In the episode The Changeling, NOMAD kills Scotty and wipes Uhura's memories. It (NOMAD) claims that it has totally wiped Uhura's memories so she is a tabula rasa. She's physically okay, but has no memories or knowledge at all. The medical department teaches and retrains her and at the end of the episode, McCoy tells Kirk, "I thought you might like to know that Lieutenant Uhura is back to college level. She'll be back on the job within a week."

Is there any evidence after this episode that Uhura has somehow found or retained memories before the incident? Does she ever make any references, later in the series to memories that would have been wiped by NOMAD?

(And by "later in the series," I'm thinking more of anything with a later stardate, including the animated series and the movies.)

  • 3
    In-Universe: She wasn't entirely blank because she knows how to speak Swahili prior to her re-education. What happened to her is more likely akin to a stroke or other brain trauma. Her memories are intact but she has lost the functionality ability to communicate them. Out-of Universe: Star Trek was notorious in those days for 'forgetting' what had happened to characters in previous episodes. This is due to it's origins (and intentions) as an anthology show using the same sets and characters, not trying to tell a single story arc.
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


Her page on memory alpha doesn't have much biographical info, but it does say "She ran the hundred meter dash in record time", and this seems to be based on the animated series episode "The Slaver Weapon"--according to the transcript, she said "I'm slowing down. I used to run the hundred in record time." Assuming the original Enterprise didn't have a big running track (it generally had a more cramped, submarine-like feel compared to the Enterprise-D in TNG), this would probably refer to some time before she joined the five-year mission.

You could also say her comment in "The Trouble With Tribbles" here, which aired later in the same season as "The Changeling", suggests the likelihood that her memory extends beyond just the very recent past:

KIRK: I see you didn't waste time taking your shore leave.

UHURA: (coldly) How often do I get shore leave?

That's not a comment she'd be likely to make if she had no real idea of how often she had been getting shore leave prior to "The Changeling", though I supposed she could have checked her personal records.

One last point is that scene where they learn of Uhura's memory loss in "The Changeling" goes like this:

KIRK: Repair that unit.

NOMAD: Not possible.

KIRK: You restored Scott. He had much more extensive damage.

NOMAD: The unit Scott required simple structural repair. The knowledge banks of this unit have been wiped clean.

SPOCK: Captain, if that is correct, if there has been no brain damage but only knowledge erased, she could be re-educated.

KIRK: Bones?

MCCOY: Yes. I'll get on it right away. Oh, and in spite of the way you repaired Scotty, you metal ticking—

SPOCK: Does the creator wish Nomad to wait elsewhere?

And this page notes that the James Blish novelization of the episode modified the scene slightly:

"Can you repair her, Nomad?" Kirk demanded.

"Not possible," said the machine.

"But you were able to restore Scott, who had much more extensive damage."

"That was simply physiological repair. This one's superficial knowledge banks have been wiped clean."

"Superficial? Be more specific."

"She still remembers her life experiences, but her memory of how to express them, either logically or in the illogic called music, or to act on them, has been purged."

"Captain, if that is correct," Spock said, "if her brain has not been damaged and the aphasia is that superficial, she could be taught again."


"Yes. I'll get on it right away." McCoy swung on Nomad. "And despite the way you repaired Scotty, you ticking metal--"

"Does the Creator wish Nomad to wait elsewhere?" Spock broke in quickly.

Even though the filmed version is canon and the novelization is not, perhaps we could imagine that Nomad's explanation in the novelization still held in the filmed version--that when Nomad said "The knowledge banks of this unit have been wiped clean", it only intended "knowledge" to refer to certain skills such as language, not to memories of life experiences. Also, "wiped clean" could just mean a scrambling of the neural connections between her knowledge of language and her ability to translate audio and visual signals into words, or her ability to translate words into the appropriate movements of her vocal cords and hands so that she could speak and write, without actually scrambling the parts of her brain that knew the meaning of the words. This would be analogous to the fact that in real computers "erasing" a bit of data does not necessarily mean erasing the data itself, but only the "pointers" that various programs have to the data's location in the memory banks, as discussed in this article.

  • Not too cramped for a bowling alley.
    – Politank-Z
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 19:00
  • If we are referencing the Animated Series, then "The Practical Joker" shows that the Enterprise has a form of holodeck that she likely may have been able to run in. Also - to be able to run the 100 meter dash in record time, one need not have a huge track - just one a little over 100 meters ;) (or even a treadmill purely technically speaking)
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 20:13
  • @Nathan K. Campbell - Was there evidence the holodeck had the same sort of "treadmill" technology that allowed people to walk much further than the actual dimensions? And a 100 meter track seems extravagant given the known dimensions of the Enterprise--this article includes a link to this diagram by Enterprise designer Matt Jefferies, indicating the saucer section has a diameter of 417 feet or 127 meters.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 20:43
  • @Hypnosifl - there is a mention of 'force field treadmill' in this Memory-Alpha article on holodecks but there is no reference for the comment. memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Holodeck
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 20:47
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    @Nathan K. Campbell - It's mentioned in the TNG writer's technical manual on p. 30 that force fields behave like a treadmill: "The treadmill is obsolete in this day and age, since the shaped EM fields will allow the visitor to move as fast as he or she can run by instantly sliding the imaginary terrain beneath the feet." The published Star Trek The Next Generation: Technical Manual likewise says "substrate forcefield creates 'treadmill' effect" (p. 156).
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 21:14

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