- For additional meanings of "Klingon", please see Klingon.
"A Klingon's honor means more to him than his life!"
The Klingons (Klingonese: tlhIngan) were a humanoid warrior species that originated from the planet Qo'noS (pronounced Kronos), an M-class planet. One of the major powers of the galaxy, the Klingons were a proud, tradition-bound people who valued honor and combat. The aggressive Klingon culture had made them an interstellar military power to be respected and feared. Klingons believed that they had the instinctive ability to look an opponent in the eye and see any intent to kill.
History and politics Edit
- Main article: Klingon history
The Klingon Empire was founded some time in the 9th century by Kahless the Unforgettable, who performed many heroic feats including the unification of the Klingon people when he killed the tyrant Molor. Kahless came to be revered in Klingon society to the point of near-deification, and many aspects of Klingon culture came to revolve around an emulation of Kahless' life. (TNG: "Rightful Heir")
The warrior ethos had been an important aspect of Klingon society since the time of Kahless, but the warrior aspects became much more dominant beginning in the early 22nd century. Previously, Klingon society was regarded as socially balanced, but over time the warrior caste gained greater prominence, to the point where the Klingons widely came to be regarded as a "warrior race." (ENT: "Broken Bow", "Judgment")
Because of their aggressive outlook, the Klingons generally had poor relations with other races after they began to move out into space. Because the worlds of the Klingon Empire were resource-poor, the Klingons developed an intense belief in the need for expansion and conquest in order to survive. The Klingons' relationship with Humans and the Federation was rocky at best. Following the disastrous first contact between Klingons and Humans, tense rivalries and unavoidable conflicts often developed between the two races. (TNG: "First Contact"),
In the year 2154, the Klingons gained access to the genetic material of Human Augments and tried to adapt this genetic engineering to improve themselves. The test subjects did gain increased strength and intelligence, but then their neural pathways started to degrade and they died in agony. One of the subjects suffered from the Levodian flu, which was modified by the Augment DNA to become a fatal, airborne, mutagenic plague that spread rampantly among the Empire, from world to world. In the first stage of this plague, Klingons lost the ridges on their foreheads and began to look more Human. With the help of a Klingon scientist named Antaak, Dr. Phlox of the Earth starship Enterprise was able to formulate a cure that halted the genetic effects of the virus in the first stage. This retained the changes in appearance along with some minor neural re-ordering. The neural ordering caused changes in the emotional make up of the Klingons. For example, the infected started to feel fear. Even though the infected did not develop any stage-two characteristics, such as enhanced strength, speed, or endurance they did not die from it. This left millions of Klingons changed. These alterations were even passed on to their children. (ENT: "Affliction", "Divergence") From the 2270s onward, Klingons encountered by the Federation had their forehead ridges restored. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
Klingons were apparently so embarrassed by the fallout from their failed attempt at genetic enhancement that they refused to discuss the incident with outsiders. Due to the secrecy of the Klingon Empire, knowledge of the change became lost over time to the general population of the Federation. By the 24th century, the reason for smooth forehead Klingons was not widely known outside the Empire, and questions were generally met with a brusque answer along the lines of "we don't discuss it with outsiders." (ENT: "Affliction", "Divergence"; DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")
By 2223, relations between the Federation and the Klingon Empire degenerated to a point of relentless hostility, which lasted for several decades. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; TNG: "First Contact")
The lingering tensions between Klingons and Humans continued to rise, eventually leading to the Battle of Donatu V near Sherman's Planet in 2245, and later erupted into what was considered the Federation-Klingon War of 2267. This war was quickly ended by intervention by the Organians after only four days of fighting. (TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles", "Errand of Mercy") Over the next several decades, an uneasy peace developed that was broken by brief but fierce skirmishes and conflicts (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier). A true and lasting peace finally came in 2293 with the signing of the Khitomer Accords, thanks to the efforts of Chancellor Gorkon and the Human Starfleet officer James T. Kirk. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) Since then, despite several periods of rocky relations (see Federation-Klingon War (2372-73)), the Federation and the Klingon Empire have been steadfast allies, especially in the face of Dominion aggression in the 2370s. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light")
The Klingon relationship with the Romulan people was also extremely unstable. A short-lived alliance and technology exchange notwithstanding, the Romulan Star Empire were typically regarded by the Klingons as a "blood enemy" since at least the 23rd century. Sporadic Romulan attacks against Klingon colonies (see Khitomer Massacre) and interference in Klingon affairs (see Klingon Civil War) continued to sour relationships between the two peoples. (TNG: "Sins of the Father", "Redemption II")
"Even half drunk, Klingons are among the best warriors in the galaxy."
Klingon society was extremely complex. Before its decline in the mid 22nd century and again in late 23rd century Klingon society was based on a feudal system organized around traditional Great Houses of noble lineage, to which various parts of the population owed fealty. The Great Houses are traditionally represented in the Klingon High Council, which is led by a Chancellor.
The decline of Klingon culture is demonstrated in the acts of the Klingons themselves. They stopped caring about their weapons to the point that they let them rust (ENT: "Marauders") and even stopped caring for true honor. (ENT: "Judgment") Sometime after the augment virus took hold of the Klingon Empire a new regime took control turning the Empire into a fascist state that kept tabs on all who served. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy") The old ways returned in the latter 23rd and early 24th centuries respectively.
