Star Trek Fooled You, Worf Isn’t The First Klingon In Starfleet

By Joshua Tyler | Published

When Star Trek fans think of Klingons, they think of Worf. He’s the only character to star in now three Star Trek shows, and he was also the first Klingon in Starfleet.

Except, in a way, he was not the first.

Many years before Worf took his station serving under Captain Picard aboard the Enterprise D, a Klingon Ensign served on the Enterprise-A under the command of Captain Kirk. His name was Konom, and if you’re a Trekkie then it’s up to you to make sure his name is not forgotten.

The final scene of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

The year was 1984. By then, Star Trek had been off television for more than a decade. It would be another three years before Star Trek: The Next Generation arrived. The franchise only existed in movies and the next one of those, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, was more than two years away.

Star Trek fans starving for new adventures had only one place to turn: Comics. Star Trek comics had existed before. They had a 61-issue run from the company Gold Key from 1967 – 1979. And Marvel briefly had the license in 1979.

In 1984, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock came and went to mixed reviews. And no one knew how long it would be before there was more Star Trek. In February of that same year DC Comics launched its first run of Star Trek comics, and when they did it, they gave us an Enterprise with new additions to the crew.

Ensign Konom: Starfleet’s First Klingon Officer

One of the most significant of these was Konom, Starfleet’s first Klingon officer. Konom appeared in the very first issue of DC’s original Star Trek run, a creation of prolific Star Trek writer Mike W. Barr. He would remain a fixture through all 56 issues. More than a background character Konom became a pivotal figure and one that resonated with fans.

So when Trekkies learned that Star Trek: The Next Generation would have a Klingon officer on the bridge, they hoped they’d be getting a character modeled after Konom. What they got was the exact opposite.

Unlike Lieutenant Worf, Konom was a pacifist and a dedicated family man. He fell in love with a human colleague named Nancy Bryce. They married and adopted a mentally challenged half-Klingon and cared for him in a loving family environment aboard the Enterprise and even during a brief sting aboard the Excelsior.

Konom bravely betrays the Empire to stop the killing. By contrast, Worf aspires to be a warrior and often struggles to control his blood lust. When he has a child, he neglects that child and sends him to live with someone else.

Where Worf grew up on Earth, Konom was raised in the Klingon Empire, even serving in the Klingon Defense Force, before defecting to the Federation. Konom puts everything on the line out of his love and respect for Federation ideals. Worf spends most of his time in the Federation obsessed with figuring out what it means to be a “real Klingon” and idealizing the violent honor culture that Konom rejects.

This first DC attempt at Star Trek comics, featuring unique characters like Konom, Bearclaw, and Nancy Bryce interacting with familiar heroes like Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, was a success. For Trek fans in those empty years, they were what kept the franchise alive in their minds.

While those comic book adventures would eventually be relegated to unofficial Beta canon, that doesn’t mean they’ll be forgotten. And maybe, someday, somehow, the brave and principled Ensign Konom will finally get his due as the true first Klingon in Starfleet.

Star Trek’s Ultimate What If: Admiral Kirk And The Excelsior

Konom’s time serving aboard the Excelsior happened when, after Star Trek III: The Search For Spock no one knew where the franchise was going next. Kirk had blown up the Enterprise in The Wrath of Khan and in order to have more adventures, he needed a new ship. The writers of Star Trek comics decided to give him the Excelsior and, not knowing what would happen to the Klingon Bird of Prey Kirk stole in The Search for Spock, they let him keep that too.

The result was a fun series of stories in which Admiral Kirk is in charge of his own mini-fleet. He’s captain of the Enterprise, and Spock tags along behind him in the Bird of Prey, offering a cloaked assist when needed. Obviously Star Trek IV went in a totally different direction than the one the comic’s writers guessed, but even that was eventually incorporated along with those new characters like Konom.

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