How much do you know about “Star Trek: The Original Series”?

Originally published on May 4, 2009, in advance of the J.J. Abrams-directed reboot Star Trek movie. It’s no longer online there, so I’ve reposted it in full here.

“Star Trek” has enjoyed a long journey across space and time. The original science-fiction TV series created by Gene Roddenberry only ran for three seasons from 1966 to 1969, but it went on to become one of the most successful and long-lasting pop-culture artifacts in history, spawning another five TV spinoffs, 11 movies, novels, comic books, and all manner of other ancillary items from commemorative plates to perfume. The latest Trek movie—the 11th—takes things back full circle, with director J.J. Abrams (“Lost”) casting new actors as the characters made iconic in the original series, and giving a fresh start to the crew of the USS Enterprise, who we’ll see on their first mission into outer space. Chris Pine takes William Shatner’s place as the never-say-die Captain James. T. Kirk, and Zachary Quinto of “Heroes” plays his diametrically-opposed friend, the coldly logical Spock. (The original Spock, Leonard Nimoy, also makes an appearance.) In honor of the new beginnings of “Star Trek,” we’ve whipped up a quiz on important moments from the original series.


SCORING 13 correct: All correct. Are you wearing fake Vulcan ears? We bet you’re wearing fake Vulcan ears. 8-12 correct. Mostly correct. It’s logical to assume you’re a fan of the show. 5-7 correct. So-so. Your warp engines are offline, but you still have impulse power. 1-4 correct: Not Very Good. Beam up up, Scotty, there’s no intelligent life down here. 0 correct: Terrible. Kobiyashi Maru isn’t the only no-win scenario.


13 correct: All correct. Are you wearing fake Vulcan ears? We bet you’re wearing fake Vulcan ears.

8-12 correct. Mostly correct. It’s logical to assume you’re a fan of the show.

5-7 correct. So-so. Your warp engines are offline, but you still have impulse power.

1-4 correct: Not Very Good. Beam up up, Scotty, there’s no intelligent life down here.

0 correct: Terrible. Kobiyashi Maru isn’t the only no-win scenario.

#1. In his original pitch to NBC, what TV Western did creator Gene Roddenberry liken his vision of "Star Trek" to?

The correct answer is B, “Wagon Train.” The idea was that, like “Wagon Train,” “Star Trek” would feature the same cast in a new setting each week thanks to the fact that their ship was always on the move.

#2. In the new movie, the bridge crew of the Enterprise includes all the familiar characters fans remember from the original TV series and subsequent movies. However, given that the movie covers Kirk's first mission, it's not strictly canonical that all these characters would be there, since on the original series some of them joined the Enterprise only after Kirk took command. Which character, of the following four, was a member of the crew before Kirk?

The correct answer is A, Spock. Spock was the science officer under Kirk’s predecessor, Captain Pike, as seen in “The Menagerie.” McCoy and Uhura only joined after the show’s second pilot episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” in part because the previous ship’s doctor and communications officer were killed in that episode. Chekov was brought on in the second season.

#3. The irascible ship's doctor, Leonard McCoy, was known for a couple of recurring catchphrases. One was "he's dead, Jim," uttered whenever a hapless extra got on the wrong side of the many space monsters faced on the show each week. Another was McCoy's repeated complaint whenever he was asked to do something outside his job description. Which of the following declarations of "I'm a doctor, not a [blank]" came first, in McCoy's debut episode, "The Corbomite Maneuver"?

The correct answer is D, “Moon-shuttle conductor.” McCoy named all the others, and many more besides, later on.

#4. All Starfleet commanders are required to undergo a test called the Kobayashi Maru scenario during their time at the Academy. It's a simulation in which the prospective captain in drawn into a rescue mission only to be faced with overwhelming opposition in the form of Klingon warships. It's really a test of character, not tactics, because the scenario is designed to be unwinnable. We first saw the Kobayashi Maru test in "Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan," in which we learn of Captain Kirk's unorthodox solution, which he claims wryly "had the virtue of never having been tried." It was also the only successful answer in the history of Starfleet. What was it? (You'll actually get to see it in the new movie.)

The correct answer is A, he cheated. Kirk reprogrammed the simulation computer so that a win was possible. The other ruses are also ones Kirk really used, in “Star Trek III,” “Star Trek II,” and “The Corbomite Maneuver” respectively.

#5. Without spoiling plot details, the new movie involves time travel and includes an appearance by original actor Leonard Nimoy as an older version of Spock. Director J.J. Abrams has said that the movie should be considered as taking place in an alternate timeline from the original series, which is basically a way of telling fans not to worry too much if it deviates from established canon. Either way, it will be far from the first time that the "Star Trek" crew has had adventures in other eras. Which of the following was the first time that Kirk time-traveled?

