Star Trek Head Canon Roundup

Posted: 2023-01-29
Word Count: 2210
Tags: fanfic gorn klingon star-trek tv

Table of Contents

Since I have been watching a lot of Star Trek (and about Trek) I’ve collected a few bits of headcanon that have been building up. Some of these have shown up on YouTube comments I’ve posted when I’m bored.

Is Klingon blood red or pink?

In most Star Trek shows wounded Klingons bleed red. In Star Trek VI (1991), though, when assassins shoot Chancellor Gorkon and his party with slugthrowers (guns for us 21st century barbarians) while the artificial gravity is off, globules of pink or magenta fluid spews from the wounds. Even in his death scene, Gorkon’s bleeding pink, not red. What’s the deal?

Well, the real answer is that the production crews in other series and movies simply used off-the-shelf fake blood. In the U.S., though, bodies spewing red blood in low gravity would earn a movie an R rating. (Strange but true.) So they decided to make the aliens’ blood magenta.

Lower Decks (of course), picked up on this: in “Envoys” (1x02) General K’orin’s nose bled red after a tussle with Mariner, but in “wej Duj”1 (2x09) a Klingon stabbed through the heart with a sword bleeds pink/violet/magenta. (In “wej Duj” a character also declares, “Klingon blood still bleeds reddish-pink!”)

Until I hear another explanation, mine is that Klingons not only have redundant organs but a redundant circulatory system. The smaller “red cells” perfuse the muscles, skin, and digestive organs. The larger “pink cells”, which carry more oxygen but release it slowly, perfuses the upper thorax. Both systems meet in at least one heart, lungs, and brain, but a membrane keep the pink cells inside and the red cells outside. Scientists think these two systems keep Klingons from bleeding to death right away and give them a brief emergency oxygen supply in cases of drowning, suffocation, and explosive decompression.

Thus most wounds will bleed red, but piercing the thorax or smashing the brain will let the pink blood out.

How did Tendi get into Starfleet? What’s up with her family?


Lower Decks Season 4 will probably drop more hints, but my take is that Tendi grew up mostly aboard a Syndicate pirate starship, touching Orion soil only briefly. Her temperment wasn’t suited to extorting money through threats of violence, though, so she started looking for a way out. She heard of a Starfleet recruitment center either in an Orion city or in another star system, so she borrowed the captain’s yacht and made a beeline for it. Her family found out she’d gone to join the Feds – she probably left a note – and sent goons and/or pursued her themselves. Skipping over what was probably an exciting chase sequence and cat-and-mouse through a strange city, she made it to the Federation recruiter and signed up.

Facts in support of this:

  1. (1x01) Tendi apparently had never seen sand. To me that implies she’s never been on Orion proper or only landed in hives of scum and villainy or desolate plateaus and fields to exchange stolen goods.

  2. (1x04 and 2x01) Tendi reacts very badly when she thinks someone doesn’t like her. Maybe it’s an unrelated personality disorder, but it could also be her need to be like drove her out of a profession noted for being hated and not caring.

  3. (1x08) Tendi beats four RomBZZZTulan guards with an impressive display of martial arts.

  4. (1x09) “Some Orions haven’t been pirates for over five years!” (paraphrased) Many have pointed out that’s a little too recent and too specific.

  5. (3x08) Tendi parenthetically comments she joined up at a recruitment booth. I.e. she wasn’t recruited by Starfleet for her skills, either science or pirating.

  6. (3x06) Tendi confirms her family were Syndicate pirates, and her father taught her some skills. When Mesk asks how her family reacted she replied, “They had some notes.” Given how Tendi sugar-coats things, it’s likely they reacted very badly. Imagine if someone from a 20th century Mafia family wanted to be a cop … an honest one, not a mole.

Do Klingons have a stock market?

A Ferengi once explained a stock market to a Klingon:

FERENGI: So you pay some latinum –

KLINGON: Darseks.

FERENGI: You pay some darseks and get a certificate which entitles you to a piece of the company.

