Star Trek often took on serious subject matter from racism to the horror of war, but sometimes the series and films was just as determined to go for laughs. There are several great comedic scenes and episodes across the history of the franchise. Worf’s insistence that he is NOT a merry man in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “QPid,” the Doctor’s fantasies from Star Trek: Voyager’s “Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy,” and most of the runtime of 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home come to mind.
But for most fans, if you bring up Star Trek and comedy, they will immediate think of one thing:
Tribbles are small creatures that look like little more than balls of fur. They’re sweet, they coo adorably, and, if you’re not careful, they will quickly reproduce in numbers that rabbits can only dream of…
…if rabbits dreamed of numbers.
Tribbles first appeared in the second season of the original Star Trek series in an episode appropriately titled, “The Trouble with Tribbles,” written by David Gerrold. The creatures, as Dr. McCoy explains, are basically born pregnant. Give them food, and they start reproducing exponentially. When one is brought aboard the USS Enterprise, it begins to overwhelm the ship with its offspring.
The episode is filled with several great comedic moments, but overall I just love watching William Shatner’s portrayal of Captain Kirk’s increasing exasperation at the events unfolding around him.
The Tribbles appeared in an episode of the animated Star Trek series titled “More Tribbles, More Troubles,” also written by David Gerrold, but their big return was in the “Trials and Tribble-ations” episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which was made as part of the 30th anniversary of Star Trek. In the episode, Captain Benjamin Sisko and members of his crew travel back in time to the events of “The Trouble with Tribbles” and have to stop an assassination attempt against Captain Kirk without letting him know that they are from the future. The merging of the Deep Space Nine cast into the original episode is done beautifully, and the new story is also very funny.
Tribbles have also made appearances in the two most recent Star Trek films, with one playing a role in saving Captain Kirk’s life in Star Trek Into Darkness. Considering all the trouble Tribbles caused him in their earlier encounters, I suppose it was the least it could do.
- Alan Decker
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