So we already know that shufflings about time travel have been well-established by the time that Janeway and co. are mucking about. Kirk used it (quite causally) in TOS and in Star Trek IV, for instance, in a rickety Bird-Of-Prey, no less.

So we also know that for a period of time, the Barzan Wormhole was stable and lead to the Alpha Quadrant- at a distance traversable by Janeway (we encounter the pair of Ferengi that went through the wormhole in an episode of Voyager).

So why didn't Janeway just head straight for the wormhole's previous location, cloak to prevent timeline contamination (we know the Feds knew how to use them in Janeway's time, they just had to be careful not to violate the treaty), jump back in time to when the wormhole was open and stable, go through the wormhole, and then jump forward in time again to the present?

Voyager would have been home in less time than a typical "five year mission".

Just a case of writers conveniently forgetting that technology exists?

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    Same reason Frodo didn't use the Eagles to rid Middle Earth of the One Ring. It would have been short, and quite boring. Could it be done? Seems like it. Would they have made 7 seasons out of it? Nope.
    – Dylan Yaga
    Aug 8, 2013 at 13:29
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    @DylanYaga - I'm pretty sure the OP is interested in canon explanation or a retcon. "Because WRITERS" is a cop-out :) Aug 8, 2013 at 13:33
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    Last time I looked, Voyager was lacking a flux capacitor. Though it can definitely go faster than 88 mp/h and should have a power output beyond 1.21 gigawatt. Aug 8, 2013 at 14:08
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    Last location where? It was a randomly occurring wormhole where only one end was stable (the end in the Alpha Quadrant) the other end was unstable so it would have been hard to predict where it came from and or where it would be next. Problems with causality would erupt if they tried to go back in time when they were already there trying to use the wormhole and failing, even if Time travel weren't especially difficult and dangerous. Consider the area around the wormhole's potential exit points to also be a risk factor disrupting subspace. Aug 8, 2013 at 15:58
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    @Jeff Because they couldn't risk the Kazon disabling the timer. I thought that was in one of the episodes?
    – Izkata
    Aug 8, 2013 at 22:57

3 Answers 3


She didn't for the same reason that she didn't trade weapons technology or prey on weaker species when it would have been advantageous to do so. It's a recurring theme throughout the series that Alpha quadrant ideals and ethics get in the way of Delta quadrant survival and the need to get home, and whether she as a captain, with a responsibility to ensure the well-being of her crew as well to uphold the values and moral standards of the Federation, has the right to choose one over the other, and what the right balance might be.

Even assuming that B'Elanna is as skilled an engineer as Scotty and Tuvok is as skilled a science officer (though he wasn't one) as Spock, violating the Temporal Prime Directive is magnitudes more dangerous than violating the Prime Directive.

Also, though the original Enterprise seemed capable of traveling back in time at will, the Enterprise-E, the Defiant, etc. seemed to rely on temporal anomalies and time portals created by others. So either Kirk's crew was very exceptional in being able to pull off the Slingshot effect, or the Federation realized time incursions were so risky and reckless that it was completely forbidden.

Also, the Barzan wormhole was never fully stable. Sure, one end of it was always at Barzan II, but the other end moved around randomly. It was hard enough just to surface the other end of the wormhole long enough send the 2 Ferengis back before it collapsed.

Plus, the only verified position of the other end of the Barzan wormhole was in the Gamma quadrant. If Janeway wanted to travel to the Gamma quadrant to get back, then she might as well use the Bajoran wormhole. And even if she had known about the past occurrence of the Barzan wormhole in the Delta quadrant near Takar (which she clearly didn't as the encounter with the Ferengis was purely by chance), it's possible that the sensitive wormhole could have been affected by the Slingshot effect, permanently destabilizing it once again. Then they'd end up both back in time and no closer to the Alpha quadrant.

And even if she had managed to go through the wormhole back in time, she would have undoubtedly bumped into the Barzans and the Federation/Caldonians/Chrysalians/Ferengi, thus irreparably contaminating the timeline.

