The one on the left appears to be a sword, and the one on the right... I have no idea.


(Picture from TOS 1x08, Balance of Terror)

These do not look familiar to me - especially the triangular one. Were they random designs made for this set, do they come from a real religion, do they have some meaning in-universe I know not of?

Here's a better shot (same episode & scene) of the one on the left (Kirk's right, in the first picture).

enter image description here

  • This question includes further uses later on - I'm not asking about the era this episode was made.
  • I'm primarily looking for TV/movie usage, or something like an interview (quite a long shot there, though) - being visual, novels are unlikely...
  • 1
    The one on the left resembles a cross. The right sort-of looks like some UFOs I've seen in video games. If you know of any off the top of your head, it would be useful to know which other episodes the chapel was seen in.
    – Iszi
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 1:44
  • @Iszi Heh, a cross never came to mind. The... "shoulders" on the crossbar make it look too much like a sword to me, for some reason. Oddly, I don't see any page on Memory Alpha for "chapel", and "altar" doesn't have this listed. So no clue where else it may appear.
    – Izkata
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 1:49
  • 1
    @bitmask To get Venus, Mars, or shin from either of those symbols would be a bit of a far stretch I think.
    – Iszi
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 2:04
  • 6
    Together they say "thy sword and thy shield" to me - I would speculate they were designed to feel religious without mentioning any existing Earth religion Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 11:39
  • 1
    @Izkata you know we went there, various weird logo-designs through the EU years. I did, none. A water-drop in a logo should mean something, and I'm mad that it didn't. All that being said, there's a dude[ss] out there that did this.
    – Solemnity
    Commented Feb 23, 2013 at 7:00

2 Answers 2


This is another one of those questions for which there may be no canonical answer.

At the point when this story was written, there was no firm idea of just how far in the future Star Trek was taking place. Nowadays, we're pretty firm about the idea that it's set in the mid-to-late 2200s, but at this stage, there are stories that imply hundreds of years further in the future than that; and of course, "Space Seed" and Wrath of Khan both make the same mistake of eliding a century between Kirk's time and Khan's.

The other thing to keep in mind -- and this comes up when talking about classic Doctor Who all the time as well -- is that none of this was meant to stand up to the kind of scrutiny we place upon it! Most people were watching this on crappy 480i sets, possibly in black-and-white, often with questionable reception.

As such, it's quite possible, even likely, that the set dressers were told, "Just...make stuff up." So we get something that looks like a stylized Christ-on-the-Cross; and a few other abstract shapes, and chances are nobody really thought about it much beyond that. We hardly ever see them again, and we never do see them in any of the later series, which suggests further that nobody thought they were important enough for continuity.

  • 4
    I wish I could give +10 instead of +1, for the line, " is that none of this was meant to stand up to the kind of scrutiny we place upon it! " (and, yes, I used to watch it on a small B&W television, and that was reruns. I was too young to watch it when it first came out.
    – Basya
    Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 9:27
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    @Basya By contrast, modern shows like The Expanse, that are being made for 4KHDR and an audience they know will scrutinize things, pay surprisingly deep attention to tiny details. Most of the screens and signs and labels on that show are readable and make sense! Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 17:59

The image on the left is a Cross representation. The image on the right is that of a flame, like that of the "Holy Spirit candle" found in many liturgical Christian churches - Catholic, various Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, etc.

  • 7
    Welcome to the site. Could you edit in examples of the type of images you have in mind, to help support your answer? Evidence goes a long way around here. Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 5:43

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