Star Trek – Errand Of Mercy

★★★★ March 23, 1967 Season 1 Episode 26

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 and Gene Roddenberry

This episode introduces one of the most famous enemies of anyone in TV or movies. The Klingons are up there with the Daleks and Storm Troopers. 

The Enterprise must beat the Klingons to a planet that is of significant strategic importance between the Klingon Empire and the Federation’s realm of control. This planet is known as Organia and appears to be technologically inferior to humans and Klingons alike. Kirk pleads with its council to side with the Federation in an imminent war with the Klingons in order to avoid occupation but the Organians seem unperturbed by any of this.

The Organians can be super annoying at times. We all want peace but they refused to put up any defense at all against the coming Klingons. They gave a vibe of “everything will be alright” and didn’t seem concerned about anything really. At first, I thought they were way too naive. It’s great being peaceful but not defending yourself did not make sense. There is a surprise at the end and we find out that the Organians are not what they seem. 

Kirk never even tries to understand the Organians… he assumes he’s so far above them that they can’t even understand the trouble they find themselves in.


This episode serves as a very good introduction to the Klingons. We get to know what they are all about…we also see the similarities between them and Starfleet. At the end of the episode, Kirk looks back and realizes he’s not the biggest fish in the pond like he originally presumed. A fun episode made all the more memorable by John Calicos as the merciless Klingon Kor, the actor makes a truly great villain.


The Organians then reveal themselves to be highly-evolved incorporeal beings composed of pure energy. They put a stop to the coming war by making their weapons useless. They left Kirk and Kor to ponder what might have been (a disappointed Kor says that war between them ‘would have been glorious’).

From IMDB:

Introduces the Klingon Empire. Klingons were named after Gene Roddenberry’s friend, Bob Clingan.

John Colicos intended to reprise the role of Captain Kor in a later episode Star Trek: Day of the Dove (1968), but scheduling conflicts with Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) prevented this. The role of Captain Kang (Michael Ansara) was written to take the place of Kor, and the performances of both actors were so excellent that they became equally legendary.

The Klingon Lieutenant played by Victor Lundin walks into the room ahead of John Colicos (Kor), making him the first Klingon to appear on screen in any Trek production, although, in a prior scene, several Klingons are seen walking through the village.

The baldric that Kor wore was reused for Worf during the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987). When it was exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution as part of a Star Trek retrospective in the 1990s, the material could clearly be seen to be burlap sacking, painted gold. The same exhibit showed that the buckles of the Klingon belts were pieces of bubble pack, with the bubbles painted silver to resemble metal studs.

In the original broadcast, we never saw visuals of the Klingon vessels either on the view screen or on exterior shots, just explosions on the view screen where the Klingon vessels were supposed to be. In the “Remastered” release (2006), new shots of the D7 Klingon Battle Cruisers, designed and built by art director Walter M. Jefferies, were digitally inserted into various shots, providing new visuals of the Klingon ships that were not present before. Due to this addition, this would now officially make this the first episode of the series to feature the D7s. Originally, the D7s did not appear until the Third Season of the series and the original first episodes to feature them were Star Trek: The Enterprise Incident (1968) and Star Trek: Elaan of Troyius (1968), which were aired in reverse order from when they were filmed.

The entrance of the Klingon headquarters is the same building as the main gate to the Organian village, filmed from a longer distance and different angles.

This is the first episode in which Sulu is shown sitting in the command chair, although he had previously commanded the bridge from the helm position in Star Trek: Arena (1967). Scott, who doesn’t appear in this episode, had commanded the Enterprise in the absence of Kirk and Spock in Star Trek: A Taste of Armageddon (1967), in which Sulu didn’t appear. The second season would establish Scott as senior to Sulu in the command structure.

This is the last episode in which the term “Vulcanian” is used to refer to Vulcans. Both “Vulcanian” and “Vulcan” are used at different points in the episode: Kor uses “Vulcanian” and the Klingon lieutenant uses “Vulcan”, both in reference to Spock.

An audio clip of Spock’s line about “pure energy” was used by the band Information Society in their song Information Society: What’s on Your Mind? (Pure Energy) (1988). The song reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and Leonard Nimoy was given a “Special Thanks” in the song’s credits.

Popularly known as “The Vietnam Story”, for its obvious allusions to Vietnam and its abuse by the colonial powers.

The set where Kirk and Spock shoot the two Klingons is the same set used in Star Trek: The Cage (1966) where Captain Pike kills the giant warrior with a spear.

One of only a few episodes where a blue-shirted crewman is seen at helm.

D.C. Fontana thought the Klingons were made the regular adversaries of the series because they didn’t need any special (and expensive) make-up like the Romulans, whom she thought to be much more interesting.

In the script, the Klingons were described simply as “Oriental, hard-faced.”

The scene where Kirk and Spock stun the guards and break into the Klingon headquarters was filmed at sunlight using a “day-for-night” filter.

