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Star Trek: Why The Romulans Were Bald In The J.J. Abrams Movies

As J.J. Abrams took the helm of the "Star Trek" franchise, there were plenty of twists and tweaks he applied to the point in the timeline when James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) met his green-blooded BFF-to-be, Spock (Zachary Quinto). One detail involved Romulans, the biological cousins of Vulcans, who shared similar eyebrow styles and pointy ears. In Abrams' "Star Trek," the species have a considerably different appearance from what we had seen in the shows previously. Led by Eric Bana's Nero, any Romulan on-screen was bald, bearing facial and head tattoos. While it might appear like a subtle and interesting detail applied to the Kelvin timeline of "Star Trek," the truth is that the design was so that audiences could tell them apart from Vulcans.

It is certainly a logical approach to making it easier for casual audiences to decipher which pointy-eared alien to keep an eye on. According to TrekMovie.com, back when they were trying to snag any rumor they could in their tractor beam before the film's release, it was confirmed that all actors playing Romulans — whether Bana, his on-screen number two played by Clifton Collins Jr., or background performances — had to give themselves a trim. It was slightly before the film's release that a reason was also established for the Romulan's tattoos, which were backed up by a heartbreaking expansion on events set before the film.

A clear-cut explanation revealed the Romulans new look

Before the 2009 film's release, IDW Publishing released a four-issue comic book series called "Star Trek: Countdown," exploring the events that led Nero to get his revenge on the original Spock (Leonard Nimoy). As explained in "Star Trek," Nero's blind rage for the legendary Vulcan is born out of the destruction of Romulus, for which he holds Spock responsible. As captain of the mining vessel, the Narada, Nero and the rest of his crew shaved their heads and inked themselves as a sign of mourning for losing their home planet.

As explained in "Star Trek: Countdown #3," a Romulan tradition during a time of loss saw mourners paint symbols onto their skin, and their gradual fading would signify the passing of the sorrow felt as their own life carried on without those who were lost. Nero and his crew, however, made the tattoos permanent, believing that their lives were over when they lost their home and family. As a result, the ink would never fade.

It's an excellent little detail that "Trek" fans may only have been aware of if they snatched up the books before the film's release. Also, along with "Star Trek: Picard," which expanded on the untold truth of "Star Trek's" Romulans and the failure of the planet being saved, it certainly paints an even stronger argument as to why Eric Bana's Nero is the most dangerous villain in "Star Trek" history