Phasers in TOS and then the later generations.

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Trekkie27, Jul 5, 2019.

  1. Trekkie27

    Trekkie27 Cadet Newbie

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    Hello everyone,

    I'm new here, but I love ST, especially TOS and the Next Gen.

    Anyway, I've been wondering about phasers for quite awhile. In TOS, when someone is hit with a phaser, he disintegrates, but, in the Next Gen and DS9, he just gets wounded. The latter version makes for better story telling, because the wounded character can do things that a disintegrated person cannot (obviously), but it also makes canon inconsistent, because then the weapons in the the 24th Century would be weaker than those in the previous one.

    Any thoughts?
     
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  2. 1001001

    1001001 Pull Up a Groove and Get Fabulous! Moderator

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    Different weapon settings.
     
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  3. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Riker disintergrated a female assassion after trying lower power setting, so the TNG phaser can do it.
     
  4. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In "Future's End", Tom Paris shot someone with a "knock the gun out of their hand" setting.
     
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  5. Vger23

    Vger23 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's just different power settings. Phasers in TOS didn't always vaporize either (Lenore Karidian comes to immediate mind in "Conscience of the King")

    The phasers in TNG rarely vaporize anyone, but they can do it. Probably a budget/dramatic decision.
     
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  6. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Also, the disintegration was smart enough to end at the end of the object, no matter what other objects it was in contact with.

    We see many instances of disintegration in TNG. Loud As A Whisper, Most Toys, etc. Then the fake disintegration in Gambit. It’s all about the phaser settings. 1-8 are stun, 9-16 are kill, and disintegration starts somewhere in the double digits.

    But then again in Voyager, Suder clearly forgot it was an option. And in DS9 the production reason was of course that falling over with a smoldering hole in your chest looks more cool and gritty.
     
  7. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    In TOS, phasers typically had stun and kill settings. They didn't always use them on kill.

    Kor
     
  8. Trekkie27

    Trekkie27 Cadet Newbie

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    Thanks for your input, everyone, and, yes, I've forgotten about the disintegration in various later gen episodes.

    But, yes, the bad guy doesn't disintegrate for dramatic purposes, but, then the question is why the good guy wouldn't disintegrate a bad guy - why just wound him/her? Especially during the Dominion War.
     
  9. trekshark

    trekshark Commander Red Shirt

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    Probably more shots per charge/power pack
     
  10. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In DS9 they are deadly, just they leave a body with a smoldering burn,

    There’s no reason for Dominion weapons not to vaporize, either. They add an anticoagulant to make sure all hits are deadly, but didn’t just make it vaporize.
     
  11. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    If they need to keep the episode's budget down, the phaser will only wound so they don't have to go in on a vaporization visual effect.
     
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  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The real reason for the difference is changing standards of censorship. In the '60s, restrictions on the depiction of violence and death were much tighter than they'd become by the '80s, let alone today. Disintegration was common because it was a "clean," fanciful death that involved no gore and left no corpse. Once those broadcast standards loosened, there was no longer the same incentive to have phasers disintegrate people. Although budget may have come into play because it's easier to set off a spark squib on an actor and have them fall down than it is to film the visual effect of their disintegration.
     
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  13. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Maybe what we were seeing was the result of a standing order by Kirk or Starfleet.

    A lower setting might not have killed certain aliens, so it was a all or nothing (well stun) policy. If you're going to use kill, then you were damn well going to kill with the first shot.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I think there's a story in the DS9 Prophecy and Change anthology explaining that Starfleet removed the disintegration setting from phasers sometime between TOS and TNG because the lack of bodies made it too clean and easy to kill. I know I had to revise a line in my own P&C story to acknowledge that assertion, so I'm pretty sure it was in another of the anthology's stories.
     
  15. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    They tend to forget stuff that doesn't serve the current story. Disintegration and wide field was used once or twice in Next Gen. DS9 totally forgot wide field and disintegrate settings when thry would have ended "The Seige of AR-558" in 2 minutes.

    Also I don't think a ship has fired it's phasers on stun at a planet since TOS.
     
  16. Delta Vega

    Delta Vega Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I find it intriguing that the good guys always assume the bad guys will have their weapons on stun, because they do
    That's just not believable.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Huh? Can you give an example of when that's ever happened?
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Never to Kirk AFAIK - but in "The Wounded", O'Brien tells how shocked and surprised he was to find that a phaser during armed conflict was set on kill, resulting in him accidentally taking the life of his enemy.

    It wasn't a bad guy phaser, tho - it was a gun he got from one of the colonists victimized by the band of Cardassian militia. Which would be doubly shocking for our poor protagonist, I guess: not only is he used to waging war on stun (like Kirk in "Errand of Mercy"), but now he has to cope with those supposedly on his side ignoring the proper rules of wartime conduct!

    Kirk making his victims disappear in a poof of VFX may well be the merciful thing to do, in-universe, when stun isn't an option. "Partial disappear" such as a hole in the chest is likely to hurt a lot more. But if full disappear consumes more energy, it ceases to be an option in combat against a numerically significant enemy, just as it did in "Omega Glory" where Tracey's phaser slaughter left the battlefield full of corpses. Thus, full vaporize in peacetime, chest holes in wartime.

    ...But also chest holes when an attempt at stun is botched by a victim who refuses to stay alive. We know from several sources and eras that stun kills, at close ranges, at repeated use, and against feeble victims. Perhaps some of the non-vaporizing deaths are in fact of this type?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. Delta Vega

    Delta Vega Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It happens all the time ffs
    Starfleet very seldom shoot to kill in firefights, often instructed to have weapons on stun.
    Its a distinct disadvantage
     
  20. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    What, not believable that bad guys would set their weapons to stun? I can see it, if it's circumstances where prisoners are wanted.