Your "Star Trek" Alien Head-Canons

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by WarpTenLizard, Oct 2, 2020.


What plot hole peeves you the most about "Star Trek's" aliens?

  1. Entire planets having one culture/religion/language

    7 vote(s)
  2. All the Humanoids

    6 vote(s)
  3. Inconsistencies in the looks of recurring species (Klingons, Romulans, Ktarians...)

    5 vote(s)
  4. The number of "empires" (Klingon, Andorian, Romulan) with hardly any mention of who they rule

    8 vote(s)
  5. Every other week, we meet a new species; the galaxy is starting to feel crowded

    2 vote(s)
  6. The sheer number of alien foreheads that resemble a$$es, or other unmentionable private parts

    4 vote(s)
  1. WarpTenLizard

    WarpTenLizard Captain Captain

    Mar 7, 2015
    Planet Spaceball
    We all love "Star Trek," but we also all know that over the course of 50 years, the franchise has had some issues with its "aliens." Some of these plot holes are addressed onscreen, like the Klingon foreheads, or the abundance of Humanoid species. But we're still left with countless other inconsistencies and underdeveloped races.

    So I'm asking what your head-canons for various "Star Trek" races are.

    Here are mine:

    Different Trill cultures have different ideas about who, if anyone, should be joined. Obviously the Symbiossis Commission has the final word on the matter, but the planet didn't achieve a single planetary government for many centuries. Some cultures had councils hold contests to select the most fitting candidates, while others just had the contest of "whoever grabs the slug first." In some cultures the joined were the leaders; in others, they were only advisors to the rulers. And a few cultures reject the idea of joining altogether.

    Royal Joining was also once totally a thing, but fell out of favor after it resulted in centuries of royal incest (as a symbiont was passed from parent to child, but was still in love with their last spouse...)

    Nowadays the Trill government and Symbiossis Commission controls the entire joining systems, but people on Trill still have their opinions.

    Bajor does have more than one religion.
    It just happens that one of those religions spread much more widely across the planet than any on Earth did, with maybe 2/3 of Bajorans belonging to the religion Kira Nerys follows, and that religion rules the planet as a theocracy.

    But, in addition to being very small in populace, the other religions often still involve the Prophets in some way or another (as the wormhole aliens were getting involved in Bajor for centuries). And things like the earring or expresions like "Thank the Prophets" may have become cultural staples, used even by those who don't follow that religion--similar to Christmas decorations, or "What the Hell?"

    And physically, Bajorans are more nimble than Humans. They aren't just be Humans with funny noses and sideways hearts. Kira's rebel uniform involves a net top, which seems an odd choice for combat in the forest--unless one is nimble enough to get around the trees without it getting caught on anything. During Dax's zhian'tara ritual, she chooses Leeta, a Bajoran, to host Emony, the gymnist. Emony even comments that this body is great for gymnastics. And finally, Tabor on "Voyager" was known in the Maquist for being able to do all sorts of stunts during fights without getting any dirt on him.

    Ktarian foreheads vary even more than Klingons. The first Ktarian we met was Etanna Jol, in the TNG episode the game. And her forehead....looks like Riker probably wasn't sure which end he had at any given moment. Luckily, Naomi Wildman on "Voyager" looks nothing like Etanna, instead sporting a cute little row of miniature rhino horns. Many call this an inconsistency, but I choose to believe that if Klingon foreheads can vary, so can Ktarian ones.

    Ktarians can account for many of the random weird-forehead ailens we see in the Federation whose species isn't named (because frankly, if each one of those represented a completely different planet, the galaxy would start to feel quite crowded).

    The Orions, the Gorn, and the Naussicans are all subjects of the Klingon Empire. I first read this on "Star Trek: Online." In that context, I think the idea was that the Empire eventually conquered thoes races. But I choose to believe that they have been ruling them for most of the franchise. Because for all the "empires" we have (Klingon, Romulan, Andorian) we rarely if ever see or hear about who they've conquered. But, it is canon that Klingons allow their subjects some rights, and it's even possible for a member of a subject species to hold a position in the High Council.

    Why these three races for the Klingon Empire, specifically? Because they're all aggressive/militant cultures. Meaning that either the Klingons chose to conquer them for that reason (because what's the glory in conquering a race of pacifist hemp growers?); or, they became more warlike due to Klingon influence; or, most likely, a bit of both.

