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Series / Star Trek: The Original Series

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The senior crew of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701), 2265–2270.note 

"Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before!"
Captain James T. Kirk, the legendary Opening Narration

Star Trek is the first show in the Star Trek franchise. After the release of its spinoff series and the movies, it has been retroactively called Star Trek: The Original Series to differentiate it from the franchise as a whole.

The origin of the show came when Gene Roddenberry was looking to write hard-hitting political and moral commentary and could not do so with the regular dramas of the time. He deduced that by creating a science fiction show borrowing heavily from the film Forbidden Planet, he could slip in such commentary disguised as metaphors for the various current events. As such he pitched Star Trek to the networks as a merging of the two most popular genres of the time, science fiction anthologies and Westerns.note 

While troublesome to produce, the show was a major Trope Maker, especially in Science Fiction (each of the three main characters has a trope named after them, and that's just for starters!). The cast was a dynamic mix of ethnicities and cultures, and while the focus was nearly always on Kirk, Spock and McCoy, they still had a Russian, an Asian and a black African woman in positions of responsibility, authority and respect, despite recent, brewing or ongoing conflicts concerning people of those ethnicities in Real Life. According to the cast members, near everyone in Hollywood wanted to be a part of Star Trek because of the steps forward it was making. In particular, George Takei said that almost every Asian actor wanted to be Sulu because they wouldn't be required to use an Asian accent or engage in Asian martial arts, instead breaking cultural stigma by being a practitioner of European fencing.note  This also resulted in attracting multiple high-profile guest stars and guest writers, including Harlan Ellison, Theodore Sturgeon and Richard Matheson. Plots varied widely in quality from episode to episode and from season to season, depending upon who was writing and/or directing. An episode chosen at random can be anything from high camp to geopolitical allegory to genuinely intelligent drama, and is likely to be at least two out of those three.

In some ways the show was way ahead of its time; in other ways, it is a product of its time. The women usually (but not always) appeared in the roles of assistants and secretaries, wearing go-go boots and miniskirts.note  While the visual design of the show was ambitious, the actual production quality has not aged well.

The show did have some developmental history before it came to air. The original Trek pilot featured Captain Pike played by Jeffrey Hunter, and Majel Barrett as his first officer. The pilot was praised by the network as great science fiction, but was considered "too cerebral" for the target audience and not as action-packed as the network wanted to market it. This resulted in a near entire-cast replacement for a second pilot episode, except for Spock. In fact, Doctor McCoy didn't appear until after the second pilot was filmed. However, that first pilot has remained as part of the franchise canon and did not go to waste—Roddenberry used a lot of it for the series' only two-parter, "The Menagerie," which proved a Hugo science fiction award winner, and the pilot has been included in various releases of the series. Captain Pike himself was recast in Star Trek (2009) by Bruce Greenwood, and played by Anson Mount in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery (with Rebecca Romijn as Number One, Ethan Peck as Spock, and the Enterprise herself), wherein afterwards Pike received his own show called Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, coming full circle.

While the show was considered popular with general audiencesnote , the Nielsen ratings branded it a flop. Star Trek barely managed three seasons before being officially canceled, with a close call on the second season. Within a few weeks of its cancellation was the monumental first Moon Landing, and as a result the subsequent reruns of Star Trek were more popular than the original run. Television was also changing at the time, starting to account for demographics along with overall ratings, and found that Star Trek had snagged the most coveted 18–35 male group that nearly every show was aiming for. Star Trek conventions were jammed with thousands of dedicated fans, and seeing the potential for a revisit led into production for a new TV series. The first attempt was Star Trek: The Animated Series in 1973, which suffered from Filmation's cheap production values, but more than compensated by having most of the original writers and cast, producing a great series that earned the franchise's first Emmy Award. Later in the decade, in the hope of creating a Paramount television network, a new Star Trek series was developed, dubbed Star Trek: Phase II. After Paramount's owner ditched the network plan, the intended pilot was reworked into the first Star Trek feature film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in 1979, after the monumental success of Star Wars. This led to an ongoing film series, the success of which led to the Sequel Series in 1987, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and another 18 straight years of Star Trek on television.

If you're in the US, you can watch all of the episodes on the Paramount+ streaming service. This show also has a tool for gathering and voting on Favorite Episodes. And over here we have a Recap page.

The subtitle "The Original Series" is a Retronym used solely for commercial clarification once Star Trek: The Next Generation came out. It has always been referred to as Star Trek in its own opening sequence.

Shatner returned to Paramount Television (which succeeded Desilu Studios as the show's production company during the second season) in 1975 for the series Barbary Coast, which was not nearly as successful as Star Trek, lasting only one season. Nimoy also continued with PTV after Star Trek ended, joining the cast of Mission: Impossible, which also began under Desilu.

Common plots:

Character profiles and roles in the script:

This series provides examples of the following tropes:

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  • Absurdly Dedicated Worker: In "The Return of the Archons" Landru guards his planet, long after its usefulness has ceased. Ditto the automated defense bot Losira in "That Which Survives".
  • Act of True Love: "The Empath", McCoy sacrifices himself to save Kirk and Spock from death or insanity via Cold-Blooded Torture. Again, he lives, but he didn't know that.
  • Adaptation Title Change: Two episodes' titles were changed when James Blish adapted them as short stories: "The Man Trap" became "The Unreal McCoy" (which may have been a working title from a draft script), and "Charlie X" became "Charlie's Law."
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: In the episode "Operation - Annihilate", Spock is temporarily blinded when they test a cure for a neural parasite on him before using it to free a planetary population. In the novelization of that episode, the planet is freed from the infection before Spock goes through the procedure, which does not blind him.
  • Affectionate Parody: "A Piece of The Action" is an Affectionate Parody of gangster movies.
  • Afrofuturism: Star Trek, while not afro-futurist in and of itself, did have an influence on the genre due to the presence of Uhura; the fact that a black person had a place on a futuristic space ship left a serious impact on young viewers. She was identified in the first episode as a Swahili (there are many Swahili peoples, James Blish described her as Bantu), had a few lines in Kiswahili in a couple of episodes, and the official Star Trek Writers' Guide established that she was from the United States of Africa.
  • Aggressive Negotiations: This can happen quite easily. The Federation's Starfleet often flexes their muscle, and they almost never bluff. In fact, their official policy regarding diplomatic contacts with hostile forces extends to potentially killing everything on the planetnote , which is frighteningly easy to do because all large starship weapons are essentially weapons of mass destruction.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Star Trek is all about technology and how it can be used to further human civilization. However, the show also takes the stance that relying too much automation is unhealthy, and the use of any technology without understanding the implications is actively dangerous.
    • In "The Return of the Archons", a computer has effectively stagnated a planet's entire culture into an ongoing, meaningless cycle of merely existing.
    • In "For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky", a computer keeps the generational refugees under its watch ignorant of the fact that they're living in an asteroid, and punishes those who try to find the truth.
    • In "The Changeling", one of Earth's probes - programmed to seek out life - collided with and damaged an alien probe that was programmed to sterilize soil samples from other planets. The alien probe used parts of Earth's probe to repair itself, resulting in their programs merging to "seek out life and sterilize it".
    • In "The Ultimate Computer" the M-5 unit, designed by Dr. Daystrom, goes rogue after it mistakes a wargame for the real thing.
  • Air-Vent Passageway
    • In "Dagger of the Mind", Dr. Helen Noel saves the day by using a passage to get to the power room and shut off the Tantalus Colony's force field.
    • In "Miri", the children use an air vent to infiltrate the lab where the Enterprise crew is working and steal their communicators.
    • In "The Trouble With Tribbles", Scotty speculates that the tribbles got into the food processors on the Enterprise via the actual air vents. Spock realizes that the grain the Enterprise is guarding on the nearby space station is in storage compartments with similar vents, prompting Kirk to beam over and leading to the episode's funniest moment.
  • Alice Allusion: "Shore Leave": Both in the characters seen by the good doctor, and the fact that the planet turns out to be one big Wonderland.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: The Prime Directive, which forbids the interference with the internal development of pre-warp civilizations. Story-wise, it's used as a plot device to keep the main characters from just using the easy way out of a problem.
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Considering the technical and budgetary constraints, ridiculously so. The show hand waves it sometimes by making planets specifically based on Earth. Or making the episode actually take place on Earth.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The script for "The Omega Glory" has the main characters theorize right at the beginning that the Yangs and Kohms are lost colonists from Earth's early space race. Presumably it was removed to make the reveal at the end a surprise, but in doing so it just made the whole thing ridiculously contrived.
    • The final draft of the “Dagger In The Mind” script clarified that Kirk thought Helen Noel was a passenger at the party, not a member of the crew, and he flirted with her to his embarrassment.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Contrary to his reputation, Kirk doesn't initiate a lot of his kisses, and when he does it's nearly always used as a means to an end.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: This trope is continually subverted. The enemies of the Federation - including the Klingons - are definitely dangerous and hostile, but they are always shown to be individuals with varying opinions and rationales for their actions that exist outside of a simple "good/evil" dichotomy.
    • The Horta is initially presented and believed to be (as the episode title states) a "Devil in the Dark", but turns out to be a mother protecting her eggs.
    • Balance of Terror is the first episode to feature the Romulans, who are introduced by launching an unprovoked sneak attack. In the selfsame episode the two main Romulan characters are examples of My Country, Right or Wrong and What a Senseless Waste of Human Life, and it is made very clear that if it weren't for their being on opposite sides of battle, Kirk and the Romulan Commander could have easily been friends.
    • The episode Errand of Mercy marks the first appearance of the Klingons, and in that very episode the Organians - a more enlightened species than Humans or Klingons - predict that at some future date, the Klingons and the Federation will become allies, working together. There's also "Day of the Dove", when after learning that they are being manipulated by an Energy Being into a senseless, endless war with Kirk's crew, the Klingons team up in an Enemy Mine.
      Kang: I do not need any urging to kill humans. A Klingon kills for his own reasons! Only a fool fights in a burning house!
  • Ambiguously Christian:
    • In the Pilot Episode, Captain Christopher Pike's character was subjected to an illusion of Hell when he refused to cooperate with his Talosian jailers. The illusion was stated to be made from information gotten from his own mind, implying that he was raised as a Christian.
    • Angela Martine, from the episode "Balance of Terror" genuflected before the altar during her marriage ceremony, implying that she is a member of either the Catholic or Episcopalian church.
    • At the end of "This Side of Paradise", when the Enterprise is leaving Omicron Ceti III, Dr. McCoy, reflecting on the euphoric effect the planet's spores had on the crew, states that "Well, that's the second time man's been thrown out of Paradise."
    • Captain Kirk's famous line to the alien impersonating the Greek god Apollo in "Who Mourns for Adonais?":
      Kirk: Mankind has no need for gods. We find the one quite adequate.
    • In "The Ultimate Computer", both Dr. Richard Daystrom and, consequently, the sentient M-5 computer he built believe in God. Kirk makes the M-5 realize that in committing murder, it has sinned, and it shut itself down out of remorse.
    • In "Bread and Circuses", Kirk and Crew come upon a planet dominated by a Roman Empire but with 20th century technology, where a persecuted, pacifist new religion worships a sun god. At the end of the episode, Lieutenant Uhura discovers that this new religion does not worship the Sun but the Son, clearly referencing Jesus. Kirk even considers remaining at the planet for a number of years just so they can "watch it happen all over again."
    • Near the end of "The Way to Eden", Adam, one of Dr. Sevrin's followers, literally dies on the planet Eden after eating a poisoned apple; Spock sardonically points this out.
  • Amnesia Danger: In "The Paradise Syndrome", the danger was that the amnesiac character (Kirk) had forgotten that there was a danger.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • The unfortunate fate that Captain Pike is ultimately reduced to.
    • The fate of Lazarus and Anti-Lazarus in "The Alternative Factor".
    • Charlie's reaction to the ending of "Charlie X".
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: Villains often find that this trope is what forces Kirk to comply to them. Textbook case in "The Squire of Gothos", with Spock as the collateral.
  • "Anger Is Healthy" Aesop:
    • The episode "The Enemy Within" involves a transporter accident separating Kirk from his aggressive side. While the unchecked aggressive side causes nothing but trouble, Kirk realizes he needs that side of him to be an effective leader. Kirk asks this aggressive side "Can half a man live?"
    • In "This Side of Paradise", anger frees Kirk and then Spock from the spores' influence. Later sonic frequencies irritate the rest of the crew and the colonists, freeeing them as well.
  • Antagonistic Governor: Kodos the Executioner, who was governor of a human colony that was facing starvation because of an exotic fungus. He executed 4,000 citizens in order to see to it that the other 4,000 wouldn't starve. He later disappeared, presumed dead, but in reality, had changed his name and was living life as an actor.
  • Antagonist Title:
    • "Charlie X": Charlie Evans turns out to be a Reality Warper and starts abusing his powers when the crew of the Enterprise doesn't bow down to his every whim.
    • "The Enemy Within": Kirk is split into a good and an evil version. Guess which one is the enemy.
    • "The Devil in the Dark": Subverted. The silicon-based Horta was killing the miners to protect its eggs. The Enterprise crew heal it and communicate with it.
    • "The Doomsday Machine": It is a planet-eating machine from another Galaxy.
    • "The Ultimate Computer": A.I. Is a Crapshoot.
    • "The Tholian Web": The energy web is being created by the Tholians to destroy the Enterprise.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Losira's computer log in "That Which Survives", which explained how her colony died.
  • Applied Phlebotinum
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Surprisingly, one towards Kirk from the leader of the Organians in "Errand of Mercy" when they've stopped the Federation and the Klingon Empire from fighting.
    Kirk: Even if you have some power that we don't understand, you have no right to dictate to our Federation—
    Kor: Or our Empire!
    Kirk: —How to handle their interstellar relations! We have the right—
    Ayelborne: To wage war, Captain? To kill millions of innocent people? To destroy life on a planetary scale? Is that what you're defending?
  • Arc Words: When Gene Coon was involved, soldier vs diplomat. A lot of the time it’s Kirk’s Conflicting Loyalty and Character Development, but other characters have the conflict too, and it’s a continuing theme for other Trek series.
  • Artistic License – Physics: In "The Naked Time", the Enterprise is observing a planet in the process of breaking up. The only explanation given for why the planet is breaking up is that its star has gone dark, which would make no difference. It's as if it's just spontaneously exploding. What's more, they talk about its mass changing, which absolutely cannot happen under the laws of physics.note 
  • Ascended Extra: Most of the main crew members (with the exception of Kirk and Spock) are not credited with starring roles in the opening credits, even McCoy (for the first season). Many of them don't appear in certain episodes, and don't even receive any real focus or characterization until late season 1 and throughout season 2. Only the movies credit them with starring roles.
  • Aside Comment: At the end of "Journey to Babel", Doctor McCoy looks directly into the camera and happily states, "I finally got the last word."
  • As You Know: In "Wolf in the Fold" Spock explains to Captain Kirk how ordering the computer to compute the value of pi to the last digit will drive the Redjack creature out of it.
  • "Ass" in Ambassador: How many times has the presence of Federation diplomatic personnel actually helped matters? More often than not Kirk and company have to smooth over problems created by overbearing Federation officials. Alien ambassadors aren't much of an improvement.
  • Asteroid Thicket: In "Mudd's Women", Harry Mudd's ship flies through one.
  • Attack Reflector: Played With in the episode "The Corbomite Maneuver". Kirk threatens to use the eponymous strategy with a device embedded in the Enterprise. If any destructive energy hits it, the corbomite creates a reverse reaction of equal strength that destroys the attacker. He was bluffing: there was actually no such device and no such maneuver.
  • Author Appeal: Gene Roddenberry admitted in the book “Where No Man” that a lot of episodes were his sexual fantasies. He’s at least equal opportunity about it, giving Kirk gratuitous shirtless scenes and apparently letting Shatner stick his ass out as much as he wanted, saying fans liked to watch him leave a room.
  • Auto-Kitchen: The Enterprise has slots in the wall which can produce any food desired by inserting the correct computer tape. In The Next Generation, these are replaced by replicators.
  • Ax-Crazy: Captain, no, Lord Garth. Also most of his "court" of fellow asylum inmates, notably Green-Skinned Space Babe Marta, who is compelled to murder those she "loves."note 
  • Badass Crew: The Original Series establishes a long and proud tradition of these in Starfleet.
  • Batman Gambit: Kirk is very good at reading his opponents in battle, and thus can pull these off in ways that would make Batman himself proud. The Corbomite Maneuver is a distinct example, and the entirety of Balance of Terror has Kirk continuously doing this to the commander of a Romulan ship, estimating his every action and intention based on the maneuvers he makes:
    (Enterprise fires on the still cloaked Romulan ship, scoring a near-miss)
    Romulan Sub-Commander: "How, commander? HOW?!"
    Romulan Commander: "He is a sorcerer that one, he reads the thoughts in my brain!"
  • Battle Chant:
    • In the episode "Miri", at one point, the Long-Lived children get together and start chanting the word "Bonk" repeatedly (as in "Bonk on the head") as an indication of what they plan to do to the Enterprise crew who have beamed down to their planet.
  • Battle Theme Music:
    • The "Ancient Battle" theme from "Amok Time," an example of Orchestral Bombing which has been appropriated by so many homages and parodies. It's practically an Undead Horse Trope at this point.
    • Similarly, the space battle music from the episode "The Doomsday Machine" became a standard used over and over again in later episodes.
  • Beard of Evil: "Mirror Mirror" provides the Trope Codifier of Evil Twins with beards, thanks to the Mirror-universe Spock's natty goatee.
  • Beeping Computers: Computers in the original series beeped because it was a futuristic interpretation of the rather noisy computers of The '60s (which really did have blinking lights too).
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
    • In "Wolf in the Fold", it turns out that Jack the Ripper was just one of many creatures possessed by a Puppeteer Parasite over the centuries.
    • "Requiem for Methuselah" concerns an immortal being who takes credit for the deeds of many historical figures.
    • Inverted from perspective "Patterns of Force." We follow the crew of the Enterprise looking for John Gill, a Federation historian. It turns out he's created a replica of the Nazi movement on an alien world and made himself the Führer. Said aliens, and their planetary cousins, are shocked to learn of this.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Don't insult the Enterprise within earshot of Scotty, much less to his face. The Klingons find this out the hard way in "The Trouble With Tribbles". Then again, they are Klingons, so they may have been looking for that fight.
    • Don't imply to McCoy that logic is a good substitute for compassion in a crisis.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Very often, Kirk would be sweaty and his hair messed up in a fight, let alone be injured, but look perfect again the very next scene.
  • Benevolent Dictator: Khan Noonien Singh held this reputation, despite his pro-eugenics beliefs and absolute power throughout his conquered empire, he was regarded as the best of the Eugenics wars Super men, with his ruling style being described as "firm but fair" and it being specifically stated that under his rule their was "no mass killings, no wars that weren't started by other parties". By the 23rd century his rule has even become somewhat romanticised, with him being compared to the likes of Leif Ericson, Richard the Lionheart and Napoleon Bonaparte. This reputation even leads to the crew of the Enterprise seriously underestimating just how ruthless and ambitious the still living Khan really was.
  • Big Little Man:
    • In "The Corbomite Maneuver", the Enterprise encounters an alien vessel, and is able to get a video feed revealing the bridge, which shows the alien captain, Balok, to be a scowling monster that looks to be about 7 feet tall. However, later they manage to get onboard, revealing they had actually been watching an elaborate puppet show, and the real Balok is no larger than a child.
    • In "Plato's Stepchildren", Alexander is first seen as a massive shadow against a wall. Said shadow shrinks as he approaches Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, revealing he's actually rather short compared to them. The actor playing Alexander was 3 feet, 11 inches tall.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Lazarus in "The Alternative Factor".
    • Charlie Evans does this in "Charlie X".
  • Black-and-White Morality: Averted. The Federation may be a near-Utopia, but they only remain as one through military power. They get called out on this more than once.
  • Black Comedy: "A Piece of the Action", and "The Trouble With Tribbles" both thrive on this trope. It can also be seen in dialogue moments in other episodes, such as this exchange in "This Side of Paradise" where Kirk and Spock (the only crew remaining on the Enterprise) are going to build a transmitter utilizing the communicators' emergency channel, but first Kirk has to fight Spock to free him of the spores:
    Spock: As you are probably aware, striking a fellow officer is a court-martial offence.
    Kirk: If we're both in the brig, who's going to build the transmitter?
    Spock: A logical point, Captain.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted in "The Galileo Seven" and "By Any Other Name"; in both cases, the black male character survives to the end of the episode while one or more white characters die.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Eminiar and Vendikar, the two warring planets in "A Taste of Armageddon," have so sanitized their war with each other that they no longer send actual missiles—instead they just send computer signals signifying an attack and then have all civilians who happened to be within range of the theoretical attack disintegrate themselves in booths designed for that purpose. The leader of Eminiar considers Kirk a monster because he refuses to allow the same thing to happen to the crew of the Enterprise when the ship is calculated to have been "hit" by an "attack," and even more so when he destroys Eminiar's attack computers, immediately breaking the stalemate between the two planets.
  • Bluffing the Authorities: The episode "City on the Edge of Forever". After Kirk and Spock go back in time to 1930's New York City, they're about to steal some clothing to replace their Enterprise uniforms but meet a police officer and have to explain Spock's pointed Vulcan ears. They come up with a story that Spock is Chinese and had a childhood accident involving a mechanical rice picker and plastic surgery, but the cop doesn't buy it.
  • Bluff the Eavesdropper: In "The Deadly Years", due to having been rapidly aged by mysterious radiation and gone senile, Kirk has been forced to step down from command. His incompetent replacement has led the ship through the Romulan Neutral Zone, and the Romulans are about to destroy them. Suddenly a cure is found, a restored Kirk appears on the bridge and gives an order to relay a message to Starfleet—using a code previously established as having been broken by the Romulans, which briefly causes the crew to wonder if he's still senile. Nevertheless, they open the channels and Kirk sends a message that the Enterprise will self destruct via the Corbomite Device and destroy any ship in a huge radius. The Romulans intercept the message and leave in a hurry.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Thanks to his incredibly rationalist thinking, Spock has notable difficulty with understanding human euphemisms and metaphors.
  • Boldly Coming: Kirk is the Trope Codifier. That said, Kirk's reputation for sleeping his way across the galaxy has been greatly exaggerated in the public mind; out of 79 aired episodes, he kisses another character in only 19 of them, and of those, thirteen are while he's under duress or doing it specifically to manipulate them. In fact, Kirk makes out with a woman purely for pleasure, with no other motive or emotional attachment, exactly once in the entire original series. Sex is likewise only implied in a few rare instances: once when he marries a native girl while amnesiac, and gets her pregnant; once when the show returns from commercial to find a woman brushing her hair in his room while he puts his boots back on; a Sexy Discretion Shot to an overhead lamp as Kirk kisses a Sex Slave girl who's been "ordered to please" himnote ; and Kirk sitting up in bed taking a call from the bridge, the woman (France Nuyen as the Dolmen Elaan) lying next to him, she rolls over and sits up to lean on his shoulder.
  • Book Ends:
    • Many episodes begin and end on a shot of the Enterprise flying through space as the dramatic fanfare plays her in (or out).
    • A more meta example: Sulu and Rand share a scene in the first episode aired, "The Man Trap". They don't share another scene until the sixth and final movie, with Rand as a Bridge Officer under Sulu's command.
  • Borrowed Without Permission: Incorrigible larcenist Harry Mudd recounts how he managed to escape from a Federation penal colony to Captain Kirk and Mister Spock.
    Harry Mudd: I... borrowed transportation...
    Captain Kirk: He stole a starship!
  • Bottled Heroic Resolve
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: This happens in numerous episodes.
  • Brandishment Bluff: "The Corbomite Maneuver"
    Kirk: This is the Captain of the Enterprise. Our respect for other life forms requires that we give you this... warning. One critical item of information that has never been incorporated into the memory banks of any Earth ship. Since the early years of space exploration, Earth vessels have had incorporated into them a substance known as... corbomite. It is a material and a device which prevents attack on us. If any destructive energy touches our vessel, a reverse reaction of equal strength is created, destroying—
    Balok: [over intercom] You now have two minutes.
    Kirk: —destroying the attacker. It may interest you to know that since the initial use of corbomite more than two of our centuries ago, no attacking vessel has survived the attempt. Death has... little meaning to us. If it has none to you then attack us now. We grow annoyed at your foolishness.
  • Boulder Bludgeon:
    • Episode "Arena". Captain Kirk and the Gorn captain are forced to fight each other with improvised weapons. During their battle, the Gorn captain picks up a boulder and throws it at Kirk, pinning Kirk's leg to the ground.
    • "The Galileo Seven". While the crew of the shuttle craft is trapped on a primitive planet, they are attacked by giant cavemen-like humanoids.
      • One of the cavemen uses a boulder to pound on the shuttlecraft.
      • During a funeral ceremony, one of the cavemen throws a boulder at Spock, pinning him to the ground.
  • Bread and Circuses: The aptly named episode "Bread and Circuses" explores a planet in which the Roman Empire never fell. Gladiator sports are broadcast on TV and interrupted by commercial breaks.
  • Breakout Character: Spock became the fan favorite almost instantly, and the only way to keep the focus on the captain was for the writers to emphasize his close co-worker/friend relationship with Kirk note ; later, this dynamic evolved into the Power Trio of Spock, Kirk and McCoy.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Chekov does more screaming-in-pain than the rest of the crew combined. He even has a torture scene in the episode "Mirror, Mirror". This was explained as a convenient way to show there was mortal peril. In a nice inversion, he's the only one who doesn't get hit with the aging disease in "The Deadly Years". He still ends up getting subjected to a thousand and one medical checks, though.
      Chekov: Blood sample, Chekov! Marrow sample, Chekov! Skin sample, Chekov! If—if I live long enough, I'm going to run out of samples!
      Sulu: You'll live.
      Chekov: Oh yes, I'll live. But I won't enjoy it!
  • Butterfly of Doom: In "The City on the Edge of Forever", Edith Keeler's death must occur or else it will cause an alternate timeline where Germany wins World War II and Starfleet does not exist.

