OK, I hope this question doesn't seem prurient, but I happened upon the image and literally couldn't decide what I'm looking at.

In the TOS episode "Who Mourns for Adonais?" we learn that the Greek Gods of Earth were actually powerful aliens, and Apollo is the only one remaining.

Thing is, if you look at this image

Still indicating Apollo

or this image

Still indicating Apollo and Enterprise crew

or this image

Still indicating Apollo

you will see that it's really difficult to distinguish Apollo's nipple. (I've scaled them to medium size to approximate the broadcast quality of the time -- don't forget how bad SD quality over the airwaves would look.)

What's going on?

  • Is the intent in-universe that the Greek gods lack nipples? (Why?)
  • Did the sensibilities of the time for 60s TV preclude too much male nipple display?
  • Is the actor wearing makeup on his chest? (He is obviously shaved)
  • Does this actor just have particularly pale nipples?
  • Comments moved to chat.
    – user1027
    Sep 17, 2015 at 3:09
  • 3
    Why does a God need a nipple? Feb 20, 2018 at 13:54
  • 1
    I have no doubt that there are whole subgenres of fanfic dealing with ToS male nipples in one way or another.
    – Paul
    Feb 20, 2018 at 14:04

2 Answers 2


First, let's establish that at least some male characters do have nipples in The Original Series :

enter image description here

Given what we see above, it's certainly not a general policy on TOS to have no nipples. With that out of the way, we can focus on the appearance of the Greek god Apollo.

Here he is in a larger, better screen capture:

enter image description here

There are nipples here; they are just especially pale and small.

Here is another, just for good measure — the nipple, while small, is clearly visible in the lower half of the image:

enter image description here

So now one can ask: are his nipples naturally pale and small or was something done to them? The answer is the latter. Commenting on the controversy over the idea of having the character of Carolyn discover that she is pregnant at the end of the episode, actor Michael Forest (Apollo) said:

I don’t know. It’s so long ago. I suppose it would have been OK, but you have to remember that in those days, the idea of that sort of thing happening in film, and certainly on television… you couldn’t even talk about it, really. To give you an idea, they had to put tape on my nipples for that episode. Can you imagine? They put tape on a guy, on a guy’s nipples. I mean, come on. But that’s what they did, and then they put makeup over that. I thought at the time, “I can’t believe what they’re doing.”

(Source — thanks @ThePopMachine)

So it seems that makeup tape had been placed over his nipple, and then his nipple was remodelled with makeup, possibly to do with taboos at the time, as implied by the actor himself.

One could ask why the same policy didn't apply to Sulu (or Kirk). Possibilities:

  • Perhaps the Apollo actor's nipples were quite pronounced and edging on "indecent" (by the standards of the show's producers and/or personnel at the time) while Takei's and Shatner's were not.

  • Perhaps the actor believes that taboos were the reason, but actually had quite off-putting nipples that were not seen to be fitting of a Greek deity. (No offence intended to the actor.)

  • Perhaps Takei and Shatner were given the same tape/makeup treatment, but theirs came out with better definition in the end.

Regarding the third possibility, the following two images (taken from different episodes) suggest that Shatner had nipple treatment at least some of the time. Kirk's nipples are more natural and ample in the first, while in the second they are almost non-existent:

enter image description here enter image description here

If his nipples were also treated in the first still, then the results of the process were inconsistent, either intentionally or unintentionally depending on the personnel involved and the costuming decisions surrounding those episodes.

  • 11
    I was expecting a shirtless Kirk picture but I guess that's just too pedestrian for this site. Sep 16, 2015 at 6:17
  • 7
    Do we need a size matters tag? Sep 16, 2015 at 8:12
  • 4
    @ThePopMachine: I'd say the most likely explanation for why Apollo would be treated differently than Kirk or Sulu percentage of screen-time - Apollo's partially bare chest is part of his costume, his nipple-area would be visible 100% of the time he's on screen.
    – Jason
    Sep 16, 2015 at 12:05
  • 6
    +1 There are nipples here; they are just especially pale and small.
    – Dpeif
    Sep 16, 2015 at 18:11
  • 5
    @ThePopMachine : I've seen countless topless men in the last 24 hours...all because of you. ;-)
    – Praxis
    Sep 17, 2015 at 1:09

I think this is somewhat inadvertent and just a result of body makeup and no one noticing. See Chris Evans basketball scene in "What's Your Number?" In a show like ST, the makeup artists were RARELY dealing with nipples/chests at all... if you are covering a torso with makeup, what do you do. Not cover the nipple? Cover it and then paint it in with rouge? I suspect in some cases it is lack of time. Some cases it might be too embarrassing to the make up artist. He is wrong that they used tape here. ALSO, it is slightly possible, that there was an idea to make him look like a marble statue of a Greek God, so heavy even makeup over the torso.

  • 2
    This just seems like a lot of guesswork that is also mainly ruled out by the other answer. Do you have any evidence you could edit in for any of this to back it up? I've also removed the irrelevant commentary from the post.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Dec 4, 2019 at 11:00

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