Kelly Grayson Medieval Planet Multiphasic Valondis Church

When Commander Kelly Grayson chose to remove her garb and reveal her Planetary Union uniform, she revealed her alienage to a developing planet and committed a serious violation of Union regulations.

The Directives and Regulations of the Planetary Union are the rules controlling the conduct of Union officers and citizens of Union member planets.

The distinction between directives and regulations is unclear, and it may be that "regulation" is merely a synonym for Union directives.


If they use it and they're wrong, it's a career-ender.Ed Mercer, on Directive 38[1]
Directives are a numbered body of Union rules that apply to officers. They are discussed within the context of the operation of spaceships and missions from Planetary Union Central.

  • Directive 38 empowers the Chief of Security to assume control of a Union ship.[2] Invocation of the directive overrides all clearances aboard the ship, including the Captain's. Because Directive 38 grants near-unlimited power to the Chief of Security, its use is restricted to extraordinary instances when a ship's Captain is incapacitated or under an external influence. Misuse of the directive is grounds for court martial.
  • Directive 98 enables the use of the "13 button salute", a Union code phrase used to signal that the vessel in question has had a hostile force seize control and that Union Central must be notified.[3]
  • An unnumbered directive states: "No bare feet in Engineering."[2]

Regulations Edit

Regulations are formed by committee body.[4] Other rules of the Planetary Union have been mentioned that are currently not classified as "directives," yet still possess binding authority on the conduct of officers and sometimes civilian employees.

First Contact Edit

First contact

The crew of the Orville make first contact with Regor 2.

When a planet reaches out into space as you have, whether by ship or by transmitted message, that's when we permit ourselves to make our presence known. You asked if there was anyone out there. It's Union policy to answer.Captain Ed Mercer to Regor 2's First Prefect[5]
The foremost rule of "first contact" with an uncontacted civilization is a prohibition against contact with species that have not "reache[d] out into space," whether by achieving space flight or transmitting a message.[6] First contact seems to be understood as presence or communication that would materially alter (or contaminate) the cultural development of a civilization which has not achieved space-flight technology.

Violation of this rule can be punished by loss of rank and position.[7] There is no penalty for inadvertent contact[n 1] or contact with an undeveloped culture due to an honest mistake.[n 2]

Once a species does invite contact, the Union policy is to answer. The importance of such procedures is recognized by the Union in light of the presence of hostile interstellar powers.[8]

Exceptions Edit

Typically, the policy against contamination mandates that even individual indigenous people will be allowed to die if cultural contamination is likely.[n 3] An exception seems to exist to save endangered civilizations. For example, the USS Orville made contact with the Nyxians when their sun was about to destroy their planet.[9]

A second exception is made for immaterial contact. For example the Union conducts undercover anthropological studies on developing worlds such as Sargus 4.[10]

Cultural differences Edit

I know we're supposed to be tolerant of alien customs, but man, there's got to be a limit.Kelly Grayson[11]
To a certain extent, the Union fleet is expected to abide by the laws and customs of alien civilizations, both those within the Union and without.[12][13][14][6]

Others Edit

Other regulations include:

  • Striking a fellow officer is a court-martial offense. Evidently, however, exceptions may be made such as in sparring,[15] and when Talla Keyali resorted to punching her male captain in the face to encourage the matriarchal Janisi to help rescue the ship she served on.[16]
  • Searches and seizures by Security personnel must be based on a narrowly articulated cause.[17]
  • A prohibition against false diversion of "a starship on active duty," which merits significant criminal punishment.[18]
  • Grievances must be filed through a formal complaint.[19]
  • Mandatory recusal due to conflicts of interest in a Union mission.[19]
  • All distress calls are to be answered regardless of time passed. For example, Captain Ed Mercer answered a distress call that had been sent from the battle ship Burton over a hundred years prior.[20]
  • A ship's deflector core may house a maximum of four graviton generators.[21]
    • Locar mentions that he helped write this regulation.[21]
    • This regulation was superseded in either December 2420 or January 2421 as reconfigurations to the core allowed for a fifth generator.[21]
  • Prohibition against a relationship between a superior and a subordinate officer, the purpose of which is to protect the impartial decision-making of the senior officer.[22]
  • Prohibition against asking an officer if they plan to take advantage of a parental leave policy, such as i the case of Lieutenant Yaphit, by "splitting in half."[23]
  • A relationship between officers must be reported "if it affects the smooth operation of the ship."[21]
  • Bortus said Toren and Korick siphoned energy from the Orville beyond "regulations on power usage levels."[24]

Additionally, Captain Ed Mercer has referred to the existence of temporal law, which (admittedly vaguely stated) prohibits manipulation of the past to change the present.[17]

History Edit

In October 2419, Commander Kelly Grayson says to Doctor Aronov, "Doctor, you want to tell us why you falsely diverted a starship on active duty? You know you could do time for that." Doctor Aronov falsely requested supplies from the Union.[18]