  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": In "The Enemy Within", Evil Kirk insists that his subordinates bring him some "Saurian brandy." It's unlikely that whatever world the Saurians come from actually has grapes that can be fermented and distilled into real brandy. On Earth, brandy can be made from many different fruits; presumably, Saurian brandy is made from a fruit native to that world. Romulan ale is likewise presumably a drink made from a grain grown on Romulus; it's convenient but not implausible that they have analogues to Earth's grain grasses, malt, and yeast.
  • Calvin Ball: Fizzbin, the imaginary card game Kirk and Spock make up to confuse the gangsters in "A Piece of the Action", is an Ur-Example.
  • Captain's Log: The Trope Maker; Kirk's famous voice-over logs were conceived as a way of quickly introducing or recapping plot points that may have otherwise been confusing. He seems to do them in his head even when he's nowhere near a recorder. In early episodes (e.g, "Mantrap"), he even adopts an "Ominiscient Narrator" stance when referring to future events. When he says "Captain's log, stardate.... unknown", it can be downright chilling.
  • Cargo Cult
  • Cartwright Curse: So frequent you could almost take bets on whether the Girl of the Week is going to buy the farm by the end of the episode (or if she doesn't, pull a High-Heel–Face Turn).
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: The show’s habit for putting the main men in obvious mascara and eyeshadow is well-documented and much appreciated. This observation began with the digitally remastered editions and wasn't noticed at the time. The relatively heavy television makeup was designed to create highlights and shadows since the cameras of that time saw flat. So to a 1960s viewer, even watching on a color set, the actors did not look heavily made up.
  • Catchphrase: Dr. McCoy's "I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder" and "He's Dead, Jim." Spock's "Fascinating" and "Illogical."
  • Catch the Conscience: "The Conscience of the King" plays with this trope; a man suspected of being the murderous tyrant Kodos the Executioner happens to be an actor currently starring in a production of Hamlet.
  • The Cavalry:
  • Cerebus Retcon:
    • While Kirk has a lot of trauma and is a Broken Hero in the show, the writers obviously didn’t know they were going to have a movie series and give him a son that he knew about but had to stay away from. The Autobiography of James T. Kirk can do some fancy Arc Welding with how much Kirk likes running away from his problems; having the kid from “A Piece Of The Action” remind him of David, the traumas of season three pushing him to think he wants to be an Admiral, and reasoning that the more trio-based episodes after the first season is because of what happened with Edith and Sam.
    • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan took Kirk’s penchant for Just Ignore It and applied it to the nature of the show, forcing him to actually deal with his consistent loss and pain, and certain villains of the weeks coming back to prove he can’t just run away from everything. “Generations” and his 10-Minute Retirement after all he’s gone through, does it as well.
  • Characterisation Click Moment: Originally, Spock didn't have the impassive, scientific characterization he is famous for. Leonard Nimoy said the character first began to click for him in "The Corbomite Maneuver", when the director suggested he "be the scientist, stay detached", and react to Balok's threatening ship with "Fascinating."
  • Cheated Angle: The Enterprise is almost exclusively seen from the starboard side, even straight on angles are slightly turned away. The reason was a combination of budget and limitations of model-making technology, the electronics for the lights were fed in through the port side of the secondary hull and thus the starboard side was the only one fully detailed with painting, windows and decals (including the inside of the port nacelle, which would face the camera). Whenever there was a need to show the port side they would mirror flip the decals and then mirror the footage. The Remastered version of the show, with a CGI model, was able to do this more often.
  • Chewing the Scenery: The Klingon executive officer Korax in "The Trouble With Tribbles" insults the Enterprise For the Evulz, underlining the last two words of this speech loud and clear with a wide-eyed stare: "I didn't mean to say that the Enterprise should be hauling garbage. I meant to say that it should be hauled away as garbage!"note 
  • City in a Bottle: "For The World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" featured this on a generation ship.
  • Civilization Destroyer:
    • "That Which Survives". Thousands of years ago, a Human Alien civilization called the Kalandans made an artificial planet to live on. Unfortunately, the process created a microorganism that killed the personnel stationed on the planet. By the time they died, the disease had been transported back to the original civilization via supply ships, completely wiping it out.
    • ''Operation: Annihilate!" Going back to ancient times, a number of civilizations on different planets have been destroyed by outbreaks of mass insanity. The cause of the insanity is alien creatures that attack people and inject material into their bodies that takes control of their nervous systems. The aliens make the victims travel to other planets using starships, thus spreading the infection.
    • "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" The aliens who lived on the planet Exo 3 created android robots to serve them. When the androids developed Artificial Intelligence, the aliens became afraid of them and started to turn them off. In self defense, the androids Turned Against Their Masters and destroyed them.
    • "The Changeling". The interstellar probe Nomad uses its alien technology-enhanced weapons to completely wipe out the population of the Malurian system, killing more than 4 billion people.
    • "I, Mudd". The aliens who created the androids originally came from the Andromeda galaxy. Their home planet's star went nova and destroyed their civilization except for a few outposts, whose inhabitants died out over time.
    • "The Immunity Syndrome". The entire population of the Gamma Seven-A system, consisting of billions of inhabitants, is killed by having their Life Energy drained by a giant space amoeba.
    • "Return to Tomorrow". A half million years ago, a highly advanced Human Alien civilization fought an apocalyptic war that destroyed the surface of their planet, ripped away the atmosphere and killed all living creatures on it. Before the end, a few members stored their minds in advanced devices to wait rescue.
    • "The Empath". The star Minara is about to go nova, and all of its planets (several of which have populations) will be destroyed. The Humanoid Alien Vians can only save the population of one planet. They do so, but the other civilizations are doomed.
    • "Let That Be Your Last Battlefied". The Humanoid Aliens of the planet Cheron completely wipe themselves out in a genocidal war.
    • "The Lights of Zetar". Long ago, every living thing on the planet Zetar was killed. The minds and Life Energy of 100 of its Humanoid Aliens inhabitants traveled into space and search for new bodies to possess.
    • "For the World Is Hollow, And I Have Touched The Sky". Several thousand years ago, the Fabrini people's home sun went nova and destroyed their planets, but some of them were put on a ship resembling (or disguised as?) an asteroid and sent to another planet.
    • "Plato's Stepchildren". When the planet Sahndara is destroyed by its sun going nova, almost all of its civilization is annihilated. A small number escape to Earth, then later another planet.
    • "Wink Of An Eye". On the planet Scalos, radioactive water causes the entire race to live at hyper-accelerated speeds (which tremendously shortens their lifespans) and makes the male part of the population sterile. By the time the Enterprise arrives, there are only a few Scalosians left.
    • "All Our Yesterdays". When the star Beta Niobe goes nova, its only planet, Sarpeidon, will be destroyed. However, the entire population of the planet has used time travel to journey into the planet's past. They are mentally and physically conditioned to fit in, but their civilization in the future is effectively destroyed.
  • Clear My Name:
    • Happens once in a while. In "Journey to Babel", Sarek is accused of murdering a Tellarite ambassador. The culprit is an Orion pretending to be a staff member of the Andorian ambassador. In "Court Martial", Kirk is accused of causing the death of one of his crew members. The crew member has faked his own death and is trying to sabotage Kirk's career, as he blames Kirk for ruining his.
    • Scotty has to do this in "Wolf in the Fold" after being set up for several murders by none other than Jack the Ripper himself—actually an alien entity who took possession over the centuries of (among others) Jack the Ripper and the city administrator investigating Scotty's alleged murders (conveniently stonewalling the investigation in the process).
    • Even Spock gets in on the fun in "The Menagerie", although the crime in Spock's case is mutiny, not murder, and the whole ordeal is arranged by an alien entity just like the other incidents, albeit out of compassion rather than any sinister motive. Then again, unlike in the other cases, Spock is actually guilty, and not mind controlled or framed - he just has a very justifiable motive.
  • Clip Show: "The Menagerie" shows us most of the original pilot episode, "The Cage".
  • Clothing Damage: Kirk must have a pretty steep uniform allowance to cover all of those shirts that get torn up (or completely torn off of him). An unintended case can be seen in "The Savage Curtain" when Kirk's pants split open in the back for a brief moment.
  • Combat by Champion: "Arena" has Kirk vs. Gorn captain. "Amok Time" has Kirk vs. Spock. "The Gamesters of Triskelion" has Kirk, Chekov, and Uhura vs. an Amazing Technicolor Population.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Gold Key Comics published its first Star Trek comic in 1967 and the series outlived the TV show by a full decade (ending only because Marvel Comics took over the rights so it could publish comics set post-Star Trek: The Motion Picture). Early issues are noted for their bizarre artwork and extreme breaks with TV continuity, due in part to the artist being a freelancer living in Europe who had never seen the series and only had publicity photographs to work with. As a result, one issue features a cut-away drawing that suggests that the Enterprise isn't much bigger than a large yacht, while another issue has the Enterprise landing on a planet, decades before Star Trek: Voyager does it. Later, Marvel, DC Comics, and IDW Publishing all took turns publishing comics set in the TOS era.
  • Competence Porn:
    • This is the main draw of the franchise for many. Professional people from a variety of fields act professionally and work together to solve problems by the end of the episode.
    • Some newer Trek stuff is controversial with the old fans for the characters acting less professionally and competently and getting by more on luck and Indy Ploys.
  • Constellations as Locations: Implied with the Orions (the original Green-Skinned Space Babes). Background information and later parts of the franchise established that the green-skinned aliens were from the planet Orion, which is located in the Orion Sector (which sector is presumably geocentrically named for the Earth constellation).
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: In one episode, a Horta (essentially a lava monster) burns, "NO KILL I" on the ground. Spock wonders if this translates to "I don't kill" or "Don't kill me". Or both? She doesn't explain, so it's left up to the viewer, but she's in agony and more concerned about her kids.
  • Court-martialed:
    • In "The Menagerie", Spock gets put on trial for commandeering the Enterprise and taking it to a forbidden planet.
    • "Court Martial": Kirk gets put on trial for (seemingly) causing the death of a crew member through negligence.
  • Courtroom Episode: "Court Martial", "Wolf In The Fold"
  • Cowboy Episode: "Spectre of the Gun", in which the main characters are forced to re-enact the gunfight at the O.K. Corral on an alien world.
  • Creator Cameo: Gene Roddenberry himself voiced the ship's cook in "Charlie X".
  • Credits Montage: Featuring not only stills from the episode in question, but random shots from various other episodes as well.
  • Creepy Children Singing: The kids from "And the Children Shall Lead" use this song to summon Gorgon:
    Hail, hail, fire and snow
    Call the angel, we will go
    Far away, for to see
    Friendly angel come to me.
    • In "Miri" they just do the familiar "nyah nyah-nyah nyah nyah" chant but it's made very sinister.
  • Cunning People Play Poker: The Corbomite Maneuver" when faced with Balok's incomprehensible mothership threatening to destroy the Enterprise, Spock contextualises their situation as a game of chess and concludes Balok has declared checkmate. Captain Kirk changes the game to poker, and then bluffs that Enterprise has a defense feature that will ensure that if it's destroyed, Balok's ship will also get blown up.
  • Custom Uniform: Captain Kirk's deep green wraparound fatigue shirt, worn interchangeably with the usual uniform shirt in the first two seasons, is a good example of this trope in action. Kirk is the only person aboard who we see wearing this "casual" alternative uniform. At least, in the original series. Mirror universe Archer is seen wearing the one that formerly belonged to the captain of the Defiant (which was captured by the Tholians in "The Tholian Web") in Star Trek: Enterprise episode "In A Mirror Darkly (Part II)".
  • Cuteness Proximity:
  • Cyberpunk: Star Trek often leans into both this and Post Cyber Punk quite often, with mentions of technology steadily replacing men, the implications of using technology to enhance men or even replace humanity entirely, and the ramifications of technology being misused by those who don't understand it. Some of the clearer examples of this trope at play are listed below:
    • The Cloud Minders, which features the oppressive sky-city of Stratos and its subordinate, ground-dwelling Troglytes, some of whom have formed the rebellious Disrupters in an attempt to overthrow the city.
    • Return Of The Archons in which a whole society is run by a mind-controlling computer, and an underground resistance has formed to overthrow it.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: "The Conscience of the King" (a tragic Double Subversion). The daughter of a former villain in hiding uses their cover as a performing theater troupe to kill off the remaining witnesses to her father's previous crimes as a way of "protecting" him from recrimination. Her father is extremely displeased with her when he finds out, having hoped to start a legitimate new life in their cover identities, and appalled that the blood on his hands had irreversibly stained her, as well.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: "A Piece of the Action". The inhabitants of Sigma Iotia II are so enamored of 1920s Chicago gang culture that they decided to base their entire civilization on it.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Double subverted in “A Taste Of Armageddon”, as Kirk is held hostage and Spock comes in just as he’s got himself out of it. Kirk replies to “we thought you needed help” with admitting he still does.
  • Dangerously Garish Environment: "The Way to Eden" shows a group of space hippies taking over the Enterprise to fly to a "paradise planet." The planet is beautiful enough, but everything on it is lethal, and the hippie leader dies when he refuses to believe it.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • "For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky" is this for McCoy.
    • "A Wolf in the Fold" and "The Lights of Zetar" for Scotty.
  • Days of Future Past: Primarily a Space Western, with Kirk frequently acting as the Army Scout who helps the struggling colonists. But there was also plenty of "Age Of Sail" IN SPACE and the American Cold War IN SPACE.
  • Dead Man Writing: "That Which Survives". Losira's computer message to her fellow Kalandans about the death of the colony. Also the last surviving crewman of the USS Exeter recording a log warning anyone who finds it of the plague (while logging, the crewman succumbs).
  • Deadpan Snarker: The epic snarkfests between McCoy and Spock are legendary for a reason.
    • Averted in "Spectre of the Gun" when Spock surprises McCoy by giving him a genuine compliment.
      McCoy: "I doubt that this combination of things was ever used for any purpose quite like this."
      Spock: (Sincerely) "Perhaps they would've been if [these people] had your ingenuity, Doctor."
      McCoy: (Looks up and blinks in surprise)
  • Death Ray: Phasers, at their highest setting, become Disintegrator Rays.
  • Decadent Court: The Romulan government at several points is implied to be one. The Platonians in "Plato's Stepchildren" started out with a good idea—create a society based upon Plato's Republic—but ended up as this after centuries of isolation. In "The Gamesters of Triskelion," the three brains running the planet have resorted to pitting random aliens against each other in gladiatorial combat after losing their purpose in life.
  • Deconstructed Trope: Kirk uses his sexuality a lot like a male version of a Heroic Seductress, but not only does he see it as Necessarily Evil, gets him a rep in-universe and he’s called out if he gets too cold, but Janice Lester is able to get away with Never My Fault (claiming he left her when it got serious when clearly she was the abusive one) and he’s drugged or coerced in some way no less than four times.
  • Depending on the Writer: The actors themselves have admitted that the characters’ levels of feminism range from early women’s lib with messages like right to choose at best, slightly patronising or just outright sexist insults at worst, depending on who was writing the episode. The main show creators to be sincere feminists were Gene L. Coon and D.C. Fontana.
  • Destructive Teleportation: The Trope Codifier. Transporters work by disassembling an object (or person) into energy, shooting it some distance away, and reassembling that object at the new location. It consists of the following parts:
    • A de-materializer, which breaks down the object in a controlled fashion.
    • A buffer, which holds the disintegrated object until transmission.
    • A transmitter, which transmits the disintegrated object as a beam of energy.
    • A re-materializer, which reintegrates the object in a controlled fashion.
    • invoked Contrary to popular opinion, the transported object is indeed the original object from the start, and the device does not kill living things that are being transported. note  However, as you can probably imagine, transporters can be rather scarily dangerous if some part of the process were to be interrupted.
  • Deus Est Machina: Several episodes, notably "The Apple".
  • Deus ex Machina: "Charlie X" (the Thasians), "Shore Leave" (the Keeper), "The Squire of Gothos" (Trelane's parents), "Errand of Mercy" (the Organians).
  • Deus ex Nukina: In "The Doomsday Machine," Commodore Decker takes a shuttle and steers it down the throat of the planet killer—without an onboard nuke. But this gives Captain Kirk the idea to try Decker's plan with the already nearly-destroyed USS Constellation rigged to self-destruct in a big explosion. Kirk manually pilots the Constellation into the maw.
    • In "Obsession," the vampire cloud, which has been freely munching on the crew, finally heads home to reproduce. Kirk beams down to the planet Where It All Began to deliver a chunk of antimatter. When it blows, it rips half the planet's atmosphere away.
    • In "The Immunity Syndrome", the Enterprise must deliver an anti-matter bomb to the nucleus of the giant space amoeba. In a twist, Mr. Spock volunteers for a separate suicide mission, to deliver the probe that enables Kirk to target the nucleus.
  • Death World:
    • The planet Gamma Trianguli VI in "The Apple" includes plants that throw poisonous thorns, rocks that act like anti-personnel mines, and directed lightning strikes. The novelization explains that this is because the planet's 'god' identifies the Starfleet people as a danger and want to eliminate them before they can interfere.
    • The planet Eden in the episode "The Way To Eden". Looks beautiful, but beware of differing chemistry; the fruit is poisonous and the even the grass is highly acidic.
  • Death of the Old Gods: "Who Mourns For Adonais" has the Enterprise meeting Apollo, the last of the Greek gods (who were actually Sufficiently Advanced Aliens). Kirk pretty much tells him to stuff it, and then gets schizophrenic about whether humanity has Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions as religion in general, or just moved on to Christianity.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Dr Coleman from “Turnabout Intruder” is Janice’s lover, but is also fine with her spirit being in the body of Kirk, and responds to Janice-in-Kirk’s seduction.
  • Devil's Advocate: Spock would occasionally perform the duty of the Devil's Advocate, typically countering McCoy's or Kirk's spontaneous, Gut Feeling-inspired actions.
  • Discontinuity Nod:
    • Various extra-series material (novels, for example), often refer in a disparaging way to the more "out there" episodes from The Original Series, usually in the form of Starfleet Officials claiming Kirk made up a large number of his reports, with his motive being contempt for his superiors. Invariably mentioned is the universally disbelieved incident in which aliens "stole the brain of Kirk's Science Officer," a reference to the episode in which Spock's brain is, indeed, stolen by alien babes, and which is considered to be the worst episode of the original series, if not of Star Trek as a whole.
    • The foreword to the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture essentially says that the original series is a overwrought dramatization of actual events which should be regarded as unreliable. Fans debate its canonicity, since, while Trek literature is officially considered non-canonical, it's the only novel written by Gene Roddenberry himself.
  • Disintegration Chamber: In "A Taste of Armageddon" the (virtually) warring planets Eminiar and Vendikar use "disintegration machines" to dispose of persons who have been deemed casualties.
  • Disney Dog Fight: At the end of "Requiem for Methuselah", Robot Girl Rayna Kapec must choose between Flint and Captain Kirk. The strain causes her to overload and die.
  • Distress Call: 14 different episodes (including both pilots) start with the Enterprise receiving or already responding to a distress signal.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The platonians in “Plato’s Stepchildren” are played like domestic abusers. Parmen’s speech after he makes Kirk slap himself for speaking up to him is making excuses for himself and plying the three with gifts. When they force Kirk to act like a horse and Spock to laugh then cry, they blame Bones for what’s happening, and all three men are traumatised by it afterwards.
  • Door Jam: Several episodes (notably "Arena" and "The Tholian Web") contrive ways for Kirk to end up alone facing the Monster of the Week without back-up, whether becaue of alien meddling, transporter malfunctions, or interdiminesional anomalies.
  • Doomsday Device: "The Doomsday Machine" features a planet-eating device.
  • Doppelmerger: In one episode, a Teleporter Accident results in both Captain Kirk and a doglike alien getting turned into two individuals, one of whom has all of their negative traits. They eventually get fused back together in the transporter, and while the alien dies (ostensibly from too much fear), Kirk survives.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Lampshaded in “Turnabout Intruder” when Lester in Kirk acts like it’s ludicrous to imagine a small woman like Lester overpowering a muscled man like Kirk. Ends up in being an example anyway, as she’s Easily Forgiven to the point where even Shatner complained nothing was resolved, and Nimoy was disgusted she’s just treated as a stupidly Hysterical Woman, by design. His rant on this subject for the book Shatner: Where No Man is well known and often quoted online.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Sci-Fi:
    • Even discounting the times he uses his pretty and charm to get himself or his crew out of trouble, Kirk has a pretty bad track record on the whole being able to consent, whether it’s the one Green-Skinned Space Babe of the series forcing a kiss on him in “Whom Gods Destroy”, the Bed Trick in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Deela enjoying kissing him when he’s not aware of her in “Wink Of An Eye”, mind raped in “Dagger Of The Mind” to believe he had sex and was in love, or having sex with Elaan after her tears drug him. He’s not exactly happy about all of it, but it seems to be something he feels like he just has to deal with.
    • Spock gets his own turn in “This Side Of Paradise”, Leila deciding that she wants him to stay, and giving him no choice in the matter by subjecting him to spores.
  • Doves Mean Peace: The Elba II and Tantalus Penal Colonies (which are both colonies that dealt with trying to treat the insane and cure them of their insanity) use insignias with a dove in it.
  • Downer Ending: "Who Mourns For Adonais", "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", "The City On The Edge Of Forever", "Requiem for Methuselah", "Charlie X" and "A Private Little War".
  • Dramatic Chase Opening: "The Return of the Archons" starts with Sulu and another crewman running from some pursuers in a city street. They're both caught.
  • Dramatic Downstage Turn: Several instances, especially during dramatic scenes featuring female cast members. One simple example appears in a conversation between Leila and Spock near the end of the episode "This Side of Paradise".
  • Dress-Up Episode: a lot. "A Piece of the Action", "Return of the Archons", "Assignment: Earth", "The City on the Edge of Forever", that one where they ended up dressed as Nazis ("Patterns of Force")... This trope was popular because it allowed them to use standard, pre-existing costumes, props and sets, rather than having to make expensive new ones. There had been very few science fiction television shows (as opposed to movies) up to that time, outside of children's series like Captain Video and Tom Corbett Space Cadet. Series like One Step Beyond (1959) and The Twilight Zone (1959) often had people in normal clothing facing unusual situations. There were very few props hanging around to be re-used, unlike today, when science fiction has been popular for a long time.
  • Dropped After the Pilot:
    • Perhaps the most famous example, Captain Pike from the first pilot. More accurately, everyone but Spock was replaced.
    • The 2nd pilot episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", has Ship's Doctor Mark Piper, Communications Officer Alden, and Yeoman Smith. They were replaced by Leonard McCoy, Lieutenant Uhura, and Janice Rand, respectively, in the series.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Bones and Kirk have a tendency to drink together, especially when Bones thinks Kirk isn’t handling shit well.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Deela from “Wink Of An Eye” is upfront about liking to kiss Kirk when he’s not aware of her, teasing that he’s probably used to that happening to him, and coos over him being pretty while he’s unconscious.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Averted. Among Kirk's various honors and awards: the Grankite Order of Tactics, the Kargite Order of Heroism, the Palm Leaf of the Axanar Peace Mission, the Prentares ribbon of Commendation, the Starfleet Award of Valor, the Starfleet Citation for Conspicuous Gallantry, the Starfleet Silver Palm with Cluster, and the Starfleet Medal of Honor. The list goes on for so long that it has to be stopped early so that the episode can continue.
    • Spock's no slouch either. He's in the Vulcan Scientific Legion of Honor, and received two decorations for valor from Starfleet Command.
  • Duel to the Death: "Arena", "Amok Time", "The Gamesters of Triskelion".
  • Dutch Angle: Used in "Wink of an Eye" to denote the scenes taking place in hyper-accelerated time.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Despite the Status Quo Is God (series-only, not the films), everyone except Chekov is a mess; Kirk bases his identity on serving the Enterprise and thinks he doesn’t deserve to be happy, Spock is subject to Half-Breed Discrimination from everyone and has an estranged family, Bones has Chronic Hero Syndrome and killed his dying father only for there to be a cure months later, Chapel’s fiance goes insane and kills himself, and All There in the Manual has Uhura be a lonely Stepford Smiler, Scotty start drinking after his nephew dies at his post, and Sulu’s home be victim of a terrorist attack when he was young.
  • Dying Race: The Talosians in "The Menagerie," the Calandans in "That Which Survives," and the Scalosians in "Wink of an Eye."

