Star Trek: The Original Series

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(From left to right) Scotty, Chekov, McCoy, Chapel, Kirk, Uhura, Spock and Sulu.
"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

The first show in the Star Trek franchise. 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, into the original "Wagon Train to the Stars".

While troublesome to produce, it 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. It has been discussed by the cast members that 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 it was said Sulu would not be required to use an Asian accent or engage in martial arts. This also resulted in attracting multiple high-profile guest stars and guest writers, including Harlan Ellison, Theodore Sturgeon and Richard Matheson.

In some ways the show was way ahead of its time; in others, hopelessly mired in The Sixties. The women wore go-go boots and miniskirts, and usually only appeared in the roles of assistants and secretaries (although at least some of that was due to Executive Meddling). And while the visual design was ambitious, the actual production quality has not aged well.

Varied widely in quality from episode to episode and from season to season, depending upon who was writing. 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.

Common plots:

Some people are unaware of the original Trek pilot featuring Captain Pike (who would be a character in the Abrams movie) played by Jeffrey Hunter, and Majel Barrett as first officer. The pilot was praised for a good story but was considered "too cerebral" 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 did not go to waste considering Roddenberry used it as the series' only two parter, "The Menagerie", which proved a Hugo science fiction award winner.

The show was originally a commercial flop, barely managing out 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 the ratings and found that Star Trek snagged the most coveted 18-35 male group that nearly every show aimed 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 version was Star Trek: The Animated Series, which may have suffered from Filmation's cheapo production values, but it more than compensated by having most of the original writers and cast to produce a great series that earned the franchise's first Emmy Award. Later in the hope of created a television network, a new Star Trek series was developed eventually turned into the first Star Trek film in 1979 after the monumental success of Star Wars. The success of the films led to the successor series in 1987, Star Trek: The Next Generation and another 18 straight years of Star Trek on television.

To be expected, the subtitle of "The Original Series" is 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.

The 2009 Star Trek film, directed by J.J. Abrams, was an attempt to reboot the franchise by revisiting these same characters (of course played by new actors) with a new spin. It updates and modifies the general look and premise of the original series with modern special effects. The film has been a commercial and critical success (becoming the first Star Trek film to win an Oscar), but amongst the fans it has provoked debates. Despite the outcries of certain fans, a sequel has been announced for 2012.

If you're in the US, you can watch most episodes here. And over here we have a Re Cap page.

It also gave birth to the earliest recorded case of Slash fiction - and, by extension, Ho Yay - when fans began to ship Captain Kirk with his First Officer Spock. Additionally, a 1970s Trek fanfic parody, titled "A Trekkie's Tale", was the Trope Namer for Mary Sue.

Character profiles and roles in the script:


Star Trek: The Original Series is the Trope Namer for:
Tropes used in Star Trek: The Original Series include:

Trope-based episodes[edit | hide | hide all]

"The late Susan Oliver. She's a talented actress, author, director, a pioneer of women's aviation... and if you go to her Wikipedia page, this is the image of her they put up: her dancing as the green woman."


Tropes A-G[edit | hide]

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 [voice]: 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.

  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: The things Kirk got away with...
  • Butt Monkey: Chekhov always seems to get the worst of any mysterious affliction that affects the crew. Even on the one occasion where he proves immune in "The Deadly Years", he still gets to spend the whole episode being experimented on by McCoy in an attempt to find a cure.
  • 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.
  • Captain's Log: The Trope Namer.
  • Cargo Cult
  • Cartwright Curse: So frequent you could almost take bets on whether the Girl of the Week was going to buy the farm by the end of the episode (or if she doesn't, pull a High Heel Face Turn).
  • Catch Phrase: Dr. McCoy's "I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder" and "He's Dead, Jim" (both Trope Namers). Spock's "Fascinating" and "Illogical".
  • The Cavalry: Usually in the form of the Enterprise or a second landing party arriving to save the day.
  • Chekhov's Gun: And no, they didn't play Russian Roulette with it.
  • Clear My Name: Happens once in a while. One time, Sarek got accused of murdering a Tellarite ambassador. It was an Orion pretending to be a staff member of the Andorian ambassador. Another time, Kirk was accused of causing the death of one of his crew members. The crew member had faked his own death and tried to sabotage Kirk's career as he blamed Kirk for ruining his.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Chekhov and his constant references to Mother Russia which appear to only make sense in his mind. To a lesser extent, Sulu and his Fleeting Passionate Hobbies which the rest of the crew regard as unusual for the time period.
  • Continuity Snarl: This series is responsible for a good 90% of the continuity problems in The Verse. It took quite a few episodes before they settled on what year it was (sometimes as near as 2100s, sometimes as far as 2700), what group the Enterprise worked for (in some episodes it's United Earth Space Probe Agency, in some it's Starfleet, etc), the name of Spock's race (Vulcan is settled on later, but Vulcanian was still being used up till the end of the first season). References to the past that have already happened by the time the later series were being made (Khan's starship leaves in the 1990s, something plainly impossible today) and so on. Some of these have been Handwaved or attempted to be explained away, but a lot of them still cause big problems that fans prefer to overlook.
  • Credits Montage: Featuring not only stills from the episode in question, but random shots from various other episodes as well.
  • Creepy Children Singing:

