- "And Uhura, whose name means freedom. She walks in beauty, like the night."
Nyota Uhura served as communications officer aboard the USS Enterprise under the command of James T. Kirk for nearly thirty years, after which she continued her career lecturing at Starfleet Academy. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver"; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
Nyota Uhura was born in the 2230s. She was fluent in Swahili. (TOS: "Is There in Truth No Beauty?", "The Man Trap", "The Changeling", "Spectre of the Gun") In her youth, she used to run the hundred meter dash in record time. (TAS: "The Slaver Weapon")
The five-year mission
In 2266, Uhura began her Starfleet career as communications officer aboard the USS Enterprise with the rank of lieutenant. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver") In the years following that vessel's historic five-year mission, she proved to be a proficient technician and was considered by Captain Kirk to be a capable and reliable bridge officer, manning the helm station when the need arose. (TOS: "The Man Trap", "Balance of Terror")
On stardate 1704.2, under the influence of polywater intoxication, Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, fantasizing himself a musketeer, took Uhura under his "protection" before first officer Spock subdued him with a Vulcan nerve pinch. (TOS: "The Naked Time")
Following a communications blackout caused by Apollo, jamming all communication frequencies between the Enterprise and her landing party on stardate 3468.1, Uhura attempted the delicate task of rewiring the entire communications system in an attempt to break through the interference. In conjunction with Sulu's rigging of all transmission circuits for maximum power generation, Uhura successfully connected the bypass circuit, a task she had not done in several years. Spock praised her work and could think of "no one better equipped" to handle the necessary repairs. (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?")
On stardate 4523.3, while on shore leave aboard Deep Space Station K-7, Uhura met a dealer named Cyrano Jones, who tried to sell rare galactic items, among them, funny little creatures Jones called tribbles. In hopes of more sales, Jones gave one to Uhura, which subsequently, due to their high reproduction rate, threatened to overrun the Enterprise when Uhura took the creature with her on board. Fortunately, the crew was able to find a way to dispose of the tribbles. (TOS: "The Trouble with Tribbles")
On stardate 4372.5, the Enterprise was assigned to transport Elaan, Dohlman of Elas to the planet Troyius for her arranged marriage. Uhura offered Elaan her quarters to stay in while traveling on board the Enterprise. (TOS: "Elaan of Troyius").
On stardate 5483.7, the male Enterprise crew was incapacitated by the "siren's song" of Taurus II's female population, necessitating Uhura to take command of the ship. She and Nurse Christine Chapel led a landing party to rescue Captain Kirk, first officer Spock and Dr. McCoy. (TAS: "The Lorelei Signal")
Later that year, on stardate 2291.2, the Enterprise revisited the Shore Leave Planet where Uhura was abducted by the planet's computer, which had taken charge of the planet upon the Keeper's death. Uhura reasoned with the computer, which felt that it was being taken advantage of, and convinced it to cease its hostile actions against the Enterprise crew. (TAS: "Once Upon a Planet")
In 2270, Uhura was again temporarily in command of the bridge when the Enterprise lost contact with Kirk and Spock, half of the ships' contact party, while exploring the surface of Delta Theta III. Per Kirk's orders of avoiding unnecessary risks, she ordered engineer Montgomery Scott and Sulu, the other half of the contact party, to reboard the ship, contrary to their attempt to locate Spock and the captain. (TAS: "Bem")
Later that year, Uhura, along with Dr. McCoy and Lieutenant Sulu, became trapped in the ship's holographic recreation room when the Enterprise computer exhibited aberrant behavior following its passage through an energy cloud. (TAS: "The Practical Joker") On stardate 5275.6, Uhura collapsed on the bridge due to the effects of Dramian auroral plague. Fortunately, Dr. McCoy was able to find a cure to rescue her and the rest of the infected crew. (TAS: "Albatross")
On stardate 6770.3, upon entering an anti-matter universe, the Enterprise crew experienced the effects of accelerated reverse aging and Uhura also was reduced to infancy. After returning the ship to normal space, the crew was able to return to their normal age by using the transporters. (TAS: "The Counter-Clock Incident")
Assaults, injuries and ailments
Like most of her Enterprise crewmates, Uhura was exposed to certain dangers on several missions. However, most of these dangers occurred during the original five-year mission.