  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The initially unaired original pilot, "The Cage" features a completely different crew, gooseneck viewers. In addition, the pilot uses "hyperdrive" instead of "warp" for the Faster-Than-Light Travel. The make-up used on Leonard Nimoy for Spock is substantially different in the two pilots; this is very obvious in the second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before", which for Executive Meddling reasons aired as the third episode.
    • And speaking of warp, the original Enterprise uses warp all the time, even for combat maneuvers, unless circumstances force them to rely on her impulse drive. Later series have ships use warp drive when they need to get from one place to another very quickly while sticking to impulse for combat and in-system maneuvers.
    • Though it's more subtle and less jarring than the transition from pilots to series, the first half of the first season (produced by Roddenberry) has a much stronger Wagon Train to the Stars emphasis, with the Enterprise functioning as a deep space exploration vessel whose missions often involved surveying uncharted space and re-supplying isolated frontier posts. When Gene Coon took over as showrunner, he introduced the United Federation of Planets, the Prime Directive, and the Klingon Empire, and the Enterprise took on many more diplomatic and strategic missions more consistent with a Cold War setting than The Wild West.
    • In this series, the Klingons are generally duplicitous schemers while Romulans are honor-bound warriors. This is the exact inverse of how these two races would be portrayed in later series. The more primitive make-up also means both races lack their forehead ridges; the Klingons are just copper-skinned humans while the Romulans are more explicitly identical to Vulcans.
    • The Prime Directive functions quite differently in this series compared to any other — here it's effectively "don't make contact with primitive civilizations unless you absolutely have to, and never give advanced technology to primitives". The Prime Directive is waived in cases where said civilizations would be in danger from external forces (usually the Klingons) if the crew didn't act. By the time of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Prime Directive has been redefined as "don't get involved in the affairs of any other civilization, regardless of their technology level, even if they ask you directly for help".
    • Speeds of Warp 10 and higher are mentioned a few times. Later series would establish Warp 10 as infinite speed and the absolute maximum way that speed can be quantified.
    • Most viewers are familiar with the red, blue, and green/gold uniforms used throughout most of the show, but in the first few episodes produced - including the pilot and "Where No Man Has Gone Before" - members of the Services department wear bronze uniforms. Notably, Spock, Gary Mitchell, and Lt. Kelso in "Where No Man Has Gone Before" all wear bronze uniforms that are quite distinct from Kirk's gold uniform.
    • Kirk takes point on almost every landing party. Later series (especially Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager) have The Captain stay on the ship more often while the Number Two leads the away teams. In addition, the later series give the captain an office next to The Bridge for filling out paperwork and meeting with people one-on-one, something Kirk didn't have.
  • Easily Forgiven: The Kelvans in "By Any Other Name". They hijack the ship, threaten the entire crew, and kill a female yeoman as a demonstration of their power (she wasn't acting as a danger to them in any way). And yet, at the end, Kirk forgives and agrees to help them.Then again, this could be sheer pragmatism given the Kelvan's power level and the fact that he has barely managed to convince them not to kill the rest of his crew (which they could do very easily).
  • Eat Dirt, Cheap: The Horta. It's a silicon lifeform that eats rocks.
  • Eating the Eye Candy:
    • Aside from the “you’ll be taught how to use your tongue” line, Kor in "Errand Of Mercy" circles Kirk and very obviously looks at his ass.
    • In “Spock’s Brain”, a woman comes onto the Enterprise, makes everyone collapse and because Kirk fell in a way that shows off his ass, she checks it out.
  • The Echoer: Played with. The episode "Assignment: Earth" has the mysterious Gary Seven conduct a covert operation on Earth during a 1968 orbital platform launch. While at his workstation, a secretary named Roberta walks in. Gary Seven needs to know what happened to two other agents on the same assignment, so he has Roberta sit at a dictation machine: an electric typewriter with a microphone and speech recognition software. When the machine starts typing every word Roberta says, she gets increasingly flustered, and Gary Seven is compelled to switch it off.
  • Eldritch Starship: The ethereal Thasians' ship, an odd lighting effect; the Planet Killer, a conical machine miles long that eats planets; and Balok's enormous, odd spaceship, the Fesarius.
  • Empathic Healer: Gem of "The Empath" heals injuries by taking the patient's pain into herself.
  • Empire with a Dark Secret: In "The Mark of Gideon", there is a germ-free "paradise" of a planet which is willing to join the Federation. However, the reason why they invite only Kirk to their planet is so they can decrease the planet's overpopulation by using Kirk, who had a rare disease in his blood, to infect people.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • The Klingons team up with the Enterprise crew in "Day of the Dove" to escape the emotion-eating entity that wants them to fight to death for its amusement.
    • In "Errand of Mercy", ironically, Kirk and Kor seem to be united in their mutual loathing of the Organians, somewhat to Kirk's surprise and Kor's amusement.
  • End-of-Series Awareness: According to Nichelle Nichols, they knew season three would be the last (saved from cancellation after season 2 by a vociferous fan campaign led (albeit sub rosa) by Roddenberry himself) and never really cared about by the network to begin with), and almost every episode has mention of ghosts, consent forcibly taken, or some sort of "off" feeling. Josh Marsfelder's blog Vaka Rangi verifies this and points out several third-season episodes, notably "Spectre of the Gun", as being really about Star Trek itself being "a dead show walking", "shackled and sentenced to death".
  • Enforced Cold War: Examples abound, since the show was written during the Cold War. Examples of this include the plots of "Balance of Terror", "Errand of Mercy", "The Trouble with Tribbles", "Friday's Child", and "Elaan of Troyius".
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: In "Whom Gods Destroy", the insane Garth tries to convince Kirk and Spock that they should be friends (with the implication that the other option would be "or I kill you").
    Spock: On what, precisely, is our friendship to be based?
    Garth: Upon the firmest of foundations, Mister Spock. Enlightened self-interest.
  • Escort Distraction: In "Mirror, Mirror", Lieutenant Uhura gets slinky-minky with Mirror!Sulu on the bridge so that Mirror!Sulu won't notice a warning light on his com panel. Engineer Scott is disabling the ship's phasers and bypassing transporter protocols in an effort to return the landing party to their correct universe. Once the tampering alert stops flashing, Uhura curtails the snugglies.
  • Everyone Can See It: A growing trend in the series and movies would be for Kirk and Spock to be off in their own little world, and background characters look either curious or annoyed. Original Series fans often viewed this (and wrote fan fiction accordingly) as close comrades thinking alike or even incipient telepathy rather than sexual interest, especially after Kirk was shown in a few episodes picking up on things intuitively.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Well, everybody but Spock. "Shore Leave", "The Trouble With Tribbles", "The Galileo Seven", "Spock's Brain". An actual plot point in "Day of the Dove", when the laughter drives the Energy Being away.
  • Every Episode Ending: The Enterprise flies off into parts unknown, as the dramatic fanfare plays her out. Very rarely averted. But when it is. . .
  • Evil Is Hammy: "The Enemy Within" has Evil!Kirk Chewing the Scenery.
  • Evil Twin: "The Enemy Within", which featured Kirk's evil self separated from his good self via transporter malfunction, and "Mirror, Mirror", which featured an entire universe of evil twins.
  • Explosive Breeder: The Tribbles are hermaphroditic and born pregnant.
    McCoy: The nearest thing I can figure out is they're born pregnant... which seems to be quite a time saver!
  • Explosive Overclocking: Thanks to Kirk's tendency to be an overachiever, the Enterprise's antimatter-powered warp engines - which are tied to all of the ship's main power - were frequently overclocked to get the job done, with varying results. note  Additionally, hand phasers have an "overload" setting which allows them to be used as time bombs.
  • Expositron 9000: The ship's computer.
  • Exposition of Immortality: Several of the alien beings that the TOS crew encounter have vastly expanded lifespans and/or have dabbled in Earth's history in some way. In "Return to Tomorrow" the Arretians speculate they might have messed with Earth, but Dr. Mulhall says earth life evolved independently, and Spock notes some elements of Vulcan prehistory could be explained by their presence.
    • A key example can be found in the episode "Requiem for Methuselah". In Flint's home, Mr. Spock finds a waltz by Johannes Brahms written in original manuscript in Brahms' own hand, but which is unknown. Likewise, Flint has a collection of Leonardo da Vinci masterpieces that have been recently painted on contemporary canvas with contemporary materials. Flint later admits that he was Brahms and da Vinci, among others.
    • "Who Mourns for Adonais?" reveals that the Greek gods were actually nearly-immortal aliens who helped inspire and build classical Greek culture in exchange for being worshipped.
  • The Face: Uhura is the Communications Officer, though Kirk handles important parleys, negotiations, and First Contacts himself.
  • Fade Around the Eyes: In the episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before", in one scene with Gary Mitchell after he has undergone his transformation, the rest of the screen fades out, leaving only his silver eyes visible.
  • Failed Future Forecast: The fact that it was a show set in the future but made while the Soviet Union was still around means that a lot of things said by the Russian Chekov got outdated. There's his My Grandma Can Do Better Than You exchange with Scotty where Scotty tells Chekov that Scotch whisky is a man's drink, and Chekov replies that it was invented by a little old lady from "Leningrad". Chekov also attributes one of the "Russian inwentions" to somebody in Minsk, which was part of the Soviet Union but is now in modern-day Belarus.
  • Fallen Hero: Gary Mitchell, John Gill, Garth of Izar.
  • Fan of the Past: Sulu and his Fleeting Passionate Hobbies, which the rest of the crew regard as unusual for the time period.
  • Fanservice: Everywhere, and actually pretty equal-opportunity.
    • Almost any outfit worn by the girl-of-the-week, and those famous Starfleet miniskirts. Most were designed by William Ware Theiss, Trope Codifier and Trope Namer for the Theiss Titillation Theory. You could show an AMAZING amount of skin as long as it did not include belly buttons or the underside of the wearer's breasts. Legend has it that when Sherry Jackson walked into the NBC commissary wearing her Andrea costume from "What Little Girls Are Made Of"—bell-bottoms and two straps crossed over her chest—forks stopped halfway between plate and mouth. And dear god, "Mirror, Mirror" shows that Uhura has nice abs (actress Nichelle Nichols was, after all, a trained dancer).
    • For people more into the men, the original uniforms, even untouched, were particularly flattering. The tendency forKirk to get his shirt off or torn certainly counts, too. "Charlie X" features Kirk shirtless and in tights. It's very distracting. Also, Sulu goes topless in "The Naked Time".
    • And then for the fetish crowd, there's "Patterns of Force" with its whips, chains, and shirtlessness.
  • Fantastically Challenging Patient:
    • "The Devil in the Dark" has a mining colony be terrorized by an unknown creature. Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock explore the mine, and find the creature - a Horta. When it advances, they fire their phasers at it, creating a wound and causing it to retreat. However, once Spock conducts a psychic rapport with the creature, he and Kirk realize it's a brood mother defending her egg clutch. Doctor McCoy is brought in to heal the creature, which he does with silicon-based spackling compound. This ad hoc bandage works well, to the doctor's surprise.
    • In "Journey To Babel", Bones performs surgery on Spock's father Sarek. As a Vulcan, Sarek's organs are arranged a bit differently than a human (his heart is where a human's liver is, for example), and Spock is the only crew member who can donate blood to him.
    • The episode "Spock's Brain" has a humanoid alien incapacitate the crew of the Enterprise. Upon recovery, they discover that she has absconded Spock's brain, leaving his body alive but mindless. It becomes the episode's mission to track down the brain thief and recover Spock's brain before his body fails from lack of purpose. Bones is ultimately able to operate on Spock and get his brain back in.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Dr. McCoy seems full of it, insulting Spock's "green blood," "computer" mind, and other Vulcan traits. Kirk and Spock often comment on the differences between Vulcans and Humans, but in a Gentleman Snarker way without any malice.
    • Spock gives back as good as he gets with his snarking about "human emotion." However, the context makes it clear that this is nothing more than banter amongst good friends and colleagues. Anyone but Kirk, Spock, McCoy, or (occasionally) Scotty trying to invoke this trope gets smacked down hard (usually—and appropriately—by Kirk, but Scotty does it to a junior officer in at least one episode).
    • Several episodes also revolve around two alien species' hatred of each other for no good reason.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: When Spock raises his eyebrow, he says "fascinating" very nearly every time.
  • Feigning Healthiness: Whilst transporting numerous dignitaries in "Journey To Babel", Captain Kirk is hospitalised by an assassin and Spock takes over command of the Enterprise. Meanwhile, Spock's father Sarek (one of the diplomats) needs a blood transfusion, with Spock as the only viable donor. However, as the quantity needed would also put him out of action for several days, Spock's sense of duty won't allow him to relinquish command whilst the ship is still in danger. To avoid him being responsible for his father's death, Kirk fakes an early recovery to retake command. He initially plans to simply hand over control to Scotty and return to his own treatment once the operation has started, but at that moment the Enterprise is attacked, forcing Kirk to stay on the bridge during the battle in spite of his wounds.
  • Female Gaze: The show had a loving relationship with Kirk’s ass, including a lingering shot of it as he walks out of his quarters in “The Corbomite Maneuver”. Nichelle Nichols in “Where No Man…” discussed the trope, summing up why female fans responded so well with both Kirk and Spock; Spock was emotionally unavailable, leaving women to want to get through to him, and Kirk was emotionally open as a man, when not many male characters were like that.
  • The Final Temptation: In "This Side of Paradise", the spores caused the target to be content with living a simple comfortable life, abandoning any greater ambitions.
  • Food and Animal Attraction: In "The Cage", during one of the illusions the Talosians create for Captain Pike, a horse starts nuzzling his jacket pocket in search of the sugar therein.
  • Forbidden Fruit: In "Requiem for Methuselah", the only part of Flint's mansion that Rayna Kapec is forbidden to enter is one specific room. Guess where she wants to go more than anywhere else? Flint doesn't want her to go in there for a good reason. It's the laboratory where she was created: she's a humanoid robot. The clue is when she tells Kirk that the area just outside that is the place she goes when she's troubled and wants to think things over.
  • Forceful Kiss: Deela plants one twice on Kirk in “Wink Of An Eye”, who struggles against her both times and is more concerned that all of his crew are in slow motion. Any other kisses between them are him trying to get her guard down. He gets a few of these in general, as well as can aggressively kiss women himself if he’s desperate or doing a particularly cold con.
  • Force-Field Door: The ship's brig has one of these.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In “Court Martial”, much is made of how Kirk has devoted his life to the service, and he could finally have had a breakdown, causing a lapse in judgement. Later episodes will have him genuinely messing up, and more on how his Married to the Job life is unhealthy, getting taunted in “Shore Leave” about how he can sleep forever if he wants to.
    • “Miri” is Close to Home for Kirk, Bones and Spock. For Spock it’s being between two worlds (a carrier, but still can’t go back to the ship), for Kirk we’ll see in “Conscience Of The King” why he assumes kids would just want comfort after a massacre, and for Bones, who had to let his father die, he has to race to find a cure before the last one of them goes mad and kills himself.
    • In “What Little Girls Are Made Of”, Kirk and his robot clone have a discussion about food, which ends by Robot Kirk (who knows Kirk’s backstory) smugly telling the real one he’ll never starve. A few episodes later, we find out that as a child, Kirk was a survivor of a famine-induced massacre.
  • Forgets to Eat: Spock, occasionally.
    • In "Amok Time", McCoy uses the fact that Spock hasn't eaten for three days in an attempt to convince Kirk that something is wrong, and Kirk dismisses it as simply being Spock in one of his contemplative phases.
    • Another example is "The Paradise Syndrome", where Spock hardly eats for weeks while studying the obelisk.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Everyone who got killed on the show. Deconstructed in the movies, movie novels and the All There in the Manual bios, as Kirk intentionally tries to forget about losses, because otherwise he can't deal. There's a tinch of evidence for this in the show too, as some characters like Dr. Korby or Sam Kirk are alluded to in episodes before they get axed, but never after.
  • Forgot the Call: In "The Paradise Syndrome", Kirk loses his memory and becomes a simple farmer, living on a planet with a bunch of displaced Native Americans.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Trelane ("The Squire of Gothos"), the Organians ("Errand of Mercy"), the Thasians ("Charlie X"), the Metrons ("Arena"), and the Kelvans (who get stuck in that form in "By Any Other Name.")
  • Frequently-Broken Unbreakable Vow: Captain Kirk's willingness to break the Prime Directive whenever he needs to save the Enterprise and/or a "stagnant" culture is well known. He's also a hypocrite on the issue, condemning Captain Tracy in "The Omega Glory" for doing something he has done before and will do again.
  • Freudian Trio: Kirk (Ego), Spock (Superego) and McCoy (Id) form the page image for this trope.
  • A Friend in Need: How the Enterprise crew sticks by each other, through thick and thin.
    • Spock risks his career, and possibly his life, for his former captain (Pike) in "The Menagerie". Kirk does the same for Spock in "Amok Time", and again in the third movie.
  • Friends Are Chosen, Family Aren't: Spock has a very good relationship with his crewmates (particularly Kirk and McCoy) considering he's culturally required to be The Stoic, but he has severe issues with his father, to the point where they didn't speak to one another as family for almost two decades. Stories involving his family show a different and troubled side to Spock.
  • FTL Test Blunder: "The Naked Time" has Spock and Scotty performing a Dangerous Forbidden Technique to restart the Enterprise's warp engines after they'd been shut down. It was an untried technique, with the possible consequence of blowing up the ship, but not doing it would guarantee crashing on a collapsing planet. Fortunately, the only consequence of the forced restart was that the Enterprise was flung three days back in time, introducing the idea of using the warp drive for time travel to the series, which would feature in other episodes and the franchise as a whole.
  • The Gadfly: Chekov and his constant, deliberately erroneous references to Glorious Mother Russia. It's made very clear that he only does it to mess with people's heads.
  • Garden of Eden: The Enterprise bumps into enough Eden-like planets for there to be at least one about to be centered around Paradise per season.
    • The paradise planet in "That Side of Paradise" is a lush world where no one can die and fills everyone with an innocent joy, even Spock. Spock outright calls it "a true Eden" and the episode ends with Kirk and McCoy concluding that the trouble they had on the planet means man was meant to leave the Garden of Eden.
    • The name "Eden" pops up in the episode "The Way to Eden", which is about a group of space hippies searching for the mythical paradise Eden. It turns out to be a False Utopia. Although Spock strongly encourages the hippies to continue to look for the real Eden, or make it themselves.
    • The Garden is also referenced in the episode "The Apple", where a race of innocent humanoids serve a "god", Vaal, a computer shaped like a serpent head. According to Chekov, the original Garden was located just outside Moscow. After Kirk and company save the day and destroy the false god, the knowledge of good and evil is then known by the inhabitants. Spock makes a reference and Kirk asks if there is anyone onboard who remotely resembles Satan.
      Spock: No-one to my knowledge.
  • Genocide Survivor: In "The Conscience of the King", Kirk is stated to be a survivor of a genocide on the planet Tarsus IV, where the Governor ordered thousands of citizens killed to ensure the rest could survive, using eugenics to decide who lived and died. Oddly, Kirk's status as a survivor of a genocide is rarely touched on elsewhere in the series.
  • George Lucas Altered Version: The late 2000's saw the series get a high-definition transfer for the series, but created special edition versions to show in syndication with remaking the existing visual effects shot for shot, some enhanced visuals to expand the environment and some newly created shots to help flesh out the story (largely establishing shots to help capture the look of other planets and cultures, including one of Starfleet Command). By and large the effort was made to capture the look and feel of the original FX with updated CGI renders rather than trying to play catch up on later parts of the franchise, though established Trek production legend Mike Okuda was the one to oversee it.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man
    • In the episode "The Naked Time", Kirk does this to Spock. After several slaps, Spock finally retaliates and sends Kirk flying across the room. It does seem to work though.
    • Kirk attempts it on McCoy, who is under the influence of the Lotus-Eater Machine in "The Return of the Archons". This one isn't so successful.
  • Get Back to the Future: "Tomorrow Is Yesterday", "All Our Yesterdays".
  • Get It Over With: Dr. McCoy has a version of this when he is attacked by Khan in Sickbay in "Space Seed":
    Dr. McCoy: Well, either choke me or cut my throat. Make up your mind!
    Khan: English... I thought I'd dreamed hearing it. Where am I?
    Dr. McCoy: You're in bed, holding a knife at your doctor's throat.
    Khan: Answer my question.
    Dr. McCoy: It would be most effective if you would cut the carotid artery, just under the left ear.

