Star Trek might have the biggest expanded universe of any science fiction property. Doctor Who might be older, but it was a show that was only popular in Great Britain for most of its existence. Star Wars might be more popular than Star Trek, but there were large gaps in the franchise's history when no new content was being produced. Star Trek kept on receiving new iterations on both the big screen and on television, which meant that the franchise had room to grow to an unheard of extent.
With so much Star Trek material in existence, it's only natural that the writers will make mistakes when trying to tell stories within the setting. You can't expect anyone to have perfect background knowledge of the setting, especially when parts of it contradict the other. The longer a series gets, the more likely it is to have plot holes. And when a franchise has been running as long as Star Trek, it's bound to have more than a few inconsistencies along the way.
We are here today to look at the numerous mistakes that have crept into the Star Trek movies and TV shows over the years. From the villain who can't keep Kirk's epitaph straight, to the mystery of the missing country.
Here are Twenty Times Star Trek Made No Sense (And Fans Didn’t Care)
20 The R Stands For Tiberius
It took a single episode for Star Trek: The Original Series to make a mistake.
"Where No Man Has Gone Before" is the first official episode of Star Trek, though there was a pilot episode before this which were repurposed into a later episode. This episode was Captain Kirk's debut, where he battled Gary Mitchell, a former friend of his from Starfleet Academy, who had gained godlike powers. Gary Mitchell uses his powers to create a tombstone for Captain Kirk.
He screws up the name, however, and writes "James R. Kirk" instead of "James T. Kirk" which is his actual name.
Gene Roddenberry's official answer to this discrepancy was that Gary Mitchell had simply misremembered the name and Kirk was clearly too polite to correct him.
19 Fermat Fooled Picard
There have been instances when Star Trek has mistakes that cannot be blamed on the writers, due to events transpiring after an episode has aired that contradicts statements that they had written.
One of the biggest examples of a statement being contradicted in Star Trek happened in "The Royale" when Captain Picard discussed Fermat's last theorem. This is a real-life equation that was written by a French mathematician, named Pierre de Fermat, which had still not been solved when "The Royale" had been written. Picard talked about how he sometimes spent nights trying to solve the equation, which even the wonders of modern technology could not work out.
Fermat's last theorem would go on to be solved six years after "The Royale" was aired. This means that Picard spent years trying to solve an unfinished equation that had now been answered.
18 Data Cannot Use Contractions (Except When He Can)
Data and the other creations of Doctor Noonian Soong represent the closest that a scientist had ever come to creating an android that was indistinguishable from a human being. This is not to say that Data was a perfect replica of a human, as he lacked the ability to use contractions in sentences. This was something both Data and Lore commented on during the series.
Brent Spiner screwed up on a couple of occasions (mostly during the early episodes of the show's run) when it came to speaking in Data's unique speech pattern. This means that Data did actually use contractions in his sentences on a few, rare occasions. It seems as if these were missed during the edit of the show and the creators felt it wasn't worth expensive reshoots and hoped that the audience wouldn't notice.
17 Khan Remembers Things That Didn't Happen
Khan Noonien Singh was one of the last living human augments from the period of time before genetic engineering became illegal. He represents the peak of human ability and has an ego to match his skills.
It seems that Khan's memory leaves a lot to be desired, as he tells Chekov in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan that he never forgets a face. The problem with this is that the episode in which Khan appeared ("Space Seed") happened during the first season of Star Trek: The Original Series, while Chekov did not become a character on the show until the second season, when Khan was long gone.
The creators of Wrath of Khan have admitted that this is an inconsistency, which hasn't stopped the fans from coming up with theories about how Chekov could have met Khan in the past.
16 Troi's Pilot Powers
Telepathy is a rare ability in the Star Trek universe and is one seldom seen used by members of the main cast. The reason for this is due to the fact that functioning telepathy would make it much harder to write certain kinds of stories, as the ability to read minds makes it harder for characters to keep secrets.
The Vulcan mind meld was made dangerous in order to limit its use within the story and prevent characters like Spock from solving every problem.
Deanna Troi had her empathic abilities severely toned down after the pilot episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, likely for this very reason. Troi demonstrated the ability to communicate telepathically with Riker during "Encounter at Farpoint" which is an ability that she never used again.
15 The Trill Change
A member of the Trill species first appeared in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode called "The Host." The Trill would go on to become a major part of the story of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, due to Jadzia Dax (a joined Trill) being one of the main characters.
The Trill were portrayed very differently in "The Host" then how they would become in Deep Space Nine. One of the biggest examples of this was the fact that using the transporter would damage the symbiont, which stopped being an issue in Deep Space Nine as Jadzia and Ezri would teleport all of the time without any adverse effects. The Trill symbiont in "The Host" also tried to rekindle their romance with Beverly Crusher after being moved into a new body, even though it was later revealed that this was strictly forbidden in Trill society.
14 Pon Farrs For Everyone
The concept of the pon farr was introduced in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode called "Amok Time" where it was explained that Vulcan males would go through a period where they would lose control over their emotions. The Vulcan would have to mate, otherwise, they would succumb to the pon farr and perish.
"Amok Time" established that only Vulcan males had to endure the pon farr and that it happened every seven years, though Spock's human heritage meant that his took longer to begin.
Star Trek: Enterprise would later retcon years of continuity and establish that Vulcan females also endured the pon farr, though other pieces of non-canon Star Trek media (such as the comics) had also established this to be the case.
13 Voyager's Multiplying Missiles
The first episode of Star Trek: Voyager concluded with the titular ship being trapped in the Delta Quadrant. This meant that they were years away from the nearest Starfleet base.
One of the effects of being separated from a base meant that Voyager was unable to restock its supply of photon torpedoes, as they lacked the resources to create more. Voyager initially only had thirty-eight photon torpedoes at the start of the show, which slowly depleted over time.
It seems that the writers of Star Trek: Voyager stopped caring about the limited amount of photon torpedoes, as the ship fired over a hundred of them throughout the series, despite lacking the resources to create more than the initial thirty-eight.
12 Picard Doesn't Care About His Family
Captain Picard briefly visited his family in France after he was brought back from his assimilation by the Borg. We got to see Picard's brother, Robert, who chose to run the family vineyard. It was suggested that Robert's son, Rene, would follow in his uncle's footsteps and join Starfleet.
Rene would never get the chance, as both he and his father perished in a fire at the start of Star Trek Generations.
Captain Picard would enter a heavenly dimension, known as the Nexus, during the story of Generations. While in the Nexus, he had the ability to return to the real world at any point in time. He decided to go back a few hours and fight the villain of the movie, instead of going back a few days and warning his family about the house fire that was coming.
11 The Ever-Changing Rank Of Miles O'Brien
It seemed as if the writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation were always on the fence about making Miles O'Brien a main character on the show. He didn't really get his due until Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, where he became a member of the main cast and was the focus of several episodes.
The writers of The Next Generation could never seem to keep Miles O'Brien's rank straight, as he went through numerous different roles throughout his time on the show. O'Brien started out as an ensign and became a Transporter Chief with the Lieutenant rank within the space of a season. It would later be established that O'Brien was a Petty Officer and had never attended Starfleet Academy.
Miles O'Brien's rank would change continuously throughout The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, with numerous statements made by himself and other characters that contradict his official position and previous Starfleet career.
10 Data's Shapeshifting Cat
Brent Spiner has made his disdain for Spot the cat known on many occasions. He loves to complain about working with feline actors when appearing at Star Trek conventions, due to how difficult they were.
Star Trek fans who love continuity also hate Spot, due to the numerous changes the cat underwent throughout the show that was never explained.
Spot was originally a long-haired Somali cat during his first two appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Spot would be played by a short-haired orange tabby for the remainder of the show and the movies.
Spot was referred to as a male throughout most of his appearances. It wasn't until the seventh season of the show that Spot was revealed to be a female cat, who had been made pregnant by one of the other cats on the ship.
9 The Revolving Door Chief Engineer Policy
Scotty was the chief engineer aboard the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Original Series. The fact that Scotty was an engineer was one of the most memorable aspects of the character, so you would think that a lot of care would go into the creation of a similar character in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
You would be wrong. The Enterprise went through four different chief engineers throughout the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Sarah MacDougal was the first chief engineer on the show. She was replaced by Argyle, who would be replaced by Logan, who would go on to be replaced by Leland T. Lynch. There must be a huge turnover rate on the engineering staff in Starfleet.
8 The Convenient Shipyard Next To Kirk's House
The ships that are created by Starfleet are generally built in outer space. Starfleet has several space stations that are spread throughout the Federation's territory that exist for the sole purpose of building ships. We see several examples of this throughout Star Trek, especially during the Dominion War, as they became prime targets for the Jem'Hadar.
