In specific universes, this is usually explained rather well in universe. But, what I'm looking for here is a more out of universe explanation. Where did the idea of a galactic barrier come from and why have other works adopted it?

To be clear, it's pretty obvious that inter galaxy travel is generally unfeasible even in sci fi, but I want to know why many works make it downright impossible with an actual barrier that seems pointless.

Edit: For those requesting a definition of barrier. The barrier would be some kind of region or existence that literally makes travel impossible or near impossible. It doesn't have to be physical or completely prevent access, but it does have to make the ridiculous concept of inter-galaxy travel even more impossible.

Examples Most of these are taken from the TV Tropes list

  1. The Star Pit ~

only people with a specific set of psychological issues can handle going outside the galaxy

  1. The Last Legionary ~

extended stays in Overlight drive humans insane, making it impossible to have a functioning crew at the other end of the trip

  1. The Culture ~

the Grid — the barrier between this universe the other ultraverses/infraverses ships use to travel— changes properties in extra-galactic space, making ships travel slower.

  1. Star Trek ~ As explained in the link
  • 1
    @Gandalf Star Wars adopted it as well, but that may be mostly legends now. It wasn't a physical barrier, but one that prevented hyperspace travel. As I linked too. There are probably more, too.
    – Naryna
    Mar 28, 2016 at 18:00
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    The answers to this question suggest some version of "impossible to travel beyond our galaxy" applied to Asimov's Foundation series, although the reasons aren't really spelled out so it isn't necessarily any type of barrier.
    – Hypnosifl
    Mar 28, 2016 at 18:22
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    I can figure out what a Galactic Barrier is from context clues, but an explicit definition would aid the question.
    – DCShannon
    Mar 28, 2016 at 18:23
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    I'm not sure Star Wars is the best example of this, it is never mentioned in Disney cannon and in the EU the yuzhan'vong (Probably butchered that spelling...) were from another galaxy so it did happen even if it wasn't common for logistical reasons.
    – Probst
    Mar 28, 2016 at 20:36
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    "the barrier between this universe the other ultraverses/infraverses ships use to travel" - this sounds like a barrier between universes, which is quite a level above travelling between galaxies in one universe. Mar 30, 2016 at 6:16

1 Answer 1


Probably Star Trek since the galactic Barrier is in the second pilot episode "Where no Man Has Gone Before", written by Samuel Peebles, that was written and filmed between and April and July 1965 and aired in the USA on 22 September, 1966.

It is possible that there may have been galactic barriers in some obscure earlier science fiction stories published in the previous three decades or so. But Star Trek should be considered first until and unless a famous example earlier than 1965 is found.

  • You mean 1965, right?
    – OrangeDog
    Mar 30, 2016 at 10:09
  • I read over that Memory Alpha article. The barrier is encountered at the edge of galactic space. The ship's sensors don't pick up anything, but the deflectors insist that there is something there. After they try and go forward, the crew is affected by a mysterious force that kills some of them and transforms others.
    – DCShannon
    Mar 30, 2016 at 17:20

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