(covers information from several alternate timelines)
Death was the permanent end of all life functions in a lifeform (or part of a lifeform in the case of tissue damage). It could also mean the absence of life or state of being dead. Many cultures address this process as it applies to sentient beings in spiritual terms, including the holding of wakes, memorials, and funerals following the death of an individual. One who was in the process of dying was said to be on their deathbed. (ENT: "E²", DS9: "Ties of Blood and Water", VOY: "Renaissance Man") Slang terms for death included "croak". (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
While being held hostage by a commando of the Andorian Imperial Guard in June of 2151, Sub-commander T'Pol was told by the Andorian Tholos that he heard about Vulcan mating rituals and that Vulcan women force their men to fight each other to the death. He then asked her if she would like him to kill someone for her. (ENT: "The Andorian Incident")
In 2365, Nagilum, in the guise of Data, asked Captain Jean-Luc Picard what death is. According to Picard there are two contemporary philosophies. One is the belief that death is the transformation into an indestructible and unchanging form. According to this belief the purpose of the entire universe is to then maintain that form in an afterlife in an Eden-like place. The other, contrary belief, is that death is simply blinking into nothingness. Picard himself believed that the existence of lifeforms is part of a reality beyond what is currently understood as reality and therefore both philosophies are insufficient. (TNG: "Where Silence Has Lease") In 2371, Harry Kim told Hatil Garan that an individual's fate after death was considered an unanswered question, despite the efforts of medical experts, philosophers, and theologians. (VOY: "Emanations")
Death is sometimes perceived as an event that is common to all living things. In 2366, Captain Jean-Luc Picard used death and his own mortality as a way to show Nuria and her people that he was no different than they were, and certainly not a god they named "the Picard". (TNG: "Who Watches The Watchers")
According to Apollo, the race of the Greek gods was immortal, but also for them there was a point of no return. As their species could alter their form, it was possible for them to spread so thin that they would disappear from existence. Apollo poetically described this event as returning to the cosmos on the wings of the wind. Apollo was the last of the gods to die in 2267. (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?")
Sargon considered himself dead although his mind was stored and active in energy-form inside a receptacle. He described the final destruction of his consciousness as departing to oblivion. (TOS: "Return to Tomorrow")
The Borg Collective considered death to be an irrelevant concept in their philosophy. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds") When a drone was damaged beyond repair, it was simply discarded. All of the drones experiences and memories lived on inside the collective consciousness. This was considered immortality by the Borg. (VOY: "Mortal Coil")
Death may also be seen as a personification, attributed to a single entity, figure, or symbol. In this form, Death is known by many names, one of the more common being the "Grim Reaper". In 2370, the USS Enterprise-D encountered an alien probe that began to transform the Enterprise into an alien city, complete with hieroglyphic symbols, one of which was the symbol for Death (TNG: "Masks"). In 2267, Lazarus equated his parallel universe counterpart as "Death" and "Anti-Life" (TOS: "The Alternative Factor"). Neelix (and possibly other Talaxians) also have a concept of a "specter of death" (VOY:"The Cloud", "Jetrel")
In 2369, while explaining the nature of linear time to the Prophets, Commander Benjamin Sisko also explained the concept of death, stating that Jennifer Sisko was a most important part of his existence, but that he had "lost her some time ago." The Prophets, however, showed him that he spent much time in his mind dwelling on Jennifer's death, reliving his tragic experience on the USS Saratoga, that he "existed" there, something that was most certainly not linear. (DS9: "Emissary")
The scientists Dr. Bathkin and Dr. Elias Giger held unusual beliefs regarding death, believing that most if not all "natural deaths" were the result of cellular ennui, or the boredom of a body's cells. This theory was generally held low regard by the general scientific establishment, which Giger derided as being "soulless minions of orthodoxy." (DS9: "In the Cards")
Many cultures considered death to be something welcomed, not feared. These included Klingons, whose culture put a high premium on honorable death, and the Vaadwaur, whose children were taught to fall asleep each night imagining different ways to die. (VOY: "Dragon's Teeth") The Vhnori believed that death led to the next stage of an individual's existence, the Next Emanation, another dimension where the consciousness evolved to a higher level and the physical body was restored. As a result of these beliefs, it was common for Vhnori to choose to die due to unhappiness or to avoid becoming a burden to one's family in the event of infirmity. (VOY: "Emanations")
- See: Resuscitation
Faking one's own death was a common tactic employed to gain some advantage. Reasons for faking one's death included:
- Espionage: In 2268, Kirk faked his own death at the hands of Spock to 1) take on the alias of a Romulan following cosmetic surgery so he could steal a cloaking device, and 2) enable the Vulcan to distract to a Romulan commander. (TOS: "The Enterprise Incident")
- Framing: In 2267, Benjamin Finney faked his death at the hands of Kirk to punish the captain for causing his demotion. (TOS: "Court Martial")
- Testing another: In 2369, Grand Nagus Zek faked his own death by going into a Dolbargy sleeping trance and named Quark his successor in order to test his son Krax's fitness for the position. (DS9: "The Nagus")
There were also reasons for faking another person's death:
- Winning a fight: In 2267, McCoy faked Kirk's death during Spock's koon-ut-kal-if-fee to allow Spock to win the fight and free himself from any marital obligations to T'Pring. Instead of the tri-ox compound he was supposed to give Kirk, he administered a neural paralyzer instead, simulating death. The ruse fooled Spock. (TOS: "Amok Time")
- Greed: In 2366, noted collector and merchant Kivas Fajo had kidnapped Data for his own personal collection of rare and valuable objects, and had it appear that Data perished in a hytritium explosion. Fajo described Data as his "crown jewel" and "beyond comparison." (TNG: "The Most Toys")
Something which happened after one's death was said to happen posthumously, such as the awarding of a medal. In an alternate timeline, Jake Sisko noted to Melanie that the benefit of publishing a work posthumously was that nobody could ask you for rewrites. (DS9: "The Visitor")
Quotes on Death
"He's dead, Jim."
- - Leonard McCoy (various)
"How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life..."
"Today is a good day to die."
"...this was the day that I lost Jennifer. I don't want to be here."
"Then why do you exist here?"
- - Benjamin Sisko and a Prophet in Jennifer's form, on a replication of the USS Saratoga (DS9: "Emissary")
- After death
- Causes of death
- Casualty reports
- Casualty lists