Spock (sometimes referred to as Mr. Spock) is a main character in the original Star Trek TV series. He is the only alien (half Vulcan) in the permanent cast, and serves as the science officer and executive officer of the USS Enterprise, under Captain James T. Kirk.
His personal struggle between the Vulcan logical self and the human emotional self is the centerpiece of the character and created some evocative drama. He has been portrayed by actor Leonard Nimoy (except for brief scenes of a much younger Spock in two later movies) and will be portrayed by both Nimoy and Zachary Quinto in the upcoming 2009 film, Star Trek.
Spock appears in Gene Roddenberry
's 1964 pitch
for Star Trek
, where he is described as "probably half Martian, he has a slightly reddish complexion and semi-pointed ears". Writer Samuel A. Peeples
told Roddenberry this made Spock too alien, and suggested that "he should at least be half-human and have the problems of both sides".
In the 1968 nonfiction book, The Making of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry denied that he was inspired by Dr. Benjamin Spock, the renowned child psychologist. He claimed that he was merely looking for an alien sounding name and had not heard of Dr. Spock until after he had chosen the name. By the first aired episode, Spock had become greenish/yellow, and was instead from the planet Vulcan. Leonard Nimoy was cast as Roddenberry saw his guest appearance in The Lieutenant, which he had created and sold as a pilot. Had Nimoy turned down the role, Roddenberry would have approached Martin Landau.
NBC was concerned about the satanic appearance of Spock, and asked for the character to be dropped. Spock did not originally have the logical manner he would soon develop, this instead being a trait of the character of Number One. Roddenberry refused, and Spock was the only character from the first pilot to make it into the second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before". This episode presents a more fully-formed Spock, with his trademark logic. Nimoy liked the character's newly logic-based nature. He said, "This half-human, half-Vulcan being, struggling to maintain a Vulcan attitude, a Vulcan philosophical posture and a Vulcan logic, opposing what was fighting him internally, which was human emotion. The behaviour of Spock has been described as representing in part, a type of normative judgement .
was not fully developed to start with (even the name of his species changed from "Vulcanian" to "Vulcan" over the earliest episodes), and was added to by various writers over the years. The second pilot episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before" establishes that Spock has human ancestry, and the initial episode of the first season, "The Corbomite Maneuver
", reveals that his mother is the human parent. The second season episode "Amok Time
" establishes his family is important, but they are not identified until "Journey to Babel
", which introduces viewers to his father, Sarek
, a Vulcan ambassador, and Sarek's human wife, Amanda
. It is shown that Sarek and Spock fell out over Spock's decision to enter Starfleet
. Spock has a surname, but it is unpronounceable by speakers of some languages ("This Side of Paradise
According to the animated series episode "Yesteryear", Spock was subject to considerable harassment by his peers as a "half-breed" in his youth (this is largely corroborated by statements made by Spock's mother Amanda in the episode "Journey to Babel"), and he was even called that by Captain Kirk's android clone in "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", by Kirk in "This Side of Paradise" as well as by Scott in "Day of the Dove". He was deeply conflicted as to what path to follow.
It was established in "The Enterprise Incident" that, like all Vulcans, Spock never lies. In "The Doomsday Machine" Spock states that "Vulcans never bluff". It could be argued that this is typical from someone who is bluffing, but this appears credible, since Vulcans never lie. In "The Menagerie", however, Spock actually does lie. He tells Captain Kirk about a message sent to them from Star Base 11, ordering them to visit the now-disabled Captain Pike who is living in a special hospital there. They received no such order, as Kirk later discovers when they arrive. He later discusses this with Dr. McCoy, who refuses to acknowledge the possibility of Spock having lied. "...It's impossible, Jim; Spock is a Vulcan. He is utterly incapable of lying," McCoy says. "Yes," Kirk replies. "But he is also half-human. That human part of him is capable of lying." This is one of the more prominent instances of Spock lying. He also lies to Starfleet in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country when the Enterprise defies orders to return to base. Spock, along with McCoy, lies to Kirk in "The Tholian Web" about not seeing Kirk's taped final orders to the two. He later admits this to Kirk while they are sitting in a Vulcan detention cell in the non-canon novel, Avenger.
Spock was betrothed at seven years old to a Vulcan woman named T'Pring, as is customary in Vulcan society. He was meant to marry her during his pon farr period, which is when the seven-year Vulcan mating cycle would cause him to seek a mate. However, in the episode "Amok Time", Spock beamed down to Vulcan, only to have T'Pring challenge the betrothal, in order to take a new husband named Stonn. In a duel, Spock defeated Kirk, whom T'Pring had chosen as her champion, but then gave up his connection with T'Pring.
