Star Trek: Discovery will ignore one major Roddenberry rule

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Lucas Siegel
Jun 23, 2017

In an effort to make the world of Star Trek: Discovery a more dramatic and complicated show than series past, showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg revealed they'll be doing away with a major rule - or at least guidline - set up by franchise creator Gene Roddenberry. No, they won't be foregoing the Prime Directive; instead they're changing the way the crew interacts with each other.

When Roddenberry first created Star Trek, he put forth a goal to keep Starfleet crew members out of direct conflict with each other. The idea was that every Starfleet officer had reached a certain level of poise and reliability to even get to that point, meaning they wouldn't ever be seen in too negative a light. Dubbed "Roddenberry's Box" by writer Michael Piller (Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager), it's been carried through every show, excepting of course for Borg assimilations or alien possessions. This won't be the case in Discovery, where the crew of the ship won't just be one happy family at all times.

“We’re trying to do stories that are complicated, with characters with strong points of view and strong passions,” Harberts told EW. “People have to make mistakes — mistakes are still going to be made in the future. We’re still going to argue in the future.”

The idea is to show humanity that are still, well, human, and thus not infallible. It's something that was on display, even in the first trailer for the series.

"The rules of Starfleet remain the same. But while we're human or alien in various ways, none of us are perfect," said Berg in the same interview.

When "characters are in conflict," reassures Herberts, they'll be looking to Roddenberry on "how we solve those conflicts."

Much of this decision stems from the choice to make the series heavily serialized, with season-long arcs and episodes that tie directly to one another instead of mostly single or pairs of closed episodes as was the case on the majority of prior Star Trek series. 

Of course, the Star Trek films of recent years have shown internal conflict amongst the crew and the rest of Starfleet as well, certainly in a more significant fashion than prior TV series did. Bringing that sensibility to the new series makes for a more unified feel to this generation of Star Trek stories.

Star Trek: Discovery will debut September 24, 2017 on CBS, with subsequent episodes airing on the CBS All Access streaming service.