Since about the 1970s SciFi star-ships have had lots and lots of bumps, and tubing and other things stuck on their skin. Thing is, a real star-ship wouldn’t have them as they actually endanger the star-ship. I’m picking on SGU’s Discovery here as it’s a prime example but it’s true in Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, the rest of the Stargate universe and pretty much every other Scifi that comes to our screens. Star Trek is about the only one that doesn’t and even that, in ST:Discovery, seems to be shifting away from the clean lines of the 1960s.
I’ve said all these protrusions are a danger and the reason is simple:
Space is big but it’s not empty.
There’s dust, asteroids and even rogue planets. All of these, except the dust which won’t get through the shield, can hit and remove the protrusions and thus create a large hole in the skin of the vessel. Having a hole in the skin of a star-ship is contra-indicated as it tends to be fatal to those inside the star-ship.
Some things are necessary of course. Guns and observation lounges (Yes, people actually need to be able to see the sky) but shuttles attached to the skin of the star-ship are a no-no. If the star-ship is going to have shuttles build them a hangar and not one hanging off the side on minimal infrastructure (I’m looking at you Battlestar Galactica).
Yes, they have shields but all those shields can be depleted and when that happens the best bet is a serious amount of armour shaped to prevent any solid objects catching on and ripping off large parts of the ship. No, armour isn’t the best option for front-line prevention – that’s what the shields are for.
Thing is, all of these risky protrusions are seemingly solely for the purpose of adding character to the star-ship. This is supposed to be SciFi and not the local schools art fair so the producers of these ships need to be thinking like the builders of them. What is the protrusion for? Does it have a practical purpose? Because if it doesn’t then get rid of it.
If character is important to the star-ship then give it a good paint job as the above Bedford’s show. The designers still get to be creative but its not going outside what an actual star-ship designer is going to do.