by Jörg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider
Here is a collection of small filming or editing mistakes of the Star Trek TV and movie productions that in almost all cases were not meant to be recognizable. They were either not recognized in time or considered minor, so they were not reshot or edited out. We deliberately picked some lesser known or newly discovered bloopers. See also: Prop and Set Oddities for some bloopers that seem to be missing here. Please take the following pictures with a grain of salt. It is not our intention to acknowledge bloopers as canon evidence of strange things happening in the universe.
Kirk rips open his own shirt?
There is a continuity error in TOS: "Shore Leave" in Kirk's fight with Finnegan. In the wide shot of Kirk (stunt double) lying on the ground we can see his shirt still intact. In the following close shot of Kirk (Shatner), two seconds later and still in the same position, the shirt is torn without Finnegan having anything to do with it.
Some kind of "Mirror Universe"
In the era of celluloid it occasionally happened that the film was right-left reversed in the process of editing. We can see a reverse image of Kirk in TOS: "The Omega Glory", even two mirrored Kirks in TOS: "The Way to Eden" and a reversed Enterprise in TOS: "The Gamesters of Triskelion".
In one take of the saucer crash in "Generations" the registry is reversed. This was due to the camera used to film that angle being pointed at a mirror so the saucer hit it and not the camera. And indeed the saucer broke the mirror.
TOS uniform errors
In spite of the continuity editing small errors remain in some scenes. These are most obvious in the case of wrong uniforms and insignia. Captain Kirk enters the turbolift in his standard issue yellow uniform, whereas he exits wearing the green wrap-around variant in TOS: "Charlie X". In TOS: "Mudd's Women", Dr. McCoy awaits the arrival of the guests in the transporter room in his blue standard uniform, but in just one take he is wearing the shiny blue medical tunic, with sickbay in the background. This is apparently stock footage. In "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", toward the end of the movie, McCoy and Spock switch their uniform jackets in a split second, between two takes.
DS9 uniform errors
Major Kira must have dressed in a hurry, as her communicator is upside down in DS9: "The Maquis, Part II". We can see how the O'Brien clone pulls his communicator off in DS9: "Whispers", and a rest of glue (or a Velcro fastener) is still visible on the uniform, which shouldn't be there for all we know. In DS9: "Rules of Engagement" it seems that Captain Sisko has been demoted to commander, as there are only three pips on his dress uniform. Finally, in DS9: "Rapture" Captain Sisko (who appears with the gray vest most of the time in this episode) has misplaced the communicator in the gray shoulder part of his uniform jacket in every scene he is wearing it.
A tale of two Rikers
In ENT: "These Are The Voyages" we can spot two Rikers in once scene in Ten Forward. This is because stock footage from TNG: "Ménage ā Troi" where Riker was already visible was digitally supplemented with a new Riker for the ENT series finale.
Gillian's two cars
In "Star Trek IV" the appearance of Gillian's pick-up truck, a 1974 Chevrolet, keeps changing throughout the movie. There appear to be two distinct cars, one used for the location shots in San Francisco (Presidio area) and Monterey (Cetacean Institute), and another one for the shots at the location that stands in for the Golden Gate Park on two occasions. The most obvious difference is the radiator grille. Also, details such as the placement of the bumper sticker are not the same on the two cars. Even the very same car in the Golden Gate Park seems to change between its two appearances. The second time the lines on the fender and the door are far less pronounced.
Someone else broke your ships
In "First Contact" Picard smashes the glass showcase with the golden starship models with a phaser rifle. We can see that while he spreads shards all over the place, he doesn't damage any of the models. The Enterprise-D has a heavy list but is fully intact. But barely a second later later, after a cut to Lily's face, the Enterprise-C and -D are both broken. The saucer of the C has fallen off. The saucer of the D is still dangling but the model consists of four pieces now, of which Lily picks up a nacelle a minute later, when Picard has composed himself. Someone obviously had to make the damage retroactively fit with Lily's line "You broke your little ships".
Broken link fixed for "Broken Link"
In DS9: "For the Cause" the left solar panel of Sisko's ISS model, which is visible in all other episodes, is missing. It seems someone knocked off the panel and it was overlooked or there was no time fixing it. Anyway, prior to "Broken Link" the panel was repaired.
