Star Trek: 47 Nerdy Things About the Next Generation Films

From Star Trek: Generations through to Star Trek: Nemesis - here are 47 nerdy spots in the Next Generation films...

Since Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979, the Star Trek cinematic outings have proved to be a smorgasbord of references and famous actors (or those who would go on to be), and often had complex behind the scenes events that stopped some rather, ahem, fascinating moments making it to the final version. We found lots of nerdy spots in the first six films here.

This time out we look at the films featuring the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation and choose 47 factoids. Granted, there’s a lot more than that of interest, but we’ve tried for ones that you might not be aware of.

Oh, and there are some major spoilers…

Star Trek: Generations (1994)

1. The first of the Next Generation films was something of a rush job as principal photography on the film with the Next Generation cast started one week after the wrap on the seventh season of Star Trek: The Next Generation itself.

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Filming of the scenes with Kirk, Scotty and Chekov took place while the TV show was still shooting. Wrap on the film had to be only a matter of a few weeks later to meet the release date in November of 1994. “All Good Things,” the Next Generation finale, aired on the 23rd May.

2. There’s an entire opening sequence that was cut from the film depicting Captain Kirk (retired) landing from an orbital skydive in a wheat field where Captain Scott and Commander Chekov are waiting. The Captain then exclaims that he’s not going to the Enterprise-B ceremony…. and that’s final!

The orbital skydiving, or spacediving suit then later ended up on screen worn by Lieutenant B’elanna Torres in Star Trek: Voyager‘s “Extreme Risk” after she discovered that the Dominion had wiped out the Marquis in the alpha quadrant. The cut scene is on the Blu-ray and some DVD releases.

3. The Excelsior MK-II class USS Enterprise NCC-1701-B is, in fact, the original Excelsior model, from Star Trek III with extra bits added specifically designed so that they could be damaged without damaging the original model. The ploy failed when the effects team realised that the glue used to attach the extra parts had, in fact, damaged the Excelsior underneath. As a result the model was never returned to its original Excelsior configuration and appeared in it’s MK-II state, rechristened as the USS Lakota, in the Deep Space Nine episode “Paradise Lost.” All other Excelsior appearances were CG.

The 1701-B was different to that depicted on the wall of the Observation Lounge on the 1701-D, which showed a ‘normal’ Excelsior class, albeit in a stylised form. Similarly the Ambassador class USS Enterprise NCC-1701-C that appeared in TNG‘s “Yesterday’s Enterprise” was a significant departure from the sculpture on the wall aboard the Galaxy class Enterprise.

4. Tim Russ appears as an officer on the Enterprise-B, but without pointed ears and eyebrow changes, so it must not be his usual Star Trek role of Tuvok, from Star Trek: Voyager. It is revealed in the Voyager episode “Flashback,” that Tuvok served aboard the USS Excelsior during the events of Star Trek VI, however.

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5. Capt. Harriman of the Enterprise-B is, indeed, played by Ferris Bueller co-star Alan Ruck, and though not a hypochondriac this time around, the character does display some similar traits. Good job he pulled his socks up (the character, that is) for the Star Trek: Of Gods And Men ‘fan’ film, helmed by Tim Russ.

6. Ensign Demora Sulu (Captain Sulu’s daughter) is played by Jacqueline Joan Kim, who you may recognise from Xena: Warrior Princess as Lao Ma, and from various other smaller roles on TV. The actress recently won a special jury prize at the 2015 Sundance Film festival for her work on Advantageous.

7. This was the final filmed performance by James Doohan as Captain Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott, though within the chronology of Star Trek stories the character would end up visiting the Enterprise-D between the events on the Enterprise-B and D in this film. At least he bowed out saving 47 El-Aurians. This story also marks the only time William Shatner played Kirk without Leonard Nimoy playing Spock.

