They have lots of fancy things in the future. Common sense most definitely is not one of them. How many times have we seen everybody blown out of their seats and hurled around like the inside of a pinball machine? A visit from Health and Safety to the bridge of the Enterprise is long overdue. Except the creators gave two very good reasons why there are no seatbelts – one is practical and one is completely hilarious. Until, of course, director J Abrams boldly went where nobody had gone before…
Obviously we are focussing on larger ships, not smaller Star Wars individual TIE fighters or even the Millennium Falcon, which have smaller cockpits.
On larger vessels, Star Trek bridges famously sometimes look more like lounges, with captains like Picard slouching around on lazy boys casually dispensing one-liners.
Star Wars bridges on major vessels often appear to have no major characters sitting at all.
The baddies usually stride around barking orders while the Resistance gather around hologram displays. Or you see characters like Admiral Ackbar and his crew in rather funky ergonomic seats.
Vice Admiral Holdo, meanwhile, didn’t need a seatbelt for the final voyage of the Raddus.
In normal circumstances, all these ships travel at extraordinary speeds but the first important consideration is that they all have internal gravity. Being inside them feels no different than being on solid ground when they are travelling at a steady speed, however fast.
Even before we get to battle situations, what about when they jump to light speed and then come to an abrupt halt?
Quora contributor Frank Daniels said: “(On Star Trek) they had to create Inertial Dampeners. The Dampeners basically circumvented the laws of inertia at incredibly high speeds.
“This would mean that when you’re at rest sitting in your car and the light turns green, you feel yourself being shoved back in your seat briefly. Take that feeling and multiply it immensely. That’s what would normally happen to the ship crew just by starting to move at those faster speeds. This is what the Inertial Dampeners do for the ship.”
As for battle situations, meteor storms and other sudden destabilising situations – well, that is where the fun starts.
Star Trek, in particular, is notorious for endless battering its main ships, destroying the bridges and playing ping-pong with the crew.
Quora contributor Santos Eichman revealed an incredible anecdote about Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry: “Roddenberry was asked, flat out, in a production meeting, ‘Gene, why don’t the seats have seatbelts?'”
The answer is legendary.
“To which Roddenberry instantly replied, ‘Bob, if we had seat belts, then people couldn’t fall out of them.'”
Not only did people flying all over the place add drama, in the early days of sci-fi on screen, budgets did not permit large scale scenes of space ships in battle. It was cheaper to show the crew inside representing the scale and drama of the situation.
JJ Abrams changed all this for the big screen outings at least and introduced snazzy seatbelts in his Star Trek movies.
As for Star Wars, Abrams has promised as many questions as possible will be answered in The Rise of Skywalker. Somehow we suspect the seatbelt issue will not be one of them…
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