What is the rationale behind both the endurance and the success of the Terran Empire? Given the hot-headedness, the backstabby attitude, the lack of long-term planning and the generally undisciplined character of its inhabitants as portrayed on the TV shows, the Terran Empire should never have risen to power in the first place, let alone succeed and last for centuries - and yet, it did. How is this success against all odds explained?

To be more precise: I'm looking for an in-universe explanation of how the Terran Empire rose to and stayed in power. My assumption is that there are either (semi-)official statements of the producers and writers of the show or that there are novels that either directly address or allude to this issue. I'm looking for both plain in-universe information and hints from which further information can be deduced.

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    The Roman Empire.
    – JRE
    Apr 1, 2018 at 20:19
  • I'm aware that it's based on the Roman Empire, but it doesn't explain how the Terran Empire could succeed when everything typical about it that can be deduced from its portrayal on the show basically should have prevented any kind of success in the first place.
    – glahn
    Apr 1, 2018 at 20:26
  • All the things in the show took place in the Roman Empire as well. They didn't prevent the Roman Empire from forming and surviving for centuries.
    – JRE
    Apr 1, 2018 at 20:29
  • This seems very opinion-based. There are very many shitty governments in the world, many of which have survived for quite some time.
    – Valorum
    Apr 1, 2018 at 23:11
  • I've just clarified my question. It has never been intended as an opinion-based question, but you do get my point: The attributes displayed by the citizens of the Terran Empire (and as high-ranking military officers part of its elite) make its existence very unlikely - but yet, it exists. I'm interested in the means by which this was possible, in the conditions within and without the Terran Empire that allowed for its foundation and rise to domination.
    – glahn
    Apr 2, 2018 at 9:12

1 Answer 1


Somebody already said Roman Empire (which rose, lasted, and eventually fell!). The aesthetics and laws of most of the mirror universe depictions throughout the various ST incarnations are heavily influenced by historic Romans (not to be confused with Romulans, though their depiction is heavily derived from ancient Rome, too).

There is a strong tendency towards fascist, xenophobic politics in the mirror universe.

Ancient Roman aesthetics and values have been coopted by real life fascist regimes, especially those interpreting the word "fascist" in a positive light - the fasces, a ceremonial/crowd control weapon, was an invention from ancient Rome. Historic Roman culture had some real life leanings that often matched that of later fascists:

  • Rejection of abrahamist monotheism, especially christianity for its egalitarian, compassionate values that CAN be interpreted as weakness, or as a restriction of natural rights.

  • An unquestioning assumption that conquest is such a natural right, or even a natural duty.

  • The assumption that survival of the fittest (be it physically or by being most cunning) is the best mechanism to determine the best rulership.

  • The assumption of own superiority.

  • A strong, secular rule of law (including the side effects of cementing any injustice not cured by the law even further. Including the risk of becoming draconian, though Draco, the inventor of draconian law, was Greek).

  • Partially accepting foreign elements into their society, but only on the condition they adapted.

The Roman Empire lasted long but not for an unlimited time - but the same might apply to the heavily hippie/christian-influenced, yet enlightened era that is especially showcased in TOS - 22nd century (and ST:DIS too, it might be best to lump it in with 22nd century) ST shows a far rougher tone, and so does later 24th century - unexplored in canon yet, but ... the bitter peace after the dominion war, plus some angry borg at your doorstep, will not help making the tone gentler after it already got rough. 29th century flash-forwards in various places also do not suggest otherwise.

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    +1. It might be worth noting that the Roman Empire lasted about 500 years, depending on how you count it. The Terran Empire per se lasted less than 400 years. (For completeness, there is a fan theory that in the MU the Roman Empire never fell and eventually became the Terran Empire when it finally conquered the world, but canon evidence for that proposition is skimpy. Also, Memory Alpha suggests that it might have been founded as early as 1571, but their reasoning is specious; the ENT MU title sequence clearly shows WWII.) Apr 2, 2018 at 0:45
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    Depending on how you count it, the Roman Empire lasted nearly 1500 years; 27 BCE to 395 CE, then it split into the Western Roman Empire which lasted to 476 CE, and the Eastern Roman Empire which lasted until 1453 CE. However, the Empire was really a continuation of the Republic and it kicked off military expansion in 458 BCE, so really "Rome" as a political entity (even when not based in Rome itself) could be argued to have lasted 2000 years. Apr 2, 2018 at 17:22

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