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Multiple realities
(covers information from several alternate timelines)
Krenim weapon ship firing on Zahl colony

A Zahl colony fired upon by the Krenim weapon ship...

Zahl colony erased from history

...and the alternate timeline where the colony never existed.

For the alternate timeline created by Nero's incursion, please see alternate reality.

Alternate timelines were altered versions of the universal timeline. Unlike parallel universes, alternate timelines did not seem to diverge from the universe, but instead rewrote history to the point of wiping out the original timeline. (ENT: "Storm Front"; TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever"; TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise"; DS9: "Past Tense, Part I", "Past Tense, Part II"; VOY: "Non Sequitur", "Year of Hell", "Year of Hell, Part II", "Timeless") There were several methods of temporal manipulation that could create an altered version of the timeline.

Alternate timeline display

A display featuring several alternate timelines created by the Krenim

As a rule, Starfleet officers were forbidden to cause changes in the timeline or to share their knowledge of future events by the Temporal Prime Directive. (VOY: "Shattered") The Department of Temporal Investigations was tasked to ensure that time travel events did not contaminate the timeline. (DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations") By the 28th century, changing the timeline had become more universally illegal after the Temporal Accord was established. (ENT: "Cold Front") By the 29th century, Starfleet had taken it on as a mission to use time travel as a means of upholding the integrity of the timeline by fixing changes in the past. It was also Starfleet policy by then to integrate different versions of people into one, when several coexisting ones appeared due to paradoxes and time travel. (VOY: "Relativity")

While the prime timeline was usually restored by operatives from the 29th to the 31st centuries, in some cases, the influence of alternate timelines remained as a part of the chain of events in the prime timeline. Spock for instance would not have learned that he had to travel to the past to save himself from being killed by a Le-matya when he was seven years old, had he not accidentally traveled to an alternate timeline, where he had not yet saved himself. (TAS: "Yesteryear") Warnings, temporal incursions and information of alternate futures were also an integral part of the prime timeline. Such was the case, when Captain Jean-Luc Picard shared his experiences of the future shown to him by Q, to his crew in 2370, causing them to make different life choices that created a new and entirely different future. (TNG: "All Good Things...") USS Voyager was rescued and aided by its crew members from the future. In 2375, a transmission from Harry Kim from an alternate 2390 averted the crash landing of the Voyager. In 2378, technology and assistance from Admiral Janeway from an alternate 2404 saved the ship from a longer disastrous journey through the Delta and Beta Quadrants. (VOY: "Timeless", "Endgame")

For a list of all the various time travel and alternate timeline episodes in Star Trek, see: time travel episodes and alternate timeline episodes.

Alternate realitiesEdit

Different versions of a timeline also sometimes coexist as parallel universes. Most active temporal anomalies allow interaction between two different alternate timelines for a moment, making them parallel realities in relation to one another.

Narada

The Narada appearing out of a black hole, creating an alternate reality

The writers of Star Trek, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, were asked about the implications of the new alternate reality that was introduced in the film in an interview. They explained the new reality runs parallel to the prime reality as a new quantum reality, as the concept was explained by Data in the episode TNG: "Parallels". [1]
  • In 2370, Q allowed Picard to shift his consciousness between three different timeframes, one in the past, one in the present and one in the future from Picard's point of view, in order for him to create an anti-time eruption. The eruption was linking these timelines together, and when it collapsed the timelines ceased to exist. (TNG: "All Good Things...")
Several statements in Star Trek suggest that all alternate timelines co-exist. It was stated in ENT: "Azati Prime" that the Sphere-Builders have technology that allows them to examine alternate timelines. In the episode, Daniels even had the technology to take Archer to the future of an alternate timeline. The time vortex was called a focal point of "all timelines" in TAS: "Yesteryear".
The term "alternate reality" was used as a synonym for "parallel universe" by the mirror universe version of T'Pol in ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly"

Pockets, folds, and fragmentsEdit

USS Enterprise-E enters temporal vortex

An alternate Earth, assimilated by the Borg after their temporal incursion, seen from the wake of a temporal vortex

  • The race of the alien who took the shape of Cosimo existed in temporal inversion folds of the space-time matrix. The folds were parallel time streams visible as temporal anomalies intersecting the prime reality. Inside the folds, reality remained unaffected by changes in the timeline. It was possible to utilize a fold to exchange one's consciousness with an alternate timeline version of oneself. (VOY: "Non Sequitur")
  • Temporal causality loops create independent fragments of time, inside which the time of the universe repeats itself. From outside the loop, it appears as if everything inside the loop had suddenly vanished from the space-time continuum. For people inside the loop the memories from previous loops begin to assert themselves as a sense of déjá vu and eventually as clearer memories. (TNG: "Cause and Effect")

