10 Dumbest Things In Star Trek: The Animated Series

Could anything be dumber than a giant Spock? You bet your sweet Kzinti!

Kirk Jerk TAS Animated Series

The 1973 animated Star Trek was a unique animal for Saturday morning cartoons. In his book “Creating The Filmation Generation,” Lou Scheimer said NBC wanted it so bad they agreed to remain essentially hands-off, which allowed the show to do things verboten in most kidvid, like refer to killing, portray death (notably Ichaya and blowing up the Kzinti), and even refer to God (which contemporary Land of the Lost couldn’t get away with). Many who worked on the show felt it wasn’t truly kiddie fare and should have been on prime time. But, adult as it could be, it wasn’t always the height of smart. And, like all of Trek, despite being fairly intelligent in the mean, it periodically got preposterous, or downright dumb.

It’d be easy and unfair to pick on the show’s extremely limited and stiff animation and numerous and often laughable production errors, but they’re not the fault of the scripts and stories. So let’s stick to the things that don’t make much — or, frankly, any — sense, except where this on-the-cheap approach hurt the episodes.

And when we talk about a series as a whole we try to focus on things that typify the show rather than episode-specific things, but that’s hard for Saturday Morning shows, which were never produced in the same numbers as primetime. In its two-season run on NBC the animated Trek produced only 22 segments. As such, we’ll be more episode-specific here than when we discussed the dumbest things of TOS, or will be soon about TNG.

Now, on with the (animated) show!

10. Exit, screen right

Kirk Jerk TAS Animated Series

Fans rightly complained about the nonsensical design of the TOS Enterprise bridge having only a single turbolift for access: one which could be and was cut off when by both Khan and Kang. So, when addressing this flaw for the animated show, what was the solution? Add a second turbolift!


This second lift was added near the front of the bridge because most of the character animation of the show depicted them moving towards screen right. "That way you would not have to turn them around," Filmation veteran Robert Kline explained in the book Star Trek: The Official Guide to the Animated Series. "The trouble with flipping Star Trek characters is the badge, so they tried to avoid that when they could."

But this redundancy didn’t fix the fundamental problem that losing power or sabotage of the lift system still left the bridge cut off. What should have been behind that second door? How about a gangway or even a ladder?

This two-turbo twaddle carried forward into the refit Enterprise bridge, first built for the scrapped Star Trek II series and reworked for Star Trek feature films. A non-lift bridge exit wouldn’t appear until the 1701-D of The Next Generation (via the door leading to and through the observation lounge). A little late, guys.

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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.