Trivia: Star Trek: The Original Series

Listed Trivia:

  • Accidentally Accurate: In "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" the Enterprise travels back in time to the 1960s. It's mentioned that three astronauts are taking part in a manned moon shot on Wednesday. Two years after the episode aired, Apollo 11 blasted off on July 16, 1969 (a Wednesday) carrying three astronauts (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins). Given that the Apollo program was already getting started around the time of this episode, however, it was already known that there would be three astronauts per spacecraft, and odds were good that at least one of the craft bound for the moon would launch on a Wednesday. That the Wednesday launch happened to be Apollo 11 (the first moon landing) was a happy coincidence.
  • Acting for Two:
  • Actor-Shared Background:
    • Both De Forest Kelley and Bones are natives of Georgia and have Irish sounding names.
    • James Doohan had a degree in Engineering and even used it to save Gene Roddenberry from danger when they went out boating and ran into trouble. No record exists of him saying that the boat "cannae take much more of this" though.
  • Banned in China: The first BBC broadcast of "Miri" led to protests over its allegedly over-horrific nature (since it involved children in peril and adults getting killed), and as a result it and three later episodes — "Plato's Stepchildren", "The Empath" and "Whom Gods Destroy" — were suppressed from BBC broadcasts of the show until the 1990s due to being considered excessively violent and horrific.
  • Blooper: In "The Enemy Within", the scratches on Evil Kirk's face change side during his Villainous Breakdown near the end.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Trope Namer:
    • Kirk's the Trope Namer, by omission. No, he never said it. (No, not even in Star Trek: The Animated Series - there he says "Beam us up, Scotty".) The closest he comes is in The Voyage Home where he says, "Scotty, beam me up."
    • Spock never said "It's life, Jim, but not as we know it"; that's from Star Trekkin'. The closest he ever came in canon was the episode "The Devil in the Dark":
    Spock: Within range of our sensors, there is no life, other than the accountable human residents of this colony beneath the surface. At least, no life as we know it.
    • Scotty is universally remembered as complaining that the engines "cannae take much more ah this, Cap'n", for fear that "she's gonna blow", or some variation thereof. He's also known to protest that "ah doon have th' pow'r, Cap'n!" He never used any of those phrases on the show; they're cobbled together out of a dozen different lines from different episodes, and have become ubiquitous in parodies ever since.
    • Scotty's also said "Ah cannae change the laws of physics", and not "Ye cannae". That's from Star Trekkin'.
      • He didn't say either. He said, exactly, "I can't change the laws of physics. I've got to have thirty minutes!" Most parodies play the accent up far beyond the original.
    • Don't expect to ever hear Sulu say "Oh, my." That's George Takei's personal catchphrase. Sulu himself was the only regular who lacked a memorable Catch Phrase or Verbal Tic, one of the reasons he didn't show up in too many parodies (and when he did, he was usually the Straight Man). More recently, given Takei's predilection for Adam Westing, parodies of Sulu are basically parodies of Takei (including the Camp Gay antics - see below).
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Harlan Ellison's opinion of "The City On The Edge Of Forever" is in the Creator Backlash Hall Of Fame.
    • Grace Lee Whitney had some choice words about the episode "The Enemy Within" later on:
    "At the end of "The Enemy Within," there is a badly botched attempt at humor. In a poorly motivated and out of character moment, Mr. Spock needles me about my feelings towards the evil Kirk (who came to be called "the Imposter," even though he was supposedly every bit as much a part of the "real" James T. Kirk as the good Kirk). There is almost a nasty leer on Spock's face as he says to me, "The Imposter had some very interesting qualities, wouldn't you say, yeoman?" My response was to ignore the jibe. I can't imagine any more cruel and insensitive comment a man (or Vulcan) could make to a woman who has just been through a sexual assault! But then, some men really do think that women want to be raped. So the writer of the script (ostensibly Richard Matheson - although the line could have been added by Gene Roddenberry or an assistant scribe) gives us a leering Mr. Spock who suggests that Yeoman Rand enjoyed being raped and found the evil Kirk attractive!"
  • Creator Cameo: Gene Roddenberry himself voiced the ship's cook in "Charlie X".
