Romulans are an alien species in the Star Trek universe that are related to the Vulcans and are at war or in an uneasy truce with the United Federation of Planets, of which Earth is a member, throughout most of the Star Trek series and films. They are characterized as passionate, cunning, and opportunistic, and were usually cast as villains or adversaries in the various series. They are the dominant race of the Romulan Star Empire, one of the larger empires in the Beta Quadrant of the Milky Way galaxy.
They made their first appearance in the 1966 episode "Balance of Terror" and were eventually featured in all five Star Trek series. The Romulans were created by Paul Schneider, who said "it was a matter of developing a good Romanesque set of admirable antagonists... an extension of the Roman civilization to the point of space travel".
Another theory says that Vulcan colonization efforts led to a split, or schism, between factions favoring the school of logic espoused by the philosopher Surak and opposition groups which ended up leaving Vulcan. (However, there is no explicit canon evidence that the group which left Vulcan was in rebellion against Surak; they may have indeed been opposed to him, or even acted with his blessings in leaving Vulcan. Conversely, the Star Trek Enterprise Episode "Awakening" has a line from the long deceased Surak saying of the enemies of logic in his time that they are "beneath the raptor's wing" which would appear to be a reference to the symbol of the Romulan Empire.) They arrived on Romulus and founded what would become the Romulan Star Empire. This theory is supported by a reference within the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "United": Senator Vrax refers to Vulcans as "our distant brothers" during the first part of the episode.
Information from "Balance of Terror" suggests yet a different theory. While Spock makes it clear that the events during the period of Surak are well documented ("The Savage Curtain"), he is completely uncertain in regard to the origin of the Romulans: "If the Romulans are an offshoot of my Vulcan blood, then attack becomes even more imperative. Vulcan, like Earth, had its aggressive, colonizing period."
Romulans have pointed ears, upswept eyebrows, and copper-based blood that is green when oxygenated in the arteries and copper or rust colored when deoxygenated in the veins. The Romulan heart is said to be gray, though this may only be a poetic image. Many Romulans have a V-shaped ridge above the bridge of their nose, which was not shown in TOS, but introduced in the later series and films. Since Ambassador Spock was able to move freely among the citizens of Romulus, presumably the lack of this ridge is not viewed with prejudice by Romulans. Like Vulcans, Romulans are almost always portrayed as having dark or black hair. Exceptions include the half-human Commander Sela who, like her mother Tasha Yar, has blonde hair. Brown haired examples have also been seen in various media.
In TOS, Romulans were depicted as of the same look as Vulcans but more emotional, very violent, and extremely motivated by honor and protocol.
Romulans share the longevity common to their Vulcan cousins. In "Unification", the Romulan Senator Pardek shared a friendship with Ambassador Spock lasting at least 80 years. Romulans can be expected to have similar life spans as their Vulcan brothers. Romulans past 300 have been documented.
Other Romulan drinks include Kali-fal, a blue drink with an aroma that should "forcibly open one's frontal sinuses before the first sip." (However, some sources believe "Kali-fal" to be the proper name for Romulan ale due to their similar appearance.)
Romulan foods include Ossoul twist, a tart churro-like dessert, and Viinerine. A simple Romulan broth, though popular in the Romulan First City, is considered distasteful to both Vulcans and humans, especially Jean-Luc Picard. Romulans do not eat seafood.
In Star Trek: The Original Series, Romulan military uniforms consisted of a gray tunic with varying kinds of decorative sashes. Commanders wore red sashes, senior officers wore blue sashes, and most soldiers wore no sash at all. In subsequent series, such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Romulan uniforms were of a different style, with varying kinds of patterns and colors. The dominant uniform style thereafter was gray under a pattern of squares. These did not seem to have anything to do with the Romulans' position or rank. The rank insignia on the Next Generation-era Romulan uniform consisted of a series of diamond and crescent shapes, worn on the left collar.
As of Star Trek Nemesis, Romulan uniforms were more standardized. Episodes of the fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise depicted the 22nd century Romulans wearing exactly the same uniforms as those of the 24th century Nemesis.
