Star Trek Discovery (2017)


Now that you mention it, I do remember them saying that in DS9.

I do wonder though if the concept that Starfleet was civilian not military is something they retrofitted into the canon in the TNG era (with their Galaxy cruisers complete with families on board) that was not originally meant to be in the TOS show.

In TOS the Enterprise was a Heavy Cruiser, which kind of sounds like a warship. In addition to the Heavy Cruisers, TOS Starfleet also had Dreadnoughts. We don’t actually see any but they are mentioned in several of the original TOS movies they also showed up in their triple-nacelle glory in the Starfleet Technical Manual.

Also consider the names of the TNG Galaxy-class Cruisers vs. their TOS counterparts.

Galaxy-class Cruisers: Challenger, Enterprise, Galaxy, Odyssey, Venture, Yamato also mentioned Gandhi, Madison, Magellan. With the exception of Yamato (which was explicitly named after the IJN Yamato) these are all great exploration ship names.

DC Fontana writer for TOS and Roddenberry’s secretary suggested using “famous fighting ships of the past” for ship names and that’s what happened. TOS Constituition-class Cruisers include USS Hood (named after British battlecruiser named after British Admiral), USS Lexington (named after US Aircraft Carriers which were named after a famous battle), USS Potemkin (the name of a Russian Battleship named after a Russian military leader), USS Constellation (could be a decent exploration ship name, but in this case named for famous US warship), USS Defiant (a fine warship name, but a rather poor name for a science ship named after British warship HMS Defiant), USS Exeter (named after British warship HMS Exeter). I did find two Constitution-class Cruisers not named for warships — USS Korolev (named for a Russian Scientist) and USS Ahwahnee (named for a Native American Indian tribe).

I do see how having Starfleet non-military does fit into a Roddenberry view of our future. But having grown up with episodes like Balance of Terror where Kirk goes toe-to-toe with the Romulans with a plot taken directly from a WW2 movie “The Enemy Below” along with a half-dozen episodes of steely-eyed Kirk facing off against the Klingons, Starfleet always felt like the Navy. In retrospect though, I suppose these are less than 1/4 of the TOS episodes, although they are some of my favorites.

Perhaps a better fit would be the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard personnel are under military discipline, but their purpose isn’t primarily military, even though they will serve in that capacity when needed.


If you’re talking TOS, I think it’s hard to ignore the intro: “Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

It’s an exploratory fleet, even in the TOS. It follows a uniformed order with ranks and such, but offensive operations aren’t it’s main role. I think that’s somewhat akin to the US Army Corps of Engineers in that there is a focus that is clearly non-offensive, though it can, at times, play a role in offensive operations.

One could argue that the Federation and the Borg aren’t all that different: both seek to grow and advance through assimilation. The Borg do it by force whereas the Federation does it through Starfleet and its Diplomatic Corps. Mormons, too, when you think about it.

On that last point, the LDS church should consider advancing their reach through the power of mass media. Imagine the hit show, “Mormons in Space!”


Good point @Stepsongrapes.


From Gene Roddenberry in the guide he wrote to for other episode writers in TNG:

Starfleet is not a military organisation. It is a scientific research and diplomatic body.

Although the duties of the Enterprise may include some military responsibilities, the primary purpose of the Enterprise — as with all Starfleet vessels is to expand the body of human knowledge.

In practice this means that our armaments and militarism have been de-emphasized over the previous series and very much de-emphasized over the movies. We will not see saluting. We may hear the word “sir”, but it is extended as the same kind of courtesy used by junior and senior officers on civilian airliners. It is traditional, however, to use ship’s ranks on the bridge, an acknowledgment of the naval heritage of Starfleet.


This reads like Roddenberry is trying to have it both ways. I get that Starfleet is not a military organization, but all its officers have military training and are prepared to go to battle if the need arises.


From a stackexchange answer on the question:

By today’s standards, it is neither military or civilian.

The closest (poor) analog I could muster is the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which does conduct law enforcement operations (meaning they are armed) for limited purposes but NOAA’s primary mission is scientific.


Oh man, I just had an awesome image of NOAA scientists getting in running battles with pirates and giant squid. You guys go on ahead, I’m going to daydream a while.


I would watch the fuck out of your movie.


Nice @Quaro! Is Roddenberry’s guide for writers up online somewhere?


I think that’s pretty close to the point the Klingons in DSC episode 1&2 are making. If they don’t fight the Federation they will ultimately be assimilated into the Federation’s collective losing their distinctive Klingon-ness.


I skimmed through it, interesting that Data was originally supposed to be created by a mysterious alien race that we never found out about.


“Captain, the giant squid is about to breach our hull! We have to fire the harpoon!”
“No, captain, it’s an endangered species! It’s angry because a Japanese fishing vessel killed it’s mate. It really just wants to love!”


“We must give it love! Ensign, into the water.”


Super obvious in retrospect, but the premise for these series was born out of this TOS scene:


The main character is not making a whole lot of sense to me. She’s supposed to have the discipline of a Vulcan, but when total war breaks out she doesn’t want to be a cog in the machine. She wants to deal with her own personal feelings.

And she turns up her nose at the idea of biological weapons. Where did she learn that? Would the Vulcans teach her that it’s wrong to use a certain kind of weapon just because humans in the 21st century thought they weren’t kosher? It’s implied that the war is kind of a big deal, like maybe even critical to the survival of humanity, and yet she’s not willing to do the utmost to win?

Anyway, I wish that this and Orville would have a baby. They’re both good enough to watch but I feel like they’re not living up to their potential.


I’m quite enjoying this TV series. It’s pretty good sci-fi with great production values and strong visuals. However, this is not Star Trek. As someone mentioned above it’s like an entire TV series set in the mirror-verse where everything is dark and everyone is somewhat base, nasty or evil. It contradicts all of the essential ingredients that make Star Trek what it is and I expect Gene is turning in his grave. Even so, it’s pretty good :)

The death of the tactical officer by the “creature” was hilarious.
We don’t know anything about this creature except that it can’t be harmed by phasers and its claws can tear through the hull of ships
I know!. Lets randomly open its cage and shoot it with phasers. Best Tactics Ever.


You joke, but isn’t that a subplot in The Expanse?


Lots of idiot plotting in this episode, as mentioned above. The petulant scientist is really grating on me. Is that intentional, or am I actually supposed to sympathize with him?

I’m very pleased with how they’re using special effects. It’s not overpowering the story. Maybe their budget is at a sweet spot where they have enough to do some cool stuff but not enough to run wild with it.


Cast I like. Klingon stuff I like. Effects are great. I’m just having a lot of trouble with magic space mushroom spores that fold spacetime. It’s just very far-future tech (and rather silly) for a show set before the original series.

Oh, and a giant water bear now acting as navigator.


I’m pretty darn sure he’s supposed to be grating.