There is a scene in Star Trek (2009) where a young Captain Kirk witnesses the Enterprise being built, which just so happens to be near his house. This Enterprise is being built on the ground, even though that makes the production of the ship much harder, and with no regard to the safety of nearby settlements, due to the incredibly dangerous elements that go into creating a functional warp core.
7 Spock's Retconned Ancestors
Humans and Vulcans might look similar, but there are a lot of biological differences that should make breeding between the species impossible. One of the biggest reasons is the fact that Vulcan's have copper-based blood, which is why it is green.
The difficulties with human/Vulcan breeding were addressed in Star Trek: Enterprise. It turns out that Spock was one of the first successful hybrids between the two species, which explains why he didn't know when his pon farr would begin.
"Where No Man Has Gone Before" hadn't quite ironed out the details of Spock's family tree, as he claims that his human blood comes from an ancestor. This was retconned shortly after when it was revealed that Spock's mother was human.
6 Chekov's Changing Birth Certificate
The Star Trek reboot movie showed us an alternate timeline that was created when Nero traveled back to the past and ended Kirk's father. This led to a series of events that united the Enterprise crew at a much earlier point in time, which gave us a glimpse at a younger version of the crew.
It seems that the creators skewed a little too young with the new version of Chekov, as he was four years younger than his original counterpart.
The Pavel Chekov of Star Trek: The Original Series was established as being born in 2245, while his new counterpart was born in 2241. No attempt was made to explain how Chekov's parents were able to birth the exact same person a few years earlier than planned.
5 Vulcan Has No Moons... Except When It Does
The Star Trek: The Original Series episode called "The Man Trap" includes a line where Spock tells Uhura that the planet Vulcan has no moon. This was a piece of information that would be in the thorn in the side of several different Star Trek artists and writers over the years.
The original theatrical edit of Star Trek: The Motion Picture included a matte painting background that showed two moons in the sky above Vulcan. This image was later changed for the home releases of the film.
Star Trek (2009) also featured a scene where Spock witnesses the destruction of the planet Vulcan from a planet called Delta Vega, which is so close that it may as well have been a moon.
4 The Age Of The Enterprise
The futuristic materials in Star Trek allow ships to remain on duty for a long time before they need to be scrapped. The numerous Enterprises usually don't have this luxury, as they have a tendency to be blown up in the Star Trek movies. A lot of the ships we have seen throughout the series tend to be the cutting edge ones, rather than the rusty old buckets that are waiting to be scuttled.
It is due to these reasons that Admiral Morrow makes a mistake in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Morrow claims that the Enterprise is twenty-years-old at the time, which is incorrect, as it is either thirty-years-old or fifteen, depending on whether the ship in question is the refitted version or not.
3 Back In The U.S.S.R.
"The Naked Now" is often regarded as being one of the worst episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The idea of an alien substance making everyone act as if they were drunk was a good one, but it was used far too early during the show's run in order to be effective, as we hadn't spent enough time with the characters for alternate versions of them to be interesting.
The Enterprise encounters a ship called the Tsiolkovsky in this episode which has a plaque that states that it was built in the USSR. The Soviet Union would be dissolved four years after this episode was aired, so the Tsiolkovsky no longer makes sense, unless the USSR is reformed at some point.
2 Tuvok's Incorrect Insignia
Miles O'Brien wasn't the only Star Trek cast member to have problems with their rank throughout the show, as Tuvok was wearing the wrong insignia in several episodes of Star Trek: Voyager.
Tuvok was one of Captain Janeway's most loyal and skilled officers. He was a one of the key personnel on the ship and was responsible for saving the lives of several crew members throughout Voyager's journey home.
It seems that Tuvok wasn't as popular as he might have thought, as no one bothered to tell him that he was wearing the insignia of a lieutenant commander when he was actually a lieutenant the whole time. This was fixed in "Cathexis" and he was given the correct insignia for the remainder of the show.
1 No New Zealand
There is a dark period of time in the history of Star Trek before the arrival of the Vulcans when mankind engaged in pointless wars that dragged on for years. There is no mention of global warming during this period, which suggests that Earth managed to avoid long-term environmental damage.
The only indication that global warming took place can be found during the scene in Star Trek: First Contact when Captain Picard shows Lily what the Earth looks like from above. This CGI version of Earth happens to be missing New Zealand, which presumably sank when the polar ice caps melted.
It's either that or the special effects crew just forgot that the whole country of New Zealand existed and left it off the globe.