Star Trek’s Best Hero Created To Avoid Adding Another Woman

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

star trek enterprise-d

Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced us to the Klingon Starfleet officer, Worf, and he eventually became one of the most dominant characters in the entire franchise. That’s partially because of Michael Dorn’s basso profundo line deliveries and partially because his later starring roles in Deep Space Nine and Picard season three made him the most prolific Trek actor in history. However, it turns out that Star Trek would never have had Worf as a character if Gene Roddenberry hadn’t been scheming to keep a female commander off the Enterprise-D.

The Origins Of The Next Generation

This bizarre Star Trek story goes back to the earliest production of The Next Generation when a veteran writer of The Original Series pitched the character that would become Worf. Writer David Gerrold wanted the series to have a Klingon first officer on TNG who would effectively parallel Spock in TOS. Just as the first Trek series had a prominent alien in a command role, Gerrold thought the sequel series should continue that tradition with a Klingon rather than a Vulcan.

Didn’t Want To Re-Use Aliens From The Original Series

star trek klingons

When Gerrold pitched the idea, franchise creator Gene Roddenberry was having none of it. One reason for this was that the Star Trek guru wanted his new show to be very distinct from The Original Series, and Worf would effectively be a constant Klingon presence. The Klingons were mainstay villains for Captain Kirk and crew, and in the earliest days of TNG, Roddenberry wanted to avoid featuring Klingons, Romulans, and other overt reminders of The Original Series.

Klingons Were Villains

Beyond the Star Trek creator’s desire to avoid reminders of the earlier show, he was loathe to add Worf to the show because he allegedly wasn’t that interested in the Klingons. According to the late Original Series writer and Next Generation associate producer D.C. Fontana, “Roddenberry just felt that Klingons were totally black hats.” In case you’re not up on Western lingo (time to rewatch “A Fistful of Datas” again), “black hat” refers to the villain in a cowboy film, and Roddenberry may have had a point: in The Original Series and its films, Klingons mostly functioned as flamboyant foils for Captain Kirk.

Some Of The Best Episodes Are About Worf

A mere four months after he vetoed Gerrold’s idea, however, the Star Trek creator decided to put Worf on the show, but not as the first officer. Given how great the later Klingon episodes were, you might think that Roddenberry gave in because he realized how much narrative potential these honor-obsessed aliens had. However, the truth is much sadder than that: Roddenberry allegedly gave the green light to the Worf idea mostly due to misogyny.

Debated Adding A Female Officer

Fontana was pitching ideas for Star Trek: The Next Generation at the same time as Gerrold, and she thought that a woman should be the commander of the Enterprise rather than a Klingon such as Worf. Roddenberry had two very different ideas for a new character from his veteran Original Series writers, and he ultimately decided to go with Gerrold’s idea rather than Fontana’s. Gerrold would later make the explosive claim that the franchise creator did this due to his own negative experiences with women.

Gene Roddenberry Painted With A Broad Brush

star trek synthehol

According to Gerrold, “Gene had been badly burned by women” due to his “bitter divorce” from his first wife, Eileen, who “wanted half the money of Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Because of this, Gerrold claimed that Roddenberry “tends to generalize” and because seemingly “most of the women” he met were mean to him, Roddenberry got the “feeling that all women are mean, even though it’s not true.” Regardless of these disappointing Star Trek allegations, Roddenberry obviously went with the idea of adding Worf to the show, transforming the franchise forever.

One Of Star Trek’s Greatest Characters

star trek worf

While I’m sad to hear David Gerrold’s allegations that misogyny was his primary motivation, I think Star Trek is a much stronger franchise thanks to the presence of Worf. Michael Dorn always knocked the performance out of the park, and Worf served as a constant window into the culture of Star Trek’s most fascinating (sorry, not sorry, Vulcans) alien race. Now that he’s graced three different Star Trek series and four films, I have one question for Paramount: when will you make good on how awful that Picard show was by giving us the solo Worf series we deserve?

Star Trek Newsletter

Subscribe For Bold

Star Trek News

Expect a confirmation email if you "Engage!"