Threshold (Star Trek: Voyager)

"Threshold" is the 31st episode of American science fiction television series Star Trek: Voyager airing on the UPN network, the 15th episode in the second season. This episode won a 1996 Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup in a Television Series.[2]

Star Trek: Voyager episode
Threshold (Shuttle Kidnap).jpg
A mutated Paris kidnaps Janeway in the warp 10 shuttle
Episode no.Season 2
Episode 15
Directed byAlexander Singer
Story byMichael De Luca
Teleplay byBrannon Braga
Featured musicJay Chattaway
Cinematography byMarvin V. Rush
Production code132
Original air dateJanuary 29, 1996 (1996-01-29)
Guest appearances
Episode chronology
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The series follows the adventures of the Federation starship Voyager during its journey home to Earth, having been stranded tens of thousands of light-years away. In this episode, Lieutenant Tom Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) becomes the first known person in mankind to break the Warp 10 barrier.

This episode features special effect sequences with the high-speed shuttle Cochrane, marking the presentation of the Class 2 shuttle.

The episode aired on UPN on January 29, 1996.[3]


Voyager's crew discovers a rare, more stable form of dilithium that they postulate could power a warp drive beyond Warp 10. This would allow Voyager to reach the Alpha Quadrant near instantaneously. Although holodeck simulations prove disastrous, Lieutenant Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill) comes up with an idea after an off-the-cuff discussion with Neelix (Ethan Phillips). The next simulation is successful and a shuttlecraft, dubbed the Cochrane, is prepared for a full test flight. The Doctor (Robert Picardo) identifies a rare medical condition in Lieutenant Paris indicating a 2% chance that he will suffer lethal effects from the test-flight and recommends assigning Ensign Kim (Garrett Wang) as test-pilot. Paris convinces Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) to allow him to fly the shuttle despite the small risk.

Paris successfully breaks the Warp 10 barrier with the Cochrane, rapidly disappearing from Voyager's sensors. The crew begins to try to track the shuttle, but soon the Cochrane reappears, Paris unconscious at the controls. Once awake, Paris explains that he had already seen everything at every point in space, and the shuttle's database similarly contains a massive amount of information about the Delta Quadrant. However, Paris starts to suffer allergic reactions, and he is raced to Sickbay, where the Doctor determines that Paris is now allergic to common water. Paris's body soon changes again, and no longer can process oxygen, forcing the Doctor to create a special environment that Paris can exist in.

Paris's body continues its strange transformations, the Doctor postulating that he is becoming a new form of life. Before the Doctor can use an "anti-proton" treatment to return Paris to his human form, Paris escapes, disrupts Voyager's internal systems, and kidnaps Janeway on the Cochrane. By the time the crew restores the damage Paris had done, the Cochrane has taken off to Warp 10. As Voyager follows the shuttle's trail, eventually coming to a planet covered with swamps, the Doctor explains that the mutation patterns in Paris' DNA are consistent with those of evolution. Near the shuttle, they discover two amphibian beings, with trace DNA of Paris and Janeway. The two have mated and have had three offspring. The crew members recover their transformed Janeway and Paris to be returned to human form by the Doctor, and leave the offspring behind.


  • The mutated Tom Paris was made into an action figure, with his three offspring as accessories.[4]
  • The writing staff was dissatisfied with the quality of the episode, to the point that Brannon Braga later called it a "royal, steaming stinker" on the commentary for the DVD release.[5]: 1, 7 
  • Jeri Taylor commented that the fans were appalled at the episode, mainly centred on the implausible idea that the two stars were turned into salamanders. "It is not one that took with the audience. The fact that we were turning people into salamanders was offensive to a lot of people and just stupid to others."[6]
  • After Robert Duncan McNeill read the script initially, he had trouble understanding it. He later referred to it as bizarre.