  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Gary Mitchell gains these when he gains godlike powers.
  • God Guise: A recurring theme:
    • In "The Paradise Syndrome", an amnesiac Kirk is mistaken for a deity by transplanted American Indians on a distant planet.
    • "Who Mourns for Adonais?" has an actual surviving Greek God who reveals he's just a powerful alien who had become too used to being worshiped by mortals.
    • In "The Omega Glory", Spock is mistaken for the devil. (This was actually a real-life objection the producers had to his appearance.)
  • Godwin's Law of Time Travel: "The City on the Edge of Forever" has a plot where McCoy saving the life of Kirk's Girl of the Week causes a peace movement that leads to the US losing WWII and the Federation never existing. The episode ends with Kirk letting her die to preserve history.
  • Godzilla Threshold: In "A Taste of Armageddon" where Kirk and the landing party are being held captive by a civilization whose leaders' simply will not listen to reason and Kirk see that things are going to go from bad to worse to apocalyptic, he interrupts their leader speaking to Scotty through a communicator. Speaking quickly before he's restrained, he gives Scotty an encrypted order the aliens don't understand (General Order 24). Scotty calls them back to inform them that if they don't play ball, he'll use the Enterprise's weapons to destroy the entire surface area of their planet. His quiet, grim tone when he's telling them this leaves no doubt that he'll go through with it.
  • Gold-Colored Superiority: The captains wear gold uniforms. Anyone wearing a Red Shirt is not so lucky. This all changes starting with Star Trek: The Next Generation, however. The command uniforms were originally a greenish shade close to chartreuse, but the color came out on many people's TV sets as yellowish, so eventually the producers threw in the towel and changed them to gold.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation:
    • In "The Alternative Factor", Matter!Lazarus goes stark raving mad upon learning of the existence of his Anti-Matter double and becomes bent on destroying him, even if it means the destruction of both universes.
    • "Is There In Truth No Beauty?" revolves around Kollos, an ambassador of the Medusan race, whose physical appearance is so hideous: or maybe so beautiful: that any humanoid who looks at them directly goes insane. This is a subversion, as Kollos, in contrast with Shoggoths and Eldritch horrors, is clearly a good guy.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • In "Patterns of Force," John Gill, a Human historian, broke the Prime Directive and encouraged the inhabitants of Ekos to institute fascism in order to combat its disorganized anarchy. It worked.
    • In "That Which Survives," a people rendered extinct by disease tried to prevent others from their planet from joining them by setting up a self-defense mechanism. It worked.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong:
    • The adults in "Miri" tried to prolong their lives through bioengineering. They ended up creating a disease that did preserve life, but only in children. Adults are killed within a week.
    • "The Ultimate Computer" is meant to replace starship captains, but ends up killing Red Shirts because it is the most efficient way of doing things.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: In "The Savage Curtain", Surak, Spock, and President Lincoln have a hard time understanding the motives and actions of the opposing "evil" side. Only Kirk seems to have a grasp of their potential for deceptiveness and duplicity.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Kirk's usual response to problems when the Kirk Summation just isn't getting the job done. All of the core cast are capable of throwing down when necessary, but Spock especially stands out as a Badass Bookworm with his Vulcan nerve pinch.
    • In "Return of the Archons" Spock decks somebody with an ordinary punch and Kirk says "Isn't that a little old-fashioned?"
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: Why the Federation is unlike the Klingons, according to Kirk.
  • Got the Whole World in My Hand: The Terran Empire's sigil from "Mirror, Mirror" shows a dagger stabbed through the Earth.
  • Grand Theft Me: In "Turnabout Intruder", the Girl of the Week and Mad Scientist Dr. Janice Lester uses an alien device to swap her mind into Kirk's body (poor, desperate girl) in order to fulfill her dream of being a starship Captain, because, y'know, chicks can't do that stuff in The Future (although it's made fairly clear that her mental instablity and not her gender is what prevented her from achieving success, for which she irrationally blames Kirk)... Anyhoo, Hilarity Ensues, and we get to watch William Shatner act like an Large Ham with a side of girl, instead of the usual Large Ham.
  • Grand Theft Prototype: In "The Enterprise Incident", the Starfleet Command sent the Enterprise on a mission to steal a cloaking device so they could learn how to neutralize it.
  • The Great Repair: In "The Galileo Seven", an Enterprise shuttlecraft is pulled off course and crashes on an unknown planet. The crew is repeatedly attacked by primitive humanoids, and there's dissent over Commander Spock's decisions while Scotty attempts to repair the shuttle.
  • Grudging "Thank You":
    • In the episode "Bread and Circuses" Bones gives Spock a Grudging "Thank You" and receives a Think Nothing of It in return.
      McCoy: Spock, er, I know we've, er, had our disagreements. Er, maybe they're jokes, I don't know. As Jim says, we're not often sure ourselves sometimes. But, er... what I'm trying to say is...
      Spock: Doctor, I am seeking a means of escape. Will you please be brief?
      McCoy: What I'm trying to say is, you saved my life in the arena.
      Spock: Yes, that's quite true.
      McCoy: [indignant] I'm trying to thank you, you pointed-eared hobgoblin!
      Spock: Oh yes, you humans have that emotional need to express gratitude. "You're welcome," I believe is the correct response.
    • There's another one in "Let This Be Your Last Battlefield". One of the aliens of the week is set up as someone who's hotheaded and difficult, but ultimately at least somewhat sympathetic. Viewers get a hint of that second half coming when in his first exchange with Kirk and McCoy, after reacting very angrily to their (perfectly accurate) accusation that he had stolen a Federation ship, the alien visibly pulls himself together enough to thank them quite sincerely for rescuing him.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: In "A Taste of Armageddon", "Space Seed", "All Our Yesterdays", "A Piece of the Action" and "Whom Gods Destroy".
  • Gunboat Diplomacy: The Federation brings peace, justice, and brotherhood... and if you don't like it, Captain Kirk brings a phaser.
    • "A Piece of the Action" is the funniest example. Captain Kirk positively revels in giving all the mob chiefs offers they can't refuse.
    • The series was partially inspired by the Horatio Hornblower books.
    • Parodied in a line given to Kirk in one of the classic fan songs, "Star Trekkin'" — "We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill," which was in turn inspired by a scene in one episode where Kirk declares, "We come in peace!" while pointing his phaser at the alien. He never actually said those words.
  • Guy on Guy Is Hot: Practically a fandom nod in “Wink Of An Eye”, as Deela notes Kirk “feels great affection for the Vulcan”, and wonders if she can make him demonstrate that, the actress’s tone of voice knowing full well what she’s insinuating.
  • Halloween Episode: "Catspaw", which was first broadcast on October 27, 1967.
  • Hands-On Approach: In “Requiem For Methuselah”, and as he still has no clue how to play from “Piece Of The Action”, Reyna teaches Kirk to play pool.
  • Hate Plague: In "Day of the Dove", an Energy Being that feeds on hate brings the Federation and the Klingons, who are trying to abide by the peace treaty, into conflict. It goes as far as implanting False Memories so that the manipulated will have an extra source of conflict. Those who are killed are somehow brought back to life with their fatal wounds healed to fight again. Once they all figure it out, the creature is repelled from the ship by laughter. Lots and lots of laughter.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: This trope is why Alexander, the court jester of the Platonians in "Plato's Stepchildren", refuses to take McCoy's concoction that will give him psychic powers. As much as he loathes Parmen for his abuse, the idea that he could turn out as cruel and manipulative as his master, along with even greater psychic abilities to boot, sickens him even more.
  • Helping Another Save Face:
    • "This Side of Paradise" After Kirk deliberately provokes Spock to anger to kill alien spores manipulating him. Spock says that striking a fellow officer is a court martial offense. It's clear Spock is embarrassed by his emotional behavior, no matter how involuntary. Kirk reasons, logically as Spock notes, that if they're both in the brig no one can build the device needed to free the rest of the crew.
    • "Amok Time" has Spock in the grip of blood fever during a bout of pon farr. Spock explains the situation to Kirk and McCoy, who both tell him that they'll never tell another soul about the private information he's divulged to them. This is especially poingnant for the Doctor, as he and Spock are Vitriolic Best Buds, and it would be easy for him to mock Spock over it, but he never does.
  • The Hero: Captain Kirk
  • Heroic BSoD: Decker in "The Doomsday Machine"... that is until he faces the planet-killer one-on-one.
    • And Spock in Amok Time when he believes he has killed Kirk.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Kirk and Spock (though considering how often the series dips into Ho Yay territory it could possibly be described as Bisexual Life-Partners).
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Frequently with women Kirk seduced.
  • Historical Domain Superperson: In the episode "Requiem for Methuselah" the Enterprise crew meets an old human named Flint who is both immortal and possessed of superhuman strength. Flint was originally born around 3800 BC and lived as many notable historical figures during his long lifetime including King Solomon, Alexander the Great, Johannes Brahms, Leonardo da Vinci, and Lazarus. He kept his immortality secret by letting each persona eventually "die" and establishing a new identity elsewhere.
  • Historical Rap Sheet: In "Wolf in the Fold" it is discovered that Redjac is a noncorporeal lifeform which has been a serial killer on several planets, including Earth where it was Jack the Ripper as well as a few other unnamed killers (in China in 1952 and Kiev in 1974).
  • Hollow World: "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched The Sky" has a variation, a shell covering an artificial planetoid to hold the atmosphere in.
  • Hollywood Torches: In "Errand of Mercy" and "Catspaw".
  • Holodeck Malfunction: Subverted in the episode "Shore Leave". The planet's safety protocols are working just fine, but the landing party doesn't know that and thinks they are actually in danger. The protocols do break down when the Enterprise returns to the planet in the animated series because the guy in charge died in the meantime and the AI chose to go rogue through sheer boredom.
  • Honor Before Reason: In "Spectre of the Gun", Kirk refuses to ambush the Earps, in spite of the severe danger they present. Even after one of them kills Chekhov, he doesn't kill the defeated party.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Look at “The Corbomite Maneuver” in comparison to “The Cage”. The women’s uniforms go from turtlenecks and pants to mini-dresses, and stern Chaste Hero Pike gets replaced with Captain “tits out in the hallway” Kirk.
  • Human Aliens: Most alien races encountered are indistinguishable from humans, even the Klingons; they weren't given rubber foreheads until the films. This is mostly due to budget reasons, though it's odd that only Spock requires a disguise whenever the crew infiltrates an alien world.

  • I Can Still Fight!: Justified, when Kirk is injured but insists on being on the bridge because Spock is needed to give a vital transplant to his father. However, the end of the episode suggests Kirk hates being cooped up in Sickbay.
    • Spock as well, in "Operation Annihilate" where he is in unbearable pain as a result of being infected by an alien parasite and nearly driven insane. He still insists on returning to duty, claiming (truthfully) that he can control the pain with Vulcan techniques.
  • I, Noun: "I, Mudd".
  • I Have Your Wife: Plenty of villains seem to know that threatening Spock will get Kirk to cooperate (at least for a while), and vice versa. Sometimes it’s “I have your crew”/”I have your captain” but mostly it’s just those two.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Kirk and Spock in "This Side of Paradise"; Kirk has to get Spock angry enough so he can overcome the influence of the mind-altering spores. It worked a bit better than Kirk was counting on.
  • Idiosyncratic Cultural Gesture: "Journey to Babel" reveals that Vulcan couples extend their pointer and middle fingers from their hand and touch the tips as a sign of being in a relationship.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Trope Maker; Dr. McCoy's Catchphrase whenever called upon to perform a task or give advice outside of his expertise.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: In "Friday's Child", a usurper named Ma'ab kills Aka'ar, the Teer (tribal king), in an attempted coup. He then demands Aka'ar's pregnant wife Eleen and her unborn son killed, as the unborn son is the true heir of succession. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy have to go on the run with Eleen to keep her safe.
  • Implacable Man:
  • Impostor-Exposing Test: In "The Trouble with Tribbles", the Tribble dislike for Klingons is used to identify the Klingon spy disguised as a human.
  • Improvised Bandage: A mysterious alien creature has been menacing some Federation miners, and Captain Kirk and First Officer Spock investigate. When they encounter the creature, it ignores warnings to stay back, so they fire phasers at it. The creature is wounded, and retreats. Later, the pair discover the creature is intelligent, and menaced the miners to protect its eggs. A silicone-based spackling compound is used to patch the creature's wound, and its hatchlings start digging tunnels faster than the miners ever could.
  • Improvised Weapon: The rough-and-tumble fights often involve these. Kirk in particular is a master: ropes, pillows, and that stick thing resembling a reactor control rod he uses to beat Khan.
  • In-Camera Effects: The series would achieve the shaking of the bridge when under attack by simply shaking the camera and getting the crew to wobble about. Later SF productions with a bigger budget, such as the Trek films, replaced the cheesy effect with Practical Effects: sets would be placed on top of a large platform and the camera would be still while the entire set was shaken. That would be counted as Practical Effects.
  • Industrialized Evil: In "A Taste of Armageddon", the Enterprise discovers two planets are involved in a bizarre war in which computers simulate the conflict, and civilians deemed "killed" in the simulation are required to report to disintegration chambers. The people willingly go to their deaths, believing that in doing so, they are preventing an actual war from breaking out.
  • Inertial Impalement: In "The Menagerie", during the illusionary battle between Captain Pike and a Rigelian warrior, Pike is kneeling in a courtyard holding up a broken spearhead braced against the ground. The warrior jumps down on him and impales himself on the spearhead.
  • Inexplicable Cultural Ties: A key element of Roddenberry's goal for the series, to tell stories applicable to Earth in The '60s. The alien-culture-of-the-week will therefore be similar enough to one from Earth to get the point across. "Bread and Circuses" acknowledges the prevalence of these and implies that the phenomenon is understood by Federation scientists, providing an alternate Trope Namer, the Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planet Development.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: “Shore Leave”, character-wise, as Finnegan calling Kirk old leads to Kirk actually getting an edge in their fighting, and upgrades his wish to just rest for a few days to a deeper need to “sleep forever”. “The Deadly Years" is similar, showing Kirk’s denial over his getting older and less competent, taking it the worst out of all of them, and learning the lesson that he needs to be young in order to be a good Captain. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan even does a Continuity Nod to it.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Kirk and Spock’s fight in “Amok Time” gets… grindy. Spock choking Kirk out cures him of Pon Farr, and while said choking is happening, Kirk starts to put his legs around Spock’s back.
  • Involuntary Group Split: Happens to Kirk and Spock in "Devil in the Dark".
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Why Sarek married Amanda Grayson: "At the time, it seemed the logical thing to do."
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: invoked Used by Spock as a Logic Bomb in "I, Mudd":
    Spock: [to Alice 27] I love you. [to Alice 210] However, I hate you.
    Alice 210: But I'm identical in every way with Alice 27.
    Spock: Yes, of course. That is exactly why I hate you; because you are identical.
    [both Alices succumb to the logic bomb]
    Spock: Fascinating.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Garth uses this on Dr. Cory and Kirk in "Whom Gods Destroy" in an attempt to learn the transporter code word. Naturally, it doesn't work.
  • Jack the Ripoff: Subverted: the killer actually is Jack the Ripper, who was really a noncorporeal alien possessing human bodies.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: In "The Enemy Within", a Teleporter Accident splits Kirk into Good and Evil halves. They both have to be convinced that they need each other before the split can be undone.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In “The Trouble With Tribbles”, with the exception of Chekov, nobody in the bar objects when the Klingon calls Kirk a swaggering dictator with delusions of godhood, which gets the betrayed Puppy-Dog Eyes look from Kirk later on.
  • Jerk Jock: Though not a jock, Kirk was tormented endlessly by upperclassman Finnegan when he was younger. One of his fantasies is finally getting to punch him out.
  • Job-Stealing Robot:
    • The titular device in "The Ultimate Computer" is designed to run a starship with a minimal crew; the Enterprise is chosen for its test run.
    • In "A Taste of Armageddon" entire governments have been replaced this way.
  • Judicial Wig: When Trelane puts Kirk on trial for defying him in "The Squire of Gothos", he wears a white and long curly wig along with his judges' robes.
  • Just Testing You: Kirk and Scotty set up a challenge/response password before Kirk beamed down to a planet in order to prevent imposters from getting beamed up. Naturally a shapeshifter takes Kirk's form and tries to get Scotty to beam him up. When he doesn't know the password, he tries to cover it up by saying that he was just testing Scotty. Scotty catches on immediately and concludes that Kirk must be in trouble, since the real Kirk would never "test" him like that.
  • Kill the Cutie: Edith Keeler in "The City on the Edge of Forever". After all, You Can't Fight Fate.
  • Kill the Poor: In the episode "The Cloud Minders", on the planet Ardana, rather than being killed, the poor are enslaved and forced to live out their entire lives underground.
  • Kirk Summation: The Trope Namer and Trope Maker. Kirk (or occasionally another character) would often either try to reason with the episode's antagonist or put them in their place before ending things.
  • Knockout Gas: In the episode "Space Seed". After Khan takes over the Enterprise, Kirk orders that all decks be flooded with Neural Gas, which would render everyone aboard unconscious. That attempt fails, but later the attempt succeeds.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
  • Large Ham: William Shatner's Kirk is legendary... for the... oddly placed... pauses... and emphasis... in his sentences. Although like most things, this has been heavily exaggerated by people trying to make fun of him. This style is actually most notable when he is being possessed and/or imitated by another person. For the most part he gave Kirk a subtle, sly, devil-may-care attitude that made the character famous in the first place.
    • The actual reason was revealed recently: Control freak Roddenberry often rewrote, and re-rewrote, and re-re-wrote the scripts up to the last nanosecond, such that it became very difficult to memorize lines. Instead of asking "Line?" and ruining the take, Shatner would laboriously strive to remember what he was supposed to say, creating the effect.
  • Last of His Kind: "Who Mourns for Adonais?", "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield". "Devil in the Dark" plays with this one; the Horta is merely the last of her generation, trying to guard over a massive hoard of eggs until they hatch.
  • Last-Second Term of Respect:
    • "The Trouble With Tribbles": Kirk asks Scotty what it was that the Klingons said that made him disobey orders and start a fist fight with them. Scotty passionately replies, "They called the Enterprise a garbage scow! Sir."
    • "Friday's Child": Upon learning that the new baby destined to one day rule a tribe is named Leonard James Akaar, Spock cannot help but be flabbergasted by the smugness of Kirk and McCoy.
      Spock: [genuinely exasperated] I think you're both going to be insufferably pleased with yourselves for at least a month. Sir.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: Star Trek began as a semi-hard science fiction seriesnote  about a Human run elite paramilitary organization that sent out their best Starship to explore outer space. Many plots revolved around how the humans handled encountering the strangeness of the universe, while occasionally segueing into Space Opera. Since then, newer writers have incorporated many elements of contemporary and post-contemporary science-fiction, with the following installments sometimes resembling Star Wars outings.
  • Leitmotif:
    • Mr. Spock was first given his distinctive theme music in the episode "Amok Time". The wistful, romantic melody is usually provided by a bass guitar: a deliberate choice by composer Gerald Fried, as he felt it would be a terrible match for such a utilitarian instrumentnote , a juxtaposition that suits the dichotomy of Spock's character.
    • Scotty also has his own leitmotif, typically used in lighter moments. It is prominently heard in both "The Trouble with Tribbles" and "By Any Other Name".
  • Let's You and Him Fight: In "Amok Time" Spock's "fiancée" has chosen another, and elects to invoke a ritual in which the two fight for her hand. He's perfectly willing to fight Spock for her, but she elects Kirk as her champion instead - for reasons that Spock later describes as "logical." Unfortunately, since Vulcans have a really bad case of mating fever, Spock is not in his right mind at the time and fully capable of killing his much weaker captain and Kirk (who agreed to be the champion because he thought he could simply throw the fight and walk away) doesn't know it's a Duel to the Death till it's too late to back out.
  • Liberty Over Prosperity: In "Space Seed", after Khan's attempt to take over the Enterprise fails, Kirk says that he and his followers can either be punished under Starfleet regulations (which would presumably involve a long prison sentence) or accept exile on an uninhabited planet.
    Khan: Have you ever read Milton, Captain?
    Kirk: I understand.
    Scott: It's a shame for a good Scotsman to admit it, but I'm not up on Milton.
    Kirk: The statement Lucifer made when he fell into the pit. "It is better to rule in hell than serve in heaven."
  • Licensed Game: Arcade cabinet games, pinball machines, text games, Atari games, flight simulators, adventure games; you name it. Let's focus on the more notable ones.
    • Star Trek: 25th Anniversary is a combination flight simulatior/Adventure Game voiced by the original cast, plus one generic Redshirt who is routinely the first to perish should the player screw up. The game was followed by Judgement Rites, in which Chekhov and Uhura are finally allowed to join the landing party (something they rarely did in the series).
    • There was also a 25th Anniversary port for the NES, though the setting and storyline are different. As exhaustively covered (and suffered) by The Angry Video Game Nerd, the final level deposits Kirk back on Iotia II, where Bones foolishly bet and lost his communicator in a card game. This causes a calamity in the future, forcing Kirk to complete a massive Chain of Deals to get the communicator back.
    • The Game Boy version of 25th Anniversary again changes the storyline, this time involving a Doomsday Machine roaming through space. Work on a defensive weapon begins in earnest, but the weaselly Klingons dissemble the device into 12 pieces and scatter them all over space, requiring Kirk to Catch 'Em All.
    • Star Trek: Starfleet Academy takes place in Kirk's era, though the Enterprise does not appear. It is, however, possible to beat the infamous Kobayashi Maru scenario by naming yourself "James T. Kirk", unlocking a prototype ship.
    • There were also three Pinball games:
  • Licensed Pinball Tables: There were technically two:
    • Bally's Star Trek, originally featured the crew in their television designs. Soon after production, however, it was redecorated to bring it closer to Star Trek: The Motion Picture instead.
    • Data East's Star Trek was released as part of the 25th Anniversary of the television series. Features oodles of character cameos on the playfield and a great transporter effect on the backglass.
  • Lima Syndrome: Deela kidnaps Kirk to be a Sex Slave in “Wink Of An Eye”, and demands the right to like him. Of course she wants him to be docile, and then decides she likes him better as a Defiant Captive, so her assertions to the trope are nebulous.
  • Literal Maneater: The salt vampire from the episode "The Man Trap" mostly operates this way, though there is one exception where it takes on a hunky male form to attract Lt. Uhura.
  • Literal Split Personality: In "The Enemy Within", Kirk gets split into his good half and his evil half.
  • Literary Allusion Title: Rather famous for the grandiloquent episode titles. There's "The Conscience of the King", "Bread and Circuses", and "Is There In Truth No Beauty" among others.
  • Lobotomy: The episode "Spock's Brain", in which aliens, to put it simply, steal Spock's brain, and the episode revolves around the Enterprise crew getting it back and reattaching it.
  • Logic Bomb: One of Kirk's favorite tactics for dealing with rogue computers; it invariably causes a shutdown, and occasionally a self-destruct. Examples include "The Changeling", "I, Mudd", "Return of the Archons", "The Ultimate Computer", and "Wolf In The Fold".
  • Long-Lived: The children in "Miri" (hundreds of years) and Mr. Flint in "Requiem for Methuselah" (six thousand years). The tie-in novel Cry of the Onlies has Flint coming to the children's planet to be a mentor for them, especially those who chose to have treatments so they would age at a normal rate.
  • Loss of Inhibitions: In "The Naked Time," the crew experiences strange feelings and behaviors after a landing party investigating a mysterious disaster beams back to the ship, gradually infecting almost everyone. Dr. McCoy ultimately realizes the water on the planet had mutated, causing it to affect the brain like alcohol. While some effects more resemble delusions (e.g., Sulu calling Kirk "Richelieu", unless he's playacting), a lot of them (Sulu leaving his station early to fence at the gym, Christine Chapel making an Anguished Declaration of Love to Spock, Spock breaking down in tears over his inability to accept either part of his heritage completely and Kirk confessing how stressed he feels because of his position) fall under the lack of inhibitions that alcohol typically causes.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: This was the plot of the original pilot, "The Cage," though Pike sees through the ruse easily. However, another character trapped there doesn't want to leave the setup—and knows that it's all an illusion—as after having been horrifically mangled in a crash the aliens were able to restore the illusion of her original beautiful appearance. They give her a illusory Captain Pike to live with until the real Pike returns to the planet in a later episode made up of the original pilot.
  • Low Culture, High Tech:
    • In "A Private Little War", Kirk and McCoy discover that the Klingons gave flintlock weapons to village-dwelling native people who didn't have guns before. Instead of their tradition of peaceful trade with the nearby hunter-gatherer people, the Klingons encourage the villagers to attack them. To restore the balance of power, Kirk provides the hunter-gatherers with similar weapons. McCoy compares their situation to the "Brush Wars" of the mid-20th Century.
    • "Bread and Circuses" features a world with 1960s-level tech (television, firearms) but a society that mirrors the Roman Empire, complete with the slow rise of Christianity (albeit 2000 years late).
  • Ludicrous Precision: Spock's figures, constantly. Discussed in "Errand of Mercy".

