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Tuvix’s Star Trek origins and controversy explained

One of the most infamous Star Trek Voyager episodes of all time just got a belated two-parter thanks to the return of the animated series Lower Decks season 4.

Tuvix in Star Trek Voyager

There’s one word which will give every Star Trek Voyager fan nightmares: Tuvix. What started out as a normal episode about a transporter accident has, in the decades since its release, become far more controversial.

Now, in typical Star Trek Lower Decks fashion, the debut episode of the new season of the animated Star Trek series has returned to the USS Voyager to put a spotlight on Tuvix. All our favorite Star Trek characters from the series were put in danger of being Tuvix-ed, and it ended up being pretty gross. In order to understand it all, here’s everything you need to know about the history of Tuvix, including his origins and controversy.

The origins of Tuvix in Star Trek Voyager

Tuvix is a being who was created in the year 2372 when a transporter accident merged Tuvok and Neelix into one single individual. The identities of both Tuvok and Neelix were lost, and Tuvix was created.

The accident was caused by Tuvok and Neelix being transported with an alien orchid: an orchid which reproduces through symbiogenesis, creating one hybrid being from two separate ones. Tuvix was both a physical and psychological amalgamation of Tuvok and Neelix with their personalities and memories combined, which a) is pretty disturbing b) led to some serious ethical dilemmas. That brings us to…

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Star Trek’s Tuvix controversy explained

The way in which Captain Janeway decided to deal with Tuvix, ultimately, was to govern with the needs of the many in mind. In order to get Tuvok and Neelix back as two separate individuals, Tuvix was forcibly de-merged and put back through the transporter. This was successful, and the crew of the Voyager had both Tuvok and Neelix returned to their ranks.

However, doing so meant that Tuvix was essentially sacrificed and killed. He was his own being, a new life, with memories and desires and wishes. Janeway’s decision to kill him in order to save her two friends is, therefore, extremely controversial within Star Trek.

In Lower Decks season 4 episode 1, this controversy is addressed when Captain Carol Freeman encounters the same situation faced by Janeway when members of her crew, and eventually she herself, are merged together into hybrid beings.

She is initially appalled when she realizes what Janeway did, and how she handled the situation. However, she also rationalized that Janeway and Voyager were in a uniquely isolated and stressful position, and that Janeway couldn’t be judged by the morality of those in a position of luxury.

It helps to add some more nuance into the discussion around Tuvix, and the morality of Janeway’s decision, even if it avoids coming to a solution itself. Now, when you think of Tuvix, there’s a whole other episode all about it, like a belated two-parter.

For more on Lower Decks, check out our breakdown of all the Easter Eggs found in season 4 episode 1, and learn all about the dangerous new creature: Moopsy. Or, jump into our guides on the ranking of the best Star Trek captains, and our thoughts on how to watch the Star Trek movies in order as well as our breakdown of the full Star Trek timeline.

You can also look beyond Star Trek and see our picks for the best TV series of all time, and learn what’s new on Paramount Plus.