  • Cross-Dressing Voices: The Talosians in "The Cage"/"The Menagerie" are played by female actors but their voices are dubbed by male actors, most notably, Malachi Throne, who voices the lead Talosian.
  • The Danza:
    • Gary Lockwood as Gary Mitchell in "Where No Man Has Gone Before".
  • One of Adams' assistants in "The Dagger of the Mind" is named Eli. The actor playing him is named Eli Behar.
  • Dawson Casting:
    • Robert Walker was 26 years old when he played 17-year-old Charlie Evans in "Charlie X".
    • Michael J. Pollard (27 years old) and Kim Darby (19) play pre-pubescent children in "Miri".
  • Enforced Method Acting: In "Where No Man Has Gone Before," Gary Mitchell's Glowing Eyes of Doom were achieved by Gary Lockwood wearing silver contact lenses. Very primitives ones, with very small holes that he could only see through by raising his head and looking down his nose at everyone else, making his A God Am I act more believable.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • The network chiefs felt the initial pilot episode, "The Cage", was too cerebral for the average viewer at home, and turned it down on those grounds. They gave the series another chance though, on the proviso that Gene Roddenberry gave them something with a bit more action and a bit less philosophy.
    • The original script for "The Alternative Factor" had a subplot about a romance between Lazarus and Lieutenant Masters (Janet MacLachlan). It was cut when network heads objected due to the actress playing Masters being black.note  At the same time, John Drew Barrymore, originally set to play Lazarus, quit abruptly after script rewrites changed his character too drastically. The last-minute casting of Robert Brown and the hasty rewrites that followed were one cause of the uneven story we ended up with.
  • Fake Nationality:
    • William Shatner and James Doohan (both Canadians) play an American and a Scotsman, respectively. Craig Ferguson vowed revenge on James Doohan as a teenager and would go on to play a grossly-exaggerated Englishman on The Drew Carey Show just to spite Star Trek casting directors.
    • Walter Koenig is a partial case: his parents were Russian Jews but Koenig himself was an American citizen playing the Russian Chekov.
    • Nichelle Nichols (an American) played Uhura, whose native language is established as Swahili, implying Uhura is from somewhere in eastern Africa.
    • Averted for Sulu in the only time in all series. Sulu is Japanese-American from San Francisco, and so is George Takei. Played straight in the 2009 film.note  In some of the non-canon novels, Sulu explains that his background is mixed, but primarily Filipino and Japanese.
    • In the episode "Space Seed", Khan Noonien Singh is an Indian Sikh, played by Mexican actor Ricardo Montalban.
  • Fan Nickname: The (unnamed) alien in "The Man Trap" is almost universally known as "the salt vampire".
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The 40th anniversary "Remastered" versions (also known as TOS-R), which (contentiously) replace the original practical effects (mostly involving ships, planets and their skies, and phasers) with CGI.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!:
    • Lt. Cdr. Gary Mitchell in the second pilot "Where No Man Has Gone Before" is played by Gary Lockwood, who also played Dr. Frank Poole in 2001: A Space Odyssey. No wonder HAL wasn't too happy with him...
    • The android servant in "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" is Lurch from The Addams Family. He also voices Balok in "The Corbomite Maneuver".
    • In "Miri", Miri is Mattie from True Grit, the "Bonk Bonk" boy is Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird, and Jahn is C.W. Moss from Bonnie and Clyde.
    • Sarek is the Romulan Commander? No wonder Spock has daddy issues...
    • In "The Apple", Hutch is an alien who wants to know what kissing is.
    • Spock's mom is also the mom of James Jr., Betty and Kathy. Then she married Dr. Daniel Auschlander.
    • In "Friday's Child", Catwoman is Eleen. Captain Greer of The Mod Squad is Kras.
    • Count Baltar is a Klingon commander!
    • One for film music fans - Basil Poledouris never wrote any music for Star Trek but he turns up as an extra in some episodes (like "Obsession").
  • Hey, It's That Voice!:
  • Hey, It's That Sound!:
  • Life Imitates Art: This show inspired so many things...
    • Possibly its ultimate triumph was that Nichelle Nichols's role on the show was the inspiration for Dr. Mae Jemison, America's first female African-American astronaut, who later did a cameo on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
    • The earpiece worn by Uhura and sometimes by Spock may have been one of the inspirations for the Bluetooth headset.