Hail, hail, fire and snow
Call the angel, we will go
Far away, for to see
Friendly angel come to me.

  • Cukoloris: Shadows from devices like these were often used to suggest structural detail that's off camera (and so doesn't have to actually be built). Look in the "overhead" area of the ship's interiors, particularly where a corridor opens onto a larger junction.
  • 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.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Spock was totally unaffected by Tribbles. He was only petting it because it was logical... What's everybody looking at?
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Scotty, whenever he was left in command of the Enterprise. There's "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me," and of course the time that he receives an audio message from "Kirk" and the first thing he does is run it through a voice analyzer which proves it wasn't really Kirk. Do not fuck with Scotty.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The epic snarkfests between McCoy and Spock are legendary for a reason.
  • Death Ray: Phasers, at their highest setting, become a Disintegrator Ray.
  • 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).
  • Devil's Advocate: Spock would occasionally preform 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 was, indeed, stolen by alien temptresses and which is considered the worst episode of the Original Series, if not of Star Trek as a whole.
  • Disney Dog Fight
  • 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...
    • This trope was popular because it allowed them to use standard, preexisting costumes, props and sets, rather than having to make expensive new ones. There had been very few science fiction shows up to this time, and there were very few props hanging around to be re-used, unlike today where science fiction has been popular for a long time.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Averted. Among Kirk's various honors and awards: The Medal of Honor, the Starfleet Citation for Conspicuous Gallantry, The Kerrigite Order of Heroism.. The list goes on for so long that it has to be stopped early so that the episode can continue.
  • Duel to the Death: "Arena", "Amok Time".
  • Easily-Thwarted Alien Invasion: In "Errand of Mercy", the Organians refuse to use violence to stop the Klingons from taking over their planet, but easily thwart them with their Psychic Powers.
  • Eat Dirt Cheap: The Horta.
  • Empire with a Dark Secret: In "The Mark of Gideon", there was a germ-free "paradise" of a planet who was willing to join the Federation. However, the reason why they invited only Kirk to their planet was so they could decrease the planet's overpopulation by using Kirk, who had a rare disease in his blood to do it.
  • Enemy Mine: The Klingons team up with the Enterprise crew in "Day of the Dove".
  • Ethical Slut: Kirk at it again and again, while remaining morally upstanding.
  • Exclusively Evil: Computers besides the Enterprise's, androids, and for the most part the alien races called Romulans and Klingons except in the fifth film, which had one good Klingon, and the sixth film, which portrayed Klingons as more varied.
    • The series also had several subversions, among them the Horta, who 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, and the Romulans, who are introduced by launching an unprovoked sneak attack... but in the same episode the two main Romulan characters are examples of My Country, Right or Wrong and What a Senseless Waste of Human Life. Even the Klingons get a minor subversion in "Errand of Mercy", where the Organians predict that at some future time the Klingons and the Federation will become fast friends, working together.
    • There's also "Day of the Dove", when after learning 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: Only a fool fights in a burning house!

McCoy: "The nearest thing I can figure out is they're born pregnant... which seems to be quite a time saver!