Science analysisEdit

Star Trek has been analyzed by real world scientists.[7] In The Physics of Star Trek by Lawrence M. Krauss, which includes a foreword by Stephen Hawking, the show's presentation of faster than light travel, what the show calls "warp drive" is discussed including going warp 10.[7] According to the scale presented in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Warp 10 would be infinite velocity.[7] However, they note that in other cases fictional spacecraft are reported to be going faster than Warp 10 and recommended, "One shouldn't concern oneself unduly with the details."[7] For warp drive in general, it was noted that it may not be impossible, calling it a "nonimpossibility", however there was some concern for repercussions of such a technology in regards to the equations of General Relativity and in particular travelers are implied to have negative energy.[7]

Similarly, Live Long and Evolve: What Star Trek Can Teach Us About Genetics, Evolution, and Life on Other Worlds[8] by Mohamed A. F. Noor discusses how such extreme mutation is more likely to result in cancers or death than transmutation, the genetic mutations were too repeatable, and the speed of change was remarkably fast. The book suggests some of these problems may be allayed very slightly if the changes were epigenetic rather than genetic, but the premise is an extreme stretch in the biology either way.

Accepted paperEdit

In 2018, a biologist and fan of Star Trek wrote up a research paper based on this episode. He submitted it to 10 open-access journals known or suspected of charging fees without providing services such as peer review and vetting of the paper's claims. Four accepted the paper and one, the American Research Journal of Biosciences, published it.[9]


In 2015, "Threshold" was included in's 35 greatest moments in Star Trek— they ranked Tom Paris hitting Warp 10 as the 30th greatest moment of all Star Trek.[10]

In 2018, CBR included this episode in a list of Star Trek episodes that are "so bad they must be seen".[11] In 2012, Den of Geek listed this as the worst episode of Star Trek: Voyager.[12] Fox ranked this episode as the fourth worst episode of all Star Trek up to 2018.[13]

Den of Geek included this episode on a binge watching guide that included a roadmap of episodes, that although not typically achieving high ratings were still entertaining.[14]

In 2017, Screen Rant ranked this episode the 5th worst episode of the Star Trek franchise.[15] In July 2019, they again ranked "Threshold" as one of the top five worst of the series, although they felt there was a good start to the episode.[16] The following year, the ranked it the second worst episode of the series, noting an IMDb rating of 5.3 out 10; they elaborate "It barely gets off the ground from there before it crashes and burns into some kind of drunken daydream..".[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ ""Star Trek: Voyager" Threshold (1996) - Full cast and crew". IMDb. n.d. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  2. ^ "Primetime Emmy Awards (1996)". IMDB. September 7, 1996. Retrieved July 4, 2014.
  3. ^ "Star Trek: Voyager". Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  4. ^ "10 of the Most Pointless Action Figures Ever Made". io9. January 4, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  5. ^ "Star Trek: Voyager "Threshold" (1996) TV Recap". the agony booth. September 27, 2006. Retrieved January 6, 2009.
  6. ^ Gross, Edward; Altman, Mark A. (1996). Captains' Logs Supplemental: The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages—Entire Deep Space Nine and Voyager History. New York: Little Brown & Co. ISBN 0316883549.
  7. ^ a b c d e Krauss, Lawrence M. (August 2, 2007). The Physics of Star Trek. Basic Books – via Internet Archive. warp 10.
  8. ^ Noor, Mohamed A.F. (September 18, 2018). Live Long and Evolve: What Star Trek Can Teach Us About Genetics, Evolution, and Life on Other Worlds. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691184111 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Taylor Redd, Nola (February 13, 2018). "Fake Science Paper About 'Star Trek' and Warp 10 Was Accepted by 'Predatory Journals'". Retrieved July 30, 2018.
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ "Star Trek: 20 Episodes So Bad They Must Be Seen". CBR. December 12, 2018. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  12. ^ "Top 10 Star Trek: Voyager episodes". Den of Geek. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  13. ^ Heller, Leejay (June 16, 2018). "The Worst Star Trek Episode of Each Star Trek Series". Digital Fox. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  14. ^ "Star Trek Voyager: an episode roadmap". Den of Geek. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  15. ^ "15 Worst Star Trek Episodes Of All Time". ScreenRant. May 22, 2017. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  16. ^ "Star Trek: The 5 Best Episodes Of Voyager (& The 5 Worst)". ScreenRant. July 11, 2019. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  17. ^ "Star Trek: Voyager - The 10 Worst Episodes, According To IMDb". ScreenRant. August 2, 2020. Retrieved April 18, 2021.

External linksEdit