Trekkie vs Trekker: A Brief History

Hot girl in star fleet uniform.

Does she like Trekkers or Trekkies? (Credit: Tracy the Hot Nerd Girl)

What is the difference between a Trekkie and Trekker? I wrote about this subject previously as it applies to dating, but today I want to clearly set the record straight for everyone. Here are the facts:

  • The terms Trekkie and Trekker both refer to serious Star Trek fans. 
  • Trekkie is derogatory,
  • Trekker is not derogatory.

A Trekkie is the fan that has lost touch with reality. A Trekker enjoys being a fan, but still has both feet on the ground here in the real world. As Star Trek star Kate Mulgrew says in the movie Trekkies, Trekkers are the ones that are “walking among us”.

Here is how one woman on OkCupid described it:

Trekkies are the ones who think they actually belong to the Starfleet. Trekkers are just fans of the show and don’t try to learn to speak Klingon and that sort of thing. ~ Random Woman on OKC 

I will now share an abbreviated history of the terms.

1970s

In the early 70s, Star Trek conventions became popular, giving fans of the show a chance to meet their favorite actors, view bloopers, and learn more about the show. As the conventions began to receive media attention, the average convention goer became embarrassed by the radical fringe fans who received the majority of the media’s attention. At this point, the average fan began to shy away from the term “Trekkie”, in order to disassociate themselves from the freakiest fans.

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry is said to have endorsed the word, “Trekkies”, which made the average fan disassociate that word even more. Some even had buttons created stating “Trekker not Trekkie”, probably wearing them next to another button saying “Fuck stun. My phaser is set to kill.”

1980s

If the Trekker vs Trekkie issue was sensitive before, it became even more so after William Shatner dissed “Trekkies” on Saturday Night Live. The “get a life” skit make even more people retreat from the term “Trekkies”.

220px-Trekkies_VideoCover1990s

In 1996 juror Barbara Adams wore her Starfleet uniform to the Whitewater hearings. This was followed by the movie Trekkies, a movie about “the universes most fervent fans”. This was easy money,for all they had to do was follow some Trekkies around for a few hours with cameras, and viola! — hit movie. Proving yet again the truth is stranger than fiction. The movie features Star Trek fans making fools of themselves without any hint of embarrassment.

TODAY

As Scott Rantz accurately says in this clip, the term “Trekkie”, like “secretary”, as evolved to become derogatory.

As I stated in my previous article, the Trekkies who are proud to be Trekkies will not be insulted if you call them a Trekker. However, a Trekker such as myself, who is mislabeled a Trekkie is liable to become offended. Therefore, my advice to the public at large is to use the term “Trekker” when in doubt.

ALTERNATIVE DEFINITION

Per Urban Dictionary, an  alternative definition of Trekker is, “A Trekkie with no sense of humor”.

Perhaps I’m guilty of this. However, this site gets daily traffic from people searching for the difference between “Trekker and Trekkie”. Therefore, I decided to set the record straight with this article.

SUPPORTING EVIDENCE

Example 1: A poster named trek_grrl from this forum thread states: 

Here’s the scoop. In the 70s a book called “Star Trek Lives!” came out (not sure who wrote it), and in this book the author mentions trekkIE, trekkER and trekIST.

1. trekkie – obnoxious fans who run around conventions sticking pictures into the professionals’ faces, demanding autographs. And IMO trek fans who learn Klingon and wear Starfleet Uniforms to nationally-publicized hearings.

2. trekker – ST fans who are a bit more sedate, but love the show as much as trekkies do. We’re just cooler about it. Patrick Stewart mentioned this once on a “game show” he was part of when asked the difference.

3. trekkist – Someone who might watch ST if it happens to be on, enjoys it, but doesn’t go all ga-ga over it. Most in my family are trekkists. Mom and Dad sure were, they never missed an episode when it was on the air.

Note that Trekkist, Trekologist, and Trekster are all terms that have been used, but have never stuck. Click here to see the Star Trek Lives book on Amazon.

Example 2: This saying is common among Star Trek fans when discussing this issue.

A Trekker wears a STARFLEET uniform to a convention because its fun…
A Trekkie wears a uniform to a convention because s/he has heard that it is in style at the academy.

A Trekker has a STARFLEET Academy window sticker on his car…
A Trekkie is cramming for the entrance exams.

A Trekker thinks Wil Wheaton was a lucky kid who got to play a kid on Star Trek…
A Trekkie thinks that Wesley Crusher was a lucky kid who got to sit on the bridge.

A Trekker thinks that it is a shame that the show is coming to an end…
A Trekkie thinks that it is a shame that the crew is being reassigned and the Enterprise is being decommissioned.

A Trekker knows that there are gaping holes in the technology, but ignores them and enjoys the show…
A Trekkie can’t wait for the price to come down on those home food replicator units.”

 LINKS: 

Finally, if you don’t think this stuff is important. I think this will change your mind:

Do you see the eye candy!? I am a Trekker. I have not lost touch with reality. But I’m going to a ComCon or FedCon or whatever…I’m going with phasers set to kill!

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5 thoughts on “Trekkie vs Trekker: A Brief History

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