In Star Trek, characters are often depicted as being in danger because "the safety protocols" are offline.

Does this imply that Holodecks can result in death to characters or just injury?

Are there any examples of death in a Holodeck?

5 Answers 5


Yes, there is a good example from the movie Star Trek: First Contact. In a scene Captain Picard leads some borgs into a holodeck. He starts one of his detective programs and turns off the safety protocols. He then uses a tommy gun to shoot up and kill the borg drones.

Also, for injuries in Deep Space Nine a recurring gag was Chief O'Brien dislocating his shoulder while using a kayak program at Quarks. It's possible that the safeties are removed or not at well implemented at Quarks. However, this could also be an indication that the safety protocols don't make the holodeck a completely safe padded room and it's possible to perform activities that will hurt yourself.

  • 2
    I believe O'Brien's shoulder thing started on TNG. I recall Crusher treating O'Brien for that at least once.
    – user1027
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 19:14
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    In the specific case of a shoulder injury like that, the point and angle of the impact are a lot more important than simply the speed of the impact. When kayaking, the user is moving quickly through potentially tight terrain. If there's suddenly a situation that will result in a damaging impact within 0.1 second, then if the system takes even 0.05 seconds to compute that an injury will result, there's only 0.05 seconds left over until the injury, which might not even be within the system's reaction time.
    – Lokathor
    Commented Apr 7, 2013 at 0:13
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    You can hurt yourself simply stretching or exercising incorrectly. I doubt any type of holodeck safety is capable of preventing sprained or sore muscles or dislocated joints. It should however, be capable of preventing generated objects from impacting (or otherwise delivering energy to) a person. I always took this to be the meaning of the holodeck safeties.
    – JYelton
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 18:01

Indeed it is possible. As already stated by AlanBarber and ewanm89, when the safeties are disabled Holodeck people and objects can kill.

The first example of someone being mortally wounded in the Holodeck that I am aware of was in the TNG epsiode The Big Goodbye. In this episode the character Whalen is shot, with the safeties disabled, and Doctor Crusher announces that if Whalen isn't taken to Sickbay immediately then he will die.


Yes. If safety protocols are off or malfunctioning, assuming that race uses safety protocols at all, (the Hirogen permanently disabled safety protocols on their holodecks after voyager had given them the technology).

I'm not sure if they showed any red shirt deaths in the episodes without safety protocols, but Torres was dressed down for injuries sustained while holodeck safety protocols were off during one of her Klingon phases.

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    Reference: VOY 5x03, Extreme Risk. I considered answering with this one earlier, but @AlanBarber's answer was posted while I was looking for the episode and includes an actual death.
    – Izkata
    Commented Apr 5, 2013 at 18:05

Yes. During Star Trek:Voyager Season 4, episode 18/19 (The Killing Game), there were multiple casualties due to (holographic) weapons. In the same episode, allied (holographic) artillery bombardments destroyed a wall of the holodeck, and (again holographic) explosives were used to blow up the sick bay.

All this implies that when holodeck safeties are off, biological entities can be killed.


Holodecks work with a mix of holographic display, force fields to make those holograms tangible, and replicator technology for most non-living objects. As people have mentioned, for First Contact, the tommyguns were not holograms, but rather replicated firearms.

So with the safety protocols off, replicated ammo isn't blank, but actual leaden projectiles propelled as lethal speeds.

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