Kor was also set to appear in Star Trek: Day of the Dove (1968) and Star Trek: The Trouble with Tribbles (1967), but John Colicos was unavailable and other Klingon characters were written in. A script was written for Kor for the fourth season, but the show was cancelled after the third season, and he never got his chance to appear again. (Kor did appear in Star Trek: The Animated Series: The Time Trap (1973), but was voiced by James Doohan.) Colicos was also the person who gave the Klingons their dark-skinned, mustached look. He said he was going for the “Genghis Khan” look. Makeup artist Fred B. Phillips agreed on it, and conceived the Klingons in this fashion. He did eventually reprise his role in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Blood Oath (1994), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Sword of Kahless (1995), and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Once More Unto the Breach (1998).

Kor makes appearances in quite a number of Star Trek novels including “The Tears of the Singers”, in which he allies with Kirk first against human criminals and then against a mutiny aboard his own ship. John Colicos reprised the role of a now-elderly Kor in a few episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993).

John Colicos (Kor) would go on to play another iconic villain in a space opera television show: Lord Baltar in the original Battlestar Galactica (1978).

The shot of Enterprise hit by magnetic pulses was a stock shot of energy bolts hitting the ship, the corresponding live-action sequences used a buzzing electric effect that would be reused for the Klingon Bird-of-Prey firing effect in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984). The shot of Enterprise firing was also a re-use. This time the white bolts shot out of the ship are said to be phasers, even though in other appearances the same effect represents photon torpedoes. The script specified that the battle should be depicted using stock footage from Star Trek: Balance of Terror (1966) and Star Trek: Arena (1967).

John Colicos was director John Newland’s first and immediate choice for the role of Kor. He got the script only two hours before flying to Los Angeles from Toronto, and read it on the plane.

A comic book published by IDW Comics in April 2007, “Against Their Nature”, told this story from the Klingon point of view.

The episode title comes from “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby” by Charles Dickens: “It is an errand of mercy which brings me here. Pray, let me discharge it.” Nearly 40 years later, a passage from Nicholas Nickleby was discussed in a subplot of Star Trek: Enterprise: Cold Station 12 (2004).

The Organian ‘fortress’ that is observed in the distance and remarked on by Spock (and later established as the Klingon occupation force base of operations) is the Citadelle Laferrière, a famous Haitian landmark on Bonnet à l’Evêque mountain near Nord, Haiti.


With the breakdown of peace negotiations, the Federation finds itself at war with the Klingon Empire. The Enterprise is ordered to the planet Organia in order to ensure that the Klingons are prevented from using the planet as a base. They arrive to find a peace-loving population who seem to know little of war or violence and don’t see a threat, even after the Klingons arrive in force on the planet. While Kirk and the Klingon commander Kor jockey for position, the Organians refuse to support either side and both commanders soon learn that the Organians have a good reason not to fear or support either of them.


William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
John Abbott … Ayelborne
John Colicos … Kor
George Takei … Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu
Nichelle Nichols … Lieutenant Nyota Uhura
Peter Brocco … Claymare
Victor Lundin … Lieutenant
David Hillary Hughes … Trefayne
Walt Davis … Klingon Soldier
George Sawaya … Second Soldier
Bobby Bass … Klingon Guard (uncredited)
Bill Blackburn … Organian villager (uncredited)
John Blower … Organian Villager (uncredited)
Gary Combs … Klingon Guard (uncredited)
Frank da Vinci … Brent / Organian villager (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Leslie (uncredited)
Basil Poledouris … Klingon (uncredited)
Paul Power … Elder (uncredited)
Ron Veto … Harrison / Organian villager (uncredited)


Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

18 thoughts on “Star Trek – Errand Of Mercy”

    1. I guess they thought it would last longer and turn into a more recurring theme? Wow, what about those sackcloth gold sashes and cheap-ass silver painted belt buckles? Budget restraints cutting deep even then.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hesitant to be critical, but when people I worked with started doing the Klingon talk, I was like ‘I’m outta here…you guys are ‘ well, probably something not complimentary!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh yea…I knew a guy like that also. He loved Star Trek and was a true Trekkie….I haven’t talked to him in years.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. NBC was not really fond of this show. Without Lucille Ball, it never would have seen the light of day. Everything was as cheap as possible. Roddenberry pushed to get the three seasons, as that was the only way to get into syndication. After that, Roddenberry wanted movies (original cast). He had to battle the Network all the way. By the time The Next Generation showed up, the big three were still pains in the ass, including the new Fox network. TNG was filmed as first-run syndication and sent to independent stations. They basically had to flip-off the Networks and move on.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. You found a lot of good info on Kor. Colicos is perfect for the role and I’m glad he convinced them to give the Genghis Khan look. So funny about the costume. It’s a good episode and am glad the inhabitants of the planet had protection. Many innocent places are not so lucky. Did not realize this episode was a nod to Viet Nam, but I’m sure that anyone who was involved in the war could see the acknowledgement.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes I could see it after I read that. At first I was confused…wondering if the citizens would get slaughtered…but no…they were the strong and smart ones.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘We’re here to protect you from THEM!’ ‘No, no WE’RE here to protect you and our- errrr, sorry, your land from THEM!’ The old colonial protection racket enters the space race.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Watching that lil clip you added I think if I was on the bridge at the end I would have said, “WHOA Tex!! You wanna go jumping to warp factor 7 after we just took a few proton torpedoes up the ass??? Don’t you think we ought to fix the damage first then MAYBE try warp 3??”

    Liked by 1 person

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