The many Star Trek TV shows and movies are often centered on members of the United Federation of Planets, which is made up of numerous alien races, including humans. In Star Trek: The Original Series, there was only a single alien aboard the Enterprise. His name was Spock, and he was a half human/half Vulcan hybrid. Through Spock, we learned that the Vulcans try to repress their emotions and embrace totally logical thinking. Spock quickly became the breakout character of the show and the fans demanded more information about the Vulcan race. This led to the Vulcans becoming one of the most important aspects of the Star Trek universe, which has led to a wealth of knowledge on their customs, as well as the secrets that they don’t want outsiders to learn.
We are here today to look into the original alien species of the Star Trek universe. From Leonard Nimoy’s contribution to the species, to the real life town that embraced the culture of a fictional alien race.
Here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Vulcans!
15. Leonard Nimoy Invented Major Parts Of Vulcan Lore
The fans of Star Trek were introduced to the Vulcan culture through Mr. Spock, who was played by Leonard Nimoy. Whilst Nimoy was often overly associated with the character (to the point of being typecast), he was also proud of Spock’s cultural impact, which was partly due to his performance and his additions to Vulcan lore.
In the episode “Amok Time”, we first see the Vulcan hand gesture. This was pitched by Nimoy, as he felt that the Vulcan’s needed a special greeting. The hand gesture comes from Judaism, as a Rabbi performs a similar move with their hands during prayer. Nimoy saw this as a child and it stuck with him, which is why he used it in Star Trek.
The other major aspect of the Vulcans that was invented by Nimoy was the Vulcan nerve pinch. Spock was originally supposed to knock out an opponent in “The Enemy Within”, but Nimoy felt that this wasn’t something that he would do. Instead, he came up with a takedown move, where he could use telepathic abilities to knock his opponent out.
14. The Pon Farr Retcon
The Star Trek: The Original Series episode called “Amok Time” introduced the concept of pon farr to the show. Spock starts acting violently towards his fellow crewmates and insists that they travel to Vulcan. It is revealed that Spock is going through the pon farr, which is a biological function that occurs every seven years in a male Vulcan. A Vulcan under the effects of the pon farr needs to engage in sexual activity with someone with whom they share an emotional bond, otherwise, they will die.
When the pon farr was first introduced, it was clearly stated to only happen to male Vulcans. This status quo was maintained for over thirty-five years, until the Enterprise episode called “Bounty”. One of the protagonists of Enterprise was a Vulcan woman, named T’Pol. The role of T’Pol was played by the very attractive Jolene Blalock. As such, the writers of Enterprise retconned the concept of the pon farr, so that it affected Vulcan females as well. They did this for no other reason than to write an episode where Jolene Blalock gets heated up and throws herself at men.
13. The Vulcan TV Show
Star Trek: The Original Series ended with its third season. The show had performed poorly during its initial airing (or at least not well enough to justify its budget) and it was axed. It wasn’t until the show hit syndication that Star Trek: The Original Series became massively popular. Despite this, it took over a decade for the franchise to return, in the form of the movie series. There had been many attempts to revive the series before this, as both the fans and the people involved with the production were eager to see Star Trek return to television.
One of the many attempts to revive Star Trek involved a TV show that was set on Vulcan. After The Original Series was cancelled, Paramount approached Gene Roddenberry with the idea of a show that was centered on Spock. The show would depict Spock’s life after leaving the Enterprise, as he returns to Vulcan to live among his own people. Gene Roddenberry refused to helm the project and it was shelved.
12. The UPN Mandated Vulcan Prejudice
In 2003, there was an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise called “Stigma“. This episode revealed that T’Pol is suffering from a condition known as Pa’nar Syndrome, which she contracted whilst mind melding in a previous episode. Doctor Phlox seeks out information about the condition, only to find resistance among Vulcan doctors and scientists. It is revealed that Vulcans who suffer from Pa’nar Syndrome are ostracized from society and treated as pariahs. When Captain Archer learns of this, he takes his complaints to the Vulcan High Command and forces them to address their prejudices.
The Vulcans come off very poorly in “Stigma”, which caused a negative response among Star Trek fans. It wasn’t totally the fault of the writers, however, as the concept of the episode was forced on them. The UPN network mandated that all of their shows during the 2002-03 season should feature an episode that dealt with the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This forced the writers to come up with an alien equivalent for HIV/AIDS.
11. Vulcans Are Supposed To Look Like The Devil
There have been fans of Star Trek who have accused the Vulcans of being nothing more than “Space Elves”. The most well-known feature of the Vulcans is their pointed ears, which is shared with the concept of Elves in fantasy fiction (like Lord of the Rings). This isn’t the case, however, as the pointed ears of the Vulcans were created due to budgetary reasons. Creating prosthetic ears was a cheap way of establishing that one of the cast members was an alien, without getting in the way of the actor’s performance.