  • Explosive Overclocking: The ship's engines, frequently (probably the source of all the "she cannae hauld no muir!" parodies of Scotty). Also, phasers have a 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 encountered had vastly expanded lifespans and/or had dabbled in Earth's history in some way. A key example to 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 totally 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.
  • The Face: Uhura is both the Token Girl and the token black as well as the Communications Officer.
  • Fallen Hero: Gary Mitchell, John Gill, Garth of Izar.
  • Fan Service: Outfits worn by the hot-girl-of-the-week, not to mention those famous Starfleet miniskirts.
    • Many women find that the numerous Kirk-shirt tears of Season 1 would count as this as well.
    • Dear god, "Mirror, Mirror" shows that Uhura has nice abs. And then there's "Patterns of Force" with its whips, chains, and shirtlessness.
    • Sulu topless in "The Naked Time". Kirk topless several times (and naked in one episode).
    • "Charlie X" has Kirk shirtless and in tights. It's very distracting.
    • 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.
    • The costume designer for the show was William Ware Theiss, Trope Codifier for the Theiss Titillation Theory.`
  • Fantastic Racism: Everywhere with Bones 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 malice.
    • Several episodes also revolved around two alien species' hatred of each other for no good reason.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: The Trope Namer because when Spock raises his eyebrow, he says "fascinating" very nearly every time.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: Poor, poor Charlie Evans...
  • Five-Token Band: May well be the Trope Codifier.
  • 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.
  • Forced Prize Fight
  • Force Field Door: The ship's brig.
  • 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: Pretty much everyone who got killed on the show (and that's a lot).
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Trelane ("The Squire of Gothos"), the Organians ("Errand of Mercy"), and the Metrons ("Arena").
  • Frequently-Broken Unbreakable Vow: The Prime Directive.
  • A Friend in Need: How the Enterprise crew stuck 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.
  • 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.

Sulu (grabbing Uhura): "I'll protect you, fair maiden!"
Uhura (pushing him away): "Sorry, neither!"

    • Star Trek did show the first televised interracial kiss between Uhura and Chapel in the first season, albeit as just a brief congratulatory peck on the cheek between two sisterly colleagues.
    • What gets all the historical attention, however, is the first "romantic" interracial kiss between Kirk and Uhura in "Plato's Stepchildren" in the third season. This scene wasn't really that romantic as presented, since they were both being coerced, though it did have her confessing to her captain that she found his commanding presence very comforting in scary times such as this one. Also, the kiss was shown at an angle from which viewers couldn't see the actors' lips, although Nichols insists in her memoirs that it was entirely real.
    • In "Mudd's Women", the title women have an obvious effect on the male crew-members. During a physical with one of them, a somewhat agitated McCoy notices an odd reading on the medical scanner as the woman walks past.

McCoy:(Distracted) Would you walk past my panel again?
Woman:(Chuckling) Your what?
McCoy:(snapping out of it) Uh...my scanner. Walk past the scanner again.

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.

  • 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.
    • Of course, the series was partially inspired by the Horatio Hornblower books.
    • Parodied in a line given to Kirk in one of the classic fan songs: "We Come in Peace, Shoot to Kill".


Tropes H-M[edit | hide]

