Which recurring Star Trek species (having appeared in 5 or more separate episodes) are physically not uniform? E.g.

  • Humans
    • Have different skin colour
    • Have different eye shapes
    • They are therefore not uniform.
  • Vulcans
    • Have different skin colour
    • They are not uniform.
  • Bajorans
    • Have different skin colour
    • They are therefore not uniform.

Compared to

  • Klingons
    • Are dark skinned
    • Have forehead ridges (although every Klingon has a different ridge. Can the family they belong to be determined by that?)
    • They are therefore, from what I know, uniform.
  • Ferengi
    • All have the same skin colour
    • All have the same nose shape
    • All have the same ear shape
    • They are uniform.

Half-species (like Commander Sela) do not count as exceptions for the Romulan brow ridge.

  • 6
    TV Tropes warning, Star Trek : Planet Of Hats Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 9:58
  • 8
    Tuvok was far from being the first black Vulcan; scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/144568/…
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 9:58
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    Racial differences sometimes formed the basis for entire episodes; vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/memoryalpha/images/4/4d/…
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 10:02
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    @Shade - Well. Out of the main races that have recurring roles; Human, Vulcan, Klingon, Bajoran, Trill, Betazed, Cardassian, the majority of those with coloured (pancake makeup) are mono-coloured and the majority of those with human-like skin are multi-racial
    – Valorum
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 10:44
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    Are you sure that you would notice the equivalent of "racial" differences in alien makeup? Perhaps for a member of that species the differences stand out. (There are twins in my family and I never had any problems telling them apart. Strangers had real problems in this regard.)
    – o.m.
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 16:42

4 Answers 4


Andorians. In 'Enterprise' (Bakula et.al), we find out that there is a minority Andorian offshoot called the Aenar - blind albinos with some telepathic capability who live under the snow and ice on Andor.

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By far the most diverse species we see is the Xindi from Enterprise, who all share biological origins but come in:

  • reptilian
  • insectoid
  • primate
  • amphibian
  • arboreal
  • avian (extinct)

The relevant Memory Alpha page says:

The different Xindi species were extremely similar in their functionally important DNA, sharing over 99.5% despite the apparent physical differences. (ENT: "The Xindi") All the Xindi species shared distinctive ridges on their cheekbones and foreheads.

At least with the primates, you also see variations on skin tone.

Also from Enterprise are the standard blue Andorians, but also their albino subspecies.

  • 9
    The Xindi are different species that just happened to evolve on the same planet at the same time. Imagine on Earth dolphins, cockatoos and chimpanzees just beeing a little bit more advanced so their intelligence matches those of humans and they are regarded equals by the humans. Thats something completely different than different races within one species. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 14:41
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    But the Xindi are six species.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 16:45
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    @VolkerLandgraf At 99.5% match, their DNA makeup is closer than anything humans are compared to other species on Earth, including apes. koshland-science-museum.org/sites/all/exhibits/exhibitdna/… Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 16:45
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    @JackBNimble. But can they cross breed? Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 20:40

You've omitted the most obvious example, the Ariannians, who had two entirely distinct races, with appearance so opposite that nobody could possibly mistake one for the other:

enter image description here

As with races on 20th and 21st century Earth, Ariannians' social and economic status depended strongly on their coloration. (And of course the episode in which they appear was intended very clearly to demonstrate the absurdity of Earth's racial divisions)

  • Yeah! That metal collar's a dead giveaway!
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 4:11
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    This is the only race that actually cares about the Left vs Right Twix campaign. Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 13:30

Extraterrestrial intelligent beings are not members of alien races, they are members of alien species:

There is some variation in the the appearance of Vulcans: Blonde Vulcans in Star Trek?

And the answer to Is Tuvok the only black Vulcan? points out that the human actors who portray Vulcans are usually "white" but include some "black" humans as well. I think that Asian actors have sometimes portrayed Vulcans also. Thus there is considerable variation in the appearance of Vulcans due to considerable variation in the appearance of human actors portraying Vulcans.

As for Klingons, it sometimes seems like every new movie or television series gives the Klingons a slightly different average appearance. When Star trek: the Motion Picture appeared in 1979, many fans complained that the Klingons in it were so different that they weren't really Klingons at all.

In TNG and later productions, many, but not all, Klingons have been portrayed by "black" actors, while in TOS and TOS films most Klingons were portrayed by "white" actors. Thus there is considerable variation in the facial structure of Klingons, at least in the parts of the actors' faces that show beneath varying amounts of makeup.

In TOS the very human looking Klingons were portrayed by "white" actors with varying amounts of dark makeup, and so the apparent skin color of TOS Klingons varied a lot. Furthermore, in the first Klingon episode "Errand of Mercy" Klingons had eyebrows which split at the sides, while TOS Klingons had non split eyebrows in some later episodes.

And then there is Star trek: Discovery in which Klingons look a lot different from other Klingons. In fact I think that a number of fans complain that they aren't really Klingons because they look so different.

When Dax, a Trill, was a regular in DS9 the fans noticed, and many complained, about how different the Trill were compared to the Trill in the TNG episode "the Host". So it is certainly possible that both Trill hosts and Trill symbionts have different races or even different species.

I think that I remember that in one of Phil Farrand Nitpicker's books he commented on how different some members of some species appeared compared to other members of those species.

The site Ex Astris Scientia has a section called "investigations" about various inconsistencies and problems in Star Trek. That includes discussions of the changes in the appearances of various species in Star Trek.

And of course one possible explanation of why different members of the same species look different is that they might be members of different "races" or subspecies of the same species.

  • 2
    TOS Klingons, as explained by an episode of ENT, are not fully Klingon. They look that way because they were genetically modified to be more human-like. There was, however, a notable ridge-head style Klingon played by a white actor in ST3: Christopher Lloyd. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 19:04
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    “In TNG and later productions, most, but not all, Klingons have been portrayed by "black" actors” Actually, it’s really just Worf and his brother Kurn, played by Michael Dorn and Tony Todd, respectively. Most of the rest of them are played by white guys.
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 4:02
  • From what I've heard, with Dax the problem was that they'd hired Terry Farrell who was, simply put, a beautiful woman. If they put the head ridges on her she would have been less so. As a result, they decided to switch to spots instead. Keep in mind, the show might be set in the future where humanity sees the beauty of all things, but it is made in the present. Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 5:44
  • @Allan Mills Out of universes reasons for such decisions are irrelevant. The in universe results of such decisions is what matters, and the visual differences make it easy to believe that Trill hosts in DS9 and Trill hosts in "The Host" are members of two different races, subspecies, or even two different separate species. Commented Oct 12, 2019 at 16:01
  • Do differing portrayals of the same aliens necessarily count? For example they changed the Enterprise interiors significantly in SNW compared to TOS, to make it believable and futuristic looking in the 2020s. It's supposed to be the same ship though, maybe with some hand waving "it was extensively refitted" stuff, if you are willing to accept such massive renovations would have been feasible. So maybe different Klingon looks are supposed to be the same people, unless explicitly stated like they did in Enterprise.
    – user
    Commented May 2, 2023 at 10:21

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