watching this, week on week, I developed a huge fondness for the series, from the touching beauty of "The Inner Light" to the lethal mischief of "Q Who." It's a fondness that's never quite left me, honestly. I love The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, dislike Voyager and Enterprise, and am yet to watch Discovery. However, watching the show as an adult is a far different experience than watching it as a child. For the most part, the show stands as one of the best sculpted television experiences ever made. Occasionally though, it really, really stops making sense in a way that sci-fi never should. I think that Voyager is the worst for this (and believe me, we'll get to that later), but all of the series are guilty of it at one point or another.
In this list, we've gathered together 30 of the strangest, most bizarre mistakes in Star Trek history. Whether these are plot holes, filming errors, continuity errors, or just plain sloppy work, you'll find them here. If you're a trekkie who doesn't mind having their favorite show picked apart, read on! I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did. If you've noticed something we've missed, let us know in the comments!
30 Star Trek: Enterprise Breaks Canon
Set many years before The Original Series, Enterprise plays exceptionally fast and loose with Star Trek canon in hugely problematic ways. Firstly, despite it already being established in TNG that Earth was ruled by a one-world government in 2050, in 2051, nation states still abound. Perhaps most obviously, there is the question of what became of the massive Vulcan fleet present in Enterprise. Just 100 years later, it seems to have disappeared without a trace and not rebuilt. What happened?
29 Geordi Wears A Uniform From Another Dimension
Now, this is something of a big booboo on the part of the costume department. In The Next Generation episode "Yesterday's Enterprise" we see the crew in a parallel universe, where the wars with the Klingons didn't end. The crew are dressed in a very different uniform, which, on the writer's part, is meant to illustrate just how different this universe is from the standard one. However, at the end of the episode, when the timeline has been restored, Geordi La Forge is still wearing the one from the parallel universe.
28 Klingons Are Captured When Convenient
It is a fairly well-established idea in Star Trek that Klingons do not like being captured alive. It is believed that this brings dishonor upon them, and also, their whole family. Except for when, apparently, it doesn't. We're reminded of this rule again and again, and yet the show doesn't even keep it for its main cast of characters. Worf is captured in the episode "Redemption: Part 2," and apparently, that just doesn't matter. It's a bizarre continuity error that really should have been picked up.
27 Hugh's Potential Is Never Mentioned Again
The recovered Borg drone, Hugh, or rather Third of Five, had huge potential. When he was nursed back to health by the Enterprise's crew, Data and La Forge are ordered to work on a computer program that could be implanted in Hugh to wipe out the Borg. However, severe ethical problems sprung up from this, with Dr. Crusher arguing that even though it is the Borg, they would still be wiping out a sentient race. However, despite this crew's scruples, the fact that another Captain with looser morals didn't do this is bizarre. Instead, it was simply forgotten about.
26 Data's Cat Changes Breeds
Ah, Spot. Who can forget Data's cat, to whom he wrote a (fairly nice actually) ode? As well as providing a couple of "aw" moments, Spot served the purpose of humanizing Data, who showered her with affection pretty regularly. There's one issue, however. The cat changed breeds. In the earlier episodes, the cat was noticeably long-haired, but later on, changed into a short-haired ginger moggy. There was no explanation whatsoever for this. Maybe it had something to do with dilithium crystals.
25 Deep Space 9's Proto-Universe
This isn't even a plot hole, it's just lazy writing. In the Deep Space 9 episode "Playing God," the crew encounter a strange, unidentified mass stuck to a runabout. It's put in the lab and constantly expands, with the crew finally coming to the conclusion that it's a proto-universe. That's not a problem in itself, if it had actually been dealt with. Instead, what do the crew decide to do with it? Take it through the Bajoran Wormhole and just dump it on the other side. It is never spoken of again.
24 Generations: Picard's Wasted Time Travel
The Star Trek films are mostly the series' biggest weak points, to be honest. Generations is the one with some of the biggest plot holes of all. In dealing with the film's big bad, Soran, Picard is allowed one chance at time travel. Instead of going back further and arresting Soran before he can put his plan into motion, what does he do? He goes back in time to talk to Captain Kirk and convinces him to help him defeat Soran. It makes no sense: why would you squander this incredible power like that?
23 Kirk's Middle Name
There really aren't many names more famous in science fiction than James Tiberius Kirk. The helmsman of the Enterprise, his adventures (and seductions) ranged far and wide. The crew of The Original Series were apparently not ones with an eye for detail however. In the episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before," we see Kirk's tombstone, but it lists his name as "James R. Kirk." If there's a spelling of Tiberius that starts with the letter R, I sure haven't heard it.
22 The Holodeck Could Be Easily Escaped
In most respects, the Holodeck seems like a spectacular waste of time. As well as having to employ someone to mop it down once Riker is finished with it, it seems to malfunction almost every time it's used. In several episodes, the crew members who are using it are trapped inside, and have to work out an elaborate escape plan. That seems hamfisted, really. The transporter system can be used on the ship, as shown in other episodes. It's not like the holodeck goes to another dimension, you could just teleport them out!
