In the second half of the TNG episode "Unification", Ambassador Spock is hanging out on Romulus teaching the Romulans about Vulcan culture. While attempting to find him, Captain Picard & Data both disguise themselves as Romulans, yet Spock does not. On multiple occasions, Spock is seen walking outside among Romulans without a second look, despite having no brow ridges. He's literally just a Vulcan dressed in Romulan clothing.

We should also consider another Romulan, Tallera, in the 2-part "Gambit" arc, who is

actually a Vulcan intelligence officer in disguise as a Romulan... and she has the brow ridges to complete her disguise.

I assume that Spock's lack of brow ridges was largely for actor Leonard Nimoy's comfort, but it has me wondering... are there any other TNG-era Romulans who lack brow ridges?

Note: I've ignored both T-Pel and Sela since there are obvious reasons they wouldn't have ridges.

  • 1
  • 1
    @Valorum "leaving behind such significant keloids on their foreheads that it eventually wended its way into the gene pool over many years" I don't think that's how genetics works.
    – JAB
    Mar 11, 2018 at 17:15
  • @JAB - In humans, sure. But they're not human
    – Valorum
    Mar 11, 2018 at 17:49
  • 3
    Would you accept Nero and the crew of the Narada, from Star Trek (2009)? Their smooth foreheads are likely due to the filmmakers' decisions, without an in-universe explanation, but the characters originated (in-universe) during the TNG era.
    – Gaultheria
    Mar 12, 2018 at 7:07
  • 2
    @Valorum - Lamarck lives!
    – Xplodotron
    Mar 14, 2018 at 21:31

3 Answers 3


I don't know if this counts. But Commander Sela (Tasha Yars daugther with a Romulan) has not even a hint of the brow ridges:

Commander Sela

I am not aware of any other half Romulan / half Humans, but with any other species, the child usually inherits traits from both species.

  • 1
    There was a missed opportunity to discuss being half human with Spock. Oct 5, 2022 at 1:14

No, TNG-era Romulans all had the ridges (plus an even more pronounced yellow/greenish complexion) which I can only assume was added to make them more visually distinguish them from Vulcans (as if all the giant shoulder pads weren't enough!)

I actually really liked the passing comment in Picard that noted the ridges are a trait of Romulan "Northerners," especially the fact that it was delivered as just a passing comment instead of a lecturing infodump. (It was one of the very few things I did like about that show.)

I assume the ridges would be a genetic trait that is shared between Romulans and Vulcans, although it could easily have been a specific ethnic trait of a segment of the ancient Vulcans, and the ethnic group that carried the trait all/mostly left Vulcan as part of "Those Who March Beneath the Raptor's Wings." It would make sense that acceptance or rejection of Surak's philosophy would follow along ethnic cultural lines with some cultures more willing than others to embrace it, and if the ridged ethnicity rejected Surak's philosophy for cultural reasons and were part of "Those Who March Beneath the Raptor's Wings" they mostly took the trait of brow ridges with them when they left, and they apparently mostly settled on the northern portion of Romulus (Perhaps Surak was a member of an ethnic group that the ridged ethnic group was especially antagonistic towards, and so they either rejected his philosophy out of hand or saw it as some kind of trick to weaken them? That certainly sounds like how modern Romulans think. It makes one wonder how close modern Romulans are to the ancient warlike Vulcans?)

I would assume that ridges still pop up every so often in native-born Vulcans.

The differences between Vulcans and Romulans would be cultural and ethnic, as the two populations didn't diverge long enough ago to speciate into biologically distinct lineages. They would be distinct populations forming their own ethnic groups with superficial markers, but should still be considered biologically the same species, and should be able to interbreed without any problem.* (As evidenced by Saavik.) It takes a long time for different populations to diverge into distinct species, especially considering the length of Vulcan lifespans/generations; despite it not being clear exactly how long ago (before the 23rd/24th Centuries) the ancient Romulans left Vulcan, not nearly enough time has passed for Vulcans and Romulans to have become different species.

*There is at least one novel that mentions that Sarek and Amanda needed medical/genetic assistance to conceive Spock, since they were completely different species.

  • This gets a bit off in the weeds from a direct answer; you might consider tightening it up a bit to keep it focused on the question.
    – DavidW
    Oct 5, 2022 at 4:18
  • It made sense to make Romulans have a more greenish complexion. If they do not live under the harsh Vulcan sun they are basically the equivalent of being Conan O'Brian white with green blood. Oct 5, 2022 at 5:51

Since Star Trek Picard we know that not all Romulans have these brow ridges so even though in TNG no Romulan without them appears they seem to exist meaning it wouldn’t be suspicious form Spock to not wear them

  • 1
    Note that the question was asking specifically about TNG-era depictions of Romulans...
    – DavidW
    Oct 4, 2022 at 16:48
  • 1
    @DavidW to be fair Picard is arguably TNG era - it just is not TNG/DS9/Voy Berman era production - which is what is really intended. Even Enterprise is the Berman era. Though this only matters when there is some in-universe mutation like klingons are prone to. Oct 5, 2022 at 5:55

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.