Star Trek: The Next Generation, S6E12, "Ship in a Bottle", makes it quite clear that holograms cannot be beamed with available Federation tech at the moment.

In Star Trek: Voyager, S5E13, the EMH is transported while using the mobile emitter. What confuses me is the EMH seems to be transported himself:

EMH being transported
Click image to enlarge.

It's not like he's gradually phasing away as the mobile emitter goes or that he vanishes. But he is transported himself. How is that possible? It is clearly visible that he has the same transporter patterns as the real people.

  • 1
    Technology has moved on in the time between the two episodes mentioned? They were broadcast 13 years apart.
    – Darren
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 10:48
  • Great question, I remember watching that thinking, "that's not right!" I guess it was a production error. I can't imagine what the in-universe answer could be! Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 10:57
  • @Darren Yes, technology has moved on. That might be the answer. TNG is in 22 century, Voyager in 23 century. So, is that clarified somewhere, that in the 23 century, it is possible to transport holograms?
    – Shade
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 11:01
  • 1
    The mobile emitter dates from the 29th Century. The Voyager crew obtained it in the episode "Future's End" where they travel back to the 1990s and encounter a time ship from the 29th Century.
    – Wallnut
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 12:42
  • 2
    @Shade TNG is set in the 24th century, not 22nd. To add to the theory of later tech, it's also worth noting that the Doctor's mobile emitter is 29th century tech taken from the USS Aeon, so the hologram tech is also 7 centuries more advanced than previous examples. Maybe part of its programming is to simulate physical transportation of the hologram?
    – user118610
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 13:07

1 Answer 1


It appears transporters can beam up patterned energy as well. We see this a few times

  • TNG: Power Play - Hundreds of incorporeal beings are beamed up
  • TNG: The Most Toys - Data discharges a disruptor at the moment of transport. The transporter dissipates the energy, but it still beamed it up in the first place
  • TNG: Lonely Among Us - Picard beams out "energy only" and somehow gets back into the transporter to be returned as a physical person

As such, when the transporter locks onto the doctor, it beams both matter (the portable emitter) and energy (the hologram of the Doctor)

  • ITC, why weren't they able to lock on Moriarty?
    – Shade
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 16:04
  • 2
    @Shade There's nothing physical to lock on to (they kinda skirt that problem in Power Play). With the Doctor, you're beaming the holo-emitter and the energy it's producing. The emitter is something you can lock onto
    – Machavity
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 16:20
  • There are lots of different kinds of energy in Star Trek, there's no reason to expect them all to behave the same way with respect to the transporter. The mobile emitter may just be generating a different kind of holographic energy to the Enterprise holodecks. Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 19:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.