Star Trek Plot Devices Explained

BY : Keith
Category: Star Trek > Star Trek
Dragon prints: 182
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, settings or props of the Star Trek universe. I make no profit from this fanfic.

A discussion at work, someone asked, “IF the Star Trek Federation has 150 members, why do all the series take place on or around humans?”

“Well, think about it. If any other species were the ones making decisions, the shows would be really short, or incredibly tedious."


(1) Starship encounters a temporal anomaly.

Andorians avoid it.

Tellarites avoid it.

Vulcans put up a space buoy so that everyone can avoid it.

Romulans attempt to weaponize it… Then avoid it.

Klingons shoot torpedoes through it, then read history books to see who blows up, and when.  …Then avoid it for the honor of the Empire.

Ferengi mark the location of the anomaly, sell this information to other space faring species on maps to known space hazards.  But when you buy this, they bill you as having subscribed to the knowledge, backdated to whenever the anomaly comes out.

Every sane species of space traveler, including the fucking Packleds, avoid it.

Humans go through it, save Abraham Lincoln, try to come back, find that their initial passage through the anomaly destabilized it, randomly flip switches in the engine room until their warp field is compatible with the anomaly, come back, find that Lincoln’s chosen successor made Hitler look like Little Mary Sunshine, ignore every known method of time travel they’ve ever encountered, INCLUDING THE ONES THEY INVENTED, and start flipping switches again…



(2) An entertainment technology becomes sentient, turns off the safeties, and becomes a threat to life on board.

Tellarites turn it off.

Vulcans turn it off.

Andorians blame the Vulcans.  And turn it off.

Romulans try to reverse engineer the problem so they can make it happen on an enemy’s ship. Then turn it off.

Klingons die honorably, rather than bring attention to the failings of the Empire’s glorious equipment.

Every sane species of space traveler turns it off. 

Ferengi CO doubles the premiums for insurance policies for using the entertainment.

Humans never question why their entertainment technology is something that’s lethal UNLESS you take special precautions, rather than something harmless that you’d need extensive engineering to make a threat, lose two to six crewmen to establish that it really IS lethal, reverse engineer it to figure out who is to blame, find something the tech wants/needs, negotiate with the technology, make the technology a member of the crew, return to status quo. Log it as ‘Tuesday. Same old, same old.’



(3) A powerful alien race captures the ship, holds the crew, and the rest of their entire species, on trial for various crimes committed during their development as a culture.

Tellarites cooperate, hoping for a lesser sentence.

Andorians blame the Vulcans, hoping for a lesser sentence.

Romulans try to assassinate the prosecutor and implicate the bailiff, hoping for a lesser sentence in the confusion.

Vulcans review the case against them for accuracy, adding particulars and complete accounts, correcting the prosecution’s details, spelling and grammar, finally reporting to Starbase Headquarters seven years later, when the court threw the case out from a stultifying excess of banality.

Klingons agree to each specific charge, which causes them to remember the opera written about the incident, which they sing, including all the parts, and acting out the staged battles, and go home two days later because the judge can’t listen to this crap anymore.

Ferengi crew starts bidding on who can be a better witness for the prosecution in turning states evidence, flipping for the alien judge.  Judge washes his hands of this case, wants no part of this backstabbing feeding frenzy, figures the other space-faring races in this quadrant will eventually kill these fuckers as a moral imperative.

Humans kind of agree, we were fuckheads, but swear we’re different now, all enlightened and shit, and get an indefinite stay of execution by promising never to be that bad again, ever, ever, ever, from this day forward, then go home and register yet another suspended judgment with Starfleet’s Office of Humanity Under Continuous Scrutiny, Now Serving Powerful Judgmental Assholes Number #534…



(4) A crewman is exposed to space madness, becomes a threat to all life on board due to berserker tendencies and poor grooming habits, possibly also space contagious.

Andorians shoot him.

Tellarites cancel his insurance, then shoot him. 

Ferengi CO makes himself the beneficiary of the mad's life insurance, then shoots him.

Vulcans shoot him. But they tell everyone later that he walked himself out the airlock as a final logical act to save others from a demeaning display of emotions.

Romulans check to see if an enemy vessel is within transporter range… Then shoot him.

Klingons promote him.

Humans spend eight tense hours randomly mixing chemicals in sickbay, attempting to cure the madness, throw something at the wall and it sticks, put everything back in order, and forgive any felonies committed while ‘under the influence.’ The Space madness crewman is never removed from the watchbill and is back to handling antimatter within the day. “Wednesday. Some excitement. Tribble pies on the menu!”

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