Star Trek:TNG "Sub Rosa" - Ripoff of Anne Rice or original as claimed?

This is probably only going to be one that fans of either Rice or Star Trek are going to bother reading, but it’s something I’ve thought of on and off for years now.

The TNG episode “Sub Rosa” has Beverly Crusher inheriting an heirloom candle from her grandmother upon her death. The candle houses a “spirit” (really an “anaphasic alien lifeform”) who has appeared to almost all of the Howard (Bev’s maiden name) women for generations, mentoring them and acting as a lover. Crusher finds all of this out from her grandmother’s journal and tries to figure out what’s going on, while simultaneously being stimulated (so to speak) by this being (“Ronin”). Eventually, Crusher destroys the candle and escapes the being’s influence, returning to the Enterprise.

I don’t really remember all the details, but I know I was struck by the similarities to Anne Rice’s first Mayfair novel, “The Witching Hour”. Multiple generations of women under the spell of a spirit being, keeping the same last name despite marriage (and we’ve seen that our current tradition of changing the name to the husband’s is still prevalent in the 24th century in humans, at least), the family’s (and spirit’s) origins in the Scottish highlands, the fact that the spirit can control weather, the fact that the last heir to inherit the candle and spirit is a doctor, the spirit materializing flowers for the Howard women, the “merging” with the women (though in the book it’s the doctor’s fetus he merges with)…the list is long.

The official word on the episode is that was, in no way, inspired by “The Witching Hour”. Which is laughable, but that wall is stone. It’s one of the minor controversies of TNG and has been around since the episode aired.

So, fellow fans of Rice and/or Trek, what’s your consensus on this debate?

I’m certainly not a fan of Rice, but as a dedicated Trekkie I’ll admit that the franchise has been less than scrupulous at times. And by “at times”, I mean, “for the entire run of Deep Space Nine, which was almost certainly ripped off from Babylon Five.”

So, given the parellels you’ve described, it seems likely that either:

  1. This episde did, indeed, rip off the Rice novel, or;
    2.) Both the Rice novel and the Trek episode were adaptations of a similar, earlier story with a similar plot. Was there anything like that?

Not to my knowledge. As far as I know, the entire Mayfair Witches trilogy was original. It was BASED on common European/southern gothic legend, but the details are all original, and it’s the details that are so similar.

I don’t know the answer to the question, but I noticed that Crusher’s maiden name is Howard. I wonder if that was a nod to Heinlein and his long lived Howard families?

I always thought the Star Trek episode was a rip-off of Witching Hour. Another point…does anyone know if Beverly’s maiden name of Howard is ever mentioned before this episode? Since Anne Rice’s birth name is Howard, the Star Trek writers may have been referencing their source in a sly kinda way.

Reading this thread prompted me to surf on over to The Agony Booth. At the end of the review – which is definitely worth a look – it noted that there’s a somewhat fishy credit buried at the end that apparently was not there the first time the episode aired. So Anne Rice may very well have sued over the similarities.

Man, beat me by a couple hours. The first time I’d heard of the novel was when I read that review.

Still I can provide the link you forgot.

cite? According to IMDB records DS9 was over a year before B5.Abd I think it had its plot arc planned out from the start.

Paramount had his series bible.

Really if you look at DS9 it was nothing like any of the trek before it and it makes a lot more sense if you see it as inspired by the plot outline of Babylon 5 not as an outgrowth of Trek.

People who say this kinda thing like to yammer about “but but but they both take place on space stations! And they both have commanding officers who like baseball! And they’re both about wars! In space!”

But aside from that, they’re pretty dissimilar. It’s like complaining that Band of Brothers is a ripoff of Hogna’s Heroes because they’re both about American soldiers fighting Zee Germans.

Many people, when this topic comes up, will point out that DS9 aired earlier.

I wonder, if they care enough to get their air dates right, why they don’t care enough to look just a tad deeper and learn that that JMS(the creator of Babylon 5) pitched the Bab 5 concept to paramount a few years before they came up with DS9.

There are quite a few similarities between the show in setting, in tone, and in plot even so far as the captain of the station becoming a great spiritual leader.

Considering paramount had b5 pitched to them before writing DS9, and the vast similarities, only a fool would be familiar with the history of the shows and doubt JMS’s ideas had some influence for which he never received credit.

Captain becoming spiritual leader? Check.
One race recently liberated from faded empire? Check.
Leader named Dukat? Check.
Female first officer? Check.
Minority doctor? Check.

Powerful “outside” race trying to foment wars to increase their power? Check.
Dominion vs. Shadows.

I’m sure with some time I could come up with more, these are just the surface similarities.

Clearly, I agree with your conclusion, but I think your reaching on the doctor point. I assume you refer to Bashir’s being a genengineered freak, but I always had the impression that was an idea they cooked up midway through the series.

Also, black people are not genetically engineered.

As for Franklin, while the doctor was black, I don’t recall anything in the series which implied to me that role was written specifically to be a minority character. Perhaps the best man for the role just simply happened to be black. Or, they simply wanted a black actor somewhere and the man going for Franklin was the best candidate.

Let’s continue this interesting hijack in a new thread.

Back to discussing Sub Rosa/ Anne Rice.

Does it really have to be one or the other? It could be an homage, or they both could be based on an earlier story, or they could both use common tropes of the genre.

FWIW Memory Alpha says it’s an homage to The Innocents and other Gothic Horror conventions.

Dr. Bashir (or at least his portrayer Siddig El Fadil, who changed his name midway through the series to Alexander Siddig) is of Arabic descent.
The episode in question is one of the very few eps. of TNG that I’ve never seen. (But because of its’ reputation, I haven’t tried to hard.) But because TNG has eps. that are blatant ripoffs of Otto Preminger’s Laura (Aquiel) and Kurosawa’s Rashomon (“A Matter of Perspective”), and that the Borg are suspiciously similar to the old “Doctor Who” monsters the Cybermen (right down to the same catch phrase “Resistance is futile”), I’d hedge a bet that the Crusher episode is an Anne Rice knockoff.

Sid’s specifically Sudanese by birth. (Half-Sudanese by decent - his mother’s English.)

Bashir’s ethnicity is unclear, even to the creators. The majority of his characterization came after casting - his ethnicity never specifically nailed down, even after Sid was cast.

From Memory Alpha:

The Star Trekverse rips off a lot of people.

Like the DS9 episode where Miles O’Brian finds out he’s the robot.

That’s just a ripp off of that short sci-fi story. They eventually made it a movie around '00 or so.

Jeez! I wish I could remember the name of the movie.

Um … the plot gimmick is older than either Trek or Rice. (Hmmm, “The Years of Rice and Trek” would make a good sotry title… ;))

To wit:

[quote=“jayjay, post:1, topic:528779”]

This is probably only going to be one that fans of either Rice or Star Trek are going to bother reading, but it’s something I’ve thought of on and off for years now.

The TNG episode “Sub Rosa” has Beverly Crusher inheriting an heirloom candle from her grandmother upon her death. The candle houses a “spirit” (really an “anaphasic alien lifeform”)

I know why the spirit survived for so long. He (it?) was played by Duncan Regehr. Very handsome man who very easily could have persuaded any number of women to do anything he wanted. Check out the “Last Days of Pompeii” miniseries from the mid-80’s and you’ll see what a stud he was.:smiley: