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Face-Off: Star Trek vs. Star Wars

07.12.2016by: Brian Bitner
In our previous Face-Off, I looked at 80's fantasy favorites THE NEVERENDING STORY and LABYRINTH. Almost all of you joined me in naming LABYRINTH the greater of the two, but I won't argue with the few of you who disagreed; after all, Falkor is one of the greatest things ever.

This week- OKAY, EVERYONE, SETTLE DOWN. Yes, I've phased (phasered?) myself in the foot with this massive undertaking. No matter what, even if it's a tie, many of you will likely end up leaving bantha droppings on my virtual doorstep. Before I get into it (I'm writing this before knowing the outcome), let's just recognize that this is not meant to be the end-all-be-all definitive JoBlo opinion about any of this. This is just one guy trying to compare two beloved franchises that are pretty much impossible to compare. That said, with STAR TREK turning 50 this year and STAR TREK BEYOND hitting theaters next week, as well as STAR WARS back in full swing with ROGUE ONE landing this December and EPISODE VIII in production, it seemed like a good time to give this one a shot. Yes, one is science fiction, and one is fantasy. Yes, all of our opinions will be massively skewed toward whichever franchise we grew up with. Yes, I have a very bad feeling about this. Okay, gang, let's make the jump to hyperspace and boldly go where many, many geeks have gone before.
FILM
TELEVISION
The Original Series
The Animated Series
The Next Generation
Deep Space Nine
Voyager
Enterprise

Up next:
A new series to premiere on CBS in 2017, possibly to be called Star Trek, because no one bothers to name things anymore.
Star Wars Holiday Special
Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor
Droids
Ewoks
Clone Wars
The Clone Wars
Rebels

Up next:
We'll eventually get an awesome live-action STAR WARS series, right? Right??
HEROES
James T. Kirk, Spock, Leonard "Bones" McCoy, Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, Nyota Uhura, Hikaru Sulu, Pavel Chekov, Jean-Luc Picard, William Riker, Geordi La Forge, Worf, Beverly Crusher, Deanna Troi, Data, Benjamin Sisko, Kira Nerys, Odo, Julian Bashir, Jadzia Dax, Miles O'Brien, Kathryn Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Tom Paris, B'Elanna Torres, Harry Kim, Jonathan Archer, T'Pol, Charles "Trip" Tucker III, Malcolm Reed, Hoshi Sato, Travis Mayweather, Dr. Phlox
Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, R2-D2, C-3PO, Gial Ackbar, Wicket W. Warrick, Nien Nunb, Wedge Antilles, Mon Mothma, Qui-Gon Jinn, Anakin Skywalker, Padmé Amidala, Jar Jar Binks, Mace Windu, Captain Panaka, Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, BB-8, Maz Kanata, Ahsoka Tano, Saw Gerrera, Ezra Bridger, Caleb Dume / Kanan Jarrus, Hera Syndulla, Sabine Wren, Garazeb "Zeb" Orrelios, C1-10P, Kit Fisto

This is a tough one, but STAR TREK protagonists tend to be a bit predictable and not terribly varied, while STAR WARS characters are generally unique and more colorful (for better or for Jar-Jar). Also, Han Solo.
VILLAINS
Khan Noonien Singh, Soran, General Chang, Shinzon, Dukat, Madred, Ru'afo, Armus, Sybok, Nero, John Harrison/Khan, Kruge, Mirror Spock, Moriarty, Lursa, B’Etor, Arik Soong, Lore, Valeris, Klaa, Dougherty, Ayel, Viceroy, Maltz, Marcus, Martia, V’ger, Dr. Korby, The Caretaker, Q, The God of Sha Ka Ree, the Borg Collective, the Borg Queen, various Gorn, Xindi, Na’Kurhl, Jem'Hadar, Suliban, Vidians, Species 8472

STAR TREK only has a few villains who spread beyond the fandom of the franchise. A non Trek fan might know Khan, the Borg, general Klingons and Romulans, and not much else. Where TREK shines, though, is in how interesting the villains can be, from a collective who think as one to amorphous beings to heroes' clones and evil twins to enemies who use seduction, mind control, and policy as weapons.
Darth Vader, Emperor Sheev Palpatine, Boba Fett, Grand Moff Tarkin, Jabba the Hutt, General Veers, Admiral Piett, Greedo, IG-88, Bossk, Darth Maul, Nute Gunray, Count Dooku, General Grievous, Jango Fett, Zam Wesell, Kylo Ren, Supreme Leader Snoke, General Hux, Captain Phasma, Asajj Ventress, Cad Bane, The Grand Inquisitor, Savage Opress, Dark Ahsoka, Durge, Aurra Sing, Mother Talzin

Obviously, STAR WARS has one of the most interesting and memorable villains of all time in Darth Vader, not to mention wildly popular characters like the Emperor and Boba Fett. In general, though, most of the villains tend to be fairly similar and one dimensional. Join the Dark Side, rule the galaxy, kill everyone, etc., so it's hard to give the rogues gallery of villains as a whole the win here.
RACES & CRITTERS
Vulcan, Klingon, Romulan, The Borg, Bajoran, Ferengi, Cardassian, Gorn, Xindi, Andorian, Rigelian, Arcadian, Breen, Arcturian, Trill, Betazoid, Talaxian, Bolian, Axanar, Orion, Tholian, Changeling, El-Aurian, Edosian, Ba'ku, Aaamazzarite, Organian, Kazon, Mugato, Tribbles, Ceti eel, Sehlat, Targ, Regulan bloodworm, Cardassian vole, Gagh

Too many to name on both fronts. Both franchises have done an amazing job of finding new and creative way to keep characters and creatures fresh and interesting.
Wookiee, Ewok, Jawa, Rodian, Twi'lek, Tusken Raider, Gamorrean, Hutt, Dug, Gungan, Geonosian, Neimoidian, Zabrak, Weequay, Bothan, Kaminoan, Mon Calamari, Kel Dor, Muun, Nautolan, Ugnaught, Trandoshan, Toydarian, Sullustan, Pau'an, Ortolan, Devaronian, Clawdite, Bith, Cerean, Dathomiri, Utapauans, Bantha, Rancor, Tauntaun, Mynock, Wampa, Sarlacc, Rathtar, Exogorth, Eopie, Varactyl, Brezak, Nexu, Dianoga, Acklay, Kowakian monkey-lizard, Opee, Sando, brain worm, Zillo Beast
SETTINGS
While it may be the cause of some of STAR TREK's more bizarre episodes, the Holodeck and the vast array of planets our heroes visit allow for settings ranging from traditional sci-fi locations to Dickensian London and 1986 San Francisco to colonies governed by unusual tenets to the very ends of the universe itself. It's not quite Doctor Who crazy, but STAR TREK never lacks for new and interesting worlds and time periods to explore.
STAR WARS features some excellent locations, including the swamp planet of Dagobah, the forest moon of Endor, the city planet Coruscant, and the ice planet Hoth. That said, for as relatively few planets as we visit in the franchise, the novelty of "themed" planets wears thin before long. The volcano planet Mustafar and the water planet Kamino feel a bit underwhelming, the junk planet Jakku is reminiscent of the sand planet Tatooine, and the Wookiee homeworld Kashyyyk is a little too Endor to feel truly unique.
QUOTES
“Space… the final frontier.”

"Live long and prosper."

"To boldly go where no man has gone before."

“I have been- and always shall be- your friend.”

"Make it so."

"Beam me up."

"Engage."

“I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain!”

"Highly illogical."

"Fascinating."

"Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

"I'm a doctor, not a..."

“NUCLEAR WESSELS.”

"Set phasers to stun."

"Resistance is futile."

"Khaaaaaaaan!"

"Logic is the beginning of wisdom; not the end."
"May the force be with you."

"I have a bad feeling about this."

"No. I am your father."

"Strike me down, and I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine."

"It's a trap!"

"These aren’t the droids you’re looking for."

"You were the chosen one!"

"When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the master."

"I find your lack of faith disturbing."

"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope."

"The force is strong with this one."

"Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."

"Do. Or do not. There is no try."

"So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause."

"Never tell me the odds."

"I love you." "I know."
VEHICLES
The Starship Enterprise is perhaps the most recognizable ship in science fiction. Most of the Federation ships share a similar design, and few of the civilian and pre-Federation ships aren't all that interesting (though some of the freighters are pretty cool). The Borg and the First Federation boast some fascinating concepts, and the Klingons, Romulans, and other villainous races have some pretty great wessels, but the overall assemblage features a fair bit of repetition.
The Millennium Falcon, TIE Fighters, Imperial Star Destroyers, X-Wings, Y-Wings, AT-AT's, AT-ST's, Speeder Bikes, Landspeeders, Podracers (I know), Sandcrawlers, Imperial Shuttles, Slave I, and so much more. Hell, you could even argue the Death Star counts here. The vehicles in STAR WARS are sleek, varied, and among the franchise's most valuable assets.
WEAPONS
Phasers and a vast array of energy firearms, photon torpedoes and other ship projectiles, tricobalt device, isolytic burst, phased polaron cannon, disruptor, bat'leth and various Klingon blades, KaBar combat knife, katana, bayonet, kar'takin, Ferengi energy whip, thalaron radiation, metreon cascade, trilithium resin, cobalt diselenide, aceton assimilator, the Borg Cube, the Doomsday Machine, lirpa, ahn'woon, ushaan-tor, mortaes, glavin, dreadnought and other self-guided missiles, Q firearms, red matter
Lightsaber, Force powers (push/pull, grip, lightning, mind trick, stun, etc.), various blasters, Wookiee bowcaster, thermal detonator, grenades, slugthrowers, disruptor, Death Star superlaser, Starkiller base superweapon, ion cannon, proton torpedoes, booma, electrostaff, vibro axe, dart guns, rocket/missile launcher, wrist rockets, flamethrower, turbolaser, turrets/gun emplacements

Lightsabers and Force powers? Yeah.
TECH
Transporters, the Holodeck, communicators, cloaking device, deflector shield, transparent aluminum, tractor beams, tachyon beams, impulse engine, universal translator, warp drive, tricorders and other sensors, hypospray, cryonics, healing rays, VISOR, telepresence, replicator, levitation boots, time/wormhole travel, androids/artificial intelligence/sentient computers
Hyperdrive, kyber crystals, bionic prosthetics, solar technology, jet pack, force fields, cloning, cybernetics, tractor beams, holography, protocol droids, various battle droids, probe droids, astromech droids, remotes, navcomputer, levitation tech, transceiver, comlink, carbonite freezing, moisture vaporator

STAR WARS certainly boasts its fair share of tech, but it tends to be mostly focused on weapons, vehicles, and droids, where STAR TREK tech is more varied and permeates almost every aspect of the series (this is part of that whole sci-fi vs. fantasy thing).
MUSIC
The music of STAR TREK is excellent, with a memorable theme by Alexander Courage and scores provided by Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Michael Giacchino, and several more talented composers. Especially in the days of the original series and the motion picture, a legitimate score with heart and subtlety helped bring validity to the series.
As he's done with so many franchises, John Williams has made the music of STAR WARS known to anyone with even the most tangential knowledge of the series. From the main theme and the Imperial March to the Cantina music and the Duel of the Fates, STAR WARS would absolutely not be the same were it not for Williams' work.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE
More than most of the major franchises out there, STAR TREK relies on the patience and intelligence of its viewers. That's not to say the series hasn't had its share of unbearably silly moments, but the focus tends to be more on intrigue, character development, and fascinating concepts than keeping us on the edge of our seat. The new movies have stepped up the action game, but some of it feels forced and out of place for STAR TREK.
When STAR WARS is at its best, the combination of humor, action, tension, and excitement strikes a fine balance. Characters like Han Solo and Finn keep us smiling, while the films' inevitable lightsaber duels and multi-layered battle sequences seldom fail to please. Say what you will about EPISODE I, but that final lightsaber battle is still an excellent sequence.
DEPTH
STAR TREK definitely needs a point for the depth and philosophy which go into the series. While the franchise hasn't always been 100% committed to this, an existential crisis of self, the question of why we're here, and a larger question of our committment to those around us have always been the basis of STAR TREK, dating all the way back to the show's pilot and continuing into the recent films.
STAR WARS certainly has depth, particularly with the Force representing so many things to so many people (Yoda's "luminous beings" line always gets me). That said, the series tends to focus more on fantasy and the action of the moment than challenging us and asking hard hitting questions (not to mention the Empire-as-Third-Reich comparison, which gets old pretty quickly).
LEGACY
STAR TREK's influence on pop culture is not quite that of STAR WARS, at least not at the moment. Few of the many STAR TREK games out there have been memorable, and there aren't a ton of toddlers running around with Spock on their underoos There are roughly one quintillion novels dedicated to the franchise, though, so that's something, but where STAR TREK gains major prestige is in its influence on real life. Much of the tech throughout the series has inspired scientists to create versions of those ideas (as well as investigating ways of thinking which might lead to similar discoveries). While this is certainly true of other works of science fiction, few series out there have had quite the effect as STAR TREK has.
STAR WARS has spawned an insane number of video games, board games, card games, novels, toys, theme park attractions, Pez dispensers, chewable vitamins, toasters, and so much more. It's weird, but talk to any STAR WARS fan under the age of 25, and there's a good chance they consider the movies to only be a fraction of what STAR WARS means to them, with things like the Knights of the Old Republic games and the Clone Wars series being what they identify most closely with. They also love the prequels, but don't hold that against them; you also might (might) if you saw them as a youngling.
STAR WARS
Aaaand there you have it. Feel free to leave all the "you forgot about this," "your opinion is wrong," and "you are the worst person on the internet" you can muster down below. Again, comparing two series nearing a century of combined history is an impossible task, especially when both franchises are very much alive and will continue to change over the years. STAR WARS is certainly the more well-known, bigger, generation-crossing series at the moment, but that could just mean it's nearing a breaking point (not that any of us wish that, of course). The closer STAR WARS flies to the sun(s), the more the franchise might oversaturate itself, making way for the less ever-present STAR TREK to reap the benefits of its recent renaissance. Either way, both franchises are sure to ebb and flow and allow for new fans of both as time goes by. I'm positive you'll let me know exactly how you feel down below, but let's just remember there's room for all of us in this big, beautiful world of geeks, nerds, and all points in between. STAR TREK BEYOND beams your way next Friday, July 22nd, and ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY lands Friday, December 16th. Live long and prosper, and may the Force be with you.



Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at brianbitner@joblo.com.

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5:41PM on 08/23/2016

ST should win Music and

Quotes
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8:47AM on 07/13/2016
As SuperRO suggested already, Star Trek is better science fiction. It's done more to hold a mirror up to society and offer analysis as entertainment. Star Wars is an integral part of the psyche of so many who grew up in the 70s and 80s, more so than Star Trek I think, but such face-offs are often decided by the criteria on which the author chooses to judge them. Star Trek and Star Wars aren't trying to do the same thing, really, so they both excel in different aspects. Personally I love both,
As SuperRO suggested already, Star Trek is better science fiction. It's done more to hold a mirror up to society and offer analysis as entertainment. Star Wars is an integral part of the psyche of so many who grew up in the 70s and 80s, more so than Star Trek I think, but such face-offs are often decided by the criteria on which the author chooses to judge them. Star Trek and Star Wars aren't trying to do the same thing, really, so they both excel in different aspects. Personally I love both, but enjoy them for different reasons.
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+0
12:14AM on 07/13/2016
Might as well ask me which of my children do I love more.
Might as well ask me which of my children do I love more.
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7:59PM on 07/12/2016
There's this image that I made years ago, showing how they're in the same multiverse, if you don't care about canonicity. It doesn't put the head-to-head, but hey, related enough, isn't it?
[link]
There's this image that I made years ago, showing how they're in the same multiverse, if you don't care about canonicity. It doesn't put the head-to-head, but hey, related enough, isn't it?
[link]
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7:04PM on 07/12/2016
Nice balance of the pros/cons. I've always been a little more partial to Star Trek, but my childhood was more heavily influenced by - and saturated with - Star Wars. They're very different, with different goals, but the expanded universe of both has made them extremely in-depth and exhilarating experiences.
Nice balance of the pros/cons. I've always been a little more partial to Star Trek, but my childhood was more heavily influenced by - and saturated with - Star Wars. They're very different, with different goals, but the expanded universe of both has made them extremely in-depth and exhilarating experiences.
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6:36PM on 07/12/2016
you are the worst person on the internet and your opinion is wrong, you forgot about how much SW 1,2,3,6 sucked and giving 7 a bigger pass than it deserved..
you are the worst person on the internet and your opinion is wrong, you forgot about how much SW 1,2,3,6 sucked and giving 7 a bigger pass than it deserved..
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1:56PM on 07/13/2016
Too late, Fists of fire, you got my editor involved! I have to be off the web by the end of the week. Can I crash on your couch for a year or two?
Too late, Fists of fire, you got my editor involved! I have to be off the web by the end of the week. Can I crash on your couch for a year or two?
9:56AM on 07/13/2016
obviously i read the article and am having fun with you :-)
obviously i read the article and am having fun with you :-)
8:03PM on 07/12/2016
I'm sorry, Brian. First of fire has spoken and you are summarily fired. Please clear you cache and never return to the internet again.

;)
I'm sorry, Brian. First of fire has spoken and you are summarily fired. Please clear you cache and never return to the internet again.

;)
6:44PM on 07/12/2016
Phew! I was worried for a second I was getting out of this one unscathed. That would have been no fun!
Phew! I was worried for a second I was getting out of this one unscathed. That would have been no fun!
+1
4:07PM on 07/12/2016
Very good article. The outcome is PC, but I always enjoy a trek/wars debate. It's hard comparing though, they're very very different in many ways, although I do lean towards Star Trek if I had to pick my favorite.
Very good article. The outcome is PC, but I always enjoy a trek/wars debate. It's hard comparing though, they're very very different in many ways, although I do lean towards Star Trek if I had to pick my favorite.
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-3
3:42PM on 07/12/2016
Dr Who
Dr Who
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+1
3:41PM on 07/12/2016
Kudos on your very detailed and even-handed comparison between the two. On the one hand, I get that this is just about the "Face off of all face offs" so it warrants a little deeper digging than usual, but on the other hand I kind of wish that we had this level of comparison in the column every week. For my money, I would've been happy with either side winning, but if I absolutely had to pick one, then yes, I'd go with Star Wars.
Kudos on your very detailed and even-handed comparison between the two. On the one hand, I get that this is just about the "Face off of all face offs" so it warrants a little deeper digging than usual, but on the other hand I kind of wish that we had this level of comparison in the column every week. For my money, I would've been happy with either side winning, but if I absolutely had to pick one, then yes, I'd go with Star Wars.
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3:56PM on 07/12/2016
Thank you, sir! In the age of videos and top ten lists, it's nice to know there are still people who want these to go into this much depth.
Thank you, sir! In the age of videos and top ten lists, it's nice to know there are still people who want these to go into this much depth.
2:19PM on 07/12/2016

Star Wars

I am a fan off both, but Star Wars is light years ahead!
I am a fan off both, but Star Wars is light years ahead!
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12:24PM on 07/12/2016
Star Wars.
Star Wars.
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+4
12:04PM on 07/12/2016
I applaud the boldness of trying to compare these two monsters.

Me, personally, agree with the verdict, since Star Wars is way more "fun". But to be honest, they are completely different: Star Trek is true Science Fiction, while Star Wars is an Adventure Opera, with the only common thing is that they both happen in "Space".

Is like trying to compare the Olympics with the Soccer World Cup (as a LatinAmerican, of course I prefer soccer, but I accept the fact that "to each his own")
I applaud the boldness of trying to compare these two monsters.

Me, personally, agree with the verdict, since Star Wars is way more "fun". But to be honest, they are completely different: Star Trek is true Science Fiction, while Star Wars is an Adventure Opera, with the only common thing is that they both happen in "Space".

Is like trying to compare the Olympics with the Soccer World Cup (as a LatinAmerican, of course I prefer soccer, but I accept the fact that "to each his own")
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9:47AM on 07/13/2016
I have got to say it KcMsterpce... "when you are right, you are not wrong"

Peace
I have got to say it KcMsterpce... "when you are right, you are not wrong"

Peace
7:01PM on 07/12/2016
"... the only common thing is that they both happen in 'Space'."
Uhhh, nope, you're wrong on that one.
They both have "Star" in the title. Gosh, you think you're a fan of this stuff and you didn't even know that they had TWO things in common? Geez!! :D
"... the only common thing is that they both happen in 'Space'."
Uhhh, nope, you're wrong on that one.
They both have "Star" in the title. Gosh, you think you're a fan of this stuff and you didn't even know that they had TWO things in common? Geez!! :D
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