In the TNG episode "The Big Goodbye" the Hologram Cyrus Redblock is able to step outside the Holodeck doors and exist for a few seconds. Is there an in canon explanation for how this is possible? In other episodes, we see holodeck items instantly vanish as they leave the doors.


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    Good question! I always thought it was to show the audience that they would actually vanish outside the holo deck, instead of just being invisible when stepping through the door. – bitmask Aug 17 '12 at 7:08
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    Not sure about this since I can't remember any of the other incidents you mention offhand, but perhaps it simply took those few seconds for the Redblock hologram to get out of range of the emitters? That, and, the Redblock hologram is quite complex compared other things generated by the holodeck, likely it would take more time to be "cancelled", as it were. – larissa Aug 17 '12 at 7:09
  • @anyaMairead - I think the issue wasn't the program being cancelled but the projection being stable. I like your idea of emitter range - I wonder if they were directional aimed in? scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/22194/… – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 17 '12 at 8:14
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    I always took it to simply be dramatic effect. As I recall, it was the first time holodeck characters were shown attempting to leave the holodeck. – NorbyTheGeek Aug 17 '12 at 15:41
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    @anyaMairead I recall a TNG episode with James Moriarty (I think it may have been "Ship in a Bottle") where one of the crew members is explaining to Moriarty that he can't exist outside of the holodeck. During this scene, they pick up a book and throw it out the holodeck door after which it instantly vanishes. – Mike B Aug 17 '12 at 17:20

In this same episode, Picard leaves the holodeck with holographic lipstick on his face that Dr. Crusher wipes off. Wesley also says that if he does something wrong, they could all vanish, including the four crew members. If everything else vanished, the other four would have remained, so I simply don't think the writers were quite well versed in the parameters of this fictional devise yet. Other than a few other instances (the woodland in "Encounter at Farpoint" and Tasha's Akido 1 training program in "Code of Honor"), this was the first major use of the Holodeck.

  • Well said good sir. – Mike B Dec 22 '12 at 22:59
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    The TNG Technical Manual makes reference to some items being physically replicated rather than being merely holograms and forcefields. I would expect that the "holographic" lipstick was replicated when it was applied to Picard, rather than keeping a hologram projected over his skin. – mskfisher Jan 3 '13 at 15:07

Simple because the writers hadn't figured out the rules they wanted the holodeck to operate on yet. Similary in Moriaty's first appearance a piece of paper exists outside of the holodeck with no real explanation given.

  • Fair enough. I was hoping for an in canon answer but this makes the most sense. – Mike B Aug 27 '12 at 22:24
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    The piece of paper is simple enough to have been replicated and not recycled when it was carried out. Similarly I suppose the clothing (and pollution?) on the gangsters made it out but was then cleaned up by the ship since it was matter that left. – Erik Noren Aug 28 '12 at 22:18

In the first episode where the Crew in counters professor Moriarty, data walks out of the holodeck with a piece of holographic paper that Moriarty drew the enterprise on. That paper should have disappeared but it didn't.

This backs the answer that explains Redblocks exit, it's simply the writers choosing drama over consistency.


In S1:E13 Wesley and another young crew member are having a snowball fight in the holodeck. Picard walks by and gets hit by one as the doors open.

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    Hi there! The example you're providing points out yet another instance of holodeck rules seemingly not applying, but does not explain why such a thing is possible. If you have an answer for the why (other than the accepted "the writers didn't really know what they were working with"), include it in your post! :) – Jenayah May 20 '18 at 2:13

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