According to "Yesteryear", to prove himself, he prematurely underwent an important coming of age trial without his parents' knowledge, but his pet sehlat, I-Chaya insisted on accompanying him against his guardian's wishes. During the trial, a dangerous beast attacked the pair and I-Chaya was seriously wounded fighting it. Although they were saved by a relative who had followed them (actually the adult Spock himself who had gone back in time to save himself at this moment), I-Chaya needed immediate medical attention. Although Spock was able to bring a healer, the sehlat was beyond meaningful aid when he arrived. When presented with the options granting his pet a painful extended life or a merciful release, Spock logically chose to have I-Chaya euthanized. That decision marked his commitment to follow the philosophies of Surak and the Vulcan ideals of logic and strict emotional control.
In the episode "This Side of Paradise", when asked by Leila Kalomi whether he has another name, Spock responds, "you couldn't pronounce it." In the episode "Journey to Babel", Spock's mother Amanda is asked about her last name. She replies that she can pronounce it "after a fashion and with much practice".
According to the movie Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Spock had an older half-brother, Sybok, who eschewed pure logic, and was banished from Vulcan for his heresy. Sybok hijacked the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-A) in a quest to find God.
In the 1985 non-canon novel Ishmael by Barbara Hambly, Spock's and Sarek's family name is given as S'chn T'gai. In the USS Enterprise Officer's Manual, Spock's family name is given as Xtmprszntwlfd.
In 2267, he earned the Vulcanian Scientific Legion of Honor and held an A7 computer expert classification ("The Ultimate Computer"). Non-canon novels suggest that Spock in fact held the only A7 classification in Starfleet.
Star Trek: The Original Series
Spock is a main character in Star Trek: The Original Series
. Although initially kept "in the background" due to the concerns of NBC, he was featured in the opening credits, and quickly became a fan favorite. In the show, Spock serves as Science Officer and First Officer aboard the USS Enterprise
. An episode "The Menagerie" included large segments of "The Cage
", and established that Spock had served on the Enterprise
for 11 years under Captain Christopher Pike before James Kirk took over as commanding officer.
A "troika" of Spock, Captain James T. Kirk, and Ship's Doctor Leonard McCoy developed. In particular, friendly banter and more intense argument between Spock and McCoy was popular amongst fans and their relationship was further developed. Part of the classic appeal of Star Trek lies in the manner in which the dialogue of these three friends mirrors Freud's description of the human brain. In this relationship, Spock often appears as the "superego", against Kirk's "ego" and McCoy's "id".
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
is set some years after the end of the original series. Kirk is now an Admiral at Starfleet Command, McCoy has returned to private practice, and Spock is attempting to attain the state of kolinahr
on Vulcan, the elimination of all emotional vestiges. His attempt is disrupted by V'Ger
, and he instead joins the crew of the Enterprise
and offers his services as Science Officer.
Death and rebirth
According to the documentary found on the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
DVD, Nimoy was initially reluctant to sign on again to depict Mr. Spock in the film. He was tempted to sign up to the movie by having Mr. Spock killed off. In the film, Spock, now a Captain and CO of the Enterprise, heroically sacrifices himself to save the Enterprise
Spock's death was deeply controversial within fandom. A gateway was left open in Star Trek II, by having Spock grab McCoy and saying "remember". This is used as a hook by Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (directed by Nimoy himself), which introduced the concept of the Vulcan "Katra", or spiritual essence. The film establishes that Spock had transferred his Katra to McCoy, and the Enterprise crew then proceed back to the Genesis Planet created at the climax of the last movie, to find that the Genesis effect had brought Spock's body back to life but in the form of a rapidly-aging Vulcan child. Eventually, the Enterprise crew unite Spock's body with his katra, restoring him.
In the movie Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Spock plays a key role in the peace negotiations between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets, and then after elements within both governments attempted to sabotage this, an important part in defusing the situation, including exposing his protégé, Valeris, as a traitor.
Spock is generally considered to have married at some point, Captain Jean-Luc Picard once observed that he had met Sarek at "his son's wedding" (in the episode "Sarek". The Star Trek Chronology dates this event between 2327 and 2333, as Picard had graduated from the Academy but was not yet a Captain.
Spock is next seen in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Unification", in which Nimoy appeared at Guild Scale rates to cross-promote the movie Star Trek VI. "Unification" establishes that Spock and Sarek fell out again, over Spock's position on the Cardassian war. In "Unification" Spock is found on the Romulan homeworld of Romulus, attempting privately to bring about a peace between the Romulans and Vulcans, healing a rift between the two peoples that had lasted for thousands of years.