21 Scotty Doesn't Remember Kirk Dying
Ding-dong! We're back to Generations already! In the episode "Relics" we discover that Scotty isn't dead! He put himself into stasis so as to survive a fatal situation! In the episode, La Forge has to break the news to him that Kirk isn't with us anymore. However, in Generations, we see that Scotty was present when Kirk shuffled off this mortal coil, so given that he didn't apparently suffer any head injuries, he should remember it. Why did he still think Kirk was with us?
20 Voyager's Photon Torpedoes
The key point of Voyager is that the ship and its crew are isolated, far from anyone else. It is made very clear that the ship has 38 photon torpedoes, no more, no less, and no way to replace them. Until the show's fifth season, the number of torpedoes fired by Voyager is consistent with this first count. After that however, things go really off the rails. In total, the ship fired off about 80 over the length of the show. They were never replaced, so how they got that many is mystifying.
19 Dr. Crusher Doesn't Wear A Watch, Then She Does
This is an exceptionally nerdy error to list here, but hey, I'm writing a list about Star Trek errors, so nerdy should be taken as read. The costume department's inconsistency has been noted earlier, but this is a bit of a glaring continuity problem. Dr. Beverly Crusher doesn't wear a wristwatch. Have you ever seen her wearing one? However, in the episode "Code Of Honor" she can be seen with one on her wrist while she's reviving Yareena. Whether it was Gates McFadden's own is unknown.
18 Tuvok Wore The Wrong Insignia
Tuvok is an important character in Voyager. A young Vulcan officer, he held the rank of Lieutenant until Season 4, when he was promoted. Or did he? According to earlier episodes of the show, he might have been a higher rank than previously stated. The pips on his insignia would seem to suggest that he held the rank of Lieutenant Commander. This glaring error wasn't corrected until quite late in Season 1. It's a bizarre costume issue that should have been spotted.
17 A Huge Crew Reflection
Camera and sound operators are usually kept well out of shot, and any ways in which their image could be seen are removed from set. However, it doesn't always work out. In early episodes of Star Trek, you could see the crew who operated the doors, and this kind of problem wasn't really ironed out. In The Next Generation episode "Unification II," a crewmember's reflection can be very clearly seen on a green crystal in one scene. Data, Spock, and Picard are making their escape during this scene, and it does take away from its gravitas somewhat.
16 Kira's Baseball Jersey Metamorphosizes
The Deep Space 9 episode "Take Me Out To The Holosuite" has an extremely bizarre premise. It sees the crew forming a baseball team for reasons that, while made clear, never truly make sense. Regardless, every key character can be seen wearing a baseball jersey. Bajoran baseball jerseys are apparently made of some hitherto-unknown material, with Kira's jersey changing to another in seconds. One of them has her first name on it, and then, seconds later, one with her surname.
15 Paths Everywhere
In The Original Series episode "Shore Leave," we see the crew arrive at an apparently uninhabited planet in the Omicron Delta system. With the crew exhausted, Captain Kirk decides to give them some time off and shore leave. However, for an uninhabited planet, there are some signs of civilization. There are clear cut paths everywhere on the planet, that, while convenient for letting the characters move about, are decidedly not natural. Their origin is never explained, and it's bugged me ever since I saw it.
14 Equipment Moves On Its Own
And we're back to the films again. It's not Generations this time, believe it or not, but The Undiscovered Country! In this film, we see that Sulu now commands his own ship, the Excelsior. He has tracking equipment on this ship that will prove to be exceptionally useful in the film's climax, where a cloaked Bird of Prey is causing trouble. However, rather than have Sulu's ship track it, the equipment somehow finds its way onto the Enterprise just in time for the film's big showdown. What? How did more people not notice this?
13 Kirk's Changeable Skill
I liked the 2009 Star Trek film a lot, and still do, but it does throw up quite a few problems. One of them is Kirk. Early in the film, Kirk is an absolute idiot. Sure, he's smart, but he's about as mature as a teenager, and likes to kick up a fuss over the merest possible thing. Despite these huge shortcomings, he becomes captain of the Enterprise over the course of the film's running time. I know it's not unusual for characters to develop, but good lord, he doesn't climb the chain of command, he's pulled up it by the most powerful winch in existence.
12 Star Trek: Nemesis (All Of It)
This was the first Star Trek film I ever saw, and boy was it a disappointment! I can barely remember the plot at all. The film sets up a Romulan/Federation peace treaty that does not pay off at all, particularly given that in the Prime Universe, we see the Romulans destroying Vulcan! The plot is a confused mess, to put it simply. The final showdown between Picard and Shinzon is AWFUL. Then there's the fact that it added a sister race for the Romulans, which was already there in the form of the Vulcans, and called them, guess what, the Remans.
