Mirror Universe
(coexisting on another dimensional plane)
MA 2009Warning!
This page contains information regarding Star Trek: Discovery, and thus may contain spoilers.

"Terran strength is born out of pure necessity. Because they live in constant fear, always looking for the next knife aimed at their back. Their strength is painted rust. It's a facade."
– Michael Burnham, 2256 ("Despite Yourself")

The Terran Empire was a repressive interstellar government dominated by the Terrans from Earth in the mirror universe. The Empire ruled by terror, its Imperial Starfleet acting as its iron fist. In Starfleet, officers promoted themselves by killing superiors that did not follow the rules of the Empire. Torture was a common form of interrogation. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly"; TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")


Going by rebellion sources, the Empire was a fascistic culture described as oppressive, racist and xenophobic, predicated on an unconditional hatred and rejection of anything and everything "other". Michael Burnham summarized this information by identifying the Empire as the antithesis of the United Federation of Planets in every way. (DIS: "Despite Yourself")


Early historyEdit

In 2155, Commander Jonathan Archer stated that the Empire had existed for "centuries". (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly") One of the Empire's early outer space conquests was a landing on Earth's moon, Luna, where it planted its flag. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly", "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II" opening credits sequence)

The precise historical origin of the Empire is a subject of much debate and speculation among fans. If the opening credits of the two Enterprise mirror universe episodes are any indication, the time of the Empire's formation can be pushed farther back than the above-mentioned 1955.
A scene cut from ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly" had Archer invoking the blessings of "the gods", hinting that the Empire may be a continuation of or successor to the Roman Empire. Marlena Moreau mentioning Kirk becoming a "Caesar" would add support to this notion, as may the fact that "Terra" is the Latin word for "Earth".
The salute used by officers (closing the fist over the heart and then extending the arm in front, saying, "Long live the Empire") is also reminiscent of the Roman soldiers' and gladiators' salute to Caesar.
Indirect support for the idea that the Empire had a relatively "ancient" origin may be found in a statement made by the mirror Phlox in "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II". In that episode, he revealed that, although he had found significant differences between the great historical works of literature in the mirror universe and those of the prime universe, he had discovered an exception in Shakespeare, Phlox expressing that the works of Shakespeare were "equally grim in both universes."

21st centuryEdit

Humanity's first contact with an alien species in the mirror universe began exactly as it did in the traditional universe. Upon detecting Zefram Cochrane's warp signature, a Vulcan scout ship landed in Bozeman, Montana, to make first contact with Humanity. Instead of welcoming the Vulcans in a spirit of friendship and understanding, the mirror Zefram Cochrane killed the first Vulcan to set foot on Terran soil, with a shotgun, as the Humans boarded and ransacked the Vulcan ship after killing the first officer also. According to mirror Archer, the Vulcan first contact was considered a prelude to invasion.

Instead of the Vulcans gradually releasing technology to Earth over time, the Terran Empire applied the stolen Vulcan technology to a policy of aggressive interstellar expansion. Because of this, the Empire was able to engage in technological research and development considerably earlier than its United Earth counterpart in the prime universe. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")

22nd centuryEdit

By the 2150s, the Terran Empire had already conquered the Vulcans, Denobulans, Andorians, Aenars, Orions, and Tellarites and had launched attacks against the Klingons, Rigelians, and Xindi. The flagship of the Empire, the ISS Enterprise, under the command of Captain Maximilian Forrest, had a much more racially-diverse crew than its regular-universe counterpart, with numerous Vulcans and Tellarites serving as crewmembers.

Due to the rapid initial expansion made possible by the captured Vulcan technology, the Empire's hold on its territories was initially weak. By 2155, some of the worlds conquered by the Terrans were beginning to rebel against Terran rule, leading to a long-running conflict, and after a disastrous defeat at Tau Ceti, the Empire came to the brink of collapse. Propaganda, however, conveyed the message that things were going in the Empire's favor and that the war would be over soon.

In that year, the USS Defiant, a Federation ship launched in the 23rd century of a parallel universe, was reported in Tholian space. The first officer of the ISS Enterprise, Commander Archer, reviewed this report and proposed a bold surgical strike at an asteroid base at which the Tholians were keeping the Defiant. Archer's proposal was quickly rejected by Forrest, causing Archer to mutiny against his captain and take control of Enterprise to retrieve the Defiant so its technology could be utilized against the rebellion. Enterprise arrived and dispatched a boarding party to gain all information they could about the ship, and destroy it to prevent the Tholians from being able to use it. Unfortunately, during the retrieval operation, the Tholians attacked Enterprise and destroyed it, stranding the boarding party aboard the Defiant. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")

Following the destruction of the ISS Enterprise and the death of Captain Forrest, Commander Archer and his away team commandeered the USS Defiant. They proceeded to destroy the Tholian hangar in which the ship was being held and rescued a number of former Enterprise crewmembers, including Hoshi Sato, after apparent consideration of leaving their comrades stranded. Archer made a rendezvous with the ISS Avenger, the flagship of Admiral Black. Archer vaporized the admiral and took command of both vessels.

However, this coincided with Commander T'Pol and Crewman Soval leading the other non-Human crewmembers on board the Avenger in a mutiny aboard the ship. They attacked the Defiant in hopes of destroying it but the mutiny itself was destroyed after Commander Charles Tucker III reinitialized power systems that Phlox had attempted to disable. Commander Archer, acting as captain, then set a direct course for Earth, where he intended to declare himself Emperor of the Terran Empire. However, Hoshi Sato poisoned him with the assistance of his bodyguard, Travis Mayweather. The two then took control of the Defiant, and upon arriving at Earth, Sato declared herself Empress. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II")

It remains unclear as to whether Sato actually established herself as Empress, or if the Defiant played any further role in the mirror universe. However, the novella "Age of the Empress" follows Sato as she establishes herself using the power of the vessel.

