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The Man Trap
- The shapeshifting alien that sucked the salt out of the victim's body. That thing has literally given people nightmares. And it was the very first episode to air!
- Charlie X removing a girl's face (along, it is implied, with those of other crew members) leaving the now blind, featureless girl to claw at the wall—at least until she dies of asphyxiation. Worse, the transformation doesn't prevent the sound of sobbing.
- Charlie X himself. He can age you, turn you into an iguana or leave your face quite blank, among other disturbing things. But that doesn't really do him justice. An Enfant Terrible Reality Warper Stalker With a Crush Mind Rapist.
- The aliens who gave him his powers and apparently raised him. They're apparently so creepy that Charlie himself is frightened of them. You know, the same reality warper who just spent the whole episode swaggering about invincibly, smugly confident in his own superiority, and now he's begging the same people he was just bullying not to let them take him away. Then the way his last plea of "I wanna stay" echoes when they teleport him off the ship...
- Gary Mitchell from "Where No Man Has Gone Before", especially the part where Kirk and Spock are monitoring him reading through the ship's library in minutes flat and he turns and stares at them with his creepy, silver eyes. Then there's his powers, being able to make an oasis in a barren wasteland, and wanting to use said powers to make himself a god.
- Kirk's evil duplicate, especially the scene where he tries to force himself on Yeoman Rand and stomps on a crewman for trying to stop him. It's even worse knowing that Grace Lee Whitney was later sexually assaulted by one of the producers.
- The close-up on his face during his Villainous Breakdown, just...
- Ruk, played by Ted "Lurch" Cassidy. Imagine an extremely intimidating giant who is extremely strong and yet also moves with such deadly grace that he can grab you long before you can react. Weirdly, his clothing adds to the horror. It's utterly bizarre to see a ruthless android casually murder Red Shirts while dressed in something your grandmother might wear to bed.
- The nightmarish ending of the episode also counts: the Andrea-bot, wielding a laser pistol, utterly at odds with her programming—unsure of whether to love or to kill, embraces her creator, Dr. Korby's android double and Korby pulls the trigger, disintegrating them both. Kirk and Chapel look on in horror, as do we.
- These children have been left without adult guidance for centuries. No one to calm their fears, or to show them how to survive as the infrastructure around them crumbled and decayed. No one to protect smaller children from bigger children who would exploit and abuse them. Infants starve to death as woefully-unprepared pre-adolescents attempt to care for them; these children in turn must deal with the trauma of watching their younger brothers and sisters die despite (or perhaps even because) of their best efforts. Puberty and adolescence becomes not a time of growth and new experiences, but a harbinger of death. The novelization makes it clear that the children face starvation as the preserved food they'd been scavenging from the ruins runs out. If the Enterprise had arrived just a few weeks later, the entire population of the planet would succumbed to famine. Once these children do finally grow up, they face a lifetime of psychological trauma and dislocation.
- The Neural Neutralizer. The device was originally intended to cure the mentally psychotic, but one scientist decided to make a few..."minor adjustments". Not only does it inflict as much pain as the agony booth, but the operator can make changes to a patient's personality and memories. In the off-chance someone taps into his or her true self, they are inflicted with intense pain, as shown by poor Dr. Van Gelder. Probably the worst part is when a person is in the chamber with the device at full blast and no operator present...
Kirk:: Can you imagine a mind... emptied by that thing?
- Balok. Both as young Clint Howard with that adult voice and the alien dummy he pretended to be were scary. The latter even more so because they put that image at the end of every closing credits: you had to see it if you watched every episode from the second season on!
- The revelation of the Romulans' superweapon which can implode cast rodinium and make it like brittle plaster. Definitely this effect on our crew, if not the audience.
- Khan Noonien Singh. Granted, he would get much worse in the second Star Trek film, but even in his introductory episode, "Space Seed", the man was frightening. During his attempt to take over the Enterprise, he makes it clear to Kirk that he isn't screwing around by locking Kirk, Spock, and Uhura in the bridge and shutting off Life Support there in order to get them and the crew to surrender. When that doesn't work, he forces them to watch each other die, one by one, via suffocation in Sick Bay's decompression chamber.