KLINGON: How big?

FERENGI: The certificate? Oh, about –

KLINGON: Hrgh. The piece of the company.

FERENGI: Oh, not large. A few percent, usually. But –

KLINGON: Can I sell this piece later?

FERENGI: YES! For more money than you paid, if the company does well.

KLINGON: And if it does badly?

FERENGI: Well, the certificates are on really soft paper …

So the Klingons were having none of that.2

Instead they have a small but thriving bond market. Not just for government and war bonds either; cities, planets, and wealthy families issue bonds to finance their ambitious plans. The idea of giving money now to get back twice that amount a year. ten years, or fifty years later fits better into their bumpy heads than “a (small) share of the company”.3 Until the 24th century only a few merchant families had enough wealth to cover such debt; workers lived payday to payday4, the skilled professionals not in hiding mostly knew better, and warriors had no time for such foolishness.

That said, for anything less than the Imperial government those bonds have as much risks as Ferengi or pre-Federation Earth stocks. As mentioned earlier, the Empire has no idea of Chapter 11 or limited liability corporations, so if the city, planet, or family goes broke and gets bought out or disbanded … well, those bonds are written on really soft paper.5

What are the Gorn like now?

“There’s a horror movie called Alien? That’s really offensive. No wonder everyone keeps invading you.”

– The Doctor, “Last Christmas”, broadcast Dec 25, 2014.6 clip

In an earlier post I tried to retcon the Alien-esque Gorn we saw on Strange New Worlds, the Gorn from the TOS episode Arena, and the Gorn we saw on Lower Decks. (Plus the ones who came to the Federation’s aid in Prodigy, although we only got two seconds of their ship.)

To summarize, the Gorn government, run by Gorn over two centuries old and far wiser than the typical hunter/colonizers, realized their life cycle would make keeping the Cestus III treaty nearly impossible. Not wanting to face the might of the Federation or the Metrons – not with Romulans at their backs – they decided to change their own species' reproductive cycle and growth patterns. Not only did this end the predation of pre-sapient hatchlings and young, it made the process of raising stable, obedient adults safer and more reliable.7

These new Gorn went from experiment to a growing fraction of the population, especially after Gorn geneticists perfected sexual reproduction (more or less). By the mid 24th century more than of Cestus III’s Gorn Zone8 were young adult “new Gorn” instead of carefully selected “old Gorn” adults. In the early 2300s these new Gorn traveled beyond the Hegemony, first as freighter captains and diplomats, then as resident aliens on Starbase 25 and a few other human settlements.

In late 2372 or 2373 a Borg cube, making a beeline for Earth, crashed through the heart of the Hegemony, disrupting their control beyond their core worlds. Most of the disconnected worlds chose to respect the Cestus III treaty and their distant but peaceful alliance with the Federation, but some outer colonies9 tacitly declared independence. This led to Gorn factions joining both sides of the Dominion War. Even then, the Dominion faction refused to fire on Federation ships unless attacked; Klingons and especially Romulans received no such consideration. It’s still not known how badly the Borg incursion hurt the central government; even now the Hegemony believes the amount of damage is their business alone. As late as 2380, though, a few Gorn colonies reacted, well, badly, to humans invading their space; they considered them, literally, fair game.

Generally, though, the Gorn Hegemony and the Gorn themselves became staunch allies of the Federation. They have yet to break the letter of any agreement, although the Dominion War proves they don’t necessarily abide by the spirit. But still remain territorial and a little inscrutable. Both officially and personally, Gorn like their privacy, but afford others the same courtesy.

To some, that makes them little better than Romulans; Gorn maintain secrecy through silence and curt refusals rather than outright lies, but it’s secrecy all the same. On the other hand, it’s an open secret they know Starfleet Intelligence is spying on them through long-range telescopes at the edges of their “core worlds” and strategic military star systems, and they don’t seem to care.

Whatever happened to the Klingons with smooth foreheads from The Original Series?

(Kingons? Again?)

