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 Allusion: "Spectre of the Gun" was DeForest Kelley's third trip to the OK Corral; he played Morgan Earp in the 1957 film Gunfight At The O. K. Corral, as well as Ike Clanton in the educational TV show You Are There.
  • Actor-Inspired Element: Many elements of the Spock character were improvised by Leonard Nimoy during production. For instance, the "Vulcan neck pinch" was his suggestion during filming of "The Enemy Within" for how Spock could subdue an opponent. The "Vulcan salute" was created during the production of "Amok Time" using a version of a traditional Jewish religious hand gesture as a distinctive Vulcan greeting.
  • Actor-Shared Background:
    • Both DeForest 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.
  • Alan Smithee:
    • The writer of "Return to Tomorrow" had himself credited under a pseudonym in protest against a change that was made to the ending.
    • Two episodes in the third season, "That Which Survives" and "The Way to Eden", were developed from storylines by Trek veteran writer D.C. Fontana, but bear the credit "Story by Michael Richards" because Fontana felt the final episodes diverged too far for her to feel comfortable putting her name on them.
  • 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.
    • "Patterns of Force" was not aired on German TV before the 1990s, as the frequent use of Nazi imagery and claims of Nazism making for an efficient society meant it was (understandably, and as is quite common in the country) deemed unsuitable for entertainment in Germany. It finally made its public TV debut in 2011, though it had already been shown on German pay TV in 1996 and included in the DVD/blu-ray sets.
  • 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:
    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.
      • He said "she'll blow soon" once, in "The Corbomite Maneuver".
    • 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).
  • The Cast Showoff: Nichelle Nichols got to show off her singing ability a couple times, as did Leonard Nimoy once (under the influence of aliens, since crooning would be out of character).
  • Cast the Expert: Trained belly-dancer Tania Lemani appeared as the dancer Kara in "Wolf in the Fold", and did her own choreography for the dance routine that occupies most of the character's screen time.
  • 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:
      Whitney: 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!
    • David Gerrold, whose first script for the series was only one of the most loved episodes ever, submitted an outline called "Castles In The Air." By the time Margaret Armen and Oliver Crawford were through with itnote  it became "The Cloud Minders," and he wasn't happy with the finished product.
  • Creator Cameo: Gene Roddenberry himself voiced the ship's cook in "Charlie X".
  • Creator's Favorite Episode: In a TV Guide interview two months before his death, Gene Roddenberry listed his ten favourite episodes - "Amok Time", "Balance of Terror", "The City on the Edge of Forever", "The Devil in the Dark", "The Enemy Within", "The Managerie" (Two parter), "The Naked Time", "The Return of the Archons", "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and "The Trouble with Tribbles"
  • 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".
    • Phillip Pine as Colonel Phillip Green in "The Savage Curtain".
    • 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 "Dagger of the Mind", 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.
    • In "The Trouble with Tribbles", William Shatner was quite genuinely annoyed during the "Tribble waterfall" scene. The people throwing the Tribbles at him couldn't actually see what they were doing and kept it up long after it should have stopped.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • Much is made of the show’s diversity, but rarely is it acknowledged that NBC wanted that diversity more than Creator/GeneRoddenberry.
    • 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—and less sex. The concept of an Earthman kept in an environment where any fantasy could be brought to vivid life—with a woman (and then two more women) who could assume any form he chose—was simply too much for network execs at that time.
    • 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. Doohan initially tried to use an accurate Scottish accent as Scotty but was told by execs it sounded fake. 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, a Japanese-American from San Francisco, as 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 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.
    • The replicators used to make food have started to make their appearance as well; it is now possible to 3D print food.
  • 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.
  • McLeaned / Role Ending Misdemeanor: There are conflicting reasons as to why Janice Rand was written out of the series after only eight appearances during the first season. Gene Roddenberry has said it was a budgetary move, but others have claimed that as the show progressed her role as the Captain's Woman, or potential loved interest for Kirk became impractical. Other stories have claimed that Grace Lee Whitney was having issues with alcoholism, which was said to be affecting her work on the series. Whitney herself said she may have been let go to keep her quiet over accusations of a network executive having sexually assaulting her.
  • The Merch: One of the rarest of the Mego action figures to come out in the '70s (and the only one tied to a specific episode) was of a Cheron from "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield".
  • 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.
