I was reading this question: Why can some holodeck matter leave the holodeck while others can't

This question implies the holodecks are independent Why are the holodecks on Voyager in use if they have energy issues?

This got me thinking about Voyager. It's been mentioned that the holodeck uses a different type of power (so they can use it even with power problems on the ship). But Voyager has to use replicator rations because power is low: this poses a huge inconsistency since the holodeck replicates some objects.

So if you run out of replicator rations and don't want to eat Neelix's delicious 'Hair Pasta', you could just eat on the holodeck. That doesn't make a lot of sense. Is there any explanation given that could explain this?

I know Voyager is littered with inconsistencies but this seems to be a huge one. I'm assuming holo-food will be replicated (not projected) as the computer would assume it would be eaten. Or perhaps it deducts it from your ration but that creates another problem: other things would be replicated without your knowledge every time you use the holodeck. I just don't see a way this could work.

  • You could take the hair pasta into the holodek and put it in a sandwich with pretend food to mask the taste and texture. Dec 27, 2017 at 15:28

6 Answers 6


The implication is that the holodeck's replicator isn't capable of creating food-quality molecules. Don't forget that the point is to occasionally replicate something that will pass for a casual tactile and visual sensation rather than a high quality molecule that can be eaten and digested.

While there are occasions (such as in Voy: Day of Honor) when food and drink are consumed in the holodeck, I think we can assume that they're just simulacra, with the superficial taste and texture of food but without the nutritional benefit.

MOKLOR: It will be a lengthy ordeal. First, you must eat from the heart of a sanctified targ.

[Torres takes a piece and eats, disgusted]

MOKLOR: Pak'logh! Yes, the heart of targ brings courage to one who eats it. Next, you will drink mot'lach from the Grail of Kahless. Drink to the glory of Kahless, the greatest warrior of all time!

[Torres drinks and coughs]

In DS9: Meridian, we learn that Quark's holosuites are clearly unable to create "real" food since he's offering it as an extra service.

QUARK: I'm sorry to hear you say that, but if you're asking for a refund, forget it. The contract specifically says that satisfaction is not guaranteed. But for a valued customer such as yourself, I'll make an exception and allow you try a different programme. No extra charge. Let's see. Something a little bit more unique. Oh, I have just the thing. A picnic with the Pleasure Goddess of Rixx. I can even provide real food for a small fee, of course.

  • 9
    I always took Quarks comment as 'real food not that replicator nonsense', many characters have commented on real vs replicated, so I'm not convinced that the holodeck doesn't make real (replicated) food. I will accept this though if this is the only explanation
    – Matt
    Oct 18, 2016 at 22:35
  • 5
    @Matt - That's certainly one explanation. We never see Quark deriding replicator food at other times though.
    – Valorum
    Oct 18, 2016 at 23:32
  • 4
    It's possible that Quark's holosuites are perfectly capable of producing food-quality food, but that he restricts this capability so that he can offer it as a paid upgrade. Or that he doesn't restrict it, but still sells the upgrade. This is Quark we're talking about.
    – Graham Lee
    Dec 28, 2017 at 8:14

There are many instances in Voyager were the crew eats and drink on the holodeck. Paris and Torres eat popcorn while taking in a movie, and many members of the crew enjoy drinks including Synthohol, as Seven mentioned in a couple episodes that she prefers not to indulge. If the Memory Alpha is accurate it also states that all food eaten on the holodeck are replications.

I would conclude this: any food or beverage on the holodeck that is part of the program is replicated and not a hologram. People can consume it and it would not disappear from their bowels upon exiting the holodeck. Any left over food or drink that is not consumed by the users of the program would be recycled back into the system. There are multiple occasions were we hear mention of matter recycling.

Also I would think that the food replicated on the holodeck is perfectly fine and not of any deficient quality nutrition wise. It would simply be a matter of opinion on taste/flavors or prejudice against the replicator technology. In ENT they do encounter replicators and they have protein re-sequencers. They mention that the food isn't as good as home made. But by the time we get to Voyager I would think the kinks are out of the system.


@Valorum has made a great point about the quality of the food created in the holodeck, however I would like to go a bit further (actually, go back).

Unfortunately, Memory Alpha - Holodeck has some information without references, so I cannot pinpoint everything back to proper episodes. It may also contain information already given in the questions that the OP has linked, however, I think that they may require to be repeated here. Emphasises in quotations - mine.

However, objects created within the holodeck would not exist beyond the holodeck itself, as they only exist as energy. (TNG: "The Big Goodbye") Since holodeck technology can be used with replicator technology, there are some instances where real objects are replicated within the holodeck and are used to interact with the holographic program and/or users; since these objects are real material composed of matter, they can leave the holodeck fully intact.

Holograms can be augmented with force beams to simulate solid, tangible objects or with replicator technology to create actual solid matter such as foodstuffs. All food eaten on the holodeck are replications. No other type of simulation would survive outside of the holodeck.

Conclusion 1

The food created in holodeck, although it can be consumed, and, as Valorum has shown, is of poor quality/taste, will disappear as it leaves the holodeck. This however gives more questions than it answers. What would happen to someone who has been eating food in holodeck and it has already been digested? It won't just disappear and make him/her terribly hungry while leaving. Would the body cells, which were regenerated using energy from the food, disappear?

Conclusion 2

Holodeck technology and replicators can work together and it can be used to create objects composed of real (permanent) matter. One can assume that the replication system that cooperates with holodeck is a part of normal replication system. This would answer why the Voyager crew does not use the holodecks for providing themselves with sustenance. It would use the very same energy they are trying to preserve because of power shortage they experience. Therefore, it would not be any different whether they have used the standalone replicator or one that is connected to the holodeck.

