Star Trek Guide

Lower Decks: Star Trek's Most Famous Acronym Is Now Canon

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Star Trek: Lower Decks Season 1, Episode 10, "No Small Parts," now streaming on CBS All Access.

Due to the numerous television series that make up the Star Trek franchise, fans have ascribed different acronyms and abbreviations to help differentiate and identify each of the various programs. From "TNG" standing for The Next Generation to "DS9" representing Deep Space Nine, the acronyms have been unofficial shorthand for decades. In the Season 1 finale of Lower Decks, the oldest of these acronyms -- "TOS," the original series -- is made canonical.

The episode opens with the Cerritos embarking on a mission to Beta III, a planet that appeared prominently in "Return of the Archons," an episode in the first season of the original series, in which Kirk and the Enterprise crew save a civilization ruled by a sinister, totalitarian computer program known as Landru. The crew of the Cerritos discovers the local population went back to worshipping Landru, once again necessitating Starfleet's intervention to overthrow the program and liberate Beta III.

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On the ship, Commander Jack Ransom vents to Captain Carol Freeman that revisiting planets from the "TOS" era is always especially weird. When Freeman questions Ransom's acronym, the chipper first officer reveals it's his term for "Those Old Scientists," as a nod to the original series' predilection towards missions that leaned more heavily on science and philosophy than some of its more recent counterparts. While a passing joke and observation by Ransom, the comment effectively makes the acronym, which has been in use since the 1990s, franchise canon -- even if the meaning behind the letters is understandably different.

Following Ransom's explanation, Freeman takes note of several other missions linked to the original series' adventures, most notably "The Gamesters of Triskelion," a second season episode where Kirk was kidnapped and forced to fight as a gladiator on a faraway planet. As Ransom goes over briefings and information from older missions depicted in the original series on his tablet computer, the display reveals an image of Kirk and Spock from a different series in the franchise's history: the original animated series, which ran for two seasons and has since received the fan acronym "TAS."

During its inaugural season, each and every episode of Lower Decks has been packed with nods and references to previous series and films in the landmark science-fiction franchise. While certainly not the only allusions to the original series, the Season 1 finale spends a considerable amount of time exploring the franchise's roots, connecting it more firmly to the rest of the ever-expanding Star Trek mythos. And with its incorporation of the franchise's most venerated acronym into continuity by its own characters, Lower Decks has closed out its first season with its slyest -- if not subtlest -- wink to the fans yet, as the crew of the Cerritos continues to boldly go where many have gone before.

Star Trek: Lower Decks stars Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner, Eugene Cordero as Ensign Rutherford, Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler, Noël Wells as Ensign Tendi, Dawnn Lewis as Captain Carol Freeman, Jerry O'Connell as Commander Jack Ransom, Gillian Vigman as Doctor T'Ana and Fred Tatasciore as Lieutenant Shaxs. The complete first season is now available to stream on CBS All Access.

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