  • Older Than They Think: The series' running "I'm a doctor, not a..." gag originated in the comedy The Kennel Murder Case. The coroner in that film, played by Etienne Girardot, repeatedly claims to be a doctor not a reporter, detective, etc.
  • The Other Darrin: Wiliam 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 Other Marty/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.
  • Playing Gertrude: Even though they played father and son, Mark Lenard was only six years older than Leonard Nimoy.
  • Reality Subtext:
  • 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.
  • Referenced by...: Bryan Singer is a Trekkie, so he included a couple of episodes in two X-Men films he directed. "The Naked Time" is seen on one of Hank's TV sets in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and "Who Mourns for Adonais?" is playing in the background when Ororo has a private conversation with Apocalypse.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Romance on the Set: Gene Roddenberry was having affairs with Majel Barrett and Nichelle Nichols. Nichols broke off her affair with Roddenberry not long after the series began, though Barrett would eventually marry the series creator. They remained together until his death.
  • 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' favoured 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 "The Trouble with Tribbles", Bones uses the word "bisexual" for the concept which is now referred to as "hermaphroditic".
    • In "The Immunity Syndrome", Spock reports the dimensions of the giant space amoeba in miles. Most scientists prefer the accuracy of the metric system and would use kilometers instead. Especially noticeable since kilometers were used earlier in the episode when reporting how far away the thing was.
    • In "The Omega Glory", Captain Tracey thinks that the extended lifespan of the Omegans is due to a local disease, and hopes to isolate it and reproduce its benefits for other populations, but his hopes come to nothing after McCoy determines that the lifespan is the result of a genetic adaptation. Roddenberry didn't foresee that a genetic adaptation allowing for long life would today be just as identifiable, and perhaps in the future just as reproducible, as a serum.
    • In "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", 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.
  • Scully Box: According to producers Herbert F. Solow and Robert H. Justman, William Shatner originally wore 1.5" lifts in his shoes so he would appear taller than Leonard Nimoy. Since Shatner was only 5'9", the combination of lifts and the 2" heels of his shoes brought his height to over 6'. It distorted his posture to such a degree. his stomach stuck out. Understandably, Gene Roddenberry forbid him to wear them, instead opting to dress Nimoy and DeForest Kelley in shoes with only a 1" heel as opposed to Shatner's 2" heel.
  • 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.
  • They Just Didn't Care: In "Turnabout Intruder", the director ordered William Shatner to exit the conference room the wrong way to get the shot he wanted, which Shatner pleaded against to no avail.
  • 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 "Naked Time" where Spock struggles to remain in control of his emotions was suggested by Leonard Nimoy. They only had time for one take, which was entirely improvised.
    • According to legend, the stagehands didn't like William 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.
    • "Spectre of the Gun" 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.
  • 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.
  • Tuckerization: The slanting crawlway that leads up to the warp-drive nacelles is referred to as a "Jefferies tube." This is a reference to art director Walter M. Jefferies.
  • Type Casting: The show is infamous for doing this to its main cast for decades to come (William Shatner sort of overcame the problem some twenty years later).
  • Urban Legend of Zelda: Cyrano Jones is such a similar character to Harry Mudd that a story got started that he was written as Mudd, but changed when Roger C. Carmel was unavailable. In fact, the original script for "The Trouble with Tribbles" does have the same character (though his last name is Smith).
  • 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 cancelled 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 cancelled 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.
  • Wag the Director: The story is that William Shatner spent a lot of time taking lines away from other actors. Things worsened when the movies became popular. Think about it: Nichelle Nichols, who doesn't get a lot of work, gets maybe 12 lines in the whole movie. That's it, that's her acting job for this decade. Apparently, Shatner was always sidling up to directors and saying things like, "You know, this scene really doesn't make much sense. It would be so much more dramatic if you just went into tight close-up on me, and then I could say the line, instead of Nichelle."

    When called out on it, his response was always the same: I was just trying to make the best, most dramatic movie, and that simply meant more of me. His castmates could do nothing as their roles were whittled down to nothing. You could say that it was sour grapes, but consider this: Shatner has always said that he wasn't the only star of the show, that the show revolved around him and Nimoy. But none of the actors hate Nimoy. Because he didn't treat them like extras.
  • 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. That didn't stop David Gerrold from inserting some cute dialogue in the fan-staged "Blood and Fire" which has a gay couple.
    Alex: [hugs Pete from behind] Guess who?
    Pete: Mr. Sulu.
    Alex: You wish.
  • You Look Familiar:

This series is the Trope Namer for:

This series provides the page image for:


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