Star Trek is one of the few SF shows to have the distinction of running long enough to make some of their original situations outdated.

In the original Star Trek, the Eugenics wars took place between 1993-1996. Star Trek: The Next Generation was produced from 1987 until 1994, so it was being produced during that time period and Star Trek: Voyager started production after that, so those shows were actually produced during and after the time when Earth was supposedly going through a terrible war.

The Eugenics Wars were not mentioned in The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine, and were never directly mentioned in Voyager. However, The Next Generation started with Q putting humanity on trial in a courtroom modeled after trials that took place after World War III, which is in the 21st century.

In Voyage there are at least two episodes that deal with the late 1990s or early 21st century, a time that was after the Eugenics wars were supposed to happen. In Future's End, the ship Voyager is in orbit around Earth in 1996 (current time for viewers when it was produced) and crew members spend time on Earth. Everything looks as we'd expect for people living in 1996. There's no trace of the Eugenics wars or any of the aftermath. In the episode 11:59 we see Janeway's ancestor in the year 1999 and there's no trace of any recent wars.

While this was necessary, since Trek had been around so long, at that time, that it had outdated itself, it does create problems in terms of internal continuity. I realize that the Voyager producers were more concerned about not confusing newer viewers than about maintaining continuity with a show that aired 20 years before then, but there are repeated references to Kirk later in the series that do keep some continuity between the shows.

Was there ever any on-screen or canon reference to this? Was the timing of the Eugenics wars moved forward to fit a new timetable? Were they just combined with World War III, sometime in the 21st century? Were retconned dates for the Eugenics wars ever given to go with a revised timeline?

If this was never addressed in canon, did any of the novels or games provide any explanation for the discontinuity between the 1990s as the time for the Eugenics Wars and the fact that we're still here, without such wars, in the 21st century?

Please understand: I know what the Eugenics Wars were and about them. What I'm focusing on, with this question, is what was done within the studio or the writer's meetings to handle the retconning when our world caught up to the time of the Eugenics Wars and Voyager was airing episodes of their characters visiting our non-wartorn planet instead of one decimated by those wars. Or did the writers in Voyager even realize that was an issue?

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    I believe that the majority (or all?) of the fighting during the Eugenics wars took place externally to the United States. Since both of the episodes you mention happened in the USA there would have been little sign of conflict. Of course, I presently am unable to back any of this up with references, and it may all be wrong anyway.
    – Xantec
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 19:26
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    Same for Star Trek 4, which should have shown the early signs of the selective breeding hysteria that would lead to the wars. Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 19:27
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    We know it must have happened because they touched on it in an episode of Enterprise with Soong's ancestor.
    – Xantec
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 19:32
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    We know it happened, then didn't happen, or maybe happened later. That's not in doubt. The question is if there was ever an official retcon involved. (Personally, I suspect the Eugenics wars happened in the 1990s, but when Nero came back the first time, he created an alternate timeline starting in the 1970s and it was the Nero from that timeline that ended up going back and killing James Kirk's Father, so there's really 2 alternate timelines that Nero created.)
    – Tango
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 19:40
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    I always wondered about this. I always assumed history changed when the time traveller left his technology in the past and that hippy found it. That did create something like thirty years unaccounted for. Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 21:46

8 Answers 8


In episode 3 of the second season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds ("Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow") a retcon is provided: interference from various time wars have delayed, but not prevented the Eugenics Wars:

From a time-travelling Romulan agent in Canada of 2020, who is seeking to kill Khan as a child:

But, yeah, so many people have tried to influence these events, you know, to delay them or stop them. I mean, whole temporal wars have been fought over them. And it’s almost as if time itself is pushing back, and events reinsert themselves. And all this was supposed to happen back in 1992, and I’ve been trapped here for 30 years trying to get my shot at him.

  • This is an interesting and rare situation, but I'm sure this kind of thing will happen more and more. I picked an answer that was, at the time correct (this question is 12 years old!), and that was before any of the recent Trek shows or even the Kelvin timeline movies. But now, with new Trek being produced again, you've provided a new correct answer that they worked in.
    – Tango
    Commented Apr 7 at 4:07
  • Thanks. I just happened to notice this old question- and remembered the recent SNW episode
    – Andrew
    Commented Apr 7 at 11:02
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    Andrew and @Tango : As the answerer of the original accepted response, I’m happy to see this new answer and I’m happy to see it accepted. I tried my hardest at the time with the canon and extended universe materials that were available (and I enjoyed doing so). It is actually a very nice turn of events that new Star Trek canon is being produced that revisits and enhances what we knew before. Thanks for your contribution here.
    – Praxis
    Commented Apr 7 at 23:20

No, an official explanation or retcon has never been offered.

That being said, it is not clear that one is necessary. While the exact location of the territory controlled by Khan is not precisely defined in "Space Seed", it was made clear that his rule was confined to Asia:

SPOCK: From 1992 through 1996, absolute ruler of more than a quarter of your world. From Asia through the Middle East.

