(covers information from several alternate timelines)
History and culture
The Gorn's first contact with the Federation took place in 2267, when the Gorn attacked a Federation colony on Cestus III. The Gorn saw the strike as a preemptive move, since they regarded the Cestus system as part of their territory. The USS Enterprise pursued a Gorn starship from Cestus III into a previously unexplored region of the galaxy, near 2466 PM. There, both starships were immobilized by the Metrons, who transported James T. Kirk and the Gorn captain to a planet's surface, where the two captains were instructed to settle their differences in a "contest... of ingenuity against ingenuity, brute strength against brute strength." Although the Gorn captain was physically stronger than Kirk, Kirk was able to construct a makeshift cannon out of materials on the planet's surface and defeat the Gorn. When Kirk showed mercy to his defeated opponent, the Metrons sent both captains back to their respective ships and transported the Enterprise out of the area. (TOS: "Arena")
In the alternate reality, the Federation and the Gorn made contact by 2259. Leonard McCoy mentioned he delivered live Gorn octuplets via a caesarean section and that they were rather vicious. (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Gorn are a cold-blooded, reptilian species with green, rubbery skin, red blood and an average height of approximately two meters. They tend to be many times stronger than most humanoids, albeit slower and less agile but with greater stamina and, like most cold-blooded species, prefer warmer temperatures. Some Humans have an instinctive revulsion to the Gorn, as they are a type of reptile, and may think them primitive or unintelligent. This is unwise, as the Gorn are at least as intelligent as Humans.
They also possess incredible durability, able to take incredible force. During the first skirmish between Captain Kirk and the Gorn captain, Kirk hurled a boulder at his opponent, only for it to bounce off the Gorn's skin. Later, he caused a giant boulder to roll down a mountain and hit the Gorn captain. Though this temporarily immobilized him, he was not injured. Kirk finally managed to wound and disable the Gorn with a primitive cannon comprised of rope-wrapped bamboo as a barrel, with raw diamonds as projectiles and a homemade gunpowder mixture as propellant. (TOS: "Arena")
Their ears are simple holes on the sides of their skulls, while their mouths boast an impressive array of sharp teeth and their hands and feet possess vicious claws. Mirror Phlox quipped that the Gorn were comparable to that of the extinct Velociraptor, based on one Gorn's size and bite radius. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II") Some Gorn display eyes that are silvery and faceted, much like the compound eyes of insects, while others have typical humanoid eyes complete with pupils.
As of the late 23rd century, much of the Gorn technology was on par with Starfleet's. Some of their ships were so fast that a Constitution-class starship would have to push its engines to dangerous speeds to overtake them.
They had transporter technology and possessed voice duplicator equipment at least good enough to fool a casual listener.
Gorn ground tactical units utilized powerful disruptors, capable of completely disintegrating targets at ranges of between 1,200 and 1,500 yards. Their sensor technology may have been less effective than that of the Federation, as they had some difficulty targeting the landing party during their ambush at Cestus III.
In the mirror universe, a Gorn named Slar was a slave master working for the Tholian Assembly. He was in charge of the workers assigned aboard the USS Defiant until the crew of the Enterprise took it over. Slar was seen as untrusting of Terrans and vicious when it came to dealing with them. He was ultimately killed by Jonathan Archer. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II")
- Slar (mirror universe) – slave master of USS Defiant salvage team (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II")
- Unnamed Gorn
The cast list in the final draft script of "Arena" describes the Gorn as "a large (six foot four) lizard-like creature, well-muscled, very strong." When the Gorn first appears in the scripted events of the episode, the description of the alien reads, "It is a lizard, who walks like a man... two-legged, two-armed, a thick glistening scaly hide, the size of a man with outstanding musculature... a wide mouth full of sharp teeth, a ridge of hard plate running down his back, even a prehensile, thick, strong tail. He is wearing a garment like a short robe [....] He does not wear shoes of any sort." Detailing other aspects of the Gorn's anatomy, the script later refers to the creature as having shoulder blades as well as eyes that at one point "glitter" and states, "He has two tiny earholes on his head, where a human being's ears would be." The script also describes the Gorn's voice, as heard through his Metron communicator, as "harsh, whistling, hissing" and deems his strength to be comparable to that of a grizzly bear.