8. All new shots of the Galaxy class Enterprise NCC-1701-D were done for the film after the model was refurbished, and a limited amount of CG shots were also used. This is why the vessel appears a little different from the TV show in exterior shots. The model had a minor refurbish at the end of filming too, as the effects team made a little assumption about the next Starship Enterprise…

9. The Galaxy class starship’s little party trick of ‘routine’ saucer separation comes to the fore for the first time since Best Of Both Worlds, Part 2, this time to act as the lifeboat for the ship’s crew as first depicted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, including a slightly less controlled version of ‘landing’ the saucer on a planet surface.

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Saucer separation was first seen in the Next Generation pilot “Encounter At Farpoint,” but was originally storyboarded for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Separation of vessel components was mentioned as far back as the original series episode “The Apple,” when jettisoning the warp nacelles of the Enterprise was considered as the ship would be pulled into the planet’s atmosphere in 47 minutes.

10. The sets were also refurbished, with the bridge gaining features that were foreshadowed, to a degree, in the episodes “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” “Parallels” (and others.) The changes included lifting the captain’s chair area up from the level of the forward stations and the addition of further duty stations to the port and starboard. Oh, and a new carpet, just in time to wreck it. The set hands also appear to have forgotten to change a few expired lightbulbs…

11. On the Main Engineering set of the Enterprise-D, there is a schematic of the impulse drive system. One of the components is labelled Infinite Improbability Generation. If Douglas Adams is right, surely the Warp Drive is redundant? Better make the use of one of them, there’s only 47 minutes until the nexus ribbon reaches the Veridian system.

12. Not content with being controversial in A Clockwork Orange and Caligula, Malcolm McDowell plays Doctor Tolian Soran, who kills Captain James T Kirk near the end of the film. The actor’s nephew, the artist currently known as Alexander Siddig (previous stage name: Siddig El Fadil), had already started to play Doctor Julian Bashir in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s sixth season.

13. The version of the film released includes a re-shot section where Kirk and Picard come up against Soran. In the original version, Kirk was shot in the back by the deranged scientist, during a much more sedate sequence than that used in the final version, that resulted in the fateful bridge on the captain death scene. The original version of the sequence is depicted in the original hardback novelization which was changed for its paperback release to match the film.

14. The late changes to the film not only effected the novelization. Someone at Paramount forgot to tell Playmates Toys that the uniforms designed specifically for the film had been abandoned in favour of the mixed attire from The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine that was ultimately used. As a result all the Star Trek: Generations branded action figures of the Next Generation cast wore uniforms that didn’t appear in the film… well, bar Worf’s ’19th Century naval’ release anyway (the figure stand even says ‘Pirate Worf’…)

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15. Bizarrely, Whoopi Goldberg isn’t credited at all for her appearance as Guinan in the film, a role she played in selected episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation from seasons two to six. A further cameo in Star Trek: Nemesis, depicting Guinan at the wedding reception at the start of the film, also went uncredited.

16. Bridge… we have a new problem. Actually Commander LaForge, I think you’ll find it’s a recurring problem that timey wimey stuff had previously sorted… but hey, you’re getting really good at the body roll under the Engineering/warp core emergency bulkhead door routine. This is known in some fan circles as the LaForge Manoeuvre, as opposed to the in-canon La Forge maneuvre from TNG‘s “Arsenal Of Freedom.”

17. Evacuating Sickbay for Saucer Sep – loads of fans had a go as main sickbay (wards 1 and 2) is in the saucer section… perhaps they were evacuating ward 3, which is in the neck part of the secondary hull, which was about to explode. As with all important systems/facilities, a fully equipped sickbay was in the secondary hull as well as the primary.

18. In the final scene aboard the crashed Enterprise-D’s saucer section, after Captain Picard is rescued by the shuttle craft Hawking (another deleted scene), a few souvenirs from the Next Generation TV show turn up. The top of, a probably now incomplete, third dynasty Kurlan naiskos (from TNG‘s “The Chase”) is discarded in favor of the Picard family photo album from earlier in the film.

19. English director David Carson helmed Generations after cutting his Trek teeth on “The Enemy” and “Yesterday’s Enterprise” in the third season of Next Generation. He also directed “Redemption II” and “The Next Phase” from the show, as well as the pilot, “Emissary,” of Deep Space Nine and the episodes “Dax,” “Move Along Home,” and “The Alternate.”

