Star Trek – Arena

★★★★ January 19, 1967 Season 1 Episode 18

If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog.

This show was written by Gene L. Coon, Fredric Brown, and Gene Roddenberry

I liked this episode’s plot. The Gorn attack a Federation outpost and kill practically everyone with their weapons. The Enterprise has no idea who these enemies are but Kirk, unlike Spock, felt like they had to kill them or risk further attacks. However, in pursuing them, they enter “Metron” space and these advanced beings are horrified by the brutality of these two races. So, to end the problem, they place the captains of both ships on a barren planet and let them fight to the death and the loser’s crew will then be destroyed.

Star Trek special effects usually are pretty good considering the time. If I get an idea of what’s going on by the special effects…they are fine with me. This one though to me contains a really bad looking alien…the alien Gorn could have been better. It’s the one episode in that I don’t think they did all they could with the alien.


It wasn’t the look of the monster, it looks like a pre-Sleestak from Land of the Lost. It was the mobility or lack of when Gorn was fighting Kirk. it looked like it was fighting in slow motion…so that slowed William Shatner’s movements also. The one bit of dialog that addressed this was Shatner talking about how slow they were in moving.

Kirk’s readiness to follow the Gorn ship with plans to destroy it, placing the Enterprise in jeopardy as he stretches warp capability is huge. He was risking the lives of his crew just so he can catch the enemy and destroy them in retaliation puts him at odds with Spock who questions such rash actions.

In short, Kirk wanted blood in this episode. He didn’t think that the Gorn had reasons at all to attack a Federation outpost. Spock warned him that they need to find out what happened before they just attacked but Kirk would not have any of it. In the end, Kirk gets it and has compassion for his opponent.

The battle gets tense and they stretch it out a little. The first thing I thought of before the episode was finished…wouldn’t it be nice if the leaders of countries had to fight in wars instead of their young?

From IMDB:

William Shatner currently suffers from tinnitus due to an improperly timed special effects explosion on the set of this episode. Both Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley reportedly suffered from tinnitus as well during the remainder of their lives.

The Gorn is not seen until 23 minutes in, almost halfway through the running time. Despite this alien’s impressive debut, and the cultural popularity of the image, no Gorn was ever seen again in a mainstream Star Trek production until Star Trek: Enterprise: In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II (2005) almost 40 years later. (A Gorn did appear in Star Trek: The Animated Series: The Time Trap (1973), which has sometimes been considered non-canonical.)

Ted Cassidy (Lurch of The Addams Family (1964)) has his final Star Trek role as the voice of the Gorn. Cassidy had also voiced the antagonist in Star Trek: The Corbomite Maneuver (1966) and appeared as Ruk in Star Trek: What Are Little Girls Made Of? (1966), which aired in reverse order as compared to their filming dates.

The Metrons (Carolyne Barry) were named after Metatron, God’s other high-ranking soldier in Michael’s army of angels. Hence, their cherubic, spiritual appearance.

In his final speech, the Metron informs Kirk that, because he demonstrated mercy, he will not be destroyed. Initially, they said they planned to destroy the loser, “in the interests of peace”. In Gene L. Coon’s script, in dialogue not aired, the Metron admits that they had, all along, planned to actually destroy the ship of the winner of the personal combat, because that race would represent the greater danger to them. James Blish preserves this disclosure in his novelization in “Star Trek 2”.

Bobby Clark, one of the performers who played the part of the Gorn Captain, visited a Star Trek sound stage 38 years later for the filming of Captain Archer’s fight with the Gorn Slar in Star Trek: Enterprise: In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II (2005). That episode was the first appearance of the Gorn in live-action Trek since this episode.

Comedian and film director Ben Stiller has the prop Gorn head as he is a very big fan of the Star Trek franchise.

The scenes on the planet surface were filmed at Vasquez Rocks, California, the same location used for Star Trek: Shore Leave (1966), Star Trek: Friday’s Child (1967) and several other Star Trek productions – even as late as Star Trek: Voyager: Initiations (1995). The area of Kirk’s fight with the Gorn, in front of a jagged rock face, is known to fans as “Gorn Rock”.

