The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

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The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by JediToren » 2017-07-14 11:12am

I'm going through all of Trek, since the entire franchise is on Netflix. I've watched TNG and Deep Space Nine, and I'm in the third season of Voyager. Eventually I'll work my way through Enterprise, TOS, TAS, and the films.

In the versus debates, the Transporter Bomb was always a favorite argument of the inexperienced Trekkie. Of course given how easily transporters are blocked it's easy to see why it wouldn't work.

However, it's baffling to me that with all those writers and hundreds of hours of Trek the idea of using transporters offensively never came up once, other than the transporter sniper episode in DS9.

From a story telling standpoint, transporters and replicators have the potential to solve too many problems, hence all the limitations where a character rattles off some technobabble as to why it won't solve the current dilemma.
But there seems to be no scenes anywhere in the franchise where someone suggests and/or dismisses the use of transporters as a weapons delivery system. Ever.

Is there a reason? Was there some standing rule in the various series' bibles that forebade it? Is there any behind the scenes materials where the idea is brought up?

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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by EnterpriseSovereign » 2017-07-14 11:24am

You mean like this?
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by Crazedwraith » 2017-07-14 11:29am

Generally you need shields to be down to beam stuff over. Once you've knocked down the shields it's much easier to keep pelting stuff with weapons fire than beam stuff over. (and you need to lower your shields to beam anyway making you vulnerable)

Transporters are used infrequently for boarding operations. Especially in the DS9 Fed-Klingon conflict.
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by Khaat » 2017-07-14 11:52am

Apart from the consistent declaration that shields stop transporters, certain alloys stop transporters, some raw minerals stop transporters, some energy fields stop transporters, transporter locks can be difficult under ideal circumstances or require skilled crew to operate, or the Thing of The Week that prevents using the deus ex that's standard on almost all Trek ships, it wouldn't make for good story. Hells, the background for the TR-116 (transporter rifle) was that certain things ("energy dampening fields or radiogenic environments") kept phasers from working, so they pulled out archaic slug-thrower tech, plus bells, plus whistles.

Deus ex doesn't make for good story if used at the start. Trek writers make a hobby of building tension/risk/cost before deploying the Plot Bomb Tech.

"Why not transporter bombs?"
Why not every other one-off tech that can be implemented in standard builds better, if it can be jury-rigged in an episode?
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by JediToren » 2017-07-14 11:55am

Crazedwraith wrote:
2017-07-14 11:29am
Generally you need shields to be down to beam stuff over. Once you've knocked down the shields it's much easier to keep pelting stuff with weapons fire than beam stuff over. (and you need to lower your shields to beam anyway making you vulnerable)

Transporters are used infrequently for boarding operations. Especially in the DS9 Fed-Klingon conflict.
I understand the in-universe explanation for why the tactic is ineffective. Trek had plenty of scenes where a transporter or replicator is proposed as an obvious (to the audience) solution to a problem, only to be dismissed by another character with a line of technobabble.
Transporters and replicators create lots of plot holes, so such scenes are needed for the sake of the audience and the story.

It also explains why most science fiction franchises do not have transporters.

What I am wondering is why there appear to be no such scenes for such an obvious application of transporter technology. Did the writers just never think of it, or was it simply not allowed by the show runners?
EnterpriseSovereign wrote:
2017-07-14 11:24am
You mean like this?
Ah, haven't seen that episode yet. Are there any other episodes where they use or at least discuss the use of transporters as a weapons delivery system?

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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by Lord Revan » 2017-07-14 12:22pm

no there's no other episodes (at least ones I know of), but it does give valid explanation as to why it's not so often, Voyager had to bring down the borg ship's shields to beam in the torp and there's few enemies that are powerful enough that this method would be needed after all if simply shooting them again yields same results why do something with a high risk of failure like trying to beam in a bomb.

Also if you got a scene of "no we can't beam X thru the shields" it's also an explanation for "we can't beam a bomb thru the shields" you don't need seperate explanation for each and every item that can beamed.
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by Khaat » 2017-07-14 12:32pm

JediToren wrote:
2017-07-14 11:55am
It also explains why most science fiction franchises do not have transporters.
Star Trek only has them because of TOS FX budget issues:
According to The Making of Star Trek, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's original plan did not include transporters, instead calling for characters to land the starship itself. However, this would have required unfeasible and unaffordable sets and model filming, as well as episode running time spent while landing, taking off, etc. The shuttlecraft was the next idea, but when filming began, the full-sized shooting model was not ready. Transporters were devised as a less expensive alternative, achieved by a simple fade-out/fade-in of the subject.
The technology was never fully explored by writers when originally implemented, and in-universe only got a good looking-at when they needed it not to work.

