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Valdore, a Romulan male (2154)

Valdore, a Romulan male (2154)

Valdore, a Romulan male (2154)
A female Romulan (2268)

A female Romulan (2268)

A female Romulan (2268)
"Romulans. So predictably treacherous!"
- Weyoun, 2375

The Romulans were a humanoid race from the planet Romulus in the Alpha Quadrant. The Romulans were biological cousins of Vulcans, as they were descended from those who rejected Surak's reforms during the Time of Awakening. The Romulan Star Empire was the Romulan state and one of the major powers known in the galaxy.


Ancient origins

Commander Spock once theorized that Sargon's people may have colonized Vulcan some 600,000 years ago. Sargon believed that Humans and Vulcans (and therefore also Romulans) might even be descendants of their early travelers. (TOS: "Return to Tomorrow")

With the discovery of ancient humanoid progenitors in the 24th century, most humanoid lifeforms in the known galaxy were found to have a "seed" genetic code guiding their evolution to the humanoid form. (TNG: "The Chase")

Modern origins

When Surak's reforms of embracing logical principles and rejecting emotions spread rapidly across Vulcan in the 4th century, a minority rejected Surak's ideals. Those who marched beneath the banner of the raptor, which became the symbol of the Romulan Star Empire, departed Vulcan in the 4th century. Later, some of their descendants established settlements on the planets Calder II, Dessica II, Draken IV, Yadalla Prime, and Barradas III. An ancient offshoot civilization, called the Debrune, at one time existed on Barradas III, but it had died out by the 24th century. (ENT: "Kir'Shara"; TNG: "Gambit, Part I")

At some point, another group settled on twin planets that became known as Romulus and Remus. While Romulus was a Class M planet, Remus was a harsh planet notable only for its dilithium deposits. These two worlds were the foundation of an interstellar empire that expanded to many worlds, reaching across some of the Alpha Quadrant. Eventually that power came to be known as the Romulan Star Empire. (TNG: "Gambit, Part I", "Gambit, Part II"; Star Trek Nemesis)

In 2387, a star close to Romulus went supernova. Although Ambassador Spock attempted to prevent the supernova from striking the planet using red matter, he was ultimately unsuccessful and Romulus was destroyed. A single mining vessel, the Narada survived and traveled back in time to destroy the Federation in order to allow the Romulans to conquer everything. While Vulcan and most of the Vulcan species was destroyed, the Narada and her crew were destroyed in the Battle of Earth by the crew of the Enterprise led by the James T. Kirk of the new timeline. (Star Trek)

See also

Mirror universe

In the mirror universe, the Romulans appeared to be uninvolved in the conflict between the Terran Rebellion and the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance.

Benjamin Sisko, posing as his mirror universe counterpart, indicated to Jennifer Sisko that he was going to visit the Romulans to see if he could get their support. This was, in reality, a ruse to explain his return to Deep Space 9. (DS9: "Through the Looking Glass")

External affairs

First contact

Romulans were aware of Humanity for some time before Earth knew of them. Infiltrating the highest levels of the Vulcan High Command, the Romulans were impressed and confused by Humans. The Enterprise NX-01 inadvertently encountered a Romulan minefield at one point, officially the first time Humanity became aware of the Romulans. Even after fighting the Earth-Romulan War, it wasn't until the 23rd century that Humans actually made visual contact with Romulans. (ENT: "Minefield"; TOS: "Balance of Terror")

After the Treaty of Algeron went into effect, the Romulans retreated into political and social isolation from the Federation. In late 2364 an unprovoked attack on a Romulan outpost near the Federation neutral zone occurred. The Romulans initially suspected the Federation had executed the attack but it was later learned that the Borg were responsible. This event marked the end of Romulan political isolationism with the Federation. (TNG: "The Neutral Zone")

Relationships with other species

In keeping with their xenophobic and arguably racist attitudes, the Romulans tend to conquer species rather than form alliances with them, and individual Romulans tend to treat other species with varying degrees of disdain.

