Is Star Trek Online canon?

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We examine the often-asked question of whether or not the MMO Star Trek Online is considered canon.

Marvel comics vs Marvel movies vs Marvel Netflix shows.

The Walking Dead comic vs The Walking Dead game vs The Walking Dead TV shows.

Harry Potter. Game of Thrones. Star Wars.

It’s getting mighty hard to tell what’s canon and what’s not nowadays.

Original Series era Constitution class starship. (SOURCE: Star Trek Online)

In a surprise move, I’m going to tell you right at the start of the article that Star Trek Online is definitely canon.

Even better, it’s old-school canon. Star Trek Online takes place in the universe from The Original Series. Or the two universes if you count the Mirror Universe, you giant nerd you.

How do we know it’s canon?

Thankfully the answer is amazingly simple, believe it or not.

There are only two timelines in official Star Trek regardless of the media:

  1. The CBS timeline – the ‘Prime Timeline’ which basically includes all the TV shows, the first 10 movies (because they featured the cast from The Original Series and/or The Next Generation), and most of the games.
  2. The Paramount timeline (The Kelvin universe from the recent movies, and all the games based on it).
Discovery era characters and ship. (SOURCE: Star Trek Online)

At one point in Star Trek Online, you have to cross over into the Paramount timeline, which means that the game obviously takes place in the CBS timeline.

Which means the game is canon.

But is it really that simple?

“Oh but Liam”, I hear you say via my comm badge. “Maybe it’s a version of the universe that blah blah blah” because I got bored listening, sorry.

The thing is, you’re actually kind of right – it’s not hard canon, it’s soft canon.

The devs, Cryptic Studios, are expected to include anything which happens in Star Trek media – from the recent Kelvin universe movies to Star Trek Discovery.

The game even includes characters from the Extended Universe, which is a great way for a franchise to celebrate its history.

I’m looking directly at you, Disney Star Wars.

Next Generation era Venture class starship – based on the original design for the Enterprise-D. (SOURCE: Star Trek Online)

But soft canon is not non-canon. Therefore, by every measure that actually matters, Star Trek Online is undeniably canon.

Why this matters.

It doesn’t, not really. (‘Liam, you’re fired.’ –  the Digital Fox Editor, probably.)

But it’s something that hardcore Star Trek fans should consider – it’s possible to see how various different Star Trek story threads are officially tied up (such as what ultimately happens to the Doctor from Voyager, or the Kahless clone from The Next Generation, and so on).

Apart from the comics, this is the only official place on the entire planet that makes new stories set in the old universe. Unless you count Discovery, which I don’t.

Original Series era ship interior, with a Captain in his chair. (SOURCE: Star Trek Online)

And I don’t know about you, but I think that being able to play new canon stories in the old universe is something worth appreciating – even if I’m a bit over the game itself.

In space, everyone can hear your pun.

However, my favourite thing that happens in the game is very non-canon.

The Gorn are a race of lizard humanoids. Kirk fought one in the desert that one time, remember?

Every now and then a player will make a Gorn pun, and that sets everyone else off. It’s become so much a part of the game that just as many people complain about it as join in.

Gorn in 60 seconds. Gorn with the wind. Children of the Gorn. And so on.

See, no matter how hard the devs work at creating new canon, the community will always do whatever the heck they want. That’s how games work. That’s how art works.

Original Series era ship interior, showing the viewscreen. (SOURCE: Star Trek Online)

But that also means in some weird way, that no matter how ‘officially canon’ the game is, it can never actually be canon because you’re constantly interacting with other gamers.

Gamers who are racist. Gamers who are homophobic. But worse than that, gamers who make Gorn puns.

I joke, of course – bigotry is obviously a lot worse than some lame puns.

But can you imagine that onscreen – seeing Captains Kirk and Picard trading Gorn-based puns instead of facing off against Malcolm McDowell, or whatever?

I do apologize for that image of the most famous Captains in Starfleet making cheesy dad jokes though.

I mean, I can’t believe I’ve just Gorn and done that to you.

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