After Khan took over the Enterprise on stardate 3141.9 and assembled several officers in the briefing room, one of Khan's henchmen forcefully grabbed Uhura by the arm and shoved her into the chair located in front of the computer terminal. When Uhura resisted obeying Khan's orders, the henchman slapped Uhura across the face. (TOS: "Space Seed")
On stardate 3211.8, Uhura was the victim of an attempted sexual assault. When she, Kirk and Chekov were kidnapped and imprisoned by the Providers of the planet Triskelion, Uhura fought off the advances of the drill thrall Lars with a water pitcher. (TOS: "The Gamesters of Triskelion")
Perhaps her most traumatic experience during her time aboard the Enterprise occurred on stardate 3541.9. This is when Uhura had her memory wiped out by the space probe Nomad, which misinterpreted her singing of Beyond Antares as a biological malfunction. This assault required Dr. McCoy to use advanced medical and educational techniques to restore her memories. (TOS: "The Changeling")
Recognition during five-year mission
Uhura received three noteworthy recognitions which occurred during the original five-year mission.
She was one of a few officers privileged to dine at a banquet arranged at the request of Lieutenant Marla McGivers for Khan on stardate 3141.9. When Khan later cut life support to the bridge, Kirk listed the names of bridge personnel to be recorded for commendations. Before Kirk ran out of air, he was able to include Uhura in that list. (TOS: "Space Seed")
When the Enterprise was temporarily placed under the control of the M-5 computer as part of an experiment by Doctor Richard Daystrom on stardate 4729.4, Uhura was one of twenty officers selected by the computer to operate the starship for the war games exercise. (TOS: "The Ultimate Computer")
When the Enterprise encountered a giant space amoeba in 2268, Lt. Uhura was one of the officers named by Captain Kirk as deserving of "special citation", along with Cmdr. Spock, Montgomery Scott, Dr. Leonard McCoy, Pavel Chekov, and Lt. Kyle. (TOS: "The Immunity Syndrome")
In the 2270s, Uhura was promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander aboard the Enterprise. She served aboard the refit Enterprise under the command of Captain Willard Decker, and later during the V'Ger crisis under the command of Admiral Kirk. (Star Trek: The Motion Picture)
By 2285, Uhura was promoted to commander and assigned to Starfleet Command communications and to Starfleet Academy while the Enterprise was reassigned to cadet training. Part of her duty included giving lectures at the Academy. That same year, the Enterprise became involved with Project Genesis and Khan Noonien Singh's attempt to steal the Genesis Device. Eventually, Kirk was able to stop Khan, but not before the latter had wrought extensive damage upon the Enterprise, requiring Captain Spock to sacrifice his life to save the ship. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
Uhura was assigned to the transporter room at Old City Station per her own request. During the planned rescue attempt of Spock from the Genesis Planet, Uhura played an instrumental role of illegally transporting Admiral Kirk and company to the Enterprise prior to its theft. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
Kirk and his senior staff succeeded in saving Spock, and Uhura met up with her crewmates on Vulcan. Along with the rest of the crew she traveled back to the year 1986 aboard a Klingon Bird-of-Prey – which they named the HMS Bounty – to retrieve two humpback whales to save the planet Earth from an alien probe. While in 20th century San Francisco, Uhura and Pavel Chekov transported aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise to acquire high-energy photons from its reactor core. Upon their return to the 23rd century, she was among the crew charged with the theft of the Enterprise. However, all charges against them were dropped because they had saved the planet. She was reassigned to communications aboard the USS Enterprise-A. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)
In 2287, the Enterprise was dispatched to resolve a hostage situation on Nimbus III, the Planet of Galactic Peace. Under the influence of the rebel leader Sybok, Uhura and many other crewmembers cooperated to divert the Enterprise to the galactic core where Sybok convinced them they would find the mythical Sha Ka Ree. In an initial attack on the rebel-held Paradise City, Uhura played a vital part by performing an erotic, moonlit fan dance on a sand dune to a look out party of rebels. Her dance seduced the entire party and they were captured by Kirk and his team in order to steal their horses which they used to enter Paradise City. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)
Up to the Camp Khitomer crisis of 2293, Uhura continued to serve as communications officer of the Enterprise-A. The Enterprise crew played a vital role in the success of the Khitomer Conference by exposing a conspiracy that sought to sabotage the peace process. By the end of the year, Uhura had left the Enterprise and taken a position at Starfleet Academy. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
Uhura was a Starfleet officer who was proud of her African heritage. In fact, she decorated her personal living quarters aboard the Enterprise with a zebra-skin bedspread, some African sculptures and masks, and wall panels containing African images. (TOS: "Elaan of Troyius", "The Tholian Web")
She was also well known among her fellow Enterprise colleagues for entertaining them with her singing talent, including her own renditions of songs, such as Oh, On the Starship Enterprise. (TOS: "Charlie X")
One of Uhura's favorite love songs to sing was the song Beyond Antares. She chose the song in response to a request made by Kevin Riley, who was on duty alone in engineering, and who wanted to be reassured that he was not the only living thing left in the universe. (TOS: "The Conscience of the King") She also sang it while on bridge duty the following year. Her performance led to the incident that triggering Nomad's assault on her. (TOS: "The Changeling")
Throughout their years of serving together, Uhura developed a strong friendship with the other members of the Enterprise senior staff. In 2285, she helped Kirk without hesitation in his quest to find peace for Spock's katra. When the other crew members had recovered Spock's body from the Genesis Planet, Uhura had been waiting for them on Vulcan and witnessed the fal-tor-pan ritual being performed on Spock. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
James T. Kirk
Serving under Kirk for many years, Uhura developed a great respect for him, both as a starship captain and a person. On stardate 5784.2, under the influence of powerful telepaths, Uhura was forced to kiss him. (TOS: "Plato's Stepchildren")
Near the beginning of her service aboard the Enterprise, Uhura attempted to reach the Human side of Spock.
