Star Trek: Most annoying contradictions

Since ENTERPRISE is starting in a few weeks and will undoubtedly bring us a whole heapin’ mess a’ contradictions
I thought this would be a fine time to list the contradictions between Star Trek stories we find most annoying.

I will start with what I consider the granddaddy of them all: the incredible mutating Klingon head. Or, as Worf says in “Trials and Tribble-ations:” “We do not like to talk about it.”

Other nominations?

It’s not necessarily a contradiction. In TOS we only see swarthy smooth-headed Klingons, but there’s nothing which precludes there from being a subspecies of Klingon with the turtles (as Michael Dorn calls the ridges). There is a lapse of several years between the end of TOS and the first movie. There could have been a political upheaval which pushed the smooth-heads out of power in favor of the turtles. The ridges could be a function of aging or genetic mutation, or even a body modification fashion statement. Or some combination of the above.

There was an old (mid eightys)Star Trek RPG, coming out at the time that the movies first introduced the ridged head Klingons. IIRC the “explanation” given was that the funky headed fellows were the “true” Klingons and the ones featured in the original series were “genetic fusions.”

Ya see,…where star fleet forged alliances with other races and worked closely with them the Klingons sought only to conquer and exploit, therefore they couldn’t rely on the subject races to add to their forces. This eventualy would have let star fleet overwhelm the Klingons by sheer dint of numbers. So the Klingons adopted a policy of creating a corp of “genetic janissaries,” half breads privileged above the ranks of their parent (subject)race, to serve them. So all the “Klingons” in the original series were in “fact,” mixed race.

Be that as it may, the contradiction that bothers me the most is that most of trek prior to the death of Rodenbery was quite good, the vast majority since his passing has sucked rocks.

The Klingon mutation is a problem. In DS9’s “Blood Oath”, three Original Series smooth-headed Klingons came out of retirement but this time they had the turtle-heads, so the “different breed” hypothesis doesn’t wash. They didn’t get the ridges to disguise themselves as turtleheads either; they were well respected and their accomplishments as smooth-headed Klingons had become legendary.

It would be really interesting if the new series made an explanation to the Klingon mutation a central point, but chances are they’ll just ignore the problem.

Here’s my contribution to the thread: The Chase(TNG) and The Paradise Syndrome(TOS) give contradictory explanations to the reason why humanoid life is spread throughout the galaxy.

The most annoying contradictions for me…

  1. The maximum range of a phaser blast is supposed to be well over 100,000 kilometers… yet there’re only a handful of instances when this range is actually used. In Voyager, they NEVER fire at this sort of range, even when it would be intelligent for them to do so. Additionally, they often state ships as “coming into weapons range” when the targetted ship is in visual range.

  2. Strength of the vessels: Sometimes one of the starships can withstand being smashed between two planets while being hurled through a supernova… other times, the damn things explode when someone on board farts too loudly.

Little internal contradiction that bugged the crap out of me:

In STTNG, there was this episode where LaForge and Roe (sp?) get “phased.” In other words, they become little more than ghosts (along with a few Romulans). They are incapable of touching anything, and they phase right through walls.

One little problem with this type of scenario: How the bloody hell can they walk on floors? Were the soles of their feet left solid? If so, wouldn’t they start kicking people around until someone noticed that something was odd on the ship?

To add insult to injury, there is this scene where Ro/Roe/Whatever takes the turbolift, and lets out the oh-so-cheesy “thanks for the ride” line to the other person who presumably can’t hear her. How the hell can a ghost who can’t touch anything take a turbolift? And why the hell would they even need one?
Similar annoyance with DS9:

The pilot episode. Sisco (damn, I really can’t remember how to spell their names) gets to meet the lifeforms who inhabit the worm hole. These lifeforms exist outside of time. Temporal laws do not affect them. Fair enough. So, Sisco is lamely being taken to different moments in his life as he discusses with those creatures. However, the discussion turns out to follow temporal laws. Questions are asked, answers are given, etc. Wouldn’t this form of communication be impossible for non-temporal creatures?

Anyway. There are many more such things, but those two always bugged the hell outta me.

One of the ones that bothers me is when someone on the bridge says somehing like “the ship is is visual range now sir” so the Captain says “display”, and then “magnigy”.

And suddenly you can see the Borg cube filling up the screen.

So what exactly is visual range?
But the one that really bothers me is when someone says “Sir, they are firing on us” and then waits for the Captain to say “shields to maximum”. I mean what sort of eejits are they, not to put the sheilds up first and then tell the Captain.

And don’t get me started on the inertial dampers.

I always got annoyed with Odo. The whole Changeling thing, in fact. For instance:-

  1. They don’t just change size, they change mass. Very early DS9 episode, Odo changes into a drinking glass, Rom picks up tray, doesn’t notice anything peculiar like one of the glasses weighs 60-70 kilos. Later, in the same episode, character carrying Odo (in humanoid form) remarks “You’re heavier than you look”. Call me Mr. Picky, but I don’t like to see the principle of conservation of mass/energy violated quite that blatantly.

  2. Odo can’t do noses. But he can do much more complex structures (like, feathers on flying birds) with no trouble at all. In fact, the “morphing” shots consistently show his com badge forming out of his body along with the rest of the uniform. So, he can do functioning 24th-century electronics… but not noses.

  3. Why do the shapeshifters, in their “natural” forms, all look like Odo, when his appearance is based on that of his Bajoran mentor, complicated by the fact that he can’t do noses? Is he the Great link’s fashion trendsetter or something?

  4. Star Fleet can’t spot shapeshifters? WTF??? Okay, so they can change themselves into functional replicas of any organism or object… but this ability depends on a unique cellular (or maybe sub-cellular, I forget the exact technobabble) structure, which is well-known to Bajoran, Cardassian and Federation scientists, all of whom have studied Odo in depth. It seems to me that it would be child’s play to set tricorders or other sensors to pick up this structure, which would make Dominion infiltrators as easy to spot as a man with three heads. “Ah,” you say, “but when they change into something, the shapeshifters mimic it exactly, right down to its molecular composition.” Fine, I say. Then how do they change back?

RE Klingons:

John Ordover (editor of the Star Trek novel series) came up with the best explanation for why TOS didn’t show ridges. Television in the 1960s wasn’t technically advanced enough for them to register on the image.

Remember, ST:TOS wasn’t concerned with foolish consistencies, so pointing them out is meaningless.

Why do they have the incredible technology to beam themselves down to a planet but can’t figure out how to set up visual (instead of just aural) communication with the away team?

I nominate the revision of Borg backstory perpetrated in ST:Voyager’s “Dark Frontier.” (I’ve voiced this nitpick in another thread, so I’ll be brief.) That episode posits that Seven’s parents embarked on a research project to study the Borg, a la Dianne Fossey or Jane Goodall among the apes. This happened years before the ST:TNG episode “Q Who?” in which Q introduces humanity to the Borg ostensibly years ahead of schedule.

Oh, and the idea that the Voyager 6 probe fell into a black hole and emerged as V’ger in ST:TMP. I can accept the idea of an extended series of Voyager probes. The problem I have is that these spacecraft won’t leave our solar system (where there are no black holes, BTW) for several thousand years.

Humans became aware of the Borg in First Contact; history was changed.

They’ve since decided to simply ignore the different kinds of Klingons.


You’re wrong, NBC Affiliate breath!

All Klingons have two heads; smooth and turtle. They keep the one they are not wearing in a pickle jar. At some point in time they decided that the turtle heads were quite spiffy and began wearing them exclusively.
Lest it become beknownst to us that the Klingons are Fashinon Hounds and they lose their Tough Guy image, they “do not speak of it”.


My big beef is the inconsistency of the Trill.

In STTNG’s “The Host,” Ambassador Odan is very, very different from STDS9’s Dax.

Odan seems to have only one name; DS9 Trill are named for both host and symbiote.

TNG’s Trill hosts appear to provide no intelligence or personality to the synthesis at all; DS9’s Trill are a true synthesis of personalities.

TNG’s Trill can’t be beamed about; Dax never seemed to have much problem with it.

Odan had to do some kind of procedure with a light beam on the area of his body where the symbiote “lived”; Dax never seems to do such a thing.

TNG Trill don’t appear to have a problem with re-association of people in their former lives (first the original Odan host, then Riker/Odan, then the female Odan seem to be interested in pursuing something with Bev); DS9 Trill have a custom (with the apparent force of law) that re-association is forbidden.

Odan had a forehead ridge of sorts. Dax has spots. This may be an individual thing, but Ezri also had spots, which seems to indicate a species trait.


IIRC there have been both riged and spotted Trills in DS9, I am thinking specificly of the last season episode when Ezri and O’Brien travel to Ezris’ home.

Regarding Ridges, It is just a question of sophisication of makeup, the TNG Kligons were madeup as the origional ones should have been (I will try to find a cite). Although of course in the DS9 Episod Trials and Tribbleations we (and the DS9 crew) see smoothies and Worf amkes a comment). Ignoreing the episode trials and tribulations (I expect Dr. Bashir would have learnt about the smoothies at the academy anyway) and assume that klingons have allways had ridges it makes scence.

Rick Berman has said that the Enterprises’ Klingons will have ridges (I think one ca be seen in the trailer).

Visula communication was used once on a TNG episode, I don’t know why it was not used more often.

Visual range is when the ship can be seen by the visual sensors. I belive the viewscreen is usually set to 0x magnification so the cube may not be visible (to those looking at the screen) until the magnification is applied.

Still leaves lots of contridictions though.

I can’t help trying to explain away inconsistencies (to myself). About the ridges, the only one that sort of makes sense to me was that at some point before TOS, Q or a Q-type lifeform visits the Klingons and for reason X changes the species to human-style heads. At some point after TOS, they are changed back. I’d like to think Q messed with the Klingons the way he messed with Picard. Maybe he wanted to teach them some humility or something. Anyway, that would explain why Worf doesn’t want to talk about it.

As for other inconsistencies, I believe at some point in TOS they get the Enterprise to Warp 11+. In Voyager, it is a big deal when they break the “barrier” of Warp 10.

Other things that bother me:

  1. Worf’s skin color gets darker

  2. In Best of Both Worlds, the Borg completely remove a base on a planet. It appears to have been either vaporized or lifted from the surface of the planet. Are they consumers or do they want to integrate us into the collective?

  3. In one of the first TNGs, Picard beams himself out into space, and they recover him by copying his pattern from the transporter. That means Picard was a clone!

I’ve often wondered why, because this seems to be possible in Star Trek, all the characters aren’t effectively immortal.

Prime Directive? Hah! Starfleet goes on and on about the Prime Directive, but whenever a member of the cast…um…crew gets into a life threatening situation (e.g. “Justice” where Wesley (boo, hiss) violates a local law and is sentenced to death) the captain will risk his career, his life, the lives of the crew, etc, to save them. Usually with the argument that whatever law was broken, was unjust and unfair. If Starfleet did indeed honor the Prime Directive, half the episodes would end up like a galactic Midnight Express.

Including the shower scene? Let’s see…Riker and Data… :eek: :stuck_out_tongue: