I seem to remember the lighting on the bridge of some ship1 in Star Trek TOS2 changing by design from normal to something attention-getting when "battle stations!" was announced. Changes in color, intensity or perhaps even direction.

But I can't place what I'm remembering exactly, or on what ship it took place.

I do seem to remember the Enterprise's bridge's lights dimming for a moment only when photon torpedoes were launched, and perhaps this happened ship-wide.

Question: But was there ever a lighting change that lasted longer, and that represented by design a transition to or from a "battle stations!" situation?

1Romulan or Klingon perhaps?

2I am primarily interested in (and remembering) The original television series but am reminded that the tag also covers the series of movies based on it as well, so answers about the films are certainly allowed as it's too late to specify only the original TV series (an answer has been posted). In meta: Does the use of [star-trek-tos] include or exclude TOS-era films?

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    Don't think it would have been Romulan. I think we only ever see inside a Romulan ship in a single episode Jun 19, 2021 at 20:47
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    @SpacePhoenix Make that two episodes: Balance of Terror and The Enterprise Incident.
    – Basya
    Jun 20, 2021 at 12:38
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    My gut feeling is that any changes are either flashes on the view screen from explosions and weapons fire. Power being lost by the ship or power being drained for use elsewhere in the ship Jun 20, 2021 at 21:40
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    From what I have seen, as @SpacePhoenix says, bridge lighting changes are from external influences and cast close ups getting dramatic lighting shots. Battle stations seems to be only represented by pulsing red panels and audio. Aside from TWOK, which does it right imho, even TNG movies do not change bridge lighting much (keeping it already moody dark, as in [ST:Nemesis] (youtube.com/watch?v=f5HQ1xF6pxo) ). Outside of Star Trek, reboot BSG again did not change the bridge much but [1978 BSG] (youtube.com/watch?v=Eo47AVLuRvM) got it right. Jun 21, 2021 at 0:44
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    ah, i was editing the above comment but timed out - apologies - Again, outside of Star Trek, this 1978 BSG clip shows long duration difference between [Condition I (Battle Stations) on Galactica and Condition III (Wartime cruising) on Atlantia][1]. [1]: youtube.com/watch?v=4RShAMFvnFM Jun 21, 2021 at 1:36

2 Answers 2


just going off the top of my head here..

(thought at 0:11, Spock appears to be on the bridge and the lighting is very different)

So, from above, and from memory, and guessing, I would say the bridge lighting was kept fairly static (going by studio lighting, I would assume once it was set up nicely with highlights, bounces, flags etc, they would not want to disturb it).

When it comes to red alert, this is shown by backdrop light panels going red (and pulsing slowly) and the usual sound effects.

Any other lighting effects seem to come from whoever or whatever they are in aggressive contact with (see the blue light and flashes in the video links above).

As for fluctuations on photon torpedo launch, look at Balance of Terror:

at 2:32

(engineering gets the light dip on launch)

at 1:31

The bridge gets the light dip too.

In fact this episode shows that the light changes on the bridge only really happen when they get to combination main talent medium close up or for main character close up - the background lighting is generally untouched but they've flagged, highlighted and modelled the faces of the characters that matter in those shots - for more dramatic effect, which really makes no sense in the real world.

What's great about this is that the Romulan set is built and lit like a U-boat - no surprise given it is apparently based upon a great World War 2 US warship vs German submarine movie, 1957's 'The Enemy Below' starring Robert Mitchum and ‎Curt Jurgens.

Outside of that, again it is engineering that really gets a lighting effect:

at 1:06

IIRC, wasn't there something about the inside of the Klingon ships not being seen until TMP?

To my thinking, if someone said TOS, I can only think of the tv series and perhaps the cartoon series based on the same time period and characters.

tbh, I treat the films separately, if only because production techniques and designs were so very different from the series that they were a whole new generation for me (and, the best, for me too).

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    It's kind of a cheat, but you could argue that we saw the inside of a D-7 in "The Enterprise Incident" - it just happened to be a Romulan one.
    – user888379
    Jun 20, 2021 at 0:13
  • Aye! Absolutely, very true! Jun 20, 2021 at 4:00

This is common in Star Trek, actually. Here's an example from Voyager, with the bridge going from fairly well-lit to dark with red highlights. There's also a rare blue alert in TNG when Data cuts off the life support.

Since you tagged this with TOS, you're probably more interested in the bridge scenes from the films. Here's the "battle stations" effect in Wrath of Khan.

  • Thanks! I'm actually most interested in the television series from the late 1960's (the "S" standing for "series" but I forgot that "TOS" without clarification can also cover the "series" of movies that followed that series with most of the same cast, so since I didn't explicitly restrict to television series an answer about this film will also apply. I'll add a clarifying comment to this effect to the question.
    – uhoh
    Jun 19, 2021 at 21:03
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    I just love that battle stations effect in TWOK - in fact l love just about everything on TWOK. Jun 19, 2021 at 22:46

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