In Star Trek, you can see far more of a focus on "The Emotion" than in other comparable science fiction franchises.

Some examples:

  • Vulcans are important characters in Star Trek who routinely suppress their emotions. You can see Spock (half-Vulcan) dealing with emotions on many occasions. T'pol also showed this in Enterprise, especially in the episodes relating to Trellium-D.

  • The emotion chip screwed Data just to show emotion ju-ju again when there were no Vulcans in the main characters.

  • Deanna Troi could sense emotions. While she didn't have problems with this normally, it did lead to some awkward situations and, emotion is here again.

Has Gene Roddenberry ever explained why he gave so much weight to emotion?

Looks to me that everyone has misunderstood the question. Of course, almost all Sci-Fi franchises show emotions as there can't be great story without it either it is love or fear or whatever. But, non of franchises deal with emotions itself. Here, emotion is a general term as a direct subject.

  • 4
    Those are examples of emotion in Star Trek stories. They’re not really examples showing how Star Trek has put more emphasis on emotion than other sci-fi franchises. What other franchises did you have in mind? I seem to remember Star Wars, for example, devoting a tiresome amount of Episode 2 to a love story. Jan 12, 2014 at 22:22
  • 2
    @DVK I think we both know that he's referring to greatest Star Wars love story of them all; img585.imageshack.us/img585/4702/j823.jpg
    – Valorum
    Jan 12, 2014 at 22:40
  • Garçon! Mind bleach! Jan 13, 2014 at 1:12
  • @Paul You can see emotions in almost every franchise, but not the scene dealing with emotions itself.
    – user931
    Jan 13, 2014 at 8:14
  • @Sachin Shekhar: again not true; several of the examples I listed have emotions themselves as topic of the story. Jan 13, 2014 at 9:18

1 Answer 1


Star Trek has not given more weight to emotions than all other SF franchises, nor is it weird to do so.

  • Star Wars: "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."
  • Babylon 5: "what I wanted to do with making this show, was in large measure to examine the issues and emotions and events that precede a war, precipitate a war, the effects of the war itself, the end of the war and the aftermath of the war. The war is hardware; the people are at the center of the story." —J. Michael Straczynski
  • Battlestar Galactica: the development of Cylons who can have emotions is crucial to the plot from the very beginning, and their emotions (as well as the humans') are important drivers of the story.
  • Honorverse: the main character is empathically bonded to a "treecat"; in later stories she develops a general empathic talent
  • A.I. Artificial Intelligence: it's the whole damn point
  • The Foreigner Series has humans sharing a planet with aliens who do not feel love or friendship but have an equally powerful emotion called man'chi driving them that is similar to (but not the same as) human loyalty and lies at the core of their politics. Misunderstanding this caused a war when the species started to interact and they have strictly regulated their interactions since.

Need I continue? Basically, making emotions important happens naturally in most "soft" science fiction stories, and most SF has been at least partially "soft" since the 1970s - Star Trek can be seen as rather avant garde in that respect. Basically, the overwhelming view is now that SF is about people as much as about spaceships and rayguns, and emotions are what make people tick.

Another perspective: the three examples you cite where emotions are given "weight" in Star Trek are really gimmicks that are used in all kinds of SF and fantasy stories:

  • Vulcans and Betazoids are aliens, and if you want an alien race to not just be humans that look strange, you need to make them somehow fundamentally different, and making their emotions work different is an easy and effective way to achieve that (and one that does not require expensive special effects). See my last example for a similar case.
  • Data's "emotion chip" - that robots/androids have no emotions but are curious about them, or that complications ensue when they get them, must be one of the most worn-out tropes about robots out there (going all the way back to the Tin Man of Oz). I doubt there is any franchise where robots play a significant part that hasn't done this at one point or another.
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    I'm not convinced. Can you provide ten more examples, please?
    – Valorum
    Jan 12, 2014 at 21:21
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    @Richard added three more, too lazy to go on. Jan 12, 2014 at 21:51
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    The past few seasons of Doctor Who have had plenty of 'emotions save the day!' stories as well.
    – user1027
    Jan 12, 2014 at 22:13
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    @JimmyShelter I suspect Richard's comment was in jest.
    – Kevin
    Jan 12, 2014 at 22:29
  • 1
    Farscape: How Delvians focus their powers
    – Izkata
    Jan 13, 2014 at 2:57

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