    The Ocampa and the Kazon are evolved plants and fungi, respectively. It would add to Kes's relation to plants, and her outrage at the Caretaker keeping her people from their sun. And when did Kes's evolution phase in "the Gift" finally set off? When she was playing with a candlelight. As for the Kazon, they not only look like mutated shrooms, but they even act like fungi, with their scavenger lifestyle.

    Ocampa telepathically affect their mates. Kes told the Doctor that on her world, relationships last forever, and there is no distrust or cheating. While she and Neelix are a couple, Neelix's personality is at its worst, as he jealously treats her like a child and acts paranoid at any guy she interacts with. He gets a bit better after she dumps him, and after Kes leaves the ship, Neelix's character changes almost completely, and for the better.

    Then there's the alternate future Kes saw in "Before and After." When Tom is married to Kes, he acts wildly out of character. He is uncharacteristically passive and tranquil, and at one point, says the ludicrously sappy line, "The day we got married I thought that was the happiest day of my life, but each day just kept getting better and better." As soon as Kes goes back to a time before they're married, Tom is himself again.

    My theory is that when an Ocampa hooks up with a non-Ocampa, the telepathic bond can go awry and cause problems. Kes may have realized this by the end of "Before and After," hence why she chose to take actions that would prevent her future marriage to Tom.

    I'd love to hear some of your own head-canons for "Star Trek" species, even if they contradict some of my own.
    Arpy likes this.
  2. Imaus

    Imaus Captain Captain

    Feb 27, 2020
    Not knowing about the Klingon, Romulan, or Andorian Empires never bothered me much; the Klingons were gathered under Kahless and others, thus the Empire moniker, while the Romulans rule over the Remans (retroactively at least), and the Andorians united several disparate Kingdoms, I believe; so thus a 'Empire'. Otherwise these are very secretive, militant powers (Klingon, Romulan) while the Andorians were very local; we're not going to hear much about their subject species, if they're even around, still. Romulans and Klingons killing off entire species, especially if they were troublesome, doesn't seem below them (though by NEM the Romulans don't want Earth wiped out...for...some...reason? Why do they care?)

    The Humaniods everywhere does get me; this with the prosthetics; it's one of the earliest complaints against Star Trek. Tholians were interesting but because they're a 'hot' race can't be everywhere; maybe we need more insectoid and proper reptilians races, different stances, different locomotions, different manipulators, different eyes, the like.

    The inconsistency look doesn't bother me too much. I didn't raise a qualm when I saw the opening of DIS; no, it was what followed after that got me, really.

    All those foreheads, too! Whew. Mothers around the galaxy must have a damn hard hassle giving birth - though I think, sneakily, Trek implies the ridges 'grow' during maturity, as seen with Alex? Lucky moms. Pushing a Kazon out with a fully formed ridge...sheesh. Or even my Farians (see profile pic), that thing is like a knife.

    The galaxy doesn't feel crowded: to me, it feels rather empty. One species per planet, maybe one/two species on two planets or so in a system. Barely anything else colonized. See: Bajor System, for example. I wish our system was like Bajor, thing has like 11 major planets, two with temperate atmospheres? But it feels so underdeveloped. And because the characters run from star to star, we never get in depth look at planets, which are often one or two settlements. Even Earth in ST is relateively unknown: we see what, Paris, San Fran, a academy in Brazil, the Antarctic? Bozeman? The Desert, now, due to PIC? That leaves a lot to be desired. Get what I mean?

    As for a head canon: hmm. I don't have anything unique at the moment.
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  3. trekshark

    trekshark Captain Captain

    Mar 6, 2014
    I voted for the empire choice. The humanoid was probably my second choice. I know they tried explaining it away with the chase but still would have liked some more non humanoids, or at least bipeds that were more than just a person with some face latex.
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  4. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jul 14, 2016
    Entire planets having one culture/religion/language
    Or simply a case that we're just seeing the one in front of us, perhaps the one of the region that our hero crew is present in.

    In my mind Ardana isn't only composed of rulers and miners, there are farmers, and artisans, and a full lower, middle and upper class. Statos hovers above the mines because that's where the money is.

    Spock was bonded as a seven year old, T'Pol was not.

