In several episode and movies the Holodeck plays a huge role. I remember Prof. Moriarity, Riker kidnapped by Romulans, Insurrection Movie.

In what ways did the Star Trek characteres realize in episodes/movies, where this topic occured, that they were tricked into a artificial reality. Riker seems to feel a wrong reality while in Insurrection a phaser shot on the Holodeck wall shows it. In the Matrix Movies I remember the "Deja-vu" method for error in the matrix simulation. But that was more virtual reality than a projected reality.

  • 2
    I may be wrong, but aren't List Questions off-topic?
    – Jeff
    Nov 2, 2011 at 18:03
  • @Jeff I don't think this list will get longer than 5 items, the main question is how they detect it at all. Of course I would like to review this episodes in the best case.
    – Hauser
    Nov 2, 2011 at 18:08
  • @Hauser If the real question is how they are detected, you might want to remove the request for a list completely. That way there's no question as to if this is on-topic or not. Nov 2, 2011 at 18:21
  • removed. mission accomplished
    – Hauser
    Nov 3, 2011 at 0:50
  • 1
    @Hauser - The concern is a list that is open-ended or nearly so. This question is really on the edge. The site is inconsistent in how it deals with short lists. Nov 5, 2011 at 18:51

2 Answers 2


Because the holodeck is in a confined amount of space, you can determine you are in one by testing the boundaries with real physical objects.

From Memory-Alpha:

[In] "Ship in a Bottle" Data needs to try to test and figure out if, [he], Picard, and Barclay are indeed still in the holodeck. Instead of grabbing any other object in the holodeck, Data takes off his combadge to throw towards the holodeck wall.

So if you knew the items on your person were real, this would be a good test. Using the phaser in Insurrection is the same kind of test. Use a real object to interact with the boundaries of the holodeck (such as shooting the holographic emitters).

On the other hand, if you woke up in a holodeck, and your clothing and everything was provided by the holodeck, it might be very difficult to determine if you were in the real world.

Here is a list of possible ideas:

  1. Attempt to interact with the holodeck computer.
  2. Are there safeties enabled? Attempt to get slightly injured.
  3. Try to go some place where there wouldn't ordinarily be atmosphere, like outer space. I've never heard of the holodeck removing atmosphere.
  4. See how far you can go, a lot of holodeck programs are limited in scope. They may be for a town, or continent, or planet. But if you can get off the planet and go to the farthest reaches of the galaxy, you might exceed the bounds of the holodeck program.

All of this is based on the idea that, for some reason, you suspect you are not in the real world.

  • 6
    Number 3 may not be such a great idea if there is a chance you are not in the holodeck. :)
    – Dima
    Nov 2, 2011 at 18:18
  • 1
    Well, the more paranoid you become, the more likely you are to try drastic things. Nov 2, 2011 at 18:23
  • 24
    Let's not let decorum stand in the way of taking inspiration from our simian cousins. You could still be reasonably sure that your own feces are real, and attempt to fling them at the holodeck walls. If you are not, in fact in the holodeck, this won't win you too many friends. Come to think of it, it won't win you too many friends if you are either... Nov 2, 2011 at 21:06
  • 4
    Or try spinning a top, and see if it eventually topples...
    – Flimzy
    Nov 3, 2011 at 0:45
  • @Flimzy And if it does...then apparently the Holodeck has better probability patterns than your own brain.
    – Zibbobz
    Apr 15, 2014 at 20:07

Most of the time, characters in Star Trek ended up noticing things that couldn't possibly be real. For example, in one situation Commander Riker was in a "false future" holodeck program in which he had been married to a holodeck character from his past. Since he knew that person was not real, he concluded that he was in a simulation/hallucination.

To answer your question more generally, the characters seem to notice flaws in the program. These flaws were present because the simulation was constructed by either observation of someone's life (which will never be perfect), or by scanning their memory through some sci-fi contrivance. In the second case, we can't say why such technologies fail since we don't know how they would work, but it is fair to conclude that in the Star Trek TNG timeline, the sum total of someone's lifetime memories can't be easily processed into a consistent simulation of what it's like to live that person's life, and at best you can only hope to keep someone fooled for a little while.

  • 1
    IIRC, Riker wasn't in a holodeck program in that instance, but in an alien mind-manipulation of some sort. Although from a literary standpoint, they are essentially the same thing.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 3, 2011 at 0:47
  • 2
    @Flimzy It was a large holodeck-like area inside a cave, not mind-manipulation. The alien child was given the projectors by his parents before he was left there.
    – Izkata
    Nov 3, 2011 at 2:43
  • @Izkata: Ah yes, it's coming back to me now. The mind manipulation bit was just to extract the details used in the projection, eh?
    – Flimzy
    Nov 3, 2011 at 4:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.