Section 31

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Section 31
UniverseStar Trek universe
TypeIntelligence agency
FoundedEstablished in Starfleet charter
Key peopleAgent Harris (2150s)
Agent Luther Sloan (2370s)
PurposeDefend the United Federation of Planets by any means necessary
TechnologiesClassified, United Federation of Planets' technologies
AffiliationsUnited Earth (superseded)
United Federation of Planets

In the science fiction franchise Star Trek, Section 31 is an officially nonexistent autonomous intelligence and defense organization. It is presented as a special security operation, manned by Federation citizens, that is not subject to the normal constraints of Starfleet ethical protocols.[1] The organization is introduced to canon in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, with appearances or mentions across nine episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Discovery as well as the 2013 movie Star Trek Into Darkness.


In the Star Trek storylines, Section 31 operated separately from and usually without the knowledge of Starfleet Intelligence. It dealt with threats to Earth's and, later, the Federation's security. Its operating authority stems from a provision of the original Earth Starfleet charter—Article 14, Section 31, from which its name is derived—that makes allowances for "bending the rules" during times of extraordinary threats.

Unlike other secret police organizations in the Star Trek universe, such as the Romulan Tal Shiar and the Cardassian Obsidian Order, Section 31 is not an actual branch of government. Accountable to no one, Section 31 focuses on external threats, and pursues those it identifies by whatever means it sees fit.

Little of Section 31's history has been revealed on-screen. Most references to the organization appear in episodes of Deep Space Nine, although Section 31 also appears in Star Trek: Enterprise. Several works of Star Trek spin-off fiction expand on Section 31's operations; Pocket Books published a four-part series profiling connections between Section 31's operations and the missions of James T. Kirk, Jean-Luc Picard, and the crews of Deep Space Nine and the USS Voyager. These novels explicitly link Section 31 to Admiral Lance Cartwright's actions in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Admiral Matthew Dougherty's actions in Star Trek: Insurrection. Section 31 is also heavily featured in the Star Trek: Enterprise novel The Good That Men Do, in which Trip Tucker joins the organization after his supposed "death". The framing story of the novel, set in the 25th century, establishes that Section 31 may have ceased to exist, although it does not provide details. It has also been linked to the events in the Star Trek:The Next Generation episode "The Pegasus".

The film Star Trek Into Darkness features an alternative universe version of Section 31, which is managed by Admiral Alexander Marcus. In this timeline, Section 31 is a secret branch of Starfleet created to protect the Federation from external threats by developing weapons. Marcus' involvement in the organization includes awakening the cryogenically frozen Khan Noonien Singh, whose genetically altered intellect enabled Marcus to develop new weaponry, including the USS Vengeance, a state-of-the-art warship. Marcus' plans and role in Section 31 were halted by Khan and the crew of the USS Enterprise.

Controversial topics[edit]

The implications of Section 31 have been described in episodes as "troubling" and its goals and methods "deeply questionable". Its methods include brainwashing, torture, assassinations and, as revealed in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's final season, genocide, the crime that is most opposed by the Federation. The genocide involves the creation, by Section 31, of a virus designed to kill a single species, the Founders, with the aim of destroying the Dominion's ability to harm the Federation.[1] Section 31 deliberately infected Odo with the virus, knowing he would spread it to other shapeshifters.

Throughout the series, several Deep Space 9 officers, including Julian Bashir, infiltrate Section 31. One of their aims was to obtain a cure for the virus which was threatening Odo's life; however, under orders from Benjamin Sisko, they ultimately collude in hiding the crime. This is part of a pattern of overall loss of moral credibility by Starfleet, in comparison to that which it had in The Original Series and The Next Generation. Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Insurrection both "position the Starfleet authorities in a very dubious light".[1]


Section 31 agents include the following characters:

  • Luther Sloan: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
  • Harris: Star Trek: Enterprise
  • Malcolm Reed: Star Trek: Enterprise
  • Admiral Alexander Marcus, Thomas Harewood, John Harrison: Star Trek Into Darkness
  • Leland: Star Trek: Discovery
  • Philippa Georgiou (mirror, moved to prime universe): Star Trek: Discovery
  • Novels only:
    • Charles Tucker III (Star Trek: Enterprise; The Good That Men Do, Kobayashi Maru, The Romulan War: Beneath the Raptor's Wing, The Romulan War: To Brave the Storm and Rise of the Federation: A Choice of Futures)
    • Tinh Hoc Phuong (The Good That Men Do)
    • Peter Lawrence (The Case of the Colonist's Corpse)
    • Admiral Lance Cartwright (Star Trek VI; Section 31: Cloak)
    • Admiral Matthew Dougherty (Star Trek: Insurrection; Section 31: Abyss)
    • Commander Cortin Zweller (Star Trek: The Next Generation; Section 31: Rogue)
    • Ambassador Aubin Tabor (Star Trek: The Next Generation; Section 31: Rogue)
    • Ensign Roberta Luke (Scientific Method; Section 31: Shadow)
    • Cole (Section 31: Abyss)
    • L'Haan (A Time to Kill, A Time to Heal, Typhon Pact - Zero Sum Game, Typhon Pact - Plagues of Night, Typhon Pact - Raise the Dawn, The Fall - A Ceremony of Losses)
    • Dietz (A Time to Kill, A Time to Heal)
    • Vasily Zeitsev (A Time to Kill, A Time to Heal)
    • Sarina Douglas (Typhon Pact - Zero Sum Game, Typhon Pact - Raise the Dawn, The Fall - A Ceremony of Losses)
  • Video games only:
    • Franklin Drake: (Star Trek Online)


Star Trek: Enterprise
These episodes were produced after Section 31 first appeared in the Deep Space Nine episodes listed below, but depict events earlier in the Star Trek timeline.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek: Discovery
Star Trek movies
Star Trek novels
Star Trek comics
  • Star Trek: Year Four Enterprise Experiment (2008) issue 5 published by IDW.
  • Star Trek - Mission's End (2009) five issue comic miniseries published by IDW
  • Star Trek issues 21-23, 25-28 (2013) of the ongoing series by IDW set in the alternate reality
Star Trek video games


  1. ^ a b c Michele Barrett and Duncan Barrett (2001). Star Trek: The Human Frontier. Routledge. pp. 65–66. ISBN 0-415-92982-2.

Further reading[edit]

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