How is it intended that the audience interpret the canonicity of Star Trek: Lower Decks?

It seems quite clear that this series is intended to be humorous and makes reference to events of the other series. However, I assume that events in this series are very unlikely ever to be considered historical in the live-action series or movies?

For example, I'm pretty sure we aren't meant to believe that murderous sentient Starfleet badge-shaped holodeck characters exist, or that an ensign can create a super-powered dog from scratch, or that there are colossal statues of Miles O'Brien being regarded as the "most important" historical figure, or that ensigns routinely switch departments several times in a few days, or that anyone can mess up so many times without repercussions as Mariner (even given protection from Capt. Freeman), etc.

What's the official positioning of this series?

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    "I'm pretty sure we aren't meant to believe that murderous sentient Starfleet badge-shaped holodeck characters exist, or that an ensign can create a super-powered dog from scratch," Why not? It's not like there weren't episodes in the live action shows with things like murderous holograms or Wesley Crusher accidentally creating a sentient nanobot cloud.
    – nick012000
    Oct 21, 2020 at 6:18
  • @nick012000 perhaps, but Wesley was established as a prodigy or genius, quite more advanced that the "typical" ensign or cadet. Oct 21, 2020 at 13:25
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    @RobertColumbia Hate to dig out this turd, but Geordie LaForge created a sentient super-genius holodeck character by accident just because he referred to Data as "Data" instead of "Sherlock Holmes" when booting the program. His knowledge and expertise had nothing to do with it, since it wasn't on purpose. Anyone - literally anyone - could have made the same mistake. So, creating new sentient life forms is hardly an accomplishment reserved for prodigies, even in canon.
    – Steve-O
    Oct 21, 2020 at 13:33
  • @RobertColumbia - true re: Wes, but Rutherford has both the advantage of probably knowing about those incidents (since the Cerritos crew seems to know * everything * about the Enterprise-D lol) and is half-cybernetic, so he's got a little brain juice as well
    – NKCampbell
    Oct 21, 2020 at 13:44
  • I'm not focussed on the specifics, just that clearly some things can't be taken literally in the context of other shows. No one on Picard is going to say, "Hey, I read about the time the Cerritos rubbed their nacelle on an asteroid for no reason at all. Oh, and the time an ensign tried to free a species that were being eaten by another and then we reversed it because of the Prime Directive, and the ensign didn't get in trouble." Oct 21, 2020 at 17:44

1 Answer 1


According to the showrunner, Mike McMahan, the show is entirely canon within the Star Trek universe. This has been stated numerous times across multiple interviews without correction by the studio.


Lower Decks is very different from Solar Opposites and Rick and Morty. Within Lower Decks, there is a proper in-canon Star Trek show. It takes place during the TNG era. It's on a ship that feels like it’s always existed there and the bridge crew is dealing with big, never before seen Starfleet Star Trek type stories. So every episode has a thing like that happening in it. And then, on top of that, we've got A stories and B stories that are emotionally driven from the point of view of the lower deckers on the ships. So it was an area of storytelling that people had covered every once in a while on Star Trek, but never built a show around.

It was important to me that if you know everything about Star Trek and you watch this show then it fits into Canon and doesn't break Star Trek. In fact, it grows it. And if you know nothing about Star Trek, then all of the canon in Lower Decks feels like mythological, broad understandable sci-fi stuff. So you can still enjoy Lower Decks even if it's your first Star Trek show.



“It's important to me that canon and Star Trek really go hand-in-hand,” McMahan explains. “It's important, to me. It's not worth making a Star Trek show unless you are at least trying to make sure that it fits into the canon because the canon is part of why I and everybody else loves Star Trek. It feels like, that is what is kind of the original shared world of all these different shows. Now you're seeing it in the Marvel movies and the DC movies and all of that, but in the very beginning you had [Star Trek: The Original Series] and then it became TNG and all the other series reference each other, and the movies reference each other.

“To me, that was the original fandom and if you're not trying to fit into that stuff and not being careful, it's kind of not worth doing. That's part of the joy of doing it. It's not a constraint. So the trick with Lower Decks is that our characters are, our stories and our characters are definitely in canon. Ours, they're just a little bit more aware and self-referential. Our guys might talk about the characters from the other shows that they've heard about because they are as big a fan of Star Trek as I and my writers are. They don't get to do as important stuff. It's almost like our characters are aware that they're in canon, and some of them are geeking out over it.”

Star Trek: Lower Decks Creator Reveals How the Series Fits Into Canon

We also have confirmation (via a panel at Comic-Con@Home 2020) that the show is taking place in the Prime timeline, directly after the events of Nemesis

"You know, what you're about to see is people talking about a show that takes place in 2380, it's in the TNG era, it's right after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis, but it's way before the events of Star Trek: Picard."

As to whether everything should be taken hyper-literally, the answer is an obvious no. The show is a comedy and that includes the occasional easter-egg and nugget of self-reference.

For me, Lower Decks doesn’t betray Star Trek. We bend Star Trek rules. We are obviously a comedy, but at its heart, this show is Star Trek; everything from the design choices to the music to the words that the characters are saying.

Mike McMahan Explains Why ‘Lower Decks’ Has So Many Star Trek References; Plans To Go Beyond TNG In S2

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    I'm not sure that "According to the showrunner, Mike McMahan, the show is entirely canon within the Star Trek universe. " is entirely convincing.... Oct 21, 2020 at 0:33
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    @ThePopMachine Im not sure theres an authoritative “United Nations Organisation for the Canonicity of Star Trek Shows”, so a showrunner is probably the best there is...
    – Moo
    Oct 21, 2020 at 4:04
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    Oh Valorum like you don't downvote for any trivial reason you doth protest too much. One may note that in episode 2 of TNG there was a non-parody reaction to history. A vague recollection to something once read. Picard barely reacted to the names Kirk and Enterprise. The audience was very frustrated because they had the TOS episode memorized and thus this soft reboot was already annoying the fans. The TNG writer's bible highly discouraged TOS references so there is some irony that Lower Decks thrives on it. TNG "the Naked Now" computer search scene youtu.be/gttdH0LjCBg Oct 21, 2020 at 4:07
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    Many of the quotes in this answer are (intentionally?) pretty vague. Note, for example, how "it fits into Canon" does not make any statement about the canonicity of the show, and actually applies to virtually every non-canon novel, fanfiction, you name it, whose authors decided to stick to canon. One might even argue the claim that "it fits" and the statement that "it bends Star Trek rules" are kind of mutually exclusive. Oct 21, 2020 at 12:19
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    @O.R.Mapper - I've found lots of quotes from the guy basically saying the same thing; It's canon, but you might see the odd funny thing because it's a comedy.
    – Valorum
    Oct 21, 2020 at 13:23

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