In this question, the asker was looking for answers based on the original TV series of Star Trek.

Were there any named, blue beverages in the original Star Trek series?

One of the answers they received, was based on The Wrath of Kahn — a film featuring the same crew / actors as the TV series, but obviously not part of the TV series.

The asker then commented on that answer that they appreciated the answer, but were expecting answers from the TV series only, based on their use of "TOS". The question has since been edited to include a clarification that the asker is looking for answers from the TV series exclusively.

The usage guidance (tag excerpt) for reads

Star Trek: The Original Series is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry running from September 8, 1966, through June 3, 1969. It has acquired the retronym of Star Trek: The Original Series (Star Trek: TOS or TOS). The show became a cult classic in broadcast syndication during the 1970s, leading to five additional television series, 11 theatrical films (& counting), and numerous books, games, and other products.

Should the tag include the same-era films?

As noted, the question has been clarified since. But was the asker right to expect answers from the TV series exclusively, based on the tag used?
Or can we reasonably expect the films made with the same crew and actors, clearly being in the same in-universe era, to fall under the tag as well? If not, what tag should we use for that?

Edited to add:
It seems I have misstated the intent of the asker. They used the term "TOS" in the question, even before their edit, and expected answers from the series only based on that. I misunderstood their objections to be based on the tag used.

Still, the question remains, does the term "TOS" and the accompanying tag include the TOS-era movies?

‡: Curiously enough, there's some more usage guidance regarding the use of the general tag to be found in the general tag info; I'll edit that into the excerpt since that's where it belongs.


4 Answers 4


I have been interacting with these tags, both as a heavy user and an editor of them, for a couple of years now. In particular, I wrote the usage guide for the general tag.

I would say that generally speaking refers to the television series rather than the films involving that cast. That is consistent with how it has been generally been in practice.

But as with many Star Trek questions, if someone asks a question about, say, , there are often valid and/or interesting answers that draw upon Deep Space Nine or Voyager or something that happened in a TNG-era film.

On a case-by-case basis, it is fine for the asker to welcome or exclude answers from the films, other Star Trek series, etc., that may not have been reflected in the original tagging.


It's better to be clear than technically correct

By itself, "TOS" means the TV show, and "TOS-era" means the TV show plus the first six films (and possibly various other things such as TAS, the EU, the Shatnerverse, etc.). Since this question says "TOS" rather than "TOS-era," it seems pretty clearly about the TV show.

But in this case, OP used "TOS" as an adjective:

Neither Saurian Brandy nor Tranya were blue (based on a quick search only), and that's all I can remember of named TOS beverages.

"TOS" is not an adjective. It is an abbreviation of "The Original Series," which is a noun. Using it as an adjective suggests you meant to write "TOS-era," and creates confusion. I would discourage this usage, because it is ambiguous.

It is also helpful to be explicit about the sources you are interested in. Quite a lot of questioners just want "anything that's canon" or "anything from the TOS era." If you do not specify this, you may get answers you do not actually want, even if the tags technically exclude some of those answers. It's better to actually write "I only want answers from the TV show, not the films" in the question itself, rather than relying on the tags.

Going back and editing every past question to conform to this rule is obviously unhelpful, and I'm not recommending we do that. But when you are asking a new question, it's good to think carefully about what kinds of answers you want, and to write that down in the question.

Nitpicker's corner: Actually, it's totally legal to turn a noun into an adjective, or indeed any part of speech into any other part of speech so long as you're understood. The problem here is that when you turn "TOS" into an adjective, the resulting word means "of or relating to TOS," which arguably includes the films and the rest of the TOS era.

For some reason, someone in the comments seems to think that it is relevant that "TOS era" is a noun (though "TOS-era" is an adjective). I have no idea how this is relevant, but I don't want people to nag me about it so I'm putting it here.