Into Darkness did them one better: the transpwarp beaming device/tech thing made starships sensor platforms, because in nuTrek, you can just beam your bombs there.
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by Khaat » 2017-07-14 12:38pm

Huh. The more you know....
The transporter can also serve a tactical purpose, such as beaming a photon grenade or photon torpedo to detonate at remote locations (TNG: "Legacy", VOY: "Dark Frontier"), or to outright destroy objects (TNG: "Captain's Holiday"). The TOS episode "A Taste of Armageddon" mentions Vendikar materializing fusion bombs over targets of enemy planet Eminiar VII in the course of theoretical computer warfare.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transporter_(Star_Trek)
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-07-14 01:00pm

It's more or less the case, I suppose, that the *capability* is there. The actual execution, for whatever reason, we don't see on the show very often, due to all the various possible reasons. However, that doesn't prevent it from being used in the right circumstances, and they'd be idiots not to. As far as the versus debate goes, well... it's hard to justify due to the various counters the Empire/Wars has versus Trek being able to use transporters. One can surmise that if Trek were able to pull off a transporter bomb a few times, Wars would attempt to quickly find a solution, even if it constitutes just shooting apart any Trek ships before they're able to transport bombs aboard...
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by NecronLord » 2017-07-15 11:42am

Transporter range hovers around tens of thousands of kilometers.
Torpedo range is hundreds of thousands.
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by Lord Revan » 2017-07-15 01:49pm

NecronLord wrote:
2017-07-15 11:42am
Transporter range hovers around tens of thousands of kilometers.
Torpedo range is hundreds of thousands.
there's the matter that while it's true that theoretical max range of photon torps is quite high the actual combat ranges aren't, granted the most logical explanation for the difference is ECM which would hurt transporters as well so it might not matter or even make things worse for transporting bombs.
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by bilateralrope » 2017-07-15 02:48pm

Can you name any instances from any of the trek TV shows or movies where teleporting over a bomb would have been a good idea ?

Note that it needs to be a scenario where:
- The ship using the teleporter is not blocking enemy fire with its shields. Because, if the shields are blocking enemy weapons, dropping shields exposes the hull to incoming fire.
- The targets shields are offline or not present. Again because shields block transporters.
- Regular weapons are ineffective.
- They want to destroy the enemy ship.

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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-07-15 03:58pm

As noted above, its been done canonically, but rarely. But, again as noted above, their are explanations.

First off, you probably can't do it if shields are up, and if they're down, the fight will probably be over pretty fast anyway, unless your opponent has real good armor or you've lost most of your conventional weaponry.

Also, it may not be as precise as targeting specific systems, if you want to take a vessel intact. As I recall, when they used it against the Borg on Voyager, it blew up the whole ship when they were only meaning to disable.
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by EnterpriseSovereign » 2017-07-15 09:16pm

A related example (also from Voyager against the Borg), occurs in Child's Play. The crucial difference is that the torpedo isn't beamed onto the Borg Sphere itself but the ship it was about to assimilate.
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by J Ryan » 2017-07-16 06:15am

You also have this exampled from Enterprise:

Enterprise Season 3 - E2

Whilst fighting a future version of their own ship they begin to beam sections of the future version off to shut down their power. Clearly having intimate knowledge of your own ship plays a part in this, as well as not having shields explains why this isn't a standard military tactic, but it's nice to see the writers thinking of something different for a change.

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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by Q99 » 2017-07-16 08:16am

Starfleet Battles has Transporter bombs as a more common trick, but with, of course, the limitation of having to take a shield down first. It's very much not an overwhelming tactic, just one you occasionally have the option to use.

If you think about it, with SIFs and whatever alloys ships are made of and internal force fields, an internal bomb need not even be that fatal of a thing. "Internal forcefields, isolate section 5!", boom, ship shakes, section 5 is gone and a little beyond that but you've still got a combat capable ship...


Oh, and since other SF not having transporters was mentioned, there's of course the Culture, who deploys probably 80% of their weaponry through 'displacers,' so they're basically a "universe where everyone uses transporter bombs".

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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by bilateralrope » 2017-07-16 01:06pm

Q99 wrote:
2017-07-16 08:16am
If you think about it, with SIFs and whatever alloys ships are made of and internal force fields, an internal bomb need not even be that fatal of a thing. "Internal forcefields, isolate section 5!", boom, ship shakes, section 5 is gone and a little beyond that but you've still got a combat capable ship...
Unless you drop the bomb near their warp core. You don't need to do much damage before you cause antimatter containment to fail.

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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by Q99 » 2017-07-16 11:15pm

bilateralrope wrote:
2017-07-16 01:06pm
Unless you drop the bomb near their warp core. You don't need to do much damage before you cause antimatter containment to fail.
Oh, yea, *that'd* be a finisher! Though also the place that likely has the most shielding etc. going on.