On stardate 1513.1, she tried to start a conversation with a sardonic Spock and asked him how Vulcan looked when its moon was full. When Spock mentioned to her that Vulcan has no moon, she expressed little surprise at his lack of romanticism. She was also amazed that Spock lacked any curiosity with regard to the identity of a dead officer on planet M-113. (TOS: "The Man Trap")
Soon afterward, when Charles Evans was aboard the Enterprise, Uhura and Spock entertained the crew together in the recreation room on stardate 1533.6. With Spock on the Vulcan harp, Uhura sang two versions of the improvised song Oh, On the Starship Enterprise, one about Spock, the second about Evans (which caused Evans to make her temporarily lose her voice). (TOS: "Charlie X")
In 2287, Uhura began to show some romantic interest in Montgomery Scott while being under the influence of Sybok. Scotty, nevertheless, politely declined the advance, mindful of her "condition" and realizing that she was in fact a "convert".
Scotty helped Uhura and Chekov look up Klingon phrases in antique books in 2293, while trying to cross the border into Klingon space to rescue their jailed colleagues. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)
|Communications officers of the starships Enterprise|
|USS Enterprise:||Alden • Farrell • Garison • Hadley • Lisa • M'Ress • Palmer • Uhura|
|ISS Enterprise NX-01:||Sato|
|ISS Enterprise (NCC-1701):||Uhura|
|USS Enterprise (alternate reality):||Hawkins • Uhura|
- See also: Main character non-appearances
Uhura was played by Nichelle Nichols, who appeared in sixty-six episodes. She appeared in voice-over in two additional episodes ("The Enemy Within" and "The Menagerie, Part II"), and on stock footage in "The Paradise Syndrome".  Nichols also provided the voice of Uhura (in addition to a few guest character voices) for The Animated Series, and appeared in all but three of its episodes.
Uhura was slated to make a cameo in "Flashback", but was cut from the episode after requesting more lines for her role. (Star Trek: Communicator: "The Making of 'Flashback'") There were also rumors that she would appear on Star Trek: The Next Generation as either Guinan's mother or daughter, but this never came to pass. 
Uhura was the last main character to be cast for the Original Series, only a few weeks before production began on "The Corbomite Maneuver", the first regular episode. In the original script of the episode, the communications officer was named "Dave Bailey". When Nichelle Nichols (allegedly a lover of Gene Roddenberry) was cast as the new comm officer, Bailey (played by Anthony Call) was "transferred" to navigation. (Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, pp 153-154)
Name and heritage
According to an anecdote told by Nichelle Nichols at Shore Leave 29, she and Gene Roddenberry decided on the name "Uhura" because, before Nichols' audition, she and several others involved in casting had been reading the 1962 novel Uhuru by American author Robert Ruark. The story is verified by Robert Justman and Herb Solow in Inside Star Trek: The Real Story.
"Uhuru" is the Swahili word for "freedom." Spock, after making a Vulcan mind meld with Kollos in "Is There in Truth No Beauty?", says that Uhura's name means "freedom" and recites a line of poetry about beauty from Lord Byron. In Star Trek VI, her name was misspelled "Uhuru" in the credits.