Around late November or early December 2419, Kelly and Chief of Security Alara Kitan search Pria Lavesque's quarters based merely on a generalized suspicion that Pria lied about her background. Ed formally reprimands Alara for egregiously violating Union regulations.[17]

Several days later, Ed says that temporal law could dictate that the crew of the Orville should commit suicide to prevent alteration of the timeline.[17]

In late 2419 or early 2420, Admiral Tucker and Captain Ed Mercer discuss whether Navigator John LaMarr can be extracted from the planet, but because it would violate regulations prohibiting contact with the planet, Tucker forbids it.[10]

In March 2420, Alara invokes Directive 38 to ensure that she may use the the Environmental Simulator unimpeded. Captain Mercer nearly court martials her for abusing the directive, but grants clemency due to her handling herself so well with everything in the simulation.[2]

About two months later, Kelly makes contact with a planet at a Bronze Age level of development. Ed fails to report her conduct and jeopardizes his career in the Union as well as her's. Her contact with the planet ends up deeply changing the course of its history, as the indigenous species builds a religion around her.[7]

Production Edit

The production crew rarely spoke about the rules of the Planetary Union with a lone exception from creator Seth MacFarlane in September 2017 on similarities with the "Prime Directive" from the science-fiction franchise Star Trek: "There's no Prime Directive per se, more of a case-by-case analysis among the Admiralty when those situations arise in the show."[25]


  • While never clearly defined, "first contact" seems to indicate meaningful contact. Thus, while the Orville communicates landing coordinates with the Regorians, first contact was not made until an away team led by Captain Ed Mercer meets the Regorian government in person.[6]
  • Union regulations against cultural contamination are construed broadly, they include contamination through disturbance. For example, extracting a person from a heavily observed environment would be akin to a disappearance, and unacceptably disruptive.[n 4]
    • Additionally, this regulation has been much compared to the "Prime Directive" of the series Star Trek. Like the Union's regulations, the Prime Directive is strict in its application to secure the independent development of other cultures, but flexible enough to allow for limited contact. Explicitly stated, the Prime Directive reads: "No identification of self or mission. No interference with the social development of said planet. No references to space or the fact that there are other worlds or civilizations."[26]
  • Some rules have obvious parallels in existing laws. For example, Alara's unreasonable search of Pria's quarters violates an unspoken regulation that mirrors the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution,[27] which through subsequent clarification by the Court means to protect against unreasonable searches and seizures and to require they are based on particularized reasons.[28]

Appearances Edit

Notes Edit

  1. Admiral Ozawa specifically says that because Kelly did not mean to make contact with the planet, it is the only reason Ed is not stripped of rank. Episode 1x12: Majority Rule
  2. The Orville's team enters the Dorahl bioship with a good-faith belief that the inhabitants are highly advanced. In reality, the bioship's inhabitants are at a very low state of development, and merely the descendants of the original architects of the ship. Episode 1x04: If the Stars Should Appear.
  3. Ed Mercer: "Union policy would've had you leave that kid to die just to avoid cultural contamination." Episode 1x12: Mad Idolatry
  4. In the episode Majority Rule, Admiral Tucker allows an rescue operation of anthropologists Tom and Lewis from the developing planet Sargus 4, but when Navigator John LaMarr is imprisoned, Tucker decides there is no way to extract LaMarr without being noticed.

References Edit

  1. Firestorm
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Episode 1x10: Firestorm
  3. Episode 2x09: Identity, Pt. 2
  4. Locar mentions assisting writing regulations in Deflectors.
  5. Episode 2x05: All the World is Birthday Cake
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Episode 2x05: All the World is Birthday Cake
  7. 7.0 7.1 Episode 1x12: Mad Idolatry
  8. Episode 2x05: All the World is Birthday Cake
  9. Episode 2x02: Primal Urges
  10. 10.0 10.1 Episode 1x07: Majority Rule
  11. Episode 2x02: Primal Urges
  12. Episode 1x03: About a Girl
  13. Episode 1x07: Majority Rule
  14. Episode 2x02: Primal Urges
  15. Episode 1x03: About a Girl
  16. Episode 2x05: All the World is Birthday Cake
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 Episode 1x05: Pria
  18. 18.0 18.1 Episode 1x01: Old Wounds
  19. 19.0 19.1 Episode 1x09: Cupid's Dagger
  20. New Beginnings, Pt. 1
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Episode 2x07: Deflectors
  22. Episode 2x01: Ja'loja
  23. Episode 2x03: Home
  24. Episode 2x12: Sanctuary
  25. /u/SethMacFarlane_. "I am Seth MacFarlane. AMA.". Reddit. Sept. 27, 2017.
  26. "Bread and Circuses". Episode in Star Trek. CBS. March 28, 1968.
  27. Const. amend. iv.
  28. See United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U. S. 259, 264 (1990) (citing United States v. Calandra, 414 U. S. 338, 354 (1974)); Maryland v. Garrison, 480 U.S. 79, 84 (1987). See also United States v. Grandstaff, 813 F.2d 1353, 1355 (9th Cir. 1987).
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