There’s no shortage of creative and unique theoretical weapons in the Star Trek universe, from transphasic torpedoes to thalaron weapons, and everything in between. The destructive power of these awesome weapons is evident, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been a few duds throughout the franchise’s history.
Today we’re examining 10 of the worst Star Trek weapons, ranked from “ho-hum” to positively gutless. Some have done the job only to be replaced by far better weapons, while others have no practical value in a fight, whatsoever. Saddle up! Lock and load.
10 Laser Cannons
We tend to think of lasers as the future of weapons technology, but in actuality, they’re quite weak and require immense amounts of power to actually do any significant amount of damage.
Several races and cultures in Star Trek rely on laser-based weaponry as a primary means of offense, but it pales in comparison to even standard-issue phaser technology, making it outdated among the galaxy’s finest.
9 Spatial Torpedoes
Long before the Federation ever earned its stripes, Starfleet employed spatial torpedoes on its fledgling fleet of ships. A far cry from their successors, these torpedoes acted much the same as their undersea brethren, firing at slow speeds and more like a conventional missile.
Spatial torpedoes can only be fired at sub-light velocity, making them slower and far less accurate than the Photon torpedoes which eventually replaced them. Those would go on to serve as a staple of Federation weaponry for many decades.
8 Chroniton Torpedoes
Chroniton Torpedoes are highly destructive warheads used by the Krenim which can phase in and out of time. This technological feat allows them to pass through a starship’s protective shields to deploy full impact on the target.
While this sounds advantageous, it was mired by the fact that chroniton torpedoes are quite unreliable, as evidenced by the fact that one failed to detonate in Voyager’s hull, allowing it to be reverse-engineered to form a defense.
7 Red Matter
Red Matter was introduced in J.J. Abram’s 2009 Star Trek film as a substance that could form an unstable singularity that swallowed anything in its wake. It was originally intended to save the planet Romulus from an incoming supernova.
As a weapon, Red Matter was used by rogue Romulan Nero to destroy the planet Vulcan in an alternate timeline. While its feasibility as a weapon is undeniable, it is rather useless when one considers the amount of effort and calculation needed to properly use it – not to mention its inherent, dangerous instability. As such, it remains the Tsar Bomba of the Star Trek universe.
6 Pulse Cannon
Starfleet’s early NX class vessels employed Pulse Cannons as a logical next step advancement from laser technology. The weapon was so named due to its pulse-based firing pattern which regulated the extreme buildup of temperatures capable of damaging the emitter.
A rudimentary particle beam weapon at best, the Pulse Cannon was cheap to produce, but not wholly dangerous. It enjoyed a decent run before Phase Cannons took over, which in turn led to full-fledged R&D on phaser technology.
5 Phase Pistol
Phase Pistols were the earliest precursors to hand-held Federation phasers. As such, they are considered primitive by modern Star Trek standards, and for good reason. In addition to lacking variable beamwidth, they had only two settings – stun and kill.
Future phaser technology would allow for several settings of fire to deal with appropriate threats, or for use as a tool. Back in the day, however, you had two choices, and you were thankful for them!
4 Varon-T Disruptor
The actual purpose of the Varon T Disruptor is unknown. Its only signature feature is how horrifyingly painful a death it inflicts on its victim, tearing the body apart from the inside out, slowly.
There’s nothing to suggest that its destructive power is any greater than that of a phaser set to maximum, which makes the weapon wholly useless for mass production. The gruesome nature of its killing power may have been a design flaw that caused production to cease before it started.
3 Magnetometric Guided Charges
The Borg employed magnetometric guided charges to flush the Enterprise D out of hiding within a Nebula, shortly before the battle of Wolf 359. Since sensors were incapable of penetrating the dense cloud of elements that comprised the Nebula, the Borg were unable to follow.
While the charges were successful in driving the Enterprise out of hiding, one has to wonder what their effectiveness in battle would be, in comparison to conventional weapons. It’s also worth speculating whether the Borg conjured up the charges on the fly to adapt to the problem at hand, or if they kept a well-stocked supply. Either way, it’s doubtful they would pose a great threat in a one-on-one fight where full sensors were available.
2 The Psionic Resonator
This ancient Vulcan weapon preceded their age of logical enlightenment and abandonment of raw emotions as a driving cultural force. It allowed the wielder to channel its power via the mind, to attack and kill foes.
In reality, the weapon was useless on a person who cleared their mind of negative thoughts and emotions. This, combined with its slow attack rate and lack of any defense capabilities for the wielder is what made the Vulcans abandon it, altogether. In the end, the Vulcan mantra that peace could overcome war and death was proven correct.
1 Ferengi Energy Whip
While most races had some form of energy-based firearm, the Ferengi took a different approach by adopting the technology into a physical whip. From a practical standpoint, this made the weapon horrid in combat.
The nature of the energy whip presented two problems. First, it was arguably far less accurate than a hand-held phaser. Second, it would require more physical energy to operate, making it impractical for prolonged firefights, or for use in cramped quarters. It’s also just plain weird!