11 Data Can't Speak In Contractions, Until He Can
Data can't use contractions in his speech due to a big oversight in his programming. However, he can, and does use them in earlier episodes. In the first episode where this shortcoming is pointed out "Datalore" he uses one after it having just been pointed out that he doesn't use them. There are a ton of compilations out there of Data using contractions, if you wanna watch them. It's a strange error on the producers' parts, but I understand why they didn't reshoot to fix it.
10 How Did Krall Know Kirk Has The Artifact?
Star Trek: Beyond was a terrible movie. Its plot posed as many questions as it answered. Chief among them, how the hell did Krall know Kirk had the artifact? He needs the artifact to finish work on his weapon, but they only have it on the Enterprise due to a largely unimportant event at the beginning of the movie. Beyond that, how did the artifact even end up with the diplomatic mission at the beginning of the movie? It was taken from Krall's planet than dumped into space, so, how?
9 Star Trek: Beyond Forgets About Starfleet
In a movie as bad as Beyond, it's easy to miss glaring errors just because your brain has detached from your body earlier in the movie. Where the heck is Starfleet, though? Really!? It exists, with part of the movie taking place at Starbase Yorktown, but there's a new character there and that's really about it. Then, when Enterprise is fighting to protect it from destruction, no one from Starfleet actually shows up to help. And then Kirk becomes Vice-Admiral for no real reason other than he wanted the job.
8 Disappearing New Zealand
New Zealand is often not given its druthers. Fairly often it's not mentioned in movies and occasionally doesn't feature on maps, but First Contact's treatment of our Kiwi friends takes the biscuit. There's a scene where the ship is orbiting the Earth above the hemisphere, with Australasia floating serenely by. What is conspicuously absent however, is New Zealand. Nary a North Island nor a smudge of a South Island are seen, it's just empty Pacific Ocean past the Australian coast.
7 Everyone Still Listens To 21st Century Music In Beyond
Did you think I was done with Star Trek: Beyond? You must be mad. Be honest with me now, how often do you sit down to listen to a nice bit of Beethoven or a Bruckner cantata? I listen to classical music occasionally when I work, but it's not top of my list. Despite this, 21st (and indeed 20th) Century music are ludicrously popular in the 23rd. Scotty finds a copy of "Sabotage" and "Bring the Noise" on the USS Franklin, and nothing else. Apparently they really love classical music in the 23rd Century.
6 Beyond: Part Three, Spock's Logic
Spock's logic is a fundamentally consistent bit of Star Trek lore. The Vulcans are a logical people in the extreme sense. Then you come to Spock in Beyond and it all falls over. He wants to quit Starfleet because he's seen a premonition of his death in the future. Surely he'd just carry on with it in the traditional canon? Then, instead of telling Spock what it is, he's coy about it, saying he'll tell him later. He cries, he's dramatic, and he's a joker. None of these are what Spock is.
5 "Threshold" And The Lizard Problem
Probably the very worst episode of Voyager, "Threshold" is a barely-comprehensible dreck. It culminates in the discovery that Janeway and Paris have both turned into lizards and had a litter of lizard offspring. Then they're transmogrified back into human form and it is never spoken of again. Really!? That's how you want to end this episode, with a Deus Ex Medica, the Doctor just turning them back, then cut to credits? Awful, total tripe that will go down as one of the worst episodes of Star Trek ever made.
4 Why Wasn't Spock Sucked Into The Black Hole?
Physics be damned, this scene in Star Trek (2009) seems to say. When Spock is watching Vulcan be destroyed by a black hole, he seems to be very, very close to the event. He's located on a body called Delta Vega, which by all rights, should effectively be a moon of Vulcan, but it isn't. It's very, very close to a black hole, which should have sucked Spock and Delta Vega into it as it swallowed Vulcan. It's just a strange little inaccuracy that ticked me off, because I'm a nerd.
3 Trill's Changing Natures
I don't know why this happened, I'll be honest with you. In Star Trek canon, there are two species that are referred to as Trills. One is the humanoid race that looks a lot like...well, humans, but with a set of spots running down either side of their bodies. Then there's the distinctly unhumanoid Trill, also known as Symbionts, who are slug-like parasites that occasionally join with the aforementioned Trills. I don't know why they didn't give the two a completely different pair of names.
2 "Conspiracy" And Its Aliens
"Conspiracy" is one of my all-time favorite episodes of The Next Generation. A truly superb bit of sci-fi horror, the episode sees a bunch of parasitic organisms invading Starfleet officer's bodies and controlling them. Their plan, ultimately, is to invade the Federation. The only bad point about the episode is that when it ends, and the biggest parasite has been dealt with, it's just over. There's no mention of them ever again, and their plan apparently disappears, despite the titular conspiracy.
1 Q's Fear Of Guinan
Some things are meant to be mysterious, but this is just bad writing. Q's purpose and his character is a mystery, but throughout the series, he is shown to be consistently afraid of Guinan, the bartender on the USS Enterprise. The only clue that we get about Q's fear is that he's had dealings with her in the past and that she's gone by other names. In a way, it's quite a nice little dynamic they have going on, but it does leave me a little sour that it was never explored further.