I know that the Vulcan nerve pinch was first shown on Star Trek, now my question is: when was it first shown in the printed page? It’s mostly academic, but other people might find it interesting.

  • Just as an aside - There was an instance of this type of pinch a couple of years earlier in Doctor Who (Aztecs arc), but it wasn't novelized until the 1980's.
    – JohnP
    Jul 31, 2018 at 16:06

2 Answers 2


Each of the original series episodes received a novelisation by James Blish. These were released almost contemporaneously with the TV show. Star Trek 1 was the first ever Star Trek tie-in novel and was published in 1967, just six months after the episode TOS: The Naked Time was broadcast. It contains the following passage.

“Sorry, neither,” Uhura said. She threw a glance deliberately over Sulu’s left shoulder; as he jerked in that direction, Spock’s hand caught him on the right shoulder with the Vulcanian nerve pinch. Sulu went down on the deck like a sack of flour.

Star Trek 1: Naked Time

The first reference to the nerve-pinch in a non-novelisation fiction book is in Spock Messiah from 1976, the second Trek tie-in novel not based on a specific episode.

“Problems,” she said unhappily. “Less than an hour ago, a tall hillman wearing a black and red clan mask went into Chag Gara’s house. When he came out, he was carrying a figure wrapped in a blanket over one shoulder. Ker said a couple of the neighbors tried to interfere, but the hooded man paralyzed them with just a touch. So they let him carry Chag Gara away.”

“The nerve pinch!” McCoy burst out.

“Yes,” Kirk said nodding somberly. “It has to be Spock. Only a Vulcan can do that, and now he’s got Gara.”

Interestingly, the first tie-in novel not based on an episode (Spock Must Die!) also heavily featured Spock, but had no nerve-pinching.


Reposting Valorum's comment as an answer:

Novelised versions of Star Trek episodes were published around the same time they were screened: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Trek_(Bantam_Books). So this is likely the first literary appearance.

  • As much as I hate to downvote my own words, there was a reason I posted it as a comment rather than as a stub answer.
    – Valorum
    Jul 30, 2018 at 21:28

Your Answer

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

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