Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

The Enterprise, searching for a missing Federation historian, discovers that the historian has apparently contaminated the cultural development of the planet where he was assigned as a cultural observer to have it follow the societal path of Nazi Germany in the 1930s and '40s.



Kirk dressed in Nazi attire

James T. Kirk in a Nazi uniform

The USS Enterprise heads for the planet Ekos to locate a missing cultural observer, John Gill, a noted historian and brilliant history teacher who had been one of Kirk's instructors at Academy. Spock and McCoy reminisce about his style of approaching history as a matter of causes and motivations, rather than simply dates and events.

While approaching the planet, the Enterprise is attacked by an old-style chemical rocket with a thermonuclear warhead – technology of whose development the planet is not yet supposed to be capable. Kirk has Chekov destroy the rocket with the ship's phasers. McCoy notes that the missile is generations ahead from where they should be technically. Kirk surmises that they may have had help – and Spock glances at Gill's photo.

Act OneEdit

Fearing that Gill's mission has been compromised in violation of the Prime Directive of non-interference with developing planets, Kirk and Spock beam down to Ekos. Before they do, they have McCoy insert subcutaneous emergency transponders, dependent on crystalline rubindium, into their forearms, to locate them for retrieval in the event they cannot use their communicators. Kirk orders that Scotty beam them up at the appointed time if they fail to contact the ship, no matter what their condition may be.

Upon beaming down, Kirk and Spock find a culture almost identical to that of Germany during its Nazi period of the 1930s and 40s, right down to the uniforms, salutes, persecution of another ethnic culture – in this case the inhabitants of the neighboring planet Zeon, and the concept of the Führer – John Gill himself. Stealing some SS uniforms, Kirk and Spock attempt to infiltrate the Führer's headquarters but are quickly captured when Spock is forced to remove his helmet, revealing his pointed Vulcan ears.

Act TwoEdit

Kirk and Spock are stripped to the waist and interrogated by an SS-Major, who lashes them cruelly with a whip; this, however, is interrupted by Chairman Eneg, who chides the SS guard for not realizing that punishment is effective for only just so long.

Left with their wounds still open, they find themselves imprisoned next to Isak, a Zeon underground member who explains how the Nazi movement began on Ekos, coinciding precisely with the time of Gill's arrival. Improvising a crude cutting-torch laser from the rubindium crystals from the transponders Kirk had had McCoy insert, at a subcutaneous level, into the skins of their forearms before beaming down, the trio manage to escape and retrieve two disassembled communicators from a SS laboratory. Kirk and Spock are able to steal SS uniforms again and leave, hauling out Isak in a stretcher. Later, the three return to the underground's base. There, Isak is greeted by his brother, Abrom, and told of the death of his fiancée, Uletta. In the midst of this, a squad of Ekosian stormtroopers (led by a woman) arrives, intent on arresting the entire lot. She apparently shoots Abrom dead and plans to "finish the job" by killing Kirk.

Act ThreeEdit

When Kirk and Spock intervene to help the underground workers, it is revealed that the woman, Daras (who they recognized from a propaganda broadcast they viewed earlier), is an Ekosian member of the underground and the storming was a test to see if the two strangers could be trusted – once Kirk and Spock responded to her apparent murder of Abrom by her holding at gunpoint, those gathered realized that the two strangers were definitely on their side and put an end to the ruse. Kirk and Spock then reveal who they really are and why they are there.

The next opportunity to the Führer, is an upcoming speech in the chancellery in which Isak suspects war will be declared on Zeon (the "final solution"). To infiltrate the chancellery, Kirk and Spock accompany Daras and Isak (in Nazi disguise) to Führer headquarters posing as a Nazi documentary crew to try and reach Gill. Kirk, Spock, Isak, and Daras walk down a corridor pretending to film a record of the Führer's final solution speech. During this, Spock catches a glimpse of John Gill in a guarded room, seemingly drugged. Kirk tells Spock that they need Dr. McCoy. Kirk hides inside a cloakroom with Spock and asks Lieutenant Uhura to have McCoy beamed down from the Enterprise, however, they learn from Daras that the transmission was traced, prompting a search party. The doctor joins them dressed in a Nazi colonel's uniform and throws the search party by pretending to be drunk.

