Mirror Universe

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The Mirror Universe is a fictional parallel universe in which the plots of several Star Trek television episodes take place. It resembles the fictional universe in which the Star Trek television series takes place, but is separate from the main universe.[1][2] The Mirror Universe has been visited in one episode of Star Trek: The Original Series,[3] five episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,[1][4] a two-part episode of Star Trek: Enterprise[5] and a storyline in Star Trek: Discovery, as well as several non-canon Star Trek tie-in works. It is named after "Mirror, Mirror", the original series episode in which it first appeared.[6]


Emblem of the Terran Empire

The characters in the Mirror Universe are aggressive, mistrustful and opportunistic in personality. Whereas the Star Trek universe depicts an optimistic future in which the Earth-based United Federation of Planets values peace, co-operation and exploration, episodes set in the Mirror Universe feature the human-dominated authoritarian Terran Empire which values war, despotism and conquest instead.[7]

In Star Trek: Discovery, it is noted that humans from the Mirror Universe suffer from photophobia (a sensitivity to light).[8][9]

Television appearances[edit]

The Original Series[edit]

The Mirror Universe was first introduced in the original Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror", which featured the brutal Terran Empire, managed by humans and their Vulcan allies, in place of the United Federation of Planets. The Mirror Captain Kirk of the ISS Enterprise was a mass murderer who was promoted to Captain after assassinating Captain Christopher Pike. Discipline aboard starships was enforced through torture — either through agonizers carried by crewmembers or agony booths. Officers were barbaric in behavior and advanced in rank by killing superiors who they thought were incompetent. Roman/Nazi-style military salutes were used by crewmembers to show loyalty to their captain.[6] The episode established the goatee as a visual marker for an evil version of a character.[10][11]


Series # Title Overview
TOS 204 "Mirror, Mirror" Four crewmembers from the USS Enterprise switch places with their Mirror Universe counterparts and must get home while avoiding being discovered by the Mirror Universe crew of the Enterprise.
TOS 309 "The Tholian Web" The USS Defiant (NCC-1764) is trapped in Interphase in Tholian space and vanishes. No elements from the Mirror Universe are shown or mentioned in this episode, but its connection with the Mirror Universe was established retroactively by the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly".

Deep Space Nine[edit]

The Mirror Universe was later revisited in the Deep Space Nine second-season episode "Crossover", and turned into a story arc that spanned into the final season, with five Mirror Universe episodes over the course of five seasons.[4] The series reveals that when exposed to individuals from the normal universe, the Terran Empire began to reform itself for the better, but was overthrown in the 23rd century by an alliance of alien species who took advantage of the Empire's self-weakening and conquered it, enslaving Terrans and Vulcans in the process.[12]


Series # Title Overview
DS9 223 "Crossover" Dr. Bashir and Major Kira are transported to the Mirror Universe 100 years after the events of "Mirror, Mirror". They find that the Terran Empire has been replaced by an Alliance of Klingons, Cardassians and Bajorans and that humans are slaves.
DS9 319 "Through the Looking Glass" The Mirror O'Brien kidnaps Captain Sisko (whose Mirror counterpart is dead), and Sisko must impersonate his late counterpart in order to save the Mirror version of his late wife.
DS9 419 "Shattered Mirror" After the Mirror Jennifer Sisko kidnaps Jake, Captain Sisko must travel to the Mirror Universe to retrieve his son. While there, the Mirror O'Brien wishes for Sisko to help him prepare their version of the Defiant for battle against the Alliance in what could mean freedom for the Terrans.
DS9 608 "Resurrection" The Mirror version of Vedek Bareil arrives on DS9 as he flees from the Alliance. His real reason for being in our universe is to steal the Bajoran Orb of Prophecy and Change for the Intendant, the Mirror Kira. However, before he can complete this mission, he has a change of conscience, convinced by Kira, leaving the Orb behind and returning to the Mirror Universe with the Intendant.
DS9 712 "The Emperor's New Cloak" Grand Nagus Zek, financial leader of the Ferengi Alliance, is captured and taken to the Mirror Universe as a hostage. Quark and Rom must pay a ransom of a cloaking device to free Zek, but Regent Worf imprisons them all in his quest to crush the Terran rebels.