Males traditionally dominated public life in the Empire, assuming the leading roles in politics and the military with only rare exceptions. (TNG: "Redemption") A notable exception to the prohibition of women serving on the High Council came when Azetbur became Chancellor of the High Council after her father, Gorkon, was assassinated in 2293. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) Women, in turn, traditionally dominated the household and the management of the family's affairs. (DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited") Klingon women were treated as equals except in politics and matters of inheritance. They were prohibited by law from serving in the High Council and cannot take control of their Houses unless they have the money and no male successors of the lineage. Otherwise, Klingon women were expected to exhibit the same physical prowess and lust for blood and honor as the men.
Klingon society functioned through a system of family reputation and honor. Tradition was an integral part of their lives and breaking from observances was considered a grievous insult to society, an insult that is not forgotten easily. An offense usually brought shame to the offender's name for several generations. The highest shame was discommendation, an action by the High Council to officially strip a Klingon of his personal or family honor. Bloodlines and relations were also taken very seriously by any "true" Klingon. Lines comprise more than mere family members. (TNG: "New Ground")
An integral part of tradition was the various rituals that mark milestones in a Klingon's life or the history of the Empire. Most notable of the rites was the Rite of Succession, which a future leader of the Empire must complete with a valid Arbiter of Succession (Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the case of Gowron) overseeing the proceedings. Before the Rite can begin, there was another elaborate ceremony needed to confirm the death of the previous leader. This was known as the Sonchi ceremony. (TNG: "Reunion") Individual Klingon warriors were expected to go through the Rite of Ascension to be recognized as a full adult. (TNG: "The Icarus Factor") If the house that an individual Klingon belongs to is dissolved or falls into dishonor, he can be adopted into another house through the R'uustai or alternative ceremonies that symbolically mark the joining of kinship and allegiance. (TNG: "The Bonding"; DS9: "Sons of Mogh", "Soldiers of the Empire", "Sons and Daughters")
The most distinctive feature of Klingon anatomy (except in those individuals afflicted with the Augment virus) was a sagittal crest, beginning on the forehead and often continuing over the skull. The cranium was encased in an exoskeleton, which possesses a feature known as the tricipital lobe. (TNG: "Descent")
On average, Klingons were larger and physically stronger than Humans, though they possessed a much lower tolerance for cold weather. (VOY: "Displaced"; DS9: "Change of Heart") Spock said once that Klingons lack tear ducts; however, Klingon myth states that Kahless once filled the ocean with his tears, and at least one Klingon, Kurn, has produced tears. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country; TNG: "Birthright, Part II"; DS9: "Sons of Mogh")
Internally, Klingon anatomy was markedly different from that of Humans. There is a great deal more multiple redundancy in their organs, a principle they call brak'lul. This allowed Klingons to survive severe injuries in battle. They had twenty-three ribs, two livers, an eight chambered heart, three lungs, and even redundant neural function and multiple stomachs. Some geneticists believed that the extra organs, notably the third lung, evolved to give Klingons greater stamina on the battlefield. Surprisingly, Klingons had relatively little knowledge of their own biology and their medicine is very poorly developed. This was largely due to their warrior traditions – a Klingon who is wounded was expected to be left to survive through his own strength, die, or to undergo the hegh'bat, a form of ritual suicide. (TNG: "Ethics"; VOY: "Lineage")
It is interesting to note that, despite the anatomical and physiological differences between Klingons and Humans, the two species had very similar nutritional requirements. Dr. Pulaski once noted that, while most Humans find Klingon food unpalatable, usually, "what kills us, kills them." (TNG: "A Matter Of Honor") However, the "tea" used in the Klingon tea ceremony seems to be an exception. (TNG: "Up The Long Ladder") Apparently, the tea concentrates some (unknown) toxic heavy elements found in the soil in which its plant of origin grows, synthesizing a poison deadly to Humans, and capable of seriously sickening Klingons, as it does.
Klingon pregnancies normally ran thirty weeks, but with mixed species, gestation times were shorter. The odds against Klingon-Human conceptions were rather high; however, when successful, Klingon and Human metabolisms sometimes clashed, causing biochemical fluctuations in the mother, which may lead to fainting. Klingon traits remained dominant for several generations, even with a single ancestor; therefore, a child even ¼ Klingon still possessed forehead ridges if he or she carried the gene. (VOY: "Lineage")
Klingons had ridged spines, chests and feet. (TNG: "Ethics"; DS9: "Sons of Mogh"; ENT: "Broken Bow") After birth some Klingon infants experienced a pronounced curvature to the spine, which was correctable by surgery. This "defect" tended to run in Klingon families, especially among females. Federation medicine, fortunately, advanced beyond that, allowing an additional choice of treatment involving genetic modification. (VOY: "Lineage")
Klingon children matured far more quickly than Human children. At the age of only one Earth year, a Klingon child had the appearance a Human child had at about four. By the age of eight Earth years, a Klingon attained the maturity a Human did not reach until about age sixteen. (TNG: "Reunion"; DS9: "Sons and Daughters") When Klingon children began growing into adults, they went through jak'tahla, a Klingon form of puberty. (Star Trek: Insurrection) Like other mammalian species, Klingon females were capable of lactating to breast-feed infants. (TNG: "A Matter Of Honor")
As evidenced with Kurn (DS9: "Sons of Mogh"), Klingons had the instinctive ability to sense the decision to kill by looking into the eyes of their opponents. Worf did not have this ability, probably due to the fact that he was raised by Humans on Earth.
