23

The Star Trek universe and ours are identical (as far as we know) until sometime between the 1960s and 1993. We know from Vic Fontaine and various references to Apollo that the 1960s happened very much like they did in reality. We also know that by the 1990s, there were genetic Augments and that starting in 1992, Khan Singh ruled a quarter of the earth's population. I'm pretty sure that didn't happen in real life.

Has Star Trek ever explained this? At some point during the second half of the 20th century, there was a moment when our timeline and theirs diverged.

  • 34
    In the mid 60s in one universe, the TV show Star Trek was created; in the other it wasn't. – Tony Meyer Dec 22 '12 at 19:04
  • 5
    It's fiction. All fiction that gives specific dates will eventually overlap with reallife, and none of them will turn out to be true because the writers can't see the future... – Izkata Dec 22 '12 at 20:05
  • 33
    The in-universe explanation is: "What other timeline are you talking about? There is only one timeline, the one where we had genetic augments by 1992." – Gorchestopher H Dec 22 '12 at 21:39
  • 8
    Even Star Trek isn't consistent. I remember a Voyager episode they traveled to the 90's, and it was nearly the same as real life at that time. – Andy Dec 22 '12 at 21:52
  • 7
    The most interesting piece of this puzzle is the history of the name "Enterprise." In ST:TMP, we see the Space Shuttle Enterprise in a list of vessels named Enterprise. But in real life, the Space Shuttle was named after the Original Series Enterprise! – ApproachingDarknessFish Dec 29 '13 at 2:10
21

There are a couple of hints about it in both TOS and Voyager, and brick bats in Enterprise.

In TOS, the timeline has been muddled with by the Enterprise herself twice... once, in the Season 1 episode Tomorrow is Yesterday, and another in Season 2's Assignment: Earth. In both cases, they are interfering with the very 1960's they were filming in, showing it clearly to be an alternate earth. And that's ignoring The Guardian of Forever and that little drug-induced jaunt to the 1930's.

In Star Trek IV, we see Scotty give the molecular formula for Transparent Aluminum to an engineer in the 1980's. Further direct tampering.

In Voyager, we have *Future's End (3.04), which is interfering with the timeine.

And Enterprise has the whole Temporal Cold War... so lots of subtle changes happened.

So, from the very earliest days, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy have been altering the timelines.

It's even joked about in DS9 episode Trials and Tribble-ations that Kirk was a problem:

DULMUR: Be specific, Captain. Which Enterprise? There've been five.
LUCSLY: Six.
SISKO: This was the first Enterprise. Constitution class.
DULMUR: His ship.
LUCSLY: James T Kirk.
SISKO: The one and only.
LUCSLY: Seventeen separate temporal violations. The biggest file on record.
DULMUR: The man was a menace.

It is further worth noting that the Assignment Earth backdrop is the 1960's, and they're launching a military payload on a Saturn V. This never happened in our timeline, so it was divergent by that point already. The Guardian of Forever episode's trip to 1938 or so leaves one man missing; phasered to death (by himself). By 1960, that may have had some effect. Also, we see interference in TNG with the time travel back to the 1880's. Plenty of divergences shown pre-1967. Even a woman running a major shelter and preaching is an oddity in the 1930's.

The Time's Arrow Episode of TNG is very much screwing with the timeline and with causality. It pushes back the divergence point into the 1850's. Because of interactions with Guinan, as well, we realize that Earth was being actively meddled with well prior to the TOS episodes' portrayals.

  • 2
    In Assignment: Earth, the incident with the Transparent Aluminum, when the Guardian of Forever sent them to the 1930s, Future's End, and (eventually) with the Temporal Cold War, in all of these cases the timeline was preserved, not altered. Tomrrow is Yesterday is an unknown case, but most likely it was preserved as the Enterprise was able to return to its own timeline. – Izkata Dec 26 '12 at 18:30
  • 12
    17 violations as the largest on record? I think Voyager beat that by season 2. – Jeff Dec 26 '12 at 18:33
  • 3
    @izkata - no, they restored it to THEIR timeline. The Assignment: Earth episode clearly shows alternate technology above then current. The Edith Keeler incident in City on the Edge of Forever leaves one drunkard missing in an alleyway - he was NOT restored by Kirk and Spock's intervention. There are alterations, subtle, but present, in each of them. – aramis Dec 27 '12 at 1:11
  • 1
    @aramis The technology in Assignment: Earth was secret agent/alien stuff, that could have existed in our timeline, and we just don't know about it. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Mar 27 '14 at 11:29
  • 5
    @Jeff - Agreed. Janeway could barely have breakfast without inadvertently breaking the Temporal Prime Directive at least four times – Valorum Mar 28 '14 at 18:54
3

The Star Trek universe and ours are identical (as far as we know) until sometime between the 1960s and 1993. We know from Vic Fontaine and various references to Apollo that the 1960s happened very much like they did in reality. We also know that by the 1990s, there were genetic Augments and that starting in 1992, Khan Singh ruled a quarter of the earth's population. I'm pretty sure that didn't happen in real life.

Has Star Trek ever explained this? At some point during the second half of the 20th century, there was a moment when our timeline and theirs diverged.

As recently as 1996 in the second edition of Star Trek Chronology: The History of the Future differences between our universe and the alternate universe of star Trek are noted, but there is no direct statement that our universe and the universe of star trek are alternate and different universes. Events which are never mentioned in any Star Trek movie or episode are listed merely because they happened in our real history, with no realization that they might not have happened in the alternate history of Star Trek.

Star Trek producers and writers have never acknowledged onscreen the difference between the Star Trek timeline and our timeline. It is possible that some of the later stories written after 1996 involving time travel may have been intended first to tell good stories and secondarily to suggest, repeat suggest, possible changes in history which might possibly explain the differences between the two alternate universes.

But no star Trek movie or tv character ever went back in time to Earth's past and pointed out anything in history which was similar or identical to our history and commented that it was different from Earth's recorded history in his timeline.

For example, no Star trek movie or tv character trying to figure out when history was changed ever said: "This book says that a John F. Kennedy was elected president of the US in 1960 and assassinated in 1963, so history must have been changed sometime in or before 1960".

I don't know about star trek books, comic books, etc., so there may be some non canonical reference to the fact that Star Trek is in an alternate universe.

0

See also Jeffrey Mason "The Disappearing Bum - A Fun look At Time Travels In Star Trek" in The Best of trek 16 1991, for a semi serious, semi humorous explanation of how the difference between our timeline and the alternate universe of Star Trek began.

  • 4
    Why is this a separate answer instead of an addition to your previous one? – phantom42 Jun 10 '15 at 6:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.