Act FourEdit

Gill Fuhrer 2268

Gill as Fuhrer



With McCoy now joined with them, the group listens to a speech by Gill, followed by another from his deputy, Melakon, pledging the destruction of Zeon which is already taking place as he speaks. Meanwhile, the three are able to sneak into a broadcast booth and find Gill, heavily drugged. Partly revived by McCoy, they learn the truth; Gill had taken matters into his own hands on Ekos, which he had found to be in a condition of anarchy. He had organized the planet using (what he thought was) the efficiency of the Nazi system, but had tried to prevent it from sliding into sadism. Unfortunately for his plans, however, Melakon had begun a takeover and had begun drugging Gill, leaving what now remained of Gill as a figurehead; the direct result was that Melakon has been the real power on Ekos for years.

The search party, led by Eneg, steps into the room, and Kirk quickly pretends they foiled an assassination attempt by Spock. They convince Eneg to present him to Melakon, which also convinces Isak that he is a member of the underground resistance. While they distract Melakon, Kirk struggles to revive Gill to a sufficiently coherent state. Gill is finally able to broadcast a message halting the invasion and declaring Melakon a traitor. Melakon takes an MP40 machine gun from a guard and shoots Gill through the broadcast booth curtain to silence him. Isak, in turn, shoots him twice with a Luger, killing him instantly. As Gill dies in Kirk's arms, he tells the captain that the Prime Directive was the right way all along. Meanwhile, Eneg takes control of the government, declaring, "There has been enough killing. Now we'll start to live the way the Führer meant us to live." He plans to go on the airwaves with Daras to offer a new way of life for both Ekosians and Zeons.

Back on board the Enterprise, Spock expresses confusion as to how a man as logical as Gill could make such a mistake emulating the Nazis. Kirk says the problem was not simply the Nazis themselves but giving any one individual so much power. McCoy remarks how power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely; Spock dryly points out several examples from Earth history of just that mentality and Kirk cuts off their argument by saying, "Gentlemen, we've just been through one civil war; let's not start another." Kirk then orders that Ensign Chekov to plot a course and break out of orbit around Ekos as quickly as they can before another civil war starts.

Memorable quotesEdit

"Our missiles utterly destroyed the enemy."
"You look quite well for a man who's been utterly destroyed, Mister Spock."

- Ekosian Newscaster and Kirk, on the missile attack on the Enterprise

"You should make a very convincing Nazi."

- Spock, commenting on Kirk's Gestapo uniform

"Lieutenant? Better see a doctor. You don't look well. Your color."
"Yes. I shall tend to it, Major."
"Lieutenant! Your helmet. Remove it!"

- SS-Major uncovering a disguised Spock

"I...don't care if you hit the broad side of a barn. Just hurry, please."
"Captain, why should I aim at such a structure?"
"Never mind, Spock. Just...get on with the job."

- Kirk and Spock, before breaking out of their jail cell

"If we adopt the ways of the Nazis, we're as bad as the Nazis."

- Isak, after learning of Uletta's death

"Captain, I'm beginning to understand why you earth men enjoy gambling. No matter how carefully one computes the odds of success, there is still a certain... exhilaration in the risk."
"Very good, Spock. We may make a Human of you yet."
"I hope not."

- Spock and Kirk, on the Human thrill of risk-taking

"Doctor McCoy is having difficulty with that uniform, sir."
"Send him down naked if you have to! Kirk out."

- Uhura and Kirk, before McCoy beams into the cloakroom

"Note the sinister eyes and the malformed ears. Definitely an inferior race."

- Melakon to Daras, on Spock

"Even historians fail to learn from history...they repeat the same mistakes. Let the killing end, Kirk. Let--"

- John Gill's final words

"For so long I've prayed for this. Now I'm sorry."
"So was he."

- Isak and Kirk, after Gill's death

"It is time to stop the bury our dead."

- Eneg, as the war between Ekos and Zeon (apparently) ends

"Gentlemen, we've just been through one civil war; let's not start another."