Religion and tradition Edit
- See also: Klingon wedding
Ritual was a very important element in Klingon society. While the Klingons were not a religious people as such, they did believe that deities existed at one time. However, Klingon warriors supposedly slew their gods as they were considered to be more trouble than they were worth. (DS9: "Homefront") Klingons did not believe in fate; however, they did appear to believe in some form of luck. (DS9: "Rules of Engagement", "Tears of the Prophets")
Once a Klingon died, the spirit was considered to have exited the body, leaving behind a worthless shell to be disposed of. (VOY: "Emanations") In the Klingon death ritual, it was traditional for those on hand to howl into the sky as a warning to the afterlife that a Klingon warrior was about to arrive. (TNG: "Heart of Glory"; DS9: "Tears of the Prophets") In some cases a funeral dirge was sung in memory of the deceased, or friends sat with the body to protect it from predators, a practice known as ak'voh. (DS9: "The Ship")
Furthermore, a Klingon who was unable to fight, and hence is unable to live as a warrior anymore, had the traditional obligation of committing the hegh'bat, which was the Klingon ritual suicide. Tradition dictated that the eldest son or a close personal friend must assist. That person's role was to hand the dying Klingon a knife so that he can plunge it into his heart, remove it, and then wipe the blood on his own sleeve. (TNG: "Ethics")
The Klingon afterlife was supposedly divided into two branches. The dishonored were taken to Gre'thor aboard the Barge of the Dead, a vessel captained by Kortar, the first Klingon. Kortar was supposedly the one who had originally killed the gods who created him and was condemned to ferry the dishonored to Gre'thor as a punishment. Once in Gre'thor, the dishonored were watched over by Fek'lhr, a vaguely Klingon-esque figure. While it may be tempting to view Fek'lhr as the Klingon equivalent of the Human devil, according to Kang, the Klingons have no devil. (TNG: "Devil's Due"; VOY: "Barge of the Dead"; TOS: "Day of the Dove")
Those who die honorably supposedly went to Sto-vo-kor, where Kahless was said to await them. However, should a noble warrior die in a manner that might not merit a place in Sto-vo-kor, such as being assassinated in a surprise attack, he may still earn a place if others dedicate a great battle to his name, thus showing that he has earned respect among the living. (TNG: "Heart of Glory", "Rightful Heir"; VOY: "Barge of the Dead"; DS9: "Shadows and Symbols")
Klingon rituals included the R'uustai, a bonding ceremony which joined two people together in a relationship similar to brotherhood. (TNG: "The Bonding") Klingon tradition holds that "the son of a Klingon is a man the day he can first hold a blade." (TNG: "New Ground")
If a Klingon warrior struck another Klingon with the back of his hand, it was interpreted as a challenge to the death. Klingon warriors spoke proudly to each other; they did not whisper or keep their distance. Standing far away or whispering were considered insults in Klingon society. (DS9: "Apocalypse Rising")
When going into battle, Klingon warriors often sang the traditional warriors' anthem, which was essentially an invocation to Kahless and a pledge to win a good death in battle. (DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire")
When choosing a mate, it is traditional for a female Klingon to bite the male's face, allowing her to taste his blood and get his scent. (VOY: "Blood Fever") Klingon daughters traditionally are given a piece of jewelry called a jinaq when they become old enough to select a mate. (TNG: "Birthright, Part II")
Science and technology Edit
Klingon space Edit
Food and beverages Edit
- Bregit lung
- Grapok sauce
- Heart of targ
- Klingon martini
- O'mat Gri T'M pffiots
- Pipius claw
- Rokeg blood pie
- "Hide and Q" (Season One)
- "Heart of Glory"
- "A Matter Of Honor" (Season Two)
- "The Icarus Factor" (holograms only)
- "The Emissary"
- "Shades of Gray" (archive footage only)
- "The Offspring" (hologram only) (Season Three)
- "Sins of the Father"
- "Reunion" (Season Four)
- "Future Imperfect" (illusion only)
- "The Drumhead"
- "The Mind's Eye"
- "Redemption II" (Season Five)
- "Unification I"
- "Unification II"
- "New Ground"
- "Cost of Living"
- "Imaginary Friend"
- "Rascals" (Season Six)
- "A Fistful of Datas"
- "Birthright, Part I"
- "Birthright, Part II"
- "The Chase"
- "Rightful Heir"
- "Gambit, Part II" (Season Seven)
- "Preemptive Strike"
- "Past Prologue" (Season One)
- "Dramatis Personae"
- "Invasive Procedures" (Season Two)
- "Playing God"
- "Blood Oath"
- "The Maquis, Part II"
- "The House of Quark" (Season Three)
- "Through the Looking Glass"
- "The Way of the Warrior" (Season Four)
- "The Sword of Kahless"
- "Return to Grace"
- "Sons of Mogh"
- "Rules of Engagement"
- "Shattered Mirror"
- "Broken Link"
- "Apocalypse Rising" (Season Five)
- "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places"
- "Nor the Battle to the Strong"
- "Trials and Tribble-ations"
- "In Purgatory's Shadow"
- "By Inferno's Light"
- "Soldiers of the Empire"
- "Children of Time"
- "Blaze of Glory"
- "Call to Arms"
- "A Time to Stand" (Season Six)
- "Sons and Daughters"
- "Favor the Bold"
- "Sacrifice of Angels"
- "You Are Cordially Invited"
- "In the Pale Moonlight"
- "His Way"
- "The Reckoning"
- "Tears of the Prophets"
- "Image in the Sand" (Season Seven)
- "Shadows and Symbols"
- "Treachery, Faith and the Great River"
- "Once More Unto the Breach"
- "The Emperor's New Cloak"
- "Strange Bedfellows"
- "The Changing Face of Evil"
- "When It Rains..."
