Star Trek Guide

Star Trek Discovery: 10 Things You Need To Know About The Timeline

With two seasons in the books and a third coming soon, Star Trek: Discovery continues to build upon the vast canon of Star Trek in new and exciting ways. Being the first prequel series since Enterprise, the show has been methodic and careful in its storytelling, as it could easily and majorly break the continuity of the main timeline all the shows try to follow.

With its place on this timeline being so closely rooted in other Trek shows and stories, things can get confusing or even overwhelming at times when trying to keep everything sorted and in its correct place. That is why we've gathered the ten things you need to know about Discovery's timeline.

10 It Takes Place Right Before The Original Series

Discovery is set a decade before Kirk takes control of the Enterprise and heads out on the adventure that kicked this whole franchise off. While this is mostly inconsequential in season one, season two of Discovery brings heavily feature the Enterprise and its crew, led by Captain Pike, the man that Kirk will eventually relieve as ship commander.

With Pike and company now involved, the show is quickly spiraling towards the original series, and with the knowledge that Pike suffers immense injuries, his screentime now feels like a ticking clock.

9 It Isn't The Earliest Series Chronologically

Even though it takes place before the first-ever Star Trek show, it is not the series set the furthest in the past. Star Trek: Enterprisethe popular series that ran from 2001 to 2005, is actually set a full century before Discovery. 

It can be assumed that when the show creators made that decision, they were aiming for a hundred years before the original series, but they now have that claim for Discovery as well just by proxy. This explains why the references to Enterprise are fairly infrequent on Discovery, and the tech looks completely different.

8 It Is Nearly A Hundred Years Before The Next Generation

On the subject of setting a show a hundred years away from the original series, the same goes for Star Trek: The Next Generationonly in the opposite direction. The adventures of Picard and his crew are still in the far future when the events of Discovery are happening.

So while there's potential for some sort of Kirk appearance or reference in the coming season, cross-promotion with Picard is highly unlikely. Unless, of course, someone time travels, but we'll get to that a little later on this list.

7 It Is Not The Same Timeline As The Movies

Worth noting is that there are now two canon timelines of Pike, Kirk, Spock, and the team of the original series, with Discovery tiptoeing towards creating a third. As of right now, and likely to stay that way, Discovery takes place in the same timeline as the original series, and not the movies.

This means it is in the main timeline that almost all Star Trek media takes place. While the movies do take place in the same universe as the series, the two timelines have only mixed once and it was in the films. It is highly unlikely the newer films will play any part or have any effect on Discovery.

6 The Dates Don't Technically Line Up

While the events of Discovery have been crafted intricately to not inherently contradict the events that will follow it. The task is almost impossible with how much content this franchise has already had and Discovery has done an incredible job at this point to have their mistakes be as petty as this one.

In the original series, it is stated that Spock spent a decade with Pike on the Enterprise's first outing. The show also implies they had been together for some years before 2054 when the pilot takes place, but Discovery shows them in the year 2056, which alters the timeline of Spock, Pike, and their time together on the ship. It's a minor detail and even in the canon could be chalked up to misremembering.

5 James Kirk Is Currently Serving On Another Ship

With season two bringing the characters of Pike, Spock, and Number One back with new actors, it makes sense to wonder if they will bring on the most famous Starfleet captain of them all. It's possible, as just like how the Enterprise showed up to help the Discovery and its crew, Kirk's current ship could show up to help as well.

At the time of Discovery, Kirk is a young star in Starfleet, climbing the ranks faster than any before him. He is currently serving as a lieutenant on the U.S.S. Farragut, which is a large destroyer class ship. It is canon that a tragic event killed most of the Farragut's crew, so maybe the ship's story will come to fruition through Discovery. 

4 It Might Be A New Timeline Altogether

Or maybe it is a subtle hint at something bigger happening. With the slight changes happening to Pike and his crew, speculation has arisen that maybe Discovery will abandon the prime timeline and branch off on its own. The biggest sign that this could happen was when Pike was shown a vision of his future, and the horrible injuries he will sustain. It raises the idea that Pike will still do the heroic act that injures him, even knowing his result, but what if he makes a different decision.

Adding those kinds of layers of knowledge and story to these characters who were completely minor in the original series could be building to a massive reveal when the timeline reaches the start of the original series, by having Pike keep control of his ship, and changing the events of the future completely. It's unlikely, but it wouldn't be the first time a new timeline has split off in the Trek universe.

3 The Discovery Was Erased From The Main Timeline's Records

The biggest solve for the timeline's canon came from the finale of season two. After the ship Discovery travels through time into the far future, it is stated that the ship and crew will be removed from all records. This may seem like a cop-out, but it does remove any worry of continuity error as no character in the universe has ever mentioned the crew of the Discovery in previous Star Trek media.

This also justifies the comment made in Short Treks that the ship was lost in space for a thousand years, as it wasn't lost, but instead, it was traveling through time.

2 The Whole Timeline May Be Erased

A theory that has started floating around the internet is a more drastic version of the whole "erasing the ship from existence" idea poised by the records being wiped. With the ship traveling a thousand years into the future at the end of season two, it can be assumed that in a future season it will try to find its way back.

The Discovery just might go back further than when it left. In theory, the crew could go back to where it all started, and change its own destiny. While it would be a tragic end for the ship and characters, but the Discovery going all the way back and removing itself from the story before it even gets started would definitely protect the continuity of all future series.

1 It Is Going Further Than Any Series Before It

The most important timeline detail as Discovery season three approaches is that it is heading into unknown territory. A rare thing in the richly detailed Star Trek universe. The ship traveled nearly a thousand years into the future at the end of season two, putting them into the year 3205.

No previous Trek media has gone this far into the future, with the previous record being held by an episode of Star Trek: Voyagerin which they visit 3074. The creators of the show have to be ecstatic that after two long seasons of taking every other story into account, they now have full reign to get as wild as they want without breaking the continuity.