Somewhere between 2155 and 2267, the symbol of the Empire appears to have been altered. The earlier symbol closely resembled that of the United Earth government, depicting all of Earth's continents, though replacing a laurel of peace with an aggressive sword. However, by the mid-23rd century, the symbol, while remaining essentially the same, depicted only the continents of Earth's western hemisphere, suggesting the seeds of the Empire were sown in that hemisphere. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"; TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")

23rd and 24th centuriesEdit

MA 2009Warning! This section may contain spoilers for new Star Trek material.
Terran Empire insignia, 2250s

Terran emblem in 2256

By the mid-23rd century, the Terran Empire had conquered much of known space. However, it was resisted by an alliance of non-human species, including Vulcans, Andorians, and Klingons. (DIS: "Despite Yourself")

The Empire encountered a Gorlan uprising, to which the ISS Enterprise, captained by James T. Kirk, responded with the destruction of the rebels' home planet. Other feats of Captain Kirk by 2264 included the execution of five thousand colonists on Vega IX and the annihilation of all remaining inhabitants of Talos IV. In 2267, the Empire coveted the dilithium reserves of the Halkan homeworld and Kirk interceded to demand mining rights on behalf of the Empire.

Terran Empire insignia, 2370s

Emblem worn by a Terran slave

In that year, crewmembers of the ISS Enterprise, including Captain Kirk, accidentally switched places with their prime universe counterparts of the USS Enterprise, who in the same time were transported aboard the mirror version of the Enterprise. Kirk believed that the mirror Spock would one day become captain of the ISS Enterprise, and before returning to his own reality, he planted a seed of doubt about the inevitability of the Empire and whether violence was the only logical answer. Spock promised to consider Kirk's words, after realizing the Empire would only last about 240 years before being overthrown. (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")

As Kirk predicted, the mirror Spock later became the captain of the ISS Enterprise and eventually rose to become Commander-in-Chief of the Empire. He began instituting major reforms that were very popular, turning the Empire into a more peaceful and less aggressive power. Unfortunately, Spock's reforms left the Empire unprepared to defend itself against the emerging threat of a united Klingon-Cardassian Alliance, which managed to conquer the entire Terran Empire, turning the Terrans themselves into a slave race. The Bajorans, a people conquered by the Empire, came to be a powerful voice in this Alliance. (DS9: "Crossover")

Subjugated racesEdit


Background informationEdit

Robert Hewitt Wolfe decided to give the Terran Empire some formidable enemies. "Empires aren't usually brutal unless there's a reason. There are usually external or internal pressures that cause them to be that way," he commented. "So I just thought that if the parallel Earth was that brutal, there had to be a reason. And the reason was that the barbarians (the Klingons and the Cardassians) were at the gate." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

Wolfe based the Terran Empire's predicament on historical precedents. He further elaborated, "My analogy was to the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire was as brutal and as nasty as it was because all around it, it had very aggressive barbarians that it was afraid of. The Chinese had the same thing, the Mongols were always there. So if you suddenly make the Romans nice guys, or the Chinese nice guys, well that's great and everything, but then the Mongols come across and it's all over. So that was kind of the idea."(citation needededit)

In the first draft script of DS9: "Through the Looking Glass", Benjamin Sisko described the Terran Empire as "corrupt, brutal, and doomed to collapse in any case." Mirror O'Brien, however, longed for the days when the Empire still existed and, later in the same script, Rom suggested reestablishing the Empire once the Terran Rebellion succeeded, with Sisko as the head of the Empire. Sisko himself, though, was against that idea, commenting, "The Terran Empire was every bit as corrupt as the Alliance." The Empire wasn't referenced at all in the final draft script of "Through the Looking Glass". (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library; [1])


In the game Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force, part of the story involves going through a scavenger base composed of many species' ships. One of these ships is an Imperial Starfleet vessel, apparently dating back to the 23rd century. It is populated by Humans, who behave typically for the mirror universe. How it came to be in Voyager's canon dimension is unknown.

In the Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Dark Mirror – written and published before DS9's televised visits to the Mirror Universe – the Terran Empire is depicted as still existing in the 24th century, with Spock's reforms having been cut short by his death, speculated by Captain Jean-Luc Picard to be the result of his assassination after he pushed the Empire too far, too quickly. The crew of the mirror Enterprise-D are assigned a new mission to devise a means of bringing a ship from the prime universe into the mirror universe and then return after replacing its crew, the Empire having run out of territory that it can easily conquer in its own universe, but the Enterprise crew of the prime universe manage to sabotage their efforts and devise a method of detecting future incursions.

In the computer game Star Trek Online, by 2409, the Terran Rebellion has succeeded in overthrowing the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance and restored the Terran Empire to its former status as a major power in the quadrant. The Terran Empire of the 25th century has also returned to the old ways, having engaged in a series of hostile incursions into the prime universe. The Empire attempts to invade that universe using a trans-dimensional portal in the Badlands, and later allies with the Temporal Liberation Front. Imperial ships have markings similar to those used in the 22nd century, albeit red instead of yellow.

The mirror universe novella Saturn's Children identifies Andorians, Bolians, Tellarites, and Denobulans as part of the rebellion. Whereas the success of the Terran Rebellion has led to the reinstatement of the Terran Empire in Star Trek Online, in the novels, the democratic Commonwealth is established.

See alsoEdit

External linkEdit

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