A two-part episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, entitled "In a Mirror, Darkly", introduces the early developments of the Mirror Universe.[5]


Series # Title Overview
ENT 418 "In a Mirror, Darkly" Mirror Archer, Mirror Forrest and the rest of the crew discover that the USS Defiant, a ship from 100 years in the future of an alternative universe, has travelled to their universe through a rip in space. All of the crewmembers except Captain Forrest evacuate the ISS Enterprise as it is attacked by Tholians and board the Defiant. The Enterprise is destroyed, and its surviving crew uses the improved technology of the Defiant to chase away the Tholians. Archer replaces Forrest as captain.
ENT 419 "In a Mirror, Darkly Part II" The Mirror Enterprise crew find the Defiant littered with the corpses of its former crew who murdered each other on account of the effects of interphase which causes humans to become psychotic. The Tholians use slaves to strip the ship. The overseer is a Gorn named Slar, who sabotages the Defiant and kills some of the survivors of the ISS Enterprise. Mirror Archer defeats the Gorn and plots to use the Defiant to take control of the Terran Empire. However, it is Mirror Hoshi Sato who ultimately threatens to use the Defiant's weapons on the Emperor of the Terran Empire and replace him as Empress.


The first season of Star Trek: Discovery has a storyline involving the Mirror Universe. Captain Gabriel Lorca, commander of the USS Discovery, is discovered to be an inhabitant of the Mirror Universe on account of his intolerance to bright light, a genetic trait common to all humans from the Mirror Universe.[8][9]


Series # Title Overview
DIS 109 "Into the Forest I Go" In the final scene of the episode the USS Discovery finds itself in the Mirror Universe following an apparent malfunction of its experimental spore drive.[13]
DIS 110 "Despite Yourself" The crew disguise their ship as its Mirror Universe counterpart, the ISS Discovery. They also discover records of the USS Defiant and hope to use that information to find a way back home. They are approached by the ISS Shenzhou - the Mirror Universe version of Michael Burnham's old ship - which Burnham goes aboard in an effort to obtain more information about the USS Defiant.[14][15]
DIS 111 "The Wolf Inside" In the guise of her Mirror self, Burnham goes on a reconnaissance mission to the location of an anti-Terran resistance movement. She meets and speaks with the resistance leaders, Mirror versions of Voq and Sarek, and offers a trade of information. On her return to the ISS Shenzhou, Burham succeeds in getting information about the USS Defiant back to Discovery. Then, the ISS Shenzhou is met by the Terran Emperor, who is revealed to be a Mirror version of Burnham's mentor and former (and dead) captain, Philippa Georgiou.[16]
DIS 112 "Vaulting Ambition" Burnham brings Captain Gabriel Lorca (both in the apparent guise of their Mirror Universe counterparts) to the ISS Charon as a "gift" for the Emperor. Lorca is placed in an agonizer booth, whilst Burnham and Emperor Georgiou dine together. Burnham's ruse comes unstuck when The Emperor reveals Mirror Burnham was a traitor who had conspired with Mirror Lorca to seize control of the Terran Empire. Faced with no choice, Burnham admits she and Lorca are actually from a parallel universe and are just trying to get back. Burnham and The Emperor talk, at which point Burnham notices Emperor Georgiou squinting in bright light. It is revealed that Terran's are more averse to bright light than their Prime Universe counterparts. Burnham quickly realises that "Lorca" is in fact from the Mirror Universe, and that he has being manipulating her and the rest of the Discovery crew all along. The episode ends with Lorca breaking free and killing one of his captors.[8][17]
DIS 113 "What's Past Is Prologue" Lorca and Georgiou battle for control of the Charon and the Terran Empire. Lorca is killed by the Emperor, but his rebels corner Burnham and the Emperor in the throne room. Emperor Georgiou, in a surprising act of self-sacrifice, holds off the overwhelming force long enough for Burnham to escape; but, unwilling to watch her mentor and friend die again, Burnham suddenly grabs her just as the transporter beam hits, leaving both of them safe aboard Discovery and Emperor Georgiou is stunned and outraged.
DIS 114 "The War Without, The War Within" Discovery makes it back to the Prime Universe, but overshoots the point in time when they left by nine months, during which time their absence has allowed the Klingon Empire to gain a decisive advantage in the war. With the Federation on the brink of defeat and Earth itself threatened with annihilation, Admiral Cornwell authorizes Emperor Georgiou's proposal to use volcanic tunnels to destroy the Klingon homeworld of Qo'noS and wipe out most of its inhabitants. Passed off by Cornwell as the Prime Universe's own Capt. Georgiou miraculously found alive, the Emperor takes command of Discovery.
DIS 115 "Will You Take My Hand?" Arriving at Qo'noS, Emperor Georgiou takes a team including Burnham, Tilly and Tyler to find the location of an underground shrine, supposedly to launch a mapping drone. In an Orion-owned brothel making inquiries, the others discover Georgiou's true intent and race to stop her from committing genocide in the Federation's name. Acting Captain Saru, meanwhile, having been alerted by Burnham of what is really about to happen, argues against the scheme with Cornwell via holo-cam. When the entire bridge crew stands with him ready to mutiny if need be, Cornwell accepts Burnham's plan to stop the Emperor. Facing off with Mirror Georgiou deep inside Qo'noS, Burnham gambles her life on the Emperor's being unwilling to watch Burnham die a second time. She offers the Emperor her freedom in exchange for the detonator and turns it over to L'rell, urging her to use it as leverage to become the new Klingon leader and stop the war. Tyler says goodbye to Burnham, deciding to stay with L'rell, and the Discovery returns to Earth with the war ended and its crew honored as heroes, including Burnham, who is reinstated as a Starfleet commander and her criminal record expunged.