Romulan Military Uniforms follow a distinct pattern through the 23 and 24th century. When one allows for the change in technology in the TV industry and increased budgets, its easy to see how uniforms from the 23rd century (TOS) evolved into the uniforms seen in the 24th century (TNG). Male hairstyles do not appear to change greatly, although 24th century hairstyles seem more distinct from Vulcan hairstyles. Females in the 23rd century wore long hair in a variety of styles. By the 24th century, females wear a style similar to males.
Designer Herman F. Zimmerman has said regarding interior design, "the Romulans have possessed advanced technology a lot longer than the Federation, so the look was a combination of art deco and medievalism meets high tech. Most of the designs were inspired by Italian designer Carlo Scarpa."
Regarding exterior design of the Senate area, designer Syd Dutton said director "Stuart Baird wanted us to think about Albert Speer, the architect who did all the conceptual drawings for Hitler. Speer took that national socialist idea to a ridiculous extreme where everything was huge and classical.
"The Romulans are a people who live in a marshy area. They had little houses on stilts around mudwork. The mudwork became part of this central core and that was where the old part of the city – the Forum and Senate buildings – was located. As the city expanded going away from that, the buildings became bigger and more technological."
It has been implied that Romulans use a caste system. The Romulan contempt for Vulcans, their treatment of other sentient species, such as the Remans, and their need for strict conformity, suggests that Romulan society is racist/speciesist.
The Romulan Star Empire once had an empress. A member of the Q Continuum informed Kathryn Janeway that he had considered having a child with the Romulan Empress ("The Q and the Grey"). However, it is unclear when the Romulans possessed this system of government, or how it functioned in relation to the Romulan Senate, or even if they have abandoned the monarchy.
The Romulan term for their mythological place of creation is "Vorta Vor."
It is generally accepted canon that Romulan females are equal to males, both having equal ability to rise through the ranks of the military. Notable females include Sela (Tasha Yar's daughter), Caithlin Dar (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier), Donatra (Star Trek Nemesis), Taris, and Toreth (TNG: "Contagion" and "Face of the Enemy", both played by Carolyn Seymour) and the Romulan Commander in the TOS episode "The Enterprise Incident," who is never referred to by name (in Star Trek CCG and some noncanon novels, she is called "Commander Charvanek").
Notable Military Officers
Some Romulan military ranks are recognizable army and navy versions, while others are either carried over from the Vulcan High Command or entirely new. It's possible that army-specific ranks are reserved for the Tal Shiar.
One lowly rank in the Romulan Guard is "uhlan" (TNG's "Unification II"). This actually derives from an in-joke in an early fanzine, Tricorder Readings circa 1970. A fan wrote in explaining who the original Uhlans were, and wisecracked that because regiments of uhlans existed in the armies of many countries, Roman uhlans could be "Rom Uhlans". The joke was probably reprinted in a number of other fanzines. The real meaning of uhlan is "lancer".
The lowest military rank appears to be "sublieutenant." In TNG's "The Defector," Adm. Alidar Jarok initially used the cover name "Sublieutenant Setal", a mere "logistics clerk".
"Sublieutenant" presupposes the next-higher rank of "lieutenant," but this is speculation because no Romulan character has had that rank.
"Centurion" is the next-highest rank and probably the most common. In TNG's "The Enemy," Centurion Bochra appears to be an ordinary, midlevel officer. However, the nameless Centurion in TOS's "Balance of Terror" seems to be a senior officer who holds sway with his commander, having served on more than 100 campaigns with him.
"Subcommander" may be a holdover rank from the Vulcan High Command (T'Pol initially holds it in Star Trek: Enterprise). It's usually reserved for executive officers on Romulan ships (Tal in TOS's "The Enterprise Incident" and N'Vek in TNG's "Face of the Enemy"), but in rare cases, subcommanders may captain their own Warbirds (Taris in TNG's "Contagion"). In addition, some subcommanders have served in exchange-officer roles (T'Rul in DS9's "The Search, Parts I & II") or as government attaches (Velal in DS9's "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges").
