The Star Trek universe is massive, and over 47 years, much of it has been charted. But for every Klingon, Romulan, or any other species that is a treasure of storytelling, there are the aliens that are…lame. Here are ten Trek aliens that one should skip when touring the galaxy.
10. The Kazon, Voyager (1995-1996)
Star Trek: Voyager premiered with the promise (and premise) of a starship flung far away from the safe confines of the Federation, in an unexplored part of the galaxy where anything could happen. And who did we first meet as villains? The Kazon: orange-skinned meanies with hair like Sideshow Bob and a disposition that valued sneers above all other forms of conversation. The Kazon, were all echoes, acting pretty much like Klingons that had been left in the sun too long. Spectacularly ineffective, unpleasant to be around, and rather dull…these are not good qualities for what are supposed to be a series’ central heavies. Eventually Voyager left Kazon space, and good riddance.
9. The Edo, Next Generation (1987)
Many Star Trek aliens can be boiled down to one word, like “logic,” or “warrior.” but the Edo are the only ones who can corner the market on the word “frolic.” These athletic, limber, bronzed, sex-obsessed, scantily-clad suspiciously Aryan beauties are essentially a race of bikini-clad dummies, having installed a system of justice where life is an everyday party unless you slip up, because the smallest criminal infraction called for the death penalty. Yes, really. At one point the Edo imprisoned Wesley Crusher and tried to kill him, which was a clever way to try to impress us, but too little, too late.
8. The Ramurans, Voyager (1998)
So, there are these aliens called the Ramurans. They look vaguely humanoid, except for one key difference: their skin excretes a pheromone that works as an airborne Forget Me Not, rendering any species that meets them completely unable to recall them within hours after they leave. They’re also immune to scanning technology, which means it’s literally impossible for any other species to have any lasting record of them. Possessing one of the dumber alien characteristics in all of Star Trek, the Ramurans existed simply to prop up a doomed romance between one played by Virginia Madsen and Commander Chakotay, who forgot his lady love soon after she left the ship. Pheromones or no, who could really blame him? What were we talking about again?
7. The Ba’Ku, Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
The Ba’Ku were the nice aliens we met in Star Trek: Insurrection. They live in a part of space called The Briar Patch, were special radiation caused them to stay forever young. And by “young,” you should read “boring,” because the Ba’Ku are such a pacifistic, slow-witted, plain-vanilla, granola-loving, barely-alien people that they literally play space hackey-sack. And meanwhile their village (designed by the usually-much-better-than-this Herman Zimmerman) looks so phony that it belongs next to a casino, not representing a supposedly advanced species. The Ba’Ku are emblematic of Star Trek imagineering at its unfortunately laziest.
6. The Norcadians, Voyager (2000)
Star Trek is never at its worst decision-making then when it follows trends. In 2000,with WWE Wrestling now appearing on UPN, a crossover episode was devised where the cast of Voyager met a group of aliens that love a super-violent, personality-driven extreme sport called “tsunkatse,” and soon Seven of Nine, the ship’s resident hot babe, fought to the death in a gaudy, high-tech arena while wearing a variety of skintight outfits. So blatant and intentional were the parallels between tsunkatse and the aesthetics of professional wrestling (minus the death part) that one of Norcadians was gust star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Can you smell what silly corporate synergy is cooking?
5. The Bringloidi, The Next Generation (1989)
Irish stereotypes! The Bringloidi were group of doomed colonists who suffered from a limited gene pool and even more limited imagination on the part of the writers who created them. And so the Bringloidi, who come from “Irish descent,” were a bunch of walking, talking, drinking, nagging, pig-farming Irish clichés, replete with a fun-loving old sot and a scarlet-haired shrew who simply needed a good man to tame her. Yeah, guys. I like The Quiet Man, too…but…come on.
4. Any energy being that can (and does) possess the crew (1966-present)
Every Star Trek series has done it at least twice. Often much more. An alien being made entirely of energy enters the body of one or more of the crewmates and possesses them. Sometimes they’re former prisoners from a penal colony. Or crazy warlords. Lost souls just trying to get home. Super-defensive, territorial creatures are a popular choice. Sometimes it’s the former lover of Beverly Crusher’s grandmother (true story). They have different names, so technically are different species. But the effect is always the same: endless scenes of characters we know and love acting out of character or writhing in pain or pleasure, while the casting department gets to save some pennies. Once or twice is novel enough, but eventually you just have to say enough already.
3. The Yangs and Koms, The Original Series (1968)
A much-loved plot device (especially in original series Trek) was that of societies that paralleled different eras in Earth history. Planet of the Nazis. Planet of the gangsters. Planet of the Romans. Never was this more blatant than the episode “The Omega Glory,” which is basically “Planet of the Cold War Soldiers.” Kirk and crew arrive at a planet with two warring primitive factions called “Yangs” and “Koms.” Hmmm…. Yankees and Communists? In case the point was too subtle, one key moment features Captain Kirk reading from the U.S. Constitution, the preamble of which is dubbed “the holiest of holies.” For a franchise that prides itself on forward thinking, this is now hopelessly, hilariously dated.
2. Triple-Breasted Cat Lady, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
The triple-breasted cat lady doesn’t exactly have a big part in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. She only appears in two scenes. But she deserves special mention. First seen seductively dancing on a table in a dirty saloon (classy), the TBCL returns in an action sequence where she leaps onto Captain James T. Kirk and tries to wrestle him to the ground. Kirk, taking his sweet time to defeat her, finally dispatches her in a tub of water (because cats hate water!). What are we to make of this? The Final Frontier was the only Star Trek film directed by William Shatner, and this moment feels like one of those special times when we get a privileged, unintentionally revealing peek into a filmmaker’s…interesting psyche. Much like every other element in Final Frontier, the triple-breasted cat lady has not been seen since.
1. Gorgon, The Original Series (1969)
Gorgon, the “friendly angel,” was the last survivor of a race of interstellar pirates, preserved as a spirit of living energy, summoned by the power of annoying children. Once arisen, he plagued the adults with their worst nightmares. It sounds like a cool concept, I guess. But in reality, Gordon takes the lame alien cake: dressed in a sparkly Mumu, played poorly by famed attorney Marvin Belli, and featured in one of the series’ worst episodes, Gorgon is the lame-alien trifecta: bad idea, bad execution, bad memory.