To boldly go where no-one has gone before - TNG

To boldly go where none have gone before - Voyager

When did they ever go where nobody had gone before? Seems that it never really happened: Wherever they went they always found "somebody" who was already "there before".

Even when Voyager ended up in the remote Delta Quadrant, there were lots of people/alien civilizations there.

Perhaps that is why Starfleet keeps sending out more Starships - because their ultimate mission - To go where none have gone before - is not yet fulfilled?

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    Originally, it was "where no man has gone before." It was changed to make it more equitable, but it should arguably have been changed to "where no human has gone before." Kirk wasn't so naïve or colonialist to believe that intelligent alien civilizations didn't "count." – Adamant Jan 28 '18 at 3:48
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    It made more sense in the original wording: "To boldly go where no man has gone before." Aliens are not men. – user14111 Jan 28 '18 at 3:48
  • @Adamant - that is why I didn't cite the original quote. :) where no human has gone before would not really be right either, because there were plenty of aliens in Starfleet and the Federation. – Vector Jan 28 '18 at 3:49
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    Of course, that leads to its own conundrum: the Federation isn't entirely (or even mostly) human, so perhaps it should really have been "where no one from the Federation has been before." – Adamant Jan 28 '18 at 3:51
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    @MrLister I had high hopes for Star Trek. Watched the first two episodes. – user14111 Jan 28 '18 at 14:32

They were only counting human/Federation explorers. So if, say, Neelix had been there previously, that didn't count. Neelix was not a Federation explorer when he'd been there. These missions spent a lot of time in places where the Federation had never been previously.

The original phrase was Where no man has gone before. This was using "man" to mean "human being" in the same way humans are sometimes called mankind. Later series used the less sex-oriented "no one" instead.

This is a rather human-centric view, but it is the most consistent with how they actually explored. They expected to find someone. What was surprising were the rare occasions when they found someone they already knew, e.g. Zefram Cochrane or Khan Noonien Singh.

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    These missions spent a lot of time in places where the Federation had never been previously.... but it is the most consistent with how they actually explored. They expected to find someone... : Yes. – Vector Jan 28 '18 at 8:43

To be fair, the mission statement says quite clearly just before that, that one of their main goals is to seek out new life. I would see that as them acknowledging some peoples might exist somewhere before they show up. So that sort of disqualifies the thought that they might just be looking for a planet where no life is or ever has been.

Space stretches out in all directions. And space, in addition to being the final frontier, is big. I mean really big.

"You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space."
~ Douglas Adams

Even if the planets they find and land on do have life on them, if the intelligent life forms they find there haven't reached the stars and set a course for Earth, then the path the Enterprise took to reach it likely hadn't been traveled before by anybody. If they were visited prior by some other star faring race, the path they took was likely different than the one our crew would have taken.

It's of course also really a statement of courage. They were setting off on a journey to places where they weren't sure what they'd find. To boldly go, to be bold, to stay strong, to stave off fear in the face of the unknown, and not let that fear alter your path.

The show is called Star Trek. Trek, as in, it's all about the journey. The path they're taking hasn't been trodded before by anyone.

  • I always thought that quote was about Kirk deflowering virgins across the galaxy – DannyMcG Mar 29 at 11:03

Off the top of my head, there was VOY S4E24, "Demon", where VOY landed on a Y-class (aka Demon-class) planet to get some deuterium. After frolicking in the inhospitable environment for a while, Harry and Tom basically bestow sentience on some liquid metal. They had been where nobody had gone before, and instead of finding a civilization, created one.

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    O course nobody knows if any explorers have been there before. Most planets are likely to be millions or billions of years old, and thus have very long histories by human standards during which they might have been visited. – M. A. Golding Jan 28 '18 at 6:14
  • Are you saying that the goal is to get uninhabited places? bestow sentience on some liquid metal - I'd say that was a violation of the PD, but the PD is tossed to the wind on Voyager. – Vector Jan 28 '18 at 10:38

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