In The Next Generation and Voyager (and maybe Deep Space Nine) it will semi-frequently happen that someone will use the transporter to escape the ship, and when the bridge detects this, someone will call out to have the transport stopped or blocked.

To push the plot the transport always seems to be unstoppable and the target gets away. While I cannot recall any examples, I am curious as to whether an in cycle transporter has ever had the transport stopped. Has this ever occurred on any of the shows?

If not, it seems odd that they always call out to stop it, if there are no recorded examples of it being done.

  • 1
    We've already got prototype behavioral-modeling software that would predict someone's about to use the transporter to escape... 6 hours before it happens. But in the Star Trek world, the whizbang stuff only ever works at the speed of plot.
    – John O
    Feb 17, 2013 at 19:32
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    You might want to tweak the title to "...once in progress" and modify the body to account for the already well-known fact that transporters cannot generally be used through shields on the sender or recipient's end.
    – Iszi
    Feb 17, 2013 at 19:32
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    @E.T: I think you meant "contain them, now!"
    – Junuxx
    Feb 18, 2013 at 11:36
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    This is more often a failure of writing, a plot directed escape necessary for the story to develop. In a ship where the technology is hierarchically managed by both a human and computerized security setup, it should be relatively difficult for this to happen if the crew was simply using standard security procedures which included automatic denial of service. Consider the episode Mirror, Mirror where Uhura had to distract Sulu so Scotty could bypass the transporter lockout technology. In the real military, it simply would be locked out from the bridge until the confirmation had taken place. Mar 15, 2013 at 3:09
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    @Thaddeus: In the Star Trek world, almost everyone is a hacker who can come up with 0-day exploits on the spot in 3-seconds flat. It doesn't take hours or days of painstaking research and coding along with years of information security experience. In Trek, every doctor, engineer, science officer, helmsman, gul, space trader, soldier, security officer, etc. has 1337 skillz. Reality tends to be biased towards blackhats, but in Star Trek, it's just ridiculous. Every bridge officer has advanced hacking skills but zero security consciousness. Jul 31, 2013 at 2:31

4 Answers 4


Actually, yes. There are multiple instances of an transport being stopped midway through in TOS, TNG and I also think VOY and DS9.

Normally the scene would go like this: The away team prepares to beam away and steps onto the platform. The transporter is activated and the light effects are going on, then the transporter operator encounters a problem and stops the transport. Most of the times followed by an officer stepping down from the platform asking "What happened"? and examining the controls. This also happens in the reverse, when trying to beam someone aboard.

In The Motion Picture there is a scene at the beginning were two crew members are about to beam aboard...the transporter malfunctions. Despite the best tries of Scotty and the ground station stopping the transport, the two crew members died. Rough transcript from the scene pulled from somewhere at the internet:

Rand: Do you read me Starfleet? Override us. Pull them back!
Kirk: Give it to me. Starfleet, boost your matter gain, we need more signal! More signal!
Scotty: We're losing their pattern.
Rand: Oh, no! They're forming!
Kirk: Starfleet, do you have them?
Starfleet: Enterprise...what we got back didn't live long...fortunately.

So yes, a transport can be canceled.

So, why get those nasty people away? A transport takes roughly 3 to 5 seconds, if we assume that the alarm goes off that moment the transport is starting, then there's not enough time to react. Hearing the alarm, proclaiming what's going, waiting for orders and executing those orders takes too long.