"Commander" is the rank usually reserved for individual Warbird COs (Toreth in TNG's "Face of the Enemy," Sirol in "The Pegasus," and Tomalak in "The Enemy" and "The Defector"). However, some commanders have had charge over fleets of Warbirds (the unnamed Commander in TOS's "The Enterprise Incident" and Sela in TNG's "Redemption II").
"Admiral" is the highest naval-style rank and is accorded to sector commanders (Jarok in TNG's "The Defector") or fleet commanders (Mendak in TNG's "Data's Day").
Other senior officer ranks, such as major, colonel and general, are army-style and may often be reserved for members of the Tal Shiar. Deanna Troi impersonated "Major Rakal" in TNG's "Face of the Enemy" and served as a kind of "political officer." A Founder impersonated "Colonel Lovok" in DS9's "The Die Is Cast" and commanded a fleet of Warbirds.
The two Romulan generals mentioned in Star Trek canon may or may not have been Tal Shiar operatives. Velal, elevated from subcommander to general as of DS9's "When It Rains …" and "The Dogs of War", probably wasn't. However, it's possible that the unnamed Romulan general who rescued Tasha Yar and fathered Sela (TNG's "Redemption II") was with the Tal Shiar.
- A system used by the Rihannsu themselves, is as follows: eredh -- Cadet khre'eredh -- Senior Cadet
erein -- Ante-Centurion, Ensign. Lowest officer rank. Second Lieutenant in ground forces/Tal Shiar.
erei'arrain -- Sub-Centurion, Lieutenant junior grade. in ground forces/Tal Shiar. Lieutenant in ground forces/Tal Shiar. arrain -- Centurion, Lieutenant/Lieutenant Commander. Captain in ground forces/Tal Shiar. khre'arrain -- Senior Centurion, Commander. The third officer on most vessels and second officer on smaller vessel. This is more a title than a rank and ther will only be one per vessel under all but extraordinary circumstances. Major in ground forces/Tal Shiar. erei'riov -- Sub-Commander, Commander/Captain. Lowest rank at which command of a ship maybe held, in exceptional circumstances may be First officer on a mjor vessel. Major in ground forces/Tal Shiar.
riov -- Commander, Captain. Usual rank of a ship's commanding officer. Colonel in ground forces/Tal Shiar.
khre'riov -- Commander-General, commodore/rear admiral. Brigadier in ground forces/Tal Shiar.
erei'enriov -- Sub-Senior commander, Rear admiral. Lieutenant General in ground forces/Tal Shiar. enriov -- Senior Commander, Vice Admiral. General in ground forces/Tal Shiar. khre'enriov -- Senior Commander-General, Fleet Admiral. Field Marshall in ground forces/ Tal Shiar.
Romulus had no sentient species until a revolutionary Vulcan movement colonized it around 400 AD. These revolutionaries over time became the Romulans. A sapient species called the Remans developed (according to the historically challenged events delineated in Star Trek Nemesis) on Remus and was conquered by the Romulans later becoming a lower class in Romulan society (although it is unknown whether Remans are truly native to their world, or are simply mutated Vulcanoids).
The original colonization group of Rihannsu came to this system after they fled their homeworld in rebellion against the philosophy of peace and logic proposed by Surak. As Mr. Spock would later point out, if the Romulans retained the passions and expansionist outlook that the pre-Surak Vulcans once had, it would make them an extremely dangerous race.
The Romulan military and government also have positions very similar to those of the Roman Republic: Proconsul, Praetor, Senator. (See this article under the heading "Roman Republic" for more on these offices.)
In the alternate Star Fleet Universe, Remus is a more naturally inhabitable planet in a neighbouring star system to Romulus, populated by Romulans (no distinct Reman sentient species seems to exist), as the game was created long before the Remans wer introduced in the primary Star Trek continuity. During the General War, during Operation Remus, launched by the Alliance in Y181, the Reman system defences and military installations were destroyed by a raiding Alliance fleet, but the disastrous crash of the Federation capital ship MacArthur onto the capital city on the planet resulted in its nuclear reactors detonating and causing planet-wide devastation, reducing Remus to a state of nuclear winter for three years. Incensed Reman officers on board pursuing Romulan ships ferociously attacked the retreating Alliance ships, nearly annihilating them.
