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5 Things Only Adults Notice In Star Trek: The Original Series

For folks who grew up watching "Star Trek: The Original Series" either in syndication or during its original run, dropping phrases like "I'm a doctor, not an engineer" and "Live long and prosper" comes as naturally as the old Vulcan salute. Even though the special effects were pretty dodgy by today's standards and the universe seemed inexplicably overrun with omniscient beings in those days, the original series still slapped. 

And for those now-grown Trekkies among us with the good sense to watch the Kirk crew as adults, the series still holds up with some of the best episodes in the "Star Trek" franchise — even if there are a few things we didn't catch the first time around. From scenes so thirsty they give "Star Trek: Enterprise" a run for its money to progressive politics on full display, here are five things that stand out to adults when they're rewatching "Star Trek: The Original Series."

Enterprise is the thirstiest ship in the galaxy

"Star Trek: Prodigy" notwithstanding, most "Star Trek" series have their hornier moments. There's a reason "Star Trek: Enterprise" has earned the sobriquet "Sexy Trek" — and that reason begins and ends with the decontamination chamber. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" certainly had its share of freaktastic frolics, from intergalactic playboy Riker's equal opportunity joysticking to the space orgy episode Patrick Stewart would call a "sex farce." But at least "The Original Series" remains pure in our childhood memories, right?

Despite our tendency to Disneyify TV time from the 1960s, a grown-up's revisiting of "The Original Series" reveals it's easily the thirstiest "Star Trek" entry — thirsty enough to make even a Denobulan blush. Reddit user u/thekruton gave the ultimate breakdown of the original series' horny quotient in a lengthy r/startrek post detailing all of the show's thirstiest moments. Numerous plots involving sex robots, sexy hypnosis, horny crewmen, and women obsessed with jumping Kirk's (William Shatner) bones make up the list.

Rarely does an episode pass without Kirk stepping full-tilt into a scantily-clad alien woman's personal space bubble while gently rubbing her upper arms as a prelude to a G-rated face-mushing. But it's dialogue like "That ancient earth custom called spanking, what is it?" or the desperate "I must touch him!" that makes this series almost too caliente.

Captain Kirk shows a lot of moob

While it could technically fall under Thirst Trek, the phenomenon of Kirk's incessant shirt-ripping and all-around free-the-nipple energy is so confounding it truly warrants its own school of literary analysis. According to "These are the Voyages," a "Star Trek" book series that references production notes, firsthand accounts, and various ephemera chronicling the series, the moderately hairy Shatner had consented to a Ken doll-esque shave for the show. In Roddenberry's mind, 23rd century men would be hairless, after all. And judging by the final product, the notoriously cheesecake-loving showrunner would take every opportunity to show off Kirk's waxy, soft natural physique. A lover and a fighter, Captain Kirk is fairly prone to getting into fisticuffs with everyone from Charlie X to his own crewmen. And whenever those fists come out, it's only a matter of time before his shirt gets ripped, revealing an unnecessarily oily chest.

YouTuber EC Henry compiled a list to find out exactly how many times Kirk gets his shirt off. Over the course of the series, Kirk either removes or rips his shirt in 17 separate episodes, which Henry notes amounts to more than 20 percent of "The Original Series" episodes. And it's not just little rips — often, Kirk's top ends up quite literally hanging off of his body. With a shirt loss rate that high, it's a good thing they can just replicate him new ones as needed.

Star Trek has always been pretty woke

No fandom is perfect, and the "Star Trek" community certainly has its share of gatekeeping fanboys who love to comment about just how "woke" the franchise has become. Spend enough time in any "Star Trek" Facebook group and you'll be sure to find a salty p'takh outlining their arguments against Woke Trek — namely, that there aren't enough white dudes and straight folks among the main cast in "Star Trek: Discovery."

But when rewatching "The Original Series," it's hard not to notice just how hard the series was working to telegraph its progressiveness — particularly in light of the 1960s zeitgeist. While miniskirts have come to be associated with objectification to many in today's world, when "Star Trek" first aired they served as a symbol of female empowerment and rejection of traditional values. Cultural inclusivity has always been baked into the storytelling, from the multicultural (for its time) casting and Uhura's role as one of the ship's most essential officers. While these elements might go unnoticed to many viewers today, it's difficult to overstate just how trailblazing they were at the time — so much so that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed Uhura's role would change the world.

And then there are the narratives that challenge the inherent nihilism of hatred and war based on chauvinism. Nowhere is this theme better exemplified than in "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," which sees nearly identical aliens with opposite skin color patterns watch as both their races are functionally driven to extinction over prejudice and enslavement.

Star Trek was also pretty darned sexist

Despite the show's efforts to portray a semi-utopian future where infinite diversity creates truth and beauty in the universe, even "Star Trek" had its oversights. And like so many sexist "Star Trek" moments to follow, "The Original Series" did a pretty poor job with its treatment of women. As with Kirk's constant shirt-removal, rarely does the Roddenberry-driven thirst engine pass up an opportunity to show off as much lady skin as possible — a demand that led a young Teri Garr to storm off set over an insanely tiny skirt while filming "Assignment: Earth."

But the show's maltreatment of women extends far beyond slinky costumes into the storytelling. Fans have long struggled to find a passable retrocanonization for Captain Pike's (Jeffrey Hunter) offhand comment that he can't get used to having a woman on the bridge in "The Cage." "Star Trek" also features many narratives portraying women as damsels in distress and temptresses with hidden agendas. Take, for example, the Shakespeare-reciting Orion woman Marta in "Whom Gods Destroy." A former psychiatric institution patient, the delusional Marta (Yvonne Craig) follows her shapeshifter zaddy Garth (Steve Ihnat) to freedom only to relentlessly seduce and nearly stab Kirk aboard the Enterprise before getting unceremoniously blown up while absolutely no one tries to stop it. Later, the would-be genocidal Garth is given a miracle cure and seems to bounce back as if nothing ever happened.

The Star Trek costumes were incredible

Despite the show's complicated portrayal of everything from gender issues to Captain Kirk's nips, one thing remains consistent throughout "Star Trek: The Original Series" — the quality of the drip. When they're not sporting Starfleet uniforms, future folk can be seen dressing for success. And on board the Enterprise, that means more lamé, sequins, and glitter than a Gaga video. There are plenty of fur moments, like the fur-detailed cloak worn by Garth of Izar in "Whom Gods Destroy" and the plush sleeves of Anton Karidian's robe in "The Conscience of a King," both of which are clearly Tribble fur in the correct headcanon. And then there's Karidian's daughter Lenore, whose mink mini dress may or may not secretly be targ fur.

For anyone in search of culturally offensive Burning Man or Coachella fashion inspo, "TOS" is a veritable compendium of unambiguously appropriated festival 'fits. Nowhere is this more obvious than in "The Paradise Syndrome," which sees Kirk decked out in a long, multicolored feather cape representing the finest in futuristic avian fashion.

Of course, no "Original Series" episode would be complete without a little eye glam from the emo boy eyeshadow Bones (DeForest Kelley) and Sulu (George Takei) rock on the daily. Factor in the show's countless complicated, sculptured hairstyles and loads of whimsical space accessories, and it's a recipe for runway domination.