General Order 24 orders them to destroy all life on planets which are a threat to the Federation.

In 2251 Captain Garth issued General Order 24 to destroy the planet Antos IV as a "general threat to the Federation." The Federation actually has a provision for this in extreme cases.

While Captain Garth was insane when he gave the order and it was not carried out, the order nonetheless was part of Starfleet's governance.

Three years later Captain Pike visits Talos IV and is tortured. The Talosians are deemed so unredeemable that they issue a new General order that any Starfleet vessel even approaching the planet will suffer the death penalty. Talosians are so dangerous that starships or fleets even hearing communication coming from the Talos region must ignore them - even distress calls and orders. You must consider every communication to be false.

This brings a couple questions:

How did General Order 7 (death penalty for approaching Talos IV) get written before General Order 24 (Destroy hostile planets), And why wasn't Talos IV just destroyed under the same General Order Captain Garth used three years earlier?

Why Talos IV is a galactic threat:

  • The Talosians were once warp-capable, they know how to reach other worlds.
  • The Talosians can nearly drive people insane from enormous distances - they even reached Spock while on Vulcan.

Who is actually fit for General Order 24 if not this race?

  • 1
    Because the Talosians aren't going to cause any trouble as long as they are left alone. Not very Federation to blast them out of existence rather than just put up the space cones to keep others out. Garth was insnace so his doesn't count, and Kirk's use was effectively a 'corbomite manuever' bluff. In the first canon-ish Discovery novel (more canon than other Trek novels but not totally canon) - GO24 is considered a viable option to deal with a threat
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 18:38
  • @NKCampbell - Light and Shadows - they nearly drove a Vulcan insane on his home world. Safety cones? How wide? And if the Talosians return to space, then what?
    – Vogon Poet
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 18:49
  • 1) have you seen the next episode "If Memory Serves"? 2) Safety cones: images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/… - it's a joke (stolen from MissionLog podcast I think) - basically - Starfleet often metaphorically puts up cones around a planet and says "keep out"
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 18:54
  • They could make the weapons/tactical officer of a ship think that if they try to use the ship's weapons, the ship might blow up? Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 6:04
  • Was General Order 7 actually invented when Cpt Pike visited Talos IV? Or has it existed the whole time and this was merely the first time it's mentioned? I don't recall the exact dialogue, but I find it hard to believe ship captains can just make up new General Orders that would then apply to the whole Federation. I know captains have a wide degree of latitude since they're way out on their own, boldy going and what-not, but I would think inventing a new rule for the whole Federation is something the Federation's government would want to weigh in on first.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 14:00

1 Answer 1


There's several reasons

  1. The Federation doesn't seem keen on using General Order 24. Like General Order 7, it wasn't used very often. Kirk uses it the only other time in canon in A Taste of Armageddon

    KIRK: All that it means is that I won't be around for the destruction. You heard me give General Order Twenty Four. That means in two hours the Enterprise will destroy Eminiar Seven.

    Neither Kirk, nor Garth, actually got it carried out.

  2. ST: Discovery implies they reached some sort of understanding. When Michael Burnham goes there

    she ostensibly finds a black hole, which Spock knows is an illusion

    Clearly they didn't want others to find them

  3. Good luck destroying a race that can make you imagine anything to be real.
  • 4
    @VogonPoet You're not alone in wondering that. The out-of-universe answer is they retconned a lot of this. The Federation with a death penalty is contradictory to what we know of it later on.
    – Machavity
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 21:29
  • The key point here is we never see Starfleet execute genocide. Maybe they felt free to do so, yet we repeatedly see them go to great lengths to not do so. And again, the Talosians could make you see anything as real so going to destroy them presents even more challenges
    – Machavity
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 15:25

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