On paper, Star Trek has always been about exploring a fantastic universe teeming with exotic life. But in reality, the exotic aliens have to be played by actors, usually with something glued to their forehead.
Part of the central charm of the franchise is how they always try to get around these limitations with clever, imaginative writing. But on occasion, they'd just slap something together and call it a day. That's how we wound up with...
#6.The Catullans a.k.a. Space Hippies
Star Trek, Episode 76: "This Way to Eden."
When we call the Catullans Space Hippies, we're not joking. That's what they are. They're also responsible for what is probably the lowest point in Star Trek history, as you'll see shortly.
In the episode, the Enterprise is tracking a stolen spaceship, which they manage to catch up to when the irresponsible layabouts piloting it let the engines overheat. The ship stealing aliens are beamed aboard, and upon arrival they immediately start busting out trippy tunes on their space guitars and rebelling against the Man, rudely chanting "Herbert" at Kirk whenever he tries to talk sense into their thick hippie skulls.
Come on guys, be cool, if you just got to know Kirk you'd realize the only reason he keeps hanging around is because he's hoping for an orgy to break out.
It seems the Catullans are on a quest to find a planet named Eden, and after seducing the crew with rock music and their brazen navel-exposing women, they take over the ship. The Catullans find Eden and beam themselves down, but when Kirk and the crew follow only minutes later they find the Catullans have, predictably, all accidentally killed or injured themselves eating poison fruit or walking on acidic plants in their bare feet.
Silly space hippies, if only you'd listened to authority!
Oh and by the way, the main hippie who dies from eating poison fruit was named Adam. Get it? Adam? Eden? Consider your mind blown man.
Video Evidence of Catullan Lameness
Which brings us to the video clip, the aforementioned low point for Star Trek as a franchise. Charles Napier in rainbow colored hotpants jamming with Commander Spock? The seamy seduction of Ensign Chekov? Gene Roddenberry was clearly willing to go to any lengths to deliver his important anti-hippie message:
#5.The Iotians a.k.a. Space Mobsters
Star Trek, Episode 49: "A Piece of the Action."
Looking to score yourself some bootleg Romulan ale, a few green hookers and the best damn cannoli in the quadrant? Well head on over to Sigma Iotia II, home of low-down dirty space mobsters, the Iotians.
Never before has a man looked so smug wearing a straw hat and purple bow tie.
Now you're probably wondering, why the hell is there a planet populated entirely by cartoonish Italian mobster stereotypes? Don't worry, there's a perfectly logical answer.
See, 100 years before Kirk and crew stumbled upon them, a previous Federation ship had visited the planet and somebody left behind that classic piece of 22nd century literature "Chicago Mobs of the 1920s." Upon finding and somehow decoding the book, the Iotians, in a perfectly reasonable move, decided to completely model every aspect of their entire society after it. Holy shit, it's a good thing nobody left them a copy of Lolita.
By the way, this was hardly the only time Trek producers had the crew dress up in stock costumes and romp around some Hollywood backlot. How do you top space mobsters as villains though? Well...
We think that episode ended with Kirk punching Hitler.
Video Evidence of Iotian Lameness
Kirk goes undercover among the lotians, in a scene that somehow encompasses every single thing there is to love about William Shatner. Observe Shatner hamming it up as Captain Kirk hamming it up as an alien hamming it up as an Italian gangster.
So laugh all you want about the idea of a planet basing their whole culture around gangster stereotypes. We plan on basing our whole culture on William goddamned Shatner.
#4.The Xyrilians a.k.a. Shemale Lizards
Star Trek: Enterprise, Episode 4: "The Unexpected."
Sex and Star Trek don't mix. They keep trying; you'll notice the ads for the J.J. Abrams reboot love to show the lady taking off her shirt. But every episode and movie that has touched on the subject has wound up exploring new frontiers of awkwardness.
Even the birds and bees, a subject we trust seven-year-olds to be mature enough to handle, is enough to make the Trek writers lose their goddamn minds. For proof of this we refer you to the Xyrilians.
Xyrilian impregnation requires only minor physical contact, the men carry the children and only the genetics of the mother are passed on. So in other words, a brief brush of the hand with a woman and suddenly a guy is stuck carrying a baby that isn't even his.
So do the males wear full-body condoms 24-hours a day? Why would a male sex even continue to exist if they don't pass on their genetic material? Why would women continue to sport obvious mammalian breasts and childbearing hips under their shiny silver jumpsuits if they have nothing to do with carrying the babies? Gene Roddenberry would have taped that shit down in the name of scientific accuracy.
Well, maybe not.
