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Star Trek: The Trouble with Tribbles

The Enterprise goes to Deep Space Station K7 responding to a distress call. After reaching the station, Kirk finds out the distress call to be unwarranted and the Klingons have come there looking for some shore leave. Kirk must maintain order as the Federation and Klingon tension is high. That and the fact that the station and the Enterprise are being overrun by small furry animals known as tribbles.

Episode Info
Episode number: 2x15
Production Number: 60342
Airdate: Friday December 29th, 1967

Director: Joseph Pevney
Writer: David Gerrold

Starring Roles
James DoohanJames Doohan
As Lt. Cmdr. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott
Nichelle NicholsNichelle Nichols
As Lt. Nyota Uhura
Walter KoenigWalter Koenig
As Ensign Pavel Chekov

Co-Guest Stars
William CampbellWilliam Campbell
As Koloth
Paul BaxleyPaul Baxley
As Ensign Freeman
David L. RossDavid L. Ross
As Guard (as David Ross)
William SchallertWilliam Schallert
As Nilz Baris
Stanley AdamsStanley Adams
As Cyrano Jones
Edwin ReimersEdwin Reimers
As Adm. Fitzpatrick
Charlie BrillCharlie Brill
As Arne Darvin
Guy RaymondGuy Raymond
As Trader
Whit BissellWhit Bissell
As Lurry

Bob Miles (1)Bob Miles (1)
As Klingon #2
Bob OrrisonBob Orrison
As Klingon #3
Dick CrockettDick Crockett
As Klingon #4
Eddie PaskeyEddie Paskey
As Lt. Leslie
Frank Da VinciFrank Da Vinci
As Brent/Vinci
Jay D. JonesJay D. Jones
As Scott's Stunt Double
Jerry SummersJerry Summers
As Chekov's Stunt Double
Phil AdamsPhil Adams
As Korax's Stunt Double
Roger HollowayRoger Holloway
As Mr. Lemli
William BlackburnWilliam Blackburn
As Lt. Hadley
Richard AntoniRichard Antoni
As Klingon #1
Main Cast
William ShatnerWilliam Shatner
As Captain James Tiberius Kirk
Leonard NimoyLeonard Nimoy
As Commander Spock
DeForest KelleyDeForest Kelley
As Dr. Leonard Horatio "Bones" McCoy


The <i>Enterprise</I> is heading for Space Station K-7 and Kirk is testing Chekov on his knowledge of the system. The Klingons are contesting the nearby space, particularly Sherman’s Planet, but whoever can develop it the best gets the planet under the Organian Treaty. They’re interrupted by a Priority One distress call, indicating near-total disaster...

Read the full recap
Episode Notes
This episode was nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

During the Sci-Fi Channel's Star Trek 40th Anniversary Celebration, this episode was voted Best Episode by the fans.

Wah Chang designed the tribbles, and stitched together by Jacqueline Cumere. Sound editor Douglas Grindstaff designed the sound effects, using dove coos for their normal tones and screech owl cries for when they go berserk around Klingons.

William Campbell (Koloth) would later reprise his role in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Blood Oath".

William Campbell (Koloth) previously played Trelane in "The Squire of Gothos".

Charlie Brill (Arne Darvin) would later reprise his role in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations".

Stanley Adams (Cyrano Jones) would later reprise his role in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "More Tribbles, More Troubles".

As with several other episodes of this season, Chekov's part was initially written for Sulu. However, George Takei was filming The Green Berets at the time.

This episode features the last time that new footage of the Enterprise was filmed. All episodes after this one featured stock footage.

When Scotty comes into the mess hall carrying a pile of tribbles, you can see his missing right middle finger. This is one of the few times the producers let the audience see that James Doohan is missing a finger in real life.

Several uniforms from the bar fight scene are recycled from previous episodes: the turtleneck uniforms from the pilot episodes, Finnegan's uniform from "Shore Leave," and Captain Ramert's uniform from "Charlie X."

Episode Quotes
Kirk: How close will we come to the Klingon outpost if we continue on course?
Chekov: One parsec, sir. Close enough to smell them.
Spock: Odors cannot travel through the vacuum of space.
Chekov: I was making a little joke, sir.
Spock: Extremely little, Ensign.

Chekov: The area was first mapped by the famous Russian astronomer Ivan Borkov almost...
Spock: John Burke.
Chekov: Burke, sir? I don't think so. I'm sure it was...
Spock: John Burke was the chief astronomer at the Royal Academy in Old Britain.
Chekov: Oh, Royal Academy. Oh, well...
Kirk: is the rest of your history that faulty, Ensign?

Nilz Baris: That was my order, Captain.
Lurry: Captain Kirk, this is Nilz Baris. He's out from Earth to take charge of the development project.
Kirk: That gives you the authority to call a defense alert?
Lurry: Mr. Baris is the Federation Under secretary
in Charge of Agricultural Affairs in this quadrant.
Spock: That gives him the authority.

