10 Greatest Star Trek In-Jokes

This article was delayed because we got chatting to Morn.

Star Trek In Jokes
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Getting an in-joke into Star Trek is no joke. In fact, it's an art form. With the breadth of skill and talent that has gone into making each episode and film over the franchise's impressive lifespan, these esoteric little references are no doubt some of the most intricate in the industry.

And yet, most were never intended for wider recognition. More often than not, the in-joke was meant as a humorous nod to a colleague, a tip-of-the-hat to another (sci-fi) show, an oddity from the alma mater, an ornithological observance, or really just for the pure, unadulterated fun of it. After all, everyone loves scanning for life forms, and a good gag too. Of course, Star Trek's been around for long enough that there is endless room for it to reference itself, as is ever evident in the excellent Lower Decks.

Here, we're going to take a look at ten of arguably the best examples of these inside jokes. We could have mentioned HIchmey nga'chuq ('Sex Phasers') and Stuart the Big Bang Harcourt Fenton Mudd bug, but you'll just have to access your third nested memory file and execute instruction 5155 to find out more about them!

By Seán's beard, this writer also swears he's never put an in-joke in his articles!

10. 47

Star Trek In Jokes
CBS Media Ventures

"47 is 42, corrected for inflation," executive producer Rick Berman once joked. The Ultimate Answer might cost you more in Star Trek, but what is the Question?

Well, have you ever wondered why Ronin the Sub Rosa sex ghost said he was 'born' in 1647, why shields were often down to 47%, or why Captain Janeway was really from Bloomington, Indiana? The reason is writer Joe Menosky, who began his Star Trek career in season four of The Next Generation and has worked on Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Discovery.

Menosky graduated from California's Pomona College, which, apart from excelling in the liberal arts, is known for having a thing for 47. The college even has a club dedicated to the number — The 47 Society — that Menosky was part of as a student. He then brought this university in-joke into Star Trek and it has stuck with writers ever since.

'Bloomington, Indiana' (zip codes 47401-47408) is more properly an homage to Voyager producer Jeri Taylor who was born there, but there are pages of other examples of the 47 phenomenon. Here are just a small few: In Family, Picard is given the '47 vintage; in Conundrum, there are 47 Lysian sentry pods; in DS9, PADDs are often labelled 4747 and weapons lockers 47; in Voyager, the temporal variance of the Krenim chroniton torpedo is 1.47 microseconds… and I have just needed between 4 to 7 Aldebaran whiskies!

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Jack Kiely is a writer with a PhD in French and almost certainly an unhealthy obsession with Star Trek.