I recently watched Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, and it surprised me how un-Klingon-like the Klingons were.

When this film was released, we had already seen quite a lot of examples from TNG of Klingon culture and behavior from Worf's experiences dealing with the Klingon High Council.

I realize that The Undiscovered Country was at an earlier time point in the timeline, and it was part of the plot of the film that they were desperate for peace, but still - it just doesn't feel quite right.

Was there something that was supposed to have happened to the Klingons after the time of The Undiscovered Country and before the time of The Next Generation that would account for the drastically different portrayal?

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    Have you considered the possibility that Klingons are just as culturally diverse as any other species? Sure they have "honorable warrior" embedded in their culture (in the same way that USians have "the land of the free and home of the brave" embedded in theirs) but that still leaves significant room for different attitudes, opinions, and lifestyles. Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 6:14
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    It would help if you provided specific examples of what you consider "un-Klingon". Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 11:46
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    Indeed. The only Klingon that seemed remotely friendly was Chancellor Gorkon, and he had himself under a tight leash.
    – Kyle Jones
    Commented Mar 6, 2014 at 16:44
  • Movie klingons were a lot like their TOS counterparts, TNG was developing their own thing with them at a point set almost 100 years later. Also the films and tv shows were separate departments at that point and the left hand often wasn't talking to the right. It's a bit like how easy they get to the centre of the galaxy in 5 yet TNG had a different concept for warp drive speeds/quadrants etc.
    – sumbuddyx
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 9:22
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    You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon.
    – BBlake
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 12:56

2 Answers 2


Because they just lost the moon Praxis and the Klingon Empire is crumbling

The question seems to really hit the core of the movie's plot. Right away, we know the Klingons are in real trouble:

SPOCK: Jim, there is an historic opportunity here.

KIRK: Don't believe them! Don't trust them!

SPOCK: They're dying.

KIRK: Let them die! ...Has it occurred to you that this crew is due to stand down in three months? We've done our bit for King and Country. ...You should have trusted me.

But as Kirk shows, not everyone is ready to simply give up the war. Remembering that the Klingons Kirk hosts are basically diplomats trying to save their empire, yet the dialogue remains ... unpolitical:

CHANG: Come now, Captain, there's no need to mince words. In space, all warriors are cold warriors.


AZETBUR: Inalien... If only you could hear yourselves? 'Human rights.' Why the very name is racist. The Federation is no more than a 'homo sapiens' only club.

CHANG: Present company excepted, of course.

KERLA: In any case, we know where this is leading. The annihilation of our culture.

So we are seeing Klingons in a new light because they are in an unprecedented situation and are trying to solve things diplomatically with their former enemies. As for Klingons still being Klingons, lets us not forgot (massive spoiler warning):

SPOCK: The Klingons have a new weapon. A Bird-of-Prey that can fire while cloaked. She torpedoed Gorkon's ship.

So its not like all Klingons think peace is the way out.

Out of universe, remember that the movie's plot is meant to parallel the end of the Cold War. Hence the angle of diplomacy instead of some kind of all out war (which might be more "Klingon" like). Also, this is not exactly the first time Klingons have changed in Star Trek.


There were basically two Klingon factions in The Undiscovered Country - one that sought peace with the federation because their moon Praxis had exploded and poisoned the atmosphere of the mother planet; I guess these are the "un-klingon" ones. The other faction entered a cabal to murder their own chancellor in order to provoke an all-out war with the federation.

The point I think the movie was trying to make is that some people try to adapt to different circumstances while others carry on like before, only more so. As usual with Star Trek the sympathies lie with the former group.

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