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These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Kirk and the Enterprise, the only lady he truly loves. Made hilarious by one episode in which the ship's computer is programmed to call him "dear".
Hell, in "Elaan of Troyius" Kirk is able to single-handedly overcome a love potion just because he loved the Enterprise so much!
"Don't you think you should...rephrase that?"
Complete Monster: Melakon from season 2’s “Patterns of Force” was a devotee of Nazism introduced to his people in an attempt to soften it by a former Starfleet officer named John Gill. Shunning the attempt to water down Hitler's philosophy, Melakon decided to embrace Hitler's path. He overthrew his mentor and formed a fascist regime on his homeworld Ekos while trying to organize a new holocaust on a neighboring planet called Zeon. Before murdering his mentor, Melakon was denounced by him as nothing more as a self-seeking adventurer, a traitor to his people and all they stood for.
Crowning Music of Awesome: Samuel Matlovsky's arrangement of strings and bass captures the combination of humor and seriousness of the situation in "I, Mudd."
From the same composer, the piece that plays throughout the episode "Shore Leave" often referred to as "Finnegan's Theme".
It took decades, but La-La Land issued all the series' original music in a 15-disc set in 2012.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Hikaru Sulu's popularity has gone way up in recent years, in no small part due to George Takei's newfound prominence as a civil rights activist. Having an insane number of followers on Facebook and Twitter doesn't hurt either.
Uhura: Although now it seems normal and unremarkable for a woman to have a job other than a secretary, back then Uhura being in a (almost military) job and being black was a huge leap forward.
Not only that, even when she primarily served as The Chick, casting a black woman in the role was a huge deal in the 1960s. And novels written as early as the '70s indicate that Uhura was far more than a glorified switchboard operator — she is in fact a linguistic genius who can leave Kirk's head spinning with language theory. Even in the episodes, there are occasional hints of her mechanical abilities implying that she can take apart and fix the communications equipment as well as operate it. Also, Uhura was technically fifth in command of the Enterprise (and did take command for at least one episode of the animated series) meaning that out of the entire crew only Kirk, Spock, Scotty, or Sulu could override her decisions (although in one episode Mauve Shirt DeSalle takes command ahead of her).
One story going around is that Nichelle Nichols was considering leaving the show at one point, but Martin Luther King, Jr. himself told her how much the world needed to see an African-American woman on television being treated as an equal by white characters.
Sulu: Not to the same degree as Uhura, but it does not seem particularly notable or progressive today to have an Asian supporting character while all the leads were white. However, in the 1960s, it was a pretty big deal that Sulu had no accent, did not do martial arts, and overall was not an offensive stereotype of Asians. Just about every Asian-American actor was clamoring for the role as a result.
Of course, martial arts did eventually creep into Sulu's character by the third movie, and one animated series episode has a slightly uncomfortable joke about Asian racial stereotypes.
Martial arts training would make sense for an officer in a (quasi)military organization, Asian or not.
And he was going to have a big martial arts scene in "The Gamesters of Triskelion" before Takei had to bow out of the episode, resulting in him being replaced with Chekov and the scene becoming a standard '60s TV fight.
According to Takei's autobiography, the writer of the episode "The Naked Time" asked him if he wanted Sulu to swordfight with a rapier or a katana. Takei chose the rapier because he felt the katana would be too stereotypical.
While marred by the pop-culture idea that he's a playboy, the fact remains that even for today's standards, Kirk is one of the few male heroes who use the stereotypically feminine technique of using their sexuality to get information.
Having a Russian character on American TV at all in the 1960s, let alone making him one of the show's protagonists and showing him to have the main responsibilities over a military(ish) vessel's weapons system, was also pretty revolutionary for its time.
Fanfic Fuel: "Mirror, Mirror" provides a particularly rich vein of it, letting fans come with versions of any episode across the franchise from the Mirror Universe. And in the case of Next Generation and Voyager episodes, this includes building the Mirror cast from scratch.
