The first appearances of 13 classic Star Trek aliens, terms and tropes

Here's where you'll find the first Redshirt death, the first Vulcan salute, the first Klingon and more.

With their dazzling effects and emphasis on action, the new blockbuster Star Trek movies have introduced a new generation to the beloved characters from the original series. Yet even before J.J. Abrams offered his vision of Kirk, Spock and crew, so much of the Star Trek universe had become part of the modern vernacular. Gene Roddenberry's creation is woven into our pop culture. Who doesn't know of the Vulcan salute and Klingons?

Of course, all of those elements have an origin, most of which date back half a century to the early episodes of the first Star Trek series. Still, you might be surprised to learn just how long it took for certain terms and species to become part of the canon.

Here's where to find the first appearance of a baker's dozen of iconic Star Trek concepts.

1. Vulcan nerve pinch


"The Naked Time"
Season 1, episode 4

Technically, the first time the pinch was performed was in the production of "The Enemy Within," which was filmed before and aired after "The Naked Time." (We like to stick with the first time audiences saw things.) The script called for Spock to knock out Kirk's evil doppelgänger; however, Nimoy rightly felt a violent action would be out of character. He came up with the brilliant nerve pinch, which was henceforth written as "FSNP" — "Famous Spock Nerve Pinch" — in scripts.

2. Redshirt death


"What are Little Girls Made Of?"
Season 1, episode 7

Even beginner viewers know that Redshirts are not long for this world. There is even a popular sci-fi novel about the disposabilty of the lowly Enterprise crewmembers. No wonder it's such a popular trope — the first time we see a Redshirt offed is quite early in the series.

3. Vulcan mind meld


"Dagger of the Mind"
Season 1, episode 9

Spock first displays his telepathic touch early in the first season.

4. "I'm a doctor…"


"The Corbormite Maneuver"
Season 1, episode 10

Though commonly quoted as "Damn it, man, I'm a doctor, not a…," McCoy never utters his catchphrase with that exact phrasing. Bones delivers a variation of the line 16 times over the course of the original series. The first instance comes after Kirk criticizes the doctor for not telling him of a flashing red light. Bones responds, "What am I, a doctor or a moon-shuttle conductor?"

5. Romulans


"Balance of Terror"
Season 1, episode 14

If you confuse Romulans for Vulcans, there is good reason beyond the pointy ears. Mark Lenard, the actor who played the first significant Romulan character in the universe, also played Spock's dad (and a Klingon, for what it's worth).

6. Ensigns


"Galileo Seven"
Season 1, episode 16

See? It's not just Redshirts that get it. The first time the rank of ensign is mentioned happens in this episode. The ensign gets a spear chucked into his back.

7. The Federation


Season 1, episode 18

In the early episode "The Corbomite Maneuver" the word "Federation" is used, though it refers to the organization of Balok (the weird alien who is actually little Clint Howard). In "Arena," a wealth of firsts, we first hear of "the Federation" in relation to the governing body. It would not be fully named (as the United Federation of Planets) until "A Taste of Armageddon."

8. Photon torpedoes


Season 1, episode 18

Pyew! Pyew! Don't mess with the Enterprise.

9. The cruising speed of Warp Six


Season 1, episode 18

The ship's cruising speed of Warp Six is first mentioned in "Arena," as well. As is the dangerous Warp Eight.

10. Starfleet


"Court Martial"
Season 1, episode 20

Here is the first reference to "Starfleet" and "Starfleet Command." In early episodes, the Enterprise's command was referred to varyingly as Star Service, Spacefleet Command, United Earth Space Probe Agency and Space Central.

11. Klingons


"Errand of Mercy"
Season 1, episode 26

Ah, there are those familiar adversaries! Though the Klingons were not quite fully formed in their early iteration, as they lacked their distinctive ridged foreheads.

12. Vulcan salute


"Amok Time"
Season 2, episode 1

Now this is an emoji on your phone. Surprisingly, it took a year before it appeared on the show. In this epic episode that pits Spock versus Kirk, Spock gives the salute to T'Pau. Interesting to note, however, that the actress playing T'Pau could reportedly not quite pull off the salute with her fingers, so they used a couple camera tricks.

13. "Live long and prosper"


"Amok Time"
Season 2, episode 1

You can't have the salute without the catchphrase.

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