In the TNG episode Justice, there seems to be a problem with the way the transporter is being used, and I was wondering if it's an error in the episode or my misunderstanding.

Picard, one of the Edo women, and Troi beam up to the ship. Both Picard and Troi have their badges, the Edo woman obviously doesn't, but everybody is safely transported to the Enterprise. It's been established and shown, although it might be more difficult, the transporter can lock on to someone without a badge and beam them up.

Later on however, to prevent being attacked, Picard orders the Edo woman be sent back to the planet, only this time he gives her his badge so the transporter can lock on to her and beam her down (he also says engage instead of energize).

Shouldn't it be easier for the transporter to lock on to someone with or without a badge on the ship? In subsequent episodes the transporter locks on to people in different parts of the ship and beams them off (badge or no badge).

I can only assume that because this is episode 8 of the first season, all the technology hasn't been worked out by the writers.

  • maybe it's just quicker to lock onto the badge instead of searching for a specific person in a small room with multiple people in there?
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 20:26
  • @NKCampbell - Perhaps, but on the surface it was just the 3 of them, and they locked on to her with no problem. In the room it was the 3 of them again, so who knows?
    – user144649
    Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 20:31
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    Put yourself in the shoes of the tansporter chief. You hear the order "three to beam up" and there's three people standing together so it's obvious who you're supposed to beam. But when the order is "One to beam down to away team location." then you assume they're talking about themself and lock onto their combadge. Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 21:35
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    Regarding "Shouldn't it be easier for the transporter to lock on to someone with or without a badge on the ship?" Actually no. Beaming inside the ship was considered dangerous in TOS (probably Day of the Dove) and the relative ease that TNG did it was one of those things that knowledgeable Trekkies would understand as a sign of how state of the art a Galaxy class starship was with 75years of technology advances. Basically the transporter transmitters and detectors are meant to be aimed at a distant planet not in a nearby room. Commented Sep 15, 2021 at 5:15

1 Answer 1


In The Next Generation alone, we've seen at least 3 uses of the shorthand "Transporters, lock on to my combadge" followed by placing the combadge on something to be transported. This is usually used in a scenario where the transport needs to be done especially urgently, and the time spent to explain to the transporter room what to target may potentially be too much time, or when other plot-relevant scenarios means trying to target someone manually / verbally is difficult.

  • The example provided here (episode 1x08) to beam the Edo woman back to the planet. Here, Picard issues the command "One to beam down to away team location," and "One to beam down" has generally been understood to refer to the requester's signal specifically.
  • In TNG: The High Ground (3x12), La Forge uses his combadge in Engineering to identify a bomb (no more than a foot in diameter) in order to have it beamed into space mere seconds before it detonates. This bomb was attached to the warp core and giving off a signal that was "scrambling the sensors" to preventing a target lock, and the combadge gave an alternative signal that was apparently sufficient after it had been detached.
  • In TNG: Rascals (6x07), combadges are used to trigger the transporters to beam intruders away. Here, because of the intruders, the computer is on lockdown. This could entail internal sensors being down or unavailable which makes identifying targets difficult or impossible, or it could mean the stations being used to run the transporters - the children's computers in a daycare - would not be capable of operating the transporters manually. Either way could mean the combadges are the only feasible way of identifying targets.
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    chakoteya.net/NextGen/109.htm. EDO [OC]: Return my child. CRUSHER: Return? TROI: It's coming toward us. PICARD: Picard to Transporter Room, come in. (He puts his comm. badge on Rivan) TROI: Yes, do that. But hurry! CRUSHER: It's still coming toward us. CHIEF [OC]: Transporter Chief to Captain. PICARD: One to beam down to away team location. Hurry! Engage! Transporter Room. Urgent! Engage! (And Rivan is beamed away. The Edo vessel backs off) CRUSHER: It seems the Edo's god is very protective of its children. Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 21:26

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