Trying to recall the episode where at the end, Kirk et al confronted the aliens they were trying to defend. The aliens refused to fight for themselves for some philosophical reason. Any ideas?

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    Re, "philosophical reason." Yeah, maybe, but the aliens also were absolutely invulnerable to their "attackers." Their humanoid "bodies" turned out in the end to be mere illusions that they created in order to communicate with we "lower-order" beings. Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 15:11
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    Per the accepted answer, you were probably thinking of the secretly-invulnerable Organians in the 'Errand of Mercy' episode. But, there are also some similarities to the peaceful/truly-defenseless Halkans in the original 'mirror universe' episode, 'Mirror, Mirror' (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/….
    – gojomo
    Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 2:22

2 Answers 2


Sounds like Errand of Mercy, with Kirk trying to protect the steadfastly pacifistic Organians from a Klingon invasion force.

KIRK: Is that's all you can do, smile?

AYELBORNE: You are free, Captain.

KIRK: I want to know how I'm free, and why.

SPOCK: Indeed, there are several questions I would like to ask as well.

KIRK: This idiotic placidity of yours, your refusal to do anything to protect yourselves.

AYELBORNE: We have already answered that question. To us, violence is unthinkable.

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    I saw this episode a few weeks ago, and I'm coming the conclusion that Kirk is a self absorbed, condescending, ahole based on the way he treats the Organians and their beliefs.
    – Peter M
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 14:10
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    @PeterM Did you not come to that based on how he treats everyone else? Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 14:43
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    @PeterM Kirk is emblamatic of the Federation, which was Roddenberry's idealistic vision of the continued progress of American exceptionalism. Almost all interactions with alien species demonstrated how we're morally more advanced, but this one flipped it around. OTOH, the aliens were only able to achieve their seeming pacifity through use of a superpower to protect themselves from aggressors.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 15:01
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    Out-of-universe: Whenever Kirk got to show his condescending a-hole side, that made it easier for Shatner to act the part. "Galaxy Quest" was inspired! Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 15:15
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    Kirk has strong convictions about how the universe should be ordered. In classic Greek-drama fashion, this is both what makes him effective and what makes him vulnerable. Not only does it make for good theater, it's also fairly realistic (see e.g. Steve Jobs' perfectionism)
    – fectin
    Commented Jan 19, 2021 at 20:32

Another possibility (though not being so important to the story line) is "Mirror, Mirror" where the Halkan's refuse to fight against the Terran Empire.

  • As the work has already been identified I feel this is more appropriate for a comment on the question. There’s a meta around here somewhere for answers like this saying they should really be comments but I can’t find it at the moment I’m afraid. For what it’s worth, I think this likely would have been a good answer had the episode already not been found!
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 18:30
  • The work has been identified, but this answer actually more closely matches this portion of the question, "aliens refused to fight for themselves for some philosophical reason." The Organians did not need to fight; the Halkans were willing to allow themselves to be destroyed. So I believe that this answer adds value.
    – Basya
    Commented Jan 8, 2023 at 11:56

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