  • Machine Empathy: Scotty could often sense when something was wrong with the Enterprise from subtle changes in her "feel". Possibly justified, because machines cause vibrations that engineers familiar with said machine can actually feel when touching it, such as through the hull of a starship—Scotty himself confirms this in the NextGen episode "Relics" when he compares the Enterprise-D to his Enterprise with Picard.
  • Made a Slave: Season three has the dubious honour of trying to do this five times in one season, with Bones, Kirk, Spock, Chapel and Uhura used for entertainment in “Plato’s Stepchildren”, Bones again forced to stay in “For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky” and “The Empath”, Kirk kidnapped for breeding in “Wink Of An Eye” because he’s “pretty”, and captured in “Mark Of Gideon” to spread an STD and stem overpopulation.
  • Mad Love: Nurse Chapel and Spock (well, on Chapel's side, at least), McGivers and Khan.
  • The Mafia: "A Piece of the Action" is an entire episode revolving around a Mafia planet.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Kirk and his highest bridge officers often beam into danger despite the presence of specialists on board for that purpose.
  • Male Gaze: In "Mudd's Women", the camera rather obviously pans to the women's derrieres as they walk along the corridors of the Enterprise after leaving the transporter room.
  • The Man in Front of the Man: In "Patterns of Force", a society of Human Aliens has emulated the regime of Nazi Germany, complete with atrocities committed in for racial and cultural motives. The officers of the regime carry out the orders of their Fuhrer, who they only see via television broadcast. It turns out later that the Fuhrer was drugged and under the control of his Deputy. It was the Deputy Fuhrer who was really responsible for giving orders to the Nazi forces, while the true Fuhrer had good intentions all along.
  • Mars Needs Women: "Mudd's Women"—Mudd is transporting the women to provide companionship to lonely colonists.
  • Martyr Without a Cause: All three of the main trio have admitted at some point that peace and happiness are not regular emotions for them, and are just that little too willing to sacrifice themselves. The kicker is that Bones will complain when Kirk and Spock act like self-sacrificial idiots, but then do the exact same thing himself.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Pike—>Kirk—>Sulu (although seen briefly in TOS, the Pike-Kirk relationship is only shown in any detail in the reboot and in the non-canon Expanded Universe). Chekov appears to be a mentee of Kirk as well, but ends up on a different career path (in Starfleet Intelligence as opposed to starship command) after the second movie.
  • Mate or Die: The Vulcan pon-farr period provides a biological imperative that strong, as seen with Spock in "Amok Time". The Federation has no knowledge of it, as Vulcans do not speak of it even among themselves.
  • Mechanistic Alien Culture:
    • The drone-like Lawgivers in "Return of the Archons." In that case, the drone-like humanoids were controlled by an intelligent supercomputer.
    • The original builders of the Androids on Exo III were also stated to have been a society of biological creatures who ruined their homeworld and retreated underground where they became a more mechanized, machine-like society.
    • The Kelvans from the Andromeda Galaxy are implied to have a culture like this; they are completely organic beings, but in their true form they experience none of the sensory distractions of humanoids, and consider themselves much more efficient. They go about trying to take over the Milky Way with very straightforward methods (transforming Kirk's crew into vulnerable dust-cubes that only their technology can restore to human form, for example) but without any of the typical Trek villains' hamminess. The Federation is saved from them by the fact that, when in artificial humanoid form, the Kelvans become Sense Freaks and can be incapacitated in a variety of ways, such as by the effects of alcohol or unfamiliar emotions like pleasure or jealousy.
    • The Eyemorg (humanoid female) society in the infamous episode "Spock's Brain" were totally reliant on a mechanized underground industrial complex run by advanced computers (for which purpose they tried to steal "Spock's Brain," because they lacked the knowledge to maintain this infrastructure themselves unless); this was in contrast to the primitive, Ice Age-like culture of males that lived on the surface.
    • The Fabrini who lived aboard a generational asteroid ship, which they all believed was actually a planet, were similarly run by an advanced, tyrannical computer called The Oracle. The Fabrini were less "rigidly mechanical" and more "rigidly traditional" though, the rigid traditions being enforced by The Oracle.
  • Mechanical Abomination
    • The Doomsday Machine is a planet-eating, extragalactic superweapon hypothesized to have destroyed its creators, and is now moving through the Federation's part of the galaxy. It's practically indestructible, and has an anti-proton beam capable of easily obliterating most starships, and consumes entire planets. In the end, it isn't even destroyed, just shut down due to internal damage.
    • Nomad is a hybrid of human and alien probes which travels through space on a mission to "sterilize" planets, i.e. kill all organic life forms for no other reason than they are imperfect. It was first encountered after killing four billion people, is powerful enough to easily outgun the Enterprise despite only being about five feet long, and can bring the dead back to life. It was only beaten by showing it that it, too, was imperfect, motivating it to self-destruct.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Only three female personnel are killed in the whole series, whereas dozens of male Starfleet personnel are killed. In one of the three aversions, "By Any Other Name", the Black Dude Dies First trope is also averted, as the white female redshirt is killed by the Kelvans (sparing the black male redshirt in the party) when the Kelvan could have killed both of them just as easily.
  • Military Science Fiction: The U.S.S. Enterprise is the focus of the show, and she is explicitly a military vessel in the service of The Federation Star Fleet. However, due the fact that the Enterprise operates entirely in deep space, her crew complement is not comprised entirely of soldiers. Instead, the crew consists of spacemen who are specifically qualified to operate the ship. This doesn't in any way reduce her status as a military craft: the Enterprise is designed to and fully expected to both facilitate and withstand combat, and is often diverted from her explorations - by order from Starfleet Command - to perform various missions of a purely military nature, such as stealing sensitive technology from the Romulan Empire, or preventing the Klingons from establishing a base in a tactically important area. This strongly contrasts some of the later installments, particularly Star Trek: The Next Generation, which takes on a much more relaxed tone in comparison.
    "Although the Enterprise is a military vessel, its organization is only semi-military. The "enlisted men" category does not exist. Star Trek goes on the assumption that every man and woman aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise is the equivalent of a qualified astronaut, and therefore an officer." - The Making of Star Trek, page 209.
    "I'm a soldier, not a diplomat." - James Kirk
  • Mind Rape:
    • Used by the Platonians in "Plato's Stepchildren", with the most blatant example being Parmen forcing Spock to laugh and cry.
    • Mirror!Spock forcibly mind-melding with Dr. McCoy in "Mirror, Mirror".
    • The Neural Neutralizer in "Dagger of the Mind" was used for this. Upon learning that it works, Dr Noel inserts a one night stand into Kirk’s mind when it didn’t go that way originally, though she draws the line at Adams installing an obsessive love for her in him.
  • Minored In Ass Kicking: The reserved, cerebral Spock and his skill at hand-to-hand fighting (Vulcan nerve pinch! Judo chop!).Helped by his Vulcan strength.
  • Minovsky Physics: In contrast to later installments of the series, a lack of techno-babble was specifically enforced in Star Trek's original Writer's Guide(linked here). This extended to fictional materials introduced for the plot. Even now, Star Trek has grown to have a very long list of fictional substances and their properties: very rarely is any material given new abilities to fill a plot need: instead, the writers invent entirely new materials.
    • Dilithium crystals are a fundamental aspect of the Star Trek universe, as all Federation starships use them for their Faster Than Light engines. They have basically one important property: they are able to safely interact with antimatter to produce a controlled reaction. They cannot be replicated and can decay in quality, which adds to some tension in either repairing the imperfections in the existing crystal, or finding new sources of dilithium.
    • Star Trek's technical manuals all try to provide consistent explanations for the science and technology of the series.
  • Mirror Universe: "Mirror, Mirror" features an alternate universe where the Federation is part of the tyrannical Terran empire.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: "The Devil in the Dark" has the Horta, which is only protecting its eggs.
  • Monster Munch: While Red Shirts die in great numbers on this show, they are sometimes killed by the Monster of the Week, often in the first scene.
    • "Obsession". A couple of red shirt security personnel are drained of blood and killed by the vampire cloud in the opening scene.
    • "The Devil in the Dark". Two miners and an Enterprise Security man are destroyed by the Horta's acid secretions, one in the first scene.
    • "Wolf in the Fold". Several women are slaughtered by the "Jack the Ripper" entity during the episode. One of them dies before the opening credits.
  • Monster of the Week: In SF author David Gerrold's book about writing the episode "The Trouble With Tribbles", he recounts seeing the first episode broadcast, which featured a creature that sucked all of the salt out of people's bodies, thereby killing them. He hoped Star Trek wasn't going to turn out to be a Monster of the Week show, which ironically for him, it did. (Only if one considers political intrigue, human(oid) assassins, hostage situations, high tech pseudo wars, missing persons, (sometimes in other times or dimensions), and direct military conflict to (somehow) equal "monsters of the week").
  • Mood Lighting: Whenever Kirk is putting the moves on a female (of any species), the lighting softens, playing up the female's sexiness.
  • Morality Chain: Kirk keeps Bones and Spock from being at each other’s throats (lampshaded in his final orders in “The Tholian Web”, assuming now that he’s dead the two are locked in mortal combat), Kirk calls Spock the “noblest half of himself”, and Bones keeps the other two from too much self-sacrifice.
  • More Hero than Thou:
    • In "The Empath", when aliens offer Kirk the choice of sacrificing McCoy or Spock, McCoy takes out Kirk with drugs. Spock is glad; since this leaves him in command, he can make the sacrifice himself. McCoy proceeds to drug him as well and sacrifice himself.
    • Ensign Garrovick attempts to do this in "Obsession", but Kirk isn't knocked out, and has no intention of sacrificing himself anyway. Just using himself as bait.
  • Muggle in Mage Custody: Alexander is a dwarf who is not given the psychokinetic power that the other denizens of Platonius have. As a result, he is treated as a court jester and slave, and subjected to cruel treatment, particularly from Parmen.
  • Multinational Team: Each of the bridge crew represents a part of the world (and an alien).
  • Mundane Utility:
    • In multiple episodes, they use their phasers to create a heat source, by shooting a rock.
    • In one episode, Yeoman Rand uses a phaser to reheat Kirk's coffee!
  • Mundanization: Episodes in which the crew visits Earth's past, or a planet that unusually mimics it, derive a lot of the humor from the Fish out of Water setting.
  • The Mutiny:
    • In "Turnabout Intruder", when a crazy ex-lover of Kirk switches bodies with him and the suspicious crew has no valid proof and she begins ordering the deaths of anyone who opposes her, Scotty suggests to McCoy that they mutiny, since they know that it would throw the captain into a fit and they would be able to stop him under regulations.
    • Spock's actions in transporting Captain Pike to Talos IV constitute a mutiny, for which he is put on trial—which is a ruse to buy him more time.
    • Kirk considers the crew's actions in "This Side of Paradise" to be a mutiny: they abandon the ship due to being Brainwashed and Crazy.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Dr Noel from “Dagger Of The Mind” puts a one night stand into Kirk’s mind (they originally just danced and he talked about the stars), but immediately regrets it once Adams tortures him and makes him think he’s dangerously in love with her. When Kirk says Adams died alone, without even a tormenter for company, she gets the message.
  • My Grandma Can Do Better Than You: The exchange where Scotty tells Chekov that Scotch whisky is a man's drink, and Chekov replies that it was invented by a little old lady from Leningrad.
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: in the episode "Mudd's Women", the computer tells the all-male hearing board the effect the women are having on them: elevated heart rate, sweating, rapid pulse. All except Spock.
  • Neck Snap: The Vulcan tal-shaya technique performed by the Orion spy in "Journey to Babel".
  • Negatives as a Positive: Spock often points out that humans are illogical and irrational. However, there are times he admits that those qualities are necessary.
    • "The Immunity Syndrome" has Spock states that the Vulcan crew of the U.S.S Intrepid would have been incapable of realizing that they were dying without a logical explanation.
    • "I, Mudd": Realizing that the androids were wholly logical, Spock prescribes a hefty dose of human illogic as just the thing to deal with them.
    • Also from "I, Mudd", Chekov discovers that the android girls were programmed by Harry Mudd...which he decides isn't necessarily a bad thing.
      Alice 118: We are programmed to function as human females, lord.
      Chekov: You are?
      Alices: Yes, my lord.
      Chekov: Harry Mudd programmed you?
      Alices: Yes, my lord.
      Chekov: That unprincipled, evil-minded, lecherous kulak Harry Mudd programmed you?
      Alices: Yes, my lord.
      Chekov: This place is even better than Leningrad.
    • "The Enemy Within", after a transporter accident splits Kirk into two people, one good and one evil, it's revealed that his good side isn't capable of command. Spock postulates that it is humanity's faults, tempered by their morals and ethics, that give them the ability to lead.
  • Never My Fault: In "A Taste of Armageddon", Anan 7 describes the future he envisions if Kirk's crew does not submit to be executed because they were "killed" in a simulation: Eminiar and Vendikar will switch to real weapons and totally destroy each other. He lays the blame for this at Kirk's feet, taking no responsibility for his future actions escalating the war. He even says, "Escalation is automatic," as if the two sides have no agency to, you know, stop killing each other. He also says, before calling the Enterprise to threaten to kill the Federation people already on the planet if the remaining crew doesn't beam down, that Kirk is "forcing" him to do so. After the computer responsible for the simulated war is destroyed, Anan claims the whole thing because they had admitted to themselves that they were killers and they just couldn't stop killing. As far as he was concerned, the fact that it was their instinct meant they were helpless to behave otherwise.
    • Sylvia in “Catspaw” gets angry at Kirk for trying to seduce her, and he calls her out on how she captured him, has him chained up for half the episode, and brainwashed his crew, so why shouldn’t he try?
  • Niceness Denial: In "Amok Time", Spock hugs Kirk and gleefully shouts his name when he finds out he's not really dead. However, Spock claims that he did this not because he sees Kirk as a friend, but rather because he's relieved that a captain hasn't been lost.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: Bought up by Nichelle Nichols in the difference between how Kirk and Spock are treated in-universe (and by female fans). Kirk gets Eating the Eye Candy, ripped shirts and women kidnapping him because he’s pretty. Spock on the other hand, is actually wanted as a romantic partner any time he has to cope with a Girl of the Week, Expanded universe novels will further this on, Kirk having an undeserved reputation as someone who sleeps with anyone and Spock only looking more aloof and repressed (so I Can Change My Beloved) in comparison.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: At the end of "This Side of Paradise", McCoy notes that this is the second time mankind has been thrown out of paradise. Kirk comments that, no, they left on their own, because maybe it's mankind's fate to only be happy when they have to struggle and fight for everything they get.
  • No Immortal Inertia: In "Miri", children live for hundreds of years due to a virus, but when they reach puberty, they become ill and insane and die within a few weeks.
  • No Name Given: Several prominent examples:
    • The character played by Majel Barrett in "The Cage" is referred to only as "Number One," the unofficial nickname attached to her position as Captain Pike's first officer.
    • Neither the male Romulan Commander played by Mark Lenard in "Balance of Terror" nor the female Commander played by Joanne Linville in "The Enterprise Incident" are ever referred to by name.
  • Non-Standard Prescription: Doctor McCoy has Scotty visit a club with a belly dancer, saying it's a prescription. In the films, Bones drinks Romulan Ale for "medicinal purposes." The ship's doctor in the original pilot also gives Pike a glass of martini instead of medicine, stating that there are things that people will tell their bartender that they refuse to tell their doctor.
  • No-Paper Future:
    • Although paper still exists, characters take notes on what are obviously tablet computers. Most characters find reading e-books off of screens to be more convenient than hauling wood pulp around. And this was over forty years ago.
    • The characters are reading what the series calls "microtapes." Yet another example of Zeerust, in that microfilm was predicted to replace paper books back in the 1960's.
    • Averted in the unaired pilot, where the ship's computer produces printouts.
  • No Social Skills: Charlie Evans, due to being raised by Energy Beings.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed: Discussed. When Khan is awoken in "Space Seed", he has a discussion with Kirk once they have determined his identity, lamenting the fact that the humans of the 2260s are practically indistinguishable from those of the 1990s. He was hoping to awaken in a world of genetically modified Ubermenschen like himself, at the very least.
  • Not Rare Over There: In "Elaan of Troyius", the ship's dilithium crystals crack in the middle of a battle. Unfortunately, there are none left... until they realize that Elaan's necklace has a bunch of them. She surrenders it gladly, bemused that they would want what to her planet are Worthless Yellow Rocks.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • In the episode "Balance of Terror", the defeated Romulan Commander says that he and Kirk "are of a kind," just before blowing himself up.
      Romulan Commander: You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend. We are creatures of duty, captain. I have lived my life by it. Just... one more duty... to perform.
    • In the Gene Coon written “Errand Of Mercy”, the Organians don’t see much difference between Klingon rule and the Federation (and neither does Kor), no matter how much Kirk would like to think otherwise.
  • Not So Stoic: "Amok Time" has Spock react in excitement when Kirk isn't dead.
  • Novelization: between 1967 and his death in the late 1970s, James Blish adapted virtually every TOS episode in short-story format for a series of paperback books (Star Trek 1, Star Trek 2, etc.). A handful of leftover stories were subsequently adapted by his widow, J.A. Lawrence, as the final Star Trek 12 volume, plus the Harry Mudd stories were combined with an original novella to form the novel Mudd's Angels. Early Blish volumes exhibit Early-Installment Weirdness as they are based on early scripts of some episodes, resulting in noticeable differences in plot and characterization from the broadcast episodes.
  • Numbered Homeworld: Rigel VII ... XII ... how many of those were there, anyway?
  • Obstructionist Pacifist:
    • A famous example is Edith Keeler from "The City on the Edge of Forever". A time-traveling Dr. McCoy saves her, and because she lives, she leads a pacifist movement that prevents crucial war research during WWII, causing the Nazis to win the war. Kirk has to let her die to reset the timeline.
    • The Organians look like this for most of "Errand of Mercy". Spock describes the planet as a stagnant culture, and the planet seems to be populated by amiable old men who placidly allow the Klingons to conquer them, rebuking Kirk and Spock's efforts to inspire a resistance because they abhor violence so much they'd rather allow arbitrary executions than fight back. It's only at the end that we learn the Organians have simply pretended to be harmless (and executed, and humanoid) to make their visitors feel at ease. When tensions come to a head, they revert to their luminous true forms and make both sides sit in the corner.
  • Obvious Stunt Double:
    • The most infamous example might be the fight in "Amok Time", which features a stunt double that looks nothing like William Shatner fighting an equally non-Leonard-Nimoyish stuntman.
    • Though you could also cite the fight between Ricardo Montalban's stuntman and whoever was doubling for Shatner in "Space Seed".
    • Or the fight in "Court Martial", where seemingly two random guys fought in place of actors William Shatner and Richard Webb.
    • In "Wolf in the Fold", Hengist, (played by the non imposing John Fiedler), is doubled by someone a few inches taller and more than a few pounds heavier.
  • Of the People: In the episode "The Return of the Archons", outsiders are said to be not of the body.
  • Oh, Crap!: In "Amok Time" Kirk is chosen to face Spock in battle. Kirk agrees, reasoning that, if things get bad, he'll quit and Spock will be declared the winner. Then, when the lirpa (the staffs with really big blades) are produced, T'Pau announces, "If both survive the lirpa, combat will continue with the ahn-woon." When Kirk asks about what she means, she tells him "This combat is to the death."
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Matter!Lazarus from "The Alternative Factor". In order to kill his enemy, his Anti-Matter double, he has to cross the threshold into the other universe, but bumping into said enemy while in the same universe will destroy both universes. Despite knowing this, he's so far gone that he simply doesn't care.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: In "Court Martial", this turns out that Ben Finney, the man Kirk supposedly killed by accident and caused the titular court martial to happen and who actually faked his death to try to make Kirk go to jail and in the climax tries to crash the Enterprise on a planet with everybody on boar believes that, because of "one little mistake" that Kirk reported while they served in another ship earlier in their careers, he was being constantly mocked by everybody else in their class, who made Captain before him. It's made pretty obvious as the episode goes that Finney has become completely freaking insane from his obsession over this, including constantly sending letters to his daughter Jame ranting about it (which make Jame accept that maybe her father is crazy enough to try to frame Kirk) and the wide-eyed glee he shows as he tries to kill Kirk with his bare hands at the climax.
  • One-Hit Kill: The Romulan Plasma Torpedo is this, but only at close range.
  • One-Winged Angel: Sylvia in "Catspaw" turns into a giant cat when Kirk refuses to obey her.
  • Once a Season:
    • The Romulans appear in one episode per season: "Balance of Terror" in season 1, "The Deadly Years" in season 2note , and "The Enterprise Incident" in season 3.
    • Kirk faces a different Nefarious Klingon Commander once per season: Kor in season 1's "Errand of Mercy", Koloth in season 2's "The Trouble with Tribbles", and Kang in season 3's "Day of the Dove". (Both Koloth and Kang were intended to be a returning Kor, but the actor who played him was unavailable both times.)
  • Once for Yes, Twice for No: if not the Trope Maker, then certainly the Trope Codifier with Captain Pike's portrayal in "The Menagerie".
  • Orchestral Bombing: Like many dramatic series of its era, the show makes full and effective use of a brassy orchestral soundtrack. In fact all music used in this series was recorded especially, avoiding the use of common "library" music heard in many other series such as The Twilight Zone and The Fugitive.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • The alien Kirk hunts down in "Obsession" is a shapeless cloud that can travel through space at warp speed without a ship, that subsists off of human blood.
    • In the first episode aired, "The Man Trap", the monster can appear as someone the viewer finds attractive... but its true form is a shaggy creature with a lamprey-like mouth, that feeds through its fingers, on salt.
  • Outlaw Town: "A Piece of the Action" has a planet whose culture has modeled itself after 1920s gangster culture.
  • Out-of-Character Alert:
    • When his memories are about to be transferred over to an android double, Kirk quickly mutters, "Mind your own business, Mr. Spock. I'm sick of your half-breed interference, do you hear?" Later on, when the android meets up with Spock, it says those lines, alerting Spock that this isn't their captain and prompting him to quickly gather a team to beam down. ("What Are Little Girls Made of?")
    • Also occurs in "Day of the Dove," when Chekov is ranting about the Klingons having murdered his brother Piotr. Sulu immediately knows something is wrong because Chekov's an only child.
    • The rest of the crew is alerted to Janice Lester's hijacking of Kirk's body by her increasingly irrational and paranoid behavior in "Turnabout Intruder."
    • Used as part of a Batman Gambit in "Mirror, Mirror" when the crew convinces the Mirror Universe Spock to assist them in returning home and to set up the Heel–Face Turn that Mirror!Spock would perform later on, as referenced in subsequent episodes of DS9 and Voyager.
      Mirror Spock: You must return to your universe, and I must have my captain back.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: "The Naked Time", "This Side of Paradise" and "Amok Time" are entire episodes about this trope.
  • Out of Order: The network aired a lot of episodes in a completely different order than they were produced. Some of this was justified ("The Corbomite Maneuver" and "Balance of Terror" needed a lot of post-production work done after they were filmed), while others were more arbitrary ("The Man Trap" was aired before "Where No Man Has Gone Before" despite the latter being the series pilot, as the network wanted something more like a typical B-movie plot to introduce the series instead of the actual pilot).
  • Papa Wolf: Kirk considers every man and woman under his command his responsibility, and if you harm them, he will not be happy.
  • Parental Title Characterization: Spock, when not calling his parents by name, calls them "Mother" and "Father". This is because Vulcans (his father's species) tend to be quite formal in their language and don't tend to openly express affection.
  • Parent ex Machina:
    • "The Squire of Gothos" has Trelane getting punished by his "parents" (who appear as blobs of energy)- just in time to stop him from finishing off Kirk.
    • In "Charlie X", the alien species that raised Charlie return to take him back before he can do any more damage, and they undo most of the damage that he has already done, though thye are unable to bring back the crew of another ship which Charlie destroyed, probably because there wasn't enough left after the explosion.
  • People Puppets: "Plato's Stepchildren", and a literal example in the ending of the original version of "Catspaw".
  • Planet Spaceship: In "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky", a group of aliens have been sequestered inside a large interstellar asteroid for so long that they have forgotten that they are actually inside one.
  • Pleasure Planet: "Shore Leave" takes place on a planet where aliens go for amusement and the Enterprise crew finds danger and weirdness.
  • Plot Hole: "The City on the Edge of Forever" makes no attempt to explain how Kirk, Spock, and McCoy get back after fixing the time rift in Earth of 1930. They simply show up. The Guardian of Forever heavily implies it can pull them back if the timeline was reset.
  • Pointy Ears: On Spock and other Vulcans; appropriate for Space Elves. Romulans, which are related to Vulcans, also have pointed ears, and Spock comes in for some Fantastic Racism when the visual similarity is noticed.
  • Polarity Reversal: The Trope Maker.
  • Poorly-Disguised Pilot: "Assignment: Earth" was intended to spin off a series of the same name. The existing script was reworked to include the Enterprise, but the focus is still clearly on Gary Seven and the other new characters; Kirk and his crew have almost no impact on the outcome.
  • Powerful and Helpless: This trope is mentioned directly by McCoy in Whom Gods Destroy when the Elba II penal colony is overrun by the inmates and turned chaotic while their landing party is still on the now shielded and unapproachable planet. The Enterprise in orbit, though powerful enough to destroy a planet, can do nothing to get their men back - using the phasers to blow away the shield runs the risk of killing everyone they're trying to save.
    Scott: "We could blast our way through the (force) field, but only at the risk of destroying the Captain, Mister Spock and any other living thing on Elba Two."
    McCoy: "How can we be powerful enough to wipe out a planet and still be so helpless?"
  • The Power of Legacy:
    • In his final log in "Where No Man Has Gone Before", Kirk merely notes that Mitchell "gave [his] life in performance of [his] duty", and omits the part where he first gained vast psionic powers and began to think of himself as a god who regarded humans as insects to be crushed. Justified in that not only is Mitchell not at fault for what was effectively an injury sustained in the course of duty (the galactic barrier which they had been ordered to explore) but he is also Kirk's friend from their academy days.
    • Likewise, in "The Doomsday Machine" Kirk states that his log will note that Commodore Decker died in the line of duty, omitting the part where the man pretty much went insane with survivor's guilt and almost got the crew of the Enterprise killed. It's heavily suggested that Kirk is attempting to imply by omission that Decker performed a Heroic Sacrifice by piloting the Constellation into the Doomsday Machine to destroy it, instead of the truth, that he went out in a futile suicidal gesture by crashing into the machine with a shuttlecraft. Note that Spock is the one who brings up Kirk logging Decker as having died in the line of duty, which he seems to endorse despite having been in a power struggle with Decker for most of the episode. Although he doesn't say it in so many words, he obviously felt for Decker in the same way that he felt for Gary Mitchell.
  • Powering Villain Realization:
    • "Day of the Dove". An entity that feeds on hate and violence invades the Enterprise, setting Kirk and Klingon Captain Kang and their crews against each other. Realizing that they're being manipulated, Kirk and Kang refuse to fight each other, Kang even giving Kirk a good-natured (for a Klingon) slap on the back that almost has the Captain reeling, but they manage to drive out the entity by refusing to feed it with their hatred.
    • "The Menagerie": Pike realizes that the Talosians cannot read strong, violent thoughts, and also that they rely on him to supply the imaginations they use to fuel the illusions they attempt to trap him in. So he sits in his cell, stewing in hatred and anger until the Keeper gets careless and Pike seizes him. note 
    • In the episode "And The Children Shall Lead", the evil entity called Gorgan gets its power from the fact that the children believe it has power. When that belief is taken away, Gorgan dies rather messily.
  • Pretty in Mink: Lenore Karidian wears a short fur dress. Seen here, at 12:55: 14:47.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • There is only one curse in the entire series, occurring at the end of "The City on The Edge of Forever". It's notable for being one of the few curse words on American TV during the 1960s and showing just how hurt Kirk is as a result of the Bittersweet Ending.
      Kirk: Let's get the hell out of here.
    • Bones does say "Don't give me any damnable logic..." in one episode, and a gangster from the gangster episode does say "hell" in a non-religious context. Neither case is given the emphasis of Kirk's declaration.
  • Pressure Point: Spock's Vulcan nerve/neck pinch. According to Word of Nimoy, this was originally going to be a traditional Tap on the Head, but Nimoy insisted that Vulcans had something more sophisticated and reliable instead.
  • Proud Warrior Race: While the Klingons and Romulans are the expected examples, there are many species in this series that fit this trope.... including humanity to some extent.
  • Proxy War: "A Private Little War" has the Klingons supplying increasingly advanced firearms to one tribe of a primitive planet, to install them as a puppet leader of that world. Another tribe, one that Kirk had met years before, begins to demand similar weapons by the end, and Kirk begins arranging a Federation-aligned alliance of tribes to oppose the Klingon-controlled ones. He even references the brush wars of the 20th century as he does so.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Janice Lester in "Turnabout Intruder" is an ex-lover of Kirk's. She uses a machine to steal Kirk's position by swapping their brainwave patterns.
  • Psycho Serum: McCoy's adrenaline-like drug in "The City on the Edge of Forever" causes temporary insanity when injected at overly high doses. When the ship hits some turbulence, he accidentally injects himself with a very high dose.
  • Psychopathic Manchild:
    • Charlie Evans from "Charlie X".
    • Trelane from "The Squire of Gothos." Made even better by the fact that while he looks like an adult human, by his species' standards Trelane is a child.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Chekov gets a particularly nasty one in "Mirror, Mirror" when he threatens to kill Kirk for disobeying an order. Doubles as Slasher Smile.
  • Public Secret Message:
    • In "Space Seed", Khan Noonien Singh was named for Kim Noonien Singh, one of Roddenberry's buddies from World War II. Roddenberry hoped that the name would attract the attention of the Real Life Singh in hopes that they would reconnect.
    • David Gerrold did a similar thing in writing "The Trouble With Tribbles"; the space station on which the episode takes place is in orbit around "Sherman's Planet". Gerrold's girlfriend at the time was one Holly Sherman.
  • Pummeling the Corpse: In "A Private Little War", the previously violence-averse Tyree snaps when he sees his wife stabbed to death. In the ensuing climactic battle, Tyree rushes and quickly overpowers the man who stabbed his wife, and staves in his head with a large rock. Tyree's mind, clouded with berserk fury, does not register that his opponent is dead, so he spends the rest of the battle bashing the corpse's shattered head. Even after the battle ends, Tyree continues to bash the unresisting corpse until Kirk stops him.
  • Punishment Box:
    • The appropriately-named Agony Booth in the episode "Mirror, Mirror."
    • The neural neutralizer in "Dagger of the Mind" is not intended as such, but ends up being used this way.
    • The Klingon Mind-Sifter in "Errand of Mercy."
  • Puppeteer Parasite:
    • In "Operation: Annihilate!", parasitic creatures that resemble flying pancakes attack planetary colonists—and eventually Spock.
    • In "Wolf in the Fold", the Enterprise crew encounters "Redjac", a noncorporeal parasite responsible for numerous serial killings throughout the centuries. One of the humans it possessed was Jack the Ripper.
  • Put on a Bus: Yeoman Rand during the first season. (Grace Lee Whitney later said that the producers wanted girl-of-the-week guest stars as love interests for Kirk.) The starship comes back for the movies and a time travel episode of Voyager.