They are well-known and feared for their extensive use of the Plasma Torpedo. This weapon uses super-charged plasma to reduce the molecular bonding of the hulls of adversary ships, causing them to become fragile. However, it also has a huge power drain on a Romulan vessel, requiring the ship to de-cloak first before firing. Also, this torpedo has a limited range, requiring the ship to be in relatively close proximity to its target.
In 2152, Humans made first contact with the Romulans when the Enterprise NX-01 encountered a Romulan-laid minefield. Communication was via audio only. The Romulans saw that Humans fostered a spirit of cooperation among the long-belligerent Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites. Realizing that this would bring solidarity to the region and an obstacle to conquest, the Senate took steps to turn these species against each other.
In 2154, Romulans conspired with V'Las, head of the Vulcan High Command, to invade Andoria. V'Las' Romulan contact had the stated agenda of reunification with the Vulcans.
A few months later, the Empire sent prototype holoships remote-controlled from Romulus to disrupt a peace conference between Andorians and Tellarites. The Romulans piloted the ships using an abducted Aenar; however, their scheme was thwarted by the combined efforts of the Humans, Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites, led by the Enterprise. This enraged the Romulans, who vowed revenge upon humanity.
About 2156, the Earth-Romulan War began. Both sides, for unknown reasons, used weapons of an atomic nature. These were still in the Romulan inventory a century later. The Romulan ships during the war were seen with birds-of-prey painted on them.
It has also been noted that no visual communication took place between the Humans and Romulans at that time. The war only ended after both sides had fought to the point of exhaustion, and realized that conflict would result in mutual destruction. It has been implied that the Earth-Romulan War reached Earth, heavily damaging it: two centuries later, it was remarked that Earth had not been subjected to the horrors of total war since the date of the Romulan Wars. Though the war ended in a stalemate, it closed with the Battle of Cheron, which was a decisive Earth victory.
In 2160, the Romulans and the humans signed a treaty ending the war and establishing a neutral zone one light year wide between their territories. The treaty was negotiated via subspace radio, again with no visual contact. In 2161, humans, along with Vulcans and several other species, founded the United Federation of Planets, which continued this wary peace.
In 2267, it is thought that the Romulans entered a treaty with the Klingon Empire: in exchange for cloaking technology, the Romulans received D7-class battlecruisers, which were upgraded into extremely deadly war machines (the script of "The Enterprise Incident" called for a Romulan ship to appear, but the original model was not available; rather than go to the expense of building a new one, the Klingon D7 model was substituted). Spock mentioned intelligence about this treaty when the Klingon ship appeared on the viewscreen, at the outset of "The Enterprise Incident." The Romulan commander further implies the common ancestry when she confronts Kirk about violation of Romulan space. The events of 2154 suggest the Vulcans withheld from Humans their prior knowledge of Romulan kinship with Vulcans.
In 2293, the Romulan ambassador to the Federation, Nanclus, took part in a conspiracy to sabotage peace talks between the Klingons and the Federation. The attempt was unsuccessful, and Nanclus was arrested on Khitomer, along with several other conspirators. During the Khitomer conference, the Romulans signed a treaty with the Federation and the Klingons. Notably, Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan sat with his Romulan cousins during the conference, indicating a dialogue, or at least a display of goodwill between the two nations.
For the next fifty years, the Neutral Zone was quiet. There was no direct contact between the Federation and the Empire, nor were there any further Romulan incursions.
In 2344, four Romulan Warbirds attacked the Klingon outpost at Narendra III. The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-C) responded to the outpost's distress call and engaged the Romulan ships, but was defeated and taken with its survivors (among them a version of Lieutenant Tasha Yar from the future of an alternate timeline) back to Romulan territory. Rumors circulated in the Federation that the Enterprise's broken hull was displayed on Romulus, to boost the morale of Romulan fleet academy students. The Klingons considered this action dishonorable, in contrast to the honor they saw in the Starfleet ship's attempt to defend Narendra III. As a result, relations strengthened between the Klingon Empire and the Federation.
