Whether humanoid, amorphous, furry, mutated, genetically enhanced, animal-like, parasitic, cyborg, or noncorporeal — extraterrestrials are fascinating, mysterious, and exciting characters in science-fiction movies and shows. But there may be no space opera franchise that has presented a wider and more fascinating array of aliens than Star Trek.
Its 13 movies, 12 series, and numerous games feature hundreds of alien species that are central to the action, with most of them displaying an initially hostile attitude toward humans. Not only are they technologically superior, but they also exhibit great abilities that render them formidable allies — or deadly adversaries.
These are 20 types of extraterrestrials encountered in the iconic Trek world since 1966, and their distinctive, extraordinary abilities.
Denobulans are cheerful, friendly, and polyamorous humanoids from the planet Denobula of the Denobula Triaxa system, in the Alpha Quadrant. They’re of a slightly heavier build than humans, with ridges on their foreheads, temples, chins, and backs, and remarkably elongated tongues. Their facial muscles are such that they can almost grin from ear to ear, as seen with Phlox, the Chief Medical Officer in Star Trek: Enterprise (ENT).
Star Trek: Enterprise
- Release Date
- September 26, 2001
- Scott Bakula , Jolene Blalock , Connor Trinneer , John Billingsley , Dominic Keating , Linda Park , Anthony Montgomery
Boosted Immune System and Almost Always Awake
Denobulans live for hundreds of years and require very little sleep, which grants them optimal functionality; six days of hibernation per year are usually sufficient for them to recharge. When threatened, they have the ability to enlarge and puff up their faces and escape by climbing vertical surfaces in a lizard-like way. Not to mention their special immune system, which allows them to fight off parasites and nanoprobes.
Benzites are a humanoid race from the planet Benzar in the Alpha Quadrant, with smooth blue or green skin, prominent nasal lobes and brows, and blood based on mercury and platinum. They wear pledge-stones when they’re married, but only reproduce outside their family units; as such, they often raise children that aren’t biologically their own. Their species appears in ENT, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Lower Decks (LD).
Blending in With Each Other
Benzites look alike so much that other races have a hard time distinguishing them from one another, which always comes in handy for those on the run: only Benzites are able to recognize each other. Additionally, they’re ultra-resistant to poison and other dangerous substances.
18 The Jem’Hadar
The Jem’Hadar are genetically engineered, reptilian-like humanoid soldiers who were initially created by the Founders (Changelings) of the Gamma Quadrant to wage the Dominion War in Deep Space 9 (DS9). They work in groups under one leader and fiercely follow the motto “Victory Is Life,” pledging their loyalty to their death. Their Alpha Quadrant counterparts are more powerful and simply dubbed The Alphas.
Genetically Bred Super Warriors
Adult Jem’Hadar don’t need sleep or nourishment, making them alert and fast-moving attackers at all times. They have superior vision, even in low visibility conditions, camouflage abilities, and are seven times more powerful than humans, not to mention being resistant to energy-based weapons.
First appearing in The Original Series (TOS), Klingons are dark-skinned humanoids with ridged foreheads from Qo’noS, in the Beta Quadrant, and look a little different in each show. Their dominant warrior culture, belligerent temper, and love for opera, wine, live worms, and grandiloquence are constant features, though. The franchise’s leading Klingon since TNG is the honorable and brooding Worf (Michael Dorn), who was raised by human parents and became a Starfleet officer.
- Release Date
- September 8, 1966
Any Klingon Day Is a Good Day to Die
Klingons live for over 150 years, and their super-strength is such that they can throw opponents across any room. They are also endowed with several extra organs that allow them to survive battle or combat wounds, namely twenty-three ribs, two livers, an eight-chambered heart, and three lungs.
16 The Betazoid
The Betazoid are from the planet Betazed, in the Alpha Quadrant. They look quasi-identical to humans, except for their large, black irises. Viewers can catch them in The Next Generation (TNG), Voyager, DS9, LD, and Discovery. Key Betazoid characters include Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), a ship’s counselor who is part-human, and her exasperating, albeit well-meaning mother, Lwaxana (Majel Barrett, Roddenberry’s wife and “The First Lady” of Star Trek), a prominent galactic ambassador.
Psychic and Empathic Powers
The Betazoids have superior telepathic and empathic abilities, allowing them to either excel in diplomatic missions, thwart conflicts, provide comfort to distressed people — or prey on other races by reading their thoughts and manipulating their feelings.
15 The Gorn
Featured in TOS, The Animated Series (TAS), ENT, LD, Discovery, and Strange New Worlds (SNG), the Gorn are mysterious and violent bipedal reptilians from the Beta Quadrant. They have greenish rubbery skin, razor-sharp teeth, and claws, and are known to kidnap and use other races as incubators.
star trek: strange new worlds
A prequel to Star Trek: The Original Series, the show will follow the crew of the USS Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike.