Conclusion 3

As Memory Alpha states:

All food eaten on the holodeck are replications. No other type of simulation would survive outside of the holodeck.

I think that it refers to the general rule. When using a holodeck on a starship which operates normally (for example, USS Enterprise, during a non-holodeck-malfunction episode), there is no need for eating food generated by the holodeck, as its quality is poor and there is sufficient energy to replicate what is needed. Another point is, that when leaving holodeck, holodeck-created food will disappear from the digestive system, which is another disadvantage. One can assume that Torres had either a poor version of this holodeck program, or she was forced to eat the holodeck-created food, as using a replicator was limited due to the well-known power issues.

  • conclusion 1 & 3 directly contradiction what you highlighted in bold (implying it cannot leave the holodeck - replicated means its not a projection), conclusion 2 is the whole reason I asked the question and imply they could get all there meals on the holodeck (witch seems to have a near unlimited amount of independent power)
    – Matt
    Oct 19, 2016 at 20:41
  • I think that there are two options: poor quality food created using holodeck-matter which will disappear (and therefore is not practical, but used by Torres in @Valorum's quote because of restrictions), and "normal" replicated food created using replication systems, which should be the same as the food created using a standalone replicator. The quote in C.3, as I have said, applies in my opinion to general rule. Therefore, I see no contradiction. Oct 20, 2016 at 9:09

Holodecks were introduced in the TNG pilot and have been referenced throughout the Star Trek franchise ever since. How holodecks work, and what they can and cannot do seems to have been set out and largely stabilized well before Voyager first aired. We must assume (for the sake of continuity) that the rules established in TNG aren't contradicted by DS9 or Voyager, despite all the wonderful and mysterious ways in which holodecks have been seen to malfunction or misbehave. The best explanation which fits with what is seen or described on-screen is that:

  1. Much of what a visitor can see and interact with is "holographic" - generated by manipulation of light and force-fields. Objects or characters so created cannot leave the holodeck; they fade/disappear.
  2. "Holographic" constructs are supplemented by replicated matter. Replicated matter, because it has been replicated, will persist. Holodeck water and snow is real (replicated) water and snow. This is seen in a couple of TNG episodes. This resolves the food conundrum; it's replicated food.

Nevertheless, there are inconsistencies. In TNG:"Ship in a Bottle", the crew attempts to beam holodeck matter into the real world by making some treknobabble adjustment to the transporter. There seems to be an inconsistent treatment of what holodeck constructs (such as a chair) are. If only force-fields and manipulated light, how could the transporter process it as an object at all? How could the crew believe it is something other than force-fields and manipulated light in order to take their experiment seriously?

The only satisfactory all-around explanation is that there is a set of principles and techniques by which holodecks are supposed to work, but problems emerge with their on-screen treatment. The problems are then either ignored, hand-waved, or some explanation is given which raises new problems to be either ignored or hand-waved, lest the cycle repeat indefinitely.

The "Ship in a Bottle" episode attempted to tell a story which explored aspects of sentience and reality, and used the holodeck as a plot device. The problem is that it ended up somewhat mangling the concepts behind holo-technology for the sake of the story. The same could be said of the way holodecks are treated in many other (on-screen) stories throughout the franchise.


The systems on Voyager seem to do a reasonably good job knowing who's who when they interact with the computer. Perhaps holodeck food is replicated and people don't just eat on the holodeck because the ship's computer tracks how much you eat, and what, and deducts it from your rations anyway.

  • 1
    Is there any canon evidence that supports this?
    – Obsidia
    Aug 4, 2017 at 1:39

It's the difference between watching a show about cooking and real cooking...one is just a duplication of the reflection of photons & pressure waves while the other is substitive & not a surface image.

Basically, the holodeck is much like a video game, visual polygons, but with shields to give them substance. Or in other words, skin deep. No guts, just a "paper thin" illusion.

Where as, food & other items created in the replicator, ARE molecularly real, just created from a database. Each molecule in the thing made is actual, and thus can be broken down by digestion.

So, anytime you see REAL people eatting or drinking on a holodeck, they aren't munching and slurping force fields. So, replicated/regular food. Just sitting around. Likely, the extra/unfinished food is "recycled" back into energy as it unneeded.

Which brings up the real question...why didn't they just "recycle" some astroids and forget the rationing all together? Bad writing. Same as the disposable shuttle craft or how the main systems just "go offline" by magic every damn episode.

  • The replicator doesn't make food from energy, it uses energy to turn feedstock into other forms of matter.
    – Valorum
    Dec 27, 2017 at 15:04
  • [quote] "The so-called 'replicators' can reconstitute matter and produce everything that is needed out of pure energy, no matter whether food, medicaments, or spare parts are required."[3] A replicator can create any inanimate matter, as long as the desired molecular structure is on file, but it cannot create antimatter, dilithium, latinum, or a living organism of any kind; [/quote] en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replicator_(Star_Trek) I see NOTHING about "feedstock" being changed into other forms. Dec 28, 2017 at 3:51
  • That's the problem with believing what you read on a wiki page; scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/126563/…
    – Valorum
    Dec 28, 2017 at 9:05
  • Technical Manual p'takh! That manual is as accurate as a ferengi official shipping manifest. Dec 29, 2017 at 10:32
  • The wiki was clearly written by Pakleds
    – Valorum
    Dec 29, 2017 at 10:40

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.