Confirmed by Peter David in his TNG novel Q Squared. Trelane is even implied to be Q's illegitimate son..
The (technically) two seasons which compromise Star Trek: The Animated Series are actually the fourth and fifth year of the five year mission mentioned in the opening credits. The animated series isn't a different show, but the same one. Except it's a cartoon.
It's commonly speculated that Janice Lester in "Turnabout Intruder" was deemed too mentally unstable to command a starship and her psychotic mind twisted it into thinking that all women were forbidden from holding that position. This is more or less promoted to canon in Enterprise, which casually revealed that Starfleet does allow women captains.
In interviews for a book about Shatner, Nimoy confirmed that Roddenberry was indeed saying women can’t be captains, that they cannot do all that men do. "What Roddenberry set out to prove was that this lady, given command of the ship, would blow it." He had voiced repeated objections to this during production.
Evil Kirk's assault of Rand during "The Enemy Within" is pretty awful in light of the fact that Grace Lee Whitney was later sexually assaulted by one of the Trek producers.
You can go ahead and say it. It was Gene. It's very clear in her book. Leonard Nimoy knew about it and supported her.
In the episode "Assignment: Earth", Spock lists several scenarios that Gary Seven could have been sent to effect in 1968 Earth. One of them is "an important assassination". The episode aired March 28, 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. To twist the knife even further, Robert Kennedy's assassination occurred just two months later.
In the aftermath of incidents like the Manson murders, Dr. Sevrin's actions in "The Way To Eden" become a lot more disturbing.
He was originally meant as a Timothy Leary Expy, of course, but long before the Manson murders, people clearly had the idea that something like that could happen. Stories about rock- and acid-addled hippies running criminally amuck, obeying an insane or evil "guru", were rife. There was even one in Jimmy Olsen comics, "Hippie Olsen'sHate-In" (dated March 1969, it probably hit the stands in early January, seven months before the Manson killings).
The message in "A Taste of Armageddon", about the dehumanizing effects of computerized warfare, was haunting enough in 1967, when the computer was still in its infancy. Today, with things like UAVs and computer-guided missiles becoming indispensable parts of modern warfare, it hits harder than ever.
"The Menagerie" when you consider that Jeffery Hunter (Captain Pike) was later injured in an on set explosion on a film set that eventually caused him to be partially paralyzed and lose his power of speech. Eventually, he recovered but later still died from a cerebral hemorrhage caused by the explosion.
In "Wink of an Eye," Kirk hears the hyper-accelerated aliens of the week as an annoying buzzing. William Shatner contracted permanent tinitus from an explosion on the show.
In the first pilot, "The Cage", Vina on Number One's breeding capabilities: "You'd have better luck with a computer!" During the episode's use in "The Menagerie" it was just plain funny, as Majel Barrett had already been voicing the computer for some time.
Uhura's teasing Spock in song in "Charlie X" in light of the recent movie.
In "The Corbomite Maneuver", Bones needles the svelt Captain Kirk over having put on a few pounds. In more recent years, William Shatner has been having issues with his spare tire.
The Simpsons has made it somewhat more difficult to be suitably grave about the possibility that a character in "The Conscience of the King" is the notorious Kodos in disguise.
Spock's surprised reaction to his first sight of the Romulans in "Balance of Terror" could now come off just as much as a reaction to the commander looking like his father.
Cogley's defence of Kirk in "Court Martial" partly rests on emotively arguing that man is superior to machine and the court therefore should not take it for granted that the computer's evidence is inviolate. A couple of decades later, Star Trek: The Next Generation's own courtroom episode "The Measure of a Man"—which even also includes the legal Fighting Your Friend trope—is about proving that a machine can be equal to man.
Jame's outfit in "Court Martial" is nigh-identical to a Sailor Scout's.
"The Return of the Archons" features a society that is orderly and well-behaved except during a regular twelve hour period of complete anarchy. Seems familiar.
