In Star Trek TOS S1:E27 Errand of Mercy we see the Organians end the (a?) Klingon/Federation war.

In Star Trek Discovery S1:E1 The Vulcan Hello - we see the start of the (a?) Klingon/Federation war.

My question is: Is the Klingon War in Discovery the same Klingon war as that in TOS?

  • Impossible to say, really, unless and until Discovery makes it clear. Jan 20, 2018 at 22:58

2 Answers 2


No. The Klingon War in Discovery is not the same Klingon War as that in TOS.

The Federation and the Klingons have been at peace for an unknown period of time at the start of "Errand of Mercy" in the first season of Star Trek: The Original Series, an episode that has the official but not necessarily correct date of 2267.

SPOCK: Captain, we've reached the designated position for scanning the coded directive tape.

KIRK: Good. (puts it into a decoder) We both guessed right. Negotiations with the Klingon Empire are on the verge of breaking down. Starfleet Command anticipates a surprise attack. We are to proceed to Organia and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent the Klingons

So they are at peace with the Klingons but negotiations with them seem about to break down.

UHURA: Automatic all-points relay from Starfleet Command, Captain, code one.

KIRK: Well, there it is. War. We didn't want it, but we've got it.

A state of war has just been confirmed to exist with the Klingons. Possibly one side declared war, or possibly the fighting has started.

Not allowing for the time it might possibly take the subspace message to reach the Enterprise, the war begins during the first scene of "Errand of Mercy".

I don't know how long the creators of Discovery expect that the war with the Klingons in their series will last, but it can't possibly be the same war that stars a decade or so later in "Errand of Mercy".

The Klingon War in Discovery is not the same Klingon War as that in TOS.

In "Errand of Mercy" Kirk and Kor angrily discuss the causes of the war in that episode.

KOR: You can't interfere. What happens in space is not your business.

AYELBORNE: Unless both sides agree to an immediate cessation of hostilities, all your armed forces, wherever they may be, will be immediately immobilised.

KIRK: We have legitimate grievances against the Klingons. They've invaded our territory, killed our citizens. They're openly aggressive. They've boasted that they'll take over half the galaxy.

KOR: Why not? We're the stronger! You've tried to hem us in, cut off vital supplies, strangle our trade! You've been asking for war!

KIRK: You're the ones who issued the ultimatum to withdraw from the disputed areas!

KOR: They are not disputed! They're clearly ours. And now you step in with some kind of trick.

In "The Day of the Dove":

KIRK: We only wanted to stop the fighting to save us all.

MARA: We have always fought. We must. We are hunters, Captain, tracking and taking what we need. There are poor planets in the Klingon systems, we must push outward if we are to survive.

KIRK: There's another way to survive. Mutual trust and help.

These are the only discussions of the reasons for the tensions between Klingons and the Federation in the era of TOS, and the only reasons given for the "Errand of Mercy" war as far as I can remember.

In TNG "First Contact Picard says:

PICARD: It was my error, not hers. Chancellor, there is no starship mission more dangerous than that of first contact. We never know what we will face when we open the door on a new world, how we will be greeted, what exactly the dangers will be. Centuries ago, a disastrous contact with the Klingon Empire led to decades of war. It was decided then we would do surveillance before making contact. It was a controversial decision. I believe it prevented more problems than it created.

I believe these are the only statements in 20th century episodes about the origins of conflict with the Klingons.

I do not think that they give any indication that the "Errand of Mercy" war is connected with the Discovery era War or a resumption of that conflict.

No. The Klingon War in Discovery is not the same Klingon War as that in TOS, nor does it seem to have much connection to the tensions that caused the Klingon War in TOS.

  • 1
    It isn't necessarily as clear-cut as that. For example, South Korea and North Korea are technically still at war (depending on who you ask) since the 1950-1953 war ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. It could be that the outbreak of war in Errand of Mercy was similar - the failure of an armistice or cease-fire rather than a brand new war per se. Jan 20, 2018 at 22:57
  • 1
    ... at any rate I'm very doubtful about your final summary; even if there was a peace treaty it seems unlikely that the two wars are unrelated. Kirk's mention of the Klingons invading Federation territory, for example. Jan 20, 2018 at 23:00

Discovery takes place roughly a decade before TOS. One of the main premises of Discovery is to explore the Klingon/Federation war.

The conflict ended by the Organians started in 2267, but the Klingons and Federation were already at war in 2256, which is where Discovery starts exploring.

According to TIME magazine, How Discovery Fits Into the Star Trek Timeline:

The CBS series will serve as a prequel to the original Star Trek, set 10 years before the adventures of Kirk and Spock. The writers have said that Discovery will maintain continuity with the old series, and events from Discovery will explain plot points in the original Trek.

Though Discovery has a distinctly different look than the original Star Trek series — the uniforms have changed as have the look of the Klingons — the writers say all the discrepancies between Discovery and the original show will be explained.

Further, according to comments from ex-showrunner Bryan Fuller:

The premise of Star Trek: Discovery might begin a path that ends with the Klingon-Federation peace treaty in The Undiscovered Country.

Recent comments from Bryan Fuller — former showrunner of Discovery — suggest the essential plot of the new Trek series will specifically be about diplomacy. Speaking to The Radio Times, Fuller was asked to describe what the new show was all about and he offered three words: “Understand Each Other.”

While these words could be taken as a basic description of the sunny philosophy of Star Trek in general, a closer analysis might mean something else. This comment from Fuller combined with previous reports about the show could all read as a different revelation. In other words: The people — or governments — who have to “understand” each other might none other than the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets. Or to put it another way: Why else would the show have hired Nicholas Meyer, the writer-director of 1991’s Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country?

Back in February, Nicholas Meyer said that Bryan Fuller considered Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country to be a “touchstone” for the new show. And that film is, of course, all about the Federation learning to understand the Klingons and vice versa.

So, because Discovery is set ten years before the original Star Trek — and the Federation is involved in a cold war with the Klingons at that point in time — the very nature of the mission of the starship Discovery might not to be seeking out any new life, but instead, trying to figure out a way to build a new civilization — or two — that won’t going to erupt into a full scale war.

So, in my opinion, the war we see in Discovery is indeed the beginning of the war we see in TOS.


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