Discounting the usual ethereal-like or omnipotent entities (such as Q), normal humanoid life forms, with their comparable technology, seem to be blocked from being able to penetrate the Federation's flagship’s shields and computers.

That said, there is an instance in the season 4 episode "Devil's Due" where Ardra casually and repeatedly transports into the main bridge (as well as Picard's quarters) using her flim-flam operation's resources, despite Picard's requests for the crew to raise the shields. She also manages to hack their computers to disable core functioning aspects of the ship (transporter, communicators etc.)

How does she manage this?

  • 1
    You may want to edit the question slightly, as at the moment it is a list question, and those are considered off-topic. Mar 9, 2014 at 3:13
  • @John O: Thanks for the notification but really not my intent. Just asking if I missed something here that other examples/episodes in the series could justify better. I will modify the question to highlight that.
    – shivsky
    Mar 9, 2014 at 4:02
  • There is no consistency in Star Trek. When your question is of the form "Was Star Trek inconsistent on the the issue of X"... the answer is always "yes". I still like Star Trek, but let's not pretend they were going for overall consistency.
    – John O
    Mar 9, 2014 at 4:23
  • Note: This only applies to Star Trek and a few other shows, if we're talking about B5, then inconsistency might be worth asking about because there's a strong chance you just didn't catch something that explains why it is consistent.
    – John O
    Mar 9, 2014 at 4:24
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    @JohnO Were the shields actually up when Ardra beamed in/out?
    – Izkata
    Mar 9, 2014 at 4:26

4 Answers 4


Nothing Ardra did requires access to the Enterprise systems, and it is consistent with the rest of the series(es).

Yet all of the Federation's known enemies (including the Borg) seemed to follow the logical "penetrate/destroy shields or have them lowered" formula for forced entry. (I doubt a con-artist's starship has capability far exceeding the Federation's more famous enemies!)

They key here is "or have them lowered". The Enterprise does not have its shields up all the time, and had no reason to put them up while in orbit of a friendly planet. Ardra didn't have any shields blocking her from beaming in and out of the Enterprise.

She also manages to disable core functioning aspects of the ship (transporter, communicators etc.)

When she visits Picard in his quarters, he's unable to use the comms or the door. This is possible by way of a localized dampening field, probably generated by a device that was beamed in with her. And her depiction of Picard's "perfect woman" can be inferred by how he acts, mixed with knowledge of Earth's history (which we know she has because of the form she took during the trial).

Why didn't they detect her beaming in and out? Energy requirements. The ship is not continually scanning for everything all the time - that's why they usually bring out a tricorder when they need to detect a transporter signature. In DS9 we are treated to additional instances of this, with Sloan regularly beaming in and out of DS9 without detection.

But in this case scanning for it wouldn't likely have helped much. In DS9 6x18, Inquisition, at Sloan's first appearance, he somehow managed to hide his transporter signature - something a con artist who relies on hiding her use of technology would surely know how to do.

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    If the answer is that their shields must have indeed been down for her to beam in and out then the first moment she beams onboard they should have simply raised shields immediately, trapping her there. One of the very first scenes Picard says it could easily be a transporter. That suspicion would have been easily confirmed by raising shields after she appeared on board.
    – CatDadCode
    Nov 2, 2017 at 19:39

The needs of the narrative dictate the vulnerabilities of the Enterprise. Shields are raised or lowered when this action enhances the story as they also become substantially weaker when the narrative requires this to occur to threaten the ship and its crew.

In the case of Ardra why her ship escaped detection for such a lengthy period of time is never made quite clear. Romulan and Klingon cloaking technology is shown to be an energy-intensive function and yet Ardra's ship was so weak that the Enterprise was later able to take control of it without much difficulty. This would, of course, never have happened when facing a Warbird or Bird of Prey (the standard Romulan and Klingon combat vessels).

Also there's the glaring error that Ardra is somehow able to analyze technology incompatible to her own (in this case the Enterprise's systems) and alter them in minutes. Since both Romulan and Klingon technology is comparable to that of the Federation and Cardassian technology is only slight below it. Those adversaries should logically have been able to do the exact same things as did Ardra in roughly the same amount of time or less.

