Space, the final frontier, is endless — and so are the storytelling possibilities of Star Trek, in all its various incarnations. But sometimes Trek boldly goes too far. We all have our own least favorite episodes of Star Trek — but it could have been much worse.
Over the decades, the producers of Trek considered, and ultimately killed, some totally ludicrous storylines. A giant baby taking over the Enterprise? An evil stuffed animal coming to Kirk's bedside? Here are 10 Star Trek episodes we're glad were scrapped.
1) "Miss Gulliver," Star Trek TOS:
Though no writer is credited, the April 1997 issue of Star Trek Monthly mentions a proposed episode reminiscent of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, in which a science officer aboard the Enterprise experimenting with limb regeneration accidentally causes herself to grow to gigantic proportions, threatening the ship in the process. It's a small wonder the producers decided to can the episode.
Most Ridiculous Moment: The episode would have concluded with her boyfriend undergoing the same process, and the two leaving their old lives behind to found a planet of giants.
2) "The Rebels Unthawed," Star Trek TOS:
Legendary Riverworld author Philip Jose Farmer helped to shape the concept of Star Trek before the series filmed its first pilot, and also submitted several story outlines to the series. Gene Roddenberry considered them to be "too far out," but Farmer later published two of them as standalone short stories: "The Shadow of Space" and "Sketches Among the Ruins of My Mind." More recently, a third of Farmer's unsold Trek episodes, "The Rebels Unthawed," came to light — the Enterprise discovers a derelict spaceship floating with twelve passengers in suspended animation. But it's not Khan — it's twelve Confederate soldiers who were kidnapped by aliens during the Civil War.
Most Ridiculous Moment: "Culture shock ensues." I'm guessing the Confederate soldiers would have had a hard time coping with Kirk's more enlightened future.
3) "Out of Time", Star Trek: The Next Generation:
While on a hunting trip with Worf, Alexander steps through a time portal, and then comes back a moment later as an angry 25-year-old warrior. According to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion,Joe Menosky pitched this story during the seventh and final season of The Next Generation, as a means to "get rid" of the Alexander character he despised. The episode never went forward, because, according to Rene Echevarria, "Alexander was Michael Piller's mother's favorite character". The episode was eventually turned into a story about the O'Briens and their daughter Molly — but the grown-up Molly was made into a "wild child," raised in the wilderness, and eventually the young Molly is returned.
Most Ludicrous Moment: The grown-up Alexander is "now a grown man and a warrior and has great resentment towards his father, because he doesn't understand what's happened," according to Rene Echevarria. (Why is the concept of "time portal" so hard to grasp?)
4) "He Walked Among Us", Star Trek TOS:
In this episode from a script by Gene L. Coon and Norman Spinrad, which underwent at least five separate drafts before its eventual abandonment, a Federation "health food nut" hijacks a planet and sets himself up as god, violating the Prime Directive to such an extent Kirk is forced to intervene. Problematically, he's so thoroughly overcoded the planet's society that Kirk cannot possibly dethrone him without sending its people into turmoil. Norman Spinrad was so displeased with the script he pleaded with Gene Rodenberry to bury the episode. Spinrad eventually released a heavily revised, five-hundred-page novel based on the story just last year.
Most Ludicrous Moment: Rodenberry asked Spinrad to write the episode as a vehicle for Milton Berle, fresh off his performance as Louie, the Lilac on Batman '66. And the network kept asking for more ridiculous "Uncle Miltie" schticks. It wasn't to be, but Berle did go on to guest star in a 1972 episode of the CBS sitcom Arnie titled "Star Trekking".
5) "I.Q. Test", Star Trek: The Next Generation
In this story from an unnamed writer, developed in assistance with Herbert J. Wright, Q holds an unspecified wager with another member of the Q Continuum that somehow leads to an Arena-esque duel called the "Q-Olympics" between the Enterprise crew and an alien race known as the Zaa-Naar, or possibly the Talarians. This was another episode we can thank Michael Piller for stifling.
Most Ludicrous Moment: According to one source, the games would have included a poker game between the two captains, with the Enterprise crew turned into living poker chips. The entire conceit is essentially an episode of Hanna-Barbera's Laff-A-Lympics with Riker in place of Dynomutt. In a 1998 AOL chat, Ronald D. Moore was quoted as saying, "In defense of Michael, the Q-Olympics story was ludicrous and to be deep-sixed."
