The thing about Star Trek; the good thing about any sci-fi; is it’s all about people, and seeing a bit of ourselves in those people. This can be seen, of course, in the characters and the stories being told, but Star Trek always threw in little bits of the real-world into the mix to reinforce the humanity of it all. Paper books, vineyards, and so many other little things filled the screen next to phasers, warp drive, and *snicker* gravity plating, but there’s nothing more human than having a pet, and Trek has had its fair share of non-human…er, non-sentient species filling starships. So, without further ado, we assume the worst, discuss the best, and I knew there was something I liked about that show, in Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot: Star Trek Pets.
Honorable Mention: Doctor McCoy’s Tribble
In Abrams’ sequel Into Darkness there’s a scene where we see Doctor McCoy doing his science stuff on a tribble.
Kirk: Bones, what are you doing with that tribble?
Bones: The tribble’s dead, I’m injecting Khan platelets into the deceased tissue of necrotic host. Khan’s cells regenerate like nothing I’ve ever seen and I wanna know why.
Or, was he really trying to save his best friend in the whole wide galaxy? Look at that face. That’s the same desperation in his eyes that kid with the gun had in Old Yeller. But McCoy found a way. McCoy found a way.
5. Worf’s Targ
This one time, on TNG, an experimental engine technology accidentally threw the Enterprise-D 2.7 million light years away to the M-33 galaxy (yeah, creative name there), where reality and imagination swirl together like a cone of soft serve. Besides this episode being the first in The Traveler three part arc, we got to see an early soft side of Worf and his ‘aren’t you just the cutest thing in the world?’ boyhood pet, um, I don’t think they gave him a name. I bet it was something like Jagh ‘Iw or Batlh Dun. But, it’s probably for the best not to name targs. Kind of like naming your qagh.
4. Chief Miles O’Brien’s Tarantula Christina
Of all the pets on this list, Chief Miles O’Brien’s pet spider is by far the most exotic. While it’s no Denebian slime devil or Caldorian eel, and although it strongly resembles Earth tarantulas, O’Brien’s spider was cool because it represented O’Brien overcoming one of his greatest fears. It’s singularly Trek; singularly Chief O’Brien; and he’s my favorite character, but I hate spiders. So, he only makes number 4 on this Lot.
3. Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s Fish Livingston
Although never called by name on any episode, Picard’s constant ready room companion, Livingston the lionfish, got his name from TNG producer-director David Livingston. I vividly remember thinking it was cool that Picard had a pet fish, but Patrick Stewart is stated as hating the idea of having an animal captive on a show like Trek. And he’s kind of right. Either way, Livingston died when the Enterprise crashed in Generations. I think he was eaten by a soon-to-be-named cat.
2. Captain Johnathan Archer’s Dog Porthos
Enterprise gets a lot of static from Trek fans, and the show comes by it rightly. Porthos gets such a high spot on this Lot not only because I’m a dog person, but because he was by far the best crew member on that whole damned ship. He’s definitely the crew member I’d like to hang out with most. Everyone else would just be hearing me spout on about how awesome things are eventually going to be and how shitty they are now. But me and Porthos the beagle would probably just play frisbee, eat some cheese, and fall asleep watching Turner and Hooch. Good times.
1. Data’s Cat Spot
I find myself intrigued by your subvocal oscillations,
A singular development of cat communications
That obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
For a rhythmic stroking of your fur to demonstrate affection.
A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents;
You would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance.
And when not being utilized to aid in locomotion,
It often serves to illustrate the state of your emotion.
O Spot, the complex levels of behavior you display
Connote a fairly well-developed cognitive array.
And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend,
I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.