The Star Trek Voyager episode "Tuvix" dealt with a transporter accident that took two people and merged them into a unique lifeform, shown to be sentient and sapient and healthy. At the end, he expressed a self-preservation instinct and "[did not] want to die". The Emergency Medical Holographic program was the only one that voiced a negative stance to Tuvix's murder, invoking the Hippocratic Oath of non-harm and refused to personally perform the procedure. Captain Janeway did instead.

The entire plot revolved around the ethics and morality of the situation, to which end that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... Or the one, as the case may be. Obviously Tuvok would have laid his life down for two others. Neelix much less likely based on his attitudes towards death in previous episodes. Spock, the origination of the quote, laid down his life Voluntarily. Tuvix, regardless of logic or anything, explicitly would not commit suicide for this, and no person should ever be punished for not being suicidal. But I digress. The point of the episode was clearly to put the moral and ethical dilemma in the Audience's hands, and was ambiguous in which action was the right one. It was not meant to dictate how the audience should feel, but provoke discussion.

My question though, is how did the writing staff or cast decide what was the right thing? Were they themselves conflicted? Any word of God statements? Did anyone think Janeway committed murder?

  • Obviously I think it is murder, justified or not. In-universe is ambiguous, with only the Doctor saying yes or no. This is only asking for out-of universe or BTS answers. – user16696 Jul 16 '15 at 23:37
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    Isn't the question of whether it was the "right thing" entirely separate from whether it was "murder"? It would seem to be murder by definition, but that doesn't necessarily make it the wrong choice ethically (many people would probably endorse the murder of one innocent person to save a much larger number, like 1000 or 1 million...arguably Kirk murdered Edith Keeler in "City on the Edge of Forever" by preventing McCoy from pushing her out of the way of a speeding car, but that was to prevent a Nazi victory, the only real ethical difference is the number of people saved). – Hypnosifl Jul 16 '15 at 23:44
  • Homicide, manslaughter, murder. They are related but not the same thing. Murder is malicious or willfully negligent or indifferent to the life being taken. Murder by any means is ethically and morally wrong. There may be mitigating circumstances that lessen that but its still wrong. – user16696 Jul 16 '15 at 23:57
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    Legally, I think murder just means a premeditating killing that's not legal (to rule out things like killings by soldiers or executioners). "Malicious", "willfully negligent" and "indifferent" seem like descriptions of one's mental state, what if one is sad about killing someone and wishes there was another way, but still believes it must be done for the greater good, like with Kirk and Edith Keeler? – Hypnosifl Jul 17 '15 at 0:42
  • See, I don't think it was murder at all. To me, it was simply correcting an error. I guess I'm just cold-hearted or something, though, since I seem to be in the minority. – Omegacron Jul 21 '15 at 16:26

The actor portraying Tuvix; Tom Wright stated that he felt that Janeway was right to separate him/them back into their original selves:

"There isn't any moralizing," he observed. "It's just a story about a character, and you follow that character during the time he is alive. You watch the birth and the life and the death of one character in one episode, and there is no struggle between good and evil. It's purely a no-win situation." When asked if he thought Tuvix should be spared the separation at the episode's conclusion, Wright stated, "I think it was inevitable that he would be separated. There would be no drama without that separation. So, I completely agree that he should have been separated."

He elaborated on this in a Reddit AMA

Q. I thought it was wrong of them to kill Tuvix. Nelix and Tuvok were dead, killing Tuvix to bring them back was murder. I'm interested in your opinion.

Tom Wright: There was a small voice inside of me that agrees with you but I also knew that if I had two loved ones that would disappear forever, I might have to make an unpleasant but necessary choice. It remains an interesting dilemma.

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    "unpleasant but necessary choice." Many people live with doing the wrong thing for right reasons. – user16696 Jul 17 '15 at 0:00
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    From a purely out-of-universe perspective, he had to die because he was a special guest star and because Phillips and Russ had three season contracts. – Valorum Jul 17 '15 at 0:02
  • If only Tuvix knew to invoke the age old earth custom of no take-backs... – Daft Jul 21 '15 at 10:11
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    "Tom Wright stated that he felt that Janeway was right to separate him/them" - at least the first quote does not support that statement. He said what was "right" to produce a good story; he does not touch upon morals in that first interview. It's like stating "killing all those people was the right thing to do, because without the murders, there wouldn't have been a case for the hero to solve" when commenting on a murder mystery story. – O. R. Mapper Jul 21 '15 at 12:25
  • @o.r.mapper - I don't disagree. From a purely moral perspective he says that it's a no -win scenario – Valorum Jul 21 '15 at 12:58

Janeway herself would appear to class it as murder given her speech to the Vidiians in "Phage". She seems to have forgotten her high principles by the time Tuvix appears though.

So now I am left with the same choice you made. Whether to commit murder to save a life, or to allow my own crewman to die while you breath air through his lungs.

I can't begin to understand what your people have gone through. They may have found a way to ignore the moral implications of what you are doing, but I have no such luxury. I don't have the freedom to kill you to save another. My culture finds that to be a reprehensible and entirely unacceptable act. If we were closer to home I would lock you up and turn you over to my authorities for trial, but I don't even have that ability here, and I am not prepared to carry you forever in our brig.

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    This speaks to killing one to save another, but not killing one to save multiple. – ThePopMachine Jan 15 '16 at 15:50
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    @ThePopMachine - ah the old, "is it ok to push a fat man in front of a car to save two smaller people from being hit" question... ;) – colmde Oct 4 '17 at 8:10
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    @colmde Without the weight references, maybe. – T.J.L. Mar 21 '18 at 13:48

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