During the battle simulation in "Star Trek II", the symbol on the starboard turbolift door of the simulator room is covered with something that looks like a reflective film. The reflection makes the logo almost unrecognizable. Most likely the transfer tape of the turbolift symbol sticker was not peeled off in time. The "A" above the turbolift logo, on the other hand, is the way we would expect it: not reflective and hence clearly visible. We can see the so covered logo a few times from slightly different camera positions behind Saavik. When the simulation is over and Admiral Kirk enters the room, the film is suddenly gone and the turbolift logo looks just like the "A". Someone must have spotted and removed the disturbing reflection in the meantime (provided that the scene was filmed about in the same order that it is shown, which is plausible in light of the mess created in the course of the battle).
In DS9: "Prophet Motive" O'Brien and Bashir play darts for the first time, then still in a cargo bay. The cargo container just behind them has a blazing pink label. But suddenly, in just one take of the scene, for a few seconds, the color switches to a pale, almost gray color. There is no plausible explanation for this obvious digital manipulation, with pink being the original color because the surrounding pixels of the gray label look blurry. Perhaps someone decided during the post-processing that the pink was too obtrusive. But why wasn't the whole scene changed accordingly? Moreover, several other labels in the same room are equally colorful. The letters on the label read "TransWormhole freight", and they are better recognizable on the gray version. In case someone had tried to obscure the letters by taking away the color, he would have achieved just the contrary.
Bashir gets a wrong picture
In DS9: "Melora" Julian Bashir picks up a photo of the Elaysian officer and her brother from a table. When the scene switches from the close view to the long shot, he is suddenly holding a completely different and larger picture. Only the frame seems to be still the same.
Bashir on silent feet
Although he was seen with black boots earlier in the same scene, Dr. Bashir wears white tennis shoes with his uniform in TNG: "Birthright, Part I" as he walks away. Siddig El Fadil explained that this was done to reduce noise during filming.
Human hairstyle secrets
Gates McFadden seems to have thinner hair than Beverly Crusher. She is wearing wigs most of the time, if not permanently, during the seven seasons of TNG. In the third season Beverly Crusher sports a chin-length haircut, as it can be seen in TNG: "Booby Trap". Later, in TNG: "The Enemy", she can be seen with long hair. But the long hairstyle lasts for just this one episode. In TNG: "The Price", just one week later, she has a shorter haircut again. Beverly will have long hair again as late as in the sixth season, such as in TNG: "Cause and Effect".
In the same vein, we can see in TNG: "When the Bough Breaks" that Beverly's fingernails are short, but in one close shot of their hands they are quite long. Most likely these belong to a stand-in and not to Gates McFadden. We need to wonder anyway how she could possibly operate a tricorder or a laser scalpel with such long nails...
Alien hairstyle secrets
In VOY: "Prophecy" Captain Kohlar initially appears with the slightly curly dark brown hair we know from most Klingons, be they male or female. When he comes aboard Voyager, Kohlar suddenly has a plain black Janet Jackson-style permanent wave. His hairstyle changes back and forth a couple of times during the episode. We can only hope that he is using gentle haircare products...
Most likely the perm version was filmed first, as all scenes with this hairstyle take place in the briefing room. Someone may have noticed that the black curls looked silly on him, and decided to switch to the traditional warrior-style wig. Only that it was ignored that the scenes with the two hairstyles would alternate in the final version of the episode.
But Kohlar is not the first Klingon who changes his hairstyle in the twinkling of an eye. Lieutenant Worf combs his hair straight down in the instant just prior to pushing the "fire" button in "The Best of Both Worlds, part II".
It is only fair that the Romulans know the secret of rapid restyling too, like Sela demonstrates between the two parts of TNG: "Redemption". Bang goes the Romulan bang.
Eventually it doesn't seem to be a question of advanced technology, however. In TNG: "Justice" the hairstyle of Livan, a member of the rather naive Edo species, changes in a matter of a few seconds as well when she is beamed up to the Enterprise. Suddenly dark natural hair becomes visible underneath the formerly dense blond perm bonnet. Or do we have to blame a misalignment of the Enterprise's transporter?
The time-traveling knife
In PIC: "Nepenthe", when Hugh looks around the corner, Narissa's Romulan throwing knife can already be seen in place, embedded in his neck - a few seconds before she throws it.
Towards the end of TNG: "The Perfect Mate", in the first shot showing the Kriosian ship (before Picard and Briam enter the transporter room), stock footage of the USS Enterprise-D and the small Talarian observation craft from "Suddenly Human" is used. When the two ships part ways at the very end of the episode, this is stock footage from "Suddenly Human" again. But this time, the much larger Talarian warship is seen instead.
There is a separate article on this and other starships that change from one type to another during an episode, due to the use of incompatible stock footage: Starship Mutations.
The Wrath of Kahless
The Klingon logo appears the wrong way round on a screen in "Star Trek V".
TNG on TNG
We can see a Star Trek TNG logo on an engineering display in TNG: "Identity Crisis".
This blooper was removed when the episode was remastered.
Ancient LCARS versions
In VOY: "Good Shepherd" we can see Mac pop-up menus and a mouse pointer on LCARS screens.
Mike Okuda: "That's a visual effects error. The logo on the screen in that frame is the 'slate' that I put at the beginning of the computer animation so that my colleagues in visual effects would know which shot it was to go with. Although they did a good job in compositing my animation into the filmed scene, they inadvertently included a little bit of the slate. It's really not that bad of a mistake, seeing as how few people have noticed it over the years."
Essentially the same happened over 20 years later, in PIC: "Maps and Legends". The blue 21st century interface is briefly visible before it makes way for the full-screen LCARS.
Caution: decompressible wardrobe
The USS Enterprise hangar deck is misspelled "hanger deck" in TOS: "Journey to Babel".
The mirror writing "End Simulation" after the simulated destruction of Qo'noS in DIS: "Will You Take My Hand?" actually reads "End Simultation".
Who watches the watches?
Dr. Crusher's visible wrist watch in TNG: "Code of Honor" and once again "Skin of Evil"in is a typical blooper as it may occur during the filming. Basically there is no reason why people in the 24th century shouldn't wear watches. But since we almost never see any of them, the most likely explanation is that Gates McFadden simply forgot to take it off prior to the shooting. Another wrist watch can be seen in DS9: "Progress".
A blue shirt or jacket is hanging over a a chair on the bridge in TOS: "Let That Be You Last Battlefield". It almost looks like someone decided to get rid of his or her uniform, but the blue is darker than that.
A present-day water bottle comes into sight in Phlox's sickbay in ENT: "The Breach".
Someone obviously left an episode script on a cabinet in Dr. Crusher's sickbay in TNG: "Suddenly Human". The same happens in "Violations", "Ethics" and "Cost of Living" and some more TNG episodes.
In the Dixon Hill holographic scenario in TNG: "The Big Goodbye", a yellowish paper folder can be seen on the desk in the foreground. There is nothing on top of this folder. A few moments later, Data is seen leaving the office and the folder comes into sight again. Now, a sheet of a paper with two anachronistic color photographs (and a Post-it?) is lying on top of the folder. As nobody was in the room in those two minutes, the sheet of paper must have been left behind by a member of the production crew during filming.
Breaking the fourth wall
TV sets are no real rooms. They often lack a ceiling, and the side walls are not complete, depending on how far the camera is supposed to pan. It happens occasionally that the set borders come into sight nonetheless. Well, usually it is just a minor nuisance and is often not even recognizable at the first glance. The only blatant one among our examples is ENT: "Bound". Here a whole panel of the rear wall of the bridge is missing, although it must have been clear to the director that it would be visible.
In some early TNG episodes we can see that parts of the large displays on the rear end of the Enterprise-D bridge are covered with black cardboard. Our best guess is that the cardboard is supposed to avoid bothersome reflections. Obviously the lighting of the set was improved at a later date.
Guy Vardaman, who was a frequent stand-in performer in TNG, tells us the following about the cardboard trick:"Yes, the black cards were there to block the reflections of the lights and were hoped to be invisible to the viewer. There are also lines of black electrical tape and another trick used is to spray something with hairspray to dull it down when it is too shiny and would reflect crew, camera and lights.
The black cards went away because we got a new Director of Photography, Marvin Rush, replacing Ed Brown. Marvin lit the sets much more dynamically (less 'flat') and so he didn't have as much overall light. Also as film got better, technologically, it needed less light.
The hairspray trick was rarely used on Trek, but is used a lot in general production, especially on chrome trim on cars, etc. Mainly outdoors."
Not necessarily a cardboard sheet but definitely something black that doesn't belong there is visible on the bridge through the ready room's open door in TNG: "The Survivors".
Guy Vardaman on the "box" in "The Survivors": "Hey, that thing is a flag used to block light, usually mounted to a 'C-Stand.' So if they wanted to light Riker coming out of the ready room but not have a big shadow or beam of light coming out the door onto the bridge floor, they would block it with a flag like you are seeing."
In later TNG episodes, there was apparently still concern about reflective surfaces in the form of mirrors, as they could be found in the crew's bathrooms. When they were not needed for someone to look into, they were often frosted with hairspray or, apparently more often, covered with black cardboard.