In the original script, Kirk and the alien captain’s battleground had translucent walls, making it seem as though they were in a giant terrarium.

Sean Kenney, who plays helmsman DePaul, played the disfigured Captain Pike in “The Menagerie” episodes broadcast earlier. His resemblance to Jeffrey Hunter who played the original Captain Pike is plain to see.


When a reptilian alien race known as the Gorn destroys an Earth colony, the Enterprise comes under attack by the Gorn vessel. Captain Kirk soon gives chase to the Gorn ship, leading them to an unexplored solar system, gradually (and dangerously) increasing speed. Kirk prepares to destroy the Gorn ship until another race of powerful aliens called the Metrons stops them and forces both captains to face off in mortal combat. The main purpose of this one-on-one duel is to solve their dispute, the winner will be released and the loser will be destroyed along with his ship and crew.


William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
DeForest Kelley … Doctor Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy
George Takei … Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu
James Doohan … Lieutenant Commander Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott
Nichelle Nichols … Lieutenant Nyota Uhura
Jerry Ayres … O’Herlihy
Grant Woods … Kelowitz
Tom Troupe … Lt. Harold
James Farley … Lang
Carolyne Barry … Metron (as Carole Shelyne)
Sean Kenney … DePaul
Bill Blackburn … Gorn (uncredited)
Ted Cassidy … Gorn (voice) (uncredited)
Bobby Clark … Gorn (uncredited)
Gary Combs … Gorn (uncredited)
Frank da Vinci … Lt. Brent (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Leslie (uncredited)
Vic Perrin … Metron (voice) (uncredited)
Ron Veto … Crewman (uncredited)


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

24 thoughts on “Star Trek – Arena”

  1. For a brief second I thought that pic at the top was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle that had become possessed. lol Great point that leaders should fight for their own country in battle.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. We’d have few wars if the leaders duked it out, a wonderful thought. I wonder if the slowness was just due to the cumbersome set creation or the thought that dinosaurs were all slow moving creatures. Great to get the slow-down on this episode!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It looked like it was wearing a big pizza slice. Still for a 60s TV show, which at the time wasn’t even a high-profile hit, I guess it was not bad. Interesting concept about having leaders fight it out…but we’d probably end up with UFC guys being elected for that reason

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well one would hope so, but nowadays I dunno. Biden, Trudeau, probably even Putin…no, they’d be peacemakers…but by 2030 would we not see 6’6″, 300 lb street-fighters with IQs below their waist-size being elected on a ‘I’ll’ kick that tiny (Chinese man)’s ass! I’ll gouge his eyes out!’

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Pr0ps had a pretty uninspired day that day. the costume looks like something the average eleven year old boy with some leftover drapes and a bucketload of plasticine could come up with.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Watch the first move of the Gorn and Kirk…it’s bad. It’s ok after that I guess…the poor stuntman couldn’t move much at all.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. That alien looks like a shrunken Godzilla in some disco outfit, with his eyes resembling two mini disco balls. So there you go, disco is yet another development Star Trek foreshadowed!

    On a more serious note, I couldn’t agree with you more – one wonders how many wars we would have seen in history, had it been the fearless leaders who started the wars going into battle instead of sending and wasting their young people!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. LOL…yea I have one coming up where they DO predict something down to the day of the week.
      Oh yea…I think it would limit the wars that is for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I also like the message suggested here of letting the “generals” fight wars instead of the foot soldiers. Yes the costume was cool looking but unwieldy. So sorry they all got tinnitus 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Frederic Brown is one of my all time fave sci fi writers. Very 1940s noir, he had a side career writing private eye stories and his sci fi has that vibe to it to, alternately world weary and whimsical, dark and light hearted, he could do both beautifully. I never appreciated this episode that much as its quite a substantial rewrite of the short story original that I knew well at 13. Giant lizards just dont cut it when you already have imagined a very alien opponent from the writing! Strange New Worlds, though, has reinvented The Gorn – quite rightly, as its the show most like the original series – and fabulous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve noticed that the 2nd year…the special effects started to go down compared to the first…on the most part…the 1st season is very good with those…but they tended to get worse and worse as it went along.
      Oh I would imagine being let down after the book.

      Liked by 1 person

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