  • Quitting to Get Married:
    • In the episode "Who Mourns for Adonais". Kirk and Dr. McCoy are discussing Lieutenant Carolyn Palamas.
      McCoy: One day she'll find the right man and off she'll go, out of the service.
    • Implied in the episode "Balance of Terror", when Kirk marries two officers, but is interrupted as a Red Alert goes off. The groom reminds the bride that for the moment he's still her superior officer.note 
  • Race Against the Clock: This trope is deployed a lot to maintain tension after the main conflict of an episode is established. Kirk and crew will receive a deadline in which to solve their problem, after which dire consequences (often the explosion of the Enterprise or the death of a landing party) will occur. Sometimes the threat is directly related to the problem; in other instances, it's coincidental — the problem interferes with some bit of starship business that would otherwise be routine.
    • Taken up to eleven in "The Tholian Web" where there are three different time-sensitive crises (plus the non-time sensitive crisis of McCoy and Spock starting to lose their temper towards each other worse than usual due to everything else that's going on) going on at the same time: Kirk is lost in another dimension and running out of oxygen in his space suit, the Tholians are building the titular web around the Enterprise which will be unable to escape if it's completed before they fix their weapons and figure out a way out of it, and the part of the space they're in is also causing the crew to suffer Space Madness unless McCoy figures out a way to nullify its effect.
  • Radio Silence: In "Balance of Terror", the Romulan ship heads home under cover of a cloaking device and comm silence. Unfortunately for them, one of the officers violates orders in order to call home base to report the success of their mission, and the transmission is detected.
  • Ramming Always Works: How Kirk destroys the titular device in "The Doomsday Machine", using a derelict starship to which Scotty manages to restore some engine power.
  • Rape by Proxy: Downplayed in “Plato’s Stepchildren”, as Spock and Kirk are forced to kiss Chapel and Uhura to the sadistic joy of the Platonians, and all four are traumatised and disgusted; Chapel not wanting her crush on Spock to be used like this, and Uhura feeling safe around Kirk, until now.
  • Ray Gun Gothic: The Original Series was the last of the classic examples. Soon afterwards, 2001: A Space Odyssey and the Real Life moon landings introduced more realism into the genre.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: Said by everyone: Spock, Chekov, Uhura...
  • Real Award, Fictional Character: In "The Ultimate Computer", Dr. Richard Daystrom is cited as a 2243 Nobel Prize winner for the invention of duotronic computers.
  • Reality-Changing Miniature: In "Catspaw", Silvia's little silver Enterprise causes the real ship to overheat when the model is exposed to a flame, and the old girl to be surrounded by a force field when the model is encased in hard plastic.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Two instances, both involving Time Travel and the not-gun-shaped Phaser. In "The City On The Edge of Forever", a 1930s bum gets hold of one and vaporizes himself playing with it. In "Tomorrow Is Yesterday", Kirk is captured by Air Police in 1969, and cringes (with priceless facial expressions) as they fiddle with his weapon, toss it around, and several times almost press the trigger, conflicted between justifiable fear and the need to not let them know who he is or what they have.
  • Red Shirt: Actually an Unbuilt Trope: By and large, most of the people who die in a given episode tend not to be very plot-important, but only 24 red-shirted crewmembers died across all 80 episodes, in a series fraught with evil computer programs, shape-shifting salt vampires, planet destroying superweapons, and explosive rocks. Considering their job, and the fact that the ship has 430 crewmembers, that's not bad for a five-year mission.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Dr. Elizabeth Dehner in the 2nd pilot episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and Captain Merik in "Bread and Circuses".
  • Religion of Evil: The cult of Landru in "The Return of the Archons".
  • Repressive, but Efficient: "Patterns of Force", in which a lawless planet adopts Nazism as its hat with the justification that it was "the most efficient state the Earth ever knew." Their version of Nazism is treated in-universe as just as flawlessly efficient.
  • Resort to Pouting: "Tomorrow is Yesterday" introduces a rather inconvenient modification to the Enterprise's main computer, the installation of a feminine personality. After it refers to Kirk as "dear" one too many times when he specifically ordered it not to, he makes a notation in the log that he considers it a fault. If it cannot be repaired, his recommendation is that the whole thing be scrapped. There is an entirely audible pout as the computer replies with a sulking "Computed."
  • Rewatch Bonus: While the thinking he can just assimilate other cultures would be called out later on by the Gene Coon era, “The Enemy Within” shows most of the flaws and positive qualities that would last Kirk the rest of his life, from even his good side wanting to pretend something bad never happened, to his bad side only showing intelligence when it’s time to act weak but charming, and his compassion both helping and harming him.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Isis (to Gary Seven) in "Assignment: Earth" and Sylvia (to Korob) in "Catspaw".
  • Rude Hero, Nice Sidekick: Inverted; Captain Kirk is a charming Officer and a Gentleman. By contrast, his first officer, Spock, is more tactless and ruthlessly pragmatic. The fact that he's also The Stoic when he does these things probably doesn't do his image any favors.
  • Running Gag:
    • Trying to explain Spock's Pointy Ears to native people. The cake-taker has to be this gem, from "The City on the Edge of Forever":
      Spock: You were saying you'd have no trouble explaining [the ears].
      Kirk: [to a cop] My friend... is obviously Chinese. I see you've noticed the ears... well, they're... actually easy to explain...
      Spock: Perhaps the unfortunate accident I had as a child...?
      Kirk: ...the unfortunate accident he had as a child. He caught his head in a mechanical... rice picker... but, fortunately, there was an American, uh, missionary living close by who was a, uh, skilled, uh, plastic surgeon in civilian life who...
      Cop: All right, all right. Drop those bundles and put your hands on the wall.
    • Chekov claiming everything was "inwented in Russia."
      Chekov: It makes me homesick... just like Russia.
      McCoy: More like the Garden of Eden, Ensign.
      Chekov: Of course, Doctor. The Garden of Eden was just outside Moscow. Very nice place.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Infamously, the Klingons (though they didn't even have the budget for that until the movies). Vulcans are Rubber Pointy Ear Aliens.
  • Sacred Scripture:
    • In "The Omega Glory", the Yangs have a sacred text which turns out to be identical to the US Constitution.
    • In "A Piece of the Action" our heroes discover a planet has been using a book about gangs in 1920s Chicago (left by a previous Federation vessel) as their holy book.
  • Sadist: The Platonians enjoy humiliating Kirk and company in “Plato’s Stepchildren”, the wife especially looking like she’s finding it all sexually appealing.
  • Sadistic Choice: Everyone is forced to make these every so often.
  • Sailor Fuku: In the episode "Court Martial", Jame Finney wears a futuristic version of this.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Both Spock and Bones are devoted to the captain, but are also quite willing to question/make sarcastic comments about his orders when the situation warrants it.
    Spock: Captain, you are an excellent starship commander, but as a taxi driver, you leave something to be desired!
  • Science Is Good: The show portrays a fairly utopian, post-scarcity, post-racism future for humankind, with Cool Starships and Faster-Than-Light Travel. Unlike many science-focused works, the original series is fairly idealistic and romantic, showing respect for both nature/tradition and new science and medicine.
  • Scientifically Understandable Sorcery: While there are plenty of incidents where the Enterprise crew seems to encounter the supernatural, said supernatural thing is always shown to have a scientific basis when sufficiently analyzed by the characters. That said, sometimes the thing is too advanced to analyze with the Enterprise's technology, and thus remains indecipherable.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Whenever Kirk violates given orders, it's specifically to avoid the loss of his ship and crew, or to avoid making a situation worse by not seeing it through to the end.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!:
    • Trelane, the Squire of Gothos... at least until Kirk breaks whatever it is he has behind that mirror. In the episode "Catspaw", Sylvia and Korob... until Kirk shatters the power transmuter wand tied to the illusions to themselves and the planet. You may notice a theme.
    • Justified/Played with in "Charlie X", because he really doesn't understand the rules.
    • Gary Mitchell from "Where No Man Has Gone Before".
  • Screw the Rules, They're Not Real!: In "A Taste of Armageddon", Jim Kirk and his crew discover that the Planet of the Week, Eminiar VII, is conducting a Forever War with a neighboring planet, Vendikar, entirely by computer simulation, with the "simulated" casualties ordered to report to the government for euthanasia. They're horrified but aren't allowed to do anything about it under the Prime Directive... until the computer erroneously marks the Enterprise as a valid target and designates it "destroyed". Kirk refuses to abide by the Eminian-Vendikari rules, and instead starts blowing up the euthanasia booths and ultimately the computer. The Eminian head of state complains that with the computer gone, their underlying civilizations will be destroyed by war instead of merely people's lives. Kirk counters that the simulated war has taken all the horror out of the conflict, and with it any incentive to make peace, and how about they try that instead.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can:
  • Sealed Orders: In "The Enterprise Incident", Captain Kirk receives secret orders to steal a Romulan cloaking device. As part of The Plan, he acts like a Jerkass as a form of Obfuscating Insanity.
  • Second Episode Introduction: McCoy doesn't appear in either of the pilots, but does appear in the first proper episode.
  • Secret Test: Balok in "The Corbomite Maneuver", the Ekosian Resistance in "Patterns of Force", and Korob in "Catspaw".
  • Seduction-Proof Marriage: In "Elaan of Troyius", Kirk is infected by alien tears that cause men to be madly in love with the woman who shed them. Doctor McCoy looks for a cure, but in the end notes that the Captain had his own cure; he was in essence already married to the Enterprise. Fans tend to point out that the 'cure' occured shortly after a conversation/confrontation with Commander Spock, implying that the marriage may not be a Cargo Ship after all.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: The Enterprise has one on board. It requires simultaneous voice input from three senior officers to activate.
  • Serious Work, Comedic Scene: The show does this practically Once per Episode, breaking the tension of an episode's conflict with a joke. For example, the episode Spock's Brain features this exchange after Spock starts describing the culture of Sigma Draconis VI:
    McCoy: I should never have reconnected his mouth.
    Kirk: Well, we took the risk, Doctor.
  • Send in the Search Team: Whenever the Enterprise loses track of important personnel on a planet, they send in the Redshirt Army to find them. This occurs in several episodes, with varying degrees of success.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Almost everyone in the mirror universe dresses skimpier than they do in the main universe. Though you'd be hard-pressed to take the basic female Starfleet uniform and make it skimpier without violating broadcast codes, they found a way.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Kirk and Gary’s friendship. Gary’s the one who is more a playboy (a girl he was with went “nova” whatever that means) and Kirk was the “stack of books with legs”, with most of his relationships dying because Married to the Job.
    '''Cadet Kirk: [Gary Mitchell] was everything I wasn’t: charming, gregarious, rough and a little reckless.
    • While both hammy, Kirk vs Mudd. In both episodes, Mudd complains that Kirk is uptight and needs to take orders (from him, specifically), while Kirk always fires back that Mudd is a criminal sleazeball.
  • Settling the Frontier: A couple of examples:
    • "This Side of Paradise" has the Enterprise on a rescue mission to settlers on a Federation colony, supposedly endangered by deadly radiation.
    • In "The Way to Eden", the crew of the Enterprise meets a group of space hippies who hope to settle a new colony on a planet they call Eden.
    • In "The Trouble with Tribbles" the Federation and the Klingons are competing to develop a colony world. The Enterprise is tasked with delivering a special grain hybrid to kickstart the colony's agriculture. A Klingon agent subsequently poisons the grain.
  • Sexier Alter Ego:
    • In the episode "Mudd's Women", Mudd has pills that he claims makes a woman more attractive.
    • Mirror Universe Spock is this for many viewers.
  • Shapeshifting Seducer: The pilot episode and the season 2 episode "Catspaw" feature women who change shape to find a form that pleases the captain.
  • Shirtless Scene: Kirk has a lot of these.
  • Shout-Out: To the show's precursor Forbidden Planet, which included the early line, "We'll reach D.C. point at 1701."
  • Showing Off the New Body: In “Return To Tomorrow”, Sargon puppets Kirk’s body, saying it’s excellent and complimenting Bones on “maintaining” it, while Janice Lester in “Turnabout Intruder” takes the opportunity to grope his abs when she steals it.
  • Show Some Leg: Lampshaded in “Is There In Truth No Beauty” when Spock needs a diversion to mind meld with Kolos, Kirk knows just the thing: flirting with Miranda Jones to distract her. For once it doesn’t work, and she’s only annoyed by the deception.
  • Shown Their Work: In "Tomorrow Is Yesterday", the Enterprise travels back in time to 1968. 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.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: In "A Taste of Armageddon", the Eminian leader insists that peace is impossible and that their 500-year-old simulated war with declared casualties reporting in to be neatly and cleanly killed is the lesser of two evils. Kirk insists that they can make peace if they just try harder, and helpfully provides them with motivation to do so by shutting down the war computer and forcing them to choose between real-world messy warfare and swallowing enough pride to find a peaceful solution.
  • Silly Reason for War:
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: The series adhered to the level 2 of continuity (Status Quo Is God) well enough that with a scant few exceptions and Character Development for the main three (Bones and Spock are less at each other's throats, Kirk tries to be less of a soldier) you can watch the series in any order and it generally makes perfect sense.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The show was mostly on the idealism end of the spectrum, showing that in the future, humanity managed to finally stop fighting with each other and form a world government free of racism and other evils. It’s particularly notable seeing as how it was made during a time when America’s biggest issues were racism and the threat of nuclear war.
  • Slut-Shaming: Both played straight and ultimately avoided with Kirk, as in episodes like “Dagger Of The Mind”, he’s gently teased by Bones and Spock for accidentally flirting with Dr Noel, but when things go badly wrong and she shoves a false one night stand in his brain, they’re both sympathetically hovering around him at the end of the episode, and it’s not treated as something he deserved. Played straight as an arrow with both in-universe and out “Kirk Drift” though.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Spock, logically, as well as Kirk, who was stated to be quite bookish at the academy, play 3-D chess. They are often seen playing while having a conversation relevant to the plot.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Uhura was a Token Twofer who was also relegated to the position of space phone operator. For the time, she was rather progressivenote , but... This was due to Executive Meddling. The original pilot had a female second-in-command. The network couldn't fire her fast enough (even if she managed to sneak back on set anyway in a blonde wig as a nurse). The network might also have resented the fact that she was Gene Roddenberry's girlfriend. According to William Shatner at least, women in the test audiences found the female second-in-command "pushy" and "annoying." Maybe The World Was Not Ready... (It's also possible that Number One was simply perceived as being too abrasive toward her subordinates, though her being a woman with subordinates would probably contribute to this perception. On the other hand, it's noteworthy that Kirk was also frequently abrasive in the early episodes until the character was refined and solidified.) It's also been said that NBC gave Roddenberry a somewhat Sadistic Choice: either keep the female second-in-command or keep Spock, but not both. Years later, Majel Barrett would quip that he "kept the Vulcan and married the woman, 'cause he didn't think Leonard would have it the other way around."
    • Many individual episodes also employ this trope: when a landing party beams down to a planet, there is usually exactly one woman on the team, whose narrative function is to have a romance arc with either another member of the landing party, or the episode's villain.
  • Space Amish:
    • "The Way to Eden" features a group seeking a world where they can set up such a society. In the end, it doesn't work out (both because the planet they've chosen is uninhabitable, and because their leader is a nut), but it's interesting that, out of the whole crew, the one who is most sympathetic to their goal is Spock.
      Spock: Miss Galliulin... It is my sincere hope that you do not give up your search for Eden. I have no doubt but that you will find it, or make it yourselves.
    • "Errand of Mercy" features an alien society that thrived for eons without technological advancement. Although, they really don't need to use technology. They are, after all Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
  • Space Is Noisy: Star Trek's writers are very well aware that there is no sound in space - in fact, the show was originally planned to not feature sound during the space scenes at all. This idea was dropped because without sound, the scenes felt unreal.
    • In "Balance of Terror", both the Romulan and the Enterprise crews cut their ship's power to avoid detection. During this, the crews whisper so they will not alert the enemy. This is actually justified by the fact that starship sensors are established to be able to detect even very faint vibrations - such as heartbeats - from very long distances: the impact of voices hitting the hull could give them away.
  • Space Is an Ocean: The Enterprise is a "ship," equipped with "torpedoes," and the crew is arranged along naval lines. Several touches are intended to put the audience specifically in mind of the age of Wooden Ships and Iron Men: the in-ship intercom's attention chime is a bosun's whistle, and the standard bit of incidental music played when the Enterprise is in flight is in a style often used for incidental music accompanying a sailing ship under way.
  • Space Mines: In the episode "Balance of Terror", the Romulan ship uses one of its self-destruct devices as an impromptu mine in an attempt to destroy the Enterprise. It's also noted in the Writer's Guide that the Enterprise's photon torpedoes can be used as mines, but this is never actually done in any episode.
  • Space Western: Gene Roddenberry famously pitched the series as "Wagon Train to the stars". The first season in particular gives the impression of the Enterprise'' crew as frontiersmen exploring and expanding into a vast and untamed wilderness.
  • Spot the Imposter:
    • In "Whom Gods Destroy", Spock sees Kirk standing right next to an insane shapeshifter who is posing as Kirk. Spock identifies the imposter getting into a fight and noticing that one Kirk orders them both shot to prevent the imposter from escaping. Knowing that the imposter would never give that kind of command, Spock stuns the other one. This may be the origin of the "shoot us both" gambit, which itself is so well-known that today it's more likely that the evil one will use it, expecting the decider to shoot the other one.
      • Spock knew that the shapeshifter in question couldn't hold another identity for more than a few minutes. He says so, and explains that all he has to do is wait. That's when the "Shoot him! No, shoot us both" dialogue occurs.
      • Leonard Nimoy hated this episode, noting that as The Smart Guy Spock should have been able to easily and quickly create the kind of highly personal trick questions only his best friend, Kirk, should be able to answer properly to identify himself. According to Spock, he did not make his choice based on the order to shoot them both, but rather based on which one was winning: Kirk was recovering from serious injuries and thus was at a disadvantage against the healthier duplicate.