According to Gene Roddenberry, he intended for the design of Spock to be similar to that of the Devil. The ears and curved eyebrows were intended to evoke the image of Lucifer, which was going to be “provocative” to women. This might seem like a silly idea, but Spock’s design did cause concern at NBC, as they felt it was too devilish. It got to the point where they airbrushed Spock’s ears in the promotional material for the show, in order to remove the points.
10. They Almost Joined With The Romulans
The critical and commercial failure of Star Trek Nemesis at the box office put the franchise on hold for a few years. Star Trek returned a few years later, in the form of Enterprise, which was canceled after four seasons. The failure of Enterprise put the franchise back into stasis for a few more years until the entire series was rebooted in 2009.
During the years between Enterprise and J.J. Abrams Star Trek, there were several attempts at reviving the series in some capacity. One that managed to get far along in development was Star Trek: Final Frontier, which was a planned animated series that would be broadcast online. Star Trek: Final Frontier was going to be set in a darker future timeline of the series, where a long and costly war between the Federation and the Romulans had finally ended. In this universe, the Vulcans would have left the Federation, as they wanted to reunify with the Romulans (something that Spock had been trying to do in Star Trek: The Next Generation). Final Frontier was never produced, so we will never know if the Vulcans would have returned to the Federation.
9. Spock’s Replacement
Star Trek owes a great deal to the success of Star Wars. There had been many attempts at bringing Star Trek back to television after The Original Series ended, but they always fell apart. When the first Star Wars movie was released, it caused a renewed interest in science fiction. This caused Paramount to take a serious interest in reviving Star Trek, which led to The Motion Picture.
The most serious attempt to revive Star Trek came in the form of a sequel show, known as Star Trek: Phase II, which was intended to be the flagship program of a new Paramount TV network. All of the cast of The Original Series were due to return, with the exception of Leonard Nimoy, who was only offered the chance to appear in two episodes. A new Vulcan science officer was planned to appear, who would take Spock’s place on the show.
Star Trek: Phase II would feature a full-blooded Vulcan, named Xon. Unlike Spock, Xon had completely repressed his emotions. He took the commission aboard the Enterprise in order to learn more about human emotions. Xon was intended to conflict with Kirk, as his wholly logical viewpoint would clash with Kirk’s bravado.
8. The Plant Monsters Of Vulcan
When the first season of Star Trek ended, it created a cult fanbase of its own. As the Internet didn’t exist yet, the nascent Star Trek fans all communicated through fanzines and conventions. One of the most anticipated storylines of the second season involved the planet Vulcan, as the fans were eager to see more of Mr. Spock’s culture and people.
The second season of Star Trek opened with “Amok Time”, which involved the crew of the Enterprise journeying to Vulcan for the first time. It is here that we see how violent the Vulcan culture and philosophy can be, as Spock’s own fiance plans to have him killed. Vulcan itself was a hostile place, with an environment that was harsh for humans.
Vulcan has appeared in other Star Trek media on numerous occasions. It has been established that the animals and plant life are also more vicious than what exists on Earth. There is a plant monster that exists in the deserts of Vulcan, called the S’gagerat, which live beneath the sand. The S’gagerats use their many tentacles to drag unwary travelers beneath the sand, so that they may be devoured slowly within its belly.
7. Vulcan Telekinesis
The Vulcan species possesses a degree of telepathic abilities. This forms the basis for their famous nerve pinch, as it is accomplished with a burst of energy that is administered through the fingertips. The other famous use of Vulcan telepathy comes in the form of the mind meld, which allows two individuals to share thoughts. This could also be used to search an unwilling individuals mind for information, or pass the essence of a Vulcan’s personality into another being (as Spock did to Bones in Wrath of Khan).
It is possible for Vulcans to increase their range of psionic abilities through the use of vigorous training. In Search for Spock, the corpse of Spock is carried by Vulcan priestesses, who use telekinesis to move the body without physical contact. This was further detailed in the Star Trek novels, which explained that it was possible for Vulcans to learn telekinesis if they studied at the monastery of Mount Seleya.
6. The Planet Vulcanis
It took time for the details of the Vulcan species to be revealed on Star Trek. The planet Vulcan was not revealed until the second season of the show, though very little of it was shown due to budgetary constraints. A lot more of Vulcan was shown in Star Trek: The Animated Series, as creating sets was no longer an issue. We saw a lot more of Vulcan in Star Trek (2009), though it did not look quite the same as the planet that we saw in “Amok Time”.
