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In Star Trek (any series) it would seem the transporter would make a great defensive weapon against your ship being boarded - simply start beaming the intruders into a holding cell (or if you're feeling particularly cruel, into space or just delete their patterns from the buffer altogether)

But my question is, is it possible to beam someone against their will? If not, then this would explain why this is never done.

I know we have seen "surprise" transportations - Data in TNG: The Most Toys, Kirk and McCoy in The Undiscovered Country. But I can't think of any where someone has not wanted to be transported or has tried to physically resist it.

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  • I can remember when someone tried to resist being transported, I remember it being immensely painful . . . let me google. Feb 23, 2021 at 9:34
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    They beam prisoners all the time. So yes
    – Valorum
    Feb 23, 2021 at 9:56
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    Except that one time that the guy was an enhanced, and resisted.
    – Valorum
    Feb 23, 2021 at 9:56
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    "this would explain why this is never done" — so would lots of other things. How often do you see ships being boarded in Star Trek when they haven't already suffered enough damage to take down their shields, possibly take down their transporters, and give their crew enough other things to cope with aside from trying to lock on to hostile individuals within their own ship, who are probably moving around, and don't have handy Starfleet com-badges to focus on. Feb 23, 2021 at 10:21
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    I think the Borg adjusted their personal shields to match the frequency the humans' phasers were set to. But given that at least some versions of the Enterprise had difficulty beaming through enemy shields, it would not surprise me if the Borg were also able to resist being beamed away.
    – Robyn
    Feb 24, 2021 at 2:29

3 Answers 3

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Yes, you can beam people against their will in Star Trek.

We've seen several examples of Starfleet officers being kidnapped via alien transporters.

For example, in Ménage à Troi, Riker, Deanna, and Lwaxana Troi were forcibly beamed off of the planet Betazed by Ferengi transporters.

And in The Mind's Eye, La Forge was forcibly beamed off of a shuttlecraft by Romulan transporters.

Even if you discount examples such as those, on the basis that they involved alien transport tech, there are multiple examples of Starfleet transporters being used to beam people against their will.

For example, in Datalore, Lore was thrown (by Data) onto a transporter pad and beamed into space.

And in A Matter Of Honor, Captain Kargan was forcibly beamed off of his ship and onto the bridge of the Enterprise-D.

We've also seen instances where characters in Star Trek knew an attempt might be made to beam them somewhere against their will, and used technological means to prevent it.

For example, in Power Play, Troi, Data, and O'Brien were possessed by alien entities, and were holding people hostage in Ten Forward. An attempt was made to get a transporter lock on the possessed officers, but O'Brien took the transporters offline in order to prevent that.

RIKER: Transporter room three, can you get a pattern lock on Commander Data, Counselor Troi and Chief O'Brien in Ten Forward?

CREWMAN: Attempting to lock on, sir.

O'BRIEN: You were correct. They're attempting to engage their transporters. But I know how to shut them down.

DATA: Do it.

CREWMAN: Bridge, the entire transporter array has been taken off line and placed into diagnostic mode.

Star Trek: TNG "Power Play" script

And in Star Trek: Insurrection, Data used a transport inhibitor to prevent himself from being beamed off of a scoutship after the shields had been briefly disabled.

The very existence of transport inhibitors is strong evidence that desire alone is not enough to prevent oneself from being transported (at least, not for non-augments).

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  • Ah yes, sorry. Fumble fingers.
    – Valorum
    Feb 23, 2021 at 13:04
  • There are several TOS examples where non-crewmembers (aliens or Old Earth humans) were transported against their will. "A Piece of the Action" and "Tomorrow is Yesterday" are two. Feb 23, 2021 at 21:35
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    @Ross Presser - Yeah, I thought about mentioning some of those, but it occurred to me that most of those instances involved characters from pre-warp civilisations who didn't even know what a transporter was, meaning they had no idea what was occurring when they were beamed up to the ship. Whereas with Starfleet officers, or other people familiar with transporter tech, they would likely know if they were being forcibly transported, and would therefore be more apt to consciously resist the process. Feb 23, 2021 at 21:58
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    The Romulan Commander in "The Enterprise Incident" tried to stop Spock from being transported -- and ended up being transported with him. She was unable to prevent it either for him or for herself.
    – Basya
    Feb 24, 2021 at 8:47
  • I'm not sure how you would go about 'consciously resisting' being transported, but if you recognise the symptoms that the process is starting (say, an all-over tingling sensation) would it be possible for you to run away from the point the transporter is focused on?
    – GordonD
    Feb 24, 2021 at 17:59
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Under normal circumstances, yes, it is possible to beam someone against their will.

In Star Trek: Insurrection, transport inhibitors are used to prevent the Son'a transporting the Ba'ku en masse. Later, the Son'a use darts with isolinear tags to overcome the jamming. If it was possible for the Ba'ku to simply resist the transporter beam, this would all have been unnecessary.

Also, as a sort of exception that proves the rule, there's the supersoldier Roga Danar in the TNG episode "The Hunted". He resists a transporter beam thanks to his genetic/chemical enhancements and doing so causes a small explosion. You can see it about 20 seconds into the episode trailer.

Danar was known to be dangerous and a flight risk but everyone still expected the transporter to work on him, suggesting that overcoming a transporter is something they hadn't seen before and that ordinary people can't do.

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    Khan also resists in the reboot thingie
    – Valorum
    Feb 23, 2021 at 13:04
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    @Valorum I love the thought that they changed so much in the reboot but absolutely had to keep the fact that there's a special anti-transporter gene supersoldiers can get.
    – Withad
    Feb 23, 2021 at 14:06
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this would explain why this is never done

So would lots of other things. How often do we see ships being boarded in Star Trek when they haven't already suffered enough damage to take down their shields, and possibly take down their transporters too?

In situation like that, the crew has enough things to cope with other than trying to lock on to hostile individuals within their own ship, who are probably moving around, and don't have handy Starfleet com-badges to focus on.

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    Not really an answer but I would have thought there were a lot of instances where ships would have been boarded by unwelcome guests, the transporters were still working and where a crew member could have been spared to man it, especially considering they could make it a priority, especially if the boarding party was small enough, or to protect key areas of the ship (like the bridge or engine room)
    – komodosp
    Feb 23, 2021 at 13:22
  • "I would have thought there were a lot of instances where ships would have been boarded by unwelcome guests, the transporters were still working and where a crew member could have been spared to man it" — maybe there were, and we just didn't see them. We certainly don't see the Enterprise being boarded much. Feb 23, 2021 at 17:08
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    This may be much like planetary invasions; if you're just trying to defeat them, it's much more efficient to stick to ship-to-ship/planet combat; if you have to send people over/down, you're doing it wrong. (There are exceptions, though, e.g. if your objective isn't the whole ship/planet, but information, or a particular artifact, or... Basically, boarding actions are for surgical strikes, not all out combat. Even for capturing ships, you usually don't board until after the ship surrenders.)
    – Matthew
    Feb 24, 2021 at 13:24

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