  • Halloween Episode: "Catspaw", which was first broadcast on October 27, 1967.
  • Held Gaze: Kirk and Spock do this all. The. Damn. Time. In the episode "Miri", they held each others' gaze for a full twelve seconds, in complete silence, as the camera flicked back and forth between closeups of their faces, after engaging in extremely flirty dialogue. They're still doing the exact same thing twenty years later in The Undiscovered Country, when Kirk whispers in Spock's ear and then pulls away just far enough to lock gazes with him (that one was a deep breath away from being a kiss). Needless to say, this trope contributed enormously to their Ho Yay.
    • Kirk and McCoy engage in the purely platonic "meaningful look" variant when they drop the friendly banter and display the fact that they are rock-solid best friends (or at least second best- see above).
  • The Hero: Captain Kirk
  • Heroic BSOD: Decker in "The Doomsday Machine"... that is until he faces the planet-killer one-on-one.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Several one-shot characters die nobly, but the undisputed champion (and not just for Star Trek) is Spock sacrificing himself to save the ship and crew, at the end of the second movie. "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... or the one."
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Kirk and Spock and their intergalactic bromance.
  • High Concept: Many idea and concepts for episodes can be described thus but also the idea of the show itself, Wagon Train to the Stars was High Concept in its day.
  • High Heel Face Turn: Frequently with women Kirk seduced.
  • 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 away team doesn't know that and think they are actually in danger.
  • Human Ladder
  • Humans Are Interesting: Or fascinating, even.
  • I Can Still Fight: Justified, when Kirk was injured, but he insisted on being on the bridge because Spock was needed at the time to give a vital transplant to his father.
  • "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.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Trope Maker.
  • I'm Not Afraid of You
  • Impostor Exposing Test: In "The Trouble With Tribbles", the Tribble dislike for Klingons is used to identify the Klingon spy disguised as a human.
  • Involuntary Group Split: Happens to Kirk and Spock in "The Devil in the Dark".
  • I, Noun: "I, Mudd".
  • 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.
  • Just Testing You: Kirk and Spock 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 Spock to beam him up. When he doesn't know the password, he tries to cover it up by saying that he was just testing Spock. Spock 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 then kill the poor, they were enslaved and forced to live out their entire lives underground.
  • 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.
  • 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 instrument, 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".
  • 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 become colonists on an uninhabited planet.

Khan: Have you ever read Milton, Captain? [snip]
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."

  • 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 with 'his' Enterprise to Picard.
  • Mad Love: Nurse Chapel and Spock.
  • Memetic Hand Gesture: The Vulcan salute.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Only three female redshirts were killed in the whole series, whereas dozens of male Starfleet personnel were killed.
  • Mildly Military: The crew of the Enterprise don't seem too keen on protocol and frequently question orders and argue with the captain. As well, what's the sense in the command staff (and thus the most important people on the ship) beaming down for every mission?
  • Minored in Asskicking: The reserved, cerebral Spock and his skill at hand-to-hand fighting (Vulcan nerve pinch! Judo chop!).
  • 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.
  • Multi Boobage: The cat creature in Star Trek V.
  • 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.
  • Mundanization
  • The Mutiny: In "Turnabout Intruder", when a crazy ex-lover of Kirk switched bodies with him and the suspicious crew had no valid proof and she began ordering the deaths of anyone who opposed her, Scotty suggested to McCoy that they mutiny, since they knew that it would throw the captain into a fit and they would be able to stop under regulations.
    • Spock's actions in transported Captain Pike to Talos IV constituted a mutiny, for which he was put on trial which was 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 Grandma Can Do Better Than You: The exchange where Scotty tells Chekhov that Scotch whisky is a man's drink, and Chekhov 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, of course.


Tropes N-S[edit | hide]

  • Neck Snap: The Vulcan tal-shaya technique performed by the Orion spy in "Journey to Babel".
  • 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.
  • 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" were ever referred to by name.
  • No Social Skills: Charlie Evans, due to being raised by Energy Beings.
  • Not Love Interest: Kirk and Spock, for each other. See the trope page for more details, but... suffice it to say, Kirk and Spock have been the lodestars of each others' lives since almost the day they met.

"I have been, and always shall be, your friend."

  • 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 2300s are practically indistinguishable from those of the 1990s. He was hoping to awaken in a world of genetically modified Ubermensch 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: 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.

    • The Klingon commander in "Errand of Mercy" is all over this, but Kirk shouts him down.
  • Numbered Homeworld: Rigel VII... XII... how many of those were there, anyway?
  • Of the People
  • Once For Yes, Twice For No: If not the Trope Maker, then certainly the Trope Codifier with Captain Pike's portrayal in "The Menagerie".
  • One-Winged Angel: Sylvia in "Catspaw" turns into a giant cat when Kirk refuses to obey her.
  • 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.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: "The Naked Time", "This Side of Paradise", and "Amok Time" were entire episodes about this trope.
  • Panty Shot: The ridiculously short skirts of the standard female uniform lead to most of the female Starfleet officers doing this at some point.
  • Polarity Reversal: The Trope Maker.
  • 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.
  • Precision F-Strike: There was 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 was as a result of the Bittersweet Ending.

"Let's get the hell out of here."

