Ever since the original series debuted in the ’60s, Star Trek has been one of the most beloved and passionately followed sci-fi franchises in the world. It’s come a long way since its humble roots and has burgeoned into a full-out media franchise encompassing movies, animated shows, comics, toys and all kinds of other merchandise.
Over its history, the franchise has featured a stunning array of characters, including everything from humans to robots, androids, and a wide range of fascinating alien races. Among those races, Vulcans are particularly close to the hearts of Trekkies everywhere, and it’s obvious why.
As the most famous among them, Spock has been a fan-favorite since the beginning, and remains one of the most recognizable and beloved characters from it. His appeal comes from his inherently fascinating attributes and character arcs.
Throughout Spock’s history on Star Trek, there are many weird and wonderful facts about him that added to his overall allure. While hardcore Trekkies might know some of these, here are 10 facts about Spock that aren’t that well known by most people.
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10 Spock Was Almost Cut From the Pilot
- Release Date
- September 8, 1966
Created by Gene Roddenberry back in 1966, when the original and now iconic Star Trek TV series first aired, it was uncertain how all the legendary characters were going to be received by audiences. Back then, when the TV industry and society in general were a lot more conservative, NBC executives were afraid Spock’s pointy ears, unique eyebrows, and overall strange appearance made him look too satanic.
A Close Shave
Thankfully, the show’s producer, Oscar Katz, helped convince them to keep the character, as envisioned, with his satanic ears and all. Despite allowing it, early publicity shots for the show airbrushed his pointed ears and weirdly shaped eyebrows out just to be on the safe side. Now that the character is so well-loved, it’s hard to imagine that he almost wasn’t included at all.
9 Spock Almost Lost His Ears
Those same ears that were so contentious became iconic, although Leonard Nimoy himself, who immortalized the role for decades, wasn’t thrilled about them. He reportedly didn’t like having to sit through the process of attaching them each time, a process that took a lot longer back then, since prosthetics weren’t as advanced as they are now and CGI was far from being a thing.
Leonard Nimoy Almost Chose to Get Rid of the Ears
The story goes that since Nimoy hated the process so much in the beginning, one of the producers told him if he still didn’t like them after a while, by episode 10 or 12, they could write it into the script that Spock gets an ‘ear job.’ If it happened, Dr. McCoy would have performed surgery on Spock to have them removed. Again, thankfully, this never happened, and the character and Nimoy eventually became iconic for those distinctive ears.
8 Leonard Nimoy Was Responsible for the Vulcan Salute
The now famous Vulcan salute that Spock first used in season two of the original show has become a mainstay of the franchise, frequently used with the famous catchphrase, “Live long and prosper.” Now also a Trekkie salute, it’s become a ritual among fans, and has had a huge cultural impact on the franchise. What you may not know is that Leonard Nimoy himself was responsible for its inclusion in the show.
A “Hand-Oriented” People
The salute’s popularity has seen it being used across the series, other shows, and films, and is notoriously hard to do, given that not everyone has the same manual dexterity. Nimoy, of course, does it perfectly, and it was he who first devised the idea for the character, stating in a 1968 interview with the New York Times that he wanted the Vulcans to be “hand-oriented people.”
7 The Salute is Jewish
While the salute went on to become synonymous with Star Trek and Spock, it wasn’t a fictional gesture and actually has Jewish roots. Leonard Nimoy, who himself was Jewish, would go on to confirm that he got the idea from a time when he once witnessed it during a type of benediction done by a Jewish Kohanim (Hebrew Priest), and represents the Hebrew letter ‘Shin’ (ש).
An International Symbol
Despite its religious underpinnings, thanks to Nimoy, it’s now also an international symbol for Star Trek fans everywhere too. It’s become iconic, with ardent Trekkies considering it an almost shameful thing to not be able to do it properly. Here’s a clip of Nimoy himself retelling the story of its origin:
6 Spock Was Originally Supposed to Look Very Different
We’ve already mentioned how close Spock came to not being included in the show. Since his physical appearance became such a contentious issue, there were initially various iterations of the character that did the rounds during the creative processes that went into his design. Had one of the others made the final cut, it would have resulted in a very different Spock than we know now.
Spock With Red Skin and a Tail
Gene Roddenberry knew that Spock was going to be an alien, but also insisted that he have a distinctive appearance as well. The idea for the look went through various stages, and while the classic Spock look won the day, in one version, he was originally supposed to have red skin, which would have made for a vastly different character than the one we know.