Nilz Baris: How dare you authorize a mere two men for a project of this importance? Starfleet Command...
Kirk: I have never questioned the orders or the intelligence of any representative of the Federation... until now.

Trader: I told you before, and I'm telling you again, I don't want any more spike and flame gems. Thanks to you, I have enough to last a lifetime.
Cyrano Jones: How sad for you. You won't find a finer stone anywhere. But I have something better. Surely you want some... Antarian glow water.
Trader: I use that to polish the flame gems.

Trader: Four credits.
Cyrano Jones: Is that an offer or a joke?
Trader: That's my offer.
Cyrano Jones: That's a joke.

Koloth: As I've already told Mr. Lurry, the purpose of my presence is to invoke shore leave rights.
Kirk: Shore leave?
Koloth: Captain, we Klingons are not as luxury-minded as you Earthers. We do not equip our ships with... how shall I say it? Nonessentials.

Spock: A most curious creature, Captain. Its trilling seems to have a tranquilizing effect on the human nervous system. (stroking it gently) Fortunately, of course, I am ... immune to its effect.
McCoy: Do you mind if I take one to see what makes it tick?
Uhura: All right, but if you're going to dissect it, I don't want to know.
McCoy: I won't harm a hair on its head, wherever that is.

Nilz Baris: Kirk, this station is swarming with Klingons.
Kirk: I wasn't aware, Mr. Baris, that 12 Klingons constitutes a swarm.
Nilz Baris: Captain Kirk, there are Klingon soldiers on this station. Now, I want you to keep that grain safe.
Kirk: Mr. Baris, I have guards around the grain. I have guards around the Klingons. The only reason those guards are there is because Starfleet wants them there. As for what you want... it has been noted and logged. Kirk out.

McCoy: Do you know what you get when you feed a tribble too much?
Kirk: A fat tribble.
McCoy: No, you get a whole bunch of hungry little tribbles.
Kirk: Well, all I can suggest is that you open a maternity ward.

Scotty: When are you going to get off that milk diet?
Chekov: This is vodka.
Scotty: Where I come from, that's soda pop. This is a drink for a man.
Chekov: Scotch?
Scotty: Aye.
Chekov: It was invented by a little old lady from Leningrad.

Korax: Well, frankly, I never liked Earthers. They remind me of Regulan blood worms.
Chekov: That Cossack.
Scotty: Easy, lad. You ought to be more forgiving.
Korax: No. I just remembered. There is one Earth man who doesn't remind me of a Regulan blood worm. That's Kirk. A Regulan blood worm is soft and shapeless, but Kirk isn't soft. Kirk may be a swaggering, overbearing, tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood, but he's not soft.
Scotty: Take it easy, lad. Everybody's entitled to an opinion.
Korax: That's right, and if I think that Kirk is a Denebian slime devil, well, that's my opinion, too.
Scotty: Don't do it, and that's an order.
Chekov: You heard what he called the captain.
Scotty: Forget it. It's not worth fighting for. We're big enough to take a few insults. Now, drink your drink.
Korax: Of course, I'd say that Captain Kirk deserves his ship. We like the Enterprise. We -- we really do. That sagging old rust bucket is designed like a garbage scow. Half the quadrant knows it. That's why they're learning to speak Klingoni.
Chekov: Mr. Scott!
Scotty: Laddie, don't you think you should... rephrase that?
Korax: You're right. I should. I didn't mean to say that the Enterprise should be hauling garbage. I meant to say that it should be hauled away as garbage.
(Scotty throws the first punch)

Kirk: You were supposed to prevent trouble, Mr. Scott.
Scotty: Aye, Captain.
Kirk: Who threw the first punch?
Scotty: Um...
Kirk: Scotty.
Scotty: I did, Captain.
Kirk: You did, Mr. Scott? What caused it, Scotty?
Scotty: They insulted us, sir.
Kirk: Must have been some insult.
Scotty: Aye, it was.
Kirk: You threw the first punch.
Scotty: Aye. Chekov wanted to, but I held him back.
Kirk: You held... why did Chekov want to start a fight?
Scotty: Um... well, the Klingons, sir... Is this off the record?
Kirk: No. This is not off the record.
Scotty: Well, Captain, uh... the Klingons called you, uh... a tin-plated, overbearing, swaggering dictator with delusions of godhood.
Kirk: Is that all?
Scotty: No, sir. They also compared you with a Denebian slime devil.
Kirk: I get the picture.
Scotty: Yes, sir.
Kirk: After they said all this, that's when you hit the Klingons?
Scotty: No, sir.
Kirk: No?
Scotty: No, uh ... I didn't. You told us to avoid trouble.
Kirk: Oh, yes.
Scotty: Well, I didn't see that it was worth fighting about. After all, we're big enough to take a few insults. Aren't we?
Kirk: What was it they said that started the fight?
Scotty: They called the Enterprise a garbage scow... sir.
Kirk: I see. And... that's when you hit the Klingons?
Scotty: Yes, sir.
Kirk: You hit the Klingons because they insulted the Enterprise, not because they...
Scotty: Well, sir, this was a matter of pride.
Kirk: All right, Scotty. Dismissed. Oh... Scotty, you're restricted to quarters until further notice.
Scotty: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. That'll give me a chance to catch up on my technical journals.

