Throughout 11 television shows and 13 movies, the characters of the Star Trek franchise have visited a number of amazing planets, but some of them have been quite dangerous. Many of those visits resulted in friendly encounters with locals or new Federation allies, but the outcome isn’t always certain. When approaching an undiscovered planet, Starfleet officers often have no idea what sort of situation they may be walking into. Scans and video footage can only depict so much. To really explore a planet, an away team has to beam down and get their boots dirty, which, of course, comes with no small amount of risk.
It’s true that many of the strange new worlds visited across the Star Trek franchise would make wonderful vacation destinations, but others are far less welcoming. These perilous planets cost many people their lives, sometimes including highly trained Starfleet officers and decorated captains. Whether they have inhospitable weather conditions or hostile inhabitants, some planets should simply be avoided at all costs.
Even before its destruction, Romulus would have been a dangerous planet to visit. While there was nothing remarkably dangerous about the climate of Romulus, the fact that it was the homeworld of the Romulans made it a hazardous destination. An offshoot of the Vulcans, the Romulans have been enemies of the Federation since their first appearance in Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Balance of Terror.” Notoriously secretive and duplicitous, the Romulans even managed to keep their appearance a mystery until they revealed themselves to Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise. Being on the Romulans’ home planet would mean being surrounded by enemies with no idea who to trust. Though the Federation did initially try to help evacuate Romulus before their star went supernova, many in the Federation still find it difficult to trust the remaining Romulans.
The environment of Qo’noS alone is enough to make the Klingon homeward dangerous to humans. With unpredictable, often extreme weather and excessive volcanic activity, living on Qo’noS is not for the faint of heart. The Klingons themselves are hardened warriors, with personalities just as volatile as the planet they inhabit. Throughout the history of the Federation, there have been many conflicts and all-out wars with the Klingons. Even after they joined the Federation, many Klingons remained hostile and distrustful toward humans. While setting foot on Qo’noS may not be a death sentence, it takes a certain kind of person to come out in one piece.
8 Cardassia Prime
The home planet of the Cardassians, Cardassia Prime has few natural resources, which led to rampant starvation and death for the early inhabitants of the planet. As the Cardassians became more militaristic, they seized the resources they needed using force and violence. They had no qualms about killing millions of people in order to take control of a planet or about using torture to gather intelligence. The Cardassians and their authoritarian rule clash directly with the values of the Federation and the Cardassians never adhered to any treaties that were attempted. They are also extremely distrustful of most other species, so setting foot on Cardassia as anything other than a Cardassian would not be a smart move.
7 Sha Ka Ree
A planet supposedly located at the heart of the galaxy, Sha Ka Ree was a place of lore in pagan Vulcan mythology. It was said that if someone found this mysterious planet, they would discover answers to the universe’s biggest questions. This mythical planet was also thought of as a Heaven-like place by various cultures, but it turned out that it was far from the Eden many believed it to be. When Kirk and his crew were brought to Sha Ka Ree by a renegade Vulcan, they discovered a powerful malevolent being had been imprisoned there long ago. Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise barely escaped with their lives. It turns out that planets inhabited by vengeful false gods don’t make for great vacation spots.
6 Rura Penthe
It’s no surprise that a planet referred to as “the alien’s graveyard” would make an appearance on a list of the most dangerous Star Trek planets. Though technically habitable, Rura Penthe has a frigid climate and blizzard-like conditions. Like many of the planets on this list, it is not only the environment that makes it dangerous. Rura Penthe also served as a penal colony used by the Klingons. Because there were rich dilithium deposits beneath the planet’s surface, an underground mining colony run by prison labor was established there. Even with the treacherous terrain, the prison also had guards and other security measures in place, making it difficult to escape.
5 The Genesis Planet
Created at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan after the explosion of the Genesis Device, this planet was never meant to exist as it did. Though initial scans of the planet revealed it had many of the same ecosystems that are present on Earth, the planet changed rapidly. The proto matter that had been used to create the Genesis Device led to rapid growth in the plant and microbial life. The climate of the planet also grew unstable and the geologic activity turned the surface molten. Despite its name, Genesis did not turn out to be the best place for new beginnings. The instability of the planet would continue to worsen until Genesis eventually exploded. Though the planet did help preserve the body of Spock, and thus save his life, it never became the habitable paradise the Genesis device was meant to create.
4 Ceti Alpha V
A barely-habitable planet with an extremely dry climate, Ceti Alpha V would not be anyone’s idea of a prime vacation spot. However, the eventual inhabitants of this planet are what made it truly dangerous. In Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Space Seed,” Captain Kirk marooned the genetically engineered Khan and his followers on this desolate planet. As one of the most dangerous villains Kirk had ever faced, Khan’s presence alone would have cemented this plant as a dangerous destination. While Khan and his people were there, another planet in the system exploded, shifting the orbit of Ceti Alpha V, and making it even more hostile. Captain Kirk and his crew found out just how dangerous this planet and its inhabitants were when they investigated and were quickly attacked. If the terrible conditions weren’t enough of a deterrent, Khan and his followers definitely made Ceti Alpha V a planet to avoid.
3 Talos IV
From the unaired pilot of Star Trek: The Original Series, “The Cage,” and the two-part episode, “The Menagerie,” Talos IV has quite a reputation. After Captain Pike’s visit, Starfleet determined that this planet was so dangerous, anyone who visited there would be subject to the death penalty. The Talosians can create hyper-realistic visions within people’s minds, and they use these visions to lure unsuspecting travelers to their planet in order to populate their zoo with various aliens and creatures. The dangers of this planet are dampened a bit when a severely wounded Captain Pike is allowed to live out the rest of his life there. Still, the Talosians remain incredibly powerful and it’s difficult to predict what they might do in the future.
2 M’Talas Prime
As a hub for organized criminal activity, it’s no surprise that M’Talas would not be the safest place to visit. Located outside of Federation space, this planet boasts a lucrative (and illegal) economy that deals in currency, drugs, and secrets and inhabitants who might be willing to stab a friend in the back for the right price. It seems only the most unsavory of criminals and outcasts choose to make their home here, and visitors are treated with suspicion. In Picard season 3, Raffi and Worf have difficulty escaping this world unscathed. If even two experienced Starfleet officers (one of whom is a Klingon warrior) have difficulty surviving this planet, it’s no wonder it makes the list of the most dangerous Star Trek planets.
1 Murder Planet
The most obviously named planet on this list, Murder Planet does not sound like a desirable vacation destination, and it certainly lives up to its name. Though the planet may look like a nice place to visit, it is the only planet on this list that is not truly a planet at all. Murder Planet is actually a sentient lifeform that uses its luscious-looking flora to lure ships to its surface. This “planet” can bring to life visitors’ dreams and nightmares and pull ships out of the sky with its vines. If all of that wasn’t bad enough, Murder Planet can also change its geography at will and produce acid rain to aid in digestion. It is fitting that a place dubbed Murder Planet, whose main purpose is literally to consume passersby, would be number one on this list of Star Trek’s most dangerous planets.