I am watching ENT for the first time. I have watched most of TOS, TNG, and all of Voyager. I am wondering if anyone can tell me why the crew didn't use the transporters more often? It would seem to me that quite a few of the plots in some of the episodes at the end of season 1 and early season 2 could have been easily resolved using teleporters.

For example, when Archer is in the Suliban detention camp they use the teleporter to send him a communicator from orbit. But, in the episode “communicator” when a communicator is lost on a pre-warp planet they can locate it using scanners but they don't transport it back to the ship. They never discuss it or bring it up at all. They also don't transport the crew out of the hostile situation.

Did I miss something? Is their transporter not working properly or did I miss some dialogue that fixes this issue?

  • 4
    Because the budget finally allowed for continual use of actual shuttles? Nov 17, 2016 at 11:24
  • Uhhmm... Energy budget? While these things seemed to be efficient enough to be usable during on-board power crises, there are more than enough hints on these not exactly being Energy Star A+++ rated. ALSO, any transporter that used less energy to lift someone into orbit against planet gravity than physically lifting them... would make a perpetuum mobile possible. And we really don't want ST to go more soft sci-fi than it already is :) Apr 2, 2018 at 0:15
  • They may have beaten transporter thermodynamics the same way they beat the light barrier. Perhaps the transporter little more than a directed, laser like warp field. Oct 12, 2018 at 4:40
  • 1
    @rackandboneman he it talking about the TOS series, when it was first made it had a tiny budget as they weren't sure how popular it would be. So they invented the transporter to save money on the shuttle sets and models to create the effects, they simply couldn't afford the special effect a shuttle scene would cost.The budget he is talking about is the out of universe budget (real money too make the episode). Enterprise had enough money for shuttle scenes
    – Matt
    Jan 27, 2020 at 0:19
  • 1
    Broadly because at the ST Enterprise stage of history, transporters were like all new technology… less reliable and much more expensive than anyone would like. Nov 27, 2020 at 20:34

2 Answers 2


"The Communicator" in particular

Early dialogue indicates that the sensors on the ship simply aren't accurate enough to lock onto Malcolm's communicator; they only get a definite position when they use hand-scanners while on the planet itself:

Hoshi: I've isolated the signal to within three city blocks. That's the best I can do, sir.

Star Trek Enterprise Season 2 Episode 8: "The Communicator"

In general

Generally speaking, it's mistrust of the technology. Malcolm and Travis discuss this in the first episode:

Travis: I heard this platform's been approved for bio-transport.

Malcolm: I presume you mean fruits and vegetables.

Travis: I mean Armoury Officers and Helmsmen.

Malcolm: I don't think I'm quite ready to have my molecules compressed into a data stream.

Travis: They claim it's safe.

Malcolm: Do they indeed. Well, I certainly hope the Captain doesn't plan on making us use it.

Travis: Don't worry, from what I'm told, he wouldn't even put his dog through this thing.

Star Trek Enterprise Season 1 Episode 1: "Broken Bow"

Later in the episode, Archer reveals just how little faith he has in the machine:

Malcolm: We could always try the transporting device.

Archer: We've risked too much to bring him back inside out.

Star Trek Enterprise Season 1 Episode 1: "Broken Bow"

And, in a later episode, Phlox discusses human apprehensions towards new technology after Hoshi reports feelings of unease following her first transport:

Phlox: Transporter technology is very new. I'm sure humans were equally frightened when the automobile was introduced, or the airplane. New forms of transport take a while to get used to. I'm not at all surprised at your reaction. You wouldn't catch me using that apparatus. But I can promise you one thing. You're in perfect health.

Star Trek Enterprise Season 2 Episode 10: "Vanishing Point"

It's worth noting that Phlox is absolutely correct in his assessment: when steam-powered trains were first introduced, there was a widespread belief that travelling at that speed would cause womens' uteruses to fly out of their bodies; humanity's irrational fear of the unknown is nothing new.

  • Thanks, they do discuss it in the first episode. But they use it in subsequent episodes and the communicator being lost on the planet would not put a human in danger for transporting it back. I guess I am just so used to them using transporters all over the place in the later series. Nov 17, 2016 at 3:56
  • @MonaWheeler Fair enough. I've added a bit about Malcolm's communicator; it seems like the ship's sensors simply aren't powerful enough to lock onto it. They probably could have beamed themselves back up once they'd grabbed it, but they try to avoid the transporter whenever possible for the reasons I discussed in the first version of my answer Nov 17, 2016 at 4:04
  • you're right, they do use the hand scanners to find the communicator on the planet. I forgot that little detail. That changes everything on initial retrieval. Nov 17, 2016 at 4:08
  • i checked it. thanks for answering. I am new here and this was my first question asked. :) Nov 17, 2016 at 4:15
  • 3
    @WayfaringStranger You mean the TNG episode Relics? Scotty didn't really get "stuck" in a transporter. At least it wasn't an accident; he purposefully put himself into a sort of transporter infinite loop in order to avoid dying. Without the transporter he would have just died.
    – Brandin
    Nov 5, 2018 at 14:42

I was wondering this too, also wondered why they could only reach warp 5 when Voyager and TNG have all reached more than that.

Then I realized, although ENT is on TV later than TOS, TNG, DS9, and VOY, the time period in which ENT is in is set earlier than the rest. So I think it was just the matter of the technology wasn't fully developed yet.

Here is an in-universe breakdown of all the series dates/years:

  • Star Trek: Enterprise (2151-2161)
  • Star Trek: Discovery (2255)
  • Star Trek: The Original Series (2265-2269)
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series (2269-2270)
  • Original Star Trek movies (2273-2293)
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation (2364-2370)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (2369-2375)
  • Star Trek: Voyager (2371-2378)
  • 1
    Whilst a nice theory do you have anything to suggest that the technology wasn't developed?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    May 13, 2019 at 15:16
  • Could have been that right before departure they all watched Galaxy Quest on retro night. Jan 8 at 18:02

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