  • 4
    Those examples are all pursuant to there being something interfering with the transport to begin with (shields, anomalies, hardware errors etc).
    – Xantec
    Feb 17, 2013 at 21:10
  • @Xantec: If it can be stopped in an emergency, it most likely can also be stopped if there's no emergency.
    – Bobby
    Feb 18, 2013 at 8:00
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    If it can, then there should be an example in the shows. That example is what I am after.
    – Xantec
    Feb 18, 2013 at 13:58
  • @Xantec: I don't know of any instance from the top of my head were the transport was not blocked from the other side (Insurrection, Capture of Data).
    – Bobby
    Feb 18, 2013 at 20:56
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    It's all plot. In the end, Starfleet is just the military whose default policy would be to brig someone using an infrastructure as important as the transporter without announcement.
    – MauganRa
    Sep 9, 2016 at 17:33

It's to be inferred that yes, it can, if there are no blocks in place. In ST:Voyager S01E11, 'State of Flux', at the 41:38 mark:

 JANEWAY: Minor technology that could change the balance of power in this quadrant.
 SESKA: Change it in our favour! That is all that matters at this point. Building a
   base of power in this quadrant. You are a fool, Captain, and you're a fool to follow
   her. I can't imagine how I ever loved you. Computer, command XJL.
 (Seska beams out.) 
 CHAKOTAY: Computer, override transport in progress.
 COMPUTER: Unable to comply. Security lockout is in place.
 JANEWAY: Computer, identify destination of transport.
 COMPUTER: A Kazon vessel fourteen kilometres off the port bow.

Now, keep in mind that that as the Transporter scans, it also dematerializes the subject:

Next, the lifeform or object to be beamed was scanned on the quantum level, using a molecular imaging scanner. At this point, Heisenberg compensators took into account the position and direction of all subatomic particles composing the object or individual and created a map of the physical structure being disassembled, amounting to billions of kiloquads of data.

An active phaser caught in the transport process Simultaneously, the object was broken down into a stream of subatomic particles, also called the matter stream. While certain types of energy could be transported safely, active phaser beams would be disrupted during this breakdown process. (TNG: "Datalore") The matter stream was briefly stored in a pattern buffer while the system compensates for Doppler shift to the destination.

My example(possibly the only one), at the top, of an attempt to command the abortion of a Transporter-use mid-use was one where they could have possibly cared less[er] about the resulting health/destruction of the subject.

Technically, I would have to think the computer would have a routine, upon receiving an override, to finish the scan, and then transport subject back to starting location rather than target one. Unfortunately, the examples seem limited.

  • Hmm. A nice inference, but like the other answer there was something preventing them from blocking it. I'm looking for an example where there is nothing extraneous preventing the transport abortion, and for it to be successfully aborted.
    – Xantec
    Feb 18, 2013 at 14:00
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    Considering the computer's response, I'd assume it would have been possible without the lockout. Otherwise the whole "error message" would be pointless.
    – Mario
    Feb 18, 2013 at 22:01
  • A pointless computer message. If I had a nickle for every one of those I've seen...
    – Xantec
    Feb 19, 2013 at 2:59
  • I do remember vaguely seeing an episode where a teleporter was stopped, causing the death of those in transit.
    – The Fallen
    Jul 31, 2013 at 2:12

There actually is an example of the bridge being able to abort an in progress transport. In the Voyager episode Mortal Coil Neelix attempts to transport off the ship, dematerializes, and then the transport is blocked and he reappears on the transporter pad.

KIM: Captain, someone's trying to initiate an unauthorized transport. It's Neelix.
JANEWAY: Where's he going?
KIM: Looks like he's trying to beam into the nebula.
JANEWAY: Stop him. Janeway to Neelix. Neelix, respond.

[Transporter Room]
JANEWAY [OC]: Neelix, I order you to disengage transport.

KIM: He's found a way to block the abort sequence. Transport's in progress.
JANEWAY: Override it! Get him back!

[Transporter Room]
KIM [OC]: Bridge to Chakotay. We've blocked his transporter signal.

  • That could have worked because Neelix was a scifi hacker able to hack most security systems, but Starfleet personnel knows their own systems better
    – MauganRa
    Sep 9, 2016 at 17:37

Aha! not what I was initially looking for but I think it's good enough.

ST: Voyager, season 2, episode 11: "Maneuvers"

About 39 minutes into the episode B'Elanna transports Chakotay away from the Kazon ship, we can see Chakotay materializing but then he disappears.

B'Elanna explains that the Kazon re-modulated their dampening field and so blocked the transport.

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