    All the Humanoids
    A head-canon/assumption is that they aren't, Humanoids that is. The comics (some of them) do a good job of depicting the various species as far different than what we see on the show. The Cardassians appear much more reptilian, Spock is decidedly non-Human.

    The number of "empires" (Klingon, Andorian, Romulan) with hardly any mention of who they rule.

    Historically, Human Empires were composed of Humans. Why would a Klingon Empire have to have anything other than Klingons? However likely there are other species, but unless there was a reason to do so, why would they be mentioned?

    Every other week, we meet a new species

    Good, constantly seeing the same repetative species makes the galaxy seem small, the galaxy should (imho) be filled with a vast number of different species.
    Bry_Sinclair likes this.
  5. Kor

    Kor Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Jul 31, 2001
    My mansion on Qo'noS
    I think that there are local variations and traditions within the umbrella of Bajoran religion, much as there are variations in religious practice in different locales and social groups in India, which have all been subsumed into the broad category of Hinduism. In some areas of Bajor, they believe in weird thought-cloud monsters that have to be scared away under the guidance of a storyteller. And in other areas of Bajor, they don't.

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  6. somebuddyX

    somebuddyX Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Nov 14, 2014
    I keep thinking there would be a small movement of Bajoran atheists amongst young people who grew up post-Dominion War which had started after someone concluded Bajor and Ben Sisko had been manipulated just to get the Emissary to go battle the Pah Wraiths in a cave. There would also be comparisons made about the suffering of Bajorans in the Occupation and the time the Emissary got the Prophets to wipe out the Dominion fleet in the Celestial Temple. I also think the Pah Wraiths would be romanticised by Bajorans in their own fiction or in cults in the same way people romanticise Lucifer in different ways IRL. I haven't thought about this a lot and I'm looking at it from an in-universe way where people don't have all the information available to them and might be making correct or incorrect assumptions. I just think these guys would definitely exist in some form.
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  7. Tim Thomason

    Tim Thomason Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 27, 2009
    USS Protostar
    Genetic Engineering is Widespread - Humans banned it, but most everyone else used it for centuries in their past. We know about the Denobulans and the Arcturians, but most all races with advanced musculature (Klingons, Vulcans) were the result of ancient breeding and engineering programs and they "perfected" their race naturally or maybe after their own Eugenics Wars. They mate like normal now (for the most part), because they are all perfect specimens.
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  8. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

    Nov 22, 2001
    Ferguson, Missouri, USA
    None of the choices listed in the OP really bothered me.

    But I think the problem with the "alien of the week" is that if you do it too much, it becomes repetitive and most of them start blurring together, largely becoming indistinguishable from one another. You ultimately only remember the very few who stand out.
  9. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

    Sep 28, 2009
    Orbiting Urectum
    Entire planets having one culture/religion/language:
    Trek isn't the only show guilty of mono-cultures, though at least they don't have simply "ice planets" or "forest moons". Religion isn't really a huge aspect in Trek, though when it it touched upon it is because an alien is posing as a god with actual powers and abilities that make it appear god-like to other races--even Trek's most religious race, the Bajorans, had two religions (those that follow the Prophets and those who believe in the Pah'wraiths) as well as atheists (Ro had little time for her people's beliefs). Language again barely ever crops up due to the UT, and if its a plot point it's fixed in five minutes.

    All the humanoids:
    I accept the explanation TNG gave on why they were so prevalent, at least in the Milky Way in other galaxies it might be very different. Trying to do non-humanoids on a TV budget is never going to be easy, with the likes of Species 8472 looking really dated now--if they hired the Jim Henson company and took a page from FarScape then they'd be able to get very life-like and believable non-humanoid crew members included.

    Inconsistencies in the looks of recurring species (Klingons, Romulans, Ktarians...):
    The Klingons are now a joke. Ktarians, Trill and Romulans have pretty much been retconned to fit in with their more prominent members (ie Ktarians have horns, Trill have spots, Romulans have forehead ridges).

    The number of "empires" (Klingon, Andorian, Romulan) with hardly any mention of who they rule:
    The UFP has 150+ members and we've only met a fraction of them. These empires are vast and we've only met a very small number of their citizens.