The locations of the battles that resulted in his deposition and escape are not explicitly mentioned, but it is suggested in "Space Seed" that it was in-fighting amongst the supermen themselves that weakened them and paved the way for their defeat. It could very well be that most battles of the Eugenics Wars were fought on soil controlled by the despots (hence having minimal effect on North America).

In various extended universe materials, including the well-received book series The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh by Greg Cox, it is indicated that Khan reigned over the Middle East and some parts of southern and central Asia. Consistent with this, other novels indicate that the selective breeding programs that gave rise to Khan and his ilk were conducted in countries with little or no legislation against genetic experiments and with plenty of poor people willing to be exposed to such experiments for money, and it was in these countries that the subjects were raised and eventually assumed power. Nothing in canon contradicts this.

It is therefore plausible that North America was more or less unaffected by the rise and fall of the supermen. In particular, there is no indication that an augment ever took power in the western world or that any battle in the Eugenics War was fought on western soil.

So, in some sense, there may be no in-universe conflict with the 1996 Los Angeles that we see in Voyager, and hence no need for a retcon.

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    Very plausible argument; +1 Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 0:32
  • Yes, but that would imply that the Star Trek universe isn't our own future :-(
    – RDFozz
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 18:52
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    RDFozz - the Star Trek universe is not our own future. Thanks to the numerous inaccurate historical statements by various writers that made it into the aired episodes it is impossible for Star Trek to happen in our timeline. Star Trek must be in an alternate universe that branched off from ours long before TOS was made in the 1960s. Commented Dec 16, 2017 at 23:10
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    Sorry I didn't comment earlier when I changed the answer choice. Saw your other comment and realized I should leave this here for you and for the record. This is an excellent answer and was correct for many years, but with a new episode of Strange New Worlds, the facts and our information has changed. Thank you and I appreciate the attitude you expressed in your comment on the other answer.
    – Tango
    Commented Apr 8 at 16:15
  • No worries at all: correctness of answers can change over time and this is not the first time this has happened on SFF:SE!
    – Praxis
    Commented Apr 9 at 6:56

There actually is a reference to the Eugenics Wars in DS9, when it is revealed that

Dr. Bashir was genetically enhanced.

From wikipedia entry on Timeline of Star Trek:

A reference in the Deep Space Nine episode "Doctor Bashir, I Presume?" suggests that the Eugenic Wars instead took place in the 22nd century. According to writer Ronald D. Moore, this was not an attempt at a retcon, but a mistake – when writing the episode, he recalled the already questionable "two centuries ago" line from "Space Seed" and forgot that DS9 takes place over 100 years later.


The Eugenics Wars were a result of the experiments with creating Augments in the late 20th century.

The Enterprise episodes partially retconned the Eugenics Wars into being a political/behind-the-scenes war at the beginning, with the Augments seizing power in over 40 nations. A short while later, the Eugenics Wars erupted into an actual conflict, and entire populations were bombed out of existence.

However, the retconning did not make it consistent with our reallife history, according to Memory Alpha. The all-out war mentioned above would have ended in 1996, when Khan was finally overthrown.

If you're willing to step out of canon, then the Eugenics Wars were retconned into something that may have been possible given reallife history - from Memory Beta, on the book series The Eugenics Wars:

The wars involved the progeny of a genetic engineering project, who established themselves as supermen and attempted world domination. They were shadowy conflicts fought behind the scenes of current events, against elusive and conspiratorial enemies whose genetically engineered origins remained largely unknown to the general public. Most people were not even aware of the global struggle against the genetically enhanced "Augments", seeing only scattered brush fire wars and random acts of terrorism. The Augments ended up fighting amongst themselves and were eventually overthrown due to their disunity.

  • I was sure that the description from the books on Memory Beta was in Enterprise during one of the two Augments arcs, but I found no reference like that on Memory Alpha...
    – Izkata
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 0:12
  • Funny, I completely forgot about the series Enterprise while thinking over that question -- my bad!
    – Tango
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 0:14

Note: this is more designed to supplement @Praxis' answer rather than be a full answer on its own, but I still think it raises some useful points.

Let's first recap what we know from canon about the Eugenics wars:

TOS 'Space Seed':

SPOCK: No such vessel listed. Records of that period are fragmentary, however. The mid=1990s was the era of your last so-called World War.

MCCOY: The Eugenics Wars.

This suggests that what we know to be World War III (which is referenced in TNG as pointed out in the question) is actually the Eugenics Wars.

But before we jump to such conclusions, let's continue with what else we know.

DS9 'Doctor Bashir, I Presume

BENNETT: I don't think so. Two hundred years ago we tried to improve the species through DNA resequencing, and what did we get for our trouble? The Eugenics Wars

Now, this episode is set in 2373 (source), putting the Eugenics at about the 2170s. If we assume Bennett was using that loosely, it might be set about the end of the 21st century, beginning of the 22nd century. This would make sense, as it's pretty unlikely we've got a Eugenics war going on during Enterprise (which started in 2151!)