Time continuumsEdit

Devidians

The Devidian time continuum

Within the universe there were also several parallel time continuums occupying the same space but in a different time. (TNG: "Time's Arrow")

  • Elysia was a small parallel time continuum that periodically touched the prime universe in the Delta Triangle region. Elysia was described by Devna as a pocket in the garment of time. The collisions between the two alternate universes produced time warp vortexes in the time barrier between the universes, that allowed passage from one side to the other at high warp speed. (TAS: "The Time Trap")

List of alternate timelines Edit

Timeline Timescale Created by Status Appearance
Captain Archer disappears and the United Federation of Planets never forms 2152-31st century Daniels transporting Archer to 31st century Earth Negated when Archer returned to his own time ENT: "Shockwave", "Shockwave, Part II"
The Xindi to destroy Earth and all other human colonies 2153-2165 Interspatial parasites Negated when the parasites were erased from history ENT: "Twilight"
The Enterprise-J participates in the battle of Procyon V 2554 Unknown Unknown, possibly negated by the destruction of the Delphic Expanse spheres in 2154 ENT: "Azati Prime"
Enterprise remains in the Delphic Expanse for 117 years 2037-2154 Temporal displacement of Enterprise by a subspace corridor Presumed negated when Enterprise avoided time traveling ENT: ""
Temporal War 1916-31st century Unknown, created through a predestination paradox Negated when Enterprise prevented Vosk from returning to the 29th century ENT: "Storm Front", "Storm Front, Part II"
John Christopher, a staff sergeant and the Omaha instillation personal encounter the Enterprise crew July, 1969 Actions of the temporally-displaced Enterprise crew Negated when John Christoper and the staff sergeant were returned to Earth at a point before they encountered the Enterprise TOS: "Tomorrow is Yesterday"
Nazi Germany conquers Earth and the Federation and Starfleet never form 1930-2267 Leonard McCoy preventing Edith Keeler's death Negated when James T. Kirk stopped McCoy from saving Keeler TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever"
Spock dies at seven 2237-2269 Captain Kirk and Commander Spock Negated by Spock's future self TAS: "Yesteryear"
The Enterprise-D is destroyed by an energy vortex 2365 Unknown, possibly the original timeline Negated when Jean-Luc Picard prevented the Enterprise's destruction TNG: "Time Squared"
Second Federation-Klingon War 2344-2366 Temporal displacement of the Enterprise-C Negated when the Enterprise returned to the Battle of Narendra III TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise"
Thomas Halloway becomes Captain of the Enterprise instead of Jean-Luc Picard 2327-2369 Q causing Picard to prevent a fight against a group of Nausicaans Negated when Picard returned to 2327 and started the fight TNG: "Tapestry"
The Enterprise-D is destroyed by a warp core breach 2369 Quantum singularity lifeforms Negated when Picard, Data, Deanna Troi, and Geordi La Forge reversed time to a point just before the breach occured TNG: "Timescape"
Alexander Rozhenko never becomes a warrior and his father is murdered on the floor of the Klingon High Council 2370-2410 Original timeline Negated when Alexander's future self convinced his past self to become a warrior TNG: "Firstborn"
An anti-time eruption forms in the Devron system and prevents the formation of life on Earth 3.5 billion years ago, 2363-2364, 2370-2371, and an unknown year Repeated temporal displacement of Picard by Q Negated when Picard sealed the eruption with a static warp shell TNG: "All Good Things..."
The Veridian system is destroyed by Tolian Soran 2371 Original timeline Negated when Picard prevented the system's destruction Star Trek: Generations
Gabriel Bell dies and the Federation and Starfleet never form 2024-2371 Benjamin Sisko and Julian Bashir causing Bell's death Negated when Sisko replaced Bell's role in history DS9: "Past Tense, Part I", "Past Tense, Part II"
Kathryn Janeway dies on Makull's homeworld in a polaric ion explosion caused by her crew from one day in the future 2371 Unknown, created through a predestination paradox Negated when Janeway closed a subspace fracture before it could cause the explosion VOY: "Time and Again"
Miles O'Brien dies from a high-energy laser 2371 Unknown, possibly the original timeline Negated by O'Brien learning of his death prematurely DS9: "Visionary"
Miles O'Brien dies from radiation 2371 Unknown, possibly the original timeline Negated by O'Brien warning Bashir in the past of his death DS9: "Visionary"
Deep Space 9 is destroyed by a Romulan Warbird 2371 Unknown, possibly the original timeline Negated by O'Brien warning Sisko of the attack 3 hours before it occured DS9: "Visionary"
Daniel Byrd joins Voyager instead of Harry Kim 2371 Temporal inversion fold Negated when Kim returned through the time stream VOY: "Non Sequitur"
Second Federation-Klingon Cold War 2372-2450 Energy discharge from the Defiant's warp core Negated when Benjamin Sisko returned to the past and dodged the discharge DS9: "The Visitor"
The Call of the Prophets is not finished 22nd century-2372 Temporal displacement of Akorem Laan by the Bajoran wormhole Negated when the Prophets returned Akorem Laan to his proper time period DS9: "Accession"
Henry Starling founds Chronowerx Industries and destroys the Sol system in a temporal explosion 1967-29th century Unknown, created through a predestination paradox Negated when Voyager destroyed the Aeon before it arrived in the future VOY: "Future's End", "Future's End, Part II"
The Borg Collective assimilates Earth 2063-2373 Borg Queen's sphere Negated when the Enterprise-E defeated the Borg in the past Star Trek: First Contact
First Year of Hell 2373-2379 Original timeline Presumed negated by Tuvok due to Kes's actions in 2373 VOY: "Before and After"
The Defiant crashes on Gaia and colonizes the planet 22nd century-2373 Temporal displacement of the Defiant Negated when Odo's older self altered the Defiant's flight plan DS9: "Children of Time"
Second Year of Hell 2174-2374 Multiple temporal incursions by Annorax's weapon ship Negated when Janeway caused the weapon ship to erase itself from history VOY: "Year of Hell", "Year of Hell, Part II"
Molly O'Brien is stranded on Golana for 10 years 21st century Time portal Negated when Molly's younger self went back to 2374 DS9: "Time's Orphan"
Voyager crashes on an L-class icy planet upon emerging from quantum slipstream 2375-2390 Original timeline Negated when Harry Kim caused Voyager emerged from the slipstream 50,000 light-years from Earth VOY: "Timeless"
Voyager is destroyed by a temporal disruptor 2371-2375 Captain Braxton planting the disruptor aboard Voyager Negated when Janeway prevented Braxton from planting the device on Voyager VOY: "Relativity"
Kes murders B'Elanna Torres and time travels to 2371 2376 Original timeline Negated when Janeway and Tuvok took precautions to prevent history from repeating VOY: "Fury"
Voyager is fractured into multiple different time periods in 2377 2371, 2372, 2373, 2374, 2375, 2377, and 2394 Chronokinetic surge Negated when Chakotay reintegrated Voyager into one time period and prevented the surge from fracturing Voyager VOY: "Shattered"
Voyager returns to Earth in 2394 2378-2404 Original timeline Negated when admiral Janeway returned Voyager home in 2378 VOY: "Endgame"
Alternate reality 2233 and beyond Nero's appearance in 2233 Coexisting as a parallel universe Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Star Trek Beyond