That did not prevent them from employing diplomacy when it suited their purposes. Soon after their emergence from a century of isolation in the mid 2260s, they had established at least two embassies with the Federation. One such embassy was a three-way endeavor on the planet Nimbus III, along with the Klingon Empire, and the other was on Earth itself. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Klingons and Romulans once shared an alliance for a number of years, beginning in the 2260s. Over the years, a number of incidents, including the Khitomer Massacre, led the Klingons to develop a deep-seated hatred for the Romulans, and the Romulans were arguably the species that Klingon society in general despises most of all. (TOS: "The Enterprise Incident"; TNG: "The Neutral Zone")

A Cardassian embassy existed on Romulus for a time, and Elim Garak was "employed" there as a "gardener," suggesting that the two species maintained an active diplomatic relationship. (DS9: "Broken Link") In 2371 Romulan and Cardassian agents in the Tal Shiar and the Obsidian Order cooperated in an attempted attack on the Dominion. (DS9: "Improbable Cause", "The Die is Cast") The Romulans had certainly cut ties with the Cardassians by the time they entered in to the Dominion War, but when their relationship ended prior to this was unclear.

One common saying among the Romulans was "Never turn your back on a Breen." While this statement could be taken as partially humorous and not in itself indicative of hostilities between the two species, the Breen Thot's apparent condition that the Breen be given Romulus in exchange for their help in the Dominion War suggested there was some degree of unfriendly history between the two. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light", "Strange Bedfellows")

The species that Romulans seem to dislike most, however, were Vulcans, and this feud goes back many centuries. The two powers once fought in a war that lasted 100 years, that was ignited due to a misunderstanding created by one of Q's self-destructive stunts. (VOY: "Death Wish")

The two species would remain distrustful of one another for an incredibly long time, but some Romulans grew tired of this, and a grassroots movement for reunification of the two species was active for a time on Romulus. It was generally assumed that after the split, Romulans and Vulcans were unaware of their common ancestry until the 23rd century. (ENT: "Kir'Shara"; TOS: "Balance of Terror")

The exact date, or even a reasonable timeframe, of the Vulcan/Romulan split is very unclear, though it certainly happened some time after Surak's teachings were introduced, which, on the Earth calendar, would be 4th century AD or so.


Due to their shared ancestry, Vulcans and Romulans possessed very similar physiology, including varied skin color. Romulans had pointed ears, eyebrows that were arched and up-swept, and copper-based blood that appeared green when oxygenated in the arteries, or copper or rust-colored when deoxygenated in the veins. (Star Trek Generations) Most Romulans had two brow ridges above the bridge of their nose, forming a V-shape on the forehead. However, a minority of Romulans lack these ridges, making them outwardly indistinguishable from Vulcans.

These "browless" Romulans were predominant in the 23rd century, (TOS; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country) but were not seen in the 24th century en masse until Nero and his crew in Star Trek. No in-universe explanation has ever been given for the difference in appearance. suggested that the ridged majority of Romulans were a different race that evolved on Vulcan simultaneously with them. [X]wbm In an interview, Neville Page, the head art designer for 2009's Star Trek had a different explanation. During his work on the movie, he first created a back-story to justify the change their faces had undergone, explaining that as a result of their grief, anger, and general bad-ass persona, the Romulans chose to cut and scar themselves, leaving behind such significant keloids on their foreheads that it eventually wended its way into the gene pool over many years, eventually becoming a natural characteristic of all Romulans and thus creating the distinct difference between them and their Vulcan cousins. [1]
According to a deleted scene in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, General Korrd indicated in a conversation with Caithlin Dar that Romulan women may have a unique anatomical makeup, although such comments were never substantiated.