- Nobody deserves the hell that Khan and his followers were forced to endure between "Space Seed" and Wrath of Khan. How many people were attacked by the Ceti Eel before they figured out what was happening? Oh, right:
- Khan: It killed twenty of my people... including my beloved wife.
- The Horta: imagine a giant pizza out to kill you — one armed with acid that can melt through rock in minutes.
- The two Lazaruses being doomed to forever fight each other in between the two universes.
- In a more subdued sense, McCoy during his injection-induced paranoia. He's wild, insane and irrational, and entirely unable to recognize former friends. But we also see he's very good at stealth, and drops the transporter chief with an expert attack... that's right, he retained his knowledge of physical training (not to mention basic transporter operation). And Spock's nerve pinch later in the episode only keep him down for ONE minute, where most are out for an hour or more. In short, if that paranoia had been directed at anyone or anything specific, who knows what kind of damage he could have done...
- Good cranial development. No doubt considerable human ancestry.
- Then there's the part where the hobo McCoy runs into takes his phaser. The guy tinkers around with it for a little while out of curiosity, before suddenly disintegrating himself with it.
- Those gigantic brain cells made Spock scream. Spock. Just trying to imagine the level of pain that would require is Nightmare Fuel all by itself. And to add further weight, Spock himself thought permanent blindness was a fair trade for not having to face that pain again. Luckily for him it wasn't permanent, but still...
- Moreover, remember that Kirk's nephew, not a Vulcan, is facing potentially far worse pain, should he awaken from his coma—and despite the joking around at the end, Kirk still has to tell the kid that his parentsnote died in agony, along with a sizable amount of everyone he knew.
- The whole episode is horrifying from Spock's perspective. Losing your mind, losing your self-control, hurting your friends...To make it worse, Heroic Willpower and The Power of Friendship have next to no effect.
- During a conversation in his quarters with Captain Kirk, Spock is very tensely clutching a knife behind his back, and he seems to be visibly struggling to keep himself from attacking Kirk. Whatever the pon farr is doing to Spock's brain, it's powerful enough that Spock is barely able to restrain himself from murdering his best friend for no particular reason. After this has been going on for several minutes, Kirk notices Spock's hand shaking and sees the knife in it. His tone sells that he has just realized something is horribly wrong.
- Almost everything about NOMAD, from its genocidal mission to "sterilize imperfect beings" to sending Spock into a mind meld induced Madness Mantra to wiping Uhura's brain to killing Scotty when he tried to defend her.
- And there's no Reset Button for Uhura! In the James Blish novelization, NOMAD specifies that she still remembers her life experiences, but her ability to communicate, either through normal speech or "illogical" music has been removed. Quite frightening to suddenly not know how to communicate with anyone.
- It's also the first in a series of adventures that showcase the unintended message of Star Trek: all the probes we send into space are either going come back to kill us (The Changeling, Star Trek: The Motion Picture), or accidentally wipe out entire civilizations (Friendship One).
- The agony booth from the episode that introduced the Mirror Universe, not to mention just imagining what life must be like on a day-to-day basis in the mirror universe...
- And the agonizers, the torture devices that crew members carry around on their own belts, forced to surrender them every time an officer is displeased with their performance.
- There's the classic "The Doomsday Machine", where a giant, bluish-green horn-of-plenty-like machine is consuming everything in its path and the mighty USS Enterprise can't seem to stop it. Not to mention its massacre of the crew of another ship, identical to the Enterprise, whose captain the experience had driven completely mad.
- The machine is pretty much a preview of the Borg—unthinking, unfeeling, and feeding its insatiable hunger by devouring whole planets for unknown ends. Add to that that it is made of metal so dense that the entire Federation fleet could unload its entire arsenal on the machine and it wouldn't be phased, and is, by a wide margin, the most powerful weapon ever seen in the franchise (more-or-less on par with the Death Star) and you have one pants-shittingly scary machine. And we never find out who built it, what they built if for, or if there are more of them out there somewherenote .