Appendices Edit

Appearances Edit

Alternate timelines are depicted in the following episodes or films:

Related topics Edit

Apocrypha Edit

According to the Star Trek: Myriad Universes story "Places of Exile" by Christopher L. Bennett in the 2008 novel of the series, Infinity's Prism, the concept of quantum realities is synonymous with all types of alternate timelines. According to the 2008 novel Fearful Symmetry by Olivia Woods, the mirror universe is also a parallel quantum universe, further suggesting that even trans-dimensional realms are alternate timelines.

The Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations novel Watching the Clock, goes into detail about how and why some forms of time travel create parallel alternate realities and others lead to the overwriting of the same timeline. According to the novel, the only way one timeline could replace another is if they coexisted side by side from the moment of their divergence and were merged together again at a later point. Timelines diverge when they shift sufficiently out of phase to become non-interacting, but it is not impossible for them to interfere again at a later point in time. If they did become entangled as a single system, quantum information theory demands that only one of the two conflicting sets of information survive, as quantum history has to be self-consistent. After the merge, it would be as if one timeline suddenly transformed into another. The previous events would still have occurred, but they would no longer be remembered, as the information would have been destroyed. Two different timelines coming back into phase would violate entropy, so there needs to be some kind of force acting to merge them back together.

The game Star Trek: Armada features the USS Premonition (β) a starship that came from an alternate future where the Borg controlled most of the Alpha Quadrant. Captain Thaddius Deming of the Premonition hoped to warn the Federation of a coming Borg invasion in time to prevent the Borg victory. With the help of Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise-E, and after making two further temporal incursions, the Premonition's mission was a success and she returned back to the future.

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