Star Trek has been around now since 1966, and has gone from meager television show to a global phenomenon that spans all known forms of media. A science fiction franchise that has been around for more than 50 years and has touched millions around the world, is bound at some point to be attached to misinformation. This was especially something easy to fall into before the internet was available to the public. Some of this misinformation from incorrectly remembered dialogue, or assumptions made by those who might have heard of the show and know its cliches, but haven’t watched it. Other issues arise due to the simple fact that the franchise has been guided by so many different visions over time, that maintaining consistency and clarity across all of the iterations is difficult. The many voices trying to express themselves in the Trek canon makes quite a task for even hardcore fans to keep up with.
This one article may not be able to magically fix all these snags, but it will give an added perspective on the most common misconceptions and nitpicks involved with Star Trek. Join me for a journey into the Final Frontier as we examine twenty-five things that most everyone at some point or another tends to get wrong about Star Trek.
23 Wrong: It's The Same As Star Wars
This should seem obvious on the face of it. However, many of those who are ignorant of science fiction, and who tend to lump all of its representatives into one amorphous whole, mix up Star Wars and Star Trek as if the two are interchangeable. Though the newer Trek movies have taken on a more action-heavy, Star Wars feel, the Trek franchise fans grew up with over preceding decades is a character-driven exploration of science and the human condition, not a space fantasy retelling of the Hero's Journey.
22 Wrong: Vulcans Don't Have Feelings
Starting with the legendary Mr. Spock, the Vulcan race in Star Trek is often regarded as being emotionless, completely dedicated to logic. However, Vulcans feel as strongly as any other alien race, if not more, and their pursuit of logic and peace is part of the discipline that keeps these powerful emotions in check. Spock had it even tougher than his kin, being born of a human mother and a Vulcan father, always torn between the two cultures and ways of thinking.
21 "Beam Me Up, Scotty" Isn't The Line
Although Captain Kirk and crew uttered multiple variations of a request for beamout, the exact phrase "beam me up, Scotty" was not uttered in Star Trek: The Original Series. The closest we get is in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, where Kirk flips the line into "Scotty, beam me up." This is an example of the Mandela Effect, where a misremembered line or moment works its way into the collective subconscious of fans and becomes as seemingly valid as reality.
20 Wrong: Kirk Was Wildly Promiscuous
True, Captain Kirk had more than his fair share of kisses with a variety of women across the galaxy. At times it seems as though he is always running into or recalling an old flame. But most of these encounters we saw came about because of Kirk's duty, and him using every resource available to accomplish his mission; he felt it worthwhile to protect his crew or a world in return for flirting or sharing a moment of passion. He also did have restraint, resisting the allure of an Orion woman, the most alluring species in the Star Trek galaxy.
19 Wrong: The Federation Is Perfect
The Original Series did depict some Starfleet officers going off the deep end (like Captain Tracy in "The Omega Glory"), and by the time we get to Deep Space Nine, we find out about Section 31, a secret branch of the Federation that commits immoral acts for the sake of the supposed greater good. There was also blatant racism going on in Kirk's time, such as that against the Klingons in Star Trek VI. What's important to note is how our heroes face these imperfections and learn to rise above them.
18 Wrong: Warp Drive Violates Relativity
While we lack the technology or exotic matter necessary at this time to make something like an Alcubierre warp drive practical, the principle of warp drive doesn't violate Einstein's general theory of relativity. Worth noting as well is that by at least 1975, a Star Trek Technical Manual outlined the general concept of how warp drive could work, years before Alcubierre conducted research on the subject.
17 Wrong: All Aliens Speak English
It is convenient for television that all characters end up speaking a language the audience can understand. It may not be explained satisfactorily in much of Star Trek's run, but it does at least acknowledge that the Universal Translator is what makes communication with all these new life forms and new civilizations possible. So no, don't think that English just magically happened to permeat the galaxy.
16 Wrong: Janeway Was Our First Female Captain
Not to take anything away from Kate Mulgrew as Captain Janeway being the first full-time female lead in Star Trek, but she is not the first female captain of a Federation starship we get to see onscreen. That honor goes to Madge Sinclair, who played the Captain of the USS Saratoga in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Again, it's easy enough not to remember without the internet, but now we can look stuff — so don't assume.
15 Wrong: The Enterprise Is The Only Ship In The Quadrant
In some Star Trek stories, the writers do fall back on the convenient ploy of our heroes' ship being the only one available to stop whatever bad thing is coming. The various incarnations of the Enterprise, however, are merely part of one massive fleet, and only showcase a fraction of the diverse potential of characters and stories as yet untapped in the Star Trek universe. It's an easy to overlook concept, but does keep the franchise in perspective.
14 Wrong: There Is No Religion In Star Trek
There was certainly a push toward atheism or at least agnosticism through a large portion of Star Trek's run. Deep Space Nine delved deeper into the Bajoran mythos, exploring a concept that had largely been overlooked, saved for a scant few episodes, in the previous series. There are other traces though, of people in the Trek universe being allowed to hold onto their own beliefs. There is the Chapel on the Enterprise in The Original Series, and Chakotay is free to explore his peoples' spiritual heritage while on the USS Voyager.
