Alien lizards, pig men and an angry oil slick – Star Trek’s 8 lamest aliens ever

Star Trek first hit our screens in 1966. Since then there have been seven live action series – with at least two more on the way – and countless “aliens’ brought to the screen with a mixture of acting, special effects, puppetry and wishful thinking.

It’s fair to say that special effects technology has moved on a little in the past 55 years and that all things considered the production designers and makeup artists on Trek’s six live-action shows did a pretty impressive job of cranking out new extraterrestrials once a week on a fairly limited budget.

But inevitable there have been a few stinkers along the way. Here is the Daily Star’s roundup of the very worst of Star Trek.

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Tellarites


Star Trek Original Series episode Journey to Babel

Tellarites are, not to put too fine a point on it, big fat pig-men. They argue for fun and bathe in mud.

Veteran Trek make-up designer Fred Phillips complained that he had been given almost no time to create the Tellarite prosthetics.

In the show, the pig-faced aliens have a superior manner which comes in part from the shoddy prosthetics.

John Wheeler, the first actor to play a Tellarite on screen had trouble seeing through the pig-mask on set and was constantly angling his head back and “looking down his snout” at the other actors.

Pakleds


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Star Trek The Next Generation episode Samaritan Snare

To be entirely fair to the Next generation productions designers, Pakleds are supposed to look a little silly. With lumpy prosthetics underneath their eyes and strange ‘bird wing’ eyebrows.

Chubby, lazy and seemingly incapable of achieving long-range space travel without stolen technology, the “rotund, lethargic scavenger race” are quite intentionally the most rubbish aliens on the show.

Writer Robert L. McCullough explained: In all these space shows, the aliens are so damn smart and sophisticated, I thought, 'How about having them come across as dummies?'

Balok


Star Trek Original Series episode The Corbomite Maneuver

Presented first as a creepy triangular-faced puppet before revealing his true appearance as a giant baby with strangely bushy eyebrows, Balok flies a cube-shaped ship with advanced weaponry that causes one crewman to completely freak out.

Series makeup artist Fred Phillips originally wanted to shave seven-year-old actor Clint Howard's head for the part, but Howard’s dad refused and with the high definition Trek Blu-ray release it’s quite clear that Balok is wearing an unconvincing bald cap.

A fun fact: Clint Howard went on to appear in Gentle Ben and is brother of Ron, so always ends up in his movies.

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Despite Balok’s peculiar behaviour Spock liked the baby-faced explorer, claiming that: “In some manner he was reminiscent of my father.”

The crewman that freaked out at the beginning of the episode eventually goes off with Balok and is – in true Star Trek style – never mentioned again.

Ornithoids


Star Trek Original Series episode Catspaw

Presenting themselves first as a bearded wizard and a strikingly attractive British woman with a great pile of Sixties hair, Korob and Sylvia the Ornithoids are revealed late in the episode to be a pair of tiny puppets that vaguely resemble fishing lures.

The episode, first broadcast to coincide with Halloween 1967 revolves around the idea of advanced technology looking like magic, but no amount of onscreen magic can hide the fact that the two fuzzy blue puppets representing the aliens’ actual form

In the modern era the strings used to operate the puppets would probably have been erased using digital trickery but in 1967 they were simply used to suspend the viewers’ disbelief.

Armus

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Star Trek The Next Generation episode Skin of Evil.

As described in the episode, Armus is supposedly a physical manifestation of evil from the bodies of an ancient race.

In appearance, he’s essentially a tempered oil slick that stands up now and then, to take the form of a slimy swamp thing that can fire some kind of death ray from its fingers.

Impressively, the Armus costume was created entirely with a suit that a stuntman wore while being lowered into a pit filled with printer’s ink with a powdered fibre drink added to provide extra gloopiness.

Not impressively, the costume looked like a melted bin-bag in which the stunt man could barely breathe.

Gorn


Star Trek Original Series episode Arena
The Gorn was a big, beefy, humanoid crocodile that was forced by super powerful aliens to get into a fist fight with Captain Kirk.

With limited reach and woeful footwork the Gorn has no answer for Kirk’s signature two-fisted punch and was well behind on points even before Kirk invented the shotgun and blasted his scaly enemy at close range.

Being one of the good guys, Kirk stops short of turning his opponent into a handbag. The episode is considered to be one of the best by Trek buffs, who are clearly invested enough in the drama to overlook the ill-fitting lizard costume worn by three separate stuntmen.

Tak Tak


Star Trek Voyager episode Macroorganism

Like many Star Trek “aliens” the Tak Tak are represented by human actors with a bit of rubber glued onto their faces.

But while, for example, the Klingons just have the crust of a Cornish pasty attached to their foreheads, where it can’t do any harm, the Tak Tak have a thin strip of “skin’ connecting the tip of their nose and their chin – making it impossible for them to eat or drink anything that won’t fit through a straw.

That might make them ridiculous enough, but the fact that the writers insisted in having them communicate through body language, so they came across as unwanted extras from Madonna’s Vogue video, makes the Tak Tak among the most ridiculous aliens in Star Trek history.

Species 8472


Star Trek Voyager episode Scorpion
Many of the extraterrestrial races on our list come from Star Trek’s earlier days, when all directors could do is dress human actors up in a funny outfit and hope for the best.

But Species 8472, a three-legged invader from Fluidic Space” is an entirely CGI creation, freeing the designers to give fans something that looks truly inhuman.

Unfortunately, the CGI technology of 1997 hasn’t aged well. If you have a Playstation 5, you have more potent processing power sitting under your telly than the creators of Star Trek Voyager had.

Species 8472 looks unimpressive enough in a still image. In motion, it’s positively awful.

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