For over 50 years now, Mr. Spock has been the quintessential symbol of all that is nerdy in the greater geekdom of pop culture. Half human, half Vulcan, the Star Trek character is the ultimate outsider, perfectly portrayed by the late, great Leonard Nimoy and, in the reboot, Zachary Quinto.
He’s not at home on Earth, nor on his home planet, finding refuge only in Starfleet. This makes Spock the poster boy for generations of disaffected sci-fi fans who never quite fit in at school or in the “real world.”
The Enterprise crew member has seen several different expressions, from the original 1966 series to the '70s animated show and into the wider franchise of films, spinoffs and reboots. In fact, Spock is the only character to appear in every episode & film of the original series, The Next Generation and the J.J. Abrams-verse.
Having seen so many incarnations, there are quite a few things about Spock that are – to coin a phrase – highly illogical. After all, TV and movie writers aren’t always going to make sense of a figure who’s gotten so much mileage (or is it lightyear-age?). We love our pointy-eared, green-blooded freak more than just about anybody, so here’s some gentle ribbing for when our Vulcan pal simply did not compute.
Here are 15 Things About Spock That Make No Sense.
15 For an Emotionless Guy, He Sure Is Emotional
The perfect expression of Spock’s internal conflict is coded right into his DNA. Born of a human mother and a Vulcan father, Starfleet’s finest first officer is torn between his cold, purely logical extraterrestrial side and his volatile, emotional Earther side.
Supposedly, Spock proudly suppresses his feelings to keep up his Vulcan veneer, but time and again, he just can’t help but get into a tizzy. In the first pilot episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, he smiles half the time and is even snarky. Writers tamped that behavior down as time went on, but he almost wet his pants in “Amok Time” when he saw Captain Kirk was actually alive after he thought he’d killed him.
Though we all know his human half is stronger than he lets on, it took him until Start Trek IV: The Voyage Home for him to say to his dad, “Tell mother I feel fine.”
14 How Was He Even Conceived?
On 21st century earth, we have many interspecies offspring. There’s the liger, a mix between a tiger and a lion. Then there’s the zorse, which is half zebra and half horse. Pretty much any breed of dog is a mix of one subspecies with another, but in all these cases, we are talking about creatures with very similar physiologies which evolved on the same planet.
Now let’s talk about Vulcans. Their blood is green instead of red because it’s copper-based rather than iron-based. Normal blood pressure for them is pretty much the stuff of strokes for terrestrial humans. Their hearts aren’t even in the same part of the chest cavity as humans, but we are to believe that somehow, his earth mom Amanda and Vulcan pops Sarek produced this highly improbable hybrid.
Hey Spock, let’s calculate the odds of that happening!
13 Making Out with Uhura on the Bridge
Yes, yes, we know – alternate universes have alternate rules. When J.J. Abrams famously rebooted Star Trek in the 2009 film of the same name, fans could not expect the classic crew members to be exactly as they were, despite the effort to keep the core characters familiar enough. From the first frame, we were told by the story that the original timeline was gone and the whole 23rd century would be altered by Captain Nero’s time-traveling hijinks.
One choice made was to make Spock a little more... spicy. In the reboot movies, Spock (now played by Zachary Quinto) is less concerned with concealing his emotions, which is fine. And he’s dating Uhura - his coworker. Still odd, but it’s cool.
Where we draw the line is when he makes out with Uhura on the bridge in front of everybody. Not only is that way too un-Vulcan, that’s just inappropriate in the workplace.
12 No Pon Farr Readiness Plan
In the wider Star Trek lore concerning the physiology of Vulcans, there’s a little thing called Pon Farr. It’s a sort of trade off for being so totally logical. Sure, Vulcans can keep their emotions in their pants most of the time, but every seven years, they just have to get it out of their system.
Pon Farr is a huge biological surge that’s like puberty mixed with Viagra all at once, turning the stoic and dignified aliens into the worst kind of Tinder hookup imaginable. It gets so bad, that in the episode “Amok Time”, Spock almost kills Kirk in a mating ritual battle.
The thing is, these events are like clockwork. Spock knew it was coming. He could have marked it on his calendar. Maybe he could have even beamed down to the Vulcan version of Las Vegas to blow off some steam until the Pon Farr passed.
