There are a lot of things you have to simply accept (like teleporters and faster than light travel) in the Star Trek universe. But there's also an underlying assumption in the show that has less to do with technology and more to do with its characters — and it's been hiding in plain sight the entire time.

In response to this piece on the reasons why "the smartest guy in the room" trope's cleverness may be waning, a discussion began about the different ways that different fictional universes dealt with their genius-level characters.

One of the most compelling examples, noted many commenters, was Star Trek: The Next Generation, which not only stocked its world with multiple geniuses, it also did something rather unusual with them: It had them, from the start, respect each other's abilities.

TheGuardLlama

In regards to Teamwork, let's hear it for these guys. Where every character was a tactical genius/computer wizard/biochemist/diplomat/Shakespearean actor.

Heck, even Worf, the designated muscle of the team, still had enough knowledge of Klingon history and culture to teach college courses on Q'onoS. Each character had their shortcomings, true. But each character was also pretty competent and knew when to rely on their peers.

Cartagia

Something that is really great about Star Trek, is that when a character notices something is amiss, and they are the only one to see it, the rest of the crew doesn't just dismiss their concerns offhand. You aren't saddled with an episode of the character trying to convince everyone else that what they saw / heard/ felt was real. Everyone else believed them right away. They've probably already started running scans, and started trying to help their friend, instead of treating them like a child.

And it never matters what character it is. Their concerns are ALWAYS valid.

Pessimippopotamus

This is a show that had the Chief Medical Officer be ultra-competent at commanding a flagship. Why wouldn't she be? She's had the proper training.

As a show, Star Trek TNG started by assuming the competency of its characters. The default mode of both the show's universe and the characters that populate it is to trust in each other's judgement. Of course, they didn't always agree with each other, but the presumption is always that the team is full of skilled and capable people whose ideas need to be taken seriously.

Advertisement

What do you think? How does Star Trek TNG's way of presenting its team compare to other shows and movies? And does Star Trek's use of a team of geniuses — whose abilities often seem to border on superpowers — have any lessons for the current crop of superhero teams that populate our screens? Tell us about it in the comments.