    • The show is often credited as the inspiration for Dr. Martin Cooper to invent the cell phone, but it also accurately predicted the tablet PC. Kirk is often shown using a stylus to sign a document on one, as we sign on electronic forms for credit card purchases today.
    • The 3.5" one-megabyte computer disc looks like the small square tile discs used in the series.
    • At the time the show was in production, the diagnostic panels over the beds and the "salt shaker" hand scanners used by McCoy were being developed and medical engineers were asking how the show's production designers had gotten hold of their plans. Today the diagnostic panels are commonplace.
    • The military and many high-level police agencies are experimenting with non-lethal heat and sound beams to disperse riots and disarm attackers without killing them. Phasers on Stun, anyone?
    • Automatically opening doors first came into common usage in the 1940s, but automatic sliding doors were still in development. The producers used to get mail from engineers demanding to know how they got their doors to open and close so fast. (They were operated by stagehands.) This lit the fire under more than a few engineers to perfect the automatic sliding door, which is commonplace today.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: Although "The Doomsday Machine" usually places very highly in fan polls and best-of lists, certain members of the production staff were (and are) a good deal less enthused. Writer Norman Spinrad disliked the end result, complaining about the casting (he wanted Robert Ryan for Decker) and the underwhelming depiction of the planet killer (which he envisioned as having been "bristling with weapons"). In an interview for the Archive of American Television, story editor D.C. Fontana actually named it as her least favourite episode.
  • Name's the Same: Writer Gene L. Coon got in a bit of trouble due to similarity of the episode "Arena" to a short story of the same name he had read and forgotten. The research agency spotted it immediately and contacted Fredric Brown's agent, inviting him to "write something for Star Trek". After numerous improvements, Coon's work was sent to Brown, Brown okayed it and was given both money and screen credit.
  • No Budget:
    • In order to cut costs, incidental music avoided scoring anything for violins. Melodies in the strings are played by violas. Violinists charge that much more, apparently.
    • Also, space and bridge scenes are recycled over and over, and a few props and sets are recycled into later episodes.
  • The Other Darrin: Shatner's predecessor, Jeffery Hunter, played Captain Pike in "The Cage". This footage was later re-used in "The Menagerie", with Pike himself appearing a motionless deformity in an iron lung-type device. This was primarily to disguise the fact that Hunter was unavailable; this new Pike was played by a lookalike (such as he is) named Sean Kenney. What's interesting is that Captain Pike was retconned into Kirk's predecessor, as well; He was the original Captain of the Enterprise, with Mr. Spock as his science officer. This is still canon in the Abrams film, in which Bruce Greenwood plays Pike.
  • The Pete Best: Jeffrey Hunter's Captain Christopher Pike has gained something of a loyal following as being "the Star Trek captain who wasn't". Adventures featuring him have appeared in the expanded universe, in novels and in comic books; and he also made an reappearance in the 2009 reboot movie, as played by Bruce Greenwood.
  • Playing Against Type: DeForest Kelley primarily played villain roles before TOS.
  • Reality Subtext: Scotty's refusal to lower the shields against orders in "A Taste of Armageddon" is based on an actual story from James Doohan's military service.
  • Real-Life Relative: Many of the Onlies in "Miri" are children of various members of the cast and crew. The little girl Kirk picks up is played by William Shatner's daughter, Melanie Shatner.
  • Recycled Set: The same backlot is used as 1930s New York in "The City on the Edge of Forever", a Space Amish town in "The Return of the Archons", and a planet that coincidentally looks exactly like 1960s Earth in "Miri". (It's actually the same backlot used as Mayberry in The Andy Griffith Show; Kirk and Edith even walk past "Floyd's Barber Shop".)
  • Red Shirt: Although the Trope Namer, the first red-shirted casualty doesn't appear in series until episode 7 ("What Are Little Girls Made Of?"); the very first casualties are blue-shirted Science Team and gold-shirted Command squaddies.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • The Rural Purge: Inverted - it should be noted that the demographic information that led to the Rural Purge wasn't available from Neilsen before 1970 or so; had it been, Trek would've benefited since it attracted advertisers' favored demographics.
