Universe Guide

What is the Prime Directive in Star Trek?

You've probably heard the term "Prime Directive" in Star Trek but might not be totally familiar with what it means. It is the rule that underpins the United Federation of planets contact with other worlds. It is also known to a lesser extent as "General Order 1"

No Starfleet craft or person should interfere in the development of any alien race. It is why the Earth, they look human except for their point elf-like ears.">Vulcans waited until Zefram Cochrane built and piloted his warp speed craft before making contact. Throughout all the series, there are cases where the Prime Directive has been broken either by Starfleet crew current or past or even by enemies.

The Borg will assimilate any race that they come into contact immaterial of how advanced or unadvanced they are. It is noted though that the Borg deem the Kazon as not being worthy.

There are numerous reports in real life of U.F.O. sighting and abductions. If they are really alien in origin, it may well be the reason that they've not contacted us is because to do so would break their Prime Directive.

History has shown that the human race has violated this rule many times over the centuries. One of the earliest example has been with the Roman Empire conquering less advanced European nations. When Europeans went to the Americas, they shared in addition to other things, their technologies.

Notable Incidences of when The Prime Directive was Violated

A Piece of the Action (TOS S2 E17)

When the Enterprise visits a remote planet, the crew discover that the planet has transformed itself into a Prohibition era Chicago. The inhabitants have become gangsters. It is not a case where the crew of the Enterprise is responsible for the Violation but they try to bring about peace between the factions.

A Private Little War (TOS S2 E19)

This is the time that Captain James T. Kirk is forced to purposely break the Prime Directive. When Kirk discovers that the Klingons are giving weapons to one faction of alien race, to make things equal, Kirk gives the opposition equal weapons in order to balance the fight out in the hope the Klingon back side will back down. Kirk only gives weapons that match the weapons that the Klingons are providing and not more superior one.

Patterns of Force (TOS S2 E21)

On a mission to Ekos, the crew of the Enterprise are shocked to discover that the planet resembles the Nazi Fascist Germany of the 1930s. Kirk sets out to capture the person who introduced the regime to the planet and return the planet back to how it used to be before.

Blink of an Eye (VOY S6 E12)

During their journey home, USS Voyager gets trapped in the orbit of a strange oval shaped planet. The planet's inhabitants are evolving at an astonishing rate. A minute on Voyager is like a year on the planet. The E.M.H. Doctor is sent to the planet as he is the only one who would not age. Its not entirely the crews fault that they interfered with the natural evolution of the inhabitants. Voyager got too close to the planet and was seen in the sky prompting the inhabitants to wonder progress.


The crew of the USS Enterprise NCC 1701D is ordered to transport the inhabitants of one planet to another without the inhabitants of the original planet coming into contact with anyone from Starfleet. It all goes wrong when Lieutenant Commander Data seemingly malfunctions and reveals their existence to the aliens.

Into Darkness

At the beginning of the film, the crew of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701A are trying to prevent the destruction of the planet Niburu. The Enterprise is hidden underwater so as not to be discovered. In order to save Spock, Kirk had to raise the Enterprise and reveal themselves to the natives. Spock was rescued but Spock lodged an official complaint about the incident.

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