    • "The Man Trap" features a shapeshifting creature that drains the salt from people. It shapeshifts several times before settling on shifting into McCoy's form. It can be spotted by its tendency to curve its index finger and nibble slightly on the arc of the finger.
    • In "The Enemy Within", Kirk is split by a transporter accident into his "good" and "evil" halves. In what might be considered a subversion, it turns out Kirk's "evil" half is not so much evil, as driven by passion and base instinct, and Kirk's "good" half, the logic and intellect side, is incapable of acting competently without it.
    • In "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", Spock is able to spot the android Kirk because the genuine article focused on a particular out of character thought, embedding it in the android's programming.
  • Starfish Alien:
    • Despite the franchise's well-earned reputation for Rubber-Forehead Aliens, the original series did introduce some nonhumanoid aliens in some of the series' most highly-regarded episodes: the Horta in "Devil in the Dark," the tribbles in "The Trouble with Tribbles"; the true forms of Sylvia and Korob as seen at the end of "Catspaw"; and several non-corporeal aliens. Within the limits of the special effects technology available at the time, the original series actually did fairly well in this regard. Additionally, the Kelvans are stated to have had a truly bizarre physiology before taking on human form to steal the Enterprise.
    • TOS also introduced the Tholians, an extremely xenophobic race that had the general appearance of a virus. Despite only appearing in one episode, they became a fan favorite and the subject of wild speculation. Eventually, throughout the remainder of the franchise, a few canonical facts were given about the species: They have six legs, no evidence of a circulatory system, require temperatures above 400 degrees Kelvin to survive (lower temperatures would cause their carapace to rupture and eventually explode), have two sexes despite being hermaphroditic, and can emit radiation as a means of communication.
  • Stealth in Space: The Romulans' cloaking device technology shields them from both visible light and sensor readings, but also blinds the ship itself, and draws so much power that it must be dropped in order to fire, allowing for "Balance of Terror" to be a submarine episode (specifically, the 1957 film The Enemy Below) Recycled IN SPACE!
  • Stealth Pun: The name of the librarian in "All Our Yesterdays" is "Atoz". Which is what you get if you take the phrase "A to Z" and compress it.
  • Stinky Flower: Discussed. When Kirk and his crew are spouting Non Sequiturs to get some robots to shut down, Spock says that "Logic is a wreath of beautiful flowers that smell bad".
  • Straw Vulcan: Among other examples, in "The Galileo Seven", we're shown Spock's first command, as the shuttle he is in charge of crashes on a desolate planet filled with savage aliens. Spock determines that a display of superior force will logically frighten away these aliens while the crew make repairs to the shuttle. Instead, as Dr. McCoy points out, the aliens have an emotional reaction and become angry and attack, something Spock did not anticipate. In the end, Spock's desperate act of igniting the fuel from the shuttle to create a beacon proves to be the correct action since it gets the attention of the Enterprise and allows for a rescue. When called on this "emotional" act, Spock replies that the only logical course of action in that instance was one of desperation. Also, much of the conflict in the episode comes from Spock steadfastly refusing to take the emotional reactions of the men under his command into account, or to even acknowledge that they have them, expecting them all to act like cool, logical Vulcans. Spock's been around humans long enough he should know this attitude is illogical.
  • The Strength of Ten Men: In "Space Seed," Khan's "I have five times your strength!" Spock, as well, being half-Vulcan - he's thrice as strong as a human. This is not always apparent since he tends either to avoid physical confrontation or end them instantly with a nerve-pinch to shut down the opponent, but on the few occasions he ended up in a fight, this trope is clearly in play.
  • Stumbling Upon the Lost Wizard: The show used this a couple of times:
    • "Metamorphosis": Lost scientist Zefram Cochrane, inventor of the warp drive, is discovered by the Enterprise. He has an otherworldly companion that allowed him to live for centuries, not unlike the fey servant of the Ur-Example of this trope, Prospero.
    • "Requiem For Methuselah": Mr. Flint owns a planet in the Omega system. He has a number of robots as servants and a beautiful female ward named Rayna Kapec. He has tremendous technological power, enough to destroy the Enterprise. He has two dark secrets. The first is that he is an immortal man from Earth and is thousands of years old. The second is that his ward is not human, but actually an android robot in female form, and he needs to have her emotions wakened so she will love him. Her name may be a reference to Karel Čapek, who coined the word "robot".
  • Styrofoam Rocks: In "Return of the Archons", a melon-sized "rock" bounces off a stuntman's head and he keeps running. Apparently it wasn't supposed to hit him at all, and was left in under time pressure.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: "The Corbomite Maneuver", "The Squire of Gothos" and more.
  • Super Cell Reception: Naturally, the communicators came before cell phones, but they look much like them (having arguably inspired their modern look), and are often subject to both ends of this trope.
  • Take a Third Option: Kirk is famous for these. When faced with two undesirable options in "Operation: Annihilate!", he outright tells his crew to go and find him a third one.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Usually with Kirk delivering a Logic Bomb to a psychotic computer.
  • Talking Is a Free Action, by way of the Captain's Log used to bring viewers up to speed on current events. In "By Any Other Name", as the Enterprise approaches the Energy Barrier, Kirk records a log detailing a plan to defeat the Kelvans—while the Kelvans are on the bridge with him.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Spock definitely fits into this trope.
  • Tap on the Head: Often played completely straight with the human characters, especially Kirk, but Spock uses his famous Vulcan nerve pinch instead.
  • Take That!:
    • Chekov was supposedly introduced after an article in the Soviet state newspaper Pravda allegedly mocked the show for not having a Russian, when the Russians had been the first into space.
    • Chekov was then used as a delivery vessel for a number of minor Take Thats to the Russians for the remainder of the series, turning In the Original Klingon into an art form:
      Chekov: It makes me homesick. It's just like Russia.
      Bones: More like the Garden of Eden, Ensign.
      Chekov: Of course, Doctor. The Garden of Eden was just outside Moscow—a very nice place, must have made Adam and Eve very sad to leave.
    • The insult "Herbert" that the space hippies use in "The Way to Eden" was definitely a Take That at a real-life Herbert. However, no-one is exactly sure who it was supposed to be: depending on who you ask, it was either Herbert Hoover or Herbert Solow, who was the show's production executive for the first two seasons.
    • In "Charlie X", Uhura sings seductively to Spock (no, the 2009 movie didn't make up her having the hots for him) and jokingly describes him as being "in Satan's guise" (to which Spock struggles to suppress a smile)—a Take That! to meddling executives who had feared that Spock's "devilish" appearance would offend conservative viewers (and doctored publicity photos to remove Spock's pointed ears and slanted eyebrows).
    • Uhura's normal place on the bridge was directly behind the captain's seat, the center of attention and focus. Many, many shots of Kirk included her. "There's a black lady on TV", indeed.
  • Team Kids: Uhura, Checkov, and Sulu are the Team Kids to the Kirk/Spock Team Mom and Dad, with Bones and Scotty as uncles. This is made apparent in "Who Mourns For Adonis", when Checkov suggests he comfort Lt. Palamas. Kirk asks him how old he is and when Checkov tells him, Kirk says he's too young.
  • Technicolor Death: Anyone killed by a phaser weapon set to "disrupt" will experience this.
  • Techno Babble: Interestingly for a Star Trek show, outside of a few rare occurrences, this trope is almost never used. Instead, any technological devices are merely referred to by their explicit functions whenever they are used by the plot. (So, a Photon Torpedo is a torpedo that releases photons, as opposed to a "10 isoton thermolytic warhead encased in a rectified multiphasic matrix") It wouldn't be until Star Trek: The Next Generation that Techno-babble became a major trope in Star Trek. As it turns out, a lack of techno-babble was specifically enforced in the Writer's Guide. (linked here):
    "The writer must know what he means when he uses science or projected science terminology. A scattergun confusion of meaningless phrases only detracts from believability." - Gene Roddenberry
  • Teenage Wasteland: "Miri" features a planet where a virus has killed off all the adults, leaving the children to look after themselves.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Charlie in "Charlie X." Being a juvenile Reality Warper with boundary issues doesn't help, though he does turn out to have a serious Freudian Excuse for his actions.
  • Teleporter Accident:
    • Many (usually the transporter being out of order and unable to beam the heroes aboard), but notably in "The Enemy Within", which creates an Evil Knockoff and a wimpy knockoff of Kirk.
    • The lack of safety features of the transporter is highlighted in Season 3's "And the Children Shall Lead", when Kirk and Spock accidentally transport two crewmen into open space because the transporter system doesn't have any mechanism to warn that they are not locked on to a habitable location.
  • Teleport Interdiction: Federation correctional facilities, such as the Tantalus penal colony in "Dagger of the Mind" and the Elba II asylum in "Whom Gods Destroy", include security fields that prevent beaming in or out while in operation.
  • Temporary Substitute:
    • Sulu doesn't appear in "Space Seed". He was replaced by Makee K. Blaisdell as Lt. Spinelli.
    • Scotty and Sulu are absent from "The Alternative Factor". For unknown reasons they were substituted in the roles of engineer and helmsman by Charlene Masters and Leslie, respectively.
    • During filming of the episode "The Gamesters of Triskelion," George Takei was busy filming The Green Berets. Chekov took his place in the script, with a barroom brawling style in the episode's fight scenes taking the place of the martial arts scenes planned for Sulu.
    • Ditto "The Trouble with Tribbles"; Chekov's instant recognition of quadro-triticale makes more sense knowing that the script was originally written for Sulu, as Sulu had an established background in botany.
    • Uhura doesn't appear in "The Doomsday Machine", her duties assumed by Lt. Palmer, played by Elizabeth Rogers.
    • For "Turnabout Intruder", the final episode, Uhura takes the day off and is replaced by a Lieutenant Lisa. (Nichelle Nichols had a singing engagement that conflicted with the shooting schedule.)
  • Tempting Fate: In "The Menagerie", a few episodes before several traumatic missions and causes for my greatest failures, Kirk calls having to be part of Spock’s mutiny trial hearing the worst moment of his service. The Talosians tell him at the end that Pike has illusion and he has reality, and he can’t quite keep up the smile.
  • Terminally Dependent Society: The Enterprise encounters several of these during the series.
    • In The Cage, Talosian society is revealed to be so addicted to their own natural ability to create realistic psychic illusions that they allowed their entire civilization to crumble around them while they endlessly enjoyed the fake realities they constructed.
    • In The Apple, the Enterprise encounters a society that has been kept in primitive cultural stagnation by an advanced computer that carefully controls the entire planet they live on.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: The show would have one of these on occasion because Nichelle Nichols was a professional singer. Every now and then she would serenade the crew.
  • That's an Order!: Occurred in 13 different episodes.
  • This Is No Time for Knitting: In "Court Martial", McCoy is aghast to find Spock playing chess against the computer while Kirk is losing a court martial for criminal negligence. However, Spock reveals that he has been using the chess games to confirm that the ship's computer's memory banks have been tampered with to frame Kirk: since he's the one who made the chess program to begin with and thus the computer has to be at least as good as he is, he should only be able to force a stalemate at best, but he's won several games in a row by that point, proving that something is wrong with the computer.
  • This Was His True Form: The shapeshifting creature in "The Man Trap"; the two telepathic aliens in "Catspaw".
  • There Are No Therapists: Bones is apparently an expert on space psychology, and tries to Team Dad everyone, but he tells Edith he’s no psychiatrist.The crew could really use one.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: "Patterns of Force" features a planet of Nazis!
  • The Three Faces of Adam: Kirk is The Hunter (brash, impulsive and adventurous), Spock is The Lord (wise, rational and logical) and Bones is The Prophet (cynical, outspoken and compassionate).
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: During one of the illusions that Captain Pike is subjected to in the original pilot episode, he winds up using this on a giant warrior threatening the Love Interest, causing it to fall and get impaled.
  • Time Bomb: "Obsession", "The Immunity Syndrome", "The Doomsday Machine".
  • Time Stands Still:
    • "Wink of an Eye" features aliens who move so fast that they're invisible to the naked eye and everyone else appears frozen to them. (Interestingly enough, so long as none of the aliens or the people they abducted into their 'timeframe' by means of a drug are actually around to watch, both they and the crew seem to function in parallel and on the same timescale just fine. This point is never addressed.)
    • Kirk receives the drug when it's slipped into his coffee, inadvertently making it look like he's on a rush.
  • Time Travel: "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" has a time disturbance send the crew back to Earth of the 1960s. "The City on the Edge of Forever" has a weird time portal on a strange planet send the Power Trio back to the 1960s. "Assignment: Earth" has them do it deliberately for "historical research."
  • Time Travel Episode: In "The City on the Edge of Forever", Bones accidentally steps through a time portal that takes him back to the 1930s, where he inadvertently changes the timeline so humans never went into space. It's up to Kirk and Spock to follow him and repair the damage.
  • Time-Travel Romance: Kirk falls for Edith Keeler in the 1930s in "The City on the Edge of Forever." Unfortunately, You Can't Fight Fate.
  • Time-Travelers Are Spies: "Tomorrow is Yesterday", "Assignment: Earth".
  • Title Drop:
    • Doubling as a Wham Line, from the episode "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky".
      Old Man: You are... not of Yonada?
      Kirk: No, we're from... outside your world.
      Elder Yonadan: Where... is outside?
      Kirk: [solemnly] Up there. Outside, up there, everywhere.
      Elder Yonadan: So they also... [seizes in pain, whispers] Many years ago, I climbed the mountains, even though it is forbidden. [winces in pain]
      Kirk: Why is it forbidden?
      Elder Yonadan: [winces in pain] I am not sure. [winces again] But things are not as they... teach us, for the world... is hollow, and I... have touched the sky! [screams in pain, falling over dead]
    • Most of the episodes get a Title Drop, including "Obsession", "The Changeling"' and yes, "Spock's Brain".
  • That's What I Would Do: In "Balance of Terror", this is Kirk's comment after the nameless Romulan commander dodges one of the Enterprise's attacks: "He did exactly what I would have done. I won't underestimate him again."
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Kirk has one in “Is There In Truth No Beauty”, telling Bones “we’re all vulnerable in one way or another” before staring off briefly with a haunted expression. He’s had a lot of brandy.
  • Token Minority: Played with. On the one hand, Star Trek was perhaps the first mainstream show to actively do this, as part of its utopian themes. However, people from all sorts of minorities were shown almost every episode, which means they were hardly tokens, but also most of these characters were minor or one-shot. Among the main cast, it could be said that Sulu and Uhura fit this trope.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • One Girl of the Week has a guy obviously in love with her who is Too Dumb to Live. Given that said girl had to spend four years on Vulcan to retain her sanity, I'm sure trying to make her feel strong emotions is a wonderful idea! Oh, and what better way to get a girl to like you than by ruining her career by murdering the ambassador she's accompanying? The ambassador is an Eldritch Abomination the mere sight of which can make humans go mad. Just walk up, look it straight in the whatever-seeing-organs-it-possesses, and kill it. What could possibly go wrong?
    • Almost every Red Shirt seems Too Dumb to Live in a way. (Except in the cases where their deaths are the direct result of the orders or actions of a superior officer.) To expand on the example, let's examine just how well Starfleet Landing Parties are designed to kill the men and women assigned to them: They carry no protective gear of any kind (helmet, armour, gas mask etc), no emergency food or drink, no miscellaneous survival equipment such as a knife or stove, no emergency shelter, no storage capability beyond a small belt, refuse to change out of their thin brightly coloured uniforms into anything resembling camouflaged and/or practical gear, and they never ever carry a back-up communicator/combadge despite it constantly being broken or lost.
      • Special mention to Joe Tormolen in "The Naked Time" for taking off the glove of his hazmat suit to fucking scratch his nose. He then just leaves the glove off for no apparent reason, touching things with his bare hands. Then when Spock stresses the importance of not touching anything and they have to be decontaminated, Tormolen says nothing, doesn't even seem nervous like he's thinking "Hey, maybe I shouldn't have done that." His stupidity gets him killed and the entire crew infected.
  • Touched By The Monster: Interestingly it’s Kirk that gets grabbed a lot by Ruk in all the stereotypical damsel ways in “What Are Little Girls Made Of”, including one bit where he’s held by the waist and forced in close.
  • Tragic Bromance: Kirk and Spock, both ways. Kirk is completely broken when Spock dies, and doesn’t expect that he’ll actually come back, and in The Autobiography of Spock, Spock wonders if he could have saved Kirk one last time, and can’t bring himself to visit the man’s grave.
  • Trespassing to Talk: During the first season episode "A Taste of Armageddon", Kirk escapes captivity and waits in his captor's office to have a calm, albeit at gunpoint, conversation about the reasons for Kirk's imprisonment.
  • Truce Trickery:
    • The Federation has a peace treaty with the Romulan Star Empire that established a demilitarized zone along their mutual border, the Romulan Neutral Zone. "Balance of Terror" revolves around a string of Romulan raids on Federation listening posts along the Neutral Zone, meant to test the Federation's willingness to retaliate for breaches in the treaty.
    • "The Savage Curtain": Kirk points out to Colonel Green that he was notorious for striking his enemies while in the midst of negotiating with them.
  • True Companions: Kirk, Spock and McCoy.
  • Trial by Combat:
    • Kirk must face the Gorn captain in "Arena" in a Duel to the Death to determine which of them has trespassed into the other's territory.
    • Kirk vs. Spock in "Amok Time" is the other classic example. Spock is badass enough when he's in his right mind. Spock driven beyond the point of insanity by his mating instinct is horrifying for Kirk and McCoy!
  • Turns Red: The Companion, when Kirk and crew attack it with something like an EMP; it takes Cochrane to stop it from killing our gallant crew.
  • Turn the Other Fist: The episode "The Trouble With Tribbles" features this kind of punch by good ol' Scotty when a Klingon is insulting the Enterprise.
  • Two Girls to a Team: For most of the show, there are two women in the core cast: Lt. Uhura and Nurse Chapel. Initially, Yeoman Rand was part of the cast as well, but the actress was let go in the middle of the first season. Only one episode ("The Naked Time") features all three women; Nurse Chapel and Yeoman Rand never interact with each other, but Uhura seems to be on fairly good terms with the both of them.
  • Two of Your Earth Minutes: Occurs in multiple episodes.