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Prior to all this he started off directing an episode of Coronation Street (!) and his only other two cinema film credits are Unstoppable and Letters From A Killer. Since Star Trek he has directed many films for TV, and episodes of shows such as Smallville, Odyssey 5, Birds Of Prey, and The Dresden Files.

Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

20. “Authorisation Picard 4 7 Alpha Tango”… to answer the call from Admiral Hayes on optical data net service access terminal 47. So starts the first film directed by Jonathan ‘Two Takes’ Frakes, after playing Will Riker since 1987, and directing eight Next Generation episodes, starting with “The Offspring” in season 3.

Following directing First Contact, Insurrection, three episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and three of Star Trek: Voyager, Frakes has helmed episodes of Roswell, Dollhouse, Castle (including the episode “The Final Frontier”), The Good Guys, and NCIS Los Angeles, often making cameos.

On the big screen, he also directed Clockstoppers, all three of The Librarian films, and Studio Canal/Working Title’s version of Thunderbirds (don’t hold it against him!) As an actor he also turned up in all four ‘modern’ Star Trek TV shows, only matched by Majel Barrett thanks to her being the voice of Starfleet computer systems.

21. Industrial Light and Magic (ILM, part of Lucasfilm of course) built the physical and CG models of the Enterprise-E, as well as various other vessels in the film. It previously constructed the original Enterprise-D physical models, and many, many other bits of hardware in the franchise.

The Enterprise, NCC-1701-E is a Sovereign Class Starship and was designed by John Eaves. The ship has obvious external and internal cues from the USS Voyager, and indeed, they considered having moving nacelles, like the Intrepid Class vessel under Captain Janeway’s command. A later version had swept forward nacelle pylons, but it apparently looked too much like a stuffed chicken like that. The end result is a much more elegant and swifter looking ship than its predecessor.

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22. The Borg are, of course, a carry over from the Next Generation TV show, and First Contact is a direct sequel to the two part “Best Of Both Worlds” story that formed the cliffhanger ending to season 3 and kicked off season 4.

Though the Borg first appeared in the season 2 episode “Q Who?,” the Borg cube’s ability to scoop entire outposts from the face of planets was first described in the season 1 episode, “Neutral Zone.” The Borg appeared in two further Next Generation stories, and were woven rather directly into the second half of Star Trek Voyager‘s seven year run. The Iaconians (from TNG‘s “Contagion”) refer to the Borg as race 47 in Star Trek Online, semi-spoofing the Borg designation of Species 8472 of the life from fluidic space. One of the borg in First Contact sports the front canopy of a Kenner TIE fighter in its eye piece, while others’ LEDs flash Morse code of production crew’s names.

23. The CG model of the Millennium Falcon, created by Industrial Light & Magic for the Star Wars Special Editions, was inserted by the effects team into the battle of sector 001, as an in-joke. It can be seen (if you look very closely) just below an Akira class starship’s nacelle, after a strafing run on the Borg cube, and twice above the Borg cube in another shot, with one of the Falcon actually flying backwards.

24. Lieutenant Hawk is played by Neal McDonough, a huge Star Trek fan, who bulked up somewhat to play Dum-Dum Duggan in Captain America and other Marvel cinematic universe based work. The actor has also provided voices for various DC heroes in animated films, TV shows and video games, and played Bruce Banner in animated form. His military acting even included Band Of Brothers and Flags Of Our Fathers.

25. First Contact laid a lot of groundwork which was followed up on by Star Trek: Enterprise, not the least of which was to leave 24th century Borg lying around on 21st century Earth ready to reactivate and attempt to assimilate NX-01.

However, having said that, being as prior to First Contact neither Captain Archer, his crew or ship had ever been mentioned, did they exist before the Borg sphere and Enterprise-E travelled back in time? Or did a new timeline get created? Zefram Cochrane’s different appearance and timeline from The Original Series, and the differences in the storyline of the TNG episode “Pegasus” as depicted in Enterprise‘s finale “These Are The Voyages,” do suggest that may well be the case. Then again, potentially every time travel story could have created another branching timeline/universe. Temporal physics is enough to give anyone a headache.