Her safest bet would have been to go back in time and send a message to Starfleet to avoid being pulled into the Delta quadrant in the first place. But, again, Janeway was clearly unwilling to alter history like that, especially as she'd lose people like Chakotay, Seven of Nine, Kess, Neelix, and Naomi.

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    I agree that it was mostly about ideals and following the rules. All in all Janeway and the rest of the Voyager crew took the high road to get home. That is why it took them so long the first time. Janeway the Younger is pretty mad about herself coming back. But the older One says it's because she hasn't made the same experiences yet. They lost a lot of people before making it home. People Janeway called family at this point. Her sense of loss and guilt was what pushed her to the point where she was willing to breakt the rules. She wasn't yet like this during the timeframe of the series. Aug 8, 2013 at 20:36
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    The bit about the Gamma quadrant is wrong. The Barzan wormhole connected to the Delta quadrant. In fact Voyager encountered the two Ferengi who were marooned there, improbable though it was.
    – Kyle Jones
    Aug 8, 2013 at 21:32
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    @KyleJones In the TNG episode, it was initially in the Gamma quadrant. That end shifted to the Delta quadrant by the end of the episode.
    – Izkata
    Aug 8, 2013 at 22:58
  • Jump back half a billion years, use said wormhole, and jump forward again. There won't be anybody around except the precursors who don't know you exist and you aren't interested in talking anyway.
    – Joshua
    Mar 9, 2016 at 3:37
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    i don't think we would have lost Naomi as i don't recall her being conceived in the Delta Quadrant (rather her mother was already pregant at the time but her station on Voyager should have ended before she was due). so unless her parents ended up being killed in the war with the Dominion or Assimilated by the Borg Naomi would have still been born, though she would be the exact same Naomi who we see Seven grow fond of
    – Memor-X
    Mar 9, 2017 at 5:54

I'm not familiar enough with TOS to know how much Kirk & co. used time-travel, but at least in the Next Generation period, time-travel isn't something that Starfleet is routinely able to use (unless we just don't see their time machines).

Even in Star Trek IV, the Bird of Prey had to slingshot around the sun, and risked being destroyed attempting the maneuver. It wasn't easy to travel in time.

What is established is that time-travel is considered dangerous (to the timeline), and when it does occur, it's policed by the Department of Temporal Investigations (DS9, Trials and Tribble-ations).

Kirk intentionally used it in Star Trek IV to avoid the destruction of Earth and Starfleet; but using it to get one vessel back home likely wouldn't have been considered a weighty enough goal to justify the risk of timeline damage. For all Janeway knows, travelling back in time in order to get home could result in the Federation being overrun with Borg when they return, or in the very fabric of the universe ripping itself asunder.

In short: Star Trek != Doctor Who.

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    Kirk-era, once they discovered the breakaway maneuver, it was used (to my frustration) kind of haphazardly. One episode, IIRC, opened with them researching in the past.
    – Izkata
    Aug 8, 2013 at 19:01
  • @Izkata: aha, yes, entirely true: en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Slingshot_effect. Lordy. Aug 8, 2013 at 23:43
  • And actually, although I haven’t seen much of Voyager, a quick perusal of Memory Alpha makes it clear that that series may as well have been Doctor Who at times. Aug 8, 2013 at 23:52
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    In Voyager, time travel was never the crew's choice (see the list of time travel episodes) - With the exception of 2 episodes (where the time travel was initiated in an alternate timeline), it was forced on them by an external factor. Kirk-era, they chose to do so. TNG was like VOY in being not by choice, then DS9 had a handful of by-choice time travel (but they did worry about cause-and-effect when it happened).
    – Izkata
    Aug 9, 2013 at 0:40
  • @Izkata: "Kirk-era, they chose to do so." Although sometimes - e.g. All Our Yesterdays - it was apparently somewhat accidental. I see your point though: in general, TOS seemed happy to take jaunts into the past. Aug 9, 2013 at 9:37

The simplest explanation is that Janeway either didn't know of the Barzan wormhole or didn't have access to Enterprise's logs and so did not have the coordinates of the wormhole mouth on the Delta quadrant side.

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