  • Unexplained Recovery: Two rather famous Redshirts. Lieutenant Leslie gets killed by the Dikironium Cloud Creature in "Obsession" and reappears unharmed later in the episode.note  Lieutenant Galloway gets disintegrated by a phaser in "The Omega Glory", but he shows up alive and well in "Turnabout Intruder."
    • In the episode "The Galileo Seven," Spock's legs get pinned between a large rock and a cliff. After he is freed, he is visibly limping; however, later in the episode, he is shown walking around the bridge with no indication that the injury had ever occured. Justified in that Spock may heal faster than humans and that McCoy may have had a chance to treat his injuries in the meantime.
  • Underestimating Badassery: In "Errand of Mercy", the Klingons conquer Organia, not knowing that the Perfect Pacifist People living there are actually ludicrously powerful Energy Beings. They didn't need the Federation's help to rescue their planet.
  • Unknown Relative: In the episode "Journey to Babel" Kirk is surprised to meet Spock's parents. It's a little unrealistic that a Starfleet captain tasked with transporting a distinguished delegation to a vital conference would have no idea that Vulcan's ambassador to the Federation is his first officer's father.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Guest star Barbara Anderson (Lenore Karidian, "Conscience of a King") shares the record with Ricardo Montalban and Joan Collins for the most costumes worn in an episode (six).
  • Unique Pilot Title Sequence: The broadcast version of "Where No Man Has Gone Before" didn't have William Shatner's "Space, the final frontier" Opening Narration. This was "corrected" for the HD remastered version of the episode. The actual pilot version (first publically available on the Blu-Ray release of the series) had an even more unique title sequence. Alexander Courage's famous theme song was conspicuously absent (despite having been in the earlier pilot, "The Cage") and in its place was different music composed by Courage. The title itself was in a completely different font. Of the cast only Shatner as Kirk was credited with the title, as opposed to season one which credited both Shatner and Nimoy as Spock. Nimoy was instead credited later in the episode before the guest cast. This itself was also done in a way different format than seen in the series, though it does match the style used by other shows of the period (even adding a "Tonight's Episode:" banner above the episode title). Finally, the end titles credited the rest of the cast with their characters' professions (for example, "Ship's Doctor" or "Engineering Chief") rather then their characters' names. These differences (and a few others) can be viewed here.
    • "The Cage" has an even more unique title sequence. It lacks a cold open, doesn't have the narration, and doesn't even have the "Created by Gene Roddenberry" credit. Jeffrey Hunter is the only main cast listed in the opening, followed by a guest star credit for Susan Oliver. There are a few high-speed passes of the Enterprise, none of which are reused in later credits. The sequence ends with a zoom in over the starboard side of the ship, passing over the saucer until the bridge dome crudely transitions to the bridge set. This shot of the ship (without the bridge transition) would be used as Stock Footage for several later episodes. The remastered episode recreated the sequence, adding a nebulous background behind the title while improving the quality of the transition from the CGI model to the bridge set.
  • Unsuccessful Pet Adoption: Zigzagged. In "The Trouble with Tribbles", Uhura adopts a Tribble (a little fuzzy alien), but has to give it away because all Tribbles multiply like crazy and are "born pregnant". However, it's a bit ambiguous on whether Tribbles are usually kept as pets. They are sold, but Kirk and other such characters frequently comment on how bad they are as pets.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Doctor McCoy (and Edith Keeler) in "The City on the Edge of Forever".
  • Updated Re-release: The remastered episodes, with redone special effects, HD film transfers, and rerecorded stereo soundtracks.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Quite a few instances.
    • Khan suffers a brief one when no one from the bridge is willing to join him, even with Kirk's life at stake.
    • In "Turnabout Intruder", Dr Janice Lester grows increasingly unhinged as the rest of the suspicious crew begin to mutiny and rebel against her orders while she's in Kirk's body.
    • "The Conscience of the King" deals with trying to discover if actor Anton Karidian really was a murderous tyrant named Kodos the Executioner. By the end of the episode, this has happened to two villainous characters. Karidian, who is Kodos and becomes spooked when he overhears an argument between Riley and Kirk about his past during a performance of Hamlet, breaks down backstage during the intermission, believing the voices to be ghosts from his past. At the same time, his daughter Lenore reveals she has murdered seven of the nine witnesses who could still identify him, and plans to kill Kirk and Riley, even swearing she would destroy a planet to save him. Kodos breaks down further as he realizes his actions in the past have corrupted his own child as well. In true Shakespearian fashion, this causes a chain reaction that ends in the death of Kodos, who dies trying to stop Lenore from shooting Kirk and instead takes the lethal blast meant for Kirk. Lenore is pronounced completely insane in the epilogue, as she believes her father to be alive and well.
    • Evil Kirk in "Mirror, Mirror". "I. ORDER. YOU!!!!"
    • And Evil Kirk in "The Enemy Within". "IIIIIII'MMMMMMMM CAPTAIIIIIN KIIIIIIIRK!"
  • Virus and Cure Names: Rigellian Fever, cured by Ryetalyn.
  • The Wall Around the World: The barrier around the galaxy in "Where No Man Has Gone Before". Appears again in "Is There in Truth No Beauty?", when a jealous (and then insane) engineer gets them lost on the wrong side of it and Spock must mind-meld with Kollos to get them back, and mentioned in "By Any Other Name" as the reason for the Kelvan expedition being stranded in our galaxy.
    • In "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky," the inhabitants of Yonada believe themselves to live on a "world" but are actually living in a hollowed-out asteroid that has been turned into a starship, as one elderly Yonadan discovers by comitting the titular act, before being killed for his "heresy" by the Oracle that controls their ship.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Spock in "Amok Time", almost word for word.
    Spock: After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical... but it is often true.
  • War Hero: Captain Kirk is openly stated to have been decorated many times for valor. Kirk doesn't talk about his awards or display them, preferring to keep them locked away in his quarters. His record is so impressive that in the episode "Court Martial" where Kirk was framed for the death of a crewman and put on trial, the prosecutor tried to have his decorations entered into the record without being read aloud to the court. Fortunately, Kirk's defense attorney saw right through this ploy and insisted that more of Kirk's list of medals be read into the record.
    Cogley: I wouldn't want to slow the wheels of progress. But then on the other hand, I wouldn't want those wheels to run over my client in their unbridled haste.
    Stone: Continue.
    Computer: Awards of Valor, Medal of Honor, Silver Palm with Cluster, Starfleet Citation for Conspicuous Gallantry, Karagite Order of Heroism...
    Cogley: Stop. I think that's enough. I wouldn't want to slow things up too much.
  • Weakened by the Light: In "Operation: Annihilate!", the parasites that infected the colonists on the planet Deneva are destroyed by bright light.
  • Weapon Running Time: In "Balance of Terror", the Romulans' plasma bolt travels at sublight speed and has a limited range. This allows the fleeing Enterprise to travel far enough before the bolt hits that it survives the weakened bolt's impact. A full-power hit would have destroyed the ship.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Vians in "The Empath" use a beautiful, mute empath in combination with our Power Trio to determine whether her race is worthy of survival before their sun goes nova. Their methods consist of torture and mutilation, resulting in gross physical and psychological damage. Turns out that the empath's race is worthy of preservation, and the Vians, logical and possessed of their own morals and ethics regarding life, needed only "good old-fashioned human emotion" to help them see that.
  • We Need a Distraction: Both “By Any Other Name” and “Is There In Truth No Beauty” have the woman notice that Kirk is trying to seduce them as a blatant distraction.
  • What a Senseless Waste of Human Life:
    • Kirk is often upset whenever one of his crew members (usually a Red Shirt) dies. He is also clearly upset when the Romulans decide to self-destruct rather than surrender in "Balance of Terror".
    • What's more, the Romulan Commander himself sees his own mission the same way: he's testing new weapons (a cloaking device and extremely powerful plasma torpedo) to see if the Romulans have a sufficient technological edge to win another war against the Federation, and to see if the Federation has grown soft in the intervening years. He is haunted by the fact that if his mission goes well, a new war will be the result, with senseless wastes of Human and Romulan lives on both sides. Nevertheless, he fights to the best of his ability, as his duty demands. This all serves to highlight the fact that he and Kirk aren't so different.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The Horta (rock monster) in "The Devil in the Dark".
  • Where's the Fun in That?: "The Squire of Gothos". Kirk asks his captor, "Where's the sport?" in simply hanging him, as he had planned. Instead, Kirk talks his captor into staging a "royal hunt". This buys Kirk enough time for a Deus ex Machina rescue.
  • Who Even Needs a Brain?: In "Spock's Brain", Spock's brain is stolen by aliens who use it as a computer to run their planet's infrastructure. For some reason, his autonomic functions still work, but he is completely unconscious. Kirk has to get the brain back quickly, because Spock's Vulcan physiology is especially dependent on that tremendous brain. (While a brain-dead human could be kept "alive" easily for quite some time.) So that they can restore the brain quickly when they find it, McCoy rigs up a device that fits on Spock's head and allows his lifeless body to walk around, manipulated by a remote control. With three buttons. S.P.O.C.K has made a song called "Mr. Spock's Brain", based on the above episode.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Edith Keeler in "The City on the Edge of Forever", a passionate advocate of peace—in the face of Nazi Germany.
    Spock: She had the right idea ... but at the wrong time.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", and to a lesser extent (or at least power level), "Whom Gods Destroy".
  • World of Ham: A galaxy of ham, in this case. With most of the principal cast being classically-trained stage actors and having earned their early TV credentials in Westerns,note  it comes with the territory.
  • Worthy Opponent: Several examples, with the Romulan commander in "Balance of Terror" being a particular standout.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • Usually it's to show how evil the villains can get, as the main characters would rarely ever do it (unless their body is taken over or if they are under the influence of something). In one episode alone, one minion slaps Uhura and would do it on two more occasions if others hadn't stepped in.
    • Another instance is when an ex-lover of Kirk's, while in Kirk's body, hits Kirk, who is in her body. This shocks the rest of the crew, who at this point haven't learned about the change and grow suspicious, as Kirk would never hit a girl like that.
    • Kirk chins Shahna, his "drill thrall" in "The Gamesters of Triskelion", into unconsciousness, but it doesn't get him very far.
    • However, Kirk has a weird tendency to lay his hands on female characters as part of "normal" conversation, including grabbing them by the arms or shoulders and shaking them, even women he hasn't been sleeping with. This tendency towards physical conversation also extends to male crew members.
    • This tendency doesn't extend to when the girls hit first. Both Kirk and McCoy have slapped women right back in a few episodes.
    • In the very first episode, when the salt vampire disguises itself as Nancy, the woman archaeologist who's supposedly been living on the planet, it's Spock who convinces McCoy by beating the living shit out of "Nancy", who isn't affected at all, finally pretty casually backhanding Spock clear across the room.
  • Xanatos Gambit: "Amok Time". T'Pring benefits no matter who wins the duel. Turns out Vulcans love these, since they are, as Spock comments, "Logical. Flawlessly logical." They're always looking to turn some kind of benefit from plans and events.
  • Yellow Peril: "The Omega Glory" attempts to subvert this by portraying the white Yangs as barbaric and savage while the Kohms are more advanced and civilized. However, casting the Kohms as descended from Communists and the Yangs as fallen Americans turns it into a straight play of "Red China takes over the world." More here.
  • Ye Olde Butchered English: T'Pau in "Amok Time" consistently messes up "Thee" and "Thou," using "Thee" as second person singular subject.
  • You Are in Command Now: In "Catspaw", a landing party that includes Scott and Sulu is taken prisoner. Kirk assigns himself and Spock to the rescue party, which also gets captured. This leaves Assistant Chief Engineer Lt. DeSalle, an obscure character that most viewers have never heard of, in command of the Enterprise. (DeSalle appeared in a grand total of 3 episodes.) Robert Bloch's original script had everyone senior to Uhura off the ship, and left her in command, but Executive Meddling wouldn't allow for a black woman being put in command of the Enterprise. In fact, it wouldn't allow for a woman, period. Gene's extremely nasty divorce from his first wife was in progress, and he was reacting with extreme misogynism, declaring in staff meetings that "all women are cunts" and telling Nichols to her face "You can't have females taking over a man's ship."
  • You Can't Fight Fate: In "The City on the Edge of Forever", Edith Keeler must die so that Germany doesn't win World War II and wipe the Federation from existence. (Had she lived, she would have founded a peace movement that would have delayed the United States' entry into the European front of WWII, allowing Nazi Germany sufficient time to develop the atomic bomb and thus win the war.)
  • Zeerust: Not as bad as often claimed. Though much of the show's technology is highly outdated in its presentation (Apparently 23rd-century starships are still controlled by analog switchboards...), Star Trek inspired a lot of modern technology and strongly parallels future developments in technology in various important ways.
    • Averted, at least for a decade or two, with the "microtape" data cartridges, which look very much like 3.5" diskettes and can store a fantastically large amount of information compared to modern technology.note  At the very least recording tapes still exist as a means of long term bulk data storage, with higher capacity tapes and better formatting being made to fill this niche need.
    • Maybe the in-universe designers of the Enterprise wanted the crew to remember they were talking to a machine, but 21st century GPS units sound much more human and less mechanized than the ship's computer voice.
    • There is now a remastered version of Star Trek with modern, CGI special effects. In contrast to the changes done on Star Wars, the remastering is generally (though far from universally) well-received (it helps that the Blu Ray release utilizes seamless branching to allow the viewer the choice of watching the episodes as they were originally broadcast, or with the updated special effects). It should also be noted they only remastered the original special effects and didn't take the opportunity to tweak any plot points. The CGI also embraces a degree of Stylistic Suck, so that the improved effects aren't jarring against original footage.

"Second star to the right... and straight on 'til morning."

Alternative Title(s): Star Trek 1966


The Church of Trek

In Futurama, the Star Trek fandom grew from easy-to-punch nerds to a religious cult that influenced countries, eventually getting to the point that world leaders executed Trekkies en mass and scrubbed every known existence of Star Trek from public knowlege.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

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