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In the ST:TNG episode "Heart of Glory", an Enterprise away team rescues three Klingons from a battle-damaged, derelict freighter. One of the Klingons soon dies from his injuries, prompting the two other Klingons and Worf to howl heaven-ward in the Klingon Death Ritual.

This exchange then happens:

Crusher: "Is there any special arrangement you'd like for the body?"

Klingon: "It is only an empty shell now. Please treat it as such."

Crusher nods in agreement and understanding

What would she do with the body?

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    Feed it to the replicator, like all other organic waste.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Jan 19, 2015 at 21:30
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    I assume the body is beamed into space. Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 11:36
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    For the record, they tend not to recycle organic waste on board and they don't usually vent rubbish from the airlocks.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 11:42
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    Beam the body into a star...
    – user931
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 12:14
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    I don't imagine it comes up much. But if Klingons don't consider the body to be important, they probably wouldn't care if humans followed their own rituals. Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 22:34

4 Answers 4

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For the record we do see a graveyard in TNG's Sub-Rosa, and in DS9's "The Ship" we see Sisko order a funeral detail. However in space burial in the ground is clearly not an option. ST burials in space seem to be based loosely on the Navy's tradition of burials at sea. As Richard mentioned, the space burials we see all involve a body being placed in a torpedo casing, draped with a flag, and launched into space. A few examples:

  • TOS movies: Spock's funeral (try not to cry) (HT: Richard)
  • TNG: Ira Graves' funeral (HT to Richard)
  • Voyager: Lyndsay Ballard died and was 'buried in space' as we find out after the fact.
  • Voyager: We see this happen at Janeway's funeral in Coda (even though it's not real of course).
  • DS9: We see Muniz's body in a torpedo casing, although it's not clear what will happen to it - it's possible it will be turned over to his family for burial elsewhere.

Now I have to respectfully disagree here with Richard. Given Crusher's Federation-bred respect for all beings there's no way she's just vaporize the body or even transport it into pure energy, even if the Klingons didn't care. Even if there was no funeral service, I feel like she would still have put the body in a casing and had it beamed into space to be buried there.

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  • I feel like she would have respected the Klingon tradition of disposing of the body "by the most convenient method". Since she can't vaporise it with a phaser (for obvious reasons), she'd have likely done the next best thing.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 8:47
  • Also, transporting a body (as energy) into space actually seems quite respectful and placid.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 13:02
  • @Richard Placid? Yes. Respectful? Well respectful is very relative - what one culture thinks is respectful another considers offensive so we'll just have to agree to disagree there. However I would say that based on the fact that human/starfleet culture seems to want to preserve the body (based on all the funerals we've seen), I would assume Crusher would consider that to be the ideal thing to do with a dead body. Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 13:49
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    Makes you wonder how many human corpses are floating around in space out there...
    – Omegacron
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 17:00
  • @Omegacron - I presumed that the plan was to prod them toward the local sun.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 17:03
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In the absence of a canon confirmation of how his corpse was disposed of, the best we can do is look at how other bodies have been treated.

In The Wrath of Khan, Spock's body is loaded into a torpedo casing and fired into space. In this particular case it's fired towards the Genesis planet but under normal circumstances (as we see in TNG, DS9 and Voyager), it's generally fired towards the local star or just into deep space.

In TNG : The Schizoid Man, a similar casket (with a glass front) is beamed directly into space.

As far as what Dr. Crusher would do, my guess is that since it would be impractical to follow the general Klingon pattern of destroying the body with a disruptor beam, she would place the Klingon's body into a bodybag and have it beamed off the ship as an energy pattern, neatly disposing of it with the minimum of fuss.

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    I'm still unsure why they'd even shoot dead people into space givent heir travelling speed and technology. Of course this similar to a classic burial at sea, but at the same time you have to consider that they've been on the sea for weeks or maybe even months, with no way to conserve bodies. In Star Trek they're typically able to reach most known home worlds in a matter of hours or maybe days, plus they've got some kind of morgue which is shown in at least one or two episodes IIRC.
    – Mario
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 7:45
  • @Mario - They have the ability to store people and things in stasis but I'm guessing that takes energy and that under normal circumstances, the majority of starfleet personnel would want a speedy funeral from their shipmates rather than having their body in storage for weeks or months at a time.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 8:52
  • For deep space missions, yes, but in Star Trek III they return to home anyway. Also I think Voyager's Endgame (or another episode) even mentions Seven's body being kept IIRC.
    – Mario
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 12:49
  • @mario - Seven's body is of great scientific interest. By comparison, a dead Klingon is merely slowly rotting meat.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 12:59
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    @Omegacron - Not dead though. Not unless your interests lean in a very peculiar direction.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 17:02
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In 'Heart of Glory', the phrase is:

KORRIS: It is only an empty shell now. Please treat it as such.

We know that Starfleet is very sensitive about upholding cultural traditions; making cultural non-interference for pre-warp civilisations the Prime Directive is evidence enough of that.

Consequently, as it is a cultural belief that once dead, a Klingon's body is merely an 'empty shell' and there was emphasis that it should be treated like that, then it stands to reason that Starfleet personnel would be required to act in accordance with that cultural practice.

So, as it is merely a 'shell', it would probably be considered as organic waste. We know what happens to organic waste from this question.

I would expect that if a Klingon died on a Starfleet ship, because of the emphasis that Starfleet places on cultural acceptance, the body would be recycled through the replicator system.

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  • As I've repeatedly pointed out, food and biological waste isn't returned to the matter store, it's stored for disposal at starbase
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 8:17
  • @Richard as pointed out in this answer we know wastewater is recycled into the replicator store, so it stands to reason that this would be as well. This need not be used for food, perhaps for boots and stuff Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 9:46
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@N_Soong points out that Starfleet would observe the cultural traditions which apply. For the Klingons, this is an "empty shell" so any disposal technique at all is fine. He then proposes recycling through the replicator system like other organic waste.

The problem with this is that it ignores the cultural beliefs of a significant portion if the passengers and crew of the ship. Specifically, recycling dead Klingons into lunch -- whether it is just reorganization of the atoms or conversion the energy and back -- is icky.

For that reason, it's much more likely the corpse would be either vaporized or dematerialized and somehow expelled into space, or deposited on a planet (like Spock) or fired at a star or buried in space (like Lyndsay Ballard).

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    "Specifically, recycling dead Klingons into lunch -- whether it is just reorganization of the atoms or conversion the energy and back -- is icky." Umm, the question (and multiple answers) that @N-Soong links to pretty much invalidates this line of thinking.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 5:45
  • I agree with @Ellesedil; considering they do it with all sorts of 'icky' things, I see no reason why not to do it with a Klingon body if the Klingons don't care about it. Regarding the cultural traditions of the passengers on the ship, I think their opinions are irrelevant. What input do they have with regard to this situation? Other than those directly involved, I'd imagine most of the ship would not have any direct influence in the matter and so are irrelevant. Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 6:14
  • @N_Soong, so you're claiming that if alien-of-the-week wants to be left to rot in Ten Forward for a month it also doesn't matter what everyone else believes? Come on. Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 6:18
  • @ThePopMachine: Err, what? How is that situation even remotely the same?
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 6:28
  • Rotting in Ten Forward is one thing, but dematerialising an alien for use in the replicator out of the sight (and probably knowledge) of the majority of the ship is another Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 6:29

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