Star Trek has long been a franchise associated with the concept of evil alternate universes. Since the very first appearance of the Mirror Universe way back in ‘Mirror, Mirror’ in 1967 the concept of evil alternative universes has been a big part of the general public consciousness. Everyone knows that your evil twin has a goatee, for example.
With Star Trek: Discovery taking viewers back into the realms of the Mirror Universe and the evil Terran Empire, it brings to mind a number of other shows that have embraced the concept and delivered some truly memorable evil alternate universes…
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Buffy The Vampire Slayer stayed very clear of science fiction, which after the awful ‘I Robot, You Jane’ in season one is probably a good thing. However, the show was able to use its horror genre to play with some very sci-fi tropes, one of the most popular being the time it went to an evil alternate universe.
In the third season episode ‘The Wish’, Cordelia makes a wish that Buffy never came to Sunnydale, creating a world where The Master rules over an army of vampires, several of our heroes are dead, or undead, and there’s little hope for humanity. What makes this episode, and its universe, so good, is the fact that it’s so grim. Buffy comes to town, and dies. Willow and Xander are vampires, and die. Cordelia tries to find a way back home, and dies.
Thanks to some great scripting, some very dark moments, and a chilling music score, ‘The Wish’ is not only one of the best episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but one that fans are quick to cite as a favourite.
Doctor Who as dabbled in alternate universes more than once, and whilst the David Tennant episodes ‘Rise of the Cybermen/Age of Steel’ are certainly dark, their universe is hardly evil. Looking back further in time to the Jon Pertwee story ‘Inferno’ from 1970 sees The Doctor in a very evil universe.
Britain is a republic, where the Royal family were executed, and is ruled over by a mysterious overseer. Half the population are part of the police or military, enforcing harsh laws, whilst the rest of little more than slave labour. This universe featured several familiar faces, such as The Brigadier and Liz Shaw, though both were vicious military leaders, with the Brig sporting a massive scar and eye patch.
Unfortunately, this universe will never be revisited after a disaster sees the entire planet ripped to pieces.
After a first season introducing audiences to the idea of time travel, the second season of The Flash went one better and introduced parallel worlds. Unfortunately for team flash, the first universe they came into contact with is one where every meta-human is evil.
Over the course of the second season we not only get a whole host of new villains coming into Earth-1, including evil doppelgangers of the regular cast, we would also go on to discover that the frightening evil speedster Zoom was also the Earth-2 Flash. It turns out that their hero is actually a villain, giving the people of Earth-2 false hope, just to make his eventual conquest so much crueller. now that’s pretty damn evil.
A sitcom probably wouldn’t be the first genre to come to mind doing an evil alternate universe, but Community was always a show to embrace genre and buck expectations. The third season episode ‘Remedial Chaos Theory’ several alternative timelines are created by the roll of a dice, with one of the outcomes being ‘the darkest timeline’.
In this timeline Pierce is shot and killed, Annie is committed to psychiatric care for guilt over killing Pierce, Jeff loses an arm, Troy’s larynx is destroyed, and Shirley becomes an alcoholic. With Abed being TV show savvy he immediately identifies this as an evil universe, and creates stick on goatee beards for the group.
This timeline would later reappear as the evil versions tried to enter and take over the regular universe, though how real these events are is open to debate.
The animated DC series Justice League introduced a new evil universe for the show, rather than re-purposing one from the comics. Set in a universe where the death of The Flash causes the rest of the Justice League to take on more brutal means, they rule the world with an iron fist as The Justice Lords.
The Justice Lords, whilst believing that they are doing good, come from a world where even the slightest infractions, such as getting angry and shouting, can see people dragged away to prison or Arkham Asylum.
This story line proved so popular that the Justice Lords were eventually incorporated into the DC Comics Universe, occupying Earth-50, and inspiring the story line of the video game series Injustice.
Star Trek Discovery airs on Netflix every Monday.