To Ridge A Klingon Or Not?


If you are more then a casual Star Trek fan, the title of this post will raise the proverbial Vulcan eyebrow. Klingons appearance has been a major subject of debate for decades.

Now that “Star Trek Discovery” season one has concluded, and some time has passed, we cannot help but ask: How is what we just watched part of Star Trek’s “prime timeline”? Granted some minor things can be rationalized or even ignored. But there are a few things in Discovery that need to be reconciled. One of these issues is the “new” Klingons appearance. The appearance in itself looks great but it doesn’t fit with “prime timeline ” canon. Why?

Lets take a moment to briefly recap some Star Trek “prime timeline” history. There are two very important episodes of Star Trek Enterprise (“Affliction” and “Divergence”) that help explain why the Klingon’s look so much different in TOS.  These episodes take place nearly a century before Star Trek Discovery takes place. A long story short, the Klingon’s experimented with human augment DNA, this lead to an airborne virus. The virus was cured but a large unnumbered amount of Klingon people lost their ridges and appeared to look more human. Their ridges would not begin to reappear until future generations. Hence, all the Klingons that were seen in TOS had smooth foreheads.

Star Trek Discovery takes place a decade before the USS Enterprise embarks on its 5-year mission with Captain James T. Kirk in command. With that being said, Star Trek Discovery’s Klingon’s should have smooth foreheads and look more human, just like TOS.

Next: Star Trek Canon Loose Ends

Star Trek Discovery needs to logically explain the Klingon’s “new” looks. Star Trek writers in times past figured out how to explain the differences between TOS and the rest of Star Trek canon. Star Trek Discovery has created the issue all over again.

But how could Discovery go about explaining the “new” Klingon look? Lets consider two brief, “logical” theories. Theory one is a lot more plausible. Theory two is a little more extreme but it fixes all off the canonical problems.

Theory 1) The whole empire was not affected by mutation.

In the aforementioned Enterprise episodes, it was not clearly established whether or not all Klingons were affected by ridge loss. If they were not, could it be possible that the Klingon Empire cast out all of the affected? Stripping them of all their rights, including military service.

The affects of the ridge loss mutation were generational and would eventually leave the DNA and no longer be passed on to descendants. So if the affected were indeed outcasts, could it be that during the time period Star Trek Discovery’s takes place, they were still outcasts. Maybe after the war with the Federation, in an effort to strengthen the Klingon Empire, the Klingon houses unite. The houses agree to lift all restrictions on mutated Klingons. In turn, many of the mutated Klingons enter military service for the newly united empire. In fact they make up a large majority of the military. This theory would fit perfectly into why we only see crews of “ridgeless” Klingons in TOS.

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Theory 2) Discovery is not in the “Prime Timeline, yet.

This theory solves all Discovery’s discrepancies.( I honesty thought that the USS Discovery was going to wind up in the prime timeline during their return trip from the mirror universe. That unfortunately did not happen.) What if under a certain set of circumstances, Discovery’s spore drive sends them into what we know as the “prime timeline”. This trip will be a permanent, unchangeable situation for the crew. Being in the “prime timeline”, they come to find out that there was no Klingon war. The Klingons don’t have ridges. The federation is secure and prospering. Finally, all of Starfleet is rocking classic Pike era uniforms. Truly a dream come true…We will just have to wait and see if this loose end gets tied up in season 2.

Let me know what your thoughts and theories are in the comments section.