Star Trek Expanded Universe

Alternate timeline

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Old Jake Sisko

Jake Sisko in an alternate timeline

Dax and Bashir married

Dax and Bashir, married in an alternate future

An alternate timeline is a tangential space-time continuum, typically created upon the alteration of one or more events in the "past". Alternate timelines are frequently the result of unintentional temporal interference. There are many types of alternate timelines, but most of those observed fit into two main categories, "closed" and "open".

Alternate timeline modelsEdit

Closed timelinesEdit

Closed timelines occur when an alternate timeline is created then eliminated through actions of "external" agents. Typically, the participants within these timelines are unaware of any change, either upon the creation of the alternate timeline, or once the timeline reverts to its "true" form, unless shielded from those changes by temporally sensitive materials (see chronitons, temporal shields). Since this is the case, most incidents of closed timelines go unreported, except by the Department of Temporal Investigations. Such timelines usually involve a cyclic aspect (action in the original timeline altering the past/future, creating an alternate timeline, an object/person unaffected by the temporal change travelling to/already present in the past/future to ensure the original timeline is re-established).

Open timelinesEdit

An open timeline is better described as a parallel universe. As a result of quantum determinism, every event that can occur, will occur in alternate universes. (TNG: "Parallels")

These alternate timelines differ from closed timelines as the events continue to influence the timeline they altered, without "external" interference. The mirror universe is an example of such an alternate timeline, which has become a primary focus for Federation scientists.

Some fans believe Star Trek: Enterprise takes place in such a timeline, effected either by the Temporal Cold War or events of Star Trek: First Contact. This seems unlikely, as Archer is heard referencing the trading post of Rigel X in a 24th century holoprogram in "These Are the Voyages..." (This involves the series premiere "Broken Bow", which introduced the Temporal Cold War). Some consider "These Are the Voyages..." to also be set in this alternate timeline, which would explain inconsistencies compared to the events of TNG: "The Pegasus".

Hybrid interpretationsEdit

In 2411, Commander Reshek Taryn, a Starfleet temporal agent from the mid-2450s, described the nature of time using the metaphor of a rope. Each strand of the rope was a string of probabilities that events were likely to occur. While most time travel was deterministic -- "go back, you've already been back, within that particular strand" -- major temporal incursions could cause alternate timelines to branch off entirely in a manner likened to fraying, a process that damaged time itself. Starfleet Intelligence Special Operations Section Eight had the mission of preventing such frays where feasible. She also spoke of a timeline branch where a multi-faction time war broke out, resulting in so many conflicting temporal incursions that the sequence of events ultimately erased itself entirely. (Bait and Switch: "Brother on Brother, Daughter on Mother")


Fan works featuring alternate timelinesEdit

Fan filmsEdit

Fan film episodes involving alternate timelines:

Fan fictionEdit

Fan fiction series set in alternate timelines are depicted in the following:

Individual storiesEdit

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

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