  • Pretty in Mink: Lenore Karidian wears a short fur dress. Seen here, at 12:55 - 14:47.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Klingons, of course, but also the Romulans and others.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Charlie Evans from "Charlie X".
    • Also Trelane, as noted earlier. (Doubly?) subverted in that he's not (strictly speaking) a man, but is DEFINITELY a child.
  • Psycho Serum: McCoy's adrenaline-like drug in "The City on the Edge of Forever", which causes temporary insanity when injected at overly high doses (which he accidentally does to himself).
  • 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.
  • Punishment Box: In the episode "Mirror, Mirror".
  • 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".
  • Raygun 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, Chekhov, Uhura...
  • Reality Warping Is Not a Toy
  • Rebellious Princess
  • 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.
  • Religion of Evil: The cult of Landru in "The Return of the Archons".
  • Right-Hand-Cat: Isis (to Gary Seven) in "Assignment Earth" and Sylvia (to Korob) in "Catspaw".
  • Rubber Forehead Aliens: Infamously, the Klingons (though they didn't even have the budget for that until the movies). Vulcans are Rubber Ear Aliens.
  • Running Gag: Trying to explain Spock's 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 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."

  • Sadistic Choice: Pretty much everyone was forced to make these every so often.
  • Sailor Fuku: In the episode "Court Martial", Jamie 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!

  • 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", it was Sylvia and Korob... until Kirk shatters the power transmuter wand tied to the illusions to themselves and the planet. You may notice a theme.
  • 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".
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: Multiple examples.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: The mirror universe.
  • Sexier Alter Ego: In the episode "Mudd's Women", Mudd has pills that Mudd claims makes a woman more attractive. It was eventually revealed to be a placebo, with the Aesop being that attitude and confidence is what makes a woman attractive. Of course, given that they clearly showed women physically changing as a result of the pill rather than just acting differently, it was something of a Broken Aesop.
    • Might be somewhat justified, in that it's a visual representation of the woman gaining confidence (the movie Shallow Hal uses this as well to demonstrate Hal's new ability to see "inner beauty").
  • Shapeshifter Swan Song
  • Short-Lived, Big Impact: Star Trek: The Original Series originally lasted for just two seasons, being Uncancelled for a third season before dying completely. It's also a cultural icon, spawning four follow-up television series, a dozen movies (so far), countless novels and video games, and having an immense influence on science fiction, and possibly Western culture as a whole. Good luck finding someone who doesn't recognize Captain Kirk and Mister Spock, even if they were born long after the series was first aired.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Spock, logically. He and Kirk are often seen playing while having a conversation relevant to the plot.
    • As well as Kirk, who was stated to be quite bookish at the academy.
  • Something They Would Never Say: When his memories were going to be transferred over to a clone, Kirk quickly muttered "Mind your own business, Mr. Spock. I'm sick of your half-breed interference, do you hear?" Later on, when the clone met up with Spock, it said those lines, alerting Spock that this wasn't their captain and prompting him to quickly gather a team to beam down.
    • Also occurs in "Day of the Dove", when Chekhov is ranting about the Klingons having murdered his brother Piotr. Sulu immediately knows something is wrong because Chekhov's an only child.
  • 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. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, in The Kobayashi Maru scenario that starts off the movie, the ship the Enterprise needs to rescue was disabled by a gravitic mine.
  • Stop Trick
  • 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.


Tropes T-Z[edit | hide]

