Strange New Worlds Easter Eggs Use Lower Decks to Address TOS Canon Problems

Were Lower Decks' Mariner and Boimler able to stop themselves from acting like massive fans of Pike and the gang in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds? They were not.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Season 2 Easter Eggs
Photo: Michael Gibson/Paramount+

This Star Trek: Strange New Worlds article contains spoilers.

Time travel is a joke. Well, in Strange New Worlds season 2, time travel is either a huge deal, like it was in episode 3, when Captain Kirk had a rough time in Toronto with La’an, or in episode 7, in which time travel is mostly silly. In the long-anticipated crossover episode between Lower Decks and Strange New Worlds, crew members from 2381 find themselves in the year 2259. A strange, new time portal accidentally brings under-achieving ensigns Boimler and Marnier to Pike’s Enterprise and the results are undeniably hilarious. 

With “Those Old Scientists,” Strange New Worlds enjoys a visit from The Next Generationera of Lower Decks, and thus, gets a little bit of a retcon by default. Because, in between all the jokes, “Those Old Scientists” manages to stitch up a few aspects of SNW that feel incongruous with the actual canon of The Original Series and beyond. Did Boimler and Mariner’s time travel trip actually save the timeline? The easter eggs and references suggest the answer is a big yes.

Cold Open in a Lower Decks Episode

Notably, the episode’s teaser begins within an animated Lower Decks-style adventure. The USS Cerritos has arrived at the planet Krulmuth-B to check out the Krulmuth-B Portal. Boimler says this is one of his “favorite portals,” which seems to reference other portals from Star Trek’s past, such as the Guardian of Forever (TOS, Discovery) or an Iconian Gateway (TNG, DS9). The ending of Lower Decks season 3 was in 2381, so it’s safe to assume that’s the timeframe for this opening scene. Several times, Boimler makes reference to being from roughly 120 years in the future, which would be exactly 122 years.

Ad – content continues below

Pivotal Poster in the First Scene 

Blink-and-you’ll miss it, but Boimler’s recruitment poster of Number One is briefly glimpsed as he’s getting ready for the mission at the beginning of the episode, just as he’s closing his locker. Obviously, if you’re watching the episode the first time through, you’re not looking for it, but it’s there!

“The Second Enterprise, Technically”

When Boimler mentions the crew of the Enterprise, he corrects himself saying, “I mean the second Enterprise, technically.” This references the fact that the NX-01 Enterprise was retconned as the original Enterprise in 2001 with the prequel series Enterprise. This quick joke actually becomes a big plot point later!

“Those Old Scientists”

Boimler refers to the classic Trek era as “Those Old Scientists.” This obviously references the fact that in our world this time period is called “TOS” which stands for The Original Series. This was first referenced in the Lower Decks season 1 finale “No Small Parts,” when Ransom called the time of Kirk the “TOS” era, telling Captain Freeman that it stood for “Those Old Scientists.” This is why at the end of this episode, Mariner points out that Boimler “got that from Ransom.” In both the Star Trek canon and in our world, the “TOS” designation is retroactive. 

“Numero Una” 

Obviously, nobody calls Una/Number One “Numero Una.” But this nickname is a great mash-up of her designation, “Number One,” and her actual first name, “Una.” 

Rutherford’s Camera

The holographic camera Rutherford uses to take pictures is just like the one the Doctor had in Voyager, perhaps most notably in the episode “Life Line.”

Horonium Hasn’t Been Recorded for Centuries

Although “horonium” is a newly established substance, this episode retroactively says it dates back to “centuries” before 2381. Note that Tendi uses the plural here. Boimler says Starfleet used Horonium in the “original NX class,” which would be in the 22nd century, two centuries prior to the 24th century of Lower Decks.

Ad – content continues below

Starship History Museum 

Boimler and Mariner reference the “starship history museum” more than once in this episode. One has to assume this is the same Fleet Museum we saw in Picard season 3, unless of course in the 2380s that museum is in a different location than it was in 2401. 


As Boimler is getting sucked into the time portal, he screams “REMEMBER ME!” This references the TNG episode of the same name, in which Dr. Crusher is sucked into a vortex in a similar way. Boimler is suggesting, it would seem, that he doesn’t want to get stuck in a reality in which he doesn’t exist and/or other people he knows to start disappearing. Lower Decks has long established that episode titles for Trek stories often exist in-universe as well. Various logs and famous missions oftentimes carry the same name in canon as they do in “our” universe. 