When Star Trek was first being advertised to affiliates, the term Vulcan was not the only way to refer to the species. According to early promotional material for the show, Spock comes from the planet Vulcanis, and he is half human/half Vulcanian. Originally, Spock was intended to come from Mars, though this was scrapped in favor of a new planet. The writers of the show went between using the term Vulcan and Vulcanis for the planet, before settling on Vulcan in “Mudd’s Women”.
5. Vulcans On Earth
In the world of Star Trek, the most significant moment in the history of mankind happened in 2063, when the first contact was established between Vulcans and humanity. Dr. Zefram Cochrane had invented the warp drive and used his ship (the Phoenix) to achieve warp speed for the first time. This attracted Vulcans to Earth, which would eventually lead to the forming of the Federation.
There have been many instances of characters traveling back in time in Star Trek, which usually ends with everyone returning to their original timeline by the end of the episode. It was revealed in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Carbon Creek” that a Vulcan ship had crash landed on Earth in 1957. One of these was T’Pol’s grandmother, who happened to look just like her. At the end of the episode, a Vulcan named Mestral chose to remain on Earth, in order to learn more about humanity. Mestral remained among mankind for the remainder of his life, as only T’Pol still knew of his choice to stay on Earth.
4. The Vulcan/Human Breeding Program
While Vulcans might look like pointy eared people with weird eyebrows, they actually have major physiological differences to humans. Vulcans have green blood, which is composed of copper (rather than the iron in human blood). Due to the warm climate in which they evolved, Vulcans don’t need to sweat. There is also the whole pon farr thing, where Vulcans need to make love every seven years or risk death. If that was true of humans, then all of the anime fans of the world would have died long ago.
Due to the differences in Vulcan/human physiology, it is practically impossible for the two species to produce a hybrid child on their own. It takes a great deal of prenatal planning in order to allow a human/Vulcan child to live more than a few months. Spock was one of the first hybrid children to ever live to adulthood (and into his senior years), with many more following him.
3. The God Thing
After Star Trek ended, Gene Roddenberry began a decade-long quest to return the series to air. In all that time, the only project to see the light of day was the Animated Series. There were numerous scripts for Star Trek TV shows and movies that never made it far into production. The closest to ever come to fruition was Phase II, which was supplanted by the movies.
Gene Roddenberry’s first pitch for a Star Trek movie was called The God Thing. The movie involved an older version of The Original Series cast, who are all bored with the peaceful roles that they took after leaving the Enterprise. Captain Kirk would eventually reunite the crew to face off against a threat that would cause them to question the nature of God.
The God Thing never made it to air, though elements of it were recycled into The Motion Picture. Gene Roddenberry has said that the reason he believes the initial pitch was rejected was due to a speech that was given by some Vulcan elders, who scoff at the human ideas of God and religion.
2. Sarek’s Sacrifice
Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation witnessed the death of one of the main characters in the first season of the show. Tasha Yar was killed in the episode “Skin of Evil”. The reason for this death was because of Tasha’s actress, Denise Crosby, who was unhappy working on the show and wanted to leave. She may have regretted this decision, as The Next Generation became a huge hit. Denise Crosby would return to the show as different versions of Tasha Yar and as her half-Romulan daughter, Sela.
At one point, the writers on the show wanted Tasha to return to the cast. The episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise” was originally going to allow the alternate version of Tasha to enter the main continuity of the show. The story of the episode was originally going to involve a Vulcan science team traveling to the past and killing Surak, who founded Vulcan philosophy. This created a new reality, where Vulcans retained their savage nature. In the end, Spock’s father, Sarek, would sacrifice his life to journey to the past and take Surak’s place. He would spend the remainder of his years spreading Surak’s message.
1. The Real Vulcan City
In 1912, a village was created in Alberta, Canada. It was named after the Roman god of fire and many of its streets were named after planets. The town hosted many of the largest grain farms in the country, as well as an air force base that saw service during the Second World War. In modern times, this town is host to a busy tourism industry.
So what does any of this have to do with Star Trek? This town was named Vulcan, which became a popular term for a race of aliens from a hokey science fiction TV show. The town embraced the cultural rise of the Vulcan and became host to Star Trek themed attractions.
The town of Vulcan houses a huge model of the Enterprise from Star Trek V, which is one of the many attractions that is linked to the franchise. There is a Vulcan museum, as well as numerous Star Trek memorabilia that the fans can visit. Vulcan also hosts an annual convention, called “Spock Days”, which attracts fans from across the world.
If you ever wanted to visit the planet Vulcan, then there is a place on Earth that can cater to your needs. For extra realism, you should fight your best friend to the death, in order to impress your fiance.
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