Star Trek Badlands Explained

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

In the recent Star Trek: Discovery episode “Labyrinths,” we see that the Eternal Gallery and Archive are hidden deep within the Badlands, a seriously dangerous space sector. Newer fans of the franchise might assume this was just a region of space created for this season of Discovery, but that’s not the case. Arguably, this might be the most important area in Star Trek because the Badlands serves as an intersection of four different series.

The Most Dangerous Sector Of Space

For this Star Trek primer to make sense, we need to first dive into the big question: what, exactly, are the Badlands?  The short answer is that this is a section of the Alpha Quadrant notorious for its dust clouds, gravitational anomalies, and plasma storms. This makes the area particularly dangerous for starships, and to make matters worse, the Cherenkov radiation that the region generates makes it impossible for ships to cloak.

Hiding The Eternal Gallery And Archive

Because this infamous Star Trek region of space is so dangerous, you might wonder why anyone would ever visit the Badlands in the first place. Mostly, ships choose to hide inside this region of space, making them very difficult to find and making it very likely that pursuing enemies will get destroyed by a stray lightning bolt or gravitational anomaly. In fact, that’s exactly why the Eternal Gallery and Archive was hidden in the Badlands in the recent Discovery episode  “Labyrinths.”

The Badlands Throughout Star Trek

Of course, this wasn’t the first time that a group in Star Trek had used the Badlands as a hiding place. The most prominent was the Maquis, a group of freedom fighters (or terrorists, depending on your perspective) who resisted the Cardassians for forcing colonists to relocate after a controversial treaty with the United Federation of Planets. Believing that the UFP had turned its back on these people, many prominent Starfleet members (including Chakotay and B’Elanna Torres) left the service to join this rebel group.

Used By Both Sides In Deep Space Nine

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had some great storylines involving the Badlands: for example, we discover in “Defiant” that the Maquis used this area to stage attacks against the Cardassians. Later, after the group was reduced to a handful of survivors after Cardassian joined the Dominion (as seen in “Blaze of Glory”), Starfleet used this area of space to stage their own attacks during the Dominion War. While the Badlands were referenced on star charts in Picard a couple of times, this area is mostly known for its connection to Voyager.

Voyager’s Maquis Crew Hid In The Badlands

The primary premise of that fan-favorite Star Trek show is that after getting stranded in the Delta Quadrant, half of Voyager’s crew is comprised of traditional Starfleet types, and the other half is made of Maquis who were previously hiding in the Badlands. While the show arguably never made the most of its premise, it was interesting to see plot developments like Janeway taking former terrorist Chakotay on as her first officer. And though we didn’t hear much about the Badlands after the pilot episode, fans will always remember this section of space for kicking off Voyager’s big adventure.

That’s the story of Star Trek’s Badlands…so far. One thing that has remained shockingly consistent over the years is that the writers for different Trek series can’t stop bringing this area of space into their storylines. After seeing the Badlands looking bigger and scarier than ever on Discovery, we can’t wait to see it pop up again with all the unexpected fierceness of a Maquis fighter pouncing on the Cardassians.

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