  • Take a Third Option: Kirk was famous for these.
  • Take That:
    • Chekhov 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.
    • 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).
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Usually with Kirk delivering a Logic Bomb to a psychotic computer.
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: Spock definitely fits into this trope.
  • Tap on the Head: Spock's Vulcan nerve/neck pinch.
  • Techno Babble: Although not as bad as later series, there is still a lot. Remember, this is the show that invented the Polarity Reversal.
  • 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.
  • Teleport Interdiction:
    • "Dagger of the Mind". The Tantalus penal colony has a security force field that blocks the Enterprise transporter.
    • "Whom Gods Destroy". The planet Elba II has a force field that prevents the Enterprise from beaming anyone down.
  • 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.
  • This Was His True Form: The shapeshifting creature in "The Man Trap"; the two telepathic aliens in "Catspaw".
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: During one of the illusions that Captain Pike was subjected to in the original pilot episode, he wound 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 Travelers Are Spies: "Tomorrow Is Yesterday", "Assignment: Earth".
  • Tim Taylor Technology
  • 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."
  • Trial by Combat: Kirk must face the Gorn captain in "Arena" in a Duel to the Death to determine which was in the wrong by straying into their space.
  • Tropes Examined by the Mythbusters: They took on the homemade cannon from "Arena". Sadly, they busted it. But it was, nevertheless, ridiculously awesome - particularly the Build Team's glee and Grant's "Enterprise. Four to beam up."
    • Though it came years before MythBusters, a Star Trek: The Next Generation Novel involving the Gorn revealed that, over the years, many a Starfleet cadet had tried to duplicate Kirk's cannon, often to extremely mixed results. Injuries were not uncommon.
  • 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.
  • Unique Pilot Title Sequence: "Where No Man Has Gone Before" didn't have William Shatner's "Space, the final frontier" voiceover. This was 'corrected' for the HD remastered version of the episode.
  • The Unpronounceable: Spock's real name supposedly can't be pronounced by humans.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Doctor McCoy (and Edith Keeler) in "The City on the Edge of Forever".
  • Viewer Stock Phrases: As any Trekkie (or Trekker) will tell you, this show might cause you to say:
  • Villainous Breakdown: Quite a few instances.
    • Khan suffered a brief one when no one from the bridge was willing to join him, even with Kirk's life at stake.
    • In "Turnabout Intruder", Dr Janice Lester grew increasingly unhinged as the rest of the suspicious crew began to mutiny and rebel against her orders while she was in Kirk's body.
    • In "The Conscience of the King", the entire episode dealt 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. Kodos 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 an entire 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 epilog, as she believes her father to be alive and well.
    • Evil Kirk in "Mirror, Mirror". "I. ORDER. YOU!!!!"
  • 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.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: Spock in "Amok Time", almost word for word:

"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."

"She had the right idea ... but at the wrong time."

  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "Whom Gods Destroy" although to a lesser extent.
  • Worthy Opponent: As noted above, several examples, with the Romulan commander in "Balance of Terror" being a particular standout.
  • Wouldn't 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 was taken over or if they were under the influence of something). In one episode alone, one minion slapped Uhura and was going to do it on two more occasions if others hadn't stepped in.
    • Another instance was with an ex-lover of Kirk's, while in Kirk's body, hit Kirk, who was in her body. This shocked the rest of the crew, who at this point didn't know about the change and grew suspicious, as Kirk would never hit a girl like that.
    • Kirk chinned Shahna, his "drill thrall" in "The Gamesters of Triskelion, into unconsciousness, but it didn'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/shoulders and shaking them, even women he hasn't been sleeping with.
  • Wrong Name Outburst: In the infamous backrub scene, Kirk told Spock to push a little harder, believing Spock was the one giving him the backrub.
  • Xanatos Gambit: "Amok Time". Turns out Vulcans love these, since they are, as Spock comments, "Logical. Flawlessly logical." They're always looking to turn a benefit from plans and events.
  • You Look Familiar: Many actors, but notably Mark Lenard who first appeared as the Romulan commander in "Balance of Terror", then Spock's father Sarek.
    • He then showed up as a Klingon in the prologue of the first movie, thus appearing as a member of all three major galactic powers of the era.
  • Zeerust: Absolutely infamous for it these days. They've got cellphones right, sure... but apparently 23rd-century starships are still controlled by analog switchboards, and don't even have detailed system displays available (something retroactively corrected in later shows which took a jaunt into this time period). The costume design, while provocative at times, is also unbelievably Sixties in all ways.
    • This was so bad that the prequel, Star Trek: Enterprise, looked more high-tech than this show... just due to the production assets available to the cast and crew of Enterprise.
    • Another example of how bad it is is the fact they now offer a remastered version of TOS with more believable special effects. And unlike Star Wars, the remastering of this actually works.
      • And then came the "Mirror Universe" episode of Enterprise, and somehow they made the TOS-era Defiant work.
    • Handwaved in the DS9 episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" with Dax admiring "the classic 23rd century styling" of the tricorders and instruments.