Star Wars’ Galactic Empire is one of the most fearsome regimes in science fiction, and that’s partly thanks to the stranglehold it had on its galaxy following Revenge of the Sith. The Jedi couldn’t stop the Empire before its birth, but I’ve never really considered the sucker punch that was Order 66 (which was originally more gruesome) a true sign of The Empire’s strength. It was a huge gambit that paid off thanks to an oblivious Jedi order, and I’m not too sure other organizations would’ve been quite as caught off guard. For example, I don’t see Order 66 happening to Star Trek’s Starfleet.
In fact, I’ll take things even further and say that even if Starfleet magically popped up in the Star Wars universe before A New Hope, it would emerge successful in destroying The Emperor, Darth Vader and all those pesky inquisitors. Having recently learned this is an opinion not shared by a good number of people on the internet, I decided to revisit the topic with some convincing arguments that might change the hearts and minds in this debate. Let’s dive in and evaluate the various ways Starfleet would absolutely body the Empire.
Starfleet Has Superior Diplomacy Tactics That Could Unite Powerful Alliances
One of the largest arguments against Starfleet toppling the Empire is that Starfleet is much smaller than the Emperor’s army. Additionally, the Empire is a militaristic force, while Starfleet works primarily as a scientific and exploratory organization. It's definitely not a “fight first” type of outfit, but it does excel when it comes to diplomacy and resolving conflict. While I generally agree that Starfleet wouldn’t win in a ship vs. ship all-out battle, I do think it could easily defeat the Empire in many other ways.
Let’s consider that the Rebel Alliance, which was not nearly as organized or as well-equipped as an organization like Starfleet, ultimately toppled the Empire. Perhaps had the Rebel Alliance had Starfleet captains capable of brokering agreements and ultimately united them all under a Federation of Planets, there could’ve been much more camaraderie and a more unified front against the Galactic Empire. Starfleet certainly couldn’t topple the Empire on its own, but I fully believe it could’ve gathered enough alliances and even swayed a few Imperials to drastically balance the scales in conflict.
Starfleet’s Brilliant Captains Trump Most Of The Empire’s Most Talented Proteges
The Empire ruled with fear, but I think it’s more than safe to say that took precedence among things like intelligence and logic. Let’s not forget the Imperials somehow allowed for a Death Star to be built with a massive flaw in its design, and then tried to rebuild it again. Sure, there are exceptions, like Grand Admiral Thrawn, but then there's plenty of incompetent and/or insubordinate officers, many of whom Darth Vader took care of himself. Let’s also not forget that Vader himself made a stupid move that led to a life of pain in that suit, so it’s not like he has a leg to stand on (at least not an organic one) either.
Conversely, just think of some of the brilliant tactical minds in Star Trek’s Starfleet. The Next Generation’s best episodes show the crew wouldn’t need The Force to expose a weakness within the Death Star. The Voyager crew could easily navigate the Outer Rim in a more effective manner than the Empire could, and possibly even outmaneuver the rival force at every turn in the process. The thing about Starfleet is even when they are caught off guard, it doesn’t last for long. They’ll emerge victorious more often than not against any threat, and that’s thanks in large part to their slew of brilliant minds that the Empire lacks.
Transporter Tech Makes Large Combat Situations Harder To Come By
I’ve already established that Starfleet wouldn’t stand a chance in an all-out ship vs. ship battle against The Empire, but unlike the Rebel Alliance, it wouldn’t try to match up in that way anyway. Blasting ships with phasers is always a viable battle tactic, but more often than not, Starfleet likes to get up close and personal. I’d much sooner expect a Star Trek crew to beam an away team directly into a ship to take it down than I would see them engage in an actual space battle. With the abysmal aim of stormtroopers, they’d be just fine zipping through a ship with just their phasers.
Let’s also not forget that Starfleet is capable of beaming other individuals directly onto its own ships. They could also just straight up beam Emperor Palpatine into the cold oxygen-less vacuum of space and end the Empire pretty quick, though I’ll admit that’s not a type of dark resolution Starfleet is willing to embrace. Still, given the objectively horrible acts that the Empire committed during its reign, I could see it being greenlit as an option, and assuming that's pulled off, it wouldn’t matter how big the Empire’s military is.
Discovery’s Spore Drive Can Outmaneuver Any Empire Vessel
The Star Trek franchise has its fair share of wonderful ships, but few have the type of trump card as the USS Discovery. Through the use of the mycelial network, it’s able to instantly warp across large distances in the galaxy in no time at all, and it's much faster than any warp-capable ship. As such, it makes for a very hard target for enemies to capture and can be really effective in appearing at the right place at precisely the right time.
Captain Michael Burnham’s ship isn’t necessarily built for conflict, but it's seen a lot of action in its run and can be formidable when necessary. I’d wager it’s the perfect ship for dropping a torpedo in the exact right spot of weakness, or a vessel capable of getting high-value members of the Rebellion to safety. In either case, I’d be foolish not to bring Discovery’s contribution into this conversation, especially considering the crew is practically rebuilding The Federation in the distant future.
Bonus: A Single Tribble In A Star Destroyer Would Spell Disaster
We’ve covered the ingenuity of Starfleet, as well as the limited competence of the Empire. You pair those things together, and it wouldn’t take much for someone to figure out they could tank even the largest Empire vessels with Tribbles in discreet locations. It wouldn’t be long before the Tribbles would overwhelm the ships and ultimately cripple even the mightiest of Star Destroyers. In short, the Tribbles would be trouble, and as massive as the Empire’s ships are, I’m not sure any officer would catch them soon enough before it was too late.
With all that being said, I feel like Starfleet is more than capable of defeating the Empire and saving the Star Wars galaxy all on its own. Of course, I’m sure others feel differently, but perhaps reading this will at least allow some to entertain an alternate outcome to this matchup and quit underestimating Star Trek’s Starfleet when it comes to fictional matchups.
Disney+ (opens in new tab) is the home for Star Wars on streaming, and Paramount+ subscribers already know they can find all new and old Star Trek on that streaming platform. Hopefully anyone who reads this will feel encouraged to do both soon and further contribute to this spirited discussion.
Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.
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