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26. The original choice to play Zefram Cochrane was long term Star Trek fan Tom Hanks, who unfortunately couldn’t fit the film around his work in front of and behind the camera in That Thing You Do! A quick rewrite later and the film is a perfect for for James Cromwell, who also appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and, later Enterprise‘s Pilot “Broken Bow” (reprising his role from First Contact.)

27. Alfre Woodard, the self appointed Godmother to a certain Jonathan Scott Frakes, appears in the film as Doctor Cochrane’s assistant, Lilly. In Lilly’s first scene, she points to the attacking Borg Sphere and it’s suggested by Doctor Cochrane that she’s pointing at the constellation Leo… Wolf 359 is in that constellation and was the site of the battle between the combined forces of Starfleet and the Klingon Defence Force with the Borg in “Best Of Both Worlds.”

28. I’m a Doctor not a doorstop! So exclaims the Enterprise’s Emergency Medical Hologram, based on the life experiences of 47 Starfleet doctors (one of which, unsurprisingly, was Leonard McCoy), as Doctor Crusher breaks her vow never to use an EMH. Though this isn’t the Doctor from Voyager, and more like the original program the Doctor grew from, the role is still played by Robert Picardo, who, of course, was also a regular Stargate franchise cast member. He also had a recurring role in The Wonder Years, plus guest spots in SmallvilleCastle, and Pushing Daisies among many, many others.

29. Fellow Voyager regular Ethan Phillips appears in First Contact, uncredited, as the Maitre D’. But as well as playing Neelix in Voyager, the actor played two different Ferengi, in TNG‘s “Ménage à Trois” and Enterprise‘s “Acquisiton.”

30. Alice Krige, a veteran of British TV after moving to London from South Africa in 1976, played the Borg Queen. The actress has shared both the big and small screens with many Star Trek actors, and went on to reprise the role of the Borg Queen in Voyager‘s finale, “Endgame.”

Unfortunately negotiations for her to guest star on Star Trek: Enterprise were cut off, as her episode, targeted for the fifth season was, of course, a victim of the early cancellation of the show. Her role was to be that of a Starfleet medical technician working on a body from the earlier episode Regeneration… a body that wasn’t completely beyond life, at that…

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31. The First Contact soundtrack includes many musical moments from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

The Klingon Theme especially grabs attention, now attributed to Worf (who of course continued to appear in Deep Space Nine‘s fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh seasons, as well as the Next Generation films, after being in seven seasons of the series. At one stage, actor Michael Dorn even pitched the idea of a Captain Worf series!)

The creation of the music for the film, and indeed, all three of the purely Next Generation films, was led by the late Jerry Goldsmith, who also worked on Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek V, and such auditory pleasures as Gremlins, Planet Of The Apes (the original), and Alien. Jerry worked with his late son Joel on the First Contact soundtrack, after Joel originally worked on the sound effects team for The Motion Picture, and also rearranged his father’s theme for Star Trek: Voyager into a single release, providing the rather fun pop and synth versions of the theme.

Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)

32. Insurrection takes place in parallel to the Dominion War that is mainly depicted in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The Enterprise, one of the most advanced and well armed ships in the fleet, which can go toe-to-toe with the Borg, appears to be sidelined on diplomatic duties while whole wings of Galaxy Class Starships (the class the Enterprise-D belonged to) are being wiped out by the combined forces of the Dominion, Cardassians, and Breen on the small screen. Indeed, the narcotic used to control the Jem Hadar, Ketracel White, is mentioned.

However, the whole idea of Insurrection was that it was supposed to be a lighter story to balance the previous two films, and what was going on in Deep Space Nine. Some, myself included, argue that it feels like a fun two part Star Trek: The Next Generation TV story, which perhaps is why so many feel it doesn’t work too well as a film – yet more proof, perhaps, that Star Trek may work better as “event” television rather than in cinemas.