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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by EnterpriseSovereign » 2017-07-17 12:57pm

Q99 wrote:
2017-07-16 11:15pm
bilateralrope wrote:
2017-07-16 01:06pm
Unless you drop the bomb near their warp core. You don't need to do much damage before you cause antimatter containment to fail.
Oh, yea, *that'd* be a finisher! Though also the place that likely has the most shielding etc. going on.
Although as Nemesis showed, it wouldn't necessarily take much fire to get the core shields to fail! During red alert Fed ships could have some form of transport inhibitor system in place so that even if the shields fail the enemy can't simply beam stuff on or off. Seeing as the ones the Feds used were battery-powered they clearly can't be much of a power drain.

Transporter scramblers are another option, apparently they were even capable of friend/foe recognition so the ship using them can still use their own systems.

From Stargate Wiki:
When the Asgard first allowed the Tau'ri access to their beaming technology, they placed a series of failsafes into the transporters to prevent the humans from using the technology offensively. Despite this, the Daedalus used its transporters to beam Nuclear warheads onto several Wraith Hive ships (with begrudging help from Asgard engineer Hermiod), destroying them. The Wraith, however, were able to develop jamming codes that prevented the transporters from obtaining a lock, making the transporters all but useless against the Wraith.
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by Lord Revan » 2017-07-17 02:18pm

EnterpriseSovereign wrote:
2017-07-17 12:57pm
Q99 wrote:
2017-07-16 11:15pm
bilateralrope wrote:
2017-07-16 01:06pm
Unless you drop the bomb near their warp core. You don't need to do much damage before you cause antimatter containment to fail.
Oh, yea, *that'd* be a finisher! Though also the place that likely has the most shielding etc. going on.
Although as Nemesis showed, it wouldn't necessarily take much fire to get the core shields to fail! During red alert Fed ships could have some form of transport inhibitor system in place so that even if the shields fail the enemy can't simply beam stuff on or off. Seeing as the ones the Feds used were battery-powered they clearly can't be much of a power drain.

Transporter scramblers are another option, apparently they were even capable of friend/foe recognition so the ship using them can still use their own systems.
Honestly the built in electronic warfare suit could be enough to prevent beaming stuff in or beaming stuff out, also places like main engineering could have additional shielding not to prevent weapons fire or transporters but to protect against things like radiation leaks.

Transporters don't seem like they'd be harder to jam/confuse then the tactical sensors of the ship, so you might need a dedicated anti-transporter methods since you're normal "I don't want to get hit" or "I don't want the whole ship end irradiated if there's a minor coolant leak in engineering" methods will do the job just fine in addition to their intended uses.
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by Tribble » 2017-07-17 03:58pm

IIRC in WoK the Enterprise had shields and some kind of additional "defence field" around critical areas of the ship like the bridge. The ladder is raised when Kirk issues the yellow alert. IMO the defense fields may have to deal with transporter use since they didn't seem to do much against the Reliant's weapons fire.
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2017-07-17 04:08pm

I'd forgotten about those. Yes, "Defence screens" they're called. They get a mention in (sigh) TMP as well, when Decker advocates caution, including raising "screens and shields." Clearly ships of that era at least have something beyond primary shields that have some defensive purpose.
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by Batman » 2017-07-17 04:37pm

IIRC screens were mentioned a few times in TOS as well
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by Tribble » 2017-07-17 05:24pm

Do we ever hear about the defense screens in the TNG-era? I can't recall any specific example.
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Re: The Transporter Bomb: Did the writers never think of this?

Post by EnterpriseSovereign » 2017-07-17 09:56pm

Lord Revan wrote:
2017-07-17 02:18pm
EnterpriseSovereign wrote:
2017-07-17 12:57pm
Q99 wrote:
2017-07-16 11:15pm


Oh, yea, *that'd* be a finisher! Though also the place that likely has the most shielding etc. going on.
Although as Nemesis showed, it wouldn't necessarily take much fire to get the core shields to fail! During red alert Fed ships could have some form of transport inhibitor system in place so that even if the shields fail the enemy can't simply beam stuff on or off. Seeing as the ones the Feds used were battery-powered they clearly can't be much of a power drain.

Transporter scramblers are another option, apparently they were even capable of friend/foe recognition so the ship using them can still use their own systems.
Honestly the built in electronic warfare suit could be enough to prevent beaming stuff in or beaming stuff out, also places like main engineering could have additional shielding not to prevent weapons fire or transporters but to protect against things like radiation leaks.

Transporters don't seem like they'd be harder to jam/confuse then the tactical sensors of the ship, so you might need a dedicated anti-transporter methods since you're normal "I don't want to get hit" or "I don't want the whole ship end irradiated if there's a minor coolant leak in engineering" methods will do the job just fine in addition to their intended uses.
Problem is that the Feds are most often on the receiving end of electronic warfare as opposed to dishing it out. Apart from one instance on the Siege of AR-558 where Starfleet and Dominion forces would jam one another's sensors I can't recall the Feds ever using EW. The Starfleet Command games at least made use of it, with ECM, ECCM and Wild Weasel shuttles.
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