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Voyager had had many opportunities to cut their journey short or even directly return home which they did not take. For example, Q tried to bribe Janeway during an arbitration by instantly transporting Voyager to Earth in exchange for a favorable ruling (“Death Wish” S2E18). I am thinking only about opportunities that would ultimately allow the existing crew to see their home after being stranded, not merely reduce the trip.

My thought is the first opportunity the crew had to see their home was with the Sikurian space-folding technology in “Prime Factors” (S1E9). The focus is here is “missed opportunities” considering all relevant factors (including timeline preservation which is actually enforced).

Harry Kim was covertly offered the technology in exchange for Voyager’s literature database. Yet even without that offer, Gath offered the crew to stay as long as they liked, which means they could have studied and duplicated the technology themselves within a matter of years - certainly fewer than the 35 years a one-shot use could have left them with.

Likewise, the Sikurians did not restrict crew’s personal use of the technology. This means in a matter of several years the Voyager crew could literally construct a new base and/or ship 40 years closer to home.

It is not important if Voayger herself returned to the Alpha quadrant, the premise of the entire series was more about the dilemma of allowing the crew members to return to their former lives. After all, the crew once even considered beaming themselves aboard a Romulan research vessel and abandoning the ship.

  • S1E9 doesn't count, because that technology wasn't going to work for Voyager anyway; see the description of Act 5 at Memory Alpha. – Harry Johnston Sep 11 at 0:32
  • Potentially "Eye of the Needle" (season 1 episode 6) but would probably not be allowed due to the Temporal Prime Directive – SpacePhoenix Sep 11 at 5:59
  • I agree the Sikurian technology was incompatible with Starfleet technology due to antinutrinos, however getting the crew themselves (sans Voyager) home within their lifetimes would have been possible. Using the smaller trajector to locate a suitable system midway between Earth and Sakoris, they could construct another trajector and move the entire crew in two hops. Instant access to every system within 40,000 light years would offer them limitless resources to accomplish this, and they had an offer for free labor and indefinite visitation. – Vogon Poet Sep 12 at 2:15
  • I believe the 20-year time discrepancy in Eye of The Needle would have forced the Relativity to prevent the transportation of the crew back to a time where alternates of themselves already existed. Fairly certain the Temporal Prime Directive would be enforced here. – Vogon Poet Sep 12 at 3:06
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    The trajector technology depended on the anomalous composition of the planet Sikaris, so it would not have been straightforward to build another one on another planet to extend the range. The implication was that Sikaris was unique in this respect, which is perhaps unrealistic, but even if you assume there must be other similar planets it might take several lifetimes to find one. Granted, out of universe all of this is just a Diabolus ex Machina to avoid breaking the show's premise and it does kind of strain suspension of disbelief, but the writers intent is clear. – Harry Johnston Sep 16 at 18:46
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Prime Factors (S1E10)

They had an instant teleportation technology covering vast distances. It would however not have taken them the whole way home as there was something special about the planet for it to work, IIRC. So, this might've shortened the journey but not finished it.

The 37's (S2E1)

A planet of people were abducted from earth to work as slaves. The slaves had overthrown their abductor and the aliens had gone. However, there might've been some alien technology to salvage that might've helped Voyager return home.

Threshold (S2e15)

Tom Paris is able to fly Transwarp. There are issues which might've been solved had they not given up.

Death Wish (S2E18)

Q offers to transport them back had they ruled in his favour.

False Profits (s3e5)

Had they not cared about the Ferengi, they could've travelled back through the wormhole.

I think you might go on and on. There is also an episode about an alien changing form with Tom Paris and that ship was Transwarp able. Tech might've been copied from there. Borgs are able to fly transwarp and they might've been able to trade borg technology for weapons against species 8472...

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+50

Voyager first had an opportunity to return home at the end of "Caretaker", the very first episode, but Janeway felt it was more important to ensure the destruction of the Caretaker's array than to use it to save themselves.

  • Is this a time travel solution? How would they use an array they just destroyed? Not an answer. Think please about when they became stranded - destroying the array, right? – Vogon Poet Oct 11 at 18:09
  • @VogonPoet they were stranded from the moment the caretaker told them there was not enough time to send them back before he died. The choice after that was destroy the array or use it (they ere stranded before the array was blown up) – Matt Oct 27 at 14:56

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