  • Science Marches On:
    • It's mentioned in "The Man Trap" that buffalo are extinct. It is true that overhunting brought the buffalo very close to extinction at the end of the nineteenth century. In the 1960s, it was a fairly reasonable assumption that buffalo might be extinct in the future, although probably not the best guess since conservation efforts had started decades earlier. Today they are no longer considered endangered at all. (The episode also mentions passenger pigeons, which were already extinct when the episode was made.)
    • In "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" the ship is thrown back in time by an encounter with a "black star". At the time, there was no widely-accepted term for a star which had collapsed into a singularity and had gravity so strong light could not escape, which we now call a "black hole". The term "black hole" was not generally accepted until later in 1967.
    • In "The Changeling", Kirk shows Nomad a map of the solar system with nine planets. This was before the upgrade of Ceres, the downgrade of Pluto and the discovery of Eres.
    • In "The Doomsday Machine", the air pressure aboard the Constellation is measured in Pounds per Square Inch. kPa (kilopascal) is currently the preferred measure of pressure.
    • In one episode, Spock rightly points out that "evolution is man evolving from apes" is a grossly misleading and deliberate mischaracterization—but describes evolution as life forms evolving from "lower" to "advanced" stages. Now, evolution is understood as life forms changing over time to suit their environment. While they usually become more complex than their ancestors, they do sometimes become less complex if losing a trait 1. makes them more successful in their environment or 2. doesn't hurt them either way.
  • Serendipity Writes the Plot:
    • The transporter was created because it would be too expensive to have the crew land on the planets in a shuttle every episode.
    • During production of "Where No Man Has Gone Before", Gary Lockwood found the silver contact lenses painful and difficult to see through. Gary Mitchell's imperious stare is a result of Lockwood having to look down his nose through the pinholes in the lenses.
  • Technology Marches On:
    • That big ass tape deck that Kirk uses to record his Captain's Log on, as seen in "Dagger of the Mind".
      • Said big ass tape deck is a tricorder, the same one you see Spock walking around with on planets. It is essentially a handheld computer. Roddenberry originally developed it as a practical device but also as a marketable "toy for female-type children".
    • "The Menagerie", in depicting Pike's condition, severely underestimated how far computer-assisted communication would come in just a few decades (think Stephen Hawking). However, it could be justified that Pike's nervous system was so profoundly damaged by the delta ray exposure that the single flashing light is all he can do with such injuries.
    • In "The Conscience of the King", Kodos faked his own death with a body "burned beyond recognition" and started again with a new identity. Since the episode first aired, several technologies have become commonplace (such as DNA matching) that would have made the question of identification less difficult for the heroes.
      • Unless of course the body was disfigured by chemicals or radiation that degraded the DNA making it unidentifiable.
    • In "Balance of Terror", Spock removes a panel to reveal that some internal electronics have caught fire. (And then he puts the fire out with his hands. Love that Vulcan stoicism.) It seems unlikely that an interstellar spaceship wouldn't have an over current protection device that would prevent such a fire.
  • Throw It In:
    • The Vulcan mind-meld, neck pinch and salute are all examples of this. All were suggestions made by Leonard Nimoy. In the case of the first two, they replaced more mundane, conventional ideas in the original scripts (respectively, a simple interrogation in "Dagger of the Mind", and Spock slugging evil Kirk with a pistol butt in "The Enemy Within").
    • In "The Naked Time", Uhura's response to being cast as the "fair maiden" in Sulu's swashbuckling fantasy ("Sorry, neither.") was an ad lib by Nichelle Nichols during rehearsals.
    • The entire scene in "The Naked Time" where Spock struggles to remain in control of his emotions was suggested by Leonard Nimoy, and they only had time for one take, which was entirely improvised.
    • According to legend, the stagehands didn't like Shatner very much, so in the episode "The Trouble With Tribbles," they continued the avalanche of tribbles much longer than was scripted (including the final tribble that bounces off his head at the end). Shatner can clearly be seen glancing up at the prop men with annoyance.
