In the shadow of this incalculable devastation, we find ourselves facing a colossal challenge. There's an entire world to rebuild. Not only our cities and homes, but mankind itself!Colonel Phillip Green
World War III (2026 – 2053) was the last of Earth's three world wars. The conflict involved nuclear cataclysm as well as genocide and eco-terrorism. (Star Trek: First Contact; DIS: "New Eden"; ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"; TOS: "The Savage Curtain") The post-atomic horror superseding the war lingered as late as 2079. (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint")
The war started in 2026 over the issue of genetic manipulation and Human genome enhancement, and lasted until approximately 2053. It resulted in the death of some six hundred million Humans. By the end, most of the major cities had been destroyed and there were few governments left. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"; Star Trek: First Contact; DIS: "New Eden"; VOY: "In the Flesh")
Prior to the war, in 1968, when a time-displaced Captain James T. Kirk was trying to reason on whether or not he should trust Gary Seven to stop a nuclear weapon, Seven warned Kirk that if he didn't allow Seven to stop the weapon, World War III would commence then. (TOS: "Assignment: Earth") The Eugenics Wars of 1992-1996 in which thirty-seven million died were also, at times, referred to as World War III. (TOS: "Space Seed", "Bread and Circuses")
Despite an escalating and ongoing global conflict, manned space exploration continued at least into the 2030s, for example the Ares IV mission to Mars in 2032 and the launch of the Charybdis in 2037, Humanity's first mission to leave the Sol system. (TNG: "The Royale"; VOY: "One Small Step")In 2053, jets dropped nuclear bombs near Richmond, Indiana. A group of people that took refuge in the East Fork Presbyterian Church located there were saved, along with their church, when it was transported to Terralysium by a time traveling Gabrielle Burnham using the Red Angel suit. The rescued built a colony called New Eden and thought that they were saved by extraterrestrial angels, a belief they passed on to their descendants. (DIS: "New Eden")
Approximately ten years after the end of the war, in 2063, First Contact was made with the Vulcans. The realization that Humans were not alone in the universe united Humanity in a way no one ever thought possible, and within fifty years, less than two generations after the post-atomic horror, Humanity was finally able to eliminate poverty, disease, war, and hunger. Along with poverty, a lot of other things disappeared from Humanity, including hopelessness, despair, and cruelty. (TNG: "Time's Arrow, Part II"; Star Trek: First Contact; ENT: "Broken Bow", "Demons")When news of the Vulcan contact reached Vulcan, some Vulcans, including V'Lar, were fascinated by Humanity, but also worried, believing the idea that Humans had deemed themselves ready to join the interstellar community, so soon after the war, seemed premature. (ENT: "Fallen Hero") Indeed, for several years after first contact, various parts of Earth were still affected by what became known as the "post-atomic horror." In 2079, one such culture reverted to a state of near-barbarism that followed the credo "kill all the lawyers," and "guilty until proven innocent." (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint") Due to these and other factors, parts of Earth continued to be in – as Captain Jean-Luc Picard put it in 2365 – "chaos" well into the early 22nd century. (TNG: "Up The Long Ladder") The legacy of the war was felt in many ways during the hundred years after its conclusion. It was the subject of many movies during that time and, in 2153, one of these epics swept the awards. (ENT: "Home")
The war additionally influenced a powerful xenophobic movement of mid-22nd century Earth known as Terra Prime. Led by John Frederick Paxton, the organization drew inspiration from the war through adoption of Colonel Green's goals and teachings concerning a "pure" Human race. It also blamed the Vulcans for not stopping the war with their superior technology, and thereby saving the lives of hundreds of millions of people. This blame was then channeled into a general distrust of all non-Humans. (ENT: "Demons", "Terra Prime")
In 2372, Admiral Leyton described the threat of the Founders of the Dominion infiltrating Earth and its facilities as being "maybe the greatest danger it's faced since the last world war." (DS9: "Homefront")
|Earth wars prior to the Federation|
|Crusades • American Revolution • American Civil War • World War I • World War II • Brush Wars • Earth Cold War • Eugenics Wars • World War III • Earth-Kzin Wars • Xindi incident • Earth-Romulan War|
- Star Trek: The Original Series
- Star Trek: The Next Generation
- DS9: "Homefront"
- VOY: "In the Flesh"
- Star Trek: Enterprise
- Star Trek films:
During development of TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver", World War III was alluded to as a potential result of the Sino-Western trouble. Although not referred to in the final draft of the script (dated 3 May 1966), the war was addressed by NBC executive Stanley Robertson in a letter he wrote about the first revised final draft of the teleplay and sent to Gene Roddenberry on 17 May 1966. In that letter, Robertson stated, "As we discussed, a suggestion would be that on Page 48 of this draft, it be made pointedly clear that there was no 'World War III' between the Sino-Western powers. Let's keep emphasizing with our writers, as we know you have been, that this is a topic we'd like to avoid." In the second revised final draft of the script (dated 20 May 1966) and a deleted scene from "The Corbomite Maneuver", World War III was referred to as having been averted, in the outcome of the Sino-Western trouble. ("Inside the Roddenberry Vault, Part I", Star Trek: The Original Series - The Roddenberry Vault special features)
In DS9: "Past Tense, Part II", following Kira Nerys and Miles O'Brien's visit to San Francisco during an alternate 2048 (where the Bell Riots had not occurred), O'Brien noted that that was "not the mid-21st century that [he] had read about in school," adding, "Earth history had its rough patches, but never that rough." It might be interesting to know what O'Brien saw that was more "rough" than a nuclear war responsible for six hundred million casualties.
Like the Earth-Romulan War, very few details have been presented in Star Trek on World War III. In 1996, this event received a Trekker's Choice Award for the 'Oft Heard but Never Seen' Award, as being "the favorite historical moment only alluded to in Star Trek."
Also likely linked to this war are the multiple nuclear winters Earth was said to have seen in its 21st century in "A Matter of Time". Furthermore, in "Judgment", Archer talks about thousands of years of Human conflict, and its three world wars in specific, saying that whole generations were nearly wiped out. However, he does not make it explicit that this happened in World War III.According to the 40 Years of Star Trek: The Collection auction catalog, during the middle of ENT Season 4, plans were in place for an episode to feature Colonel Green. It was planned to link Q's World War III uniform to the colonel by having the emblem on Q's hood appear on flags representing Green. Such a flag was created for "In a Mirror, Darkly", and seen in the briefing room aboard the ISS Enterprise. When Enterprise was canceled, plans for the episode fell through and all that remains of the link between Q's uniform and Colonel Green is the flag seen in the mirror universe.