Replicator technology may sound like a dream, but for the writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation it was more of a nightmare.
Ronald D. Moore, who was one of the key writers on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, says that the writers of the 24th-century era of Star Trek hated the replicators so much they mostly tried to forget they existed.
“Replicators are the worst thing ever,” Moore told Bleeding Cool. “Destroys storytelling all the time. They mean there’s no value to anything. Nothing has value in the universe if you can just replicate everything, so all that goes away. Nothing is unique; if you break something, you can just make another one. If something breaks on the ship, it’s ‘Oh, no big deal, Geordi can just go down to engineering and make another
Moore only joined the writers' room of Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1988, after the series had debuted in 1987, so he had no say in the decision to add replicators to the technology of Star Trek’s 24th century.
After Moore completed work on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, he went on to reboot Battlestar Galactica for Syfy. That series took the idea of scarcity, which was basically eradicated by replicators, in the complete opposite. Battlestar’s refugee fleet was constantly struggling to make sure that the crews of its ships had the basic necessities needed to survive.
Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) focuses on the 24th-century adventures of Captain Jean-Luc Picard aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise (NCC-1701-D). This incarnation of the famous starship is much larger than the one captained by James T. Kirk a century earlier, and, accordingly, it carries a larger crew complement: 1,012 men, women…and, surprisingly, children. This era’s Starfleet Command believes that men and women are more likely to sign up for long-term exploratory missions if they think of their ship as home. Thus, Picard’s crew enjoys many of the comforts they’d have otherwise left behind, including a wide variety of recreational opportunities, “replicated” food dishes to suit every palate, and quarters large enough to share with spouses and offspring. There are schools for the children and a bar (stocked with synthetic alcohol, or