11 Accepts Kirk’s Ultimate Selfishness in Star Trek III
“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – or the one.” Kirk watched Spock die in Star Trek II, when our Vulcan pal sacrificed himself to save the crew of the Enterprise. It’s a supreme expression of selflessness, exactly what we expect from our logical and compassionate hero. Too bad he throws it all out the window in Star Trek III.
In a noble effort to literally save Spock’s immortal soul, Kirk breaks Starfleet law, highjacks the Enterprise, gets it destroyed, risks intergalactic war, and sacrifices his only son – all to find Spock’s resurrected body and return his ka to it. When asked why he did so many awful things, his response flips that line on its head: “The needs of the one outweighs the needs of the many.”
It was a highly emotional moment, and pretty much the opposite of everything Spock stands for - and yet Spock just accepts it.
10 Can Survive Without a Brain
For any true fan of the original Star Trek series, hating on the episode “Spock’s Brain” is just as much a badge of honor as absolutely loving it is. Without question, it’s the dumbest premise for a Spock story, something so silly, it belonged more on the uber-campy Lost in Space than it did on a groundbreaking sci-fi show.
In a nutshell, aliens have stolen Spock’s brain!
Dr. McCoy discovers his empty skull still attached to the rest of his body. Yet somehow, the physician states that the brainless flesh will survive for 24 hours. That’s a full day with no brain! How does the heart beat? How does anything do anything?
On top of that nonsense, McCoy attached a remote control to his head, parading the mindless husk around like it was a LEGO Robo-Explorer. We all know that Vulcan physiology is more resilient than human, but this is ridiculous!
9 Totally Blows Off the Prime Directive
Considering that Starfleet’s Prime Directive is, well, pretty much the most important rule in the galaxy, lots of people on Star Trek break it pretty regularly. The regulation is straightforward: nobody is allowed to interfere with the normal evolution of a society on any planet explored which has not yet achieved space exploration.
Captain Kirk’s transgressions against this First Commandment for Starship personnel are plentiful, but after all, he’s only human. However, in several episodes, Spock backs him up and that just is not logical at all.
In “A Private Little War”, he goes along with arming simple hunters with guns to conduct guerrilla warfare. In “The Return of the Archons”, Spock is totally on board with reengineering an entire society’s answer to violence. The list goes on.
The one time he questions Kirk’s choice in “The Apple”, Kirk and McCoy pretty much compare Spock to the devil.
8 For a Pacifist, He Sure Can Be Violent
Spock, like all Vulcans, is dedicated to a philosophy of logic which praised truth and serves peace. One of the first confirmed vegetarian characters on network television, Spock aspires to be an unimpeachable example of the anti-warrior ethic. Except for all those times he punches, pinches and blasts enemies throughout his time in Starfleet.
He engages in swordplay against Klingons in “Day of the Dove”, shoots arrows at Cappelans in “Friday’s Child”, and even counsels Kirk to destroy a Romulan ship rather than let it go in “Balance of Terror”. The reboots are even worse.
In most of these cases, circumstances are pretty extreme. But this is a guy who makes a big deal out of being a pacifist all the time.
7 Totally Blows His Cover in Star Trek IV
Oh, there’s not much laying on the line in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Just all life on planet Earth, preserving the integrity of our timeline, and the lives of Spock’s best pals. Starting off where Star Trek III: The Search for Spock left off, the crew of the Enterprise is forced to travel to the 1980s to secure an extinct whale for extaterrestial diplomacy.
In order to not screw up future events, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and the whole gang have to find a humpback whale undercover, never letting on that they are in fact from the 23rd century. Except that when Spock encounters a captive whale in a giant aquarium tank, he just dives in the water, in front of a huge crowd, in order to mind-meld with the animal to seek its help. So much for the stealth approach!
6 Way Too Eager to End Unique Life Forms
Besides being a pacifist and vegetarian, Spock is also beholden to the core Vulcan creed: “Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations" – or IDIC for short. This is basically a way of saying that the more different things there are in the universe, the better. But when push comes to shove, Spock is all too happy to kill unique life forms.
In “Obsession", he backs up Kirk’s efforts to destroy a vampire cloud creature, even though it is thought to be the only one of its kind. In “The Immunity Syndrome”, a literal super-giant amoeba is about to split in two, but Spock passes the death sentence on it as it is a threat to the Enterprise (and maybe the galaxy, to be fair).