Animated Strange New Worlds Title Sequence 

The opening title sequence for this episode of SNW is entirely animated in the style of Lower Decks. For the most part, it faithfully recreates the opening of the season 2 Enterprise flybys but does add the strange little alien hitching a ride on the ship, just like the opening of titles of Lower Decks. We also see an outline of a space koala, which has been referenced as some kind of all-powerful deity in Lower Decks several times.

Grain to Setlick II and The Trouble With Tribbles

The Enterprise moving a shipment of grain in a comedic episode is a clear reference to “The Trouble With Tribbles” from TOS as well as “More Tribbles, More Troubles” from The Animated Series. Meanwhile, Setlick II is likely a neighboring planet of Setlick III, which was where O’Brien fought during the Cardassian War prior to The Next Generation.

TNG-era Communicator

Number One notes that Boimler’s “delta” is not also a “communicator.” Pike says “flipping it open’s the best part,” in reference to the classic flip-top communicators. Interestingly, Pike has seen a badge-tap communicator before. In Discovery season 2, Ash Tyler (remember him?!) had a Section 31 all-black badge that was also a communicator. Pike was freaked out by that communicator back then, too.

“Computer End Program”

Upon waking up on the Enterprise, Boimler initially suspects he might be in a holodeck simulation, so he says, “Computer, end program.” Picard and the TNG gang did this all the time when they found themselves in strange surroundings. It never works!

Ad – content continues below

Five-digit Stardate

The real-world history of why and how stardates were created is complicated. The general consensus is that early on, Gene Roddenberry, Herb Solow, and others wanted a somewhat vague measurement of time, since the classic Star Trek generally, at first, tried to avoid saying exactly which century everything was happening in. (“Space Seed” basically broke this short-lived tradition.) But, in canon, one thing remains pretty consistent: the TOS era (and therefore Discovery and SNW) use five-digit stardates, while the TNG eras, and those that follow, use six. This is why Boimler says, “Ah five digits, totally normal date to be living in.”

Worf’s Honor

Instead of saying “Scout’s Honor,” Boimler says, “Worf’s honor.” Obviously, Worf from The Next Generation doesn’t exist yet in 2259. But one has to wonder if a young Colonel Worf from The Undiscovered Country is maybe around at this point.


Before Boimler jumps on Pike’s saddle, he says, “RIKER!” This, of course, references Riker’s occasional and very specific leg movements in The Next Generation. The way Riker sits down on a few chairs in TNG very often involves a big leg left. Jonathan Frakes, aka Riker himself, directed this episode, and therefore had to give Jack Quaid instructions on how to Riker correctly in this scene, right?

NCC-1701 Dash Nothing!

Boimler marvels at the fact that this Enterprise doesn’t have a letter suffix, saying, “NCC-1701 DASH, nothing!” Ortegas and Una are baffled as to why there would be a dash after the registry number. This seems to indicate that the tradition of putting letter suffixes in subsequent versions of a starship with the same name began with the Enterprise-A in The Voyage Home. Or perhaps, the tradition simply began sometime after 2259, maybe with a different ship. Either that or the current Enterprise crew can’t imagine why there would be another Enterprise beyond this one. Boimler noting the lack of a letter is also reminiscent of Scotty in the TNG episode “Relics,” when he asks for a recreation of the Enterprise with “No bloody A, B, C or D!”

Building Ships in a Bottle

Boimler mentions he built an Orion ship in a bottle. This alludes to the idea that Picard and O’Brien both built ships in bottles as young kids, as established in the TNG episode “Booby Trap.” (And oddly not mentioned in the episode “Ship in a Bottle!”)

Spock’s Pet Sehlat

Spock’s pet Sehlat is mentioned twice in this episode. A Sehlat was a large Vulcan creature that looked like a “teddy bear with fangs.” Spock’s pet Sehlat was first mentioned by his mom in “Journey to Babel” and seen on screen in the time travel episode of The Animated Series, “Yesteryear.” Spock’s Sehlat was named “I-Chaya” and the onscreen death of this pet was the first time in an American kids’ cartoon that grief for a child’s pet was depicted. Mister Rogers lost a goldfish prior to 1973, but Fred Rogers was an adult, and the version of Spock who grieved for his pet sehlat was a child version of Spock.

Ad – content continues below

Ranks on the Sleeves

Mariner notes that she doesn’t love the Starfleet ranks on the sleeves, saying under her breath, “I don’t know about that.” Strange New Worlds uses a ranking system on the sleeves similar to The Original Series, but not identical. Obviously, Mariner and Boimler come from the TNG era where ranks are indicated by round little pips.