- Then you see Commodore Decker doing a Suicide Attack on it in a shuttlecraft, and you see every emotional expression of a man doing that to completion. Guaranteed to give you childhood nightmares. Then Kirk tries a slightly safer version with him maneuvering the USS Constellation with a timer priming it to explode in the maw of that horrific planet killer, and the transporter has just broke down as a building suspense musical score is building to the big climax.
- In an extremely subtle way, the remastered version makes the damn thing worse with the addition of little details, and by making it actual scale to what's been stated ("-a maw that could swallow a dozen starships."), whereas the original didn't have the budget to show this much. It appropriately dwarfs the shuttlecraft Decker pilots, with all three screens open instead of one as the thing bears down on him, and is still several scales bigger than the Enterprise + Constellation combined.
- Korob and Sylvia relied on classic Nightmare Fuel.
- The part where the Red Shirt of the week beamed up to the ship, and then dropped dead? And then a scary voice came out of his dead mouth? Yeek.
- The whole episode is meant to be scary, but those three witch faces that appear out of nowhere are beyond mildly creepy.
- The cloud creature in "Obsession". It's capable of space travel, phasers don't do squat against it, it can silently sneak up on its victims pretty much anywhere, and if it catches you it basically sucks out your blood without even leaving a mark. Furthermore, it returns in a DC Star Trek Graphic Novel written, IIRC, by Chris Claremont.
- The idea that a seemingly immortal being had been possessing and killing people for thousands of years just to feed on their fear.
- The terrified screams just before the murders
- The fact that Scotty just might have done those murders while possessed by Redjac.
- Redjac has taken over the ship and could easily kill everyone on board, but he wants to frighten all of them first by laughing maniacally while telling them in gruesome detail what he wants to do. To add to this, he's played by John Fiedler. Piglet laughing while screaming "Die! Die!" just might kill your childhood.
- The episode is mostly a lighthearted comedy, but the scene at the end where dead tribbles fall on Kirk until he's standing nearly waist-deep in them is very... disturbing. It's the equivalent of opening the door to the attic and being bombarded with dead kittens, and they just kept falling as Kirk was standing there, probably from being casually tossed aside by Dax and Sisko. And it was played for comedy. Twice!
- Because the tribbles are featureless balls of fluff, the true horror of this scene doesn't always land with some people. But imagine unexpectedly finding yourself covered in the corpses of literally any other animal. Hundreds of them. And while most are recently deceased, Spock's dialogue implies that some of them could have dead for as many as three days; which would put them well into the initial stages of decomposition. Nobody would blame you for crawling fully-clothed into the nearest shower with a large bottle of whisky.
- An enormous space amoeba devours the USS Intrepid, the same class vessel as the Enterprise. What must have gone through the minds of the all-Vulcan crew when they realized that their curiosity and logic had failed them? Worse—like any other life form, the space amoeba can only exist as part of an ecosystem. There are no doubt more space amoebas...and they may be at the bottom of the interstellar food chain...
- The Kelvans, who reduced a young yeoman to a polyhedral cube and then crushed her to dust. And while their adapted to human form, their true ones are apparently immense, with at least a hundred tentacles... and sufficient mental contact with one was enough to physically throw Spock away from his mind-meld; thankfully he was uninjured.
- The USS Enterprise discovered the empty USS Exeter with all the crew dead, leaving only loose uniforms strewn about, containing only crystals of the base chemicals the make up carbon based life-forms when all body moisture is removed.
Exeter's CMO: (suffering through extreme dehydration) ...if- if you've come aboard this ship... you're dead men! Don't go back to your own ship! You have one chance: get down there, get down there fast! Captain Tracy is... (speech fails him, and he falls from his seat with a weak scream; the log abruptly stops)
- The Apocalyptic Log left behind:
Kirk: ...prepare to beam down to the planet, fast.
Kirk pauses, looking at the remains near his feet - those of the same man.