The correct answer is A, restarting his engines catapults the Enterprise three days back in time. Don’t remember that? It’s easy to forget—it’s a minor and nearly non-sequitur event that comes at the end of an otherwise classic episode, “The Naked Time.” The other instances are from “The City On The Edge Of Forever,” “Tomorrow Is Yesterday,” and “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.”

#6. Quite a few "Star Trek" actors have also had secondary singing careers—sometimes with pretty good results, though Trek-related music has a reputation for being mockable and cheesy, thanks in part to songs like the ones linked below. Which of the following was unleashed on the world first?

The correct answer is B, “The Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins.” The clip seen in the video on the previous page is from the TV show “Malibu U,” broadcast in 1967. Shatner’s “Rocket Man” recitation took place at the Sci-Fi Awards in 1978. (His infamous album “The Transformed Man,” however, dates from the same era as “Baggins.”) The Patrick Stewart clip was recorded as a tribute to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry shortly before the latter’s death; and included as part of the extras on the Season 5 DVD set for “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

#7. As ship names go, Enterprise has quite a history, with notable vessels in the British and American navies bearing the name for several hundred years, including one of the U.S. space shuttles—and of course, in "Star Trek," at least six Enterprises have sailed between the stars. The first ship to be called USS Enterprise was a sloop that fought against the British during the Revolutionary War. What famous American was its commander?

The correct answer is D, Benedict Arnold. Really! Before he decided to betray the Americans and thus caused his name to go down in history as a synonym for treason, Arnold used the Enterprise as his flagship during the campaigns on Lake Champlain on the U.S.-Canada border. Kirk would NOT approve.

#8. The 1968 episode "Plato's Stepchildren" was notable for breaking a long-established television taboo, in which Kirk and Uhura shared TV's first interracial kiss. (They were being mind-controlled by aliens at the time, but it was still groundbreaking.) The scene was very controversial, and the network insisted that two versions be shot, including one in which Kirk resisted the aliens's commands and avoided the kiss. According to actress Nichelle Nichols' biography "Beyond Uhura," a bit of trickery was necessary to ensure that the important smooch stay in. What did William Shatner secretly do to ruin the non-kissing take of the scene?

The correct answer is B, he crossed his eyes during the close-up.

#9. The traditional Vulcan salute, in which the hand is displayed palm out with the fingers split in a V-formation, was invented by actor Leonard Nimoy, who played the series' first Vulcan, Spock. He based it on something he observed as a child. What?

The correct answer is D, a blessing performed at a Jewish synagogue. It’s taken from a ritual called the Priestly Blessing. As a child, Nimoy wasn’t supposed to see this, and should have hidden his face during the ceremony, but he peeked.

#10. The villains in the new "Star Trek" film are the Romulans—an aggressive, warlike people who split away from the Vulcans, Spock's people. The first actor to play a Romulan on the original "Star Trek" series also achieved two more firsts when he played a different role as a Klingon captain in "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," becoming the first actor to appear in the now-familiar ridged-forehead Klingon makeup, and the first to speak the invented Klingon language onscreen. But most fans of the show probably know this actor for a third role he played on "Star Trek," a very important recurring character. What character?

The correct answer is C, Spock’s father Sarek. Lenard died in 1996, and Sarek will be played by a new actor, Ben Cross, in the new movie.

#11. The warlike alien Klingons began on the original series as little more than thinly-disguised versions of Russians, but as time went on the Trek community developed their culture in much greater depth, even inventing a full-fledged Klingon language. Klingons have, oddly enough, a great affinity for Shakespeare's "Hamlet," and in the movie "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country," the Klingon captain Chang constantly quotes Shakespeare to the point where McCoy grouses that " I'd give real money if he'd shut up." It wasn't the only time the series quoted Shakeespeare—in fact, his words were often mined for episode titles. Which of the following titles from the original series is NOT a Shakespeare quotation?

The correct answer is D, “Amok Time.” The others are from “Macbeth” and “Hamlet.”

#12. Which of the following recurring adversaries of the Enterprise crew was encountered first?

The correct answer is C, con man Harry Mudd. He showed up in the third episode, “Mudd’s Women,” and returned in “I, Mudd.” Klingons, surprisingly given their later prevalence, were first seen in the 27th episode, “Errand Of Mercy.”

#13. Chief engineer Montgomery Scott, played originally by James Doohan and in the new film by Simon Pegg, was renowned for his obsessive devotion to keeping the Enterprise running shipshape. In "The Trouble With Tribbles," a Klingon trying to goad him into a fight fails by insulting Captain Kirk, but gets Scotty to lose his cool by comparing the Enterprise to … what?

The correct answer is A, a garbage scow.


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