McCoy: "It's a human trait to love little animals, especially if they're attractive in some way."
Spock: "Doctor, I am well aware of human traits, I am frequently inundated by them, but I've trained myself to put up with just about anything."
McCoy: "Spock, I don't know much about these things, but I do know one thing. I like them... better than I like you!"
Spock: "Doctor, they do indeed have one redeeming quality."
McCoy: "What's that?"
Spock: "They do not talk too much."
An episode of the original "Star Trek
" series. The 15th episode of the second season, it was first broadcast on December 29, 1967
. The episode was directed by Joseph Pevney
, and the script was written by David Gerrold
This may be the best-known episode of Classic Trek -- its quirky humor
co-stars make it a fun and memorable
story. The Enterprise
is summoned to a space station
near a planet
called Sherman's Planet
, which is in a sector of space which both the Federation
and the Klingon Empire
have laid claim to. To Captain Kirk
's frustration, his big bad starship
is being ordered to guard some grain shipments, but the mission gets more interesting when a Klingon
ship arrives for shore leave
on the space station. Klingons and Federation don't get along, and there's a grand barroom brawl
to get everyone nicely on edge.
On top of these inter-species tensions, a trader with the blaxploitation-flick-friendly name of Cyrano Jones
brings some little furry
balls of fluff called tribble
s onto the station. They're unspeakably cute
, and the Enterprise crew start taking them on as pets. However, tribbles and Klingons hate each other. Unfortunately for the Enterprise, tribbles eat way too much and reproduce
way too fast -- Dr. McCoy
describes them as being "born pregnant
." Soon, there are so many that they pose a danger of eating all the ship's food
, and they even get into closed compartments and start eating parts of the ship's systems. Kirk realizes, too late, that the tribbles could eat all the grain stores on the station, leading to the episode's most familiar
image, as Kirk is buried under a small mountain of tribbles when he opens the overhead grain compartments.
As it turns out, many of the tribbles that have eaten the grain are either dead or dying -- someone poison
ed the grain! The tribbles themselves reveal the saboteur
-- they absolutely hate Arne Darvin
, the assistant of a Federation official aboard the station. A medical
scan quickly reveals that Darvin is a Klingon, surgically altered to appear human. It was a clever ruse to get full Klingon control of the planet, but thanks to the horrifically adorable
tribbles, Kirk and crew come out on top again. Cyrano Jones is ordered to remove the tribbles from the station himself, and the tribbles aboard the Enterprise are beamed onto the Klingon starship.
Kirk: "As captain of this ship, I want two things done. First, find out what killed the Tribbles, and second... Close that door."
The players included the show regulars: William Shatner
as Captain Kirk, Leonard Nimoy
as Mr. Spock
, DeForest Kelley
as Dr. McCoy, James Doohan
as Montgomery Scott, Nichelle Nichols
as Lt. Uhura, and Walter Koenig
as Chekov (No Sulu this time -- George Takei
was off filming "The Green Berets
"). Guest stars included William Schallert
as Federation Undersecretary Nilz Baris, Stanley Adams
as Cyrano Jones, Paul Baxley
as Ensign Freeman (a role that David Gerrold had hoped to play himself), Charlie Brill
as Arne Darvin, William Campbell
as Koloth, and Michael Pataki
Though Gerrold originally meant for his script to be a serious
examination of the problems that can arise when seemingly innocuous species are introduced into predator
s, that was quickly abandoned in favor of the winking shenanigans
that the "Star Trek" folks were already so good at. There's something very funny about a tale of Cold War intrigue
, and sabotage
when told against a backdrop of bureaucratic
bumbling, culture clash
es, and cute, squeaking fluffball
Favorite trivia bits: Though tribbles were somewhat similar to the flatcat
s in Robert Heinlein
's novel "The Rolling Stones
," Heinlein didn't pursue any legal action against the show, since he didn't originate the idea either. This episode also marks the one and only time that Chekov and Scotty had any sort of conversation
during the original series. And Spock's line "He simply could not believe his ears" was an ad-lib by Nimoy, who got the line from a Mad Magazine
parody of the series that had just been published.
Gerrold wrote one sequel to the story, which appeared as "More Tribbles, More Troubles
" in the "Star Trek" animated series in 1973. And a 1996 episode of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
" called "Trials and Tribble-ations
" sent the DS9 crew back in time to interact with the classic Trek crew during "Trouble with Tribbles."
Scotty: "Just before they went into warp, I beamed the whole kit and kaboodle into their engine room, where they'll be no tribble at all." Research from StarTrek.com, the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com), TV.com, and Wikipedia