The episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" had the DS9 cast interacting with TOS footage. When Sisko and company are surprised to see smooth-headed Klingons, Worf hints at some embarrassing racial secret which later leads to contrived attempts in later works to explain the disparity.

Seeing as they were already changing the original footage anyway, couldn't DS9's FX people have altered the old footage to give the early Klingons forehead ridges? Seems to me that would've saved a lot of hassle in the long run.

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    Personally, I thought DS9's lampshaded non-explanation was far more entertaining than any actual explanation would have been.
    – Kenster
    Oct 9, 2015 at 2:34
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    They probably wouldn't have wanted to anyway, but I don't really agree with the premise that it would have been relatively easy to add ridges, at least not without substituting modern actors for the original Klingon actors. Adding photorealistic CG bumps to an actor's head and having them track their head motions seamlessly might be doable with 1996 effects technology, but at the time I'd guess it'd be the sort of thing that would require a movie-level budget, not a TV episode budget.
    – Hypnosifl
    Oct 9, 2015 at 4:37
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    It may be worth noting that only Bashir, O'brien, and Odo are surprised. Bashir should know better but the other two could be reasonably expected not to care about 100 year old trivia. But the joke is they are an audience proxy and this was the first time it was made absolutely clear TOS looked exactly like it really was. (Note even TNG Romulans have small make-up differences one would be expected to think were always there) Nov 7, 2022 at 15:00
  • Why not colorize the first five minutes of The Wizard of Oz?
    – Spencer
    Aug 8, 2023 at 21:04

2 Answers 2


They likely could have, but I imagine they left it alone on purpose.

For starters, that is one of the most beloved episodes of the original series; messing with the original footage at all would likely not have gone over well with fans.

But beyond that, I suspect they were using it as a chance to clear the issue up. Ever since the first time we see Worf on The Next Generation, his features had been a matter of debate among Star Trek fans. The fact that original-series-era Klingons did not look anything like Klingons from subsequent shows was left unexplained, at least in-universe.

The idea of some sort of genetic engineering or similar explanations had been floating around unofficially for many years. In that particular episode of DS9, the writers decided to finally address the question on-screen. Though they didn't really explain anything, we at least got confirmation that the change in appearance was canonical. Unfortunately, we would have to wait until Enterprise to get the full story

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    Seems more like lampshading it than addressing it to me. :-) Oct 9, 2015 at 2:34
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    Mike, bumpy headed Klingons appeared in the movies before TNG. Oct 9, 2015 at 4:37
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    Yes, the Klingons in The Motion Picture had ridges although they don't quite look like later Klingons, but the ones in The Search For Spock look very similar to TNG era Klingons.
    – Hypnosifl
    Oct 9, 2015 at 4:47
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    @Richard: I'm fairly sure that you can't make single-character edits until you get edit privilege at 2000 points? (But in any case I wasn't certain of Mike's intent.) Oct 9, 2015 at 9:17
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    One thing no one has mentioned as far as I see here -- the storyline of that TOS episode depended on the Klingon passing as human. With those ridges, the storyline would not have worked at all.
    – Basya
    Nov 6, 2022 at 13:33

The plot of the TOS episode, The Trouble with Tribbles, actually depends on the fact that a Klingon looks similar enough to humans to be disguised as one.

Towards the end of the episode, it is revealed that Arne Darvin, an assistant of undersecretary Nilz Baris, is a Klingon disguised as a human. In this position he was perfectly positioned to poison the grain on the station. This was initially revealed by a tribble who squawked when this assistant entered the room (it was scientifically verified thereafter).

Thus, there would be a problem with retroactively adding the forehead ridges -- how could he have passed for human, with such a different facial structure?

So they might not have wanted to do this. It would have damaged the plot line of the original episode.

Valorum pointed out in the comments that we see in Discovery that it's possible to surgically modify a Klingon (with ridges) to look like a human. However, Discovery came out many years after Trials and Tribble-ations, so this is unlikely to have been a consideration when the DS9 episode was created.

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    @Valorum -- I never saw that series. Was it possible in the TOS era?
    – Basya
    Nov 6, 2022 at 14:00
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    Yup. It actually predates the episode by a few years
    – Valorum
    Nov 6, 2022 at 14:02
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    It would appear so. We don't see them doing it, but the character goes into the operation seems to be doing so with his eyes open and with the expectation of recovering his old life once his mission is complete
    – Valorum
    Nov 6, 2022 at 14:06
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    Discovery barely respects the canon anyway...
    – Valorum
    Nov 6, 2022 at 15:06
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    One need not resort to Discovery. The syndication audience of the 1970s would have been well aware of human to Romulan cosmetic surgery from the later Enterprise Incident. If a Klingon had any in-universe subtle differences that wasn't obvious on a 1960s TV screen the audience would expect it could be surgically addressed. The twist is that cosmetic surgery can't alter biochemistry and a Tribble will always sneeze at a Klingon. In fact given the voodoo involved in Discovery's alteration process it is not clear that would still be the case and is actually a bad example. Nov 7, 2022 at 7:47

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