An episode of Star Trek: Enterprise explained the smooth-headed Klingons we saw in The Original Series as products of a virus meant to make them stronger. Eventually they found a cure, since Kang, Kor, and Kolos had smooth foreheads in TOS but ridged foreheads in Deep Space Nine.

Let’s imagine, though, the Klingons who weren’t heroes (or villains, depending on your perspective). How did they fare?

In the Second Federation War and the cold war after, they were always on the front lines. Were they truly integrated into the military? Or were they cheap phaser-fodder while the real Klingons fought real battles.

When the cold war between the Federation and Empire ended, their role ended. Their disfigurement had brought shame on their houses, and unlike the Three Ks they failed to redeem themselves through victory (or death). A new generation of real Klingons pushed them aside. They had no choice but to throw themselves into some other dangerous duty, abandon the military and work at a farm, or … do something really dishonorable.

About a thousand Hab Quch (smooth foreheads) defected in 2296, ironically just two years before the Empire and Federation found a cure for the virus. Having defected, though, they had committed to a life in the Federation. Both sides kept the matter secret; Klingons wanted to erase the incident from their history, and the Federation didn’t want the public to find out Klingons lived among them. In return for what little intel they had – and to keep an eye on them – all thousand settled in a little town in what was once New Mexico.

It’s said that, unlike other Klingons, they had no problems having children with humans. Few Klingons, half-Klingons, and part-Klingons10 left that little town, though. None could join Starfleet because of the Augment ban, and no one in the Federation or among the Hab Quch wants them to run into “true” Klingons.

  1. In the Klingon language created by Mark Okrand, this means “Three Ships”. That language uses capital and small letters to denote different sounds, most of which sound like coughing. ↩︎

  2. Plus, nearly all businesses were family businesses, and most family heads barely listen to the rest of the family, never mind strangers with a piece of paper. ↩︎

  3. Also as mentioned earlier, Klingon lenders took a look at loans with compound interest and thought they’d rather not face broke batleth-swinging warriors who decided it was a good day to die. The Imperial Central Bank won’t certify loans with compound interest, although there’s usually a Ferengi or other humanoid who’ll let you borrow latinum with interest, compounded weekly. ↩︎

  4. In developed areas, employers deposited pay straight into an employee’s account at the Imperial Central Bank. In remote areas or on colony worlds, workers got their pay in darseks … or an account at the company store, with all that implies. ↩︎

  5. The Central Bank keeps a record of all bond transactions: who the (current) owner of the bond is, and who’s on the hook to pay it, just like any other loan. ↩︎

  6. Yes, I know, wrong franchise. ↩︎

  7. In Star Trek Online the Gorn aren’t from our galaxy but were deposited on Gornar/Gornu/Gdar from a trans-galactic wormhole several thousands of years ago. If so, it’s possible the Gorn originally had another, dare I suggest more Giger-esque, form. Centuries of preying on what I’m calling a Gorn pigdog – a vaguely reptilian quadruped with compound eyes – and incorporating its DNA into their own caused them to assume their current shape. ↩︎

  8. In the late 2270s the Hegemony agreed to let humans re-colonize Cestus III’s western hemisphere, while they took the other. (Planets are big.) By the end of the 23rd century both sides had appreciable populations, and even had very limited, careful diplomatic relations with each other. Mostly involving human snipers and bodyguards on both sides. ↩︎

  9. Federation intelligence believes the Hegemony divides their territory into “core worlds” ruled directly by the central government, “breeder planets” with mostly “old Gorn” young and prey animals, “middle worlds” with more than a billion adults, “colonies” too new or too hostile for more than a few million inhabitants, “border worlds” too close to Federation or Romulan space for more than a military base or trading post, and “outposts” in unclaimed space or shared with the Federation, like Cestus III and (in their minds) Starbase 25. ↩︎

  10. Quarter, three-eighths, five-eighths, and so on. No one past the second generation speaks Klingon, and most believe themselves to be humans with unusual vital signs. ↩︎