Zefram Cochrane

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Template:ST Character

Zefram Cochrane is a fictional character from the Star Trek universe who invented the warp drive in 2063, bringing faster-than-light travel technology to humanity. He was born in 2030 and was presumed dead after disappearing from Alpha Centauri in 2117.

In the Star Trek universe, World War III lasted only a few short months, (a nuclear war must be short in order to prevent annihilation of the species) 600 million people perished in the nuclear disaster. In 2053 an uneasy truce was signed. Around this time, Zefram Cochrane began construction of the first warp-capable vessel, the Phoenix.

Missing image
Glenn Corbett as Cochrane on the original series.
Missing image

On April 5, 2063 at 11:15 Cochrane made Earth's first warp flight. His warp signature was detected by a Vulcan survey ship which then made first contact with humans. Development of warp technology was the Vulcan society's prerequisite for first contact with another civilization, a practice that continues through to the Prime Directive policy of the United Federation of Planets. C. 2073, Cochrane said the following famous quote, "Don't try to be a great man, just be a man, and let history make its own judgments."

Cochrane was played by Glenn Corbett in the episode Metamorphosis of Star Trek: The Original Series and by James Cromwell in the film Star Trek: First Contact. Cromwell reprised the role in a cameo in the premier episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, "Broken Bow".

Between the original series's episode "Metamorphosis" (which first aired on November 10, 1967) and the 8th movie of the franchise, the character's trajectory has been retconned to a certain extent. Although it was not mentioned explicitly, originally Cochrane would have discovered the warp drive in his early 30s, whereas James Cromwell was about 55 years old when the feature film was shot. It has been argued that the intention was to make Cochrane's discovery "the achievement of a lifetime", something that a mature scientist might accomplish after years and years of research and experience. This entails significant consequences for the Star Trek timeline: First, Cochrane could not be in his late fifties by 2063 if he had been born in 2030; Second, if he was, in fact, in his late fifties by 2063, it would have been quite unlikely that he would be still alive in 2117, when he disappeared in space. (Then again, there is no rule which states that the actor and his character must be the same age.) Cochrane's noted alcoholism may also have something to do with his gaunt visage.

Yet another aspect of Cochrane's character that has been retconned is his motivation. In the original series, no direct explanation is given as to what was on Cochrane's mind when he was striving to build the first faster-than-light ship in Earth's history, but the subtext leads to the conclusion that his intentions were noble at the very least. On Star Trek: First Contact, Cochrane reveals some rather selfish and petty reasons for building the warp engine.

Furthermore, the character's apparent place of origin was also retconned. In the original series, he was said to be from Alpha Centauri, whereas in the feature film he was from Earth (Montana, United States, to be exact). In FASA (role playing game), before the advent of the "Star Trek Chronology", and in all other known reference material before Okuda's seminal work in the Star Trek Chronology, he was described as being from Alpha Centauri, and not from Earth, which is also strongly implied in the episode "Metamorphosis", where the character is first introduced (he refers to Kirk and company as "Earth Men", implying he himself was not from Earth). It is entirely possible, however, that Cochrane was born on Earth but later moved to Alpha Centauri; indeed, the prequel Star Trek: Enterprise establishes that Cochrane disappeared without a trace after leaving Alpha Centauri, and no trace of him was ever found — Cochrane's true fate would remain unknown until his later discovery by Captain Kirk.

It is strongly implied that Cochrane is responsible for coining Starfleet's "motto" "To boldly go where no man has gone before." However, when the character is shown reciting this mantra in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Broken Bow", he uses the grammatically correct, "Going boldly where no man has gone before" suggesting that his quote would become corrupted over time.

In Star Trek: First Contact, Cochrane becomes the first and (to date) only character in the history of the franchise to actually utter the term "star trek".

In the Mirror Universe, Cochrane is a much more paranoid and violent character. When the Vulcans land on Earth, and their captain gives the traditional Vulcan greeting ("Live long and prosper"), the mirror Cochrane pulls out a laser rifle and shoots the Vulcan in the chest, killing him. Cochrane and the rest of the humans then raid the Vulcan ship, kill its remaining crew, and steal its technology, claiming it for the greater good of Earth (it is unknown whether the Terran Empire already exists by this point).

External link

  • Zefram Cochrane (http://www.memory-alpha.org/en/index.php/Zefram_Cochrane) at Memory Alpha, a Star Trek WikiWiki

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