Star Trek shows: the time travel paradox

05 March 2023
Like the films, the use of time travel in Star Trek shows has been a popular storytelling device for several reasons.

Firstly, time travel provides a way for the writers to explore alternate timelines and potential futures, allowing them to imagine scenarios that might not otherwise be possible. This can be particularly useful in science fiction, where the genre often asks "what if?" questions about the future or the consequences of certain events. Time travel allows the writers to explore these questions in a tangible way.

Secondly, time travel can provide a way to revisit past events or characters, which can be a nostalgic draw for longtime fans of the franchise. For example, "Trials and Tribble-ations" in Deep Space Nine uses time travel to revisit the classic episode "The Trouble with Tribbles," allowing fans to see their favorite characters in a new light.

time travel star trek

Thirdly, time travel can create tension and drama by introducing paradoxes or altering the timeline in unexpected ways. This can create high stakes for the characters as they try to fix the timeline and prevent disastrous consequences. This tension can also provide a way to explore character motivations and relationships as they are tested by the challenges of time travel.

Lastly, time travel can allow for creative twists and surprises in storytelling, as the audience may not always know what to expect from a given timeline or scenario. This can keep the audience engaged and invested in the story.

Overall, the use of time travel in Star Trek shows has been a popular storytelling device due to its ability to explore alternate timelines, revisit past events, create tension and drama, and provide creative twists and surprises. It has become a hallmark of the franchise and a key part of its appeal for many fans.

Here are some examples:

"The City on the Edge of Forever" (Star Trek: The Original Series) - In this episode, the crew of the USS Enterprise travel back in time to the 1930s and inadvertently change history when Dr. McCoy saves the life of a woman named Edith Keeler, causing a chain of events that ultimately leads to the Nazis winning World War II. The paradox here is that if Keeler had lived, the future that the crew knows would never have existed. To resolve this, Captain Kirk has to allow Keeler to die, despite his feelings for her. The episode was written by Harlan Ellison.

"Yesterday's Enterprise" (Star Trek: The Next Generation) - In this episode, the USS Enterprise-D encounters a rift in spacetime that causes a version of the USS Enterprise-C from the past to appear in the present. This creates a paradox because the Enterprise-C's sacrifice in battle with the Klingons was a pivotal moment in history that led to a peace treaty between the Federation and the Klingons. Without that sacrifice, the Federation is at war with the Klingons in the present timeline. To resolve the paradox, Captain Picard sends the Enterprise-C back to its proper time to fulfill its original mission. The episode was written by Ira Steven Behr, Richard Manning, and Hans Beimler.

"Trials and Tribble-ations" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) - In this episode, the crew of Deep Space Nine travel back in time to the era of the original series to prevent a rogue Klingon from altering history by killing Captain Kirk. While there, they become embroiled in the events of the classic episode "The Trouble with Tribbles." The paradox here is that the crew is interacting with past events, potentially altering them, and that they must remain hidden to avoid being detected by their past selves. To resolve the paradox, the crew successfully prevents the Klingon from altering history and returns to their own time. The episode was written by Ronald D. Moore and Rene Echevarria.

"Year of Hell" (Star Trek: Voyager) - In this two-part episode, Voyager encounters a ship from the future that has the power to alter the timeline. The ship's captain, Annorax, is attempting to restore his own destroyed civilization by erasing entire species from history. This creates a paradox because the changes he makes affect Voyager's present, causing them to experience a year of constant warfare and destruction. To resolve the paradox, Captain Janeway works with a member of Annorax's crew to reset the timeline and prevent his alterations. The episode was written by Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky.

"All Good Things..." (Star Trek: The Next Generation) - In the series finale of TNG, Captain Picard travels through time to prevent the destruction of humanity by an extra-dimensional threat. He jumps between three different time periods (past, present, and future) in order to unravel the mystery and save humanity.

"Little Green Men" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) - In this comedic episode, a group of Ferengi accidentally travel back in time to 1947 Roswell, New Mexico, where they are mistaken for aliens by the US military. This episode explores the cultural differences between the Ferengi and humans, and pokes fun at the Roswell conspiracy theories.

"Relativity" (Star Trek: Voyager) - In this episode, Captain Braxton of the Federation Timeship Relativity recruits Seven of Nine to prevent a saboteur from altering the timeline. Seven travels through different points in Voyager's history, attempting to discover the identity of the saboteur and prevent them from causing damage to the timeline.

"Storm Front" (Star Trek: Enterprise) - In this two-part episode, the crew of the USS Enterprise travels back in time to 1944, where they discover that the Nazis are attempting to change history by altering the outcome of World War II. The crew must work to stop the Nazis and repair the timeline.

"The Sound of Her Voice" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) - In this episode, the crew of Deep Space Nine receives a distress call from a stranded Starfleet officer, Captain Lisa Cusak, who is stuck on a distant planet. When they attempt to rescue her, they discover that she has been dead for several years due to time dilation. The crew is forced to leave her behind, but the experience teaches them valuable lessons about the nature of time and the fragility of life.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

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