- Kirk, as Spock and McCoy debate Gill's mistake

Background information Edit

Production history Edit

Story Edit

  • No stardate is logged in the episode. Bjo Trimble gave it a stardate of 2534.0 in her Star Trek Concordance, apparently using an earlier script version. This episode was filmed in early December 1967.
  • John Meredyth Lucas wrote this episode out of his fascination with the functioning of totalitarian regimes (especially Nazi Germany) and their ability to stay in power. [1] William Shatner quoted him to Chris Kreski, in Star Trek Memories, as saying that "it was fun to write a well-meaning Nazi, a guy who for the right cause completely fucked everything up. Y'know, we started with the question, 'How the hell did Nazism get past the shits and the street gangs and take root among the basically decent people? How did sane, reasonable adults come to buy into this bullshit?' The answer seemed to be because it was efficient and because, in a society beset by all kinds of problems, it may have seemed like a feasible necessity. So it becomes feasible, and the people take that leap."
  • During the first season, Paul Schneider wrote a story outline entitled "Tomorrow the Universe" about the Enterprise encountering an alien planet adopting Nazi ideology and forming its own "Third Reich." Schneider began to develop the story further; however, when Lucas came up with his very similar idea of "Patterns of Force," it was deemed much better than Schneider's story, which was scrapped. (These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Two)
  • An early draft of this episode had the source of cultural contamination arriving aboard a small "Ambassador-class" vessel called the Magellan. The name was later applied in TNG to the Ambassador-class of ships in the mid-24th century.
  • Eneg's name is an inside joke – it is "Gene (Roddenberry)" backwards. The name "Zeon" is a take on "Zion," while "Abrom" corresponds to "Abraham", "Davod" to "David", and "Isak" to "Isaac"; "Daras", reversed, is almost "Sara". With respect to the "Eneg" name, Walter Koenig attempted to repeat this inside joke several years later when writing for Land of the Lost. It was to be the name of the Altrusian character in that show. However, somehow the name got mistranscribed as Enik.
  • This is the second mention of Nazi Germany in Star Trek, the first being in "The City on the Edge of Forever". However, in "Mirror, Mirror", Scott did compare Sulu's security system to "the ancient Gestapo".
  • Star Trek 12 contains a novelization of this story by James Blish and J.A. Lawrence.

Sets and costumes Edit

SSHQLocate Desilu production staffer Bill McGovern slating of the Ekosian Chancellery scene
The location of the Ekosian Chancellery at Paramount, where Desilu staffer Bill McGovern slates a scene
  • The headquarters of the Nazi Party in this episode are the redecorated offices of Paramount Pictures during the 60s, including the building where Lucille Ball ran Desilu. Paramount office buildings were also used as locations in "Assignment: Earth", and a short newsreel scene in "Bread and Circuses".
  • The underground area is the same set as was used for "The Devil in the Dark".
  • All the Nazi uniforms used in this episode are taken from Paramount's costume storage, and were previously featured in many of the studio's World War II-era films.[2] Many of them featured mismatched epaulets, collar tabs, and other rank-identifying insignia. However, McCoy's collar tabs, bearing a single silver oak leaf, correctly identify him as a colonel, as Kirk had ordered.
  • Several uniforms, such as Kirk and McCoy's, show cuffbands reading "Adolf Hitler". They represent members of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, special bodyguards of the Führer.
  • On the archive file photograph shown by Spock in the teaser, John Gill is wearing Commissioner Ferris' costume from "The Galileo Seven".

Two "Ekosians" look down from an upper window

  • The front of the Ekosian Chancellery has all of its windows and shutters closed, for the real world reason that the actual building was an active office of Paramount Pictures with daily business going on inside while the film crew and actors were shooting the exterior on 29 November 1967. (To Boldly Go: Rare Photos from the TOS Soundstage - Season Two, p. 191) Even so, two individuals who appear to be curious Paramount Pictures employees can be seen looking down on the courtyard from an upper window.
  • This episode makes a common mistake about Nazi Germany common to television takes on the Third Reich. Kirk tells the Enterprise to outfit McCoy as a Gestapo Colonel. The Gestapo were the national secret police force (Geheime Staatspolizei), who were more like the FBI and did not wear uniforms, but plain clothes. Hogan's Heroes often made the same mistake with Major Hochstetter, who wore the SS uniform, but was repeatedly referred to as "Gestapo".(citation needededit)

Continuity Edit

  • Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Planetary Development was used to explain the similarities seen in "Bread and Circuses", which directly contradicts Spock's claim that the odds of another planet having the same symbols as Nazi Germany were "virtually impossible". The contradiction is even more glaring if the episodes are watched in production order, and even watching them in airdate order fails to explain the acceptance, in "The Omega Glory", of another planet having the flag and Constitution of the United States.

Cast and characters Edit

  • This episode marks the only time, in any Star Trek series or film, that actor Leonard Nimoy is seen on camera not wearing a shirt.
  • George Takei does not appear in this episode.

Special visual effects Edit

  • V-2 rocket footage from World War II Germany is used in the newscast showing Ekosian missiles.
  • In a change from the stock explosions used throughout the second season, an animated nuclear blast was created for this episode.
  • The attacking V-2 rocket on the viewscreen of Enterprise was reused footage of the Orion scout ship from "Journey to Babel" earlier in the season.
  • In one of the sequences of news footage, all of which consisted of stock shots and stock footage, a car with Adolf Hitler accompanied by soldiers is used to represent John Gill as the Führer on the planet Ekos. The sequence is a use of stock footage from Triumph of the Will, the infamous Nazi propaganda film for whose production Leni Riefenstahl was responsible.