In TOS: "Journey to Babel", floor markings are visible, as they were probably used to define the actors' positions. Another floor marking is visible in TNG: "The Naked Now" in the observation lounge, after Geordi has been infected. We can also see a marker in DS9: "Rules of Acquisition" (perhaps from a previously shot scene where Kira was speaking with the Nagus) and one for O'Brien's position on the upper level of the promenade deck in DS9: "Ferengi Love Songs".
In DS9: "Treachery, Faith and the Great River", we can see a differently colored piece of carpet, but this is most likely not a marking but a patch, covering the hole for the cables of Sisko's missing desk. We can see carpet patches in several TNG episodes too, for the wiring of bridge consoles or sickbay beds.
A whole carpet roll, held together with duct tape, can be seen in "Star Trek: The Final Frontier".
No, it's not Riker's handbag that we can see in TNG: "The Child" (look at his feet). Actually, it is a sandbag, used in TV or movie production to secure a C stand (a tripod stand to mount lights on).
Various visible equipment
A boom mic can be seen in TOS: "The Enemy Within". This blooper was fixed for the remastered release by reframing the shot. A piece of lighting equipment, probably a soft box, comes into sight in TOS: "Requiem for Methuselah". This box is still visible in the remastered episode.
A microphone stand is visible when Riker enters a turbolift in TNG: "When the Bough Breaks". There are several more TNG episodes with visible equipment.
Looking at TNG-R, sometimes the remastering removed the problem because the shot was reframed (such as in "Where Silence Has Lease" or "The Schizoid Man") or digitally edited, sometimes it created new ones because previously invisible equipment comes into sight (such as in "Home Soil" or "The Child").
Bound to act
In TOS: "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", Lokai is holding some sort of cord while running through the corridor. The reason for this may be that the actor is supposed to keep a certain distance to the camera.
When Kirk gets zapped by "God" in "Star Trek V", we can see the stunt wire that is used to yank him back.
At the end of DS9: "For The Cause" when Ziyal and Garak are in the sauna and Garak goes to lay down on the rocks, you can see on the bottom right of the screen what looks like a hose (for the steam) or a cable (for the lighting) going to the island where they are laying from off-screen.
In TOS: "This Side of Paradise", when Spock has just been struck by the spores, a pole comes into sight that shouldn't be there, and possibly the leg of a person who is standing next to it.
Give me a hand!
In TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", the hand that pushes down a boulder can be briefly seen. We can see a finger of the hand that makes the wipers of Sulu's helicopter move in "Star Trek IV". On still another occasion, after the shuttle crash in "Star Trek V", when Kirk is fighting with Sybok, the two should initially be alone in the shuttlebay. But we can see an arm, obviously of someone who assisted the Sybok stunt double in hurling around the Kirk stunt double.
The face of someone working behind the camera can be seen mirrored in a Romulan (plexi)glass sculpture in TNG: "Unification". An unwanted mirror image is also visible in VOY: "Mortal Coil". We can see the reflection of the ceiling lights behind the Doctor and Seven as they treat Neelix with nanoprobes, but also some sort of moving cables, probably belonging to the camera or lighting.
I'm the invisible man!
In the original version of TNG: "Birthright I", makeup artist June Abston Haymore can famously be seen sitting on the ground in front of an orange door in Data's dream sequence.
While she is still briefly visible in the remastered version of the episode at the beginning of the sequence, she was digitally removed from the more obvious shot a few frames later.
As Sisko digs up the Orb of the Emissary in DS9: "Shadows and Symbols", we can see the head of someone walking behind the rocks in the background. In VOY: "Flesh and Blood I" a crew member with a t-shirt can be seen as Tuvok is walking towards the Hirogen technician.
TOS: "Court Martial" and "Space Seed" are two examples where Kirk is clearly not being played by Shatner in stunt sequences.
In TNG: "The High Ground" Patrick Stewart's stunt double is clearly recognizable when he strikes an Ansata terrorist. The same stunt double reappears in "Man of the People".
A very obvious appearance of stunt doubles can be witnessed in TNG: "Conspiracy". Between the caps #1 and #2 Riker and Quinn suddenly turn into stunt doubles. Riker's face changes, and Quinn's hair now grows down to his collar -- "Vitamins: They do wonders for the hairline!" :-D From a different angle we can see the face of Quinn's stunt double on cap #4. Cap #5 is a transition between two scenes. It looks like they edited out someone's head.
Stunt doubles are also recognizable as such in "Star Trek Generations".
After Riker has been drawn into the tar pit in TNG: "Skin of Evil", Geordi, Data and Crusher rush to help him. When they stop at the edge of the tar pit, Geordi's phaser drops straight into the tar. While this is no problem in the story, it almost definitely didn't happen on purpose.