  • Troubled Production: Part of the reason "The Alternative Factor" is so bad is that the intended guest star, John Drew Barrymore, the most notoriously flaky member of that family, suddenly disappeared shortly before shooting and Robert Brown had to replace him at literally the last minute.
  • Type Casting: The show is infamous for doing this to its main cast for decades to come (Shatner sort of overcame the problem some twenty years later).
  • Vindicated by Reruns: Possibly the Trope Codifier. It was a modest ratings success until NBC developed the habit of switching its timeslot around. The extensive rewriting of scripts and lack of immediate success made many of its more talented writers leave, which caused the quality to slip noticeably in a short time. It was canceled after the second season, but quickly Un-Canceled following an extensive letter-writing campaign from its fans. The third season saw even worse ratings, and NBC canceled it for real. Shortly afterwards, American television industry discovered the use of demographics. When stations noticed that, according to the new standards of how ratings were calculated, Star Trek should have been one of the most successful shows on TV (and that NBC had killed what could have been their golden goose), they were rushing to throw on Star Trek reruns to attract the young demographic that it had been popular with. It didn't take many years of reruns before the show's modest fanbase grew into a force to be reckoned with. The rest is history.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The entire series could have been very different if the network executives hadn't declined the first pilot.
    • "The Naked Time" and "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" were originally conceived as a two-part story, which is why the former ends with an out-of-the-blue time-travel incident that leads nowhere and the latter begins with the Enterprise already back in time due to (in the aired episode) an unrelated time-travel incident.
    • Harlan Ellison's script for "The City at the Edge of Forever" was heavily altered to fit the tone of the series (as well as to trim a large cast and settings that were far beyond the show's budget). Rather than McCoy, the past was changed by an evil drug-dealing crewman who ends up in a particularly hellish And I Must Scream situation trapped inside a newborn star. Also, Kirk is frozen with indecision over whether to let Edith die, forcing Spock to step in. The general consensus from those who've read it is that it would make a great standalone story, but as an episode of Trek it just feels wrong.
    • An early draft of "Who Mourns For Adonais?" reveals at the end that Carolyn Palamas is pregnant, presumably by Apollo. This bit survived into the Blish adaptation, complete with McCoy complaining his medical training didn't cover being pediatrician for a god, but was cut by the time the script was shot for obvious '60s-TV-values reasons. It also survived into the Star Trek Novel Verse, where Palamas' part-deity great-grandson is a main character in Star Trek New Frontier.
    • Scriptwriter Norman Spinrad originally envisioned Robert Ryan as playing Matt Decker in "The Doomsday Weapon". Ryan was unavailable, so William Windom was cast.
    • The episode "Spectre of the Gun" (the one set at the O.K. Corral) was originally planned to be filmed on an existing Western town set on the backlot. However, serious budget cuts for the series' third season made this impossible. So, it was instead made on a soundstage in a surreal, incomplete, plainly artificial environment. Though some (including Leonard Nimoy) were skeptical over this move, it's now largely viewed to have been a good choice for the story.
    • James Hong (a.k.a. David Lo Pan) auditioned for Sulu, but was passed over in favor of George Takei.
    • James Doohan had tried several different accents as Scotty before settling on a Scottish accent.
    • Chekov was originally planned to be a British character. Supposedly Roddenberry changed it after having a letter from the Soviet Union which praised the show's message, but criticized the lack of a prominent Russian character, although this may be an apocryphal story as American programming wasn't airing in the U.S.S.R. at that time.
    • An episode exploring McCoy's Backstory was planned and shelved at least twice. One of the main points (that he joined Starfleet as an established MD after a nasty divorce) finally saw the light of day in the 2009 movie.
    • McCoy was also supposed to have an estranged daughter named Joanna, who would have appeared in - and whose name was the original title of - "The Way to Eden", being one of the hippies who take over the Enterprise. Ultimately, she never appeared in the series, only showing up (possibly non-canonically) in The Animated Series.
    • Roddenberry promised Nimoy that if the Spock character creeped out too many viewers, he would have plastic surgery and make the ears look normal. Of course, Spock instantly became the most popular character of the series and the ears stayed.
  • Word of Gay: Inverted. Since George Takei has come out of the closet, many have speculated that Sulu is gay too, but Takei asserted that Sulu was/is/will be straight.

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