The Romulan heart is gray in color. (DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges")

Despite their common ancestry there were also many subtle internal physiological differences between Vulcans and Romulans. Their life signs registered distinctly enough on the scanners of the USS Enterprise in 2268 that officer Pavel Chekov was able to distinguish his crewmate Spock from the crew complement of a Romulan starship, though he did note the difficulty of the task. (TOS: "The Enterprise Incident")

The physical differences between Romulans and Vulcans were evidenced in Dr. Beverly Crusher's failed attempt to treat a Romulan, Patahk, who had suffered advanced synaptic breakdown, with the methods used to treat Vulcans. In fact, it was later determined that the genetic similarities between Romulans and Klingons allowed for the two species to have a compatible ribosome match to effect treatment. (TNG: "The Enemy")

The Terothka virus was a disease unique to Romulan physiology. Romulans were also susceptible to Tuvan Syndrome. (VOY: "Message in a Bottle"; DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges")


Sela, a Romulan/Human hybrid

There were numerous instances of Romulans successfully mating with other species, as evidenced in Sela (Romulan/Human), Ba'el (Romulan/Klingon), and the father of Simon Tarses (Romulan/Human).

A reference to Saavik being half-Romulan and half-Vulcan was cut from the final edit of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It was, however, mentioned in the novelization of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
T'Pol was also to have been revealed to be half-Romulan if ENT had gotten a fifth season. (citation needededit)

Romulans lacked the rigorous mental disciplines developed by the followers of Surak. They were a passionate people, easily moved to extreme emotions. (TOS: "The Enterprise Incident")

However, like their biological cousins, Romulans possessed greater physical strength than that of a Human. (Star Trek)


In Romulan society, military/political rank influences social standing. Because Romulans were members of a militant civilization, who considered defending the Romulan Empire and their own personal honor of foremost importance, military service and its accompanying rank were decisive factors in determining social eminence. (TOS: "Balance of Terror") However, while the military played an important role in Romulan society, it was the Romulan Senate that controls the government. (Star Trek Nemesis)

Emperor shinzon

Human clone, Shinzon who was Praetor in 2379 after a coup d'etat, on his throne

At one point in history, Romulus was a sovereign nation ruled by an Empress, as indicated by Q. (VOY: "The Q and the Grey") By the 23rd century the highest position of power was held by the Praetor, who presided over the Romulan Senate. (TOS: "Balance of Terror"; Star Trek Nemesis) The Praetor headed the Continuing Committee, which was comprised of the Empire's most elite individuals, who made decisions of the utmost importance. (DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges")

By the 24th century, the government of Romulus was dependent upon the Tal Shiar, the Romulan secret police, to maintain order and stability among both civilians and the military. The Tal Shiar was known for its brutal tactics, which included routine kidnapping, torture, and assassination. Many Romulans fear even expressing dissenting opinions as not to spark the interest of the Tal Shiar. There was also indications that tension existed between the military and the Tal Shiar. (TNG: "Face of the Enemy")

Romulan society was based upon a highly structured caste system. Unlike most of the highly evolved species in the Alpha Quadrant, Romulans still practiced slavery, specifically the Remans, which they used for slave labor and as shock troops. (Star Trek Nemesis)

Romulans tended to be highly xenophobic, engaging in extended periods of isolationism, and could be perceived as outright racist to other species, believing themselves to be superior. At least some Romulans believed that one day the Romulan Empire would rule the entire galaxy. (TNG: "The Neutral Zone", "Data's Day", "The Enemy") According to Miles O'Brien, there was no piece of technology in existence that the Romulans didn't claim they invented before everyone else. (DS9: "Explorers")

Romulan society did not appear to have gender biases. Both males and females commanded warships, could obtain high political positions, and could be members of the Tal Shiar. (TOS: "The Enterprise Incident"; TNG: "Contagion", "Face of the Enemy"; DS9: "Image in the Sand")

See also

Culture and tradition

"Paranoia is a way of life for you, isn't it?"
- The Doctor to Rekar in 2374

The Romulans lacked the rigorous mental disciplines developed by the followers of Surak. Like the Vulcans, the Romulans gave up unrestrained violence as a way of life. However, in the case of the Romulans this was replaced with a controlled deviousness: as a species, the Romulans were generally thought of as duplicitous, a reputation reinforced by the actions of their government over time. (TNG: "The Neutral Zone")

During the 23rd century, Romulans practiced the execution of state criminals, by means both painful and unpleasant. Prior to the presenting of the charges, the Romulans allowed the accused a Right of Statement. (TOS: "The Enterprise Incident")