20th century tech exposed
In TNG: "Lonely Among Us", Beverly sits down with a large PADD. The prop appears to have a battery slot, which opens during the scene, revealing cables inside.
Don't shake too hard!
In DS9: "Return to Grace" Kira Nerys explains to Ziyal the operation principle of a Cardassian and a Starfleet rifle. Illustrating the "fully autonomous recharge" of the Starfleet weapon, she opens and then visibly and audibly closes the lid of the power pack at the bottom. Two seconds later, when she demonstrates the gyro stabilization by shaking the rifle, the lid flips open again, causing a smile in Nana Visitor's face.
Dr. Marr may be a mad scientist, but not so confused that we would expect her to hold a tricorder upside down like she did in TNG: "Silicon Avatar". We may tend to forgive Quark who made the same mistake when he defused the warhead in DS9: "Starship Down".
Don't shoot... yourself!
Burnham holds Lorca at gunpoint in DIS: "What's Past is Prologue". But the nozzle points in her direction! In the following close take of the same scene the direction is correct. This apparently didn't go unnoticed, and a "click" sound was inserted between the two takes to support the impression that Burnham quickly flipped the phaser around.
Don't break your neck!
When Dukat rests his head on a rock in DS9: "Indiscretion", we can see how his prosthetic neck cord detaches.
Captain Kirk is notorious for winding up with a ripped shirt in his countless brawls. In TOS: "The Savage Curtain" a different piece of clothing is ruined, albeit definitely not on purpose.
Andorians are supposed to be blue all over. But this one exhibits some flesh-colored skin in TOS: "The Gamesters of Triskelion".
Hole in the wall
Charlie Evans hurls Spock and Kirk against a wall in Janice Rand's quarters, which leaves visible damage in the wall. The same happens again in TOS: "Day of the Dove" when Kirk punches Chekov, and Chekov's hands leave holes in the wall.
In "Star Trek IV", when the hatch on the Bird-of-Prey is blown, we can see right out it and into... a soundstage.
In DS9: "Broken Link" Garak attempts to fire the Defiant's weapons on the Founders' homeworld. When Worf catches him red-handed, the two fight inside a Jefferies tube. In the course of their struggle the hatch in the background falls off and we can glimpse behind the scenes.
I can reach any star
In VOY: "Investigations" Tom Paris grabs the frame of the Kazon shuttle windshield during a battle. It looks like there is no glass in the window and his hand is reaching out into space. The same happens to "John Doe" in the observation lounge in TNG: "Transfigurations".
Misplaced phaser beam
While this list of bloopers is far from complete, we don't want to omit one of the most famous ones: the phaser beam from the torpedo launcher in "Darmok".
This clear error was corrected in the remastered episode by simply showing stock footage of the beam coming from the phaser strip.
In TNG: "11001001" we see two Bynars step forth from a corner of the bridge where only the restroom is supposedly located. So just like two of them work as a unit, Bynars may have to visit the restroom in couples. Or they generally don't have to, but these two particular Bynars are female.
What's so funny, Number One?
In a scene which was not intended to be humorous in TNG: "Masks" we can see Riker with a wide grin on his face. Can it be that Jonathan Frakes was amused about Stewart holding what looks like a big phallic symbol?
Some screen caps from TrekCore. The floor markings in TOS, the "Generations" bloopers and several other things were discovered by Michael Minnick, the microphone stand and Sisko's wrong communicator placement by Robb, the pole in "This Side of Paradise" by Guy Vardaman, the lighting equipment and discarded uniform in TOS by Jan Kockrow, the boom mic in TOS by Trek on the Tube, the visible equipment in "Mortal Coil" by João Paulo Cursino, more floor markings by Marcus, Rich, Walter Poulsen and LogicDeLuxe, Beverly's fingernails by Thomas, Crusher's watch in "Skin of Evil" by Josh Gilhen, the phaser in the tar pit by Claudius Göring, the sandbag on the bridge by Simon Turner, the cable in "For the Cause" by Walter Poulsen, the hand on the rock by Todd Kinkel, Dukat's "broken neck" by Max Pinton, Picard's "phallic symbol" by Thomas, the upside-down tricorder by Remy Chan (Chello) and by William Paul, the open phaser cell lid by Alexander Baier and Claudius, the turbolift sign by Chris, the walking head by wowbobwow and Rob Fini, the crew member with t-shirt by Dennis Verheijen and the water bottle by [email protected]. Thanks to Wes Button for the hint about the transfer tape. Thanks to Dan, satre and Lee for their contributions!