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Why is Mark Twain in Star Trek? The writer’s sci-fi history explained

Mark Twain became a part of Star Trek history in 1992, and now thanks to Lower Decks he's back. Here, we give an overview of the author's connections to Trek.

Mark Twain in Star Trek TNG

Here’s everything you need to know about Mark Twain’s history in Star Trek following on from his latest return. Minor spoilers ahead for the new Lower Decks episode ‘Something Borrowed, Something Green.’

“What do you mean Mark Twain’s in Star Trek?” We hear you cry. Actually, it’s not as weird as you think, and the new episode of Lower Decks has (sort of) brought the famous real-life author back to the sci-fi franchise for a second, third, fourth, and fifth time. It all involves going backward through the Star Trek timeline and returning to the Star Trek series TNG.

We could never say no to that: it’s among the best TV series ever made, after all. So, let’s go back to TNG and delve into Star Trek’s history with Mark Twain.

Mark Twain in Star Trek Lower Decks explained

In the latest episode of Lower Decks, Boimler and Rutherford escape to the Holodeck in order to relax and enjoy some recreational time together in an attempt to diffuse tensions that have built up as a result of sharing and room and living in such close proximity to each other.

They appear to load up a simulation aboard a 19th-century cruise ship, and like Data cosplaying as Sherlock Holmes, they both rock up as Mark Twain. Later on in the episode, when Captain Freeman and a Chalnoth captain are attempting to resolve their dispute, Boimler recommends they also try talking on the Holodeck while dressed up as Twain.

So, we get four Star Trek characters suited and booted as the author, and given Boimler’s extensive knowledge of the service history of the USS Enterprise he’s bound to have known about Twain’s connection to Starfleet. Speaking of which, we get to Mark Twain’s involvement in Star Trek TNG.

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Mark Twain’s Star Trek history explained

Mark Twain features heavily in the excellent TNG two-parter Time’s Arrow.

In the episode, the crew of the USS Enterprise are embroiled in a time-travel mystery that sees them discover the dismantled remains of Data in the 19th century. In order to investigate, Data is sent back in time to San Francisco, where he meets Mark Twain.

Twain, who knows Guinan (she lived on Earth in the planet’s past), becomes a suspicious witness to Data’s investigation and tampering and tries to unravel the plans of the android and understand his use of technology. As he becomes increasingly enmeshed in Data’s plans, he is eventually transported to the Enterprise-D and given a tour of the ship.

He’s guided by Troi, who tries to convince Twain that the future is not like the past: humanity has progressed. Before he’s sent back to his own time, Twain also forms a friendly relationship with Picard, who admires his writing and work and wishes he had had the chance to better get to know the author.

Twain brings charm, humor, and wit to the episode, as well as a keen and investigative mind. He’s one of the most memorable side characters in TNG, leaving a distinct mark on the series; hence, Lower Decks decided to celebrate him with its callback in the new episode.

That’s it on Mark Twain’s strange Star Trek history. For more on Star Trek, check out our guide on the best way to watch the Star Trek movies in order, and see our ranking of the Star Trek captains, too, before seeing what’s gone on with the Star Trek The Next Generation cast. Or, go beyond Star Trek and see what’s new on Paramount Plus this month before reminding yourself all about what’s going on with Wednesday season 2.