Also circa 2344 the Romulans covertly assisted by a Klingon traitor, Ja'rod, attacked another Klingon planet, Khitomer and killed or captured all but two of the planet's population. These incursions led to a Romulan-Klingon war around the 2350s.
Circa stardate 41986.0 (December 26, 2364), the Romulan Star Empire ended its five decades of isolation when the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) intercepted a Romulan warbird. Several Romulan outposts had been destroyed by a then unknown force (later revealed to be the Borg). The Romulans opened communications to see if they could glean the information from the Federation, who had suffered similar losses. The Romulan Commander Tebok then explained that the Romulans had decided to concentrate on their own internal affairs for the past fifty years and said "We are back," indicating that Romulans would again be active in galactic affairs.
In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Past Tense, Part One," after Earth's history was inadvertently altered so that the Federation was never formed, the Romulans had established a presence in the Alpha Centauri system by the 24th century. Since Alpha Centauri is the star system closest to Earth, it indicates that, in the altered timeline, the Romulans invaded Earth's stellar region, despite not even being prompted by Earth's role in the encouragement of interplanetary cooperation.
Later in 2367, during the Klingon Civil War, the Romulans secretly backed the House of Duras. Captain Picard, suspecting this, convinced pro-Federation leader Gowron to attack Duras' forces in order to draw Romulan reinforcements out of hiding; when the Romulans attempted to enter the fray, they were revealed by a Federation tachyon blockade, and the Duras family, exposed as traitors, lost all support. ("Redemption, Part 2")
Circa stardate 44995.3 (December 28, 2367), the Vulcan Ambassador Spock was discovered on Romulus, working with an underground movement for the reunification of the divided races. The Romulans saw this as a chance to conquer the Vulcans and sent a fleet of ships toward Vulcan, but their intent was discovered and the fleet destroyed by the Romulans themselves. Spock elected to remain underground on Romulus to teach the Vulcan heritage to those who might listen. These efforts facilitated the defection of Vice Proconsul M'Ret to the Federation. ("Unification", "Face of the Enemy")
Sometime in 2374, a 27 member Tal Shiar team commanded by Commander Rekar hijacked the USS Prometheus, an advanced prototype starship to be analyzed by the Tal Shiar. Two Emergency Medical Holograms, one from the USS Voyager, overthrew the Tal Shiar crew and the ship returned to Federation hands.cloaking device (2371), under the condition that it be used exclusively in the Gamma Quadrant against the emerging threat of the Jem'Hadar and the Dominion and in return, Starfleet would forward all information regarding the Dominion immediately to the Romulans. ("The Search")
Several months later the Romulan Tal Shiar intelligence agency and their Cardassian counterparts, the Obsidian Order, launched a preemptive strike against the Dominion; their entire fleet of approximately 10 Warbirds and 10 Keldon class Cardassian vessels, however, was destroyed, and it was revealed that the Tal Shiar officer leading the attack was actually a Dominion agent. ("The Die Is Cast")
The Romulan Empire signed a non-aggression treaty with the Dominion, which had gained a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant in Cardassian space shortly before the Dominion War broke loose.
Circa stardate 51721.3 (September 20, 2374), Starfleet Captain Benjamin Sisko and Elim Garak tried to trick the Romulans into joining the war against the Dominion by faking recordings of a Dominion strategy meeting discussing the plan to conquer the Romulans along with the Klingons and Federation. They showed them to a high-ranking Romulan senator, Vreenak, who had negotiated the Romulan non-aggression treaty with the Dominion and was vice-chairman of the Tal Shiar, secretary of the War Plans Council, and one of Proconsul Neral's most trusted advisors. Vreenak discovered the deception and attempted to leave to inform his government, but died in his shuttle sabotaged by Garak. When the Romulans examined the wreckage, they discovered the recordings; assuming the incriminating defects to have been caused by the explosion, the Romulan Star Empire entered the war against the Dominion, joining the Klingon-Federation alliance. ("In the Pale Moonlight")
In 2375, after Proconsul Neral became praetor, the Romulans established a presence on Deep Space Nine and secretly began stockpiling weapons on a Bajoran moon. However, Bajoran Colonel Kira Nerys, with the assistance of Starfleet Admiral William Ross, forced the Romulans to back down and remove their weapons. ("Shadows and Symbols")
The rogue Federation agency, Section 31, had an agent in the Tal Shiar to safeguard Federation interests feeling that after the Dominion War, the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire would be the only two powers left in the region and would go to war.