  • I used TOS three times, only one of the three uses was an adjective, in the other two "...I was reminded of Star Trek TOS... and "..or some reference to a blue beverage in TOS, So I think it actually is pretty clear in this case, but it's good advice and I'll be careful not to morph nouns into adjectives outside established conventions and uses in the future.
    – uhoh
    Nov 20, 2016 at 1:33
  • 1
    You may also want to read about the noun adjunct or attributive noun before lecturing on English grammar. See for example en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noun_adjunct or tl;dr "Chicken Soup" or "Baseball Team" or "Jeffries Tube" or "Warp Drive".
    – uhoh
    Nov 20, 2016 at 6:24
  • 1
    ...or at least 'ion engine' or 'ion propulsion' or 'ion drive', since "warp drive" could be seen as coming either from the verb 'to warp space' or the noun 'space warp'.
    – uhoh
    Nov 20, 2016 at 6:59
  • 1
    @uhoh: Fixed, thanks.
    – Kevin
    Nov 20, 2016 at 7:50
  • Thanks - I'll go stand in my corner now :)
    – uhoh
    Nov 20, 2016 at 8:09
  • "TOS era" is also a noun, so your attempt at grammatic pedantry falls down. (Although the rest of your answer I like. :)
    – Lexible
    Nov 26, 2016 at 23:37
  • I disagree that TOS means only the series. Originally, it was a term created to mean "not TNG". Nobody called it Star Trek TOS in 1982. There was no need. "TNG" as a term would certainly include the movies. "TOS" would too. Generally I consider movies as part of a series anyway, e.g., if a TV show has 2 seasons, then a movie, then 2 more seasons, the movie would be part of the series (likely meant to be watched in that order). For TOS, the movies happen after the series but they are still part of the same show, hence they are TOS.
    – JamieB
    Nov 15, 2022 at 21:43
  • @JamieB: Reiterating the headline of the answer: It's better to be clear than technically correct. You can argue about which definition is "technically correct" until you're blue in the face, but it's better to just be explicit in the first place.
    – Kevin
    Nov 15, 2022 at 22:48
  • I'm saying that TOS being cast and crew is clear (and technically correct). Star Trek the Motion Picture is a "TOS" movie. Insurrection is a "TNG" movie. Excluding the movies would be less clear. The poster must specify if they mean "only the series" or "only the movies". That's being clear.
    – JamieB
    Nov 16, 2022 at 14:31
  • @JamieB: My answer already says that.
    – Kevin
    Nov 16, 2022 at 17:52

I see the tags as helpful devices, and they should match the question, but I don't think the tags are expected to be the over-arching definers of the question and supersede what is clearly stated in the body of the question.

In this particular question, TOS was listed in the title (someone else removed it with an edit) and three times in the body of the question. One tag was attached to the question star-trek-tos. Someone else has added the broader star-trek tag in that edit.

In addition to the uses in Wikipedia and Memory-alpha, so far in my limited experience I've seen TOS used here in SciFi SE to refer to the Series specifically, and I haven't seen it used to refer to six feature length motion pictures based on the series.

If this turns out to be true - that in this SE the star-trek-tos tag has not been used to refer to the six feature length motion pictures, then altering the tag now could be seen by some as re-defining the questions.

The TV show was a series. TOS refers (everywhere I have ever seen it) to The Original Series on TV. Having to make an additional tag some day in the future for TOS-the-show or even TOS-the-series would be a bit silly considering that the T and S represent the and series already.

  • What makes you say "loosely"? Nov 19, 2016 at 21:35
  • @Azor-Ahai I've removed it - thanks!
    – uhoh
    Nov 20, 2016 at 1:39

I vote "any reference at all to TOS includes the movies unless very specifically specified otherwise".

Maybe to reframe it, does "TNG" include "Star Trek: First Contact"? I would have to think most people would say yes. It is The Next Generation cast, crew, ship and setting. TNG does not differentiate series from movie.

TOS as a term was not meant to restrict it to the actual airing of the series, either. It was meant to separate it from TNG. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a TOS movie. (Yeah yeah, "the original series movie" makes less sense but again TOS designates the cast, crew, ship and setting, not the format or air date.)

Just to pile on here, there is no acronym of "TOM" for The Original Movies. Or "TOSM". Nor is there a separate designation for TNGS vs TNGM. It's just TOS and TNG.

TOS means the original cast, crew, ship, and setting. If William Shatner is on the screen starring as Captain Kirk flying the star ship Enterprise with McCoy and Spock then it's TOS.

(For specifically the origin of this question, you could even ding the asker for not specifying why he was asking: was he wondering if the original series had blue alcohol as a prop, or was he asking if blue alcohol existed in the era of Kirk according to Star Trek canon. The first can only be answered by checking the series. The second includes the movies, as they are set in the same time period.)

  • This seems pretty clear and sensible to me
    – Valorum
    Nov 15, 2022 at 15:05

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