- "Tacking Into the Wind"
- "The Dogs of War"
- "What You Leave Behind"
- "Flashback" (Season Three)
- "Real Life" (hologram only)
- "Day of Honor" (hologram only) (Season Four)
- "The Killing Game" (hologram only)
- "The Killing Game, Part II" (hologram only)
- "Infinite Regress" (Klingon Borg)
- "Someone to Watch Over Me" (photo only)
- "Barge of the Dead" (dream only) (Season Six)
- "Unimatrix Zero" (Klingon Borg)
- "Unimatrix Zero, Part II" (Klingon Borg) (Season Seven)
- "Flesh and Blood" (hologram only)
Background information Edit
First televised appearances Edit
Klingons were introduced in Star Trek: The Original Series, making their first appearance in the episode "Errand of Mercy". The writer of that installment, Gene Coon, modeled the Klingons, metaphorically, on contemporary Russians, making the standoff between the species and the Federation representative of that between the Russians and the Americans during the then-ongoing Cold War. (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 139)
After Gene Coon conceived the Klingons, a name for the species did not immediately come to mind. He took inspiration from a name which came into earshot, that of Lieutenant Wilbur Clingan – a friend of Star Trek Producer Gene Roddenberry who served with him in the Los Angeles Police Department. (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 141; Star Trek Creator: The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry) According to the book Star Trek: The Original Series 365 (p. 141), the series' production staff liked how the name sounded, which led to Coon altering the spelling and using it for the fictional species. However, D.C. Fontana stated, "We never liked the name. We said, 'Gene, can't you come up with a different name than Klingon? We hate it.' But we never [came] up with anything better, so we left it." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 40)
The Klingons originally appeared as fairly ordinary Humans with heavy makeup as well as emboldened eyebrows, with some of the males having mustaches and goatees. Kor actor John Colicos was largely responsible for the Klingon head design. "I had never heard of Klingons in my life before," recalled Colicos. "I said, 'Oh, well, the makeup department is going to know exactly what it's doing.' When I arrived at Paramount the make-up man said to me, 'What in the hell does a Klingon look like?'" (Star Trek: Communicator issue 104, p. 19) Makeup Designer Fred Phillips started the design process by directly asking Colicos how he wanted to look. Despite thinking of the Klingons as the futuristic Russians they were intended to be, Colicos took inspiration from Genghis Khan, as Kor was likewise an ambitious military commander. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 40) "He thought that was a hell of a good idea," Colicos said, regarding Phillips' reaction to the concept. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 104, p. 19) Due to the Genghis Khan influence, Colicos proposed "a vaguely Asian, Tartar appearance," with an alien-looking "brown-green makeup." "Within two hours," said Colicos, "this thing emerged and that was it." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 40) Colicos was pleased with how he had created the layout of the makeup. "I thought I was pretty craft [...] because it only took 20 minutes to put on," he said. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 104, p. 19)
The swarthy appearance of the Klingon faces was actually created with a dark brown cream base, which was applied to the actors' faces. The males' facial hair appliances were lace, glued on using spirit gum, and their eyebrows were made to look bushy. Due to the minimalism of the makeup used, the Klingons were easy to create, from a makeup standpoint, and were therefore able to be shown in groups.
As the makeup procedures for the Romulans were too costly for that species to be featured on a regular basis (despite the Romulans having been meant as an ongoing villain), the Klingons – much cheaper to create – replaced them. (Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, p. 42) "We wound up doing the Klingons quite a bit," D.C. Fontana recalled, "and they became a very good adversary, because once you established them, you had to find out ways to explore them." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 40)
However, even the Klingons' appearance changed within the original Star Trek series; although dark makeup and heavy eyebrows were the norm, the Klingons of "The Trouble with Tribbles" were much lighter-skinned and Human-like in appearance. Regarding this change, Koloth actor William Campbell – one of three male performers who played main Klingon roles in the series, also including John Colicos (as Kor) and Michael Ansara (as Kang) – remarked, "Mike Ansara had a certain gypsy look to him, and John Colicos actually used the name Genghis when describing his character and the kind of make-up. My character in 'The Trouble with Tribbles' was just a guy with a widow's peak and a beard, so basically, we looked like they [the actors playing Humans] looked." (Star Trek Monthly issue 11, p. 53)
During development of the unrealized TV series Star Trek: Phase II, John Meredyth Lucas wrote a two-part episode entitled "Kitumba" which, if filmed, would have established a radically different Klingon culture to the one developed in subsequent series and films. (citation needed • edit)
Later appearances Edit
