The Enterprise discovers its sister ship the Exeter in orbit around Omega IV, not responding to hails. Kirk, Spock, Bones and Redshirt Galloway beam straight on over without taking any isolation precautions, and find that the entire crew of the Exeter has been reduced to dust and uniforms. An Apocalyptic Log left behind tells them that if they are hearing this, they are doomed. They are now infected with the same virus that killed the crew and the only possible hope of surviving is to beam down to Omega IV. Kirk and co. beam down in search of a cure and find Ronald Tracey, the former captain of the Exeter, ruling among the Kohms, who are at war with the Yangs.
Tracey has developed a taste for power and immortality, and he's not going to let petty things like the Prime Directive, basic morals or a certain charismatic Starfleet captain stand in his way.
Of all the TOS episodes, this is the one that was made into a ViewMaster set. And in another piece of trivia, "The Omega Glory" script was originally written as one of three potential pilot episodes after the original pilot "The Cage" got rejected by NBC. The aim supposedly being that the three scripts would showcase to the network different things that the series format could do (something that "The Cage" was criticized for not doing). To this end, the show being something of a literal Space Western seems designed to showcase Gene Roddenberry's original format pitch of Star Trek being a kind of Wagon Train to the Stars.
Tropes for this episode include:
- Alien Non-Interference Clause: Kirk gives a very clear summation of the Prime Directive, and is shocked to find that Tracey has abandoned it.
- All for Nothing: That's what Tracey finds out when Dr. McCoy tells him that the extreme lifespan of the natives is a product of natural evolution and there is no serum to isolate.
- All There in the Manual: In the shooting script, the main characters mention the Yangs and Kohms are too close to human to be a coincidence. They speculate they're a remnant of the early space program, setting up the ending where Kirk realizes the Yangs still have a copy of the Constitution. It's not hard to see echoes of the Joseph McCarthy era in Kirk lecturing Americans who have lost their way on what the nation's founding principles mean. But the scene was cut (possibly because it clashes with the timeline), and most viewers just rolled their eyes at the coincidence of an alien planet independently developing the US Constitution.
- Apocalyptic Log: The Exeter's Chief Medical Officer leaves one, which cuts off as he screams in pain and collapses.
- Artistic License Biology: Bones vastly overestimates the amount of water in a normal human body, and nonsensically claims that removing all the water from a person's body would leave behind only tiny salt crystals.
- Ax-Crazy: Literally. When the phaser doesn't work, Tracey comes after Kirk with an ax.
- Big Damn Heroes: Sulu and two Redshirts who don't have time to die beam down in the nick of time.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: Tracey tries to use the fact that Vulcan hearts are not located in the chest as a way of convincing the Yangs that Spock is a demon.
- Cargo Cult: The Constitution and the American Flag are holy relics to be worshiped, while "freedom" is a holy word that Cloud William says should not be spoken by others.
- Deadpan Snarker: Spock is so deadpan in this ep, it's hard to tell if he's being snarky or serious.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Yangs = Yankees, Kohms = Communists. It's even pointed out In-Universe.
- Dramatic Ammo Depletion: Tracey has Kirk at phaser-point, ready to kill him. He pulls the trigger — and the phaser is out of power.
- Eagleland: The entire episode is built on this trope, culminating with Kirk reading the Constitution aloud.
- Forgets to Eat: A comely Kohm lady reminds a hard at work Bones he has to eat.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: After Tracey learns all his evil deeds are All for Nothing, you can see him snap at the news and proceeds to threaten Kirk for weapons for a pointless fight on a planet they now can leave any time they want to.
- The Good Guys Always Win: Lampshaded - McCoy even says that sometimes evil can triumph unless good is very careful.
- A God Am I: The mere prospect of immortality has given Tracey one hell of a Messiah complex.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Averted. McCoy thinks his guard is not paying attention and starts to reach for a communicator. As his hand gets near the guard's very large sword stops him. He then acts like he was just reaching for a drink.
- Immortality Immorality: Tracey is willing to kill for the immortality he believes he will have on this planet, only for Bones to tell him that it's an evolutionary trait of the natives. All the atmosphere did was eradicate one virus.
- Jail Break: The concrete is old and weak.
- Large Ham: Kirk orders a large one in his impassioned speech on the rights of man.
- Meaningless Meaningful Words: Kirk recognized what Cloud William was supposed to be saying when he saluted the flag but after countless generations, the language had become corrupted, the words becoming mere ritual, and losing all meaning.Cloud William: "Ay plegli ianectu flaggen, tupep like for stahn—"
Kirk: "And to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Spock being able to mentally compel someone to do what he wants, without touching them; the only other episodes in which he used similar powers to those were "By Any Other Name" and "A Taste of Armageddon".
- Reality Ensues: Captain Tracey is a starship captain, but his knowledge of medical science is limited, and as a result when he learns of the inhabitants' long life-spans, he assumes at first that it's a fountain of youth and/or immortality (obsession and madness didn't help). The moment a trained medical professional (particularly a CMO) comes along and properly examines all the clues, the claim is instantly dismissed.McCoy: Leave medicine to medical men, captain; you've found no fountain of youth! People here live longer lives because it's natural for them!
- Really 700 Years Old: The Kohms are a species of very long-lived folk. To impress Kirk, Tracey calls over a seemingly-young soldier who tells Kirk he's over four-hundred in Earth years. ("His father is well over a thousand," adds Tracey.) Tracey assumes this is due to some youth potion, but to his regret, it is not.
- Redshirt: Galloway survives the expedition to the Exeter, but is later murdered by Tracey to prevent him warning the Enterprise about what Tracey's up to.
- Sacred Scripture: The "Worship Words", which are based on the Pledge of Allegiance and the preamble of the Constitution.
- Send in the Search Team: How the episode begins.
- Series Continuity Error: Costumer William Theiss gives the USS Exeter crew their own insignia instead of the Starfleet chevron patch worn by the Enterprise crew. This is a mistake that spawned a fan theory that every starship got its own patch, when in fact the intent was for the chevron to be akin to branch insignia, worn by all Starfleet starship personnel. The mistake ultimately led to Star Trek: Enterprise giving crew members of the USS Defiant their own badge in "In a Mirror, Darkly".
- Shoot the Messenger: After Kirk and company tell him that his crimes were All for Nothing, part of the reason Tracey goes literally Axe-Crazy on Kirk has got to be for telling him that bad news.
- Skeleton Crew: The crew of the Exeter has been completely dehydrated to dust due to a virus.
- Space Western: Both visually and in terms of the story, it resembles the genre.
- Stock Footage: The shot of Sulu manning the helm station with an empty captain's chair in the background in mid-Act One is recycled from "Arena".
- Tattered Flag: The one at the end held by the Yangs.
- Trial by Combat: It is written that good always overcomes evil, so Tracey and Kirk have to prove who's right by fighting over a knife stuck in the floor. Kirk wins, but spares Tracey's life.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: So did they recover the Exeter? With the spaceframe perfectly intact, surely she could be decontaminated and re-crewed.
- Zerg Rush: Tracey says that the Yangs overpowered them with sheer numbers, and that despite draining four phasers they just kept coming.