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
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 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
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 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/… Commented Aug 17, 2012 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. Commented Aug 17, 2012 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
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 17:20

3 Answers 3


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
    Commented Dec 22, 2012 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
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 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
    Commented Aug 27, 2012 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
    Commented Aug 28, 2012 at 22:18

In the first episode where the crew encounters Professor Moriarty, Data walks out of the holodeck with a piece of holographic paper that Moriarty drew a picture of the Enterprise on. That paper should have disappeared, but it didn't.

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

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    As noted in this answer, both the TNG pilot episode and Technical Manual established that holodeck environments are made up of a combination of holograms and replicated matter. As such, there's nothing inconsistent about the ability to take a sheet paper of out of a holodeck without the paper dematerialising. Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 8:28

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