Powerful Mind-Controlling Lizards
Adults Gorn are ten times stronger than humans and use a mind-controlling virus to turn other races on each other. Their thick skin protects them from regular weapons, and their injured cells and limbs can regenerate in record time. Another ability is a high sense of smell and taste and a controlled release of pheromones.
Originally from El-Auria, a planet near the border of the Beta and Delta quadrants, El-Aurians are physically indistinguishable from humans and have been blending in their societies for a while, especially considering that they live longer than humans and have the same racial groups.
Wise Sages Who Bend Reality
El-Aurians live for hundreds of years and can manipulate reality beyond the space-sound continuum; as such, they are first to detect time-travel activity and other fluctuations and disruptions. They also have some telepathic abilities, which they can use to con people, but mostly to impart wisdom — as is the case of the special relationship between Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg), the ship’s barkeep in TNG, and Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart).
13 Greek Gods
In the TOS episode Who Mourns for Adonais, the Enterprise’s landing party meets the arrogant Apollo (Michael Forest), who claims he is from a race of humanoids known to humans as the Greek gods. Scanning his body shows that he has full human physiology, except for one unidentified internal organ.
Powers of a God Fueled by Worship
Apollo is immortal, can grow to a gigantic size, and can manipulate the space around him by creating and destroying physical elements like buildings, plants, and the weather in a split second. His race’s powers are fueled by other people’s acknowledgment and worship, hence the legends of the Greek gods among ancient civilizations and their disappearance today.
Vulcans are green-blooded humanoids with pointy ears and eyebrows, from the Alpha and Beta quadrants. They practice restraint and show very little emotion, preferring to rely on logic and science. The most famous examples in the franchise are Tuvok (Tim Russ), the half-human Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and T’Pol (Jolene Blalock).
“T’Pol is the voice of reason; she’s the voice of experience; she’s the voice of responsibility. It’s been challenging for me [to play a stoic Vulcan] because I’m very expressive. You can say everything that you need to say in the eyes, because language itself is so limiting.”
Vulcan Mind Melds and More
Vulcans live over 200 years and have greater endurance and physical strength than humans, as well as inner eyelids that protect their eyes from bright light. In close combat, their superior nerve-pinch technique can knock foes unconscious for hours. They can also display advanced, long-distance telepathic abilities, as well as the ability to mind meld by touching another person’s face and sharing their thoughts.
Romulans are cousins to the Vulcans from the planet Romulus, in the Beta Quadrant; they look a lot like Vulcans, but have also been depicted with a V-shaped forehead ridge. They control an advanced militaristic, interstellar empire, and are particularly hostile to species that don’t fall into their grip.
In Discovery (DSC), Vulcans and Romulans reunite on Vulcan, renamed Ni’Var. As for Picard, it explores two powerful Romulan factions: the honorable Qowat Milat order of warrior nuns, and the violent Zhat Vash cult that abhors synthetic lifeforms.
Strong, Telepathic Cousins to the Vulcans
Like Vulcans, Romulans have superior strength and live over two centuries, but they mostly use their semi-dormant telepathic abilities to deceive and manipulate others. They also have a much faster heart rate than humans (240 beats per minute), as well as greater muscle and bone density, rendering them formidable opponents in close combat.
The humanoid Platonians, also known as Plato’s Children, hail from the now-exploded planet Sahndara and model their lives after the customs, fashion style, and philosophies of ancient Greeks, having lived among them for a while. They are selfish and prickly and lead hedonistic lives, indulging in extravagant feasts and dressing like the nobles of Antiquity.
Near Immortals With Psychokinetic Powers
Platonians are practically immortal and have the ability to hide their life signs from potential invaders. They possess superior psychokinetic feats, transporting and controlling people and objects solely with the power of the mind. As such, they make Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and his communications officer Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) embrace and kiss in TOS; marking the first interracial kiss on television.
Andorians are a humanoid and insectoid race with blue skin, white hair, and two knobbed head antennae. They are native to the frozen moon Andoria, and display a wide array of passionate emotions, from paranoia to rage to excitement. The most beloved Andorian in ENT is undoubtedly the honorable, straightforward, and compassionate Commander Thy’lek Shran, played by the iconic character actor, Jeffrey Combs.
Dense and Strong and Resistant
Their extremely dense bone and muscle tissue allows them to lift objects or people twice their size, and they possess a great sense of smell. They are also unusually resistant to a wide range of bad environmental conditions. When injured or chopped off, an Andorian’s antennae can slowly regenerate by itself, but the dishonor and shame would greatly affect the individual’s morale.
8 The Suliban
The Suliban are a nomadic humanoid race from Sector 3641, with scaly greenish skin and generally hairless heads, and they’re often looked down upon by Vulcans for their “primitive” ways. Several of them are groomed into becoming operatives and soldiers in the Temporal Cold War, a conflict fought between various time-traveling factions.