13 Wrong: They Can't Make Up Their Mind With Their Uniforms
It is true that almost every iteration of Trek seems to feature a different uniform, but is also true that the U.S. Army makes changes to its uniform as successive generations pass. It stands to reason that with so many species making up the Federation, and with accommodations being made for new species that join over time, that uniform needs and styles will be modified with some frequency.
12 Wrong: Star Trek Fans Are All Nerds
To be fair, there are probably fans of almost anything conceivable that fit the stereotype of comic book nerd, like the Comic Book Guy in The Simpsons. But Star Trek's influence is diverse and far-reaching. In fact, it's so far reaching that Gerald Ford was the one to authorize NASA to rename the first Western space shuttle Enterprise, after a massive, passionate fan campaign. It's a massive show that encouraged a lot of people thing to think about space.
11 Star Trek Was Progressive But Still Flawed
It can't be denied that The Original Series was frequently still backward in how it depicted women, and it would take years and successive series for the franchise to make up ground here. Gene Roddenberry did try to do better from the outset, with Majel Barrett depicting Number One, first officer of the Enterprise in Trek's first pilot. In that episode, women were wearing pants, not skirts. Unfortunately, Roddenberry was forced by the studio to keep either Mr. Spock or Number One, not both.
10 Wrong: All Of The Odd-Numbered Movies Are Bad
Favorite movies and shows are of course a subjective matter, but there is a cliche that every odd-numbered Trek movie should be avoided. The even-numbered movies do tend to be stronger films and resonate with more fans, however, the tenth movie, Star Trek: Nemesis, failed to be a success financially and critically, helping lead Trek to go on hiatus. (If you skipped it because of this notion, don't miss out on the excellent film!)
9 Wrong: Everyone Looks Human
This seems like a fair criticism of the series, but at least there are attempts at explanations, even if they aren't the strongest. Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Development was an early fictional attempt to explain why the Enterprise kept encountering Earth-like planets, and The Next Generation episode "The Chase" introduced a progenitor race that seeded a multitude of worlds in the Milky Way with their DNA.
8 Wrong: Faster Than Light Travel Should Turn Everyone Into Mush
Since warp drive effects on the show make it look like the ships are flying around like mad, it's a fair criticism to point out what would happen to unprotected humans inside. Aside from the special effects not being a fair indicator of what warp drive might actually look like, Trek writers did eventually catch on to introducing inertial dampeners, which mitigate the harmful effects of the warp and impulse drives on starships.
7 Star Trek Wasn't Serialized Until Discovery
Some discussions and articles about Star Trek: Discovery have correctly pointed out that despite the press around Discovery, Deep Space Nine was also a serialized production, especially at the end of its run. However, even The Next Generation succeeded at having ongoing arcs for some of its conflicts and characters, events that would not make sense to a viewer who had not followed along the whole time. Even The Original Series managed to include self-references to past episodes in its run to aid the feeling of continuity.
6 Wrong: There Is No Money
Captains Kirk and Picard have both stated that there is no money in their time, yet Kirk himself also mentioned to Scotty once that he'd "earned his pay for the week." Even if future Earth is moneyless, the characters surely need some currency with which to trade for goods with other races. The Ferengi also have gold-pressed latinum. The safe thing to state is that Picard and Kirk weren't right to say that there is no money, but rather that money no longer being the main motivation for humans in the future, is what is true.
5 Wrong: Gene Roddenberry Was The Reason The Show Succeeded
Roddenberry may have been the visionary behind the show, but Gene L. Coon also deserves a huge amount of credit for making Star Trek a success, not to mention a team of other talented writers, designers, artists, and the actors themselves. The fans also made invaluable contributions, saving the show from an earlier cancellation. The fans also made it possible for Trek's eventual revival in the late 1970s.
4 Picard Played By The Rules More Than Kirk (Maybe Not)
Picard may have been a calmer, more diplomatic Captain of the Enterprise, but his collected demeanor did not mean he wasn't willing to defy what was expected of him by the letter of the law. He took this to a new extreme when he defied the orders of a Starfleet Admiral in Insurrection. Picard just wasn't as brazen in his use of this kind of tactic — and it's part of what made him such a strong captain.
3 The Next Generation Was The First Sequel Series
Though super fans from the 70s would know better, many still incorrectly attribute The Next Generation as the first sequel to The Original Series. This honor goes to The Animated Series, which, while not entirely considered canon, was the first return of Star Trek since its official cancellation. Of course, true fans definitely remember this classic — and it has an art style that is still attention-grabbing today.
2 Wrong: Khan Couldn’t Have Known Chekov
Though it seems jarring that Khan knows Chekov, when the latter did not appear onscreen in the first season of Trek, the two could still have encountered each other. There are over four hundred crew members on the Enterprise, and it stands to reason that Chekov might have working the lower decks before getting a chance to prove himself on the bridge. It might be a bit farfetched, but it does make sense (and accounts for another piece of misinformation that circulates the community).
1 Wrong: Kirk Always Gets Into A Fight
Kirk certainly trades blows more often than Picard, but he does opt for a peaceful resolution at times where many of us would be tempted to employ a more aggressive strategy. He spares the Gorn captain and Mirror Chekov despite being urged on by outside forces, and pleads for Charlie Evans even after the kid wreaked havoc on the crew. He may have predelections for more intense measures, but he definitely doesn't "always get into fights."