As MeTv explains, he was also supposed to have other features like a tail (even more Satanic than the ears), and to speak very differently too:
Additionally, this devil-Spock was designed to have a heavy brow, and speak with a British accent. At one point, Roddenberry flirted with the idea of casting a little person in the role, to “make him stand out.” The devil idea was eventually ditched as the network feared the look would not go over well with religious viewers.
5 Nimoy Was Far From the First Choice
Leonard Nimoy’s death in 2015 saddened fans of Star Trek everywhere. He had become so iconic for the role of Spock that his passing was a huge loss for the franchise and fans of sci-fi in general.
Having epitomized the character for so long, despite Zachary Quinto proving to be a very able and likable recasting choice when the films were rebooted, it felt like Nimoy had been born for the role. That was why it may surprise people to know that he wasn’t the first choice to play the character.
Batman Was Almost Spock
The original choice to play Spock was actually DeForest Kelley, who played the original Dr. McCoy instead. In fact, Nimoy wasn’t even the second, since Roddenberry considered the 1960s Batman, Adam West, for the role, and even, Nichelle Nichols (Nyota Uhura). In the end, it went to Nimoy — and the rest is sci-fi history.
4 Spock Almost Had Emotions
Spock has become famous for the fact that he’s a Vulcan, and so, has been bred to place logic above emotion. Of course, we also now that he’s half human, and famously does often show snippets of emotion in some very poignant ways.
A Smiling and Emotional Spock
Despite the most famous part of Vulcan nature being their cold logic and lack of emotion, the character was originally envisioned to be very different. In fact, he was originally supposed to have emotions.
In the original pilot titled “The Cage,” Spock had very human-like emotions, and even smiled a lot. The image change became a culturally significant part of the character’s persona, with his lack of emotion famously being the main reason why the famous character Sheldon Coooper from The Big Bang Theory, adored the Spock so much.
3 Full Name
Spock’s full Vulcan name has been revealed to be S’chn T’gai Spock. However, in an episode of the show titled “The Side of Paradise,” he mentions that humans can’t pronounce it. While there’s been debate around the name provided, the unpronounceable surname has never been conclusively confirmed on-screen.
Despite all the mystery and fascination around Spock’s surname, writer and story editor D.C. Fontana, who worked on the original show, revealed to a Star Trek fan magazine that it was meant to be “Xtmprsqzntwlfd.” If you can’t pronounce it, that’s by design — according to Fontana, it was created to deliberately be something we can’t pronounce.
2 Spock Was a Ladies Man
While audiences of today may not realize it, William Shatner was once a sex symbol, and the original Star Trek show envisioned his character being the focal point to attract female viewers. However, in an unexpected twist, the original show wound up seeing that honor go to Spock instead.
He Received Thirst Mail
Despite his unusual appearance as the character, the original viewing audience for the show were mostly interested in Spock, especially among women. According to Leonard Nimoy, he would actually get tons of thirst mail from female fans of Spock ever since the show first began broadcasting.
1 Spock Once Defeated Wolverine
Given the amount of crossover events between famous comic characters and other franchises, it was only a matter of time before Star Trek crossed paths with famous Marvel or DC characters. When that happened, it made for two epic moments when Marvel’s X-Men tussled with two different Enterprise crews from Star Trek — Captain Kirk’s, and Captain Picard’s.
Wolverine Got Nerve-Pinched
In the comic event when the X-Men encounter Captain Kirk’s crew, Wolverine and the other X-Men manage to get aboard the Enterprise, and the famous mutant gets into a fight with Spock. Despite all his superior strength and speed, Wolverine was no match for the Vulcan. In a somewhat hilarious moment, Spock disabled Wolverine by using his famous Vulcan nerve pinch on him.
The moment was just one of the many iconic ones the character has experienced over his long and storied history in the franchise. While Leonard Nimoy was the original and will always be the most beloved, Zachary Quinto has grown his own set of fans, and will likely return in the upcoming fourth film of the so-called “Kelvin Timeline.”
On the other hand, Ethan Peck has proven to be another worthy actor to pick up the mantle since he began portraying Spock in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
Despite how many actors play him, it is the character himself who remains immortal, a true legend of the franchise, and one who will always be a fan-favorite.
Here are some stills depicting the various renditions of the character across film and TV so far: