The In-Joke Behind Star Trek’s Darkest Scenes

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

Star Trek: Discovery was a show with many fine qualities, but it was never all that funny. The first season in particular was often deadly serious, but that didn’t keep two of the main cast from having fun in the weirdest possible way. While filming a scene involving a Klingon feast involving a fictional creature known as a krada, actors Mary Chieffo and Shazad Latif began saying “Mister Krada Leg!” in a weird accent and continued doing so for the show’s darker scenes.

A Klingon In-Joke

Obviously, this tale of two Star Trek actors countering dark scenes with a joke will need a bit of context. This all goes back to the episode “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not For the Lamb’s Cry,” which shows how the Klingon Voq loses the few supporters he still had after the death of T’Kuvma, their cult-like leader. Everybody on Voq’s ship is starving, and a visiting Klingon named Kol lures the starving supporters away by offering them food.

This plot leads to a feast scene among the Klingons, and this scene becomes the origin of our favorite two Klingon actors’ countering the dark subject matter with a frankly insane in-joke. At one point, Mary Chieffo’s character has to bite into a huge piece of meat in order to prove (falsely, as it turns out) her loyalty to Kol. In-universe, what she was supposed to be eating was the leg of a fictional creature known as a krada.

Using Humor While Filming Dark Episodes

With that simple bit of information, these two Star Trek actors found humor in a relatively dark episode (this is the same episode that revealed their characters had eaten the corpse of Captain Georgiou out of desperate starvation) by creating a strange joke. They began referring to the piece of meat that Chieffo had to hold as “Mister Krada Leg.” That would have been wonderfully absurd on its own, but they also began to adopt very strong accents when saying this name.

The Klingon Stars Were Usually At The Center Of The Darkness

This was the only Star Trek episode that featured a Klingon feast, but that didn’t end these actor’s bizarre ritual…in later episodes, the two continued their “Mister Krada” joke as a way of lightening the increasing darkness of the show. One of the reasons they likely felt the need to do this is that their own characters were often at the center of the show’s darkest moments. 

Discovery Has Very Different Klingons

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For example, Chieffo’s character tortured, killed, and ate her opponents, and she wasn’t afraid to use sex as a weapon. Latif’s Ash Tyler, meanwhile, had a bizarre storyline in which he was revealed to be the Klingon Voq, only surgically altered to look human. He ends up killing Dr. Culber (don’t worry, the doctor gets better) and has a heartbreaking arc where he and Burnham fall in love, only for her to discover he is secretly a monster who ate her captain.

Using Humor As A Coping Mechanism

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In other words, Star Trek: Discovery had plenty of dark scenes involving these two actors, so we can understand why they used humor as a coping mechanism. Still, we can’t get over how wonderfully silly their in-joke was and how much that silly humor reveals about their working relationship. Fair warning: we like this Discovery joke so much that if we ever catch any of you eating one of those giant turkey legs at Disney World, don’t be surprised to hear us screaming “Mister Krada Leg” at you from across the park.