In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Sybok captures the Enterprise and confines Kirk, Spock and Bones to the brig.

Inside the brig there is sign on the wall in the background that reads

"Do not use while in spacedock"

Although at this point its not clear what the sign relates to.

Shortly afterward, Kirk pushes a square metal button under the sign and a seat slides out of the wall.

Why exactly are they not allowed to use this seat while in a spacedock? What could possibly happen?

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  • 5
    Could it have been the toilet?
    – iAdjunct
    Sep 14 '16 at 3:49
  • 1
    Pretty sure it's the toilet, but no idea why it wouldn't be allowed in the spaceport. Sep 14 '16 at 3:49
  • No definitely not a toilet. It was a bench seat with enough room for two or three to sit. Don't know about you, but I'm not sitting side by side on the toilet.
    – JK.
    Sep 14 '16 at 3:50
  • 2
    Maybe it's a love seat. Spaceport crews have been known to be prudish. Sep 14 '16 at 4:38
  • 3
    The sign might not be related to the bench, but to the toilet. Presumably because they jettison the waste, just like trains and planes used to. Sep 14 '16 at 4:39

In this instance there are a few things going on in the scene, some more obvious than others.

In universe

Kirk is siting on a closed toilet. The implication here is that the head (toilet) in the brig vents directly into space. If it's used while in spacedock it will cause mess to the landing platform/connectors.

Out of Universe

Since the 1950s and 1960s, American TV censors have valiantly fought to guard public virtue by keeping toilets off the airwaves, demanding that any visual indication of toilets (or even the sound of flushing) be removed from shows. Star Trek was one of the shows affected, leading to the total absence of toilets on the Enterprise.

After being faced with decades of questions about where Kirk and crew go to the loo, Director Bill Shatner evidently decided to include a scene where his character (Kirk) is quite literally sitting on the toilet to deliver his lines. Rather than labeling it "TOILET" they've followed a convention used on trains of labeling the toilet but not as a toilet

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  • 1
    Related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/81086/… Sep 14 '16 at 11:44
  • That explains A LOT. I always wondered why there were no toilets...regardless which series bakc then^^
    – Thomas
    Sep 14 '16 at 16:02
  • Agreed, and its the kind of nod / fun element that long running actors and writers will put in to entertain (true) fans - like Schwarzenegger mocking his own catch phrases briefly in another movie or Stephen King briefly referencing an incident or person from another novel (e.g. Castle Rock). "The implication here is that the head (toilet) in the brig vents directly into space. If it's used while in spacedock it will cause mess to the landing platform/connectors" Exactly, and how many of us have done that in a railway station... go on, admit it. Sep 14 '16 at 16:18
  • Seems kind of lame to let a prisoners have the ability to spew crap on my space station. Sep 14 '16 at 20:58
  • 1
    I would have thought that the waste from toilets would be dematerialized and rematerized by a replicator. Sep 20 '16 at 21:52

It's the Toilet

Check the link at memory alpha toilet.

You can clearly see that it seats only one and there is a clear line marking the "lid". The next compartment over Kirks right shoulder houses the sink.

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