Unforgettable Star Trek Story Secretly Ties Back To Forgotten Episode

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

When it comes to Star Trek: The Next Generation, many fans do their best to forget the first season. However, that didn’t keep the later seasons from calling back to older episodes, often in the most unexpected ways. For example, the seventh season Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Parallels” quietly confirmed the multiverse theories of Dr. Paul Manheim from the first season episode “We’ll Always Have Paris.”

Worf Meets The Multiverse

If we had to make a bet (ante up that latinum, gents!) regarding Star Trek fans, “Parallels” is an episode that needs very little introduction. This was the adventure where Worf was returning from a bat’leth tournament and accidentally went through a time/space fissure that sent him careening through different universes as different versions of himself.

Some of the universes he witnessed were pleasant, including one where he was married to Deanna Troi; others were horrifying, including one with a haggard Riker who would rather die than return to his own Borg-infested universe.

A Callback To Season 1

While it was the final season of Star Trek: The Next Generation that gave us “Parallels,” the episode quietly confirms the theory of a mostly-forgotten character from the first season episode “We’ll Always Have Paris.” The most memorable thing about that episode was Picard getting hot and bothered by an old flame who has since moved on and married someone else.

The main story, however, is about her husband (Dr. Paul Manheim), who is something of a rogue scientist previously kicked out of the Federation Science Institute for conducting crazy experiments.

Data Entry Is Important

Almost everyone in this 1988 episode thought Manheim’s theories were crazy, though they will likely be familiar to any fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He basically theorized the existence of a multiverse, believing that there are infinite dimensions out there waiting to be discovered. It’s easy for Star Trek fans to forget his theory until it’s revisited in “Parallels,” though, because the climax of the episode is a goofy special effect where Data has to work with two other versions of himself in order to halt the dangerous time distortions caused by Manheim’s experiment.

Manheim Was Right

Weirdly enough, the show didn’t mention Manheim again except for the episode “Time Squared,” when Picard claimed the researcher’s experiments couldn’t be the cause for the weird duplicate Picard that had suddenly appeared. Star Trek: The Next Generation did surprisingly little with the concept of the multiverse until the final season episode “Parallels.” Nobody drops Manheim’s name in that episode, but Worf basically validates his theories by confirming the existence of infinite quantum realities, each one based on different decisions made by countless others. 

Manheim’s Suspicions Confirmed

It’s a fun connection for Star Trek fans, one that can help us appreciate “Parallels” (which was already one of the best episodes of the final season, if not the entire series) that much more. The franchise would later embrace the idea of alternate universes in a big way, creating an entire series of films set in an entirely different universe. As of this writing, it’s still up in the air whether the Kelvinverse will get a final film, but it’s fun to see how both “Parallels” and this trio of newer films have confirmed the theories of a guy once considered the biggest crackpot in all of Star Trek.