The Gorn's costume was designed by Wah Chang, who also created the M-113 creature (aka the salt vampire). (The Art of Star Trek, p. 34; et al.) The Gorn captain in "Arena" was intended to not be particularly agile, with the episode's script stating about the Gorn, "It moves slowly, awkwardly," and referring to the creature as "sluggish" and "lumbering". "He's big and awkward... That all fits the costume," said Bobby Clark, who wore the reptilian suit. "Because the costume was thick rubber, it had big muscles – you couldn't bend your arms. You couldn't walk fast because the feet would hold you back. You couldn't run, because you'd be walking like you had two swimming fins on your feet. And we were walking in brush a lot, so that was tough... [The producers have] said several times that, in their estimation, it was the slowest fight they'd ever seen. Well, yes, it was slow. If it was fast, it would've been the funniest fight they'd ever seen." (SFX, issue #200, p. 135) Michael Westmore attributed the slowness of the alien to the makeup design for what he termed "the lumbering Gorn." Westmore commented, "For all his mobility in Wah's costume and props, the Gorn, because of the heavy rubber appliances and the thick wet suit, is relatively slow and cumbersome [....] even though the Gorn was a very advanced creation for his time." (Star Trek: Aliens & Artifacts, p. 43)
The Gorn were originally to have been featured as the villains in the 2001 Enterprise episode "The Andorian Incident". One reason why their role in the story was replaced with the Andorians was that the Gorn, unlike the Andorians, were unable to talk. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 136, p. 37) Near the end of Enterprise's first season, staff writer Mike Sussman offered, "Before we decided to have the Andorians, we all talked about doing the Gorn [....] But when we looked at the show, it was decided by Rick [Berman] and Brannon [Braga] that it was pretty clear that Captain Kirk's run-in was the first time anyone had seen a Gorn. So, as much as we would love to use them, it doesn't fit with what's been established, so they're kind of off the table for us." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 11, pp. 48-49) In fact, prior to the Gorn's appearance in "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II", Enterprise's writing staff had spent much time trying to find some means of including the Gorn into the series without violating continuity. The mirror universe setting of the "In a Mirror, Darkly" two-parter finally allowed for the Gorn's inclusion in the series. ("In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II" audio commentary, ENT Season 4 DVD)
In 2003, John Logan said in an interview with Star Trek: Communicator that Riker's bachelor party in Star Trek Nemesis would feature "three Andorians, two Tellarites and a Gorn". The final version of the movie does not feature this scene, however, meaning that "Arena", "The Time Trap" and "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II" remain the only appearances of the Gorn to date.
The Star Fleet Battles and Federation Space board games, published by Task Force Games, indicated that a Gorn confederation formed when three separate but nearly identical sentient species, each having developed on a different planet (Gdhar I, Gdhar II, and Gdhar III, presumably in the Gdhar system) joined into a single political entity. The Gorn are a civilized and cultured race. The Star Fleet Battles game universe refers to an intial brief conflict between two hotheaded starship captains over what was then considered a misunderstanding (an indirect reference to the events in Arena). This conflict was resolved peacefully and led to the Gorn being a close ally of the Federation. It is said to be one of the few alliances in the SFU that is apparently based on mutual trust, respect, and desire for friendship as opposed to political convienence.(see also Star Fleet Universe).
The graphic novel The Gorn Crisis is the story of Jean-Luc Picard's attempt to ally with the Gorn in the Dominion War despite a Gorn civil war. The novel Articles of the Federation followed up on this and stated that the Gorn fought in the Dominion War on the Federation's side. The crew of the USS Enterprise-E helped to convince them to join the fight against the Dominion. In A Singular Destiny, the Gorn joined the Typhon Pact at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works – an alliance including the Romulan Star Empire, the Breen Confederacy, the Tholian Assembly, the Tzenkethi, and the Kinshaya at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works which was set up in competition with the powers of the Khitomer Accords.
The Gorn are playable races in several Star Trek video games. These include Star Trek: Starfleet Command, Star Trek: Tactical Assault, Star Trek: Klingon Academy, and Star Trek Online. The game manual for Star Trek: Bridge Commander mentions the Gorn were allied with the Dominion during the Dominion War.
In Star Trek: Klingon Academy, the Gorn are available as a playable race in Skirmish and Multiplayer modes. According to the game's manual, their government is referred to as the "Gorn Kingdom", rather than the more common Gorn Confederation. They are engaged in a mutual exchange agreement with the Federation, and as such their vessels are equipped with similar technologies, such as phasers and tractor beam weapons. Like the other non-campaign races in the game, the Gorn possess fewer ship classes than the Klingons or the Federation.
The Gorn are also a playable race, and allies of the Klingon Empire, in Star Trek Online. When designing a Gorn character, only the male gender is selectable. Gorn are also the enemies faced during many Federation missions, and some employ a rock-throwing attack reminiscent of the battle between Kirk and the Gorn Captain in "Arena". Furthermore, in Star Trek Online, the Gorn engaged in late-24th-century war against the Klingon Empire. The Klingons eventually prevailed – allowing the Gorn to maintain their rule over their space – but, in exchange, made allies. In this continuity, the insect-like eyes seen on the Gorn Captain from "Arena" are explained as a set of eyepieces that give a tactical heads-up display. The tie-in novel The Needs of the Many reveals that the difference between the Gorn seen in The Original Series and Enterprise is part of a caste system; the silver-eyed, five-fingered Gorn are from a warrior caste, while the gold-eyed, three-fingered Gorn are members of a technological caste.
The Gorn are the villains of the 2013 Star Trek game set before Star Trek Into Darkness, featuring fifteen varieties of male and female Gorn ranging in size, intelligence and color, designed by Neville Page. They are depicted as originating from another galaxy which they have conquered by the time they reach the Milky Way Galaxy via a wormhole created by a terraforming device on New Vulcan. The Gorn utilize a mind-controlling venom to turn enemies on each other, practise bio-enhancement, and like the film, McCoy mentions they are viviparous.