Appearances in other media[edit]

In addition to the television episodes, a number of ancillary tie-in works make use of the Mirror Universe setting.[1][6][18] These works may contradict continuity as established in the television episodes,[19] and are not considered canon.[11]


Star Trek: Stargazer[edit]

The Star Trek: Stargazer novel Three by Michael Jan Friedman also features the Mirror Universe.[6]

Dark Mirror[edit]

The Star Trek: The Next Generation book Dark Mirror, written by Diane Duane, offers another explanation of what happened after Captain Kirk and three of his crew encountered the Mirror Universe.[6] In the novel, the Empire is still in existence in the 24th century. The point of divergence initially appears to be the Eugenics Wars where the genetic supermen were not defeated and eventually turned on each other resulting in atomic war, but works dating back to the days of ancient Greece supporting the Empire's current mindset are noted.[20]


Various novels have been set in the Deep Space Nine version of the Mirror Universe, including a trilogy by William Shatner, which reveals the Mirror Kirk (or "Emperor Tiberius" as he calls himself) is still alive and plotting to reconquer the Empire.[1]

Star Trek: Mirror Universe[edit]

Two collections of Mirror stories were published in 2007: the first involves Mirror Enterprise, TOS and TNG and the second features Mirror DS9, Voyager and New Frontier.[citation needed]

A third collection, entitled Shards and Shadows, was released in January 2009.[21] The Mirror Universe storyline was concluded in the novel Rise Like Lions, released in November 2011.[22] A further story taking place in the Mirror Universe, Section 31 - Disavowed, was released in October 2014.[23]


A number of Star Trek games take place in the Mirror Universe or reference it.[1] Among them, the first-person shooter Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force, the massively multiplayer online game Star Trek Online, the battle simulator Star Trek: Shattered Universe which is entirely set in the Mirror Universe, Decipher's Star Trek Roleplaying Game and Star Trek: Attack Wing.[1]


The Mirror Universe Saga is a trade paperback that reprints eight issues of DC Comics' Star Trek comic book (issues #9-16) chronicling an encounter between the Mirror Universe and our own. It is set immediately after the events of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. The series was credited to Mike W. Barr, Tom Sutton and Ricard Villagran.[24]

The concept of a morally inverted universe had been pioneered by DC Comics in 1964, three years before Star Trek adopted the idea, in the Justice League of America story "Crisis on Earth-Three" written by Gardner Fox.[25]

Web series[edit]

