18 September 2011

Life Lessons from Star Trek

This week saw the 45th anniversary of the debut of Star Trek, the science fiction franchise that reflected the optimism of the space race and made science fiction mainstream years before George Lucas would manage to get Darth Vader to pant heavily. As a television show, it changed everything and taught the world many valuable lessons… like these ones:

The Hero Should Get The Girl – As Often As Possible
Doing the right thing may be a reward in and of itself, but it never hurts to sweeten the deal with lots of sexy alien ladies. Star Trek, unlike lesser shows, was unafraid to suggest that action isn’t its own reward, but action for a good cause could end up with an entirely different type of action as reward anyway.

Families Suck, Unless They’re The Families You Choose For Yourself
Another one in the slightly dysfunctional column, Star Trek is full of characters estranged from their families, yet fiercely protective and loyal to their crew. Trek was one of the first shows to not only deconstruct the atomic family at that time still inherent in American society, but also arguably the first to foreshadow the world that was to follow, where individuals created their own definitions of family.

Extras Are Entirely Expendable
Only Star Trek dared to make it explicitly clear that, if you don’t do something to stand out in a crowd, you will likely end up dead from some unbelievable threat sooner rather than later.

You Cannae Change The Laws of Physics (Unless It Suits Your Purposes)
As Scotty was fond of telling us, some things are just plain immutable – and yet, every week, the Enterprise managed to survive despite those unchangeable laws. Why? Lateral thinking (and some ropey psuedo-science, sure, but let’s stick to the point here). Star Trek taught us to never just accept things as they were, and to try and find the real life version of doing something funky with dilithium crystals.

Aliens Are Just Like Us, Apart From That Nose Thing
If ever there was a case of making a negative into a positive, it’s seeing how the low make-up budget of the various Treks turns into a lesson about how we’re all pretty much the same no matter what race we come from – Xenophobia be damned, Trek said, we’re just wrinkly-noses, funny-foreheads or pointy-ears away from all being exactly the same.
Patience Is A Virtue When Dealing With Alien Races
You might think that Star Trek only taught the value of conflict, but no – Look at The Next Generation, and the fact that the Klingons are now onboard the Enterprise, or Voyager‘s Borg crewmate, and realize that what Trek was really saying is “Just hold on, and your enemies will end up working with you because circumstances will cause you all to realize that there are even worse things out there waiting to screw you up.”
The Good Guys Always Win
The most important lesson of all. After all, even when the crew of the starship Enterprise lost – Say, for example, Spock dying – there would always be a happy ending somewhere down the line. As long as you were doing the right thing, Trek demonstrated, everything would turn out alright in the end.

So never wear a red shirt to work!


  1. I used to like star trek but IMHO there´s only one episode worth watching..Galaxy quest..it sums the whole series up in one go...oops..sorry galaxy quest isn´t star trek..or? :-D

  2. There a bunch of epsodes from TOS and NG that are rewatchable by any measure, for instance Balance of Terror and Yesterdays Enterprise, though I would agree that ST has past its prime, but that is probably true of a lot of shows.

  3. Never be a new character beaming down with the heroes.