Spock was named one of the 50 greatest TV characters of all time by TV Guide.
young adult novel 'Crisis on Vulcan' depicts Spock's first experience with the ship. He accompanies his father on a diplomatic mission aboard the Enterprise
, and while there meets his future captain, Christopher Pike, then serving as the first officer under Robert April
, the first captain of the Enterprise
. Spock becomes impressed with the humans, and particularly with the logical setup of the ship, which leads him to consider a career in Starfleet, which becomes a serious consideration when Pike invites him to do so.
In the non-canon novel Yesterday's Son, Spock is revealed to have fathered a son with the exiled Zarabeth while trapped in the past on the subsequently destroyed planet named Sarpeidon. In the sequel, Time for Yesterday, his son Zar returns to mindmeld once more with the Guardian of Forever.
Sometime after the decommissioning of the NCC-1701-A, Spock retired from Starfleet service and focused on diplomacy. It was during this time that he publicly challenged his father's position on the Cardassians, which was considered controversial. These events were explored in the non-canon graphic novella Star Trek: Enter the Wolves.
In the novel Captain's Blood, Spock stages his own mock assassination at a peace rally on Romulus following the events of Nemesis in an effort to play himself off as a martyr for the cause of Romulan-Vulcan reunification and exploit the unstable Romulan political climate to succeed in reunifying the Vulcans, Romulans, and Remans.
Various episodes of TOS
revealed different facets of Spock's personality and abilities. For example, "The Omega Glory
" revealed that Spock had the ability to exercise limited, short-range control over the minds of others (as well as in "By Any Other Name
") — an ability never again exhibited by any Vulcan. This, combined with Spock's ability to transfer his katra
, has led some to speculate that Spock possessed more advanced mental and psychic abilities than average Vulcans. TOS
also revealed that Spock is an accomplished musician, adept at playing a form of Vulcan harp
and the piano. He also (in "Requiem for Methuselah
") displayed advanced knowledge of classical music
, as well as the ability to play Earth folk tunes by ear such as "Row Row, Row Your Boat" (in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
). He also possessed enthusiasm for three-dimensional chess
Given his skills at science, math, chess, diplomacy, unarmed combat and his apparently limitless knowledge (best seen in The Trouble With Tribbles), Spock may properly be considered a polymath.
Spock is much stronger than an average human. He demonstrated this ability in Operation: Annihilate!
, in which a parasite-infected Spock is subdued, with some difficulty, by four human Starfleet officers. This ability remained common to all Vulcans throughout all subsequent Star Trek series.
Vulcan neck pinch
Also referred to as the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, the Vulcan neck pinch is a technique used mainly by Vulcans to render another lifeform unconscious by pinching the base of the victim’s neck with all four fingers opposing the thumb. The non-lethal attack was invented by Leonard Nimoy on the set of the season one episode, "The Enemy Within". The script originally called for Spock to attack the "evil" Captain Kirk in a violent manner and Nimoy objected. He posited that Vulcans could project a kind of energy from their fingertips to render the victim harmlessly unconscious. The director and producers agreed to it and it became instantly part of Star Trek history. Future episodes of Star Trek and its later spinoffs kept the pinch but seemed to downplay Nimoy's notion of some sort of energy projection, turning it more into a kind of Vulcan martial arts move; however, it is very difficult for non-Vulcans to master, but still possible (non-vulcans such as Khan
, Jean-Luc Picard
were capable of performing the pinch).
Spock famously performed a mind meld
on a number of occasions to communicate with a creature that did not speak the universal language, or to delve more deeply into another's subconscious so as to retrieve important information not otherwise accessible. This technique involved placing his fingers at key points on the face (or equivalent thereof) of the being in question. After a moment, his consciousness was merged with the consciousness of the being, thus leading to thoughts and emotions being shared by both. This was first depicted in the TOS episode Dagger of the Mind
and then referred to as the Vulcan mind fusion.
In the mirror universe
, in the episode Mirror Mirror
was executive officer
of the ISS Enterprise
. Like his counterpart, Spock was a logical being who was loyal to his captain, James T. Kirk, and chose to warn him when he was ordered by the Terran Empire
to kill him and take command if he did not launch an attack against the Halkans in retribution for their refusal to negotiate with the Empire.
Before Kirk left, believing that Spock would one day become captain of the Enterprise, he planted a seed of doubt about the inevitable success of the Empire, asking Spock if violence was the only logical answer. Spock promised to consider Kirk's words.
