So I have just started watching Star Trek. And I started from Star trek TOS. I have just completed season 2, and I believe in every episode I have watched, I see people flying around (thrown around) on the bridge every time Enterprise gets hit by something. Its a miracle they don't get injured or worse.

Star Trek TOS is supposed to be set in Earth's future. Now Earth has had seat belts in cars for quite a while. So why don't these highly advanced starships have them?

Is it merely a plot device to make us watchers feel the impact those guys are feeling, since the other effects leave much desired for? Or is there a in-universe explanation for this. And mind you these ships have a lot of empty space to fall in case of a hit or abrupt stop or sharp turns or whatever. And people who designed these, if they didn't anticipate such scenarios before the first flight, they would surely know after even a single flight or simulated run. How the hell do captains not report of such a requirement to federation. Surely some of the flying crew members must have died. I know I would if I took one of those falls.

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    The other classic question is why all of their computer consoles explode whenever part of the system gets damaged.
    – Ixrec
    Apr 27, 2017 at 7:50
  • They may not have been used in TOS, but not seems every other series has them memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Seatbelt, including the reboot movies
    – Peter M
    Apr 27, 2017 at 11:35
  • @PeterM They might show up in a scene or two, usually on a shuttle, but the bridge crew on the main ship is always getting thrown around like idiots.
    – DCShannon
    Apr 27, 2017 at 16:29
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    Don't forget - you're asking this question in 2017 when multipoint seat belts have been mandatory in all vehicle seating positions for years. In the mid-1960s when TOS was written/filmed/aired seat belts were an expensive add on that were available in the front seats of US cars, almost never in the rear, and were considered an annoyance by most US drivers rather than a required safety feature. Federal law didn't require installation until 1968. It's highly unlikely the writers would have thought to add them in.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 28, 2017 at 13:48
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    You only need them for ludicrous speed
    – Machavity
    Dec 21, 2017 at 1:43

3 Answers 3


It's because the creators of the show tried to make Starfleet to be as close to military as possible (not sure if the naval branch specifically - there are some idiocies that are as painful to watch as a kick in the nuts), yet within the confinements of the developed universe. However, lacked any practical knowledge of the naval lore and life, so this is the outcome.

For example there are no means of personal emergency equipment to even try and survive space exposure, and which happens time and time again in every show or movie, including latest. One would think that if even Soviets (famous for not caring if the military personnel survives) provide emergency equipment to each seaman on all submarines, it would be a no-brainer to provide every crewman with spacesuit in case of decompression. They definitely had the tech and resources to do even sophisticated models that allowed operation of consoles with gloves on...

Same with the seatbelts - bet you a dollar that not many war movies at the time showed actual interior of a warship and zoomed on the seatbelts on the chairs for the crew.

As for the comment about exploding consoles - this actually makes very good sense - starship is full of power conduits transmitting enormous amounts of power. It can easily be in the range of petawatts - for example and for comparison: Space shuttle's rocket generates about 12 Gigawatts of power at take off. That's for just 2000 tons (2 million klograms), while Constitution has been estimated by Scotty at nearly 500 times more (about one million tons).

Even a small bleed of one damaged conduit can be deadly to a human who's operating any device connected to the power grid...

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    True, it always bugs me why they explore stuff like other ships without proper equipment. In TNG, series 1, for example, there is this episode where they rescue some klingons from a bombarded vessel and they need to return quickly because the hull is compromised. Why not use protection then?
    – Apollo
    Apr 27, 2017 at 11:10
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    @Apollo I have said for years that I would like to see a new series that is a blatant ripoff of Star Trek, but not naive and stupid when it comes to danger. Seatbelts, environment suits on away missions, tactical personnel who know how to take cover, etc.
    – DCShannon
    Apr 27, 2017 at 16:31
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    The consoles exploding only makes sense if they forgot what a fuse is.
    – DCShannon
    Apr 27, 2017 at 16:32
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    @DCShannon - normally would agree but we're talking "lightning travelling along electric wire" category of overload, not "I short-circuited my desk lamp". There is definite qualitative difference between those two... ;)
    – AcePL
    Apr 28, 2017 at 8:45
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    @DCShannon It's called the Stargate series. Pretty much all of the entries in the franchise are best described as "DS9 but without the stupidity". Oct 13, 2020 at 12:45

Inertial dampeners are the seat belts for a starship crew. It is true that when someone takes a seat at a crew station there are no seat belts on the chairs, but how many crew stations aboard a starship actually have seats?

There are a great many areas that seat belts just aren't available. A Starship crew needs to freely navigate those areas while the ship is moving. Perhaps they could have required seat belts for those who were seated as an extra safety precaution, but if not for the inertial dampeners no one would be able to move about the ship while it was accelerating or decelerating or going to warp or maneuvering in battle, etc, so clearly they are not necessary. And as stated previously the crew needed to be able to function aboard the ship similar to as if you were aboard a vessel at sea.

If seat belts were necessary, it would be much more dangerous or even impossible for those crewmen who have no seats to even be at their stations. I would think they would have a hard time filling those positions on a starship if those crews frequently ended up as stains on the wall (ala Tom Paris stated in an ST: VOY episode). That is why the inertial dampeners need to be good enough to protect everyone regardless of where they are.

There are many references to inertial dampeners available from the Star Trek: The Next Generation Writer's Technical Manual and of course memory-alpha wikia. In "Star Trek: First Contact" when the first warp ship built by Zephram Cochrane was launched, all of the passengers wore seat belts because inertial dampeners were not yet invented. But by the time TOS era ships were launched, seat belts were no longer necessary.

  • but inertial dampeners are not 100 % efficient. They let a little bit of the inertia get through and the characters fly around, needing seat belts. Have you ever calculated the odds that the inertial dampeners would have a exactly as much efficiency as they do? A tiny little bit more, and nobody would feel anything. A tiny bet less and everybody would die. Apr 27, 2017 at 23:01
  • Oh, didnt know about them. Just getting started with Star trek. Dampeners or not though, they still get hurled a lot around the whole bridge.
    – uptoNoGood
    Apr 28, 2017 at 6:43

Because the ships typically employ inertial dampeners for any significant impact. Avoiding the need for seat belts. If the inertial dampeners were to fail, seat belts wouldn't matter much, the relativistic velocity or sudden deceleration would pulverize the crew into putty.
Starfleet Type 15 shuttlepods do have restraints.

Data, Troi, and Riker sitting in a shuttlepod with harness-style restraints

Another instance is the Sovereign class has placement bars for gripping in case of impact or rough conditions.

Geordi sitting at a console, gripping the placement bar

  • Neither of those examples are from TOS
    – Valorum
    May 11, 2023 at 18:25

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