ENT 'Hatchery':

ARCHER: My great grandfather was in North Africa during the Eugenics Wars.

If we take it that a generation is about 30 years (see my answer here), and Archer was born in 2112 (source), his father would have been born around 2085 and Archer's grandfather about 2055. If Archer's great grandfather was about 30 in 2055, this would be the general time when he was serving in North Africa during the Eugenics wars.

There is one last piece of evidence I'd like to cite in relation to this: the events of First Contact. This is supposed to occur in 2063, directly after the nuclear war of World War 3.

Based on the above quotes, I would posit that the Eugenics wars were, if not at least a precursor to, then the Third World War. This would put them/it with a range of the mid 1990s to the mid 21st century.

So, that accounts for the confusion between DS9 and TOS/ENT.

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    Nice summary. One other point: Spock says in that quote that the Eugenics Wars were the "last so-called World War", but TNG's "Encounter at Farpoint" along with various other episodes and the movie First Contact established a nuclear world war in the mid-21st century (in FC Data said "I would estimate we have arrived approximately ten years after the Third World War"). We could either imagine the timeline changed (due to Star Trek IV, say?) or that Spock viewed this as a sort of single long-term war, perhaps with a long-term "cold" phase between the 1990s and the nuclear conflict.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 10:34
  • @Hypnosifl I had just been thinking that time travel might have altered the timeline at some point! Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 10:36
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    @Hypnosifl, and N_Soong, you both touch on a point that bugs me. It'd be so easy to just say that ST:IV changed the timeline and the Eugenics wars happened 100 years later than originally - and then include some technobabble about why that change were left intact. But they never did that.
    – Tango
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 17:40
  • You're not in chat at this point (looked for you, pinged you, and it didn't auto-complete your name), and I already told @Praxis about this. While I picked his answer and he'll be getting a bounty on it, your answer is solid, so you get the original bounty and he gets another tomorrow.
    – Tango
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 23:33
  • @Tango aww shucks! Thanks so much ☺️ Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 23:41

Two novels by Greg Cox, The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume 1 and The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume 2, cover the Eugenics Wars.

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    A brief summary of how they dealt with the timeline might help...
    – Tango
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 20:20

Ever since I saw the first season of TNG I have realized that different Earth calendars have been used to give dates in different Star Trek episodes. Ever since then I have felt like a fool for not noticing the use of different Earth calendars in TOS. Different Earth calendars are used in different episodes of every Star Trek series to date Earth events - no doubt due to the carelessness of writers rather than conscious decisions by the creators.

So that solves - or rather greatly changes - the problem of the invisible Eugenics Wars that happened in the 1990s of the "Space Seed" calendar.

  • Five years later, but I'm intrigued to know what you mean by "different Earth calendars"? They always to me seem to (generally) use either "stardate" or our own currently standard BC/AD year numbers. - If you mean, "In universe they always use BC/AD but they often get the actual dates wrong, and this is because of badly degraded or lost records", that makes sense. (The out of universe explanation is obvious and , personally, I think Greg Cox's books are a good solution - and quite good themselves as well!) - but if you meant something else, I'd really be interested to know! Commented Apr 27, 2022 at 15:19
  • @lessthanideal I used the search function at: chakoteya.net/StarTrek and found one date BC and about 5 or 6 dates secified as AD. All other historic dates mentioned in the Star Trek shows included are without any mention of the calendar era used. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calendar_era Thus it is possible that many datesare givenin diferent calendar eras, And various date inconisistencies make it seem probable that different calendars eras are used. Commented Apr 30, 2022 at 18:25

I know this thread is kind of old but the cannon has not been updated much so this is still valid.

The official confirmed start is 1992 and the end is 1996 and it happened in lesser developed parts of the world in Asia and the middle earth as is shown in "Space Seed"

(Additionally, to back this up, Khan is implied to be Indian according to one of the directors, Gene Coon I think)

The World, at this time is shown to be only slightly more technologically advanced as is shown by the ENT episode with the Zindi bio-Weapon which is set in 2002 and the VOY episode about a computer company owner that used future tech to advance the micro-chip which is set the year the Eugenics war ended in 1996. No one mentions the wars in these two episodes which shows that it was not a big deal to the American People and was perhaps viewed as a far of conflict.

We know that a coalition of nations in the Far East and Middle East called The Eastern Coalition was part of World war three and was made up of at least china and possibly India. In first contact it is described by the Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 1, p. 228) as "a loose alliance of eastern powers" and we have no time stamp apart from being around in 2024 as is shown in the DS9 timetravel episode about the riots in the slums of San Fransisco. This could have possibly formed to out of the ruins of the Eugenics wars.

It should be noted that the Eugenics wars are not WW3 they are a precursor so it seems likely that with the americans in 1996 not caring it was seen as a foreign affair. The political damage from the Eugenics wars along with general Green's insanity and thes cold war thying between ECON and the USA lead to WW3

  • You appear to have some really nice information here, could you edit in some quotes and your sources to back this up further?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jul 4, 2019 at 7:58

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