10 Dumbest Things in Star Trek The Original Series

We've seen the dumbest things in the movies, now it's time to train our dumb-ometers on the OG.

Star Trek Green Hand
CBS Media Ventures

To modern eyes and sensibilities, there’s plenty about the original Star Trek which looks silly, hopelessly outmoded, or just plain dumb. Need I say more than “Brain and brain! What is brain?!”

But let's not pillory the whole series for the flaws of individual episodes. And I'm not talking about how the show looks almost 60 years outside its original context. Many of its failings are attributable to the relentless grind of time, the social conventions of the era, the vagaries of media conventions, fashions, and changes in film technology that affect everything from lighting, makeup, color, and optical effects. Yesterday’s state-of-the-art isn’t dumb, it’s just antique.

Let's look at the bigger picture: the stuff that spans multiple episodes, seasons, or permeates the show’s entire run. In other words, what’s dumb in the series as a series?

Don’t touch that dial and stay tuned as we boldly look at the 10 dumbest things in the original Star Trek

10. Kirk, landing party of three. Kirk

Star Trek Green Hand
Paramount Home Entertainment

In “The Apple,” after Spock nearly dies attempting to save him, Captain Kirk says, "Trying to get yourself killed...Do you know how much Starfleet has invested in you?" Spock replies "One hundred twenty-two thousand, two-hundred..." and would have recited the full amount to multiple decimal places had Kirk not cut him off. It makes one wonder just how much Starfleet has invested in Kirk, and how he rationalizes putting himself, Spock, and even McCoy — the ship’s senior staff — in harm’s way adventure after adventure. 

 Yes, it’s de rigueur for the leads in action adventure shows to place themselves in harm’s way before each commercial break (“Star Trek, Brought to you by Polaroid … and by Viceroy [cigarettes] for the taste that's right, right any time of the day."). They're the stars, and paid handsomely to be front and center. But the way Trek does it is, well, foolhardy. It’s one thing when it’s Men from U.N.C.L.E. or ranchers on Bonanza (to name but two contemporary NBC series), but it’s preposterous when Kirk has 427 other crew and specialists aboard his ginormous starship at his beck and call. The M-5 multitronic unit had it right when it left Kirk and McCoy off a landing party recommendation, characterizing them as "Non-essential personnel" for the mission at hand.

This is what led to The Next Generation’s “Away Team” concept, where the Captain would sit firmly in the comfy chair (no soft cushions, though, Cardinal Biggles) and send some junior officers into danger. Well, at least until they decided to make Patrick Stewart go all Kirk when they realized he was way more popular than Riker.

In this post: 
Star Trek
Posted On: 

Maurice is one of the founders of FACT TREK (www.facttrek.com), a project dedicated to untangling 50+ years of mythology about the original Star Trek and its place in TV history. He's also a screenwriter, writer, and videogame industry vet with scars to show for it. In that latter capacity he game designer/writer on the Sega Genesis/SNES "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine — Crossroads of Time" game, as well as Dreamcast "Ecco the Dolphin, Defender of the Future" where Tom Baker performed words he wrote.