Spock once remarks that "the most unfortunate lack in current computer programming is that there is nothing available to immediately replace the starship surgeon."
In the rejected first pilot episode, Captain Pike, Kirk's predecessor, annoyed with his crewmates, says, "What are we running here, a cadet ship?"
This was hilarious in hindsight as far back as Wrath of Khan: the Enterprise was meant to be on a training cruise before flying off to deal with Khan and was largely full of cadets.
Captain Pike irritably asking Number One "are we running a cadet review?" takes on a whole new, unintended meaning in context of his role in the 2009 film.
Number One is derisively compared to a computer, when Majel Barrett would spend the rest of her life voicing computers in the franchise.
In "The Way to Eden" one of the female space hippies tries to seduce Sulu, who doesn't bite. And says "How do you know what I want?" with a giant grin on his face.
Revenge of the Sith was not the first sci-fi production to have a doctor diagnose a patient with a fatal deficiency of will to live.
Compare the older versions of Spock, McCoy and especially Kirk in "The Deadly Years" to how they really turned out.
In "Day of the Dove", Spock and Scotty warn Kirk about the dangers of intra-ship beaming. In Star Trek, Spock Prime (this Spock) reveals to Scotty that Scotty Prime eventually created a formula for interstellar beaming, which would explain how intra-ship beaming becomes commonplace by the 24th century.
In the episode "Metamorphosis", Zefram Cochrane's reaction to seeing the Federation commissioner essentially amounted to "Hey hot girl, let's jump in bed together!". Young healthy male marooned on planet for decades + newly marooned female = Hormone explosion; doesn't really take lot of analysis to see why he'd be all over her... but then in First Contact,back in the 21st century, Troi was complaining about how she'd gotten roped into drinking with Cochrane and spent a lot of time fending off all of his drunken efforts to grope her. If anything, he's improved! Arguably, an intentional Call Forward.
"Is There No Truth In Beauty?" features A. a blind person and B. a device called a Visor.
Ho Yay: Spock had so much of this with Captain Kirk that entire web shows and essays have been devoted to it, and it spawned Slash Fic as a genre. But his Slap-Slap-Kiss with Dr. McCoy shouldn't be ignored...
Roddenberry was maneuvered into voicing this speculation by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath, who were working on the Shatner bio Shatner: Where No Man. It was supposed to be a comparison of Kirk and Spock with Alexander the Great and his second-in-command/lover Hephaistion. In the full quote Roddenberry admits the "lovers" idea had not occurred to him before the ladies suggested it.
See the trope page itself for many, many more examples.
Iron Woobie - Spock is perfectly willing to sacrifice himself for others. He will also stand by his principles even when he expects that Kirk, McCoy, or his parents will hate him for it.
Like You Would Really Do It: Several episodes try to wring tension from a main character's supposed death, most notably "Amok Time." Also, Spock's blindness from "Operation: Annihilate!" Given that the show is from the era of strict Status Quo Is God, the ending is never in doubt.
T'Pring in "Amok Time." Vulcan marriage/divorce laws are very restrictive—betrothal from age seven, and no possibility of divorce except during the Pon Farr. As the years went by, T'Pring decided she didn't want to marry a distant, legendary figure and would rather be with a Vulcan she actually knew and liked, so she chose to challenge the marriage and chose Kirk as her champion. If Kirk won, he wouldn't want her, and she could be with Ston. If Spock won, he would still free her for bringing the challenge at all—or he would leave, and she could still be with Ston on Vulcan. Picking Kirk ensured that Ston would not die in the combat. As Spock said, flawlessly logical. Not especially nice to Kirk, but still pretty good as cunning plans go.
Khan Noonien Singh in "Space Seed". In the briefing room, Kirk, Scotty and others discuss their secret admiration of Khan the historical figure, to the complete bemusement of Spock. They eat their words when Khan's barbarism and complete psychopathy are revealed. Even then, McGyvers follows him willingly in exile to the savage planet.
