7 Huge Hazards of Living in the "Star Trek" Universe

    The final frontier is often far from friendly.

    I love Star Trek. Every series. Yes, even the cheap cash grab 1973 animated series with poor animation, bad writing, and lazy voice acting.  

    I love every movie. Yes, even the slog that was The Motion Picture. I tolerated the silliness of The Final Frontier, the preachiness of Insurrection, even J.J. Abrams' The Wrath of Khan ripoff, Into Darkness

    I have old-school Star Trek comic books scanned into PDF format and burned onto a DVD. In other words, my love goes deep.

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    But the Star Trek universe is a lot like a distant vacation destination: it's a nice place to visit, but even I wouldn't want to live there. You don't have to watch much Star Trek to realize that boldly going where no man has gone before comes with frequent, and often surprising, danger. 

    Here, in no specific order, are the eight biggest hazards you might encounter if you were to explore the final frontier. 

    Transporter Accidents

    hazards in star trek universe transporter accidents second chances riker
    Still of Riker meeting Riker from The Next Generation's "Second Chances."
    Photo Credit: Paramount.

    Transporters are the ultimate in convenient travel, and can beam you anywhere you want in an instant. The problem is, you never know where you'll end up.  

    You could find yourself battling your own doppelganger, as happens to Captain Kirk in The Original Series episode "The Enemy Within," and to William Riker in The Next Generation episode "Second Chances." You could be turned into a 12-year-old like Captain Picard in The Next Generation's "Rascals"; or stuck in a hard drive for 80 years like Montgomery Scott in The Next Generation's "Relics." Or, you could arrive in a universe where everyone is evil, as happens in three different episodes: The Original Series' "Mirror, Mirror," the Deep Space Nine episode "Crossover," and Enterprise's "In a Mirror Darkly."

    Alien Diseases

    hazards in star trek universe alien illnesses the naked time sulu george takei
    Still of George Takei as Sulu and Nichelle Nichols as Uhura from "The Naked Time."
    Photo Credit: Paramount.

    The Star Trek universe has diseases that make the Spanish Flu seem like the common cold. Alien afflictions encountered throughout the show have made crewmembers lose inhibitions and reveal their innermost feelings (as happens in The Original Series episode "The Naked Time," pictured above, in which an infected Sulu pursues his passion for fencing). In The Next Generation episode "The Naked Now," the Enterprise crew also contract the same illness. A virus in The Next Generation episode "Genesis" makes the crew move backwards on the evolutionary scale, and The Animated Series' "Albatross" focuses on a plague that turns skin every color of the rainbow. Some diseases in the Star Trek universe can even attack ships, as happens in the Voyager episode "The Disease."   

    Computer Malfunctions 

    hazards in star trek universe computer malfunctions the ultimate computer
    Still from "The Ultimate Computer."
    Photo Credit: Paramount.

    Starships rely on computers for essential functions like air and water recycling, or food processing. But what happens when a super-intelligent computer gets a virus that even McAfee wouldn't be able to scrub out (The Next Generation episode "Contagion")? Or if the computer wants to run its own version of the 1980s movie WarGames (The Original Series' "The Ultimate Computer")? Computers are an invaluable tool in space—but they often have unexpected side effects. 

    Time Travel Mishaps 

    hazards in star trek universe time travel mishaps the city on the edge of forever
    Still of Joan Collins and William Shatner from "The City on the Edge of Forever."
    Photo Credit: Paramount

    Time travel is a staple of the Star Trek universe, but it often comes with complications. For example, in The Original Series' "The City on the Edge of Forever," Dr. McCoy sets off a chain of events that causes Hitler to win World War II. Thankfully, Kirk and Spock can also use time travel to fix McCoy's impact on the past—but not without significant loss. 

    In the Deep Space Nine episode "Past Tense," members of the Defiant crew accidentally arrive on Earth in the year 2024, and have to face the dangers of a dystopian America “Made Great Again," in which the unemployed and mentally ill are segregated in so-called "Sanctuary Districts."

    Holodeck/Holosuite Hijinks 

    hazards in star trek universe holodeck holosuite heroes and demons
    Still from Voyager's "Heroes and Demons."
    Photo Credit: Paramount

    Do you ever wish your computer could create anything you ever wanted? Welcome to the Holodeck, a holograph simulator that allows you to go anywhere, be anyone, and do anything. Don't worry, it comes with safety devices that prevent serious injury or certain death—unless your evil holo-nemesis gets loose on the ship (The Next Generation: "Ship in a Bottle"). Or unless you need to kill off your infected crewmates with a holographic machine gun (as happens in First Contact). Or unless it's taken over by “photonic life forms” with a love for medieval LARPing–and really sharp swords (Voyager: "Heroes and Demons").  

    Alien Plants  

    hazards in star trek universe alien plants this side of paradise
    Still of The Enterprise crew and Leila Kalomi in "This Side of Paradise."
    Photo Credit: Paramount

    The galaxy is full of hostile aliens, such as the Klingons, the Romulans, the Cardassians, and Species 8472. But it's also full of hostile alien fauna.

    A trip through the final frontier might see you sampling some hallucinogenic spores, as Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew do in The Original Series' "This Side of Paradise." Or, you might face flowers that shoot deadly poison darts like those found in The Original Series episode "The Apple" on planet Gamma Trianguli VI, or thorns that inject a virus which feeds on erotic dreams (The Next Generation's notoriously terrible episode "Shades of Gray").   

    Warp Drive 

    hazards in star trek universe warp drive the force of nature data
    Still from "The Force of Nature" of Data standing in front of a map of the Hekaras Corridor, a region destabilized by repeated exposure to warp fields.
    Photo Credit: Paramount

    The warp drive, developed by research scientist/raging alcoholic Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact, allows Starfleet vessels to travel multiple times the speed of light. Unfortunately, even on the best ships in the fleet, the warp drive proves to be just about as reliable as a Ford Pinto. It can go too fast and cause the ship to shake apart, like in The Original Series' "That Which Survives". It can also cause the time-space equivalent of fossil-fuel-induced climate change (The Next Generation: "Force of Nature").    

    The warp core, which regulates the flow of matter and anti-matter that fuels Starfleet's massive ships, is always in danger of an explosive breach. This danger is featured in a number of Star Trek episodes and movies, include The Original Series: "Space Seed," The Next Generation: "Cause and Effect," Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Deep Space Nine: "The Visitor," and Voyager: "Day of Honor." Warp drives, like much of the tech featured in the Star Trek universe, are just as dangerous as they are awesome. Keep that in mind, the next time you put on your red velour shirt, clip on your pointed ears, and flip open your communicator: the final frontier is often far from friendly.     

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    Feature still from The Original Series' "The City on the Edge of Forever" via Paramount