Given that you can have anything you want generated in a holodeck, why would anyone ever leave? That is, apart from the need to eat, drink and use the little Starfleet room, you wouldn't have any need or desire to leave.

Aren't holodecks completely addictive?

  • 2
    I don't have any references, so I won't put it in an answer, but I would assume it has something to do with time-sharing. That people would have to sign up for time slots b/c something like the holodeck would be very sought after.
    – Justin C
    Feb 10, 2012 at 13:44
  • 19
    Uh, how do we know for sure that they do actually leave the holodeck?
    – Tango
    Feb 10, 2012 at 15:21
  • @TangoOversway: I guess if they didn't they would starve. Unless they themselves were holograms...! Feb 10, 2012 at 16:01
  • 5
    Maybe we're all in a giant holodeck... that's in the Matrix... that's in someone's dream... about a cat that doesn't exist unless you're looking at it...
    – BBlake
    Feb 11, 2012 at 1:28
  • 2
    Who says anyone ever does? Maybe all of TNG is Wesley Crusher's holodeck fantasy. Oct 19, 2014 at 3:15

6 Answers 6


Yes, Star Trek dealt with that in two separate episodes, ”Hollow Pursuits” (a pun on ”holo”).and the excellent DS9 episode ”It's Only a Paper Moon.” Both of these episodes imply in the title alone that spending time in the holodeck is fun, but ultimately ”holo”.

We have people in our time who are addicted to World of Warcraft, the Internet,.and other forms of entertainment. The only thing that ultimately compels us to step away is the urge to search for a more meaningful existence that is written into our souls.

  • 3
    Most of us know to step away. Then every so often you'll read an article about someone who died in an South Korean internet cafe and went undiscovered for 9 hours.
    – Xantec
    Feb 10, 2012 at 13:57
  • 8
    Some of them step away to go to their job and make money so they can continue to pay for food and rent and their internet bill and their WoW fees -- the bare essentials. There are those who never quite figure out the point of a more meaningful existence.
    – Tango
    Feb 10, 2012 at 15:20
  • 6
    I never saw that "holo" pun. I'm the worst Trekkie ever. Feb 10, 2012 at 21:02
  • @Tango, likes spending all their free time on sff.se? Nov 21, 2015 at 5:36

Are you asking about holodecks on StarFleet warships?

Regulations. You only have X amount of leisure time. Plus, most likely, holodeck use is limited as well.

As far as "why would a civilian with access to his own personal holodeck ever leave", that's not really a SFF question. It's the same as any other addiction.

Some people wouldn't leave - there are people who starve their children playing World of Warcraft, after all. There are alcoholics and druggies. There are people spending 12 hours/day in front of TV. There are people asking 10 questions a day on Stack Exchange :)))

And then there are people who don't.

  • 4
    Starfleet has no warships. By definition!
    – bitmask
    Feb 10, 2012 at 14:09
  • 3
    @ bitmask the defiant was a new class - and was specifically a war ship Feb 10, 2012 at 14:18
  • 1
    @boxed-dinners, you beat me too it!
    – AidanO
    Feb 10, 2012 at 14:19
  • 2
    @bitmask A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Feb 10, 2012 at 15:02
  • 3
    @boxed-dinners: But does the Defiant have a holodeck?
    – ruakh
    Feb 10, 2012 at 22:00

There are a number of reasons to leave holodecks:

  • To meet real people, people with different personalities, that aren't predictable because they're created from a programming template. Relationships (all relationships, not just romantic ones) would get boring after time with programmed personalities.

  • We don't know the limits of holodeck technology, but in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation we find there are limits. In 11001001 Riker and Picard are both impressed with Minuet because of her abilities as a character.

  • There are limited time allowances, at least for Starfleet personel, for holodecks and other people will want to use them, which means limited availability.

  • Even though, in the 24th century within the Federation, there is no longer any unit of exchange like money, it's still necessary to keep society working, which means real work. For example, Benjamin Sisco's Father is a chef who runs a restaurant. There would be no food for him to prepare if it weren't caught or raised or grown as crops. (And somebody has to fix and run any machines that help with these functions!)

  • Exploration. This is the very purpose of the Enterprise (supposedly -- when they're not shuttling delegates back and forth or worried about if they should cross the Neutral Zone). Without leaving the holodeck, they couldn't make contact with new races and new people.

  • Holodecks can't maintain a program for but so long. In Homeward, when Worf's brother has a tribe beamed into a holodeck to save them when their planet will be destroyed, they find that after a while, the holodeck has trouble maintaining the hologram continuously.

  • Most people want more out of life. You could have as many holowhores (or holostuds) as you want, but if you know that they're programmed to easily tumble in your bed, it's not going to be satisfying after a while (even if the sexual experience can be well simulated holographically) because there will always be the knowledge that you haven't worked at developing a real relationship with a real person.

  • As good as a holodeck can be, there are infinities of possibilities they can't replicate completely or perfectly from real life.

  • 4
    "To meet real people, people with different personalities" - Where's the fun in that? (signed, Nerd) Feb 11, 2012 at 0:54
  • 4
    "There would be no food for him to prepare if it weren't caught or raised or grown as crops." - um. Replicators anyone? Feb 11, 2012 at 0:58
  • @DVK: I know a few chefs. Most would bristle at the idea of not using fresh and actually grown ingredients even if we had replicators.
    – Tango
    Feb 11, 2012 at 4:01
  • 4
    Are you willing to put the money down on them being able to actually distinguish food made from fresh vs. replicator ingredients in a double blind test? (remember a couple years back there was a taste contest of French vs. California wine... :) Or, for a more fun version, check out Skeptics.SE answer detailing a double blind test of Stradivary violin vs. modern. You'd be amazed. Feb 11, 2012 at 4:10
  • @DVK: I'm willing to put money down on a chef who considers himself an artiste claiming he can tell the difference and also making more money by advertising "all natural ingredients," or something similar. This is not something that can always be approached logically.
    – Tango
    Feb 11, 2012 at 5:13

I think it's because as much as Gene's vision was for there to be no "money" in the Federation, there is still a cost to anything, especially on a deep-space post or a starship.

  • 2
    As neat a summation of why communism will never work as one can ever state in 1 sentence :) Feb 11, 2012 at 1:10

I think it is more a matter of 'humanity has grown up a bit' issue. Consider now: We are stuck on a single, overpopulated planet, with too many people stuck in limited lives, boring jobs, etc. Hence why so many people today consume so much time in booze, drugs, video games, Internet activity, cosplay, etc. - reality just doesn't satisfy. In the Star Trek universe, interstellar travel has opened up great vistas for people to have meaningful lives exploring the universe, building new societies on other worlds, expanding the frontiers of knowledge, and so forth. Hence the urge to retreat from reality has largely evaporated. [not to mention that a lot of the 'dead weight' got wiped out in World War III, with the survivors needing to focus on survival and rebuilding, not having time for this nonsense...]


I am sure that there are plenty of people in the Star Trek universe that do use holosimulations almost exclusively in their lives. It is often described as a simulated laboratory. Remember though with modern ships and Star Trek ships there is a limited amount of resources, in particular power. So while running simulations for fun and training are advantageous, particularly when spending years in space. It would not at all be feasible to run the entire ship from a holodeck even from a purely resource oriented aspect.

I have vague recollections of this throughout the series, but remember one particular TNG episode where the Enterprise is being drained of power and LaForge has to get Picard's approval to continue a simulation on a holodeck to figure out the solution. This would imply a significant resource drain to maintain and simulation.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.