Why The Number 47 Is So Important In Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Star Trek: The Next Generation" kept the iconic sci-fi franchise firmly in the mainstream mind, with over 100 memorable episodes and multiple movies detailing the adventures of the Enterprise-D and her captain, Jean-Luc Picard. "The Next Generation" is nearly as iconic and influential as the original "Star Trek" and helped launch the careers of LeVar Burton and Patrick Stewart into household names. 

Eagle-eyed Trekkies undoubtedly noticed a strange pattern throughout the show — the number 47 and its variations appear frequently in dialogue and on-screen. On Stack Exchange, one fan claims 47 is spoken in some form over 200 times throughout the show's run and also finds its way onto computer screens and visuals. Picard receives a bottle of wine from "47," an authorization code will be Alpha-4-7, and so on. Interestingly, this running easter egg can be traced to one of the show's writers and his alma mater's strange superstition surrounding the number.

47 comes from a college tradition

The connection between "The Next Generation" and 47 began with writer Joe Menosky, according to Marketplace. Starting in Season 4, Menosky began sneaking in the number 47 as a reference to a superstition from Pomona College in California, his alma mater. Pomona has a fascination with the number 47, calling it the "quintessential random number," and references are found throughout campus. Other writers picked up on the inside joke, and soon, 47s were seen in practically every episode.

References to 47 were not just limited to TNG, as Menosky was also a writer for "Star Trek: Voyager" (via Memory Alpha). Along with some of the movies of this era, 47 found its way into "Deep Space 9," although the writing staff eventually grew tired of the joke and began to phase out the mysterious number. The number has seen a revival recently, however, appearing in the J.J Abrams "Star Trek" movies and the MMORPG "Star Trek Online." Indeed, 47 and "Star Trek" have become intertwined, going where no number has gone before.