    Every other week, we meet a new species; the galaxy is starting to feel crowded:
    More aliens! The only thing that bothers me with this is what @C.E. Evans said with alien-of-the-week making one appearance, not being very interesting and fading into obscurity with the rest of them, then falling back on the tropes of Klingons and Borg. Make interesting aliens that stick around, to develop them further and make the universe feel more fleshed out.

    The sheer number of alien foreheads that resemble a$$es, or other unmentionable private parts:
    Other than the original design of the Ktarians never noticed anything else like this.
  10. ananta

    ananta Captain Captain

    Mar 13, 2020
    Perhaps due to its largely episodic nature, Star Trek has always painted alien cultures in very broad strokes. As a result it seems that every alien world is ridiculously homogenised—rather than the incredible variety we see upon Earth today, all the aliens tend to look, speak and behave the same way. They are invariably one-government planets, with perhaps a single dominant political ideology and religion, etc. They also tend to dress alike, if not identically.

    Until DS9, Trek was pretty two dimensional at depicting alien politics. An example that stuck out during a recent TNG rewatch was season seven’s “Attached”. The planet Kes-Pritt had two nations — the Kes and the Pritt (Yup, they clearly weren’t terribly imaginative when it came to naming their planet). One is friendly and open and the other is paranoid and xenophobic. And that’s the extent of it. Each side dresses in their respective uniform, with one side wearing what looks like ridiculous wet suits with caps. It’s just utterly lazy worldbuilding that barely puts an effort into building a believable and three dimensional culture. This happened week after week on TNG and Voyager. I guess that’s part of the downside of an episodic approach. There simply isn’t the time to invest races and cultures with any depth or imagination. Voyager was particularly poor in my opinion. They made the Delta Quadrant by and large one heck of a bland and boring place.

    DS9, by virtue of its predominantly static setting and superior writing at least managing to build some nuanced and more compellingly complex cultures, particularly the Cardassians, which I think is one of the best developed and realised of any Trek races.
    Bry_Sinclair likes this.
  11. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

    Mar 15, 2001
    I said out, dammit!
    I need an all-of-the-above choice. :lol:
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  12. FederationHistorian

    FederationHistorian Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Feb 6, 2020
    Entire planets having one culture/religion/language:
    One alien culture never bothered me. Some species just evolved differently to have a single culture, religion or language. And some species are cousins to each other (i.e Vulcans & Romulans, Kzinti & Caitians) that branched off at some point.

    All the humanoids:
    Humanoid aliens doesn’t bother me. There was an explanation given in TNG. And there has been efforts to diversify throughout the franchise, from the Organians & Tholians, to the Crystalline Entity, to the Pah-Wraiths, to Species 8472, to the Aquatic and Insectoid Xindi. We’ve also never seen different takes on humanoid species like the Gallamites and their see through skulls.

    Inconsistencies in the looks of recurring species (Klingons, Romulans, Ktarians...):
    Inconsistencies have their own answers (originate from different regions on their homeworld; different styles and trends evolving over centuries; experiments gone wrong; cultural reasons, etc). In hindsight, cultural reasons for why the Klingons had no ridges in TOS, but did in the other series, might have been a better answer. And that might be still true, since there are multiple Klingon houses. I'm sure that there are Klingons that done think that other species are worthy of seeing their ridges.

    The number of "empires" (Klingon, Andorian, Romulan) with hardly any mention of who they rule:
    I don’t think about who are the subjects of the Klingon, Romulans and Andorian Empires. We can get a sense of who is subjugated by the Klingon Empire by looking at those that are on the penal colony Rura Penthe. The Romulans subjugate the Remans, and possibly the Debrune, and just control a significant region of space under one government. And the Andorians I’ve always felt was more of a unified kingdom than a true empire.

    The Orions, Gorn and Nausicaans are not subjects of the Klingon Empire to me; but they are in relatively close proximity to them. And head canon wants to believe that the Gorn and the Klingons have fought over territory we see as synonymous with the Klingon Empire many times. Its just never been seen before or mentioned on screen.

    As for the Orions, something happened in their history to embrace becoming an anarcho-capitalist society.

