As described in the Star Trek books "Time for Yesterday" and "The Vulcan Academy Murders" (both TOS), when a bonding is broken, it is easy for Vulcans to die from the shock unless they have other family members around to support them.

This is also evidenced in the Memory Beta wiki as well as other writeups in various places. However, in the Star Trek (2009) movie, when Amanda is killed, Sarek merely walks off of the platform.

Is this a plot incontinuity, or is there another explanation?

  • 3
    ...because in Star Trek, novels are non-canon. Whether this constitutes a "plot incontinuity" or not is up to you.
    – Izkata
    Jan 18, 2014 at 20:16
  • Exactly this. You can make up silly rules in novels that don't carry through to the official (film/TV) canon. The idea that Vulcans regularly die of grief is just plain dumb.
    – Valorum
    Jan 18, 2014 at 21:00
  • @Richard But Vulcans are telepaths and there certainly is a telepathic bond between mates in canon. Severing that bond could logically have severe side effects. Vulcans regularly die or lose their minds (in canon) because they can't mate after all. Jan 18, 2014 at 21:04
  • 3
    @muistooshort I think you're right on that one. For a race that has supposedly mastered emotional self-control, they sure do spend an awful amount of time crying and mooning around.
    – Valorum
    Jan 18, 2014 at 21:14
  • Even within the novels, a bond between two Vulcans was much, much stronger than a bond between a Human and a Vulcan. IIRC, only the bond between two Vulcans was strong enough to cause the mental seizure.
    – Omegacron
    Jul 3, 2014 at 18:56

2 Answers 2


As others have mentioned, novels are non-canon.

However, there is precedent in canon, as Real!Spock1 physically felt the loss of the Intrepid crew to the Giant Space Amoeba ("The Immunity Syndrome") -- a few hundred Vulcans over a distance of at least several light-years2.

Scale that up to several billion Vulcans over a distance of a few hundred thousand kilometers, and it's a wonder any of the surviving Abramsverse Vulcans didn't have their heads explode on the spot.

Would this normally count as a continuity error? Probably, but only gross pathetic geeks like myself would really care. But the Abramsverse is an alternate universe/timeline, so blah blah blah quantum temporal fluxcakes, the old rules don't apply here.

1. No, I am not happy with the Abramsverse reboot, and Into Darkness was a hot mess.

2. Think about that for a second; does every Vulcan physically feel the death of every other Vulcan? Surely at least a couple of hundred Vulcans die on a daily basis from old age or disease or accident. Would you get multiple jolts of death a day? If so, how could you function? It's cool as a throw-away concept, but when you start really working through the implications of it, you're better off tossing it into the continuity trash heap.

  • TOS had a fair amount of discontinuities all on its own, so that seems to be a pretty minor continuity error, with that one plot point. Especially since IIRC it was by the time of TNG that Vulcan abilities were toned down. Still +1, I had totally forgotten about that
    – Izkata
    Feb 19, 2014 at 0:46

Within the Star Trek canon, only the films & TV shows are considered canon. The only exception to this rule is the animated series, which falls into a secondary canon category - it trumps anything in the novels, but only marginally aligns with the overall canon.

Within the canon (specifically, Voyager episode "Flashbacks") it was explained that Vulcan physiology could literally cause a lobotomy of sorts if the brain was overloaded with intense, traumatic emotions. In Tuvok's case, these were suppressed memories of a negative nature, but the intense grief of lost mate could potentially be in the same category.

More specifically, however, the telepathic bond between a human and a Vulcan (if any) would be nowhere near the strength & intimacy of a bond between two Vulcans. Thus it is difficult to apply the question to Sarek & Amanda directly.

The best answer to your question is probably that it IS possible for a Vulcan to die from a broken bond, however it's highly unusual.

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