6) "Bandi", Star Trek TOS:
In a story more Snorks than Star Trek, Kirk is alerted to the presence of a three-foot tall teddy bear-like creature that a technician discreetly beamed aboard the Enterprise, named Bandi. Kirk immediately commands that the creature be destroyed, but has a change of heart after staring into its adorable, large eyes. While Bandi remains aboard the ship, the crew becomes increasingly devoted to the creature, though careless and indifferent in their duties. This leads Kirk to discover Bandi's true nature as an emotional telepath, who projects its own feelings on those around it. Kirk then orders the creature to be eliminated on sight, but the Enterprise crew, under the influence of Bandi, takes arms against Kirk – until the unaffected Spock steps in and saves the day.
While it may have been fun to see Kirk take on the Furby from Lunar Park, the episode itself is entirely redundant to the themes set forth in The Trouble With Tribbles, and in the ensuing years, the concept of a secretly malignant, though beloved foe has become a staple story template for every Saturday morning cartoons imaginable. Fascinatingly, an episode of The Real Ghostbusters follows this exact outline to the letter.
Most Ludicrous Moment: After Kirk has Bandi locked up, he awakens to find the giant teddy bear perched on the ledge of his bed, staring malevolently.
7) "Rock-a-Bye-Baby or Die!", Star Trek TOS:
While the Enterprise visits a planet for the criminally insane, the ship is possessed by the soul of a cosmic baby that integrates itself into the circuitry and grows at an accelerated rate. Meanwhile, Kirk and McCoy must prevent two psycho-killers from harming any more of the crocodile men who control a mental asylum. In his career retrospective, All of Us Are Dying and Other Stories, writer George Clayton Johnson revealed Gene Rodenberry purchased the story from him, but it was Gene Coon who killed the episode when he came aboard as line producer. He reportedly disliked the concept of humanizing the ship and its computers. Johnson resubmitted the concept to the Next Generation writing staff where it was once again rejected.
Most Ludicrous Moment: Three-way tie: 1. Uhura consoling the despondent Enterprise by singing "Rock-a-bye-baby" - and having the ship fall asleep. 2. The baby enterprise steering itself towards the sun as it coos, "pretty, pretty", forcing Kirk to electrocute its hull with high tension wire to teach it a lesson – he retorts "Once burned, twice shy." 3. The idea of a hospital planet for the criminally deranged run by a species of humanoid alligators.
8) Untitled "Q on a beach" story, Star Trek: Voyager:
According to Supervising Producer Joe Menosky (in Cinefantastique, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 51),"Brannon [Braga] and I went to Rick Berman's house for Thanksgiving dinner, and Brent Spiner and John de Lancie were there. John had an idea for a Q episode. He had a couple of interesting images, of Q on an ocean somewhere, on a beach, either having lost his complete identity as Q, or lost his will to live. Somehow he gets involved with an everyday kind of person, and that person's fate and life somehow affects Q. That was his pitch, and it had some nice images."
Though the outline is somewhat nebulous, the idea of a suicidal Q has tremendous potential — but a suicidal Q finding affirmation through a salt of the Earth type seems forced, predictable and…against character, doesn't it?
Most Ludicrous Moment: The basic idea eventually became the fifth season episode "11:59," about Janeway's ancestor falls in love with a man who's trying to stop a space project.
"Are Unheard Memories Sweet?," Star Trek: Phase II:
The Enterprise sets out to find a missing starship, but finds itself trapped on a world ruled by women desperately in need of men instead — Worley Thorne wrote this episode for the mythic Star Trek : Phase II, based upon the 1882 Walter Besant novel The Revolt of Man. In the novel, women have taken over society, including the sciences, from passive and pacifistic men, consequently terminating all scientific advancement since "women have no capacity for it". Thorne's script somehow called for extensive nudity, so it's assumed if the episode had been filmed as is, the network would have refused to air it. A similar premise, minus the nudity, was eventually used in what would become one of the most widely disliked TNG episodes ever, "Angel One".
Most Ludicrous Moment: The story involved the ever-popular missing dilithium catalyst, this time preventing the Enterprise from finding the mineral on the female-run planet because "girls don't do science". (The Next Generation series bible recognized the overuse of missing dilithium and put a stop to it, reasoning that in the future, it could be easily replaced.)
10) Various Porthos storylines, Star Trek: Enterprise
According to the Enterprise season four DVDs (as quoted by Memory Alpha), the final Star Trek TV show considered many script ideas centering around Captain Archer's dog — which were generally rejected, because they didn't want the dog to steal the show. Ideas included Porthos becoming super-intelligent, or the crew encountering a canine alien that only Porthos could communicate with.
Most Ludicrous Moment: In one of these mooted stories, the crew is incapacitated, and Porthos has to take command of the ship.