33. Anij, one of the Baku leadership, is played by multi Tony award, Emmy award and Drama Desk award winner, Donna Murphy. She also played Dr. Rosalie Octavius in Spider-Man 2 as well as a number of other roles. Her fellow Baku, Sojef, was played by Law And Order, West Wing and Hardcastle And McCormick actor, Daniel Hugh Kelly – also a producer writer and director for television. Another Baku, the 12-year old Artim was played by Michael Alan Welch who went on to play a teenage clone of Colonel Jack O’Neil in Stargate SG-1‘s Fragile Balance, among other roles.

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34. Both F. Murray Abraham and Anthony Zerbe went for the role of Adar Ru’afo, with the Oscar winner for his role in Amadeus getting the nod. Zerbe, an Emmy award winner, took the role of Admiral Dougherty. It’s telling that F. Murray Abraham has actually stated (in interviews, including those on DVD releases of the film) that he was so taken with the themes of the film that he would have quite happily have done Star Trek and only Star Trek for the rest of his career.

That said, many other roles followed, including appearances in The Grand Budapest Hotel on the big screen and a recurring role in Homeland on television. Anthony Zerbe went on to appear in both Matrix sequels, True Crime, and American Hustle.

35. With Commander Riker as acting Captain (sans-beard), Commander LaForge becomes acting First Officer. LaForge takes his former conn position on the bridge for a short time, for the first time since the maiden season of Star Trek: The Next Generation (when Riker’s chin was last seen). Back then, he was the Enterprise’s pilot, prior to becoming chief engineer, showing that a physical disability such as blindness was no obstacle to a career in Starfleet. During the film a manual control column – obviously made out of a PC joystick (identified by some as a Microsoft Sidewinder) – is used to execute the Riker Manoeuvre, “shoving explosive gas down the Son’a’s throats” to paraphrase the acting Captain before detonation.

36. At the ops station on the Enterprise bridge is Ensign Kell Perim, an officer from Trill (the home of Lieutenant Dax from Deep Space Nine), played by Stephanie Niznik. She’s an actress with a huge number of TV guest roles under her belt, including a 4 episode arc of Diagnosis: Murder playing Caitlin Sweeney, a bomber, in 1998. The actress also appeared in Star Trek: EnterpriseDr. Quinn Medicine WomanSliders, and JAG, among many others.

37. Deleted and curtailed scenes include the revelation that DS9’s Quark (Armin Shimmerman) turned up at the end of the story intent on turning the Baku homeworld into a holiday destination to rival Risa (and is promptly ‘escorted’ back to Deep Space 9 by Commander Worf.) His DS9 co-star, Max Grodénchik, was filmed as a Trill officer (rather than his usual DS9 role of Rom) in the Enterprise library (an extended scene where Commander Riker and Counsellor Troi are far more playful than a simple neck rub…)

Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)

38. Star Trek: Nemesis opens with Jim Robinson getting dusted. Alan Dale’s proliferation of guest roles manifests itself here with the role of the Praetor of the Romulan Empire, who is assassinated in the opening sequence. Though this is his only Star Trek role to date, the actor has notably appeared in the Doctor Who universe, in Torchwood, as well as 24The X-FilesThe Lone GunmenNCIS and films such as Indiana Jones And The Crystal Skull.

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39. Though Luxwana Troi is awaiting the arrival of her daughter and soon-to-be son in-law during the film, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry isn’t seen on screen, though, once again, she lends her voice to the Enterprise (and pretty much all other Starfleet) computer systems as she has done since Star Trek‘s original series (as well as playing Nurse/Doctor Christine Chapel, and reprising that role in the original series films, and Star Trek: The Animated Series, where she also gave a voice to M’Ress.)

The actress gave a voice to Starfleet ship’s computers in all the Next Generation films, as well as on Star Trek: Voyager, after playing both the computer, and Commander Deanna Troi’s mother, Mrs Luxwana Troi, in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. She also provided the voice of the USS Defiant in Star Trek: Enterprise‘s “In A Mirror, Darkly, Part II” and didn’t stop there.

40. In a revelation that will shock few, it appears helmer Stuart Baird had no knowledge of Star Trek before becoming director of Nemesis. He even refused to watch any Next Generation to prepare, so it’s no wonder so many fans feel the characters act strangely. It’s reported that the director even kept calling Levar Burton ‘Laverne’ and thought Commander LaForge was an alien.