Reluctance to rely on overt hostility generally lead the Romulans to play a waiting game with their opponents, attempting to manipulate an adversary into breaking – or appearing to break – an agreement so as to give them a solid justification for striking. (TNG: "The Defector", "The Pegasus")

They were also well-known for fearing disgrace over death. (TAS: "The Practical Joker") With this frame of mind, Romulan parents disposed of any newborn carrying birth defects, as the alternative would mean a waste of resources. (TNG: "The Enemy")

The totalitarian nature of Romulan society, in which dissent was often a crime and Romulan security officers masqueraded as citizens, led many Romulans to be extremely paranoid. (TNG: "Unification I")

A common Romulan courtesy was the saying "Jolan Tru", although what exactly this meant is unclear, as it was used both in context of greeting and goodbye. (ENT: "United"; TNG: "Unification I", "Unification II")

In the 24th century, a dissident movement began to gain momentum, based on the desire to learn about Vulcan and their ideals. The movement's ultimate goal was the reunification of Romulus and Vulcan. Ambassador Spock was deeply involved in this movement. (TNG: "Unification I", "Face of the Enemy")

While many arguably belligerent and militaristic species, such as Nausicaans, Breen, and even Klingons often sold their fighting skills to the highest bidder, Romulans were rarely, if ever, seen involved in such activities. This was possibly due to the apparent superiority complex of most Romulans, many of whom likely found such work beneath them, and who preferred to serve the Romulan Empire in some capacity. However, Miles O'Brien once played a game of tongo with a Romulan mercenary. (DS9: "Change of Heart") In cases of anonymity, they were known for commonly using hired assassins, such as the Flaxians, to conduct their off-world "justice." (DS9: "Improbable Cause")

In the Star Trek prequel comic Star Trek: Countdown, it was explained that it was Romulan tradition that when a loved one died, those who suffered a loss would paint their grief upon their skin. In time the paint would fade, and with it the period of mourning. Nero and his crew, however, burned their tattoos deep so that they would never fade.

Food and beverages






The Romulans were created by writer Paul Schneider and introduced in TOS: "Balance of Terror". He modeled them on the Romans, naming their planets after the mythical founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. The Romulans next appeared in "The Deadly Years" via recycled footage of the Romulan Bird-of-Prey, before making a physical reappearance in "The Enterprise Incident".

In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Saavik was intended to be half-Vulcan, half-Romulan. The Romulans were meant to be the villains in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, but director Leonard Nimoy preferred the more "theatrical" Klingons. The Klingon Bird-of-Prey was intended to be stolen from the Romulans, but this information was left out of the film.

When Gene Roddenberry was attempting to decide upon a new antagonist for regular use on Star Trek: The Next Generation (considering that the Klingons would no longer appear as recurring villains), writer D.C. Fontana thought of the Romulans. Fontana later recalled, "I sent him a memo, suggesting 'How about the Romulans?' After all, they hadn't been developed all that much in The Original Series, and they were a glamorous, attractive enemy." (Star Trek - Where No One Has Gone Before paperback ed., p. 110) The reappearance of the Romulans in the episode "The Neutral Zone" proved the species had lost none of its appeal. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, p. 21)

Alaimo as Romulan

Marc Alaimo in Romulan makeup and costuming

For their appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation, makeup artist Michael Westmore gave the Romulans V-shaped forehead ridges to "compete" with the Klingon redesign introduced in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. (The Art of Star Trek) The Romulan ridges also developed from an effort to differentiate the Romulans from Vulcans and it was found that this facial feature complemented a change to the typical Romulan hairstyle that Westmore wanted to introduce. He said of the restyled Romulans, "I gave them a little wedge to the center of the hair on their forehead instead of the Vulcans' straight-across bang." (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 2, Issue 12, p. 26) The redesigned Romulan makeup remained for not only all future Star Trek productions set in the 24th century but also for when Romulans were featured on Star Trek: Enterprise. The makeup was so extensive that it required the actor's head to be measured during pre-production (at least, it did in the case of Vaughn Armstrong, when preparing to play Telek R'Mor in VOY: "Eye of the Needle"). [2]

Prior to the initial airing of Star Trek: Enterprise's season 2 finale "The Expanse", many fans at first incorrectly speculated that the Romulans were responsible for the attack on Earth depicted in that episode (thought to be the initial volley in the Romulans' previously established war with Earth) and would be the focus of the series' third season, rather than the multi-specied Xindi. Executive Producer Brannon Braga was of the opinion that, had the Romulans indeed been used, they would have become "old" and less satisfying during the relatively lengthy course of the third season arc, though he also stated that this did not exempt the species from appearing in that season, in which they nevertheless ultimately did not feature. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 145, p. 32)

The Romulans would have had a grander future had the animated series Star Trek: Final Frontier been produced instead of the film Star Trek: set in the 2460s, a war caused by Omega particle detonations (which was not actually the Romulans' fault) permitted them to conquer Qo'noS, destroy Andoria, and forced the Vulcans to leave the Federation to negotiate reunification. The Earth-Romulan War was also intended to be explored in the fifth season of Star Trek: Enterprise and the film Star Trek: The Beginning, neither of which were produced. Brannon Braga and Manny Coto considered making "Future Guy" a Romulan and revealing T'Pol's father was a Romulan agent.

Further reading


Diane Duane created her own take on the Romulans in her novels, in which she reveals their true name to be the Rihannsu. Duane also depicted the Romulans as being extinct in the mirror universe novel Dark Mirror, as they chose to commit mass suicide rather than become subjects of the Terran Empire following the Battle of Cheron.

Much of the Romulans' origins are explored in the Vulcan's Soul trilogy and the five Rihannsu books. Both sources agree that the exodus was led by S'task, a former disciple of Surak. In Duane's novel The Romulan Way, as the inhabitants of the planet Vulcan turn to the philosophy of Surak en masse, the followers of S'task decide that they can no longer remain on Vulcan. As part of their exodus, they intentionally invent a new culture and a new language. In Vulcan's Soul, the Romulans' ancestors left Vulcan as a contingency plan approved by Surak, should the wars on Vulcan have completely destroyed their civilization. The eagle emblem was inspired by a huge bird native to Romulus that clutched eggs in its talons.

The comic book Star Trek: Countdown and the video game Star Trek Online depict the lead up and the aftermath of Romulus' destruction, primarily caused by the Romulan Senate ignoring Spock's warnings about the supernova, and the Vulcan Science Council's refusal to lend them red matter. In spite of this, Federation-Romulan relations had been improving and Romulan citizens had become less xenophobic, as indicated in the ending of Star Trek Nemesis. After the supernova, Federation aid is either welcomed or met with suspicion and even hostility, while the Klingon Empire seizes the opportunity to conquer Romulan territory. Despite continuing in-fighting between the survivors, a new capital called Rihan is established on Rator III.

Romulan religious beliefs vary in non-canon sources. The Way of D'era sourcebook states the Romulans believe in the Way of D'era. Tellus, an enemy of Surak, taught that the inhabitants of Vorta Vor – the mythological world mentioned in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier – had visited the Vulcans and inspired them to become the supreme rulers of the galaxy. This explains the superiority complex and their hatred for Vulcans, whom they see as traitors. In Duane's My Enemy, My Ally, it is said the Romulans worship the classical elements of fire, air, water, earth and the "Archelement" which oversees the others. In Killing Time, they worship a demon called Bettatan'ru. The Countdown/Nero story portrays the Romulans as polytheistic.

It is explained in Vulcan's Soul that the Romulans rejected the telepathy of the Vulcans and slaughtered or enslaved the telepathic ones among them during their exodus to the Romulan system: the telepaths became the Remans. This explains why no Romulan displays telepathic skills in canon. In Nero, the titular character takes a drug that enables him to meditate, and to develop the skills to communicate telepathically, without mind melding. The Way of D'era adds that the Romulans lack the physical strength of the Vulcans because they no longer live on a harsh environment. Killing Time shows Romulans slightly adverse to the effects of pon farr.

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