Kobayashi Maru n.

in the Star Trek universe: a training exercise in which a cadet commanding a ship must rescue a civilian vessel in enemy territory, with any strategy leading to an unsuccessful outcome; (hence) any no-win situation, esp. one used as a test of character

[after the name of the vessel used in the exercise; itself named after the former neighbors of screenwriter Jack B. Sowards, who invented the exercise for the 1982 movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan]


Memory Alpha

Star Trek

  • 1982 J. B. Sowards Star Trek II (transcription of film)

    The Kobayashi Maru scenario frequently wreaks havoc with students and equipment. As I recall you took the test three times yourself. [Ibid.] [Kirk:] Self-expression doesn’t seem to be one of your problems. ...You’re bothered by your performance on the Kobayashi Maru. [Saavik:] I failed to resolve the situation. [Kirk:] There is no correct resolution. It’s a test of character.

  • 1986 D. Carey Dreadnought! ii. 18 page image Diane Carey bibliography

    Everybody loses the ship. That’s the purpose behind the Kobayashi Maru test. Even if you made the right decisions, the people around you are obligated to make sure every alternative fails. [Ibid. 20] Secretly I was angry with Brian for not telling me what to expect during Kobayashi Maru, though the secrecy in which the test was shrouded wasn’t his fault.

  • 1994 A. C. Crispin Sarek iv. 145 page image A. C. Crispin bibliography

    He would get out of here, or die in the attempt. And if I don’t make it, he thought, smiling to himself, at least I won’t have to take the Kobayashi Maru.

  • 2011 R. Charles Twilight Zone in Washington Post 23 Mar. c1

    Lately, Stewart O’Nan hasn’t made it easy to recommend his novels…. O’Nan has become the Kobayashi Maru scenario of book marketing. Even when his novels promise heart-stopping spectacle—Daughter kidnapped! Husband killed! Teens crash!—he resists every expected dramatic element.

  • 2017 R. Edwards The USS Kelvin in SFX (#283) Mar. 130/1 page image

    It’s easy to forget just how adrift the Star Trek franchise was a decade ago…. It was a property in big need of a spectacular rescue. So JJ Abrams was arguably taking on his own Kobayashi Maru test when he agreed to reboot the series.

  • 2021 M. Gurney Twitter’s Troubles with Trump in National Post (Toronto) 12 Jan. (Ideas section) a9/3

    Whatever standard the company sets for itself will be at least somewhat arbitrary, and it’s going to have to justify any decisions it makes against removing a user to that person’s most bitter enemies. This is a complete Kobayashi Maru, a no-win scenario—but it is the path the company chose for itself the moment it removed Trump.

Research requirements

antedating 1982

Research History
We would like to find an example from the shooting script for "Star Trek II".

Last modified 2022-01-19 18:00:55
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.