Beginning with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, improved makeup techniques and bigger budgets led to the Klingons having elaborate forehead designs. Faced with the prospect of having much more finances to work with for the Klingons in The Motion Picture, Fred Phillips initially asked Gene Roddenberry if he could do some very alien-looking Klingons, a request Roddenberry approved. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 104, p. 12) In fact, not only did more finances assist with the creation of a cinematic version of the Klingons for The Motion Picture but so did more time. Both elements enabled Phillips to give "character" to the Klingon faces, which included the addition of dental appliances. (Star Trek: The Original Series Sketchbook, p. 209) The inspiration for the post-TOS Klingon makeup came from Planet Earth, an unsold 1974 Roddenberry pilot which starred Diana Muldaur and Ted Cassidy. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 37, No. 2, p. 40) That pilot featured a Klingon-inspired, warlike race of mutant Humans called the Kreeg who had ridges down the center of their foreheads. An early instance of documentation concerning the Klingons' revised appearance was in notes that Costume Designer Robert Fletcher wrote, regarding the various aliens in The Motion Picture. The note about the Klingons contains the statement, "Spine comes up over head and down forehead (different from series). Hair on side of head as though trying to cover spine." (The Making of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, p. 133) The Klingon style for all subsequent Star Trek productions was influenced by the design of the Klingon bridge in The Motion Picture. (The Art of Star Trek, p. 171)
Gene Roddenberry tried to explain the differences between the The Motion Picture's Klingons and the original ones by saying that the original show had simply never had the budget and makeup technology to envision the species as it should have been seen, so the apparently new Klingons were just Klingons as they were always intended to have been. Despite this, the transformation continued to be regarded as a mystery for decades to come. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 37, No. 2, p. 40) Roddenberry also stipulated that the Klingons would preemptively attack any foreign entity discovered within Klingon space, such as they do to V'Ger in The Motion Picture. (audio commentary, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (The Director's Edition))
Although Harve Bennett originally planned for the Romulans to be the primary villains in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the Klingons were instead made the film's adversaries at the recommendation of Leonard Nimoy, as he convinced Bennett that the Klingons were Star Trek's main antagonists. "That gave us the perfect foil [....] And, of course, Leonard had a marvelous insight into what they should look like," said Bennett. "His knowledge of how we could do it made the Klingons the perfect fit; we had our Nazis." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 30) One unrealized plot thread from the movie, conceived and briefly considered thereafter, was that the Klingons had stolen a Bird-of-Prey from the Romulans (accounting for the reused name). "We agreed that the Klingons would steal the best from anybody," Bennett recalled, "though we didn't have time to show it in the story." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 30)
Klingon aesthetic played into the designing of the Bird-of-Prey, such as Nimoy giving Art Director Nilo Rodis an idea of what a Bird-of-Prey even meant by showing him an image of a Klingon. "I looked at that and I thought, 'OK, I think I understand,'" Rodis remembered. Particular aspects that he took inspiration from, in designing the Bird-of-Prey, were the Klingons' color scheme and that they apparently like decoration. "If you look at the Klingons, there is something fairly gothic and art deco about them," Rodis pointed out. "If you notice, they never wear simple, undecorated costumes; it's all kind of metallic and leather, with piping and stuff [....] Also, even though the Klingons aren't green, they are definitely not blue. They lean more toward gray/green." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 3, Issue 8, p. 58)
Kruge actor Christopher Lloyd once expressed that he thought the Klingon makeup was helpful to performances. "That kind of makeup, when it’s put on well, it enhances what you’re doing and gives you more confidence that you’re going to be able to portray the character and make it believable." 
Make-Up Supervisor Michael Westmore made alterations to the Klingon look for Michael Dorn's character, Worf, on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Westmore previously noted that all other Klingons in The Original Series looked slightly different. (TNG Season 1 DVD special feature "The Making of a Legend", part "Make-Up") The Klingon makeup for The Next Generation was based on the new Klingon look Fred Phillips had developed for The Motion Picture. (The Art of Star Trek, p. 92) "I suggested bringing their makeup down into their face by using noses and teeth, rather than having just a forehead," explained Westmore, regarding how he differentiated the Klingons of TNG from those seen in the TOS-era films. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, p. 25) A unique set of teeth was cast for each speaking actor who was to play a Klingon on TNG. Similarly, an early policy was devised by Michael Westmore whereby each Klingon forehead was cast with a different ridge pattern. However, Westmore soon came to regret this policy. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 3rd ed., p. 21) Especially due to the series featuring Worf as a regular character, the Klingon makeup design for TNG continued to become more refined throughout the series. (The Art of Star Trek, p. 92)
Gowron actor Robert O'Reilly believes that, from The Next Generation episode "Redemption II" onwards, the Klingons developed a sense of humor. "I think the writers started edging towards that," reflected the actor. "They were also scared of it. They didn’t want to go too far. Eventually I think most of the writers went, 'Yeah, we can go there.' From that moment on, I think Klingons could have a sense of humor."  As for preparing to portray a Klingon warrior, Richard Herd – who played L'Kor and, at that time, knew people who had played other Klingons – remarked, "There’s a certain way you have to carry yourself. You have to really be able to project the violence and the anger [....] All you have to do is think of the Spartans. They say, 'They’d rather have you come home dead on your shield than come home a coward.'" 