    Every other week, we meet a new species; the galaxy is starting to feel crowded:
    I think its more that these aliens of the week feel shallow after the episodes are over. They don’t add beyond the story being told. No major recurring characters gets developed after meeting them But it balances out with the fact that some species are just monocultured.
  13. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Oct 4, 2003
    Which side was which?
  14. sbk1234

    sbk1234 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 24, 2006
    Los Angeles
    I chose the inconsistency of alien’s appearance, like the changes in Klingons, Andorrans, etc.

    although I don’t have a problem with the number of different races, it would be neat if they could vary the races that are seen based on where they are in the galaxy.
    WarpTenLizard likes this.
  15. Arpy

    Arpy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Apr 22, 2001
    The homogeneous portrayal of some of the older races kinda works if you imagine they’ve been global villages for millennia. Especially the Bajorans who have maybe been around the longest (although I really like some of the ideas in this thread for their greater variety/nuance), and maybe the Klingons who are all about conquest and suppression.

    In my head canon, the majority of intelligent alien life in the cosmos is non-humanoid, Protohumanoid interference or not. When we do discover aliens, they’ll be nothing like us. And it’s too convenient that the Protohumanoids seeded every single planet we’ve seen including on the far ends of the galaxy. There may be more variety of life of that form than say of Tholian-oids, but there are more intelligent non-humanoids overall. (It was great in Lower Decks to see non-humanoid Aurellians and Ariolos and how we nearly got a series regular out of the Tardigrade on DSC. There’ll be more as CG is less expensive and the wow-factor increases. I mean, they’re already spending $10 Million an episode on DSC to do just that.)

    That and/or the micro-paleontological message the Protohumanoids left is repeating many times in different sections of the galaxy so that Talaxians, Malons, Wadi, and Travelers all can receive it from wherever they evolved.
  16. at Quark's

    at Quark's Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Dec 15, 2012
    Not sure if this is quite the same as the "monoculture" thing but what bugs me about aliens in Trek is that they're usually basically humans with one different predominant character trait. Vulcans are logical, Klingons are battle-obsessed, Ferengi are greedy, Romulans are calculating, Cardassians are treacherous, Bajorans are spiritual, etc- and we as humans are miraculously in the center of all those races in terms of character traits.
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  17. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    I don't have a problem with that. In the Trek format, humans are simply distinct for having zero character traits - that's their gig, just as much as the Vulcan suppression of emotions thing. Although they aren't really distinct, because every infant culture lacks character traits. Those come with maturity: those who interact with the galactic community soon learn that it pays to create a brand.

    Nor do I have a problem with monoculture. Why would any planet have more than one culture, once they get over infancy? Ruling over mere ten billion people comprehensively enough to create a single way of thinking, drinking and inking sounds like a doable thing, and also a thing that we here on Earth will do pretty soon. Languages and ideas die every day, and those born in their place tend to go global overnight.

    Bajor is simply a special case here, being easily a hundred times more mature than Earth, ours or Kirk's or Picard's. They've outgrown the need for localism and differentism and culturism, quite possibly because their species doesn't do initiative or curiosity: in their millennia of civilization, they not only never got around to inhabiting their paradise moon, but also never scaled all the mountains and for all we know never bothered to visit all the islands.

    It would be pretty difficult to crowd the Milky Way, either in the Trek universe where basically every star features habitable planets, or in our universe where, as far as we can tell, basically every star features habitable planets... That's billions, and the Feds claim they have charted about tenth of that already, and might well enjoy actual access to more than tenth of a percent, which is already millions.

    As for Klingons changing, well, that's what Klingons do. Why wouldn't they, if they can? And they have been keen on body modification ever since the days of ENT at least.

    Why should empires be famed for the folks they rule? Nobody cared about whom the British ruled, until they got the maharajahs to proudly display on a leash. Nodoby to this day cares about whom the Russians or the Americans rule. It's just natives, which covers it all. Except if there's dramatic potential in something different; perhaps the Remans will one day amount to that, despite a pretty dismal false start?

    Timo Saloniemi
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  18. BillJ

    BillJ Former Democrat Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2001
    Covington, Ky. USA
    None of the above. It is entertainment, not a documentary on the future. Folks should learn to tell the two apart.
  19. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Vice Admiral Moderator

    Jan 20, 2016
    I would put that down to a semi fascist, theocratic, caste system rather than 'maturity'. The Cardassian invasion forced them to mature beyond that.
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  20. 1001001

    1001001 Do You Really Wanna Taste It? Moderator

    Nov 3, 2001
    Zoo Station
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