Again, Star Trek's narratives always depend upon the antagonist being able to do what the narrative requires of them to endanger the Enterprise. There is never a program where the antagonists fail in their endeavors at or near the beginning of the program as that would eliminate the danger ( real or imagined) that the crew undergoes in that episode.

  • 1
    "The needs of the narrative dictate the vulnerabilities of the Enterprise." Is this yours, or did you hear it somewhere? Either way, thank you for it... it's quotable.
    – John O
    Mar 9, 2014 at 4:25
  • It's me. Thanks. I have seen all of the series episodes so many times that I have grown used to things going the way that story needs them to "go." It's one of the series' weaknesses: No real suspense.
    – Mistah Mix
    Mar 9, 2014 at 4:33
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    Rephrasing to bring it more closely into alignment with Spock's line: "The needs of the story outweigh the needs of the crew."
    – keshlam
    Mar 9, 2014 at 5:53
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    @keshlam Arr! Just wanted to write that after reading the first comment. :D Maybe you could replace "crew" with "continuity" or something like that as well. ;)
    – Mario
    Mar 9, 2014 at 10:04
  • "Story/crew" echos "many/few" in the original quote.
    – keshlam
    Mar 9, 2014 at 14:35

Shield penetration is not uncommon. Another TNG-specific example that comes to mind is Ensign Ro's gambit in "Pre-emptive strike" in which she is able to penetrate the Enterprise D's shields in order to beam out medical supplies. As you say, the Borg are also able to penetrate shields without constant nutation modulation.

  • But wasn't Ro's attempt detected and didn't they let her get through to help her with her cover story? Mar 9, 2014 at 5:20
  • Yes, but merely because it was detected doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't an actual vulnerability. One presumes they didn't have the ability to stop the penetration beyond simply firing on the Maquis vessel. Mar 9, 2014 at 5:23

I don't think she does penetrate the shields. In the first scene, she just transports back immediately activating her ship's computer remotely with her eyes as she started to de-materialise. Ok, they didn't show the Ops officer being beamed out or her beamed in, but that's a bit a narrative distraction to play along with the 'could she actually be a powerful being' thing since the enterprise has come across many such beings. In Picard's quarters, the shields may well have been down and she stops Picard telling anyone she is there. The answer above about energy consumption and constant scanning seems to make a lot of sense. Everything else she did is just the tech she had with her. No analysis of the Federation tech by her was needed. Her ship probably had stolen tech from various other worlds, and almost all cloaked ships cannot use their shields at the same time as their cloak; So when the Enterprise triangulated her ships position, they could easily take it over. Her crew was likely small and undisciplined, since they probably never had to deal with anyone while she did all the swindles on various worlds. Enterprise on the other hand could just have beamed over a load of security personnel and probably caught them with their feet up playing cards or something. The point about the Klingons and Romulans is interesting though - Since they too had ships full of soldiers, and cloaks, while they couldn't be taken over easily in the same way because of that, there was nothing to stop them sneaking up on an unsuspecting Enterprise and beaming over hundreds of armed attackers. In fairness the Klingons wouldn't have considered this honourable, but it sounds like something that would be right up the Romulans street. I guess that is for the benefit of the story, if Enterprise had to go everywhere prepared for such an attack it would have made it a much darker series.

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    I'm really not sure what point you're trying to make here.
    – Valorum
    Mar 19, 2019 at 10:59
  • I was offering an answer to the question, I thought that's what the 'Add Answer' button was for? Thanks for the warm welcome.
    – Bert
    Mar 19, 2019 at 14:01
  • 1
    My apologies. Welcome to SFF:SE! But the fact remains that I'm unsure what your central thesis is. Could you try breaking the text down into paragraphs and offering a header to show what your main thought is? Also, some evidence (in the form of quotes from the show that back up your points, perhaps) would greatly enhance your answer.
    – Valorum
    Mar 19, 2019 at 14:05

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