My Real Daddy: Gene Roddenberry was responsible for the series as a whole, but one of his producers/writers, Gene Coon, had a great deal to do with making the show great with classic ideas like the Klingons, the Prime Directive, Khan Noonien Singh and being the series' showrunner in the first two seasons who helped many of the stories used better.
Narm: Some aspects of the show have aged horribly, especially for people born after 1990; as a result, this trope ends up popping up in places where it's obvious that wasn't the intent at all. Of course, a lot of people don't see this as a bad thing, as noted directly below.
And did at the time. That episode, sneeringly referred to by some fans as "The United States of Star Trek", was universally decried as scraping the bottom of the bottom of the barrel.
Once you're familiar with the concept of Redshirts, it's pretty hard to take their deaths seriously. Indeed, when you're thinking, "Yup, that guy's dead" as soon as they beam down, then when the time comes it can produce chuckles.
William Shatner is often the butt of jokes for his Large Ham delivery that quickly alternates between drawn-out and rushed. He actually didn't get like this until the third season, where the quality of material he had to work with took a significant drop.
Kirk's reputation as a careless manwhore. He did sleep around a lot, but if he wasn't being a male Femme Fatale, amnesiac, or mind-controlled, it was a sincerely felt attraction that failed because of the woman's death or his "marriage" to Enterprise.
As the show went on, the missions just kept getting weirder and weirder. Prime examples include looking for Spock's brain, a showdown at the O.K. Corral and encounters with hippies, Chicago Gangsters, Native Americans, a modern day Roman Empire, Nazis, Abraham Lincoln and even the Greek god Apollo.
In fact, the episode "Spock's Brain" is usually regarded as the absolute worst episode in at least the original series and sometimes in the whole of Star Trek.
Given a Lampshade Hanging in some of Kirk's in-universe biographies, which typically note that many of Kirk's reports were met with considerable disbelief from his superiors in Starfleet. The case where an alien race literally stole Spock's brain is usually mentioned in an especially disdainful manner.
Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Fwoof. TOS catches it bad these days. Not only has everyone who followed in its footsteps borrowed from it to some degree, but they've all tried to improve upon a lot of the problems the show had due to a limited budget, technological barriers of the time and the fact that the cast and crew were inventing a lot of tropes as they went. Fans who got into Trek with the newer installments can have trouble watching TOS nowadays.
Shipping: Kirk/Spock is obviously a near-legendary example of this, with other common pairings being Scotty/Uhura (mostly in an attempt to do their romance from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier in a way that doesn't seem completely insane) and Sulu/Rand (due to the two's interactions in "The Man Trap" and the fact that Rand later wound up on the Excelsior).
"Spock's Brain" is so awesomely bad that, when you approach it the right way, it becomes one of the funniest Trek episodes ever made. Rumor has it that the script originated as a prank at the expense of Gene Roddenberry. C'mon, say it, people:
"Brain and brain!What is BRAIN?!"
The episode "The Omega Glory". There's something about that American flag. The Pledge and the Spock-like Satan illustration did not help. Shatner's trademark delivery worked well when he said, "Look at these words...written bigger... than the rest... tall words ... proudly saying ... 'We... the Pe... ople...
Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield." Racism is self-destructive and it makes no sense to consider people "inferior" based on purely aesthetic features. Note that the episode aired just one year after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
In "Tomorrow Is Yesterday", it turns out that optical effect of the Enterprise doesn't work very well against the sky. It can be pretty laughable when they say they're going incredibly fast and then we see the ship looking like it's barely even moving.
Stoic Woobie: Spock definitely falls into this category. He's an alien to two races, and several times he is injured in the line of duty, or stands by his principles under severe criticism. A few episodes that highlight this are "Journey to Babel", "Operation: Annihilate", and "The Tholian Web".
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: For those who dislike the "remastered" episodes (and especially resent that CBS is obviously trying to supplant the original versions with them - though at least they aren't going full Lucas).