“Stuck in a dystopian San Francisco in the middle of a riot” 

Mariner says she was worried that Boimler would be “stuck in a dystopian San Francisco in the middle of a riot.” The SNW gang feels like the references Mariner and Boimler make are “oddly specific” and this reference IS specific. It comes from the Deep Space Nine two-parter “Past Tense,” in which, after accidental time travel, Sisko and Bashir become part of the historical “Bell Riots,” and Sisko has to become civil rights leader Gabriel Bell in order to keep history on track.

“The Boimler Walk”

Somehow, Jack Quaid manages to move his entire body in the exact same contorted fashion that his animated counterpart does in Lower Decks. As he’s walking quickly away from Number One, he’s doing the “Boimler Walk,” and if know, you know.

Uhura Studying Bajoran and Cardassian Languages

The DS9 references keep coming. As Mariner is fixing everyone drinks at the bar, Uhura is checking out Bajorian and Cardassian languages. Neither of these planets are part of the Federation at this point, and it’s unclear how much the Federation even knows about Bajor in the 23rd century. But Uhura knows!

The Klingon Front

This episode reminds us twice that Erica Ortegas fought in the Klingon War. Boimler mentions that she was a “war hero.” Will this come up again this season? Maybe???

Starbase Earhart, Dom-Jot, and Nausicaans

All the references to playing Dom-Jot against Nausicaans at Starbase Earhart originate with the TNG classic “Tapestry,” in which young Picard got into a barroom brawl over a Dom-Jot game and was stabbed through the heart by a Nausicaan. Lower Decks revisited this exact location in the episode “We’ll Always Have Tom Paris,” in which Marnier played Dom-Jot, describing it as a “billiards game that Nausicaans are terrible at yet love to bet on for some reason.”

Ad – content continues below

Boimler Makes Spock More Spocky. Ditto Mariner and Uhura.

Both Boimler and Mariner seem to influence Spock and Uhura, respectively. Boimler strongly suggests that a more “serious” Spock is the one he needs to become. Meanwhile, Mariner encourages Uhura to lighten-up, which as we know from TOS, certainly is the case. Were Mariner and Boimler part of a pre-destination paradox? Did they just fix canon?

Cary Grant!!

When Pelia gives Boimler advice, she says that an old friend told her, “I always pretended to be someone I wanted to be….until finally, I became that someone. Or he became me.” This quote comes from Cary Grant!

Holy Q!

When frightened, Boimler yells “Holy Q!” Mariner scolds him saying, “Don’t yell Q! They haven’t met him yet! They had kind of a Trelane thing going on.” This references Q, of course, who doesn’t mess with the Federation until the 24th century. Trelane, a very Q-like alien from the TOS episode “The Squire of Gothos,” has been long-considered a member of the Q-Continuum by various Trek comics and novels. But Mariner’s comment about Trelane feels like the first on-screen confirmation of that connection.

Pike’s Future

Mariner and Boimler are obviously shocked to learn that Pike is aware of his fate in “The Menagerie.” Mariner even mimes Pike’s blinking light from that episode, saying, “You know about the whole…” which Pike confirms.

Archer’s Enterprise

The big denouement of the episode is all about how Boimler’s knowledge of the NX-01 Enterprise, which was in service a century before Pike’s Enterprise, saves the day. All of these references come from that series including:

  • Grapplers: These were basically space grappling hooks that predated tractor beams.
  • Travis Mayweather: The first pilot of the NX-01 Enterprise. Ortegas says she was a “huge fan.”
  • Hoshi Sato: Uhura says she wrote three papers on Hoshi at Starfleet Academy. Hoshi was the communications officer in Enterprise, and invented the universal translator. 

The Computer Ding From TOS

When Spock is done creating the Horonium they need, the computer makes a small “ding.” This is straight from the computer sound effects from The Original Series.

Ad – content continues below

“Ad Astra Per Aspera” 

Number One is touched to learn that the phrase “Ad astra per aspera” is on a future recruitment poster featuring her likeness. This was the title of the second episode of Strange New Worlds season 2. In Latin, it means: “To the stars through hardship.” Una took this as her personal credo.

Hottest First Officer

Ransom mentions that Una is “the hottest first officer in Starfleet history.” He’s literally the only character allowed to say this. The voice of Ransom is Jerry O’Connell, real-life husband of Numero Una herself, Rebecca Romijn.

Animated SNW crew

Because they’ve been drinking the Orion booze, the SNW crew claim they feel “two dimension” and that their eyes seem “huge.” This is obviously a nod to the idea that the animated Lower Decks characters look different in animation than they do in live-action. But, more specifically, that it’s all canon. It all counts, and maybe, just maybe, Mariner is hitting those Orion hurricanes a little too hard.