Video Evidence of Xyrilian Lameness
We could only find this brief trailer for the episode the Xyrilians appear in, but it hits the major notes. Commander Trip Tucker having the hots for an alien that looks to be descended from a salamander, pregnant dudes, people making lots of silly faces and of course the wrist nipple.
You thought "wrist nipple" was a typo, didn't you?
#3. The J'naii a.k.a. the People of Planet Lesbos
Star Trek: The Next Generation, Episode 116: "The Outcast."
Alright, so when the Star Trek writers tackled the subject of where babies come from, we got a wrist nipple. Let's see what happens when they take on the complex subject of transgenderism and homosexuality!
The J'naii are a genderless androgynous race, which deeply opposes any kind of sexual activity. Now most men would likely be deterred in the face of overwhelming cultural opposition and a confusing genital situation, but Commander William T. Riker isn't most men.
Once Riker hits the planet and starts spreading his beardy musk around, a J'naii named Soren immediately decides he/she wouldn't mind a ride on his "number one." This brings up the question, are the J'naii actually genderless or are they just a race of aliens with bad haircuts and primitive bra technology? It doesn't help that the Trek producers had women play all the J'naii, making them come off less androgynous, and more like a planet of women's softball coaches.
The episode's message ends up completely garbled. Intended as a condemnation of homophobia, the episode instead comes off as the story of one woman's brave quest for cock in the face of lesbian tyranny.
Video Evidence of J'naii Lameness
From Soren and Riker's least-sexy talk about sex ever at the beginning to Worf's hilarious casual misogyny at the end, these may be the most uncomfortable 10-minutes of Trek ever.
#2.The Kohms and Yangs a.k.a. The Hamfisted Political Symbols
Star Trek, Episode 55: "The Omega Glory."
It's common for aliens in the Trek universe to be metaphors created to address contemporary political or cultural issues, but in the case of the Kohms and Yangs subtlety was set on fire, strapped to a dump truck full of dynamite and rolled off a cliff.
The Kohms all look to be Chinese, wear goofy Russian fur hats and are generally a bunch of jerks. The Yangs on the other hand are white, blonde, manly men who love freedom. It doesn't take Kirk long to deduce that the Yangs were once known as "Yankees" and the Kohms were "Communists." The Yangs even worship a replica of the United States Constitution and use an American Flag as their symbol.
So how did these space Americans and Commies come to exist? Time travel? Uh, tachyon rays? M-rays? Some sort of rays?
Nope, unlike the ridiculous gangster planet up there, apparently this exact mirror of the cold war during the 1960s developed purely by chance. It's explained that this is perfectly plausible due to Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planetary Development, also known as Gene Roddenberry's Law of, "It's Friday, Let's Get This Goddamn Script Done so We Can Hit the Links."
Video Evidence of Kohm and Yang Lameness
Kirk's patriotic speech is stirring and all, but he seems to have forgotten he represents the Federation, not the United States, and in fact according to the Trek timeline the U.S. hadn't existed for over 100 years by this time.
It's hard to disagree with the message there. No matter the time, circumstances, race or planet, all people can be united by one idea: the USA is awesome. To think it took a Canadian to remind us of that. Thank you, Mr. Shatner. Thank you.
#1.The Greek Gods a.k.a... the Greek Gods
Star Trek, Episode 34: "Who Mourns for Adonais?"
So, it turns out the Greek gods were real. They were a race of aliens that lived on a planet named Pollux IV and traveled to Earth 5,000 years ago to dick around with us. By the time the Enterprise arrives at Pollux IV, only Apollo is left for no particularly well-explained reason (other than a limited casting budget).
If you're expecting a twist, wherein it's revealed Apollo is a fake, don't. The episode plays it completely straight. Apollo is an actual god who can throw lightning bolts, and make giant green Enterprise-grabbing hands appear in space.
That's the Star Trek scientific explanation. He's a freaking Greek god and you were fools to have doubted.
Though as far as gods go, Apollo is kind of a loser. Kirk is less afraid of him than a trip to the dentist and in the end of the episode Apollo decides to end it all because a chick he met a few hours ago rejected him.
Video Evidence of Greek God Lameness:
See what happens when Apollo dares to step to the real God of the Trek universe, William Shatner. Also... aren't togas supposed to be longer than miniskirt length? We think we see scrotum there.
With Star Trek warping into theaters this weekend, our sister website Cracked.com has provided some weekend laughs with Star Trek's 6 Most Ridiculous Alien Races, the latest of Mania's Weekly Cracked List which appears at your online destination for genre entertainment every Saturday.
Nathan Birch also writes the far out webcomic Zoology.