Matthew Cupka’s Trek Problems has fun with Star Trek characters’ conundrums.
The next time you think you’re having a bad day, remember: If you lived in the Star Trek universe, things could always be worse. Star Trek fans tend to focus on the sunny side of our favorite fictional future. But from the 22nd century to the 32nd, if our Star Trek heroes never faced problems, we wouldn’t have as many great stories to watch about them, would we?
Dark matter distortions. Torture at the hands of alien enemies. De-evolution. All these fates and worse have befallen characters throughout the Star Trek franchise—and with alarming regularity. Web design professional, craft beer enthusiast, science fiction artist, and long-time Star Trek fan Matthew Cupka chronicles them all on his “Trek Problems” website (https://www.trekproblems.com/) and in his #TrekProblems Twitter feed.
Helpfully sorting “the improbable problems of Star Trek” by series and into such broad categories as “Time Travel,” “Q’s Antics,” “Holodeck Misadventures,” and “Exploding Consoles,” Cupka—or, as he says most people call him, “Mattdude”—illustrates the mishaps, muddles, and messes Star Trek characters face with well-chosen screenshots and dry, witty captions.
The first time I saw #TrekProblems on Twitter, I found that, as with potato chips, I couldn’t stop with just one. Scrolling through the feed is an addicting and cumulatively hysterical experience, as Cupka’s choice of moments and choice commentary cause you to stop and realize just how ridiculous some of Star Trek’s plot points can be—and how much fun they really are.
Trek Problems is about “making fun of the silly stuff”
I reached out to Matthew Cupka for some information about how he became a Star Trek fan, and how Trek Problems came to be.
In email, he told me he’s been a “hardcore fan” of the franchise since 1995, thanks to a screening of “The Measure of a Man” in a college science fiction literature class. “I absolutely loved it,” he said, “and started watching late night TNG reruns every night, which continued for many years after college.” Star Trek: The Next Generation is still “hands down” his favorite Trek series.
Cupka traces his project’s origins back more than a decade. “Trek Problems” was originally a riff on “First World Problems”—“a very popular online meme/macro,” he explains, “making fun of well-off people complaining about trivial things.” Cupka and his brother launched a Tumblr account dedicated to similar complaints from Star Trek characters. He says it “fizzled as we got on with our work and lives,” but the idea never left him.
When Cupka lost a job in 2020 and then had “tons of free time to spend on Twitter” courtesy of COVID-19 lockdowns, he discovered “Trek Twitter,” which “totally re-energized [his] love of Star Trek.” It wasn’t long before he created a dedicated Twitter account and corresponding website for Trek Problems.
Cupka says the response to Trek Problems has been rewarding: “I didn’t know so many people would get as much of a kick out of #TrekProblems as I do. … It warms my heart so much to see people laugh at this stuff as much as I do! … For me half the fun of Star Trek is making fun of the silly stuff and I’m glad so many others feel the same.”
As long as he continues to find Star Trek’s silly stuff silly, Cupka plans to keep posting about Trek Problems. He’s considered expanding the concept to other series—for example, he’s also a fan of the Law & Order franchise (almost as expansive as Star Trek, at this point)—but, for now, he’s content to mine the final frontier for funny predicaments.
So whether you need a Monday morning pick-me-up . . .
A fellow fannish perspective to celebrate reaching another Friday afternoon . . .
Or simply reassurance, any day of the week, that you’re not the only one the universe somehow has it in for . . .
Be sure to follow Scott Cupka’s Trek Problems. It’s sure to bring a smile to your face and a laugh to your lips faster than you can say “exploding power array.”