41. Wait a minute… Kathryn Janeway is an admiral after losing her ship, and forging an alliance with the Borg? How miffed would you be if you were Captain Picard by this point? Mind you, he was advised by a certain someone not to accept promotion three films previously, and who is he to argue with the captain of the Enterprise? However, it could all have been far worse…

42. Jeri Ryan was approached to reprise Seven Of Nine in Nemesis and the part would have required a couple of months of filming, according to the actress. This was something Paramount wanted and Rick Berman was intending to ‘plug her in’ to the film. The actress had more savvy, and even had to tell the production team that Seven being at the wedding reception would have made no sense bearing in mind the character hadn’t met any of the Next Generation characters.

43. An awful lot of character moments (which are usually intrinsic to any Star Trek story) were cut from the final version of the film, but in many cases were put before the camera. These included Captain Picard sharing a bottle of Chateau Picard with Data just after the wedding reception, and another being Commander Worf and Commander LaForge rounding up Commander Data’s belongings in his quarters following his apparent death, with Spot (Data’s cat) taking a shine to the son of Mogh.

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44. An unused alternate ending (also on the DVD or Blu-ray release), reveals the Enterprise in dry dock getting one hell of a refit, with a raft of new features, including a new Captain’s chair with seatbelts, demonstrated by a Starfleet engineer to the Captain much to Worf’s protestation. In the same sequence Captain Riker (once again there are four pips), somehow convinces the new First Officer, a Commander Martin Madden (played by soon to be MACO Commander on Enterprise, Steven Culp) to take an informal stance to dealing with Captain Picard much to both Captain Riker’s anticipated and Commander LaForge’s amusement. Worf, again, was a little more wide eyed.

45. Thanks to Levar Burton having a word, Wil Wheaton finally makes an appearance as Wesley Crusher in a TNG film…. just. If you are watching in widescreen, and you pay attention, that is. Wesley is seen at the left edge of the screen, during the wedding reception, in Starfleet uniform depicting his rank as Lieutenant in Engineering yellow. However there’s another wonderful little bit of footage, cut (potentially for financial reasons rather than time it has been… suggested) and really ought to have been left in. Wil had some lines, in a conversation with Gates and Patrick.

The footage revealed that Captain Picard was happy to see him in uniform again, and though somewhat distracted by a young female guest, Wes reveals he’s gained an assignment on the night duty shift in Engineering aboard the U.S.S. Titan, Will Riker’s new command. Those extras on the DVD and Blu-ray release really do paint a picture of a film, that at one stage, could have had a heart. In fact Rick Berman revealed that the original version of the film had 50 minutes cut to create the version that finally went out to cinemas. I estimate 47 minutes of that was probably good stuff.

46. There’s a neat little cameo by Bryan Singer (the director of three X-Men films and counting, who at one point had a TV series treatment called Star Trek: Federation in development with his partners), as a relief tactical officer aboard the Enterprise. He takes over Commander Worf’s station when he accompanies Commander Riker and a security detail to repel the Reman boarders in the latter part of the film. Patrick Stewart brought Singer onto the film following them working together on the X-Men franchise.

47. Forty Seven. Count the 47s. 47 is 42 taking inflation into account, and that was the answer to life, the universe and everything (ask Rick Berman.) The fact is that that number turns up in Star Trek an awful lot, and was actually consciously started to be worked into scripts from Next Generation’s fourth season by Joe Menosky, a writer on both TNG and Voyager. It in itself traces back to The 47 Society at Pomona college in California, which the writer attended.

The society claims that all numbers are equal to 47 (in a spoof mathematical proof) and that the number appears in nature to a greater frequency (that of 47Hz no doubt) than other numbers. The in-joke propagated from season 4 of Next Generation onwards, though grew less numerous in later DS9 seasons only to resurge in Voyager and continues in the alternative universe of the 2009 film onwards.

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Next up: we’ll look at the nerdy spots in the latest two Star Trek movies. Watch for that in a couple of weeks…