In “The Devil in the Dark”, Spock totally urges his captain to “kill it, Jim!” when the Horta confronts Kirk – only to have Kirk himself be the one who spares this last survivor of an intelligent species.
5 Original Spock in the New Timeline
This entry may be controversial, as the very topic has been a matter of contention for sci-fi fans since the genre began. It’s a huge question. If somebody goes back in time and totally changes history by meddling with events in the past, what happens to all the stuff that happened in the timeline we know? Do all the people and places created from those events disappear? Or do they all exist in an alternate timestream?
In the J.J. Abrams reboot of Star Trek, the movie wants to have it both ways. On the one hand, the whole original crew of the Enterprise and the whole history of Starfleet has been erased forever. On the other, Original Spock somehow exists outside of it. Oh, the movie tries to explain the paradox, but it doesn’t really add up. Spock is therefore a de facto pawn in a flawed logical argument.
4 Indecisive in Star Trek Beyond
Should he stay or should he go? In 2016’s Star Trek Beyond, Spock just can’t seem to make up his mind about whether or not he’s going to stay in his relationship with Uhura or stick around in Starfleet as well.
It’s not that Spock doesn’t have the right to be conflicted. We all face tough choices sometimes. It’s just that Vulcans are famous for possessing highly disciplined minds, conducting themselves with the utmost dignity. So it’s kind of odd watching him go all Hamlet on the audience throughout the course of the film.
Was this subplot really necessary? It’s not like there aren’t about 500 more things happening in the movie. It seemed like a very unnecessary problem to pose to Spock in the middle of all the other stuff happening in the film, and really doesn’t jive well with his character at all.
3 Arbitrarily Wiped a Bad Memory from Kirk’s Mind
If it’s not bad enough that Spock can ignore the prime directive, what shall we make of this totally unsolicited invasion of Captain Kirk’s personal memories? In the episode “Requiem for Methuselah”, Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to a planet and Kirk falls in love with a beautiful woman who is actually an android created by a genius as his personal girlfriend, and he uses Kirk’s interactions with her to evolve her emotions.
By the end of the story, Kirk vies for her love, forcing her emotionally underdeveloped mind to choose between him and her creator. The strain literally kills her. Back on the Enterprise, Kirk goes totally emo, wallowing in his loss, passing out from grief. What does Spock do? Mind-melds with his best friend to wipe out all memories of her.
Without being asked, he totally violates Kirk’s mind in a single arbitrary decision.
2 He Dates a Lot More Than You’d Expect
Before Spock got rebooted in the 2009 Star Trek movie, Original Spock is presented as being cool as a cucumber, and except for that Pon Farr thing every seven years, never allows lust to get the best of him. Except for all those times he sleeps around, it would seem.
How many ladies has Spock had the hots for? Let us count the ways. To begin with, there's the undying tension between him and Nurse Chapel. Then there’s all the other suitors we encounter in the voyages of the Enterprise. He bumps into an ex-lover in “This Side of Paradise” and even hooks up with her after getting dosed with some space-molly. Of course, there’s his arranged wife in “Amok Time", but then we see him get all flirty with an artsy gal in “The Cloud Minders,” get retro with a cavegirl in “All Our Yesterdays”, and even suavely seduce a Romulan commander in “The Enterprise Incident”.
1 At Heart, He’s Really a Hippy
In a final look at the massive contradictions in Spock’s character, we must examine the utter contrast between the cool, unfeeling thinking machine that is his Vulcan side, and the groovy, crunchy hippy human side that made him such a '60s icon.
We already know he is supposed to be totally logical, yet two sphe loves jamming out on his Vulcan lute, which he does in at least five episodes. We already know he’s a vegetarian – and probably a vegan for that matter. And he’s like, totally into peace, man.
All one needs to do is watch the episode “The Way to Eden”, where the Enterprise encounters a literal commune of space hippies. Not only does Spock grock them, he actually has studied their philosophy of “One” and is hip enough to know their urban dictionary (the term “Herbert,” for example, which basically means “conformist”). He even rocks a total hippy jam with these guys that’s broadcasted ship-wide.
What else does make sense about Star Trek's Spock? Let us know in the comments!