Because stories about things going as planned tend to be boring, whereas stories that deal with exceptions tend to be more interesting.
I was going to say "City on the Edge of Forever" but that's actually their own past, so it probably shouldn't count.
Technically that falls under the "Temporal Prime Directive", but since that change in history was caused by Bones, who wasn't in a good mental state at the time (he accidentally hyposprayed himself with a giant dose of "Cordrazine", a stimulant normally used for people in heart arrest), its not surprising he didn't keep that directive in mind, it's doubtful he could even remember it while he still had the drug in his system.
Admiral: Would it surprise you to learn that you have violated the Prime Directive a total of nine times since you took command of the Enterprise? I must say, Captain, it surprised the hell out of me.
-The Drumhead, Star Trek: The Next Generation
And yet I thought the Prime Directive was more strictly applied to not exposing cultures to technology which they weren't prepared for. Interference was allowed if it was intended to help, within certain limits.
Of course I also realize that the question of whether there's ever such a thing as "beneficial interference" when dealing with other cultures is a whole other kettle of gagh.
My college roomie liked to say, "Fuck the Prime Directive; we're gonna kill your god!"
Also, what? Two new formats in one week?
You just made me realize that this so-called "Prime Directive" was never cited in full on any of the shows. Maybe it was cited in some of the novels or comics, but since those are not part of the canon, I think I can safely say that we've never heard the exact wording of the "Prime Directive". We've heard its principle paraphrased, but it was never cited in full, that I can remember.
In which case, trying to take it apart here seems like a futile exercise.
I am Jean Luc Pic-GOD! (Well, no. Not really. This is my spaceship.)
In the 1968 episode "Bread and Circuses" they come close:
"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."
In fairness to Picard, the Federation had already screwed the pooch pretty bad in that case and they were basically in "damage control" mode by the time he gave the locals a tour of the Enterprise.
Clearly, Kirk never read the part that said, "Don't bang the aliens, no matter how hot they are."
That was funny, but also provides some clarification about how the Prime Directive is supposed to be interpreted. Freezing a volcano that threatens to wipe out an indigenous intelligent species is perfectly okay. Flying your big ass starship over an indigenous intelligent species that has no concept of space travel is bad.
Oh I know. I just love the way he says, "I am Jean Luc ... Pic-GOD!" ("THE Picard.") and then has to rush about explaining that he's no god, while getting a migraine. It kills me!
I spent a happy time with a now sadly gone friend (he died from asthma) discussing Spock's behavior and the Temporal Prime Directive in Star Trek (2009). The pointy-eared stick figures running about time lines were wonderful! By the end of the discussion, we agreed that he'd broken the temporal directive, but had done so for reasons that the Federation would most likely consider valid. Spoiler: His actions were to correct the actions of other time travelers, and he focused on a wholly separate time line. His actions were designed to ensure the existence of the Federation in some time line.
Oh c'mon. The Horta was practically begging for it.
I'm pretty sure they were mad at Kirk for saving the planet as well, which didn't make any sense to me but I just decided I don't consider new Trek cannon anyway.
I think it's probably best to completely ignore anything fucked up in the JJ Abrams timeline. Why the hell was the Enterprise underwater within running distance of the primitive people instead of in orbit? This is Star Trek, not Seaquest. Why did they need to lower Spock down into the volcano with an ice bomb instead of just lowering the bomb or launching the bomb with a torpedo? Everything about that opening bit seemed designed as an excuse for cool-looking visual effects and to fit in with the rest of the plot.
Something something Interference something something.
There was a line about magnetic interference, but that was only stopping them from beaming Spock up without line of sight. Too bad they didn't start from orbit where they could swoop down and maybe not be seen by the primitive people instead of rising up out of the ocean right in front of them.
Maybe now that Abrams is busy with Star Wars, they can bring in someone who actually likes Star Trek to write and direct a Star Trek movie. Don't get me wrong. I like both, but they're not Reese Peanut Butter Cups. Keep Star Wars out of Star Trek and Star Trek out of Star Wars. Well, unless you're doing an actual crossover with lots of pew pewing.
I personally consider the Prime Directive fairly clear (more a response to the thread as a whole than to you in particular on this point). Data violated the Prime Directive when he rescued that kid in Pen Pals and the Enterprise as a whole prooobably bent it pretty hard saving their planet since the dominant form of life was apparently doomed to extinction.
Someone else broke the Prime Directive in Who Watches The Watchers and Picard was left with two crappy choices ... a) let the violation set their society back or b) correct the setback by violating a bit more. Even when I was a Christian, I felt Picard made the right choice. Whether a review board would agree, I can only guess.
I feel like the writers sacrificed characterization for plot expediency with regards to Into Darkness.
Jim Kirk is many things. Largely a terrible person? Yeah. Willing to break the prime directive for a friend or for someone he's got the hots for? Hell yes. Willing to break the prime directive for a species the universe has arbitrarily decided should probably die for arbitrary reasons when he doesn't know anyone on the planet and ultimately considers them inferior? No fucking way.
They needed Jim in hot water to give a reason for him to deal with some other shit so they completely fucked over his characterization. I didn't even get past the first scene before being pissed off.
I can deal with changing canon. I can even deal with changing characterization if the new characterization is interesting. This wasn't a change. It was just horse hockey.
Bringing things back into the realm of theory and speculation, one wonders if they have an exception to the Prime Directive which allows them to interfere with formerly advanced cultures who have been artificially thrown into a less advanced state by another more advanced state. It would allow for a lot of TOS Kirk stuff to be ok (if it was ok) and explain why messing with Kess's people was ok.
In other news, these spoiler tags are pretty awesome.