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The original Star Trek seems to encounter many planets with Earth related cultures:

I seem to remember more. What explains this -- how was Earth culture disseminated like this? Why don't they run into similar echoes of Romulan, Klingon, Vulcan, etc cultures?

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    These settings enabled the producers to reuse costumes and sets from other television and film productions, reducing the cost of these episodes. Sep 9, 2012 at 18:12

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Different episodes explain this (or don't) in different ways. For example:

  • In "A Piece of the Action" and "Patterns of Force", the aliens are copycats: they were exposed to Earth culture and decided to model their own on it.
  • In "Paradise Syndrome", the "aliens" are actually descended from Native Americans, who were removed from Earth by the Preservers.
  • In "Bread and Circuses", "Miri", and "The Omega Glory", the aliens have no apparent causal connection to Earth; they simply developed independently along very similar lines. This is generally handwaved as being a result of "Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planetary Development".

I don't think the show ever gives an explanation for why they don't tend to run into similar echoes of other alien cultures. Note, however, that the TNG episode "Who Watches the Watchers" features a proto-Vulcan society.

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  • Cardassia could have mimicked Bajor in some way..
    – Izkata
    Sep 8, 2012 at 23:35
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    And maybe they do run into echoes of other alien cultures, but it’s not that interesting to us (as humans), so those missions don’t make it to the TV show. Jul 30, 2014 at 22:21
  • +1 for mentioning the proto-Vulcan society. Also important to note that on the bridge during that episode, the mention of a proto-Vulcan society did not seem peculiar to anyone, so it is possible that echoes of different alien cultures exist, Feb 16, 2015 at 0:33
  • Great answer and sympathetic to the canon. Apr 15, 2015 at 10:53
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The out of universe explanation is COST. Producers could literally go to Paramount's storage vaults and re-use existing costumes. And producers could use existing back lots as well.

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    this answer is so obvious it doesn't need stating. beyond that, for indirect answers you usually leave a comment :)
    – zipquincy
    Feb 16, 2015 at 16:06
  • Well, I think this answer could be improved if it sourced the claim (even though it's somewhat obvious), but the main problem is that the idea itself was already covered three years ago in a comment on the question. Also, the question was quite obviously looking for an in-universe explanation, so... :)
    – Wolfie Inu
    Nov 3, 2015 at 6:58
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Could tv and radio transmissions be the answer, in universe I mean? Maybe the cultures saw snippets of our transmissions long ago and decided to use them as templates on the assumption that a society beaming images of itself around the galaxy must be a good one to emulate.

Or another possibility that just came to me was, if you take the TNG episode that links every, or nearly every race in the Milky Way to a common ancestor into account, that maybe it is in our dna to make civilizations like we do with certain symbols and writings. Some variances do exist as we see in the form of the Klingons and Romulans, but it would explain why the more human looking cultures are so similar culturally, because it's programmed into them at a genetic level.

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    Interesting theory. It would help if you included a few sources. I see that you have one in there already, could you specify which episode exactly "the TNG episode" is?
    – amflare
    Nov 2, 2017 at 17:41
  • I assume the episode being referenced here is "The Chase"
    – user22502
    Nov 2, 2017 at 19:38

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