During early development of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the Klingons were intended to be established as having evolved from a reptilian state. The film, as initially conceived, would also have introduced Klingon tribes, even more primitive and violent than the usual Klingons. These aspects of the plot were discarded because they were thought to be overly expensive. As for the possible ancestry of the Klingons, Gregory Jein – who served as props master on Star Trek V: The Final Frontier as well as on Star Trek VI – theorized that they developed from an underwater species. "My philosophy is that the Klingons came out of the sea originally," he mused, "and the sea was their basic cultural heritage." Jein took inspiration from this belief when crafting many of the Klingon props from the two films he worked on. (The Making of the Trek Films, 3rd ed., pp. 104 & 129)
For Star Trek VI, Richard Snell was made responsible for designing and fabricating the Klingon makeups, enormous numbers of which were needed. Klingon appliances were produced by a staff employed by Snell's makeup lab. "Since the Klingons were to play such a major part in the proceedings," explained Makeup Supervisor Michael J. Mills, "the director wanted them to be as believable as possible. He wanted the audience to watch the actors' faces and not be distracted by the makeups. So every one had to be a custom job – which translated out to be about three-and-a-half hours. Richard Snell did a great job of coming up with all sorts of different designs for the Klingons, and we used the newest techniques and glues and paints for the applications – which was important since these characters were being seen face to face with the principal actors playing humans. The appliances had to be very thin in order to allow the expressions on our actors to come through and read clearly. Ron Pipes, working with Richard Snell, did a lot of work designing the wigs, which played a substantial role in making the characters look more believable. Our hairstylist, Jan Alexander, was instrumental in coming up with various braids and jewelry which suggested a tribal people with a whole heritage and history behind them." (Cinefex, No. 49, pp. 42, 44, 45)
The Klingons in Star Trek VI were given lavender blood specifically for ratings and plot purposes; Klingon blood on television was red. Also, even individual Klingon makeup elements (Worf's head, for example) changed from episode to episode. Besides Michael Dorn and Roxann Dawson, the other Star Trek cast members who wore the full Klingon makeup include Avery Brooks, Colm Meaney, LeVar Burton, Rene Auberjonois, Tim Russ, Kate Mulgrew, Ethan Phillips, and Scott Bakula.
The three actors who guest-starred in leading Klingons roles in the original series were brought back to play the same members of the species in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, comprising of John Colicos, William Campbell and Michael Ansara as Kor, Koloth and Kang respectively. The change in their characters' appearances was puzzling for the performers. Recounted John Colicos, "I thought, 'How do I put this look together with what he (Kor) was? How did he mutate into this monstrous lizard?'" (Star Trek: Communicator issue 104, p. 19) Ansara remembered, "That was my first question to them [the producers]. Why was Kang all changed now? I tried to understand why the make-up for my Klingon had changed so much, with the putty on the head and all of that." (Star Trek Magazine issue 116, p. 40)
The producers told the returning actors their new look was part of the Klingon aging process, explaining that Klingons live very long lives. (Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, p. 128) "They said 'You have to realize that Klingons live to be a hundred years longer than normal and they change gradually,'" recounted Michael Ansara. "That was the excuse they gave me." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 104, p. 18) Ansara also recollected, "They told me that the Klingons grow those bumps and ridged foreheads as they get older [...] The reason we Klingons had changed so much, with the bumpy heads and whatnot, is that we Klingons live to be 300 years old." (Star Trek Magazine issue 116, p. 40)
Due to the lengthy application process, the performers were disappointed with the restyled Klingon makeup. John Colicos complained, "It was unbelievable getting up at four o'clock in the morning to put on this monstrous makeup [....] This new look took four hours [to put on]." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 104, p. 19) Michael Ansara agreed, "I preferred the original look because it wasn't so heavy with makeup [....] I didn't expect four hours of makeup in the morning and two hours to take it off at night." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 104, p. 18) William Campbell, however, described the makeup job for his character of Koloth as requiring a three-hour application process, also expressing that it was discomforting. (Star Trek Monthly issue 11, p. 54) In another interview, Ansara stated it took four hours to remove his makeup late each night, also saying, "Getting in and out of the makeup was difficult, but as an actor, it's part of the business. We know that going into it!" (Star Trek Magazine issue 116, p. 40) By the time Colicos reappeared as Kor in "Once More Unto the Breach", the prosthetics were not so impractical. "The make-up took far less time to apply," analyzed Colicos, "and getting it off no longer rotted my skin." (Star Trek Monthly issue 55, p. 38)
The reason the Klingons were brought onto Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in its fourth season was that Paramount and the show's producers, attempting to overcome slightly slipping ratings in the third season, were trying to appeal to fans of TNG who were not regularly watching DS9. "The first thought we had was to reintroduce the Klingons," remembered Rick Berman, shortly after the announcement that the species was about to return. "I have always felt that the Klingons were the most accessible bad guys Star Trek has ever had. They're the villains that people love to hate and by taking the Federation/Klingon truce and unraveling it, we were not going to affect the plot lines of the movies or of Voyager, since they are nowhere near an area of space to be affected." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 104, p. 9)
Gowron actor Robert O'Reilly was aware of DS9 focusing on the Klingons to a great degree. "When I came on to that," he recalled, "it was sort of a nightmare for the show because, for whatever reason, the writers wanted 20 other Klingons with me. So it was a Klingon show, and [....] the Klingons [were] larger than life. It wasn’t so individual; it was like a massive army coming behind me." 
A story Robert O'Reilly tells in an interview in the DS9 Season 7 DVD is that a long running joke among actors who have played Klingons is that they do not want to appear in the films as, he believes, the only purpose of a Klingon in one of the films was to be killed off. He was proven right in Generations.
After DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations" made the change in the Klingons' facial appearance made part of Star Trek canon, some consideration was given, at about the start of Star Trek: Enterprise, as to whether the producers would try to explain the reasoning for there being two different-looking types of Klingon. Shortly before the series began, an uncertain Rick Berman revealed, "We've thought about it [....] I think it is something we have discussed possibly doing." (Star Trek: Communicator issue 134, p. 77) The later Enterprise episodes "Affliction" and "Divergence" explained the differences, as Manny Coto and his team of writing staffers decided they did want to address the issue before Enterprise concluded its run. "It was an opportunity," stated Coto, regarding the option of telling a story that bridged the two variations of Klingon. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 37, No. 2, pp. 40-41)
Alternate-reality Klingons Edit
|Warning! This section may contain spoilers for new Star Trek material.|
A new look for the Klingons – featuring masked helmets with ridges on the forehead – was created for the Klingon-centric deleted scene from the film Star Trek. Director J.J. Abrams was at first unsure how he wanted the Klingons in the film to look. Costume Designer Michael Kaplan recounted, "J.J. said, 'I don't really have an idea exactly what they should look like, but I do want them to be really, really, really scary.'" It was Abrams who devised using helmets, rather than creating full-facial Klingon makeups. ("Klingon Wardrobe" featurette, Star Trek (Three disc Blu-ray)) Despite the movie's script describing these masks, the script also refers to the Klingons as having "hideous faces" barely visible underneath. 
Once the helmets were designed, the Klingons' facial features were considered. Joel Harlow, who created the makeup designs for the Vulcans and Romulans in the film, stated, "The Klingons were a race that really wasn't addressed makeup-wise until, you know, maybe a couple weeks before we shot it." The makeup included a small part of the brow to be seen through the helmet, as some of the Klingons were to be shown in close-up. Harlow noted, "We knew that there had to be something there other than a paint job." Harlow, who sculpted the brow segment himself, felt it was fortunate that only a small portion of the brow had to be visually updated. The only other element of the makeup were faux beards. ("Klingons" featurette, Star Trek (Three disc Blu-ray))
Before it was even confirmed that his production company Bad Robot would be involved in a sequel to the Star Trek film, J.J. Abrams was highly interested in including Klingons in such a movie. (deleted scene "Prison Interrogation and Breakout" audio commentary, Star Trek (Special Edition & Three disc Blu-ray)) Once his connection to the film was announced, Abrams conceded that "it would be hard not to" introduce them in the alternate reality. (SFX, issue #200, p. 60) Screenwriter Roberto Orci also felt the pressure to incorporate the species in the sequel. "Some fans really want to see Klingons, and it's hard not to listen to that," he admitted. "The trick is not to do something that's been seen before just because you think it will be a short cut to likeability." (SFX, issue #200, p. 61)
Joel Harlow predicted that the Klingons would be featured in the sequel to the film Star Trek, saying, "That's gonna be a great challenge because the Klingons, I think, more than any other alien race beside the Vulcans, are known worldwide. So, how do you update that?" ("Klingons" featurette, Star Trek (Three disc Blu-ray)) Furthermore, Makeup Designer Barney Burman wanted to give the Klingons a new facial design for the sequel. "I would like to do the same kind of treatment on them that was done with the Romulans," he said, "and bring them into the new millennium." (SFX, issue #200, p. 60) Head Creature Designer Neville Page was also eager for the Klingons to return. In October 2010, he named them as "the one" species he would most like to tackle in the sequel. He proceeded to explain, "My approach would be to try and come up with something that's a unique look but is still a Klingon obviously. Because I think if I did them really tall like say 9' and instead of brown made them blue, I might get into a little trouble! But I would try think about them as real deal people -- and I know other designers have -- but really give them a history and a motivation. Understand why they're dressed the way they are. Understand their rationale for long hair and facial hair. Make sense of those physical features which they typically have, which are the ridged foreheads." Page added that, not being entirely sure how he would tackle the species, he had started contemplating ways to distinguish Klingon races; "There are different physiological ticks even in the Klingon world. Maybe they are all brown, but the ridges are the African ones, the fewer ridges are the Asian ones. I don't know."  Recognizing the Klingons' popularity, Page stated, "As much as we wanna bring something fresh to the table, we also want to make sure that it is respectful to the culture. I studied [the] Klingon [language] quite a bit, and spoke to a lot of people, the Klingon people at Comic-Con, people who role-play that world. There was this one treatment, a piercing element that the Klingons have, and few would recognise it, but those who are serious fans will catch it."
The actors playing Klingons in Star Trek Into Darkness were cast if they looked intimidating. Props Master Andy Seigel remembered, "We thought, ‘Okay, these guys should be badass.’ We cast all real imposing guys and they are scary.”  Page said, "One thing I tried to do with the Klingons, which was a tough one, is make them sexy: a beautiful-ugly group of men. I think we got it. Not that the previous actors were ugly, but it was a very conscious choice of who we cast, a very conscious sculpting of the Klingon form to make them look sexy. In a way."
Both the helmeted Klingons and a new facial prosthetic design for the species appear on-screen in Star Trek Into Darkness, the latter of which was thought up by Neville Page. While trying to determine the best way to design these Klingons, the team responsible for them encountered some difficulties. The group specifically realized that, by using massive blocks of foam rubber on the faces of the performers, they would end up making all the actors look exactly the same, whereas the creative team intended for each individual member of the species to be different-looking. To fix this predicament, the makeup team endeavored to leave the faces more exposed and used multiple prosthetic pieces, allowing for more expressive facial movements.  According to Make-Up Department Head David Anderson, Neville Page and J.J. Abrams "got pretty far out there" with their Klingon facial concept designs before "it started to come back." Stated Anderson, "Everyone was trying to pay homage to the fans' idea of the real race while wanting to innovate something new...." (Empire, Issue 287, p. 87) Indeed, Anderson discovered that he didn't want to overly alter what had become an iconic look. “It’s a real balancing act," he noted. "You don’t want to stray too far, but you also don’t want to go back and cookie-cut the exact same thing. There have been a lot of advances and we have the opportunity to do a new, fresh pass without losing anything." 
