Star Trek TNG First Episode Features Bizarre Homage To Star Wars

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

star trek q

Normally, Star Trek and Star Wars stay in their respective space lanes, and these franchises don’t really cross over outside of silly nerd debates about such highbrow topics as whether a Star Destroyer or the Enterprise would win in a fight. However, the premiere episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation had a Star Wars homage hiding in plain sight, though it’s one that most fans have never noticed. When the godlike being Q summons soldiers from World War III to illustrate how barbaric humanity’s past is, their uniforms have a label that references the famous Star Wars droids R2-D2 and C-3PO.

TNG Premier Episode References Star Wars’ Most Famous Droids

If you’ve never seen this first Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, you might have a big question that extends beyond the Star Wars connection. Why, exactly, did World War III soldiers appear in a story set in the far-flung future of the 24th century? To understand that, you need to know more about the alien being Q and his role in this episode.

The Star Trek episode “Encounter At Farpoint” begins, fittingly enough, with Captain Picard taking command of the Enterprise-D and taking this Federation flagship on its maiden voyage. They don’t make it very far before they are intercepted by Q, an alien with seemingly unlimited power and unlimited contempt for humanity. He declares that he is putting the entire human race on trial, eventually sporting a judge’s robes and bringing up past examples of humanity’s failures.

Q Takes The Enterprise Crew Back In Time To World War III

star trek q

Don’t worry: this is where the connection between this Star Trek pilot and Star Wars comes in. While Q could theoretically have chosen any time or place for his trial of humanity, he decides to put Captain Picard and his crew in a courtroom from Earth’s distant past…World War III, to be specific. Q begins rattling off the various ways that humanity has proven itself to be a “dangerous, savage child race,” causing an angry Picard to claim that humanity was making “rapid progress” even during some of the darkest and most violent times in Earth’s history. 

Q Does What Q Does Best

While Star Trek’s latest captain sticks up for humanity, Q decides to throw Picard’s comment in his face and squeeze in an inexplicable Star Wars reference (hey, even omnipotent aliens need to make their own fun). Q uses his ability to conjure up any image to put himself into a World War III uniform, chiding Picard that humanity’s “rapid progress” had amounted to learning “to control their military with drugs.” Later, we get a demonstration of this when a soldier Tasha Yar defeats takes a hit from his drug dispenser before getting murdered by his fellow officer.

Wher C-3PO And R2-D2 Come In

star wars droids

These are fairly bleak scenes by Star Trek standards, and unless you have very sharp eyes, you’ll miss the Star Wars Easter egg built into the World War III uniforms. The drug dispensers prominently have the word ARMY on them with numbering beneath it. Thanks to a later prop auction, we know that the numbers on at least one of these dispensers read “R2D3PO-D,” a reference to our favorite droids from a galaxy far, far away.

Even More Star Wars Easter Eggs Hidden In Star Trek

As crossover references go, this is pretty mild: after all, Star Trek: First Contact actually has shots of the Millennium Falcon taking part in Starfleet’s battle against the Borg Cube approaching Earth. That’s a double irony for nerds, as the ship from “a long time ago” is now helping to protect our own planet hundreds of years in the future. Maybe it can pop up again in the final season of Discovery…all we need is for a bored character (my vote is for Michael Burnham) to look right at the camera and intone “somehow, the Falcon returned” and these nerd crossovers, like my trip to the Dork Side, will be complete.

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