Later that year, the allied fleet broke through Dominion lines and headed for the Dominion high command on Cardassia Prime. The fight went badly, however, until a Cardassian uprising headed by the former leader Damar turned the Cardassian fleet against the Dominion. After this, the Dominion was defeated and the devastating Dominion War ended. ("What You Leave Behind")
Relations between the Romulan Star Empire and the United Federation of Planets improved somewhat as a result of Picard's assistance (Star Trek Nemesis).
In Diane Duane's 1993 novel of the mirror universe Dark Mirror, the Romulans were all but exterminated by the Terrans about the same time as the Earth-Romulan war in our universe; the Terrans had acquired the Romulan weapons and improved them immensely, reducing Remus to rubble. The Romulan people subsequently chose mass suicide rather than become slaves of the Terran Empire.
In the alternate (non-canon) Star Fleet Universe, the Romulans had a long-standing rivalry with the Gorn Confederation but the old series Romulan ships were no match against the advanced Gorn warships. (Indeed, Klingon Empire had launched devastating raids against Romulan frontier bases and squadrons, leaving no survivors, and was planning a full-scale invasion. However, the Tholians arrived in the region of Klingon space where the invasion was being prepared, unwittingly saving the Star Empire from likely conquest. The Klingons kept these events a secret from the Romulans for a long time.) The post-Smarba KR (old Klingon vessels sold to the Romulans and converted to Romulan technology) and new series fleets, along with the extensively refitted older vessels, were far more dangerous. After the Klingon Ambassador Thad Vak Kaleen persuaded the Romulans to enter the General War, sweetening the deal with a C9-series Klingon dreadnought, they joined the Coalition on the Day of the Eagle, January 4 Y173, by invading the already-besieged Federation. They were eventually driven back to their own borders despite significant advances into Federation space, and suffered a devastating nuclear winter on Remus.
After the General War, the Romulan empire erupted in civil war, had their border stations destroyed by the Interstellar Concordium in the course of the ISC War of Pacification and subsequently aided in resisting the Andromedan invasion of the galaxy from Y188 to Y205.
Star Fleet Universe Romulans of the early period of the SFU were reliant on older series vessels converted to carry primitive non-Tactical Warp engines, powered by fusion 'impulse' drives. While other races developed antimatter-based Tactical Warp engines, which allowed them to fight at warp and provide more power for their systems, the Romulans were left behind, as much due to political infighting as to Gorn sabotage. (This is the SFU explanation for the 'sublight' Romulan vessel seen in "Balance of Terror": in the SFU, sublight engines are a common term for NTW engines, as they only allow a starship to fight at slower-than-light speeds.) Eventually, The Treaty of Smarba with the Klingon Empire in Y159 supplied the Romulans with advanced warp engines and a number of mothballed Klingon vessels. These were refitted with Romulan weaponry and cloaking devices (as seen in "The Enterprise Incident"). This technology allowed the Romulans to develop a new series of vessels which proved to cause significant headaches to the enemies of the Star Empire in the General War.
In TOS episode "Who Mourns for Adonais?" it is revealed that the classical Greek and Roman gods were actually a race of advanced beings who had visited Earth thousands of years ago. It has been postulated that the same beings had visited other worlds as well – such as Vulcan, and/or Romulus. While not canonical, the theory did at one time appear on the Star Trek web site, and would explain the connection between the Romulans and Roman mythology, as well as the institutions of Roman government.