Despite the longevity of Vulcans, they seem to progress through Starfleet ranks at a similar rate to that of humans. With a later onset of senescence, one could expect Vulcan officers to remain on active duty much longer than their human counterparts.

Given all this, why isn't the Admiralty of Starfleet composed almost entirely of Vulcans?

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    Pure speculation: humans are famous in the Star Trek universe for their love of exploration. Could be that Starfleet is simply more attractive to humans by nature, leading to higher rates of enlistment and higher rates of career commitment.
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 5:39
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    Vaguely related because this depends on how many Vulcans there are: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/20971/…
    – Junuxx
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 5:45
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    Dupe of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/14729/…?
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 5:46
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    Dupe of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/90925/…?
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 5:46
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    I think it is somewhat of a consequence of the vulcan longevity. I mean the on-screen portrayed vulcans and half-vulcans usually don't spend more time in the Starfleet then an average human, only when they retire, they continue their science or diplomatic work in non-starfleet positions.
    – mg30rg
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 10:44

2 Answers 2


The questions posted in the comments help to answer this question:

  • Humans were the key founders of the Federation.
  • The Starfleet Command HQ is located on Earth.
  • Vulcans are not particularly interested in colonisation and space exploration, but humans are.

Additionally, two of the three major Vulcan characters in Starfleet (T'Pol and Spock) were both strongly discouraged from joining (T'Pol largely due to strong prejudices against humanity during the pre-Federation era). Because Starfleet started as an Earth organization and with longstanding Vulcan prejudices against humans (apparently we smell bad and are uncivilised) and Starfleet itself, Vulcans simply weren't enlisting in the same numbers as humans were. Science and diplomacy are apparently more respectable professions for a Vulcan. So even if they did enter Starfleet, they'd probably gravitate towards those specialties rather than command. Even Tuvok started off as a science officer.

Plus, TNG and DS9 implied that Vulcans and other species commanded their own fleet of Starfleet ships. It's possible that there are regional divisions in the command structure.

Out of universe, a lot of the named Admirals in the series are simply named after producers and others who worked on the show (e.g. Peter Lauritson, Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Richard James, Marvin Rush, etc.), all of whom happen to be human.


Simply put: Vulcans did not have interest in space. For a society where greatest challenge, honour and reward are self-improvement and seeking perfection, service on a spacefaring vessel would be hindrance rather than help in attaining those goals. Any shipboard duty leaves rather small amount of free time; just ask anybody with experience in navy.

And as always, there are exceptions. Obviously.

And no, Starfleet did not encourage homogeneous crews (DS9 case of all-Vulcan ship was special dispensation IIRC), as is implied in other answer. I don't know if ENT finally made canon, but even with that discarded, it's clear that Federation came to be as a solution to one-race-crew-ships problems in the first place.

Somewhat different was diplomatic/political service — those offered better opportunities to perfect oneself (patience and smell, especially), and were much less time-intensive. So they could be viewed more favourably.

EDIT: Eating a frog here. It seems that canon indeed allows, even insists on segregated crews (from Gene Roddenberry himself: https://i.sstatic.net/yHln0.jpg). Shows how much problems creates sticking to the rules invented so long ago that no one remembers them.

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    In TOS Spock falls in pain when a Starfleet Vulcan ship was destroyed. I think crews where one species is dominant are rather common.
    – Davidmh
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 10:41
  • Correct. And corrected. Thank you.
    – AcePL
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 16:28
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    @OrangeDog - Technically not the first season - it wasn't even called Star Trek - just Enterprise
    – AcePL
    Commented May 4, 2023 at 11:31
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    @OrangeDog - I remember the discussion on the topic on the day of ENT premiere of first episode. I was watching it and reading it live, week after week and I am sure fanbase was unimpressed to the point of denouncing it. I personally had no problem with either title or the departures from canon (i.e. where is the disastrous war with Klingons after first contact?), but I am sure there was serious discussion on this particular topic, even well after ENT/TNG holo-sim episode. I may have had a misconception of what defines canon when writing this answer, though, TBH.
    – AcePL
    Commented May 4, 2023 at 13:49
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    @OrangeDog - DIS is much later tha ENT, which makes it irrelevant for this issue and therefore this discusion. It specifically said that war broke out after - and it is implied due to - first contact with Klingons. Yes, I'm aware of the discussion on what constitutes first contact and between whom in this case, but one can fine tune that only so much. ENT and DIS took this to ridivulous levels, IMO. I shall not continue that conversaion, though. Objections noted, my reasons explained, EOT.
    – AcePL
    Commented May 5, 2023 at 17:00

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