Spectre of the Gun
- Kirk and the gang are trapped in a nightmarishly surreal world where the clock is ticking to an unavoidable execution and there is seemingly no escape to that conclusion.
- Chekov under the effects of the Hate Plague. Seeing the goofy Plucky Comic Relief character with a bad accent suddenly start attacking everyone and attempt to rape some poor lady while whispering creepy things to her was really... disturbing.
- A lot of people consider the episode to be hilarious, what with the Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum song, tap dancing, self-slapping, and Kirk giving a pony-ride to a very small man in a toga. While it's understandable to see it as funny on the surface, consider for a moment a race of people who can force you to do anything. Anything. On a whim. And not only that, but they can force you to feel anything, too—they have Spock laughing and crying. Spock himself says it best: they could seriously injure or even kill you just because they wanted to or you made them angry. Without even breaking a sweat, with the power of their minds alone. And these people seem to have no moral compass. At all. Imagine the sheer horror of being forced to humiliate yourself and be caused pain just because someone else was selfish, bored, and could. Not helped that those assholes (the psychics) more or less make Dr. McCoy watch the whole thing in an attempt to make him stay on the planet as their physician, not long after he saved their leader from dying.
- The sheer scale of power a single one of them can possess. Parmen's psychokinetic delirium not only threw around furniture and statues in the room, it physically jolted the Enterprise—a starship in orbit, mind you—with extreme turbulence. And for pretty much the whole episode, every instrument on the ship is frozen and the ship is locked into its orbit. No one seemed to show any signs of stress/effort while doing that either... we should be grateful their powers couldn't be combined.
- The flamenco the Platonians forced Spock to do almost ended in him stepping on Kirk's face and possibly killing him. When they let him go, the Vulcan collapses—all his strength and willpower were expended keeping his foot those precious few inches away from Kirk's skull. Not only can the Platonians hurt you themselves, but also they can force you to hurt those you care about, completely conscious of what you're doing yet unable to stop it. That's gonna give you some major PTSD.
- Shortly before Spock is forced to do this, Kirk is forced to the floor, back-first... then out of nowhere just gives a bloodcurdling scream, his body jerking like it's on fire. When he tries to rise again, his voice and his muscles are weak, as if this had actually happened to his nerves.
- McCoy's injuries. After being tortured he looks like he went 10 rounds with Muhammad Ali. What's worse is that we don't see exactly what happened to him during that time.
- A number of smaller moments just really increase the creepiness of the Vians. First their setup looks a lot like a torture chamber, then the party finds the two men previously at the outpost in grotesque contorted poses, and then the waiting tubes for Kirk/Spock/McCoy themselves...
- The Zetarians. Non-corporeal energy beings who zoom around the galaxy so fast the Enterprise can't outrun them, searching for someone to possess so they can live out their lives. And if they can't possess you, they'll just kill you horrifically while trying. The woman who dies on the station spends several seconds with her face writhing uncontrollably and glowing several different colors, possibly in a very great deal of pain, before she dies. Even with the long-out-of-date and obvious special effects, the shot is still unnerving.
- The ironically named Eden, where every single plant is poisonous and will leave horrible chemical burns on bare skin.
- The Constitution-class ship is kind of bright and cheery with the red doors and uniforms and such, right? Well, when everyone on it is dead or almost dead, the emptiness is kind of creepy, creepy like an Abandoned Hospital. Specifically, the Defiant from TOS: "The Tholian Web" and ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly" and the Republic from Star Trek: 25th Anniversary were messed up real bad. It didn't help that Kirk and his landing party on either ship were stuck there without the ability to transport to the Enterprise—that's right, no escape route despite being on ships falling apart at the seams. And in the former case, on a ship that is phasing in and out of reality as you know it.
- The idea of an entire crew gone stark raving mad to the point where they all killed each other.
- It was also a bit bad when Kirk is stuck on an eerily empty Enterprise. Loneliness is a sort of hell, particularly for an extreme extrovert like Kirk. Oh, and hello, right before the first ad break, a bunch of pallid faces fade onto the viewscreen without warning, just staring...