The popularity of the Klingons has grown over time. As such, they gained even more fans as aggressive allies of the Federation than they had as its enemies. By 2010, the Klingons had become the most popular alien species from the entire Star Trek franchise, Vulcans notwithstanding. (Star Trek: The Original Series 365, p. 139)
One production staffer who enjoyed working with Klingons, on both DS9 and Enterprise, is James L. Conway; from the episodes he directed, the ones that included Klingons are "The Way of the Warrior", "Shattered Mirror", "Apocalypse Rising", "Broken Bow" and "Judgment". "I love doing scenes with Klingons," he raved, "I [did] a lot of Klingon scenes over the years, on Star Trek, and I never got tired of it. It was so much fun to do." ("Broken Bow" audio commentary, ENT Season 1 Blu-ray)
Over the years between The Motion Picture and "Trials and Tribble-ations", several fan-devised theories for the discrepancies between the two main forms of Klingons were postulated. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 37, No. 2, p. 40) One suggestion, relayed by Richard Arnold, was that the two variants of Klingon were from different hemispheres of the Klingon homeworld than one another. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 104, p. 12)
Following the return of Kor, Koloth and Kang in "Blood Oath", fans wanted those Klingons to return, despite Koloth and Kang dying in the aforementioned episode. "Of course, a lot of them have speculated about how they could bring us back together again – such as the fact that maybe we weren't completely dead because we have two hearts," acknowledged William Campbell. He tended to think it wouldn't be surprising if the trio of Klingons did indeed somehow make a comeback, despite this not ultimately happening. (Star Trek Monthly issue 11, p. 54)
The only time the Klingon symbol is seen in the original series is in TOS: "Elaan of Troyius", and the high spire is actually facing right, not straight up as the subsequent versions are. Also, on the original Klingon ship model (the camera angles never showed it on the series), it was facing to the right there as well. It was probably meant to be that way originally, but series executives and concept designers likely found it looked better pointing straight up.
The infamous Klingon saying, "Today is a good day to die," actually originated from the Lakotan warrior Crazy Horse, while the proverb, "Revenge is a dish best served cold," paraphrased by Khan in Star Trek II, is actually a saying of the Pashtun people of South Asia.
In the novel Summon the Thunder, part of the Star Trek: Vanguard series, the Klingons who had a Human appearance (descendants of the victims of the Klingon Augment virus) are referred to as "QuchHa", or "the unhappy ones". They usually served in their own units although they also were known to mix with the rest of the fleet on occasion.
"Against Their Nature", the first installment of "Star Trek: Klingons - Blood Will Tell", an IDW Comics series which tells the stories of "Errand of Mercy", "The Trouble with Tribbles", "A Private Little War", and "Day of the Dove" from the Klingon point of view, suggests that, while Phlox and Antaak's cure removed Augment strength and Augment intelligence, those affected retained the superior ambition of Augments, and as such these Klingons were largely responsible for the Empire's expansion in the century between Enterprise and TOS, eventually becoming powerful enough to achieve a majority on the High Council.
In the novel Pawns and Symbols, Klingons are discovered to be color-blind in the Human sense, unable to distinguish red from black. It is also discovered that their vision extends into the ultraviolet, to 32,000 Ångströms.
In the novel Ishmael, the Klingons are described as having been economically conquered and uplifted by the Karsid empire. The Klingons then rebelled and overthrew the Karsids, obtaining their high technology. This was given as one reason for why the Klingons were the way they were, and also how they could have developed star-faring technology given their current social structure.
In Star Trek Online, the Klingons are once again enemies with the Federation by 2399, having taken advantage of the Romulans by conquering much of their territory in the wake of the death of Shinzon and then the destruction of Romulus. The Klingons have also conquered the Gorn, the Orions, and the Nausicaans. Evidently, Klingons are seen joining Starfleet, if unlocked.
Popular culture Edit
On January 10, 2007, Congressman David Wu made a speech on the House of Representatives floor referring to George Bush's staff as Klingons with regard to the Iraq War. Wu, an admitted fan of Star Trek, said he was making a reference to the title of James Mann's recent book Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet (ISBN 0670032999). In the book, Mann writes that "Vulcans" is a nickname that President Bush's foreign policy advisory team in the 2000 campaign gave itself, originating from the large statue of the Roman god Vulcan in Bush adviser Condoleezza Rice's hometown of Birmingham, Alabama.
Wu said that unlike "the Vulcans of Star Trek", who "make decisions based on logic and fact", Rice and her cadre behave more like the warlike Klingons, saying, "there are Klingons in the White House". Wu continued that unlike "real Klingons", who are also known as fierce warriors, those in the White House "have never fought a battle of their own". He concluded "don't let faux Klingons send real Americans to war."
On January 16, 2007, comedian Jon Stewart dedicated a short segment of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to talk about this speech. He was joined in this discussion by Leonard Nimoy and George Takei (Spock and Hikaru Sulu, respectively). In the discussion Nimoy stated that the analogy was weak, citing that while Klingons are warlike, they adhere to a strict code of honor.