The fan-produced web series Star Trek Continues included an episode set in the Mirror Universe called "Fairest of Them All".[26]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Granshaw, Lisa (1 April 2015). "A look through Star Trek's Mirror Universe". Boing Boing. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  2. ^ Okuda, Michael; Denise, Okuda; Mirek, Debbie (1994). The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 9780671886844. 
  3. ^ "The Top 10 Original Star Trek Episodes". Newsweek. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  4. ^ a b MacMillan, Graeme (13 May 2015). "WIRED Binge-Watching Guide: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine". WIRED. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  5. ^ a b MacMillan, Graeme (29 July 2015). "WIRED Binge-Watching Guide: Star Trek: Enterprise". WIRED. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d e DeCandido, Kieith (29 December 2015). "Star Trek The Original Series Rewatch: "Mirror, Mirror"". Tor.com. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  7. ^ Hantke, Steffen (1 January 2014). "Star Trek's Mirror Universe Episodes and US Military Culture through the Eyes of the Other". Science Fiction Studies. 41 (3): 562–578. doi:10.5621/sciefictstud.41.3.0562. Retrieved 8 January 2017. 
  8. ^ a b c Britt, Ryan (21 January 2018). "'Star Trek' Light Twist Scientifically Explains the Evil in the Mirror Universe". Inverse. Retrieved 27 January 2018. 
  9. ^ a b Anderson, Jenna (25 January 2018). "The Mirror Universe Clue Every 'Star Trek: Discovery' Fan Missed". Comic Book. Retrieved 27 January 2018. 
  10. ^ Whitbrook, James (10 June 2017). "Happy 50th Birthday to Star Trek's Mirror Universe". io9. Retrieved 26 October 2017. 
  11. ^ a b Diaz, Eric (17 November 2017). "A Brief History of STAR TREK's Mirror Universe". Nerdist. Retrieved 28 November 2017. 
  12. ^ Handlen, Zack (21 June 2012). "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: "Crossover"/"The Collaborator"". A.V. Club. Retrieved 8 June 2016. 
  13. ^ Lowry, Andrew (14 November 2017). "Star Trek: Discovery episode 9 review: 'Into the Forest I Go' offers intrigue and mystery". The Independent. Retrieved 6 February 2018. 
  14. ^ Stowe, Dusty (8 January 2018). "Star Trek Discovery: The Mirror Universe Explained". Screen Rant. Retrieved 8 January 2018. 
  15. ^ Lowry, Andrew (9 January 2018). "Star Trek Discovery season 1 episode 10 'Despite Yourself' review: Darkness and light-heartedness in equal measure". The Indepdendent. Retrieved 6 February 2018. 
  16. ^ Lowry, Andrew (15 January 2018). "Star Trek: Discovery season 1 episode 11 'The Wolf Inside' review & recap: Easily the worst outing". The Independent. Retrieved 6 February 2018. 
  17. ^ Lowry, Andrew (23 January 2018). "Star Trek Discovery episode 12 review: 'Vaulting Ambition'". The Independent. Retrieved 7 February 2018. 
  18. ^ Whitbrook, James (22 January 2018). "Everything We Know About the Timeline of Star Trek's Mirror Universe". io9. Retrieved 28 January 2018. 
  19. ^ Ward, Dayton (4 August 2012). "Ten for Ward #5 – 10 Trek Novels "the Canon" Passed Over". Star Trek.com. Retrieved 29 June 2016. 
  20. ^ Duane, Diane (1993). Dark Mirror. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0671793772. 
  21. ^ Palmieri, Marco; Clark, Margaret (2008). Shards and Shadows (1st ed.). London: Pocket. ISBN 9781416558507. 
  22. ^ Mack, David (2011). Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Rise Like Lions (1st ed.). New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 9781451607192. 
  23. ^ "Star Trek David Mack Is Back With New Star Trek Novel Section 31: Disavowed". CBS Entertainment. 2014-11-25. Retrieved 2015-02-15. 
  24. ^ Barr, Mike W. (1991). Star Trek: The Mirror Universe Saga. New York: DC Comics. ISBN 093028996X. 
  25. ^ Wolf, Mark J. P. (September 27, 2017). The Routledge Companion to Imaginary Worlds. Routledge. p. 307. ISBN 9781317268284. Retrieved December 21, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Take a Sneak Peek at Vic Mignogna's Mirror, Mirror Resolution in Star Trek Continues". WIRED. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 26 October 2017. 

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