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.

McCoy: And from my observations, it seems (the tribbles) are bisexual, reproducing at will. And, brother, have they got a lot of will.

Nilz Barris: Captain Kirk, I consider your security measures a disgrace. In my opinion, you have taken this important project far too lightly.
Kirk: On the contrary, sir, I think of this project as very important. It is you I take lightly.

Kirk: You should sell an instruction manual with this.
Cyrano Jones: If I did, what would happen to man's search for knowledge?

Nilz Baris: There must be thousands of them!
Kirk: Tens of thousands.
Spock: One million seven hundred seventy one thousand five hundred and sixty one.
(everyone stares)
Spock: That's assuming one tribble, multiplying with an average litter of ten producing a new litter every twelve hours over a period of three days.

Kirk: There's one thing you can do.
Cyrano Jones: Yes?
Kirk: Pick up every tribble on the space station. If you do that, I'll speak to Mr. Lurry about returning your spaceship.
Cyrano Jones: That would take years.
Spock: 17.9 to be exact.
Cyrano Jones: 17.9 years.
Kirk: Consider it job security.

Kirk: I don't see any tribbles around here.
McCoy: And you won't find a tribble on this entire ship.
Kirk: How did you do that?
McCoy: I cannot take credit for another man's work. Scotty did it.
Kirk: Scotty! Where are the tribbles?
Scotty: Oh, um, Captain, it was really Mr. Spock's recommendation.
Kirk: Of course. Spock.
Spock: Based on computer analysis, of course, taking into account the possibilities of...
Kirk: Gentlemen, I don't want to interrupt this mutual admiration society, but I'd like to know where the tribbles are.
McCoy: Tell him, Spock.
Spock: Well, it was Mr. Scott who performed the actual engineering.
Kirk: Mr. Scott. Where are the tribbles?
Scotty: I used the transporter, Captain.
Kirk: You used the transporter?
Scotty: Aye.
Kirk: Where did you transport them? Scott, you didn't transport them into space, did you?
Scotty: Captain Kirk, that would be inhuman.
Kirk: Where are they?
Scotty: I gave them a good home.
Kirk: Where?
Scotty: I gave them to the Klingons.
Kirk: You gave them to the Klingons?
Scotty: Aye. Before they went into warp, I transported the whole kit and caboodle into their engine room, where they'll be no tribble at all.

Episode Goofs
Ensign Freeman wears lieutenant's stripes throughout the episode.

Kirk supposedly confines Scotty to quarters, but he's out and about normally for the rest of the episode.

They say that K-7 Space Station is host to a large number of ships that pass through. But even in the remastered version, only the Enterprise and the Klingon ship are seen.

Chekov's drink switches hands as Korax taunts him and the others in the bar.

When Kirk says "Get these tribbles off the bridge," the turbolift door sound effect is omitted.

What Changed in the Remastered Version
Video and audio are crisp and sharp, consistent with expectations created by previous remastered episodes. The Enterprise and Deep Space Station K-7 were both re-rendered using CGI. Most appearances of the Enterprise work well, but one "tracking shot" over the saucer and between the nacelles does not hold up to the CGI conversion; the saucer needed more texture. K-7 holds up much better, getting added rotation and more detail. The K-7 logo on the central dome appears in greater contrast (it can be seen in the original episode only with difficulty). Several inset shots involving the three-way viewer in the briefing room were cleaned up nicely around the borders.

The syndicated version of this episode contains one fairly maladroit cut during a scene in the bar. Cyrano attempts to sell the bartender Spican Flame Gems, Altair Water, and tribbles. The Altair Water scene was removed in a way that leaves Cyrano Jones speaking an oddly constructed sentence. Most of the syndication cuts so far have been well executed but this one is an exception.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorGene Roddenberry
Executive ProducerGene Roddenberry
ProducerGene L. Coon
CastingJoseph D'Agosta
MusicJerry Fielding
Costume DesignerWilliam Ware Theiss
Make-upFred B. Phillips
Property MasterIrving A. Feinberg
OtherHerbert F. Solow (Executive in Charge of Production)
Director of PhotographyGerald Perry Finnerman
Art DirectorWalter M. Jefferies
Special EffectsJames Rugg
Main Title ThemeAlexander Courage
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