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Stun setting

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Picard Q phaser

Captain Jean-Luc Picard shows Q a type 1 phaser set to stun

"Keep your phasers on stun. And stay calm. I don't want anyone getting nervous and shooting one of us by mistake."

Stun setting was the term used for non-lethal low yield settings on directed energy weapons, powerful enough to cause disorientation, unconsciousness and minor skin burns to a humanoid lifeform. (TOS: "The Man Trap"; TNG: "Samaritan Snare"; VOY: "Distant Origin")

There were many resilient species against which the stun setting had little or no effect, including Augments, (Star Trek Into Darkness) the Xindi-Reptilians, (ENT: "Carpenter Street") and Humans infected by a neural parasite. (TNG: "Conspiracy") To some more vulnerable species, even the stun setting was potentially lethal, for example the Trill symbionts. (DS9: "Invasive Procedures") When used at close range, a phaser set on stun was capable of inducing sufficient trauma to kill a Human, if fired at a vital organ such as the brain. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Some directed energy weapons did not have a stun yield setting. Some had only two settings, the stun and the kill setting. (ENT: "Broken Bow", "Cease Fire") On phaser weaponry used by Starfleet in the 23rd and 24th centuries, there were several different levels of stun settings. Starfleet regulations stated that phasers were to be locked at the level one stun setting. (TNG: "Aquiel")

A phaser set to stun could render a Human female unconscious in 0.9 seconds, something that was of no use to Miles O'Brien when a Pah-wraith possessed his wife, as it was still more than enough time for the Pah-wraith to kill her. (DS9: "The Assignment")

Levels of stunEdit

Pakleds stun La Forge

Pakleds stun Geordi La Forge with a Starfleet phaser

  • A higher stun setting caused a brief moment of unconsciousness to most humanoids. Although mostly harmless when used at this setting, multiple phaser stuns like this could culminate in serious injury to the central nervous system and after multiple hits, death. (TNG: "Samaritan Snare")
According to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, (pp. 135 & 136) the first three settings on Starfleet phasers were the light, medium and heavy stun. According to the Manual, setting 1 was designed to only cause disorientation, setting 2 unconsciousness for 15 minutes and setting 3 unconsciousness for an hour.


In a similar way as the kill setting could be used to quickly kill a room full of people when set on a wide beam setting (VOY: "Worst Case Scenario"), a wide-field stun setting could be used to stun large groups with a single shot. (TOS: "The Return of the Archons"; TNG: "Power Play")

Along with hand weapons, shipboard phaser banks could be modified to deliver a potent stunning beam to incapacitate large crowds on the surface of a planet from orbit. (TOS: "A Piece of the Action")

See alsoEdit

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