They Just Didn't Care: One of the most prominent continuity errors in the entire series occurs in "Charlie X" when Kirk enters the turbolift with Charlie wearing his gold uniform top...and emerges with the green wraparound on. The only internally consistent explanation would involve the single most awkward elevator ride ever as Kirk changed his top in front of Charlie. (Or maybe Charlie changed it as a joke in the turbolift while talking with Kirk and Kirk didn't notice.)
In "Turnabout Intruder," the director ordered Shatner to exit the bridge the wrong way to get the shot he wanted, which Shatner pleaded against to no avail.
Undermined By Reality: Gene Roddenberry's vision of a future moneyless utopia falls rather flat when you learn that the man himself was a quite ruthless businessman, pulling shady moves like writing completely irrelevant lyrics to the show's theme song that were never intended to be used just so he could steal part of the composer's paycheck. Though you can still argue that the "idea" itself is more important than the flaws of the man behind it.
In "The Enemy Within", Rand's first instinct after Evil!Kirk tries to rape her is to cover for him. And note that she actually thinks it was Kirk himself! Even the blocking of the scene is unnerving these days, with the three guys all looming over the distraught Rand in what certainly seems like the position most likely to dissuade her from talking about it.
In "Who Mourns for Adonais?", Kirk and Bones regret the upcoming loss of a skilled female officer given what seems like her impending marriage to Scotty, with no thought to the possibility that a married woman would keep her job. Making it weirder is that the previous season's episode "Balance of Terror" featured two crew members getting married with no explicit mention of the woman quitting her job.
Values Resonance: Several episodes, like "A Taste of Armageddon", and most notably, "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield".
Visual Effects of Awesome: The true form of the salt vampire in "The Man Trap" is one of the show's most impressive (and scary) aliens. Too bad we don't get to see it for long.
What an Idiot: Joe Tomerlin, the Red Shirt who accompanied Spock down to the planet at the beginning of "The Naked Time". He takes his protective glove off, puts his hand down on the surface of a planet where many people have died with no explanation, and scratches his nose with the same hand. Before he stabbed himself, he claimed that humanity didn't belong in space. Given his horrific failure to follow basic hazmat procedures on a space station where everyone has died for no evident cause, perhaps it was only he that did not belong in space.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The so-called Hippie episode (The Way to Eden) believe it or not. We learn here that the artificial atmospheres the Federation use (including the one on the Enterprise) are breeding extremely powerful diseases that apparently cannot be cured. If we actually had a Khan-level villain who had been infected here instead of the ridiculous one we actually got, we could have had the crew battle an horrific plague whilst trying to prevent an invader from stealing the ship.
In "Miri," the discovery of a planet identical to Earth on the other end of the galaxy is completely forgotten about after the first act, when it probably could have supported a whole story arc if the show hadn't been made in the era of absolute Status Quo Is God.
On a similar note, McCoy's illness in "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky." Just imagine what a modern day show could do with a character having a fatal disease and racing against time to find a cure, rather than knowing it'll be fixed somehow by the end of the episode.
Miri in "Miri", when she cries and begs Kirk and co. not to hurt her.
Apollo in Who Mourns for Adonais.
Alexander in "Plato's Stepchildren", after being used for centuries as Parmen's Chew Toy.
Spock is seen as this by many fans.
McCoy has his woobie episodes in "The Empath" and "For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky".
Chekov. While every one of the main cast gets into their fair share of trouble, it always seems to pull at your heartstrings a bit more when it happens to poor adorable Chekov. Additionally, the Big Brother Instinct Kirk seems to feel towards him is rather d'aww-inducing, particularly the way Kirk calls him by his first name when he's been hurt.
Yeoman Rand. Of the first four episodes aired, three of them had her having to fend off unwanted male attention (though the first one of them was actually a shapeshifting alien, as if that makes it any better for her.)