By the early 1970s, it was suggested that her first name may have been "Penda", meaning "love". The character's given name was established in the 2009 film Star Trek as Nyota. (The revelation playfully parallels the long-time real-life ambiguity; from their first meeting in an Iowa bar, for three years Kirk tries unsuccessfully to learn her first name, only to learn it when her lover - Spock - assures her that he return alive from the Narada.) The name Nyota ("star" in Swahili) was first used by William Rotsler in his book Star Trek II Biographies.
Nichols has said that an author writing about the history of Star Trek had asked Gene Roddenberry what Uhura's first name was and was told that one was never decided. The author then recommended the name "Nyota." Roddenberry liked it, but said to ask Nichols before he allowed the name to be used. Nichols thought the name was perfect. (TOS Season 2 DVD commentary) Alternatively on the video William Shatner's Star Trek Memories, Nichols also said that she and Gene Roddenberry came up with the name in initial discussions about the character just after her casting.
In the Star Trek RPG published by FASA in the 1980s, the full name given for Uhura was "Samara Uhura," although, like the rest of this game, its source material was stricken from canonical status after the debut of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Paramount Pictures revised canon policies. This possible name appears to not have been accepted outside the original source. Incidentally, in the RPG adaptation, there were several Decker-class starships named for the Enterprise crew, including the USS Samara Uhura.
Although never mentioned on screen, various guides, such as the Star Trek Concordance, the Star Trek Chronology and StarTrek.com mention M'Umbha as being the mother of Uhura. This may lead one to believe that the reference to M'Umbha was in the original script for "The Man Trap" or in the TOS writer's guide. According to the Concordance the line referencing M'Umbha in "The Man Trap" was spoken in the past tense, indicating that she was deceased by 2266.
Uhura's date and location of birth were also never established on screen. The date of birth (2239) was derived from the Star Trek Chronology and the Star Trek Encyclopedia. The original Star Trek writer's guide and the Star Trek Concordance establish that she was born in the United States of Africa. Her familiarity with the Swahili language implies – but does not require – an East African origin or heritage. In the novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, she is described as having a "fine-boned Bantu face" (Page 49), and in the novelization of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Pavel Chekov said Uhura was from the Bantu Nation. James Blish refers to Uhura as "a beautiful Bantu girl" in his adaptations of original Star Trek episodes.
The 1977 Writers'/Directors' Guide for Star Trek: Phase II – the aborted second series – Uhura was noted as having been born in the "African Confederacy". The full character description, written by Gene Roddenberry and Jon Povill, is as follows:
Rank of Lieutenant Commander, Communications Officer, played by attractive young actress Nichelle Nichols. Uhura was born in the African Confederacy. Quick and intelligent, she is a highly efficient officer. Her understanding of the ship's computer systems is second only to the Vulcan Science Officer, and expert in all ships systems relating to communications. Uhura is also a warm, highly female female off duty. She is a favorite in the Recreation Room during off duty hours, too, because she sings – old ballads as well as the newer space ballads – and she can do impersonations at the drop of a communicator.
Nichelle Nichols has stated on many occasions during the years, including on the video William Shatner's Star Trek Memories that during the first year of the series, she was tempted to leave the show as she felt her role lacked significance, but a conversation with Martin Luther King, Jr. changed her mind. King personally encouraged her to stay on the show, telling her that he was a big fan of the series and told her she "could not give up" as she was playing a vital role model for young black children and women across the country. After the first season, Uhura's role on the series was expanded beyond merely manning her console.
NASA astronauts, Sally Ride, Guion Bluford, Judith Resnik, and Ronald McNair were all recruited as a direct result of Nichelle Nichols' employ as NASA's recruiter, specifically for minorities.
Whoopi Goldberg has also spoken of Nichols' influence. It was seeing Nichols play a prominent role on network television that allowed her to see that African American women could contribute more than just as domestic servants. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion) She is often fond of recalling that when she saw Uhura on-screen for the first time she ran out of the room telling everyone in her house, "I just saw a black woman on television; and she ain't no maid!" (Star Trek Monthly issue 56)
Nyota Uhura is depicted in the non-canonical novels The Art of the Impossible, Catalyst of Sorrows, and Vulcan's Soul: Exodus as later going on to achieve the rank of admiral and become the head of Starfleet Intelligence in the 24th century, serving into 2377.
- Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens; Star Trek: Phase II - The Making of the Lost Series; Pocket Books, ISBN 0671568396 (softcover, 1997)
- Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens; Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission; Pocket Books, ISBN 0671025597 (softcover 1998)