Adept Spies and Warriors
A Suliban, particularly a genetically enhanced one, displays extra flexibility and superior night vision, can climb on and cling to any surface, and change skin color and texture to camouflage or appear like other species.
7 The Borg
Just like their name implies, The Borg are cybernetic organisms with both mechanical and biological body parts, linked together by a hive mind controlled by their all-seeing, manipulative, shrewd Queen. They are recurring antagonists in the Star Trek franchise and are comprised of various species that are abducted and “assimilated” into the hive, which makes them an all-knowing, technologically superior force to be reckoned with. Borg assimilation can be reversed, though, as seen with Captain Picard in ENT and Seven of Nine/Annika Hansen (Jeri Ryan) in Voyager (VOY).
A Unified Hive Mind
The Borg possesses the knowledge and technology of each and every assimilated species, and the Collective consciousness allows them to communicate telepathically even when light years apart. They are physically strong and extremely resistant to energy-based weapons; their shielding quickly adapts to any new attack, forcing the resisting opponents to constantly make necessary alterations to their weaponry and tactics. Additionally, their nanoprobes allow their body parts and organs to regenerate in record time.
6 The Douwd
The Douwd are a mysterious extra-galactic, slender, translucent species from the Alpha Quadrant. In the TNG episode “The Survivors,” audiences meet them in their human form, namely one who calls himself Kevin Uxbridge and self-isolates on Delta Rana IV.
God-Like Immortals Capable of Genocide
Besides manipulating their appearance, the Douwd are practically immortal beings with god-like qualities, capable of creation and destruction on an epic scale. For instance, Uxbridge destroyed 50 billion Husnock with the sole power of his mind. They can also create exact illusions of their deceased loved ones, as they’re unable to bring them back to life.
5 The Trill
The Trill are humanoids from the planet of the same name in the Alpha Quadrant, popularized in DS9 with characters like the space station’s Chief Science Officer, Jadzia Dax (played by Terry Farrell). They have two distinctive rows of dark spots going down each side of their bodies.
What Their Powers Entail
Every year, around 300 Trills are selected to host a symbiont inside their bodies, allowing them to lead several lifetimes while assuming the cumulative knowledge and skills of all previous hosts. Both a cool and exhausting feat, it also means they retain all past memories and maintain a connection with friends and relatives, albeit with a new look… or gender. As such, Star Trek was one of the first to explore gender fluidity and dysphoria.
Changelings, also known as the Founders, are orange liquid lifeforms who originate in the Gamma Quadrant from an amalgamated mass designated as the Great Link. They consider themselves superior to “solids” and wage a Dominion War in DS9, using soldiers like the above-mentioned Jem’Hadar, as well as cloned diplomats known as the Vorta. In Picard (PIC), a modified rogue group, embodied by the villain Vadic (wonderfully portrayed by Amanda Plummer), plans a Federation takeover in alliance with the Borg.
The Ultimate Shapeshifters
Changelings have superior shapeshifting abilities, allowing them to take the form of any object or become humanoids to blend in with other species, effortlessly managing to infiltrate high ranks and sabotaging their vessels and stations.
Organians hail from the Alpha Quadrant’s planet Organia, which was once invaded by the Klingons. They’re an incorporeal species who used to be humanoid, and have learned to transcend that limiting and fragile form.
Beings of Light Bringing the Dead to Life
As beings of pure thought and light, they live almost indefinitely, or at least for thousands of years, and can occupy any solid host, seamlessly blending in within any society. Unlike the Douwd, some of them are actually capable of briefly reanimating the dead or even bringing them back to life.
2 The Prophets of the Celestial Temple
Bajorans worship mysterious beings known as The Prophets, who communicate with them through their spiritual leaders via Light Orbs. In DS9, non-Bajorans and audiences know them as “wormhole aliens” and only see them when they take the form of familiar characters to communicate with their reluctant Emissary, the human Captain Sisko (played by Avery Brooks).
Existing Beyond Space-Time
They are all-seeing light beings who exist beyond space and linear time, capable of inflicting people with lingering, disturbing or transformative visions and altering history as they see fit.
1 The Q Continuum
As intriguing as they are all-powerful are the beings known as the Q Continuum, the most famous of whom is a fickle, humorous, manipulative trickster who simply calls himself Q, portrayed by John de Lancie in the franchise. Q is first introduced when he decides that humanity is not too destructive to be permitted to live, and he puts the entire species on trial. Despite his irritating, meddlesome ways, Q is particularly fond of Captain Picard and Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew).
Reality-Controlling Omnipotent Judges
The Q are omnipotent, extra-dimensional beings with the ability to control, alter, and undo anything and anyone, because they exist and operate beyond the laws of physics or a linear timeline. They can take the form and shape of their choosing, speak any language, manipulate conscious minds and dreams, stop time, undo historical events, and instantly transport people to any galaxy.