I know that the appearance of Klingons was different between Enterprise and The Original Series due to the mutagenic virus. Having said that I don't understand how the look of the Klingons on last night's pilot fits in chronologically or otherwise.

Why did they have no hair? Why did their skin and ridges look different?

Isn't this set just before The Original Series chronologically? If so, shouldn't they have been affected by the virus like the ones in The Original Series?

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    take a look at pretty much every aspect of discovery. I'd say they are doing what the reboot movies did - pretty much pretend the other series events exist only in written form and abandon all but the most basic of visuals, like the logo, the general shape of starfleet ships, etc. Otherwise, how could you explain why everything looks so amazing in discovery then suddenly looks like a zero budget joke in the near future where TOS takes place? You can't. So you cater to the new era, or you please the small handful of fans who want to see it all the way it was before
    – Kai Qing
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 16:28
  • @KaiQing Out-of-universe, I remember hearing the different look and feel is actually due to licencing issues between Paramount and CBS...
    – Izkata
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 0:11
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    @Izkata - I can understand that as well. To compound the point though, look at what makeup and special FX do for the different species these days. Sort of makes the original klingon designs from TOS and Next Gen kind of plain, so licensing or not, a re-design made sense. Think of how silly it would look if they had Andorians on the show looking like they did in TOS. The show might have bombed just from that visual alone.
    – Kai Qing
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 15:57
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    "We do not discuss it with outsiders"
    – komodosp
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 8:00
  • @KaiQing: The Klingon designs in TNG are awesome. You don't need more just because you can. Their look is very realistic and believable. Commented Mar 15, 2022 at 15:31

2 Answers 2


They are apparently trying to show more diversity within the Klingon people (do all earthlings look exactly the same, have the same clothing choices, etc...) - in other words, moving away from a planetwide monoculture (or, retconning that we have until now, only seen one or two houses)

Discovery indicated in Ep1/2 that there are 24 Great Houses. These two episodes showed one of the houses which seems to have distinct design and biological diversity from what Klingons have been shown in previous series.

Here is some behind the scenes detail:

Mitchell explained we have only seen some of the Klingons from Discovery:

The images that you have seen so far are one house led by T’Kumva. Today you just saw the first image of [Kol]. So even in the wardrobe it is starting to venture to the more traditional Klingons. More leather and a different set of armor. And the series itself is going to explore 24 different houses and the leaders among them. And you will find different complexities and different ideologies amongst those houses. And so what you have seen already in these images is mostly just from one house. You are going to start to explore further into the Klingons, and each of those houses has a different set of physical looks and variations as well as ideologies.


Here are some additional details on the early redesign from Bryan Fuller:

The other Bryan Fuller contribution that remains is his redesign of the Klingons. “One of the things he really, really wanted to do was shake up the design of the Klingons,” Herberts said. “One of the first things that he ever pitched to us when we were deciding whether or not to come on the show was his aesthetic for the Klingons and how important it was that they be aesthete, that they not be the thugs of the universe, that they be sexy and vital and different from what had come before.”


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    Except that in the first 2 episodes we see representatives from the "24 great houses" and they all look exactly like bald reptile dude's clan... Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 15:57
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    I appreciate this explanation but I don't think it quite covers everything, like why their race isn't more humanoid by now (due to the virus, which started in Enterprise and peaked in TOS) and in addition to what Lord Praxis mentioned we've also seen many inter-clan governments and meetings in the past and none had these big deviations in skin, facial appearance, etc. It just looks like a whole new species. But that's my opinion and I do like your answer so +1
    – Hack-R
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 16:13
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    I think the answer gives the broad understanding as we know it now not having an in-depth of behind the scenes yet nor a completed series. In other words, the question could almost be a matter of 'future works' because it hasn't been explained in-universe yet, but given the production info available at this time, it does seem the staff is aware of the apparent incongruity and has / will account for that on some level
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 16:20
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    “that they be sexy and vital” — did no-one tell Bryan Fuller about Lursa and B’Etor? Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 9:39

I think they are "pure blood" Klingons, the original progenitor race from Quo'nos. The Klingons we have seen to date were a product of hybridization with another humanoid race within the Klingon empire, which eventually rose to prominence and became the majority of the Klingon race. The Progenitor race would eventually die out, and the more familiar Looking Klingons would become the staple Klingon.

  • 6
    Can you provide any evidence of this?
    – Politank-Z
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 0:41
  • Could almost argue Discovery + TOS = TNG …except the Klingons in Enterprise look like TNG Klingons…
    – shim
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 3:36
  • Yea this is an interesting story, but is it coming from a book or something or did you just get creative? Incidentally, this kind of reminds me of the "Uber vamps" in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    – Hack-R
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 13:09

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