Controversies Edit

  • Because the subject matter of the nation's Nazi past was deemed too serious and too sensitive a topic for light TV entertainment, this episode was withheld from broadcast in its two original runs by the German stations that aired TOS – the public ZDF network in the mid-1970s and the private Sat.1 network in the late 1980s/early 1990s – and resulted that "Patterns of Force" became the only Original Series episode not to be aired in Germany. Only in 1996 was the (dubbed) episode finally shown as "Schablonen der Gewalt" on German pay TV, shortly after the first time German-language release on VHS the year previously, and included on all subsequent DVD/Blu-ray Disc season sets. On 4 November 2011 it was finally shown on the public network channel ZDFneo as well. ([3]; TOS Season 2 DVD-special feature, "Red Shirt Logs: Bjo Trimble on censorship") During the first two German runs of TOS in the 1970s and 1980s, many former Nazis were still alive; during the third run in the 1990s, the former German Democratic Republic (GDR = East Germany) experienced a wave of neo-Nazi violence after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
  • Austrian state-owned TV, on the other hand, did broadcast it, although untranslated with German subtitles. (Translation of the other episodes was done in Germany and bought by Austrian TV stations.) Southernmost Germany in range of Austrian TV broadcast thus could watch the episode. In Germany the above-mentioned translated version was aired in 1996, but only late at night. There was the 1995 VHS release, however, and the newer German DVD and Blu-Ray sets contain the episode. The fact that the episode was only dubbed 20 or so years after the other shows is obvious by the sound of the dubbing voices which have clearly aged. Especially Gerd Günther Hoffmann's (Kirk's dubbing voice in most of the Star Trek TV shows and films, and also Sean Connery's) voice has notably aged and the Kirk in this episode sounds more like the one in Generations than that of the rest of the TV show.(citation needededit)
  • The episode's thesis, which Gill espoused and which Spock corroborated, was that Germany, and especially Nazi Germany, was the "most efficient" state ever known in Earth history. This was a popular notion in 1960s America, but contemporary historians disputed it; William Shirer, in particular, noted that nearly every Nazi official was a bitter enemy of nearly every other, and that their jurisdictions often overlapped and/or collided, both of which factors actually reduced or even, in some cases, completely negated governmental efficiency.

Remastered informationEdit

The remastered version of "Patterns of Force" aired in many North American markets during the weekend of 19 May 2007. While the episode required very few new effects, an entirely new shot of the Enterprise phasering the Ekosian warhead was substituted. In addition, Ekos was given a CGI-makeover as a more Earth-like planet, with new orbital shots of the Enterprise, and the rubindium crystal beam was refined.

Video and DVD releasesEdit

Links and referencesEdit


Guest starsEdit

Special appearance byEdit


Uncredited co-starsEdit


Alexander the Great; anarchy; bankruptcy; barn; Bonaparte, Napoléon; "Bones"; Caesar, Julius; cancer; catalepsy; Chancellery Detention Center; Colt Police Positive; coma; cultural contamination; cultural observer; Daras' father; Deputy Führer; drugs; Earth; Ekos; Ekos and Zeon system; Ekosian; Ekosian Chancellery; Ekosian missile; excellency; Federation; Final Decision; Final Solution; Führer; Führer's Special Documentary Corps; gambling; Germany; Gestapo; Gestapo Command Headquarters; Hitler, Adolf; Human history; hypnosis; Iron Cross; kilometer; Leader Principle; Kuan, Lee; logic; malformed; medi-comp; microphone; millimeter; MP40; National Socialist Party (Nazi, Nazi Party); patriotism; pig; Prime Directive; projectile weapon; psychosis; radio; Ramses; rubindium; sadism; secretary; SS; space fleet; standard orbit; Starfleet Academy; streets; subcutaneous transponder; suicide; swastika; swine; transponder; Uletta; Volkswagen Beetle; Vulcan mind probe; Vulcan neck pinch; Walther P38; Zeon; Zeon (planet)

External links Edit

Previous episode produced:
"Return to Tomorrow"
Star Trek: The Original Series
Season 2
Next episode produced:
"The Ultimate Computer"
Previous episode aired:
"Return to Tomorrow"
Next episode aired:
"By Any Other Name"
Previous remastered episode aired:
"Errand of Mercy"
TOS Remastered Next remastered episode aired:
"Shore Leave"

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