As Kirk predicted, Spock later on became the captain of the Enterprise. Spock used the ship as a power base to accumulate influence, and eventually rose to become leader of the Terran Empire. In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it is revealed that he successfully instituted major reforms, turning the Empire into a more peaceful, less aggressive power. Unfortunately, this transformation left the Empire unprepared to fight the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance, which proceeded to conquer it, enslaving the Terrans and Vulcans. This served to show that interference from Captain James T. Kirk does not always result in desired effect.
The version of Spock seen in Mirror, Mirror is most noted for sporting a goatee (to differentiate him from the primary Star Trek universe's Spock), and many references have been made to it in other media where people from "alternate universes" sport goatees.
Behind the scenes
The "pointy ears" worn by actor Leonard Nimoy
while portraying Mr Spock
are a form of facial prosthesis
, mainly composed from molded and painted syntactic foam
. The foam was created by filling a ceramic
matrix with hollow particles called microballoons
, which result in a low density prosthesis with easy wearablilty. However, the process of ungluing the ears was very painful for Nimoy, and meant that he had to stay behind for half an hour each day after filming while the glued pieces of ear were removed.
In popular culture
The Mirror Spock’s goatee
and has now become synonymous with evil twins
and parallel universes
. The goatee has also been used to poke fun at the moral ambiguity of characters in various series:
- Popular virtual pet website Neopets.com has an "evil twin day" every year where the evil twin pets all feature goatees.
- The Decepticon Shockwave was inspired by Spock. Creator Bob Budiansky explained the character is "guided by pure logic in its most cruel and calculating form".
- The progressive rock band Spock's Beard was named after this.
- US composer and keyboardist George Duke's 1976 Solo Keyboard Album features two tracks which pay homage to Spock: "Spock Gets Funky" and "Vulcan Mind Probe"
- US rock guitarist Paul Gilbert wrote a song titled 'Mr Spock' on his Space Ship One album.
- An episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured a parallel universe counterpart of Mike Nelson that had a goatee.
- In the Doctor Who episode, The Empty Child, Rose Tyler says that the Ninth Doctor's actions "Weren't very Spock." Also, Jack Harkness, upon meeting the Doctor calls him 'Mr Spock'.
- Several strips of the webcomic Dinosaur Comics are set in an alternate universe where evil versions of the main characters both sport goatees and make explicit reference to them.
- In an episode of Voltron: The Third Dimension, the original Voltron crew find themselves in an alternate dimension in which their counterparts are opposite of themselves. The alternate version of the Voltron Force's Lance sports a goatee. Lotor, the series villain, drives a reversed colored Voltron that sports a goatee.
- In Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Hercules goes to an alternate realm where he meets "The Sovereign", a ruthless and amoral version of himself who sports a goatee.
- In the webcomic The Order of the Stick, Nale, one of the main villains, is physically distinguished from his twin brother Elan by his goatee. In one story arc, Nale shaves off his goatee and glues it to Elan's face in order to impersonate his brother.
- In Buzz Lightyear of Star Command episode #27, "The Lightyear Factor", Emperor Zurg stumbles across an alternate universe ruled by an Evil Buzz Lightyear, complete with goatee. (The episode name itself is also a reference to another Star Trek: The Original Series episode, "The Alternative Factor".) Evil Buzz also appears in episode #46, "Sunquake", in which he is believed by the "Good Buzz" to have been destroyed, but escapes undetected in the last seconds of the episode.
- In the animated television series Futurama, the recurring robotic character of Flexo was visibly distinguishable from his "evil" counterpart, Bender — a series regular of questionable morality — solely by his goatee, which Bender lacked.
- An episode of South Park featured Cartman's good twin wearing a goatee.
- "Vote For Spock" was a popular phrase used in Southern Ontario to express disillusionment with the campaigning (particularly the poorly executed attack ads) during the Canadian federal election, 2006. Full phrase reads "Vote For Spock, he's the only logical choice". The pun was placed on mock campaign signs throughout the region.
- In at least a couple of Beastie Boys tracks. The Vulcan nerve pinch is specifically mentioned in the song Intergalactic.
, due for release in May 2009, will reportedly take place during an earlier time frame of the original series, and thus Mr. Spock will certainly be a main character in the film and appear younger. On July 23 2007 Zachary Quinto
was cast